§ FOURTH NIGHT.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.) moved an Amendment to leave out the words "the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly," and insert, "to be styled the Senate and House of Commons of Ireland." He said he thought that this Amendment could not be subjected to the same opposition which was offered to the Amendment he proposed in regard to the use of the word "Parliament," nor would it arouse those susceptibilities and jealousies which the Chief Secretary said would be called into play if the word "Parliament" was used. He imagined that there would not be any diversity of opinion among the Irish Members in regard to the Amendment. He had not based his Amendment upon the fact that these words were used in Canada, any more than he thought that an objection to the Amendment should be brought forward because the words were not used in the Legislative Bodies of the various Colonies of the Empire. There was no analogy between the case of Ireland and the case of the Colonies in regard to these names. They were not starting a Legislature in Ireland for the first time; what they were doing was restoring to the Irish people the right of governing themselves which they had before; and, that being so, they were bound to take into consideration as far as they could what the names were which were in use in the old days, when the Irish people had their own Parliament. There could not be any question at all that there was a strong sentiment in favour of the adoption of the words "House of Commons." The adoption of that title could not be injurious to the prospects of the Bill. If they adopted the words of his Amendment there would not be a single additional vote against the Bill; and if they did not adopt the words of his Amendment they would not relax, so far as he knew, the hostility to the measure 655 shown by hon. Members who had announced their intention to vote against it. He, therefore, appealed to the Government to accept his Amendment. He believed this change was strongly desired by the Irish people. Whatever the feeling of the majority of the Irish Members might, have been in regard to the substitution of the word "Parliament" for "Legislature," he did not see how there could be any difference of opinion among them with regard to the substitution of the words "House of Commons" for "Legislative Assembly," and "Senate" for "Legislative Council." He was sorry that he had interrupted the hon. Member for North Longford yesterday, because it was done under the erroneous impression that the hon. Member was making a statement to the effect that he (Mr. Redmond) cared very little about the interests or the dignity of the Irish Parliament. That was a statement which he could not allow to be made about him by anybody; but, as he had found that the hon. Member for North Longford was not referring to him, he would say that he regretted having made the interruption which he did. When he was attacked he would always interrupt as far as he could. But with regard to this Amendment, he was glad to say that there was no difference whatever between the Member for North Longford and himself, as was shown by an article in the March number of The Nineteenth Century. Under these circumstances, he did not see why the Government should hesitate to accept the Amendment, because it was an Amendment which, in the words of the hon. Member for North Lorgford, substituted words far more preferable to the Irish people of all sections than the words "Legislative Council" and "Legislative Assembly." Unless the Government could see some solid reason against it, he would earnestly urge them to accept the Amendment. He was certain that almost every Member opposite who was in favour of Home Rule for Ireland would be in favour, if the Irish Members desired it, of allowing them to call their Assembly the "House of Commons," under the old style adopted in the days when Ireland had a Parliament of its own. He was quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was anxious to meet the wishes of the Irish people as far as it was 656 possible. He would, therefore, appeal to him to make this Bill more palatable and satisfactory than otherwise it would be.
In page 1, line 13, leave out" the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly," and insert "to be styled the Senate and House of Commons of Ireland."—(Mr. William Redmond.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
On a point of Order, Sir, may I ask whether it is necessary to put the whole Amendment of the hon. Gentleman at once? I ask you For this reason—that while I should be disposed personally to vote for the Upper Chamber being called the Senate, I should certainly vote against the Lower Chamber being called the House of Commons. Therefore I should like to know whether the Amendment cannot be put in two divisions?
§ MR. W. REDMOND
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that it is with regard to the words "House of Commons" that I feel most strongly. You may call the Upper Chamber what you like.
said, he should put the Question that the words "the Legislative Council" stand part of the Clause.
MR. J. MORLEY
I hope the hon. Member will believe I am sincere in saying I am very sorry that the Government cannot accede to the Amendment. My hon. Friend asks whether we can give any solid and sufficient reason for such refusal; but I think, if no other reason could be found, it would be found in the fact that the night before last the Committee negatived the use of the word "Parliament" as a designation for the two Chambers. If "Parliament" had been adopted, there would have been some show of reason for substituting "House of Commons" for "Legislative Assembly," and a less obvious one for substituting "Senate" for "Legislative Council." The word "Parliament" is used in Canada, and not in the other Colonies, for the simple reason that the Dominion Parliament is at the head of a Federation and has subordinate Legislatures under it. For that reason, among others, we object to the use of the word "Parliament" in this Bill, and on the same ground, among others, we cannot accept "Senate" and "House of Commons." 657 Except in the case of the Dominion Government the term "Senate" is entirely unknown in our diversified Colonial system, and I do not know why in Ireland in particular it should be first employed.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he would advise the hon. Member not to proceed with the Amendment, first of all because he belonged to a Party which was not considered at all in this compact, and which, therefore, had not the slightest chance of being granted any concession.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
In order to save time I may tell the hon. Gentleman that I never dream of taking his advice.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he knew that, but he was going to submit another reason for the withdrawal of the Amendment, which he thought was a stronger one. When they got this Parliament they could call it what they liked in spite of law or Act of Parliament.
*MR. DARLLNG (Deptford)
said, that the word "Senate" (night bring disagreeable remembrances to the English people. The word "Senate" suggested the glories of Rome, and he wondered that in consulting the susceptibilities of his hon. Friends it did not occur to the Chief Secretary that the place where Cato lived and Tully spoke would rather tend to dignify the body which he was about to establish in Dublin. To the English mind it recalled the one nation that had ever conquered us, and certainly the nation which, if this Home Rule Bill passed, would have conquered us for a second time, might fitly have its Senate also. He would also like to know whether there was any objection in Constitutional Law to calling this Body a Senate?
Mr. T. M. Healy
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withhold his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said: Yesterday the Committee accepted the principle of a Second Chamber, and my desire is to see that the Second Chamber should be one, as far as possible, capable of carrying out its functions. I think the Committee should be committed to making a strong Second Chamber if you call it by the name "Senate" rather than 658 by the colourless appellation "Legislative Council." The Senate of the United States, of France, and of Canada were all Bodies of great importance, carrying much weight in their respective political systems. If you are to adhere to the Second Chamber, I desire it should be an effective one, and honoured by a name which would practically compel those in charge of the Bill so to modify their proposals as to enable the Second Chamber really to carry out its functions.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said, he observed that the one thing on which the House had been wonderfully unanimous was that there should be no "Parliament" in Ireland—a point about which his constituents had been much alarmed, because they were told that there was to be a Parliament in Ireland. The Government had decided they would not have the word "Parliament," and now they had determined they would not distinguish this Body by the word "Senate." He believed that in this matter the Government were representing the views of his constituents, and doing the best they possibly could to destroy this delusion of Parliamentary Government, and he should vote against the proposal as to the use of the words "House of Commons."
§ MR. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
said, if the constituents of the hon. Member were as satisfied as he was, and their only objection to an Irish Parliament had been removed by the exclusion of the word "Parliament" from the Bill, the Irish Members felt very happy. They were delighted to have had the opportunity of reconciling the constituents of the hon. Member; and if his constituents were really of the same mind as the hon. Member, the Nationalist Members of Ireland had reason to congratulate themselves very much. Their objection to the word "Council" was really because of the public inconvenience which it would create. It was a word in very common use with respect to Municipal Bodies, and it might come into common use in respect to other Local Bodies—such as County Councils—which might be adopted hereafter, and if they were to have no other means of distinguishing the Upper Assembly except the word "Council" it would load to much confusion. He did not, therefore, see any reason why the Government 659 should not adopt some better word, such as that proposed. He supported the Amendment, but not for the same reasons as had been given by the Leader of the Opposition. So long as the power was vested in the Body, and that Body exercised the power, that was the real thing to them. But they submitted, with regard to a matter of this kind, it would be a public convenience if a better term than that of "Council" were used, and he, therefore, supported the Amendment.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said, the hon. Member for Clare was an object deserving the sympathy of the House. He had now made repeated efforts to bring under the attention of the Government the sentimental aspirations of the Irish people. Yesterday the Prime Minister declined to make the smallest concession to the hon. Member or his supporters in Ireland. That day the hon. Member had returned to the charge, and had minimised still more his request. There was a difference between the hon. Member defying the Prime Minister in the wilds of County Clare and the hon. Member when he came to that House and, with bated breath—
§ MR. W. REDMOND
rose to a point of Order. He asked leave to make a personal explanation. The hon. Member had been kind enough to say he (Mr. Redmond) said things in his constituency he was not prepared to say in that House. He could tell the hon. Member that he had not one face for the country and another for that House. If the hon. Gentleman desired to draw a comparison between his speeches in that House and in the country he would ask the hon. Member, Had he come down armed with quotations to support his contention?
§ MR. MACARTNEY
was certainly not armed with quotations. If he were to bring all the quotations that would support his statement he thought he should alarm the House, and be guilty of what hon. Gentlemen opposite would consider obstruction of the Government in their endeavours to carry on the administration of the country. But the manner in which the hon. Gentleman put the views of his Party in Ireland differed very considerably from his manner in that House, and as that Amendment had been divided into two parts for the convenience of Debate, he did not wish 660 to give the hon. Member any advice; but he believed he would be more likely to obtain his ends if he put his views with greater force to the Government and pressed them on the Prime Minister in a little more insistent manner. The hon. Member evidently foresaw his Amendment would not be accepted, and he fell back on an article written by the hon. Member for Longford, in which that hon. Member said that he wished this and he wished that about the Legislative Council. The hon. Member for Clare had been long enough in the House to know that when an hon. Member only wished this or that he was very little likely to attain his end. It would be more to the purpose if the hon. Member for Longford had asserted his contention by backing up in the Division Lobby of that House his desire to see the future Legislature of Ireland ornamented with the name he thought consonant to its dignity and duties. The Government had declined to accept the hon. Member's Amendment, and he thought this was a very significant illustration of the amount of confidence which they could place in the assurances which were given, or, at all events, allowed to be understood, with regard to the intentions of the Government, at a future stage of this Bill, in the composition of the Second Chamber. Yesterday they were told all they were discussing was the principle of a Second Chamber, and that with regard to its component elements, and whether it might or might not be strengthened, the Government had an open mind. But now they found upon the first instance upon which the Government had an opportunity of showing whether they intended to reserve an open mind on the question of the Second Chamber they resolutely adhered to even the most stringent verbal machinery of the Bill. If the Government desired the House to believe they had the slightest intention of making any alteration whatever in the power or authority of the Second Chamber they had an opportunity, on the Amendment now before them, of giving some substantial guarantee for this assurance. The Government had declined to accept the name which carried with it certainly a far greater popular view of Legislative and Executive authority; therefore, he could not for one moment believe, when 661 they hereafter had to discuss the component elements of the Second Chamber or the duty and authority with which it might be charged, that the Government had the slightest intention of departing from the scheme sketched out in this Bill. For the purpose of testing the sincerity of the declarations the Government had made he intended to vote with the Leader of the Opposition.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
considered it was extremely inconvenient that although the Government must have known from the question he had put that the Leader of the Opposition was going to support the first part of this Amendment, and that the Amendment had been divided into two portions, the Chief Secretary should get up after the hon. Member for Clare, and at once put down a non possumus to this Amendment. It was almost like beating the air now for anyone to discuss it. There was no reason why, because the Chief Secretary had treated the House in what he thought was rather a discourteous manner, they should be prevented discussing the Amendment at all. He, for one, favoured the first part of it. He voted against the Legislative Council the previous day, because he thought it was a sham, a delusion, and a snare. But the Chancellor of the Duchy spoke later in the afternoon, and gave them to understand he had a very high opinion of what this Second Chamber was going to be. The right hon. Gentleman told them he believed it would be their duty to differ from the First Chamber, and to give time for reconsideration, and he appealed to the House to allow the Second Chamber to be constituted, and then they might consider whether they could not make it a real element in the constitution of the Irish Parliament, or whatever it was to be called. That being so, he thought it only natural they should give it a name, and something rather different to the Council of an Agricultural Society, or a Borough Council, or any other Council. He, for one, in order to test the sincerity of the Government, would certainly vote for the Amendment as it now stood; and he hoped in future, when hon. Members desired to give their opinions in favour of an Amendment, they might be snuffed out all at once by a Minister getting up.
§ *DR. KENNY (Dublin, College Green)
wished, in the first place, to say that he and his hon. Friends did not desire such sinister help as had been held out to them from either Tory or Liberal Unionist. He congratulated the Leader of the Opposition and some of his hon. Friends on their entire change of attitude towards the Bill. Hitherto they had professed their intention of voting for any Amendment which would make the Bill worse, and voting against any Amendment which would better it. They had expressed their intention of doing all they could to reduce the Bill to a position of the utmost contempt. Their attitude had quite altered, and the right hon. Gentleman who led the Opposition had stated he would vote in favour of the word "Senate," because it would give increased dignity to the Body. That was an entirely new attitude which he welcomed very warmly, and he trusted it would be persevered in by the Tory Party and the Liberal Unionists throughout the discussions. With regard to the answer which had been made by the Chief Secretary, he did really expect to hear from that right hon. Gentleman some more solid argument against the Amendment than he put forward. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to rely on the fact that the word "Parliament" in some way or other excluded the idea of a Legislative Council and Assembly, and was inconsistent with them, whereas if they used the words "a Senate" and "a House of Commons" it must mean "Parliament." He could not see that there was the least connection between the two ideas. They might have a Legislative Council and Assembly and call them such, and yet they might be a Parliament, and they might also have a Senate and House of Commons, and they might not be a Parliament, so that he could not see any solidity whatever in the argument. But, as regarded the whole Amendment, the hon. Member for East Clare and his Colleagues did not attach the same amount of importance to that portion which suggested the word "Senate" as they did to the question of altering the other name to that of the "House of Commons." They advocated the adoption of the word "Senate" on the ground of the balance of convenience as well as an addition of dignity; but with regard to 663 the use of the term "House of Commons," they rested their demand on a totally different ground. They rested it not on the analogy of Canada, but on the unalterable feeling of nationality of the Irish people and on historical continuity. They had had a House of Commons and they desired again to have a House of Commons. The Chief Secretary and his Colleagues had not sufficiently yielded to their desires to grant them the name of "Parliament" the other night; but he hoped that, in the present case, they had not said their last word, but would, at least, accept that portion of the Amendment which dealt with the name of the House of Commons. The Chief Secretary and his Colleagues were making determined and able efforts to give the Irish people Home Rule, because it was the demand of the Irish people; and if this desire for the name of House of Commons were portion of their demand, why not be consistent, and let them so call it? He appreciated the desire of the Government to placate and do homage to the National sentiment, and they would give an extra proof of that desire by allowing the Irish people to use the name of the House of Commons.
§ COLONEL WARING
On a point of Order, I desire to know, Mr. Mellor, what words you are going to put?
It is proposed to leave out the words "Legislative Council" in order to insert the word "Senate." The Question I have to put is that the words proposed to be left out—"Legislative Council"—stand part of the clause.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down (Dr. Kenny) had accused hon. Members of the Opposition of altering their attitude. He ventured to say that in supporting the adoption of the word "Senate" they were doing nothing of the kind. They adopted that course because they wanted an Upper Chamber which would be a really strong Upper Chamber, and which would resist the Lower Chamber where necessary. It was because they believed if the present Upper Chamber were called a Senate they could subsequently modify the provisions for its constitution and make it more likely to carry out the object they had in view that they 664 supported that part of the Amendment. He had put down an Amendment to the effect that this Upper Chamber should be called the House of Lords, and he should prefer that to Senate, because he believed that 60 Irish Representative Peers would be the only really efficient safeguard for the rights of the minority. Though, as he said, he preferred the House of Lords, he should not mind if the word was "Senate," because he thought they could subsequently so constitute the Senate that it should be, in fact, a House of Lords. Reference had been made to the Roman Senate, the very first from which the word was taken. That Senate was not an elected body, but it was in practice, and during a great part of the time in theory, an aristocratic body, and it was a strong body in the way of resisting the hasty popular will. He thought if they adopted the word "Senate" they might set up a strong Second Chamber, and with that view he supported the Amendment.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said, as the Chairman's ruling divided the Amendment into two parts, on which two separate votes would be taken, it simplified the course which he thought he and his hon. Friends ought to take. Undoubtedly there was a strong feeling that would justify them, in his opinion, in putting to the test of a Division that part of the Amendment as regarded the name of the House of Commons. But although on grounds of convenience urged by his hon. Friend the Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin there were reasons why "Senate" would be a preferable name to Legislative Council, still there was no such strong feeling on their part as to the word "Senate" as there was in reference to the words "House of Commons." He was bound to say, having heard the speech of the Leader of the Opposition and the grounds upon which he was going to bestow on them the inestimable favour of his support, that those grounds were of the most sinister character. The right hon. Gentleman himself, with unwonted candour, had admitted that his motive in putting in the word "Senate" was that he might make the Upper Chamber such a body as would be repugnant to their feelings. Bearing in mind the candid confession the right hon. Gentleman had 665 made, for his part he would recommend that the first portion of the Amendment should not be pressed, but that it should be withdrawn, and that then, on the second part of the Amendment, he and his hon. Friends should go to a Division.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, under the circumstances, he would ask leave to withdraw the portion of the Amendment with regard to the word "Senate." He did not regard the word "Senate" at all except as a matter of convenience; but on that portion of the Amendment which dealt with the name of the House of Commons he should divide the House.
§ MR. J. G. LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)
There is another Amendment down in the name of another hon. Member. If the hon. Member for Clare withdraws his Amendment, will it prejudice the other Amendment which is down?
The Question I have to put is that "Legislative Council" stand part of the clause. Is it your pleasure that the Amendment be withdrawn? ["No, no!"]
§ Question put.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I only wish to ask exactly where we are. As hon. Members behind have changed their front completely, we are really in a difficulty to know what we are going to vote for. As I understand, you are going to put the words "Legislative Council." Will that preclude us putting in the word "Senate" afterwards, because that is my point?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said, he begged to move, in Clause 1, page 1, line 13, the substitution of the words "House of Commons of Ireland" for the expression "Legislative Assembly" used in the clause under consideration. He was not aware of the intention to divide the Amendment; but he would not trouble the House with any remarks upon it.
In page 1, line 13, to leave out, the words "Legislative Assembly," in order to insert the words "House of Commons of Ireland."—(Mr. William Redmond.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'Legislative Assembly' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. A. S. P. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
rose to move an Amendment to Clause 1, page 1, line 13, to leave out "the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly" and insert "the Irish House of Lords and the Irish House of Commons."
§ *MR. J. G. LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)
said, he did not agree that the Lower House in Ireland ought to be designated by the title of "House of Commons." There was a word in the Irish language for "a House of Commons." [Cries of "Divide!" and "Hear, hear!" and interruption.]
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
rose to a point of Order. He wished to explain that it was impossible for him and hon. Members near him to hear a word that was being said in consequence of the interruptions of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite.
§ MR. J. G. LAWSON
said, he regretted that a reference to the Irish language should have caused so much disorder and noise.
§ *MR. J. G. LAWSON
said, that in a dictionary in the Library he had found the Irish word for "a House of Commons." That word was "Tyeay na nuaral." [Loud laughter.] As they had this distinctive word at their disposal, why should hon. Members from Ireland seek to create confusion in these realms by the use of the expression "House of Commons," which was the name already appropriated by the British Legislature? When Henry II. went to Ireland—[cries of "Divide!" and interruption]—he summoned an Upper House, which was called "a Council," and a Lower House, which was called "the Synod f Cashel." [Laughter.] That was, no doubt, a Clerical Assembly, and so would the Legislature which the Government proposed to 667 create be largely a Clerical Assembly. If the Nationalist Members were not content to apply to their House the Irish name which he had found in the dictionary, lot them call it a Synod. He objected strongly to the proposal to call it a House of Commons.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 482; Noes 34.—(Division List, No. 78.)
Substantially the two Amendments which stand next on the Paper are covered by the Amendments already decided. The next Amendment is out of Order on Clause 1, and should be moved on Clause 6, and the next is covered by the decision of the Committee. The Question will, therefore, be that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill.
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
§ *MR. BARTLEY
said, they had now arrived at an important point—namely, the question of affirming the 1st clause of the Bill. No one, he thought, could say it was an unreasonable thing that they should discuss the clause as a clause, seeing that it had not been altered or amended in any way. The Debate had not been barren, inasmuch as they had settled distinctly, on the authority of the Government, that there was to be no Parliament and no House of Commons in Ireland. That was a point which they should press very strongly—that the results of the discussions on the various Amendments had been to show clearly that the Government meant that there should never be a Parliament or a House of Commons in Ireland. If they could amend the Bill as it went on so as to prevent the Irish Legislature from altering its own Constitution, they might congratulate themselves that whatever this new Body would be, it would not be in any sense a Parliament, or in any sense a House of Commons. He was in favour of making the Body a sort of larger County Council; but the Amendment he had on the Paper to effect that object would have to be moved on Clause 6. The Body which would be created under the Bill would neither be a County Council nor a Vestry, nor a Local Body of any sort. It was a sort of hybrid In- 668 stitution which was to please everybody, but which would ultimately please nobody. The Prime Minister had stated most emphatically that the new Legislature was to be subordinate to the Imperial Parliament. They desired to press that fairly and fully, and he hoped the Irish Members would take the opportunity of informing their constituents of the fact that the Irish Legislature was to be a subordinate Body. If they did that, probably the satisfaction of the people of Ireland with the measure would grow. The clause, however, said—On and after the appointed clay there shall be in Ireland a Legislature consisting of Her Majesty the Queen and of two Houses, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.Well, there could be no doubt that by affirming that principle they assented to the establishment in Ireland of a sort of rival of the House of Commons. True, it was said that it was not to be a Parliament or a House of Commons, but the whole discussion which had taken place upon the clause, so far as the Irish Members were concerned, showed that they regarded this Legislature as a first beginning—an embryo Parliament which in time would rival this House. This was a question which did not concern Ireland solely or mainly. It concerned Great Britain quite as much as it concerned Ireland, because it would be used to break up the old Constitution, and set Ireland up in the position of an independent nation, and it would cause friction between the two countries. The clause, taken in conjunction with those that followed, was, as some of its supporters desired, the first step towards gradually destroying the great United Empire which had been founded by the patriotism and energy of our forefathers. He thought that even now they ought to pause before taking such a step. He thought that all who had the welfare of the country at heart should protest, if only in a few words, against this clause.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, to leave out Clause 1.—(Mr. Bartley.)
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
was glad it was proposed to leave out this clause. Although they had been unable to alter it, they might succeed in striking it out 669 altogether. At any rate, they had some reason to congratulate themselves upon the manner in which the Government had dealt with it. The Government had admitted that the question of the supremacy of Parliament had been made clear, and surely the 1st clause was that in which it should have been dealt with. But, in accordance with their whole policy of secrecy, Ministers had, while admitting that the subject ought to be dealt with, postponed it to another period. Again, if there was one point on which they ought to have had the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown it was in reference to the clause under discussion. The Government had not the advice in that House of the Irish Law Officers; the Nationalists would not give the Government a seat for an Irish Law Officer; but there was a distinguished jurist on the Treasury Bench, and the Committee were entitled to know his opinion on this matter. The Committee were entitled by every right to take the opinion of the Solicitor General on the clause, distinguished purists in the House having expressed opinions against it. What was the good of having Law Officers if, when their opinion was asked by laymen on what was essentially a legal matter the House got no guidance whatever? Turning from the Government and the Solicitor General and coming to the Irish Members, on a matter so vital to Ireland they had been met with a conspiracy of silence. O'Connell, the greatest Irish Leader of this century, always denied, when working for the Repeal of the Union, the supremacy of Parliament. Had the Irish Members fallen so far below his standard that the Committee had not a single word from them on this subject? It was all very well to speak of promises, but he fancied that the Irish people had not very much changed since the days of O'Connell. Supremacy was the question involved in the clause, and he asked why it was that the Irish Members, backed by the Government and their Law Officers, had maintained a conspiracy of silence? There had been a conspiracy of silence by all Parties forming the Government majority. There was another Party in the House which was led by the hon. Member for Northampton. It was a small, dwindling Party, and he was not sure if it was not 670 represented only by the hon. Member for Northampton himself. The hon. Member had voted against his own Amendment. [Laughter and "No!"] Well, he said he would. He (Mr. Hanbury) did not know whether the hon. Member kept his word or not. When the three sections of the Government took this line in reference to this clause, the Opposition might well think that, though they had not altered a word, they had scored a success in reducing the thing to a farce. He would ask if the Irish Legislature was to be in any way on the Colonial model, who was to represent Ireland in the House and answer questions with regard to that country? He would also ask that the Prime Minister should clear up the ambiguity with regard to the operation of Clause 33 in reference to laws expressly extended to Ireland. What did "extended" mean? Did it mean that the laws so extended were not for Ireland only, but were passed for England, Scotland, and Wales as well? He hoped they would have an expression of opinion and a definite reply on these points from the Solicitor General.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I am not quite certain whether the Committee or all the Members of the Committee entirely appreciate the extreme importance of the Motion now before the House. This is not like a question in an ordinary Committee. We are dealing with the first enacted clause of the Bill, and if we pass that clause we have then accepted the principle that there shall be in Ireland a separate Legislature. It is, to all intents and purposes, a Second Reading discussion. It will, therefore, be in Order in this discussion to bring forward any statement, argument, or fact that would have been germane to a Second Reading discussion. Of course, I shall endeavour to avoid anything like a repetition of arguments that have been used before—and which have been answered. But we have a right to recall to the mind of the Government that portion of our argument to which at present they have not given the slightest consideration. Our position is rather a curious one. We were told on the Second Reading that we were premature in many of our criticisms on the Bill—that they might 671 more properly be directed to the clauses of the Bill, and that when we came to the clauses we should find that the Government, especially with regard to certain important matters, would have an open mind and give the fullest consideration to our arguments. What has been our experience on the 1st clause? Have we had full consideration of the arguments which we have produced? ["No!"] Have we found the Government with an open mind? Have we found the Government prepared to accept any, even the slightest, verbal Amendment to the Bill? We have had very little debate on the part either of the Members of the Government or their supporters. That is a point to which I direct special attention. We had a right to expect when in Committee that we should be fairly met, and that our arguments would be met by corresponding arguments; but it is a fact that beyond practically official, and very often perfunctory, replies, there has been nothing that we can call a discussion at all. All the discussion has been almost altogether on one side. Not only has there been very little debate, but there have been no Amendments put down by the supporters of the Government. Yes, there have been two or three. One was by the hon. Member for Northampton, and he showed the desire he had of amending the Bill by speaking against his own Amendment. Another was put down by the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire. It was discussed today; and when the House was about to vote on it, unless I am mistaken, the hon. Member walked out of the House to avoid voting for his own Amendment. I do not call these serious Amendments. The hon. Member for Northampton is a humorous person, and he may have thought it a joke to put down an Amendment and vote against it, but my hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvonshire—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I was going to say that my hon. Friend was not a jocose person, but after what he has just said I can hardly say that. What is it, by his own confession, that he has done? He has put down an Amendment on the 1st clause, and he proposes 672 to vote upon it on the 6th clause. If the 6th clause was the right place to vote for his Amendment, why on earth did he put it down on the 1st clause? What I was going to say was that such Amendments as have been put down on the Government side of the House are pour rire and not serious Amendments. Here is a great majority of over 350 Members, and they have not put down a single Amendment on the Bill. Now, why is that? It must be for one of two reasons. Either because they think this Bill is perfect—perfect in every line, in every clause, in every word; for not even to a word have they ventured to put down an Amendment. It must either be that, or else the only other conclusion we can arrive at is that, in spite of all their statements in the country, they have felt that it was more than their political lives wore worth to put down Amendments, and therefore they have come here prepared to swallow anything the Government put before them as a sort of a jubilee testimonial to my right hon. Friend. I leave them to judge between one or other of those alternatives. There is no other. Either the Bill is, in their opinion, perfect, or—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I think the hon. Member for North Louth is under a misapprehension. This is the Committee of the House of Commons, not a meeting of the shareholders of The Freenman's Journal.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY rose—[Cries of "Order!"]
MR. T. M. HEALY
Yes, Sir. I wish to ask whether it is in Order on a clause to debate the Bill at large?
The clause is an extremely important one, and I cannot say that the right hon. Gentleman is out of Order.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I was saying, Sir, that there are only two alternatives open to hon. Members who support the Government. Either they believe the Bill to be perfect, or else they, for other reasons best known to themselves, refuse to give effect to any attempt 673 to revise the Bill. In either case, we have to bear in mind that in future we are to have no assistance from them in amending the Bill, and that our Amendments are entirely and absolutely at the mercy of the right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Front Bench. If they say "No" to them, no matter how reasonable they are, and how entirely hon. Members behind the Government may agree with us, we know that in future they will vote with the Government against us. In spite of these tactics, we have succeeded in eliciting some information from the Government in the course of this Debate; and I would go further and say that their silence has been even more instructive to us than what they have said. In the first place, there are certain things about which we now know, owing to statements made by the Government; but there are still, unfortunately, some other important points in the Bill about which we know nothing as to the intentions of the Government. I will take, first, the points upon which we know nothing, and upon which they have maintained practically an entire silence. We are to create a Legislature for Ireland. When we were discussing this question on the Second Reading the question of Ulster was raised. We said that, upon the principle laid down by the Government, the principle that any part of a nation, desiring by a great majority of its Representatives to have a certain form of Government, was entitled to have a subordinate Legislature—we said that that principle, if it governed Ireland as regards the rest of the United Kingdom, governed the case of Ulster with reference to the rest of Ireland. We were told, in the first place, that the question of Ulster deserved very little consideration.
§ MR. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)
I rise to Order, Sir. [Cries of "Order!"] I wish to ask, can the right hon. Gentleman discuss on this 1st clause—On and after the appointed day there shall be in Ireland a Legislature consisting of Her Majesty the Queen and of two Houses, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly—can the right hon. Gentleman deal with the whole subject-matter of the Bill?
I understand that the hon. Member asks me a question with regard to this clause. The whole clause is open to discussion; but, of course, it is not open to the right hon. Gentleman to discuss any other clause in detail.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN rose.
At the time the hon. Member rose to Order the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was speaking to Order, and I did not hear what he said.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I submit, Sir, on the point of Order, that this is a clause for establishing a Legislature for the whole of Ireland. I am opposing the clause, and I am going to show why and in what way it may be desirable to cut out a portion of Ireland from the operation of the clause. I oppose the clause, among other reasons, because it applies to the whole of Ireland.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON
[Cries of "Order!" and interruption]: I wish to point out, Sir, on the point of Order, that the right hon. Gentleman's speech up to the present has been a complaint that Amendments have not been put upon the Paper. ["Order, order!"] In connection with that, I draw your attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has declined to avail himself of his right to put a single Amendment down.
I have been listening to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and up to the present moment he certainly has not been out of Order.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
It certainly is a strange thing, Sir, that hon. Gentlemen opposite who cannot speak in this House are allowed to interrupt. Their object evidently is—they can have no other purpose than—to break down the speeches of their opponents. One result of these disorderly interruptions will be, of course, to prolong the Debate. I was saying that this clause provides a Legislature for the whole of Ireland, but I was 675 going on to say that when we discussed the propriety of excluding Ulster, although in the first instance the Representatives of the Government—particularly the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Bryce)—spoke contemptuously of the Representatives of Ulster, at a later period of the Debate the Chief Secretary spoke much more seriously of their claims to consideration. He spoke of the great demonstration in Belfast and of the gravity of the situation. But what I complain of is that, having admitted the gravity of the situation, which every man of common sense must see is sufficiently serious, without embittering it with such observations as were made earlier in the Debate, the Chief Secretary offers no solution of it on behalf of the Government. He merely repeated one of those appeals made so frequently to hon. Members from Ulster to accept the Bill and to join with the rest of Ireland in making the new Legislature a success. I am not going to say whether Ulstermen are right or wrong; but we all know—the Chief Secretary knows—that they refused this appeal and they are going to be converted. Whether you think it right or wrong, the people of Ulster, and of North-East Ulster in particular, will not have this Home Rule Bill. It is not safe, it is not statesmanlike for the Government to admit the gravity of the issue; and knowing, as they must know, that, they cannot overcome the difficulty by a mere appeal, not to put before the House their own proposal for dealing with the difficulty. Because I rather judge they have a proposal. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, in the previous discussion, spoke of his willingness to consider a scheme for removing a portion of Ireland from the scheme of this Bill. I say that my right hon. Friend had expressed his willingness to give consideration to any practical scheme for shielding Ulster from his Bill which might be proposed very good. But that is just my complaint. I do not think it is fair of the Government to throw upon us the onus of suggesting a scheme. It is they who have made the difficulty by bringing forward this Bill, and it is for them to show how that difficulty is to be removed. Do they know how it can be removed? Have they a clause which in their own minds is a practical one for 676 removing the difficulty, or do they think it is a difficulty irremoveable and impossible to be dealt with? If they have a proposal, they ought to put it on the Table and say how they propose to deal separately with Ulster or any portion of Ulster; but if they believe it passes the wit of man to devise any arrangement by which Ulster shall be satisfied, then I ask you, Sir, to take note that when they are passing this clause, by the confession of the Government themselves, we are face to face with a difficulty they are altogether unable to surmount. I think that the reason that has been given hitherto by the Government for not proposing such a clause has been that they had no ground to believe that Ulster would accept it. I admit that they have no ground to believe that the Representatives of Ulster will accept any clause they propose. I think myself that the Representatives of Ulster are making a mistake. I think they are bound in consistency with what we have all said on their behalf, and with what they have themselves said, to accept any diminution of the evil of this Bill; and if a certain portion of Ireland could be spared the curse, I think they ought to vote for it. I know why they do not accept it. It is from a feeling of chivalry—from the belief that they are bound to stand by; the scattered minority in other parts of Ireland. But I think that while they are bound to stand by that minority, they would be better able to defend it if this should become law, outside the proposed new Parliament under a Government of their own, than they ever will be if they only form a minority in the Home Rule Parliament. Therefore, I think the Ulster Members have been wrong hitherto in rejecting an arrangement for an Amendment to exclude Ulster from the operation of the Bill. But, even if they maintain that view, I still assert that it is the duty of the Government to make this proposal. They, at all events, ought to make a clean breast in the matter, and to let us see what is in their minds with regard to it. I pass on to another point on which we still feel in doubt, as to the intentions of the Government—namely, the question of the retention of the Irish Members in this Parliament.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
There are too many Chairmen of Committees in 677 this House. When I tried to get the assent of the Government to discuss this very important question at the outset of the Bill, my right hon. Friend declined, and declared that any attempt to raise a discussion at that period was premature—that is to say, before dealing with the question of the Irish Legislature it was premature to raise the question of the retention of the Irish Members, although the question of supremacy almost entirely depends upon how that matter is to be dealt with. I have no doubt that when we come to the question of the retention of the Irish Members we shall be told that we cannot discuss the question of supremacy, and that the question of supremacy will be excluded on the question of the retention of the Irish Members. The object of the Government is to confine us on every clause to what is within the clause itself without dealing in the slightest degree with the other clauses that bear upon it. [Cheers.] Yes, and hero are people who think that reasonable. This is the Gladstonian view of the discussion upon the Bill. You are to discuss each clause and each Amendment separately, without the slightest regard to its relation to the other parts of the Bill. I say that this question of the retention of the Irish Members is of the utmost importance, and has a close relation with the subject under discussion. Upon this matter we have no definite declaration; but we are told that we can propose a clause. What we want to know is, whether they will adhere to the clause? The right hon. Gentleman rather chaffed me, because he said I had asked him to say that he would adhere to the essentials of the clause, and that I was to be his guide to say what were the essentials of the clause. The essence of the clause is that Irish Members are to be retained for Imperial subjects and not for British subjects. That is all. I am not asking as to the method by which that is to be accomplished, or as to the details. What I asked before, and what I ask again, is this, Does the right hon. Gentleman adhere to the principles he has himself laid down in the most definite language in his speeches in the country, that you will not have the Irish Members, with a Parliament of their own, coming here to discuss British affairs? I cannot understand why there 678 should be any secrecy upon this matter with regard to the intentions of the Government. I do not suppose, and I never have supposed, that they were going to alter their plan. I have seen it stated in some papers—and some of them Gladstonian papers—that they were going to alter their plan; but as they cannot do so without a direct breach of faith, I do not believe they are going to alter it. But then, why do they not say so? If they would say so at this stage of the proceedings, they would considerably shorten the Debate. They would have avoided the earlier Debate on the Motion to postpone the clauses, and they would have avoided the allusions I am now making. This is not all. Here is another question—and I am dealing only with vital questions—of the utmost importance on which we are being kept in the dark. I refer to the financial arrangements under this Bill. We are to create a Legislature in Ireland. One of the cardinal points in reference to the creation of a separate Legislature was stated in 1886 by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) to be that there should be a fair financial arrangement between the two countries. Now we are told that the Financial Clauses are to be postponed to the end of the Bill—that is to say, that we are to be committed to every part of the Bill, to the full and complete scheme, and it is not until the majority have been committed to that that we are to be told what the cost is to be. A very important question arises out of this. I assert deliberately that the financial scheme of the Government, as proposed in the Bill, has utterly broken down—I am not talking now of differences of opinion, but of facts—broken down because, as the right hon. Gentleman himself admits, of the inaccuracy of the estimates upon which the scheme has been based. I have been told a story about this. I do not know whether it is accurate in all its details, but it is very amusing and very characteristic. I am told that some years ago the Treasury of this country wanted for some purpose of statistics, or something of the kind, to ascertain the amount of Irish whisky that paid excise in Ireland, and that, was consumed in England. They communicated with the officials in Ireland, and asked them in 679 future to distinguish in their Returns be-between the two. I do not know what the Irish officials did as to the Returns required, but I am reminded of what the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) told us the other day of an Irishman who had said that we, a stupid people, were trying to govern a keen-witted people, and that that was where the difficulty arose. These keen-witted officials could not understand what the stupid Exchequer officials were doing; and instead of doing what the blundering English officials would probably have done, and making a very accurate and careful examination, they took a shot at it, and ever since these Returns have been made upon an estimate for which there is no justification in fact. At the present time, as the right hon. Gentleman told me in answer to a question, an inquiry is going on, and I am told that that inquiry has already shown that the figures are incorrect, and that the surplus for the Irish Legislature, which was estimated at £500,000, will be lessened by one-half, or, at all events, by by some very considerable amount. If that is the case—and my right hon. Friend told me that an error had been discovered—if that is the case, what becomes of this financial scheme? We are not to know what is the alternative scheme—for there must be an alternative scheme—until we come to the very end of the Bill, perhaps in the Dog Days and when we are all pretty well tired out. Then, and then only, shall we know what is the price England is to pay for Home Rule for Ireland. One thing we do know—namely, whatever arrangement will be made, the financial scheme will be extremely costly to this country. We know it is not the intention of the Government to ask for a fair contribution from Ireland according to her taxable capacity. England is to be asked to make a contribution of £500,000 from the beginning, possibly to be reduced later in aid of the Irish Constabulary. That we know, and I think it is a great pity we did not know it before the General Election. We are going to pay £500,000 a year towards the Irish Constabulary, but in my opinion, when we come to discuss the Financial Clauses, we shall find that the loss is much greater than that. We did not know that before the last General Election; we do know 680 it before the next Election, and we shall take care that the electors know it also. Well, another question of very great importance has been raised in the Debate, as to which we cannot get any information from the Government. I asked my right hon. Friend once or twice for information in regard to the proposals which the Government would make in reference to obtaining what is called the war subsidy from Ireland. This is not a small matter; it is of the very essence of the Bill. Why do we oppose this Bill? We oppose it because we believe it is dishonourable in us to betray and desert our fellow-subjects in Ireland, and because we believe it would constitute a great danger to England; because we believe that in time of national danger, in time of war, and in time of stress, we could not rely on the resources of Ireland as we can under the existing system. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, What are the proposals of the Government? He has refused to put them on the Table at the present time. He says he will present them before the Financial Clauses come on for discussion—that is to say, some months hence. I could well conceive the case of an independent Member who might be prepared to vote for Home Rule under ordinary circumstances, but who, if he found that there were no means of obtaining from Ireland its fair contribution in case of war, would vote against the Bill altogether. Yet we have no information given to us. Why is the House not given any information? There must be a reason, and I think it is pretty evident. It is because hon. Members opposite have said distinctly that they object to the Financial Clauses as they stand, and that they will object to any subsidy in time of war. My right hon. Friend knows that if he put down a clause giving us the same powers as regards subsidy as we have now in time of war, they would not give the same friendly assistance to the Government as they are now giving. I have referred to these four important points on which we axe still kept in the dark. I want now to point out to the House one or two things on which some light has been thrown. In the first place, we have discovered that the safeguards in the Bill are absolutely 681 illusory. We have discovered that they are accepted by the Irish Members because they know they are illusory. The Government are perfectly consistent. They think that any safeguard is unnecessary. We know they have only put them in to satisfy the prejudices of the British public, and they hardly take the pains to treat them. Look at this question of a Second Chamber. We were told yesterday—and it was a very suggestive statement of the Government, bearing in mind that the sole thing we were discussing was the principle of a Second Chamber—that the supporters of the Government who voted with the Government voted for the principle. When hereafter, at the beginning of next year, they are trying to get up an agitation about the House of Lords, we shall certainly remind them that they have done their very best to set up a shoddy House of Lords in Ireland. We did not treat it as a question of principle; we treated it as a question of the practical application of a principle, and we said the Second Chamber proposed would be absolutely useless as a safeguard to the Irish people. Again we have the usual tactics of the Government. My right hon. Friend says he attaches great importance to a Second Chamber, but the details will be open to discussion. He wants to make it a real and effective Body. It has been proved beyond a shadow of doubt that it will not be a really effective Body, but that it will be practically elected by the same interests as the First Chamber. That having been proved, why does not my right hon. Friend tell us what he is prepared to substitute for his Second Chamber, so that it may become an effective Chamber and may establish what my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney) called the principle of dubitancy in the discussion of political questions by bringing about delay and hesitation? My right hon. Friend stopped short just where his communications would have been most interesting. He is willing to make it an effective Body, but he absolutely declines to tell us how he will do so. Then I come to the most important of all the points raised—the question of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin, in a speech which was so clear, so excellent, so moderate, and 682 so unanswerable that it could be answered only by the Closure, pointed out that this was a really serious and vital issue; that it was a question whether the supremacy was to be vital or sterilised, whether it was to be active or dormant. We have from the Government assurances upon this point which, so far as they relate to their intentions, are perfectly satisfactory to me. They have said in terms which are as clear as, I believe, they can make them that they intend the supremacy to be a real and active supremacy. It is to be a supremacy over all persons and all matters. It is to be a supremacy which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister once said he hoped the House of Commons would not exercise unjustly or unwisely, and which he could not doubt was sufficient for any purpose whatever. That fully and clearly expresses the mind of the Government and their intentions in proposing this Bill. I have no doubt it expresses with equal fulness the intentions of hon. Members behind them. Does it express with equal fulness the opinions of hon. Members opposite? We have to get to the bottom of that. [Interruption.]
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
You are not dumb.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
I move that those words be taken down, Sir. I heard the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) say, "You are knocked up."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
The noble Lord is wholly mistaken. Another hon. Member said, "You are not dumb."
§ MR. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
The noble Lord will, perhaps, accept the statement of the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston) as to the words used.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I should like to make an explanation. The right hon. Member for Birmingham said he should like to get an answer from the Irish Benches, and I said, "They are all dumb."
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
I am bound to say that the noble Lord has, owing to the noise, misconceived the phrase used. I am bound to say, in justice to the hon. and learned Member for North Louth, that he made no such remark.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
Well, Sir, this is a question which ought to be decided with the Speaker in the Chair.
§ MR. ROSS (Londonderry)
I must, in the interests of fair play, say that what has been stated by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) is quite correct. The hon. Member for North Louth did not speak at all. May I state how the mistake arose? The hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston) said, "They are all dumb," and the hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. Mac Neill) said, "You are not dumb, and it would be of great advantage if you were."
Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the words be taken down? [Cries of "No!"] There was so much noise that I am bound to say that I heard nothing. It is clearly not the pleasure of the Committee that the words be taken down.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY and Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN
rose together, and remained standing amid cries of "Order!"
Unless the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham gives way he is in possession.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am sure I should not have taken the slightest exception to the words, which have now been accurately given. If the hon. Member (Mr. Mac Neill) thinks it would be a good thing for his Party that we should be dumb, I quite agree with him. I was going to say that the statement made by the Government and adopted by their supporters with regard to the supremacy is perfectly satisfactory; but what we want to know is whether it is accepted in the same sense by hon. Members opposite? It is with reference to that that their silence is so ominous. It is in. connection with this that so much importance is to be attached to the past utterances of hon. Members. We do no know what they think now, because they 684 refuse to speak; but we do know what they have said with regard to this subject in the past, and I think myself bound to bring before the Committee what Members occupying conspicuous positions as Leaders of the Party opposite have said on this question of the supremacy. This Bill is in the nature of a treaty between the Members of the Government and the Members representing the Nationalist Party in Ireland. Is it not foolish to conclude a treaty when you have no knowledge whether the other Party accepts it in the same sense as yourself? I will quote first the language of Mr. Parnell, and I do so because, as far as I know, his language has never been repudiated by any Member of the Nationalist Party, to whatever section he belongs. Speaking at Ennis on the 1st. February, 1891, Mr. Parnell said—We have shown the world that Ireland now, as always, stands fast to her claim to be sovereign within her own kingdom and country; that she refuses to admit any English veto; that she declines to obey the orders, so far as her own business is concerned, of any Imperial or English Minister, taskmaster, or dictator.That is perfectly clear. Ireland is to be supreme so far as her own business is concerned, and there is to be no English veto. Under this Bill Ireland is not supreme so far as her own legislation is concerned—the English Parliament retains the right to legislate for Ireland. Therefore, Mr. Parnell's first condition is not fulfilled. There is an English veto in this Bill; there is a veto by the Crown on the advice of British Ministers. There are, therefore, two things in this Bill that Mr. Parnell declared for himself and for the Irish people they would never accept. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, have they changed their minds? Do they accept them now? I know perfectly well why they are silent in this House except, for noisy interruptions. They are silent because they dare not repeat in this House what they have said in the country outside. When some hon. Member referred to what had been said out- side he was asked for proofs. I have the proofs here. I have quoted Mr. Parnell. There is not a single Member on the Irish Benches opposite who has repudiated Mr. Parnell's statement. They are to be hold bound by that statement, 685 and they are bound by their own statements. I admit there is another hypothesis—they may have changed their minds entirely since 1892; they may now be prepared to accept a subordinate Parliament with an English veto; but they have not said so. I say there is no folly more inconceivable than the folly of hon. Members who, with these facts before them—that in 1892 these gentlemen said they would never accept it, and that they remain silent and will not say they will accept it—still ask the House of Commons to believe they will do so. I now come to the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond). I am sorry he is not in the House. I can give a great number of Quotations from him all to the same effect. I have fortified myself in case of interruption, but it may be enough to quote one or two passages. In the Debate which took place in this House on the 15th of February, 1892, the hon. Member said—Mr. Parnell said—'We want a Parliament with full powers to manage the affairs of Ireland, without trenching on any Imperial prerogative or injuring any Imperial or English interest; but the Parliament we must have must be supreme with regard to Irish questions.' And Mr. Parnell said there should be no veto for the Irish Parliament except such a veto as was exercised in England. He wanted to know whether that was what the light hon. Member for Derby was speaking of when he talked of 'Mr. Parnell's Fenian Home Rule?'' There was not an Irish Representative or politician who would accept one jot less as a final or satisfactory settlement of the Home Rule Question than what was contained in that programme of Mr. Parnell's.Can there be anything plainer than that? I suppose the hon. Member for Waterford is accepted as one of the Leaders of the Irish people? You are making a treaty with him which he tells you beforehand that he is not prepared to accept. The hon. Member made a very clever speech the other day, which was evidently intended to minimise the effect of his former declarations; but he in no way contradicted them. It is clear that the hon. Member is willing for his own purposes that this Bill should pass, not as a final settlement, but as an instalment of something better in the future; and he is willing to swallow it with all its defects. But he has never told us that he approves of it. I have one word more to say on the hon. Member, and I hope that some of his Colleagues will 686 tell him what I have said when he returns. The hon. Member said very recently—I think in the article he wrote—that either he or his friends would propose Amendments in the Bill to the effect that the Imperial Parliament should have no right to legislate on Irish affairs. Why has not the hon. Member done so? I should like to know whether the hon. Member is prepared to say in his place in this House that he has not done so because he has changed his mind, and because he is now willing that the Imperial Parliament shall have a right to interfere in Irish affairs. It is said that the Party led by the hon. Member is neglected by the Government; but, at all events, that cannot be said of the Party which is represented by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. M'Carthy). What does the hon. Member for Longford say on this subject? Speaking on the 16th of December, 1892, the hon. Member said—Even accepting Sir Edward Reed's letter, and its reference to Mr. Redmond's demands, I see nothing in these demands that is extravagant of unreasonable, and therefore cannot conceive that Sir Edward has any real reason to make them the excuse for opposing the Bill.That is to say, the hon. Member for Longford adopted the language of the hon. Member for Waterford, and accepted the conclusions he laid down. Will the hon. Member for Longford tell us that he has changed his mind, and that he is prepared to accept the proposition that the Irish Parliament is to be a subordinate Parliament? Of course, if he would say that, that would conclude the argument. We should then have to admit that the treaty between the Government and the Nationalist Party was complete, and that both Parties had accepted its terms. If the hon. Member will not say that, it matters not whether he is silent or not, because we shall be able to put our own interpretation on his silence, and that will be quite sufficient for any purpose we may have in view. I go now to the declarations of the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. W. O'Brien). The first will be found in The Freeman's Journal of the 29th of January, 1892, as follows:—I take it that we are all united in demanding that the Irish Parliament, while it acts within its own province, shall be as free from Imperial meddling as the Parliaments of Australia or Canada.687 Does this Bill give to the Irish people an Australian or a Canadian Constitution? Under this Bill will the Irish Parliament be as free as the Parliaments of Australia and Canada? The hon. Member knows, not only that that is not so, but that Her Majesty's Government have declared that it shall not be so. I ask the hon. Member for Cork what is the precise reservation under which he is prepared to accept this Bill? Then there is another Leader of the Nationalist Party. One never knows who will be the ultimate Leader of the Party, and therefore I quote several. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), speaking at Dungannon on the 18th October, 1891, said—We stand here to-day representing to the fullest the policy which for 15 years we learned from the lips of Parnell himself. We stand here under the old banner of independent Irish nationality.Speaking on the 6th of December, 1891, the hon. Member used these very remarkable words—Then we will try Gladstone. If his Bill gives over the government of this country into the hands of the Nationalists of this country—as I believe it will—our troubles and our struggles will be over….If it does not, we shall go on until we hare wrung from the English Parliament a measure of complete emancipation which will restore to our people the right that they lost 100 years ago to manage their own affairs.["Hear, hear!"] Do hon. Members from Ireland accept that statement? Why do they not cheer again? I do not want hon. Members opposite to say hereafter that I have misunderstood or misrepresented them. I am perfectly satisfied to give up all the other quotations, and will rest myself upon this quotation from the hon. Member for East Mayo.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is in possession of the Committee. Does the hon. Gentleman rise to Order?
§ MR. HARRINGTON
I rise to ask another question in reference to your earlier ruling upon a question of Order. I understood you to rule, Sir—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not wonder at the interruption, and the Com- 688 mittee will see the object of it. The Committee will see to what the hon. Member is reduced when he rises to a point of Order upon a previous ruling of the Chairman.
; Order, order! I have already said that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is in possession of the Committee.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
Yes, Sir. I wish to say that I did not rise to contest your ruling with reference to the point of Order to which I have referred. I was merely going to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman was not going into details which you had ruled out of Order?
§ MR. HANBURY
I rise to a point of Order, Sir. I wish to ask whether it is your ruling that an hon. Member is in Order in rising to make a personal explanation in the middle of another Member's speech?
Certainly not; but I supposed the personal explanation related to one of the passages of the speech that was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. If that is not the case, I must call upon the right hon. Member for West Birmingham to proceed.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I should wish to point out to the Committee what is the object of these continued interruptions by hon. Members opposite. This is not a small point we are discussing. I have come to a very critical point. I read a passage from the hon. Member for East Mayo, in which he said he and his hon. Friends would go on until they wrung from the English Parliament a measure which would restore to Ireland the Parliament of Grattan. [Cries of "No!"] Very well, then, I will read the whole of the quotation again—Then we will try Gladstone. If his Bill gives over the Government of this country into the hands of the Nationalists of this country—as I believe it will—our troubles and our struggles will be over….If it does 689 not, we shall go on until we have wrung from the English Parliament a measure of complete emancipation which will restore to our people the right that they lost 100 years ago to manage their own affairs.Well, the right they lost 100 years ago was Grattan's Parliament. When I read that before some Members cheered. I asked them whether they cheered it with full knowledge and accepted the view contained in it, and then they hesitated to cheer it again. It may be said that the hon. Member for South Longford (Mr. Blake) has declared that lie is willing to accept the subordinate Parliament for Ireland that is proposed by this Bill. But the hon. Member for South Longford has not been long in this House or in this country, and, fortunately, perhaps, for himself, he has no past record in reference to this question, and he may come here and tell us with perfect consistency and sincerity that he accepts this Bill. But I want to know whether hon. Members opposite, who have said again and again in the country that they would not accept this Bill, will now tell us whether they will accept it or not? Hon. Members opposite are silent. They dare not say upon the floor of this House that they accept the definition of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament contained in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. I have said that our decision upon this clause is a Second Reading decision on the Bill. I think I have said enough to show that the Bill is founded on a sham supremacy, upon sham safeguards, and, above all, upon sham finance. It is upon this sham foundation that we are asked, in words that ought to be memorable, to disintegrate the great capital institutions of the country, and to make ourselves ridiculous in the eyes of all mankind.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My right hon. Friend who has just sat down treated himself to inquiries into the objects of the interruptions to which he holds himself to be unduly exposed; and, for my part, I am curious to know he object of the speeches of my right hon. Friend, and the singular method which he adopts in those speeches. I think my right hon. Friend is cute enough to know that by far the best method that he has in his hands is time. He can only lead three Parties into the snare he lays for them. He will, notwithstanding the 690 verdict the country has pronounced, continue through their co-operation to carry on debate on this measure to such a length, and to expand its dimensions to such magnitude, that it shall pass beyond the capacity of human strength to deal with it during this Session; and my right hon. Friend will see that which evidently he greatly desires, the prolongation of this controversy and the withholding of all definite settlement from Ireland; and that that policy which has been so disastrous to us in the past shall be prolonged indefinitely in future. I tell him frankly that I think that is his object. The purpose and method he pursues are so extraordinary that by no other possible explanation can I bring it into rational consistency with the end he has in his mind, for which I must give him, and do fully give him, credit. What is my right hon. Friend's method? He complains that his arguments are not answered. From night to night, and from point to point, with infinite reiteration, he says that his arguments are not answered. And he has to-night said that he has had no answer on the subject of Ulster, no answer on the subject of finance, no answer on the subject of the retention of the Irish Members, no answer on the subject of war contribution, and no answer, as he finally winds up his speech by saying, from the Irish Nationalist Members on the subject, of supremacy. In regard to the first four questions—Ulster, retention, finance, and war contribution—on every one of these, I say that full and explicit explanation has been given, relatively to the stage at which we have arrived. Among the astounding doctrines of Constitutional and Parliamentary practice in which my right hon. Friend abounds he sets up the doctrine that we should announce at this time not only what he wanted to propose to the House about the retention of Irish Members, not only what we should endeavour to induce the House to accept, but what we would abide by as a question of life and death. He has asked us to shut our minds against discussion in the House. He is anxious to force us to announce, whatever dispositions and determinations are displayed on the part of the Representatives of the people, that there is one rigid sterotyped method of proceeding to which we have tied ourselves, and from which we cannot 691 escape, and my right hon. Friend will then endeavour to set up every expedient against the plan to which we are invited to tie ourselves, whatever that plan be. It means we are to bind ourselves before discussion as to what shall be the result of the discussion on the retention of Irish Members. Is that a reasonable request? Is the retention of Irish Members an original plan of ours? We did not propose to retain Irish Members. We deferred to the great body of opinion in this country. We saw difficulties, and insurmountable difficulties, in the adjustment of details. My right hon. Friend says I give no explanation. I believe that on introducing this Bill I gave for three-quarters of an hour every explanation upon each and every one of those methods of proceeding, and I did not tie myself to one and will not. For that very reason, having deferred to public opinion, having limited ourselves to setting out the whole and full merits of the case without stint and without prejudice, we will defer to public opinion to the end, as to the choice of the way in which we are to give form to that which we believe public opinion has desired and which we believe it does desire, and with respect to which, using our best means of judgment, and asking others to use their best means of judgment, as to the particular form for giving effect to the principle, we shall in that wav offer the best solution we can for the best settlement of the question. My right hon. Friend says there has been no statement on this subject, though he heard from the introducer of the Bill on behalf of the Government three-quarters of an hour of explanation. Yesterday or the day before I was making the best explanation my limited faculties will permit—I do not place myself in comparison with my right hon. Friend—and I had occasion in making this explanation to name my right hon. Friend and to refer to him; but, partially turning round, I saw my right hon. Friend was not in his place, and, not hearing the explanation, no doubt he is in a most convenient situation to come down to this House and demand another explanation. My right hon. Friend may, perhaps, recollect that I stated on the Second Reading that the objections to the Bill might be summed up under four heads—gratuitous assertion, persistent misrepresentation, gross exaggeration, and 692 arbitrary prophecy. He has so poor an opinion, I do not say of our principles or policy—he may think what he likes of those—but of our common sense as to suppose that the Government, the Liberal Party, and the Irish Nationalists, are going to be drawn by those taunts of his into playing his game of leading the proceedings on this Bill into indefinite elongation. Sir, we do not intend to take part in that game. He talks about finance. "A pretty business, indeed," he says. "Finance is to be put off to the close of the Bill, so that the House is first to give a Legislature to Ireland and then be informed of the cost." Does he think there is any force in that observation? Have we not informed him of the cost already?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I beg pardon—it is not wrong. There is no mistake. It is a mere question of manipulating the particular fund by which the £500,000 to be granted to Ireland is to be obtained. Supposing that the fund is £100,000 short, we are not thereby released from our pledge about the £500,000. We must find some other adjustment by means of which the balance can be restored. Therefore my right hon. Friend is grossly, entirely, and absolutely wrong, and has not a shadow of justification for it. We have stated the cost in the most explicit terms, and we adhere to them. Of course, if you want to object to a Bill of this kind, so large and involving such a multitude of important particulars—if you have the spirit of objection in you—there is no difficulty in finding materials. That is a very true explanation of the able speech of my right hon. Friend and of the speeches of other hon. Gentlemen when they produce a hash to-day of what was served up yesterday and will probably appear again in cold fragments on future occasions. My right hon. Friend tries to charm us all in this rather weary and unprofitable work; but, I say again, we do not mean to play his game. We have put finance at the end, and we have put the machinery of Irish Government in the beginning, and so he says—"This is a pretty way of proceeding. You want us to erect an Irish Government, and then to learn what it is to cost." 693 Suppose we had finance at the beginning of the Bill and the Irish Government at the end, should we have escaped his criticism? No; for he would then say—"The proceeding is preposterous, for you are going to set up a financial plan for a purpose which the House has not yet sanctioned, and as to the manner of fulfilling which we know nothing whatever." That is the spirit of his objections. Suppose we had proposed one Legislative Chamber instead of two, the ingenuity which contrived to cook up a sort of case for voting against the principle of a Second Chamber—an ingenuity evidently put in action by the hope of a brilliant division—but with a somewhat tragic result—would have been exercised with far more facility than against the actual proposal for two Chambers. I am sorry to say it; but we have adopted the principle of doing everything we can to soften animosities and to narrow the ground of hostilities, and every attempt of that kind is treated as a fresh offence. My right hon. Friend says that we mean one thing and the Irish Members mean another by supremacy; that we were making a treaty and professing to agree upon it, whereas the terms were totally different on the one side and on the other. That, he says, is an unanswered argument. Sir, it is one which I endeavoured most specifically to answer on noticing the admirable speech of his youthful relative, on which I again congratulate him. I met it by stating that it was an exaggeration, if it had any basis in fact, but that it happened to be precisely the reverse of the fact. I stated that we had listened to the explanations of the Irish Members on the vital points of supremacy, finality, and interference by the British Parliament in case of necessity for the redress of gross injustice, that we wore satisfied with them, and they formed the basis of our proposals. Our opponents say, "That is a very bad and insufficient answer," though I grappled fair and square with the proposition made, denied it in toto, and, I think, proved my denial. I made that denial upon the ground of the speeches of five leading Members of the Irish popular Party, four of them belonging to the Party bearing the name of Nationalist, and the fifth being the Leader of the small section who, for causes not quite intelligible to me and 694 which I will not attempt to describe, differentiate themselves in some degree or other from the mass of the National Party. I accept these expressions. My right hon. Friend has got a bundle of quotations—by which he says he always fortifies himself. Yes; he fortified himself against me the other day, and said that I had asserted that there could be no supremacy unless the Irish Members were in this House. I never said anything of the kind. "Oh," he said, "I have got the papers," and the Party opposite cheered at the expected triumph. He produced the papers, and what did he find? Simply that I had said I had a great respect for the feeling of those who entertained that opinion about the supremacy. Is his understanding so blunted that he never entertains a notion so absurd? Yes; I have respect for many feelings which form the ground of opinions of others, though I do not share those opinions. I am afraid my right hon. Friend differs from me fundamentally in that matter, and that he has no respect for any opinion by whomsoever expressed except his own. He came down with a heavy charge against the hon. Member for Waterford, whose speech on the Second Heading I heard with the utmost satisfaction, and he picked out a quotation from Mr. Parnell, on which I have to say that when Mr. Parnell uttered it he had ceased to be the Leader of the National Party.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
But my right hon. Friend came down very heavily on the hon. Member for Waterford, and said—"Oh, I have shown that you have stated other opinions. You state now that you accept the Bill as a settlement, but you have expressed other opinions, and you have never retracted them." Will my right hon. Friend be willing to submit himself to the same test?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
No; if the work of retraction is to begin, let him first begin. If we are to stand in a white sheet, my right hon. Friend will wear that ornamental garment the best. I listened to the speeches of the hon. Members for Waterford, for North-East 695 Cork, for Kerry, for North Longford, and South Longford, and their declarations were clear and unequivocal. I will not say by those declarations I hold them bound, because that would seem as if I entertained a suspicion which I do not entertain; but they hold themselves bound by those declarations. I accept them freely and frankly. I accept their Parliamentary declarations, and I accept Mr. Parnell's declarations of 1886 as solemn and binding and absolute, given in the name of the Irish people, as forming the ground for this House to adopt in the work of legislation. That is the ground on which we stand. I am going to give hon. Members from Ireland a bit of friendly advice. I advise them not to be drawn by my right hon. Friend—not to be drawn by those flattering, seductive, siren-like invitations—into what are sometimes called vain repetitious. As for my own part, if I were in the position of one of those gentlemen—if I had seen the wrongs and sufferings of Ireland in former times, if the iron had entered into my soul as it has entered into theirs—it is possible that I should not have been more temperate than some of them, under the circumstances, in the language I used. It is too much in the case of an oppressed country to exact strict measure of language from those who have suffered that oppression, and especially when it is borne in mind that in Ireland those who have been associated with the oppression claim for themselves an unbounded licence, and threaten prospectively and contingently resistance to the law. I dare say I shall be told that I might just as well have remained mute, and. that I have answered nothing. I have tried to answer one or two of my right bon. Friend's points, and when we come to the proper time I will again answer them. But my right hon. Friend thinks our answers bad, and because he thinks them bad he describes them as null. That is not fair. He ought to have compassion upon our limited understanding. The answers we give are the best we can make. Of course, if we cannot satisfy his superior intellect and the superior intellect of the cream of all the classes which, we are told, has been generally, if not universally, drawn into what are called the Unionist ranks, that is our misfortune 696 not our fault. And with his triumphant notes my right hon. Friend ought to mix, for decency's sake, a few syllables of commiseration. However that may be, into the snare laid by my right hon. Friend—I can speak for myself and Colleagues—we will not be driven nor lured. We will be silent, or speak according to our own judgment, and not according to the judgment of my right hon. Friend, and in claiming that reasonable liberty and choice I believe we shall best perform our duty to the country.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he rose to speak upon the Amendment of his hon. Friend behind him, as he objected to Clause 1 in toto.
There is no Amendment before the Committee. The Question is that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE
Then I rise to speak to that; but I understood my hon. Friend moved the omission of the clause.
I wish to explain. There cannot be an Amendment to the proposal that the clause stand part of the Bill.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE
said, in that case he lose to speak against the clause, and, having the clause before his eyes, he would confine his remarks to the particular Question. The clause had been attacked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) in a speech that was not only magnificent, but also trenchant and incisive. It was answered, or attempted to be answered, by the Prime Minister in a very spirited speech, emphasised with all that noble gesticulation of which he was so great a master, and at the end the right hon. Gentleman frankly remarked that those on that (the Opposition) side of the House would be saying that he had answered nothing. That was exactly what they did say—that the right hon. Gentleman never answered anything, as it appeared to them, that fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Unionist Party in that House; and they could assure the Prime Minister and his Colleagues that that policy would not facilitate business; that they should thunder at his gate day after day and week after week until he did answer such arguments as those brought forward 697 by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. A most remarkable, powerful, and, as they thought, an unanswerable speech was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney). The Solicitor General (Sir J. Rigby) rose to reply, but his mouth was shut by Closure moved by a right hon. Gentleman on his own side. The Solicitor General was invited, as one of the first legal authorities in this House and the country, to favour them with an opinion, and because he remained silent they should again and again insist on proper legal information being given on this subject. Perhaps he might revert to a remark that fell with great truth and justness from his lion. Friend behind him, who moved that this clause be rejected. His hon. Friend said this was an occasion on which every Englishman ought to record his protest. Well, he was an Englishman, representing an English constituency, and on their behalf he desired to set before the Committee and the country their most solemn and emphatic protest against this clause establishing an Irish Legislature. They would read of the passing of this clause through the Committee with the greatest alarm and apprehension. It was a clause that was abhorrent to their sentiment and contrary to their most cherished convictions; it was a clause which they would never tolerate, and which would be opposed by every means in their electoral power. He wished he could express adequately to the Committee the hatred, the disgust, and dread with which this clause would inspire the five thousand and some odd hundreds of British electors who sent him to the place where he was now standing. He could answer for his constituency, and he believed that all his Parliamentary comrades on that side of the House could answer for theirs. The Prime Minister declared that he accepted the explanations given of this clause by the Irish Nationalist Members who sat below the Gangway. It appeared to him that the Prime Minister must be thankful for very small mercies indeed if he was satisfied with those explanations the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) cited to them by quotation after quotation; how these very Members had 698 expressed, either through themselves or their Party, or their Leaders, sentiments exactly the opposite. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) brought forward statements of opinion made by Irish Members elsewhere that were unequivocal, most explicit, unlimited and unreserved. But the statements made in this House might be very pleasant to hear so far as they went, but they were not explicit as he thought; they wore reserved—they were limited. He would not say they were equivocal, as that would not be polite; but they were susceptible, as he thought, of more meanings than one. They could not be blamed if they declined to accept statements made in that House of a limited character as compared to statements outside, which were most unmistakable, unquestionable, and unlimited, and this, he begged to tell the Government, was the reason for the doubt which they entertained as to the intentions and wishes of the Nationalist Members who sat below the Gangway. After the challenge which had been flung at them by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), he earnestly hoped, even at this the eleventh hour, they would rise and explain themselves. There was a very important phrase that fell from them—namely, that they accepted this settlement or compromise pro tanto, and he believed that phrase pro tanto was repeated by the Prime Minister. Pro tanto—what did that mean? He supposed it meant it was accepted for what it was worth; they took it as far as it went; but he was afraid, from what fell from them, they would accept it merely pro tanto and pro tempore—that was, only for a little while, in the hope that soon many opportunities might arise for altering that settlement in their own favour. There were mentioned in the clause a Legislative Council and a Legislative Assembly. He had known in other countries Legislative Assemblies and Councils that had been really what they were said to be—Councils for legislation only, without any executive power. But they could not regard this clause in that light; they must take it with its context, and that context showed that many things were to follow, and that it was to be accompanied by Executive power; 699 therefore, they were bound to regard that most essential contingency. This Executive combination, inevitable according to the Bill, the Executive and legislative power conferred by this clause, rendered this now Institution a large fact, and that character could only be mitigated by a clear enunciation of the supremacy of this Parliament, and it was because they had been unable to extract or wring from the Government any businesslike or satisfactory explanation of the supremacy of Parliament that they objected to the clause. The Committee would remember that night after night, and in Debate after Debate, they endeavoured to obtain some declaration of this kind—not in a shadowy Preamble, but in the Enacting Clause—but they had wholly failed to obtain that. The Prime Minister the other day alluded to this Legislative Assembly being really subordinate, and in support of that view he stated that Mr. Parnell had accepted that character of subordination for the Home Rule Parliament to be set up here. At the time he felt uncertain whether Mr. Parnell had ever said so in this House; and not having time to refer to Hansard, he ventured to ask the Government if they would indicate the passage whore any such statement could be found in Mr. Parnell's speeches. He was bound to make the statement he did because any such idea was wholly foreign to what he knew to be Mr. Parnell's opinion. He had no particular insight into that gentleman's views, but he had heard every speech Mr. Parnell made in this House since 1886, and had read every important speech Mr. Parnell ever made outside. Well, he acknowledged that, with his usual courtesy, the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) at once referred him to a passage of the kind, and he was glad to take this opportunity of admitting that, in his speech on the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill of 1886, Mr. Parnell did use expressions which seemed to admit and acknowledge the subordination of any Parliament that might be set up in Dublin. That being so, and the Prime Minister assenting to that, he wished to know why the Government resisted the attempts made on that side of the House to insert the word "subordinate" in the clause? If this subordination was to be a strong ground to 700 them for allowing this clause to pass, and if the authority of Mr. Parnell was to be quoted in that behalf, then it would have been much more straightforward and businesslike to admit the word into the Enacting Clause. But, no; as usual, things might be said outside or in speeches and be recorded in Hansard and the like; but when they came to business, and asked that words be inserted in a clause in such a manner that every one, lawyer or layman, could understand them, and the Courts would be able to act upon them, then the Government hesitated, and it was this hesitation that made him and his friends so determined in their opposition to the clause. Allusion had been made in the Prime Minister's speech to Grattan's Parliament. He observed that the right hon. Gentleman at first seemed to imagine he had not so alluded to it, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) clearly showed that Grattan's Parliament had been largely in the right hon. Gentleman's mind; and as an English Member he (Sir R. Temple) might be permitted to say the example of Grattan's Parliament was one of the reasons that weighed in their minds in inducing them to resist this clause, because they thought they had seen how dangerous Grattan's Parliament was to the political safety of the United Kingdom. Grattan's Parliament could not be trusted, and still less could this that they proposed to set up be trusted, and the things done in Grattan's Parliament showed what would be done in this new Legislative Assembly. Grattan's Parliament was set up at the moment of England's difficulty and danger; positively the very zero point of British history was the moment that Parliament was set up, and undoubtedly it would never have been allowed but for the unexampled difficulties this country was in at that moment. Grattan's Parliament ran its course for 18 or 19 years, and within that time—although it was a Parliament consisting mainly of landlords and Protestants, and noble families, of men devoted to that very supremacy they could not get into this Enacting Clause—that Parliament raised some very awkward questions with the Government in London regarding the British supremacy in the Empire. When Grattan's Parliament was ended in 1880 701 they were then in the very thick of the great war with Napoleon, and the reason for the abolition of that Parliament was the imminent danger which threatened England from the condition of Ireland. They were involved in the great contest that followed the French Revolution, so that the end of Grattan's Parliament, which saw its birth in the midst of England's adversity, came also at the time of England's adversity, within one generation. All these examples of history made them dread the setting up of another Legislative Assembly, the rehabilitation, or the restoration, or whatever they liked to call it, of some Body in Dublin which should, in some degree, represent that Grattan's Parliament which Englishmen considered had so signally failed to satisfy those English interests they were bound to maintain in this House. As regarded Ulster, might he point out for the consideration of his English Parliamentary Colleagues that there was one argument in the case of Ulster which appeared to them to have never been answered and to be unanswerable. Whatever might be stated hereafter about Clause 9, whether they were to have the total absence of Irish Members, or the in-and-out clause, or the omnes and omnia regulation—something must happen. He called them the three horns of the dilemma. Generally speaking, there were only two horns to a dilemma, but this was a dilemma where they had three. Whichever horn of the dilemma was selected, they contended that every Ulsterman, every elector and ratepayer of Belfast, was politically concerned, for he was entitled to say he had a right, an indefensible and inalienable right, by birth, as a British subject, to continue to be represented here, and to have the full power and liberty of a British citizen, and of those privileges he could not be deprived against his will. No answer had been attempted to this question which they, as Englishmen, considered essential to the Ulster case; and until they got some answer to that, or unless their fears were satisfied, the Government might depend on their offering the most strenuous and steadfast resistance they could not only to this clause, but to all the other clauses that might follow. With regard to the Second Chamber, the 702 Prime Minister just now taunted the Members of the great Conservative Party with inconsistency for having voted against the Second Chamber. The right hon. Gentleman considered that was inconsistent with their principles. Of course, they were as anxious as any body of politicians could be to have a Second Chamber drawn from elements different from those composing the Lower House; but they denied that this Legislative Council, composed as it was by this clause, would in any way satisfy those conditions. They affirmed and re-affirmed it was a sham council, which was worse than useless as a check, or as a protection, or as a safeguard, or in any way a bulwark to the supremacy. He entertained a strong objection to the sort of sham House of Lords that it was proposed to set up in Ireland under the guise of a Second Chamber. That it would be a sham House they could not deny. They regarded the proposal, from the point of view of affording protection to the minority, as worse than worthless. In his opinion, foreign examples which were quoted in this direction operated rather as a warning against imitating them than as an inducement to follow them. The right Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) had very properly pointed out that under the provisions of the Bill England would have to pay very heavily for the pleasure of giving Home Rule to Ireland. The expenditure would mean a vast amount to the British taxpayer. The answer which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had given to the objections of the Financial Clauses of the Bill appeared to him to be little short of being childish. It could not be said that the Financial Clauses were satisfactory. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman might attempt to whittle away the powers given to the Irish Legislature under the provisions of the Bill until lie reduced that Legislature to the position of a County Council, but that was not the sort of Body which the Nationalist Members contemplated should be established in Dublin. London was ten times as rich as Ireland and just as populous; but London had to get on with a County Council. Ireland, however, did not want that. That was not the sort of Assembly Members from Ireland had in contemplation. There was something more. What they wanted 703 was real legislative authority, and more or less Executive power; and how were they to preserve the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament if they allowed the Executive in Ireland to be supreme? The Irish Assembly proposed by the Bill would be a source of danger to England in time of war, as it would refuse to bear its share in the joint burdens of the two countries when necessity demanded that they should join forces to meet the common enemy; while in time of peace it would repudiate all obligations that might have been entered into by the British taxpayer. Such a Legislature as that would weaken the influence, the prestige, and the authority of this country.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
said, he was going to deliver the first speech that he had deemed it right to deliver in the House on the question involved in the Bill. He did not count as addresses dealing with the point remarks made upon Amendments which might probably have nothing to do with the Bill. They were dealing now with a clause of the Bill, and he thought the discussion upon it would be one of great interest to the people of England. The speeches on the Second Reading of the Bill ranged over all the clauses of the Bill; but the clause now before them was one in which, in his opinion, the people of the country took more interest than they did in all the other clauses put together. They were told that the Assembly to be set up in Dublin was to be a subordinate Legislature. What had they got before them in this clause? They had at last got the full scope of the 1st clause of this Bill before them in all its iniquitous nakedness, and it showed that the Government Home Rule was nothing more nor less than the "Fenian Home Rule" of Mr. Parnell that had been denounced by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt), who, although he had recovered from the illness under which he was suffering when the Second Reading of the Bill was being debated, did not seem inclined to come forward and defend the policy of this clause now that he was in good health. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General (Sir J. Rigby) appeared to prefer to listen to other people's speeches rather than give 704 the Committee the benefit of his own views with regard to this clause. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said that he had satisfactorily answered every objection that had been raised against the clause; but if his answers had satisfied the right hon. Gentleman himself, they had satisfied no one else. The right hon. Gentleman said that he did not feel himself bound by Clause 9, relating to the exclusion of the Irish Members, and, therefore, they were all in doubt at present as to what was to be the position of the present Parliament when this Bill was passed. The Irish Members objected to the Irish Parliament being described as subordinate to the Imperial Parliament. As long as the word "subordinate" was left out, it would be said that the new Legislature was a separate and independent Legislature. Who would sign a will or a document unless he knew that the words it contained would fully carry out what he intended? Although every English and Scotch Member on the Ministerial side of the House was pledged up to the hilt in favour of a subordinate Parliament for Ireland, they refused to allow to be placed in the Bill words which would make the Assembly in Dublin an Assembly purely for the management of Irish affairs. So that in setting up this mongrel Parliament they were acting in opposition to every pledge they had given to their constituents. The opponents of the measure had a right on the Second Reading of the clause to press this fact home on the constituencies. There was one advantage from the Debate on the previous day, and that was the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. J. Bryce), who told told them that a Second Chamber was exceedingly useful for the purpose of checking hasty legislation and giving time for consideration. They would remember these words when the Chancellor of the Duchy had forgotten what he had said. The right Gentleman said that the House of Lords would have forgotten its duty if it sent back this Bill to the constituencies. But if this new Second Chamber might check hasty legislation, surely the oldest Chamber in the world might check it too. The public had been told by Ministers what they intended by Home Rule. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that 705 while it was the right of the Irish people to say what they demanded, it was equally the right of English Statesmen to consider what they could recommend the people of this country to accept. Was the Chancellor of the Exchequer prepared to recommend what he called "Fenian Home Rule" to the people of England? Was this House to he governed by Ministers who were themselves governed by the Irish vote? Would the Chancellor of the Duchy deny that the Irish vote was guided not by what was best for Great Britain, but by what was best for what Irish Members had in view? In 1886, within three or four months of the General Election, the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler)—a very important Member of the Government, because he was a representative Member, and spoke largely for the Nonconformist Bodies—said, in solemn tones at a Leeds meeting—he did not know its proper name, but he would call it a Schnadhorst Confederation—that the constituencies had spoken in no uncertain voice in favour of local self-government for Ireland, the unity of the Empire, and the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. The President of the Local Government Board carefully avoided speaking on this Bill. Would the right hon. Gentleman now get up and say that this was a Bill to establish a local Parliament in Ireland, and to secure the unity of the Empire and the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament? But the right hon. Gentleman went afterwards to Leicester, and there, perhaps after a warning from Mr. Schnadhorst, said that they would have a more moderate Bill than the Bill of 1886. Was this a more moderate Bill? It was a worse Bill in every respect. He would say, therefore, that these gentlemen went, about the country deceiving the people. It might be said that 1886 was ancient history. Then he would come to 1892. In that year the Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith) took a journey into Scotland in company with the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), who was now in his place; and when that hon. Member stated that the Irish people demanded a Parliament which should deal with every subject 706 affecting Ireland without any control from the Imperial Parliament, the Home Secretary said that, his view wasthat the Body to be established which was to be called a Parliament, might deal with Irish questions, but that it was to be subject to the interference and control of the Imperial Parliament, which should have the same power to legislate upon Irish questions as it had at the present moment.Would the right hon. Gentleman—if he spoke in the Debate—deny that he used those words? He (Mr. Heneage) believed that the people of England were being duped into having a worse Bill than that of 1886. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) had laid down very clearly what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had called Fenian Home Rule, and what the hon. Member claimed to be Parnellite Home Rule. If hon. Members were to believe what gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench had by their ambiguous speeches tried to impress upon the House they disagreed from the hon. Member for Waterford on several points. The Member for the City of Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), at one of his meetings, stated that it was in the power of the Irish Members to turn out the Ministry at any moment if they did not carry out their compact with them. But the hon. Member did not say what the compact was. He (Mr. Heneage) did not think many Members on the Ministerial Benches knew what it was.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, it must, be a new Member who was interrupting him. He thought it would be very difficult to rule anybody out of Order so long as he was referring in any degree to the speech of the Prime Minister. If that speech had been made by one of the Unionist Members, not one Member of the Irish Party, but the whole phalanx of them would have risen to call him to Order. He did not believe that the Government had any mandate given them in favour of this clause at the last Elec- 707 tion. He challenged them on this point. Why did they not create a vacancy? It was well-known that there was at this moment a vacancy for a County Court Judge. Why did they not appoint one of their legal Members to the position? If they would appoint the hon. Member for the Brigg Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Waddy) he would guarantee that the division should be contested. He desired to show that English votes and English opinion had not the slightest power, either in the Cabinet or in the House, at the present time. No statesman representing English opinions ever rose from the Treasury Bench. The Members of the Cabinet who represented the English view of Home Rule preserved an impenetrable silence. The Irish Secretary, of course, was more Irish than the Irish themselves. A Scotch Member occasionally got up to defend the Bill; but no English Member of the Government was ever allowed to speak. He would not further detain the Committee, although he thought that, as this was the first time he had spoken on the main question of this Bill or upon any other Bill respecting Home Rule in Ireland since he resigned office in 1886, he had not unduly occupied the time of the Committee.
§ *MR. DARLING (Deptford)
wished to give a few reasons why he thought an English Member must vote against the 1st clause. Even if it were conceded that some sort of Home Rule Bill should be passed, he could hardly imagine that the 1st clause could be accepted. English Members were, after all, entitled to some consideration in the House, because they expressed their opinions articulately, whilst the Irish Members did not. He could not imagine that any clause could be treated in a manner more hostile to the English Members than this clause had been by the Government. Various Amendments had been proposed respecting the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; but the Government had sternly refused to insert in the clause any declaration that the Imperial Parliament was to be supreme. On the other hand, any kind of objection taken by the Irish Members to the use of such a word as "subordination" in regard to what ought to be a strictly subordinate Assembly had 708 been at once yielded to by the Government. The Committee was told that Irish susceptibilities must be considered. The English people, however, had their susceptibilities as well as the Irish. The English people had not parted with their pride, and they had their point of honour as well as the Irish, and were more entitled to have it. [Nationalist laughter.] At all events, they knew they had it. Why, if this were a mere prejudice on the part of the English, was it not admitted in the same way as a similar prejudice on the part of the Irish Members was admitted? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Sir George Trevelyan) said long ago that, in the opinion of his Party, the game of law and order was up. It was evidently the right hon. Gentleman's opinion that we ought not to try to govern any more, but should yield everything that was asked without making the bargain too plain, in case the public should understand the foul disgrace of it and revolt against it. This he took to be the principle, as far as there was a principle, on which this Bill was based. He had really heard no reason whatever that could remove from his mind the suspicion that the Cabinet knew very well that the moment this Bill was passed the Irish Parliament would declare that the policy of the deceased Irish Leader had not been abandoned; that everything he ever claimed for Ireland must be realised by law; and that if the English Parliament denied it, the Irish Members would come to Westminster, point to their power to turn out an English Ministry, and declare that the Irish Parliament must be as independent as Mr. Parnell said it should be, and they themselves had never said it should not be. Every Amendment which had been moved by an Irish Member on this Bill had been in favour of enlarging the power which the Bill gave. How could the right hon. Gentleman opposite profess to believe that Ireland was content with this measure when the only arguments used by the Irish Members had been for the enlargement of the powers of the Bill? They had had fair notice from the Irish Members that they were not satisfied. The Irish Members would have to take what they could get and go away; but, in the meantime, they had given the Govern- 709 ment notice that they desired a Parliament—it Senate and a House of Commons. The Government had refused this; but, knowing what they did of their Irish friends, did they expect that they had heard the last of those things? How long would it be before the Irish Members came back and renewed their application? Why, they would do so before the termination of the official lives of the present Ministry, and he could hardly name a shorter period. Remembering that Mr. Parnell had declared on oath that he had made a false statement in the House of Commons with the object of entrapping and deceiving the House, and remembering that there wore still some Irish Members who did not repudiate either Mr. Parnell's leadership or his morals, it was very probable that any statement which came from the Irish Benches would be received with the utmost incredulity. [Cries of "Divide!"] Until someone had got up from the Irish Benches, and had entirely disavowed the political methods of Mr. Parnell, and had said that he did not approve of Mr. Parnell's method of treating the House of Commons, it would be useless for Irish Members to give the House any kind of assurance. He did not wish to depreciate the Irish Representatives, but this he would say: that there was not one of those Members who stood higher in the estimation of the House than Mr. Parnell stood. Was there a Gladstonian who would say that be ranked any Irish Member higher than Mr. Parnell? [Cries of "Divide!" and "Question!"] And what was the value of Mr. Parnell's assurances to the House? Nothing! For that hon. Members had Mr. Parnell's own word on oath; and he certainly did not put the assurances of the Nationalist Members higher. The Irish Members had, therefore, shown not only profound political discretion, but a nice sense of what was due to hon. Members opposite, by not attempting to delude the House with any assurances whatever.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman who bad just sat down had concluded by making a violent attack upon a dead great man.
§ *MR. DARLING
I made no attack upon Mr. Parnell. I praised him at the expense of those who have survived him.
§ MR. STOREY
said, that if the hon. Gentleman had made the attack honestly and openly be should have thought more of him. He would remind the hon. Member that he had said that Mr. Parnell stated one thing in one place and another thing in another place.
§ MR. STOREY
Surely that was an attack on Mr. Parnell? He had known Mr. Parnell well, and he respectfully said to the House that it would minister to their sense of propriety, and would be more in consonance with propriety and with Conservative traditions, if those who were dead were left alone. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that the policy of the Government seemed to be to yield everything that was asked.
§ *MR. DARLING
said, he had drawn particular attention to several things that had been asked but which had not been granted, and as to which the Government had given no reply.
§ MR. STOREY
said, that if the hon. and learned Member thought he did not make use of the words he (Mr. Storey) had taken down he would not press the matter. The reason he interposed was because complaint had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham that the supporters of the Government did not speak and did not move Amendments. Well, he admitted that they did not speak; but he put it to the right hon. Gentleman, who was a very frank man, whether, if he had been sitting on the Treasury Bench as a Minister of the Crown—and Heaven knew he wished the right hon. Gentleman had been—if, instead of opposing the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman had been defending and supporting it—which was a possible supposition, what would have been his counsel to himself (Mr. Storey) 711 and other independent Members of his Party? It would have been to "hold your tongues as much as you can vote square, and leave the Amendments to your opponents." Knowing the right hon. Gentleman's internal convictions on this matter he did not listen to his public speeches, which were drawn from him by the exigencies of his present unfortunate position; but he respected his inner consciousness, and obeyed what he knew was the right hon. Gentleman's interior thought. The right hon. Gentleman said that the supporters of the Government did not propose Amendments to the Bill. He was quite wrong. They had not proposed any Amendments on Clause 1, and why?—because, again guided by that reverence for the right hon. Gentleman's ancient authority which they all had in their hearts—[laughter.]—yes, ancient respect though present sorrow for a good man gone wrong—they agreed with every word in the clause. While the right hon. Gentleman was making his speech he had counted up the Liberal Amendments to the Bill, and he found there were 104 of them. He might tell his right hon. Friend—for he was sure it would comfort him—that some of the Amendments, at any rate, would be persisted in. With regard to the clause he was going to vote for it, because he believed it was a proper and righteous thing to do. What was the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's argument? It was that before he voted for the clause under consideration he must be told what the Government were going to do as to the supremacy, the retention of the Irish Members, and finance. And then the right hon. Gentleman challenged hon. Members to say frankly what they thought on those points. He would give the right hon. Gentleman two answers. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman what he thought about the supremacy when they came to Clause 6, what he had to say about the retention when they came to Clause 9, and he would tell him what he thought about finance when they came to Clause 10. That did not satisfy the right hon. Gentleman. He wanted a present answer. Very well; he (Mr. Storey) would give a present answer. He had no authority to speak for a single Member besides himself; but he would 712 speak what he knew to be the opinion of a considerable number of hon. Members, and what he was sure was the opinion of the honest, intelligent Radicals in the North of England—he would say what they meant by supremacy for the Irish Parliament.
§ MR. STOREY
Yes, it was a Parliament. A Parliament was a speaking House, and no one would deny that the House on College Green would be that. It was to be an Assembly of Irishmen, elected by the Irish people upon the broadest franchise that they could get, to carry on the business of Ireland in Ireland for the benefit of the Irish people, and within that scope it was to do as it pleased without any meddling interference from hon. Members here. There were many hon. Members opposite willing to take sensible views; and though he was an old Home Ruler and anxious to get Home Rule as soon as possible, he believed that by the arrangements of Providence it would probably be a Tory Government that would pass Home Rule. They were sure to have Home Rule at some time or other passed by someone. If an Irish Parliament was not to manage Irish affairs according to its judgment there was only one alternative. The measures of the Irish Parliament must be reviewed and decided upon here. Did hon. Members opposite contemplate with satisfaction such an idea as that? It was bad enough now to have Irish matters here; but if those matters were first debated in Dublin and then reviewed here; what would become of those British measures which hon. Members opposite wanted so much to get passed? If they did not have that, it followed that they must leave substantial control in Irish matters to the Irish Parliament—and that was what he meant by supremacy. Now, as to retention, he would tell hon. Members opposite what he meant by it. He would say what he was going to do. He was in favour of the Irish Members being left at Westminster, for he contemplated the time—though the right hon. Gentleman rather gibed some of them for contemplating it—when there would be an As- 713 sembly in England for English affairs, in Scotland for Scotch affairs, in Wales for Welsh affaire, and in Ireland for Irish affairs.
§ MR. STOREY
said, he called this too bad. Hon. Members opposite asked for a frank expression of opinion; he gave them his, and then they interrupted with all sorts of jocular observations. It was not kind—it was not fair. He contemplated that, and contemplating that he was in favour of keeping the Irish Members here, because everyone could see, if that condition of things were achieved, the Imperial question settled itself. There would be nothing but Imperial questions to be settled by this Imperial House. And now he came to finance. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. He did not care how they did it, but he maintained that England was not going to give this Assembly to Ireland unless they gave it in such a financial position that it would have a reasonable chance of successfully conducting the affairs of the country. It was said the plan in the Bill did not suit—that the figures did not fit. That was quite probable. If the right hon. Gentleman himself (Mr. Chamberlain) had been in the Ministry it would have been probable.
§ MR. STOREY
said, he came from a part of the country where the people were very careful of their bawbees—almost as careful as the Scotch, and that was saying a good deal. They were not disposed to waste money, but his view was that Ireland, when it stated on this business, should start on a satisfactory footing. If there was to be a settlement they should remember the old history of Ireland and England. They should remember that they had done Ireland wrong in the past, and should settle the contribution of Ireland by her possibilities. If he had to strike a balance he should give something in, and make such a settlement as a man made with a gentle- 714 man he had wronged. Did the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham think he had spoken frankly?
§ MR. STOREY
said, if the right hon. Gentleman thought so he was satisfied. In conclusion, would the right hon. Gentleman permit him, as an old friend, to say this: the right hon. Gentleman had frequently been kind to him, and he did not think he had been unkind to the right hon. Gentleman. He would venture to say to the right hon. Gentleman that he thought it would be well if he would remember his ancient relations with the Liberal Party. Knowing the right hon. Gentleman's capacity and the bent of his mind, and his sound convictions upon many democratic questions, he thought it would be well for him not to waste his strength in the House in being the swashbuckler of the Tory Party, but would contemplate the time when in happier circumstances—
§ MR. STOREY
An hon. Member said "Never." He hoped he was a new Member. He (Mr. Storey) had been long enough in the House to know that political animosities died out. He did not refuse to acknowledge the prominent services the right hon. Gentleman had rendered to Radicalism in the past; and he, for one, still hoped when in happier circumstances, this wretched business being settled, the right hon. Gentleman and himself, and many other Radicals there, might be spared to act together for the relief of the toilers, and to act together to take ransom from those who did not toil or spin. He had made a speech. He had spoken exactly what he thought, and what a great many more were thinking, and if they did not speak again and again it was because they were practically common-sense men. They wanted this Bill to pass, and every speech they made only postponed that happy consummation.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
The hon. Member who has just sat down has claimed for himself that he has made a frank explanation. Well, it certainly has been very frank. 715 He has sketched out to us a Bill for giving Home Rule to Ireland very different from the Bill now on the Table, and he also indicated to us a programme by means of which, when this wretched Bill is out of the way—
§ MR. STOREY
I said, "this wretched business," meaning the cleavage between the Radical Party and some of their former friends.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
Of course, I accept the hon. Member's statement. The hon. Member then pointed to a time when, this wretched business being out of the way, the Gladstonian Party might be expected to return within the fold of the old Liberal Party from which they departed seven years ago. I must say I think that his explanation was not only singularly frank, but was one that was very welcome to us on this side of the House, because we are perfectly persuaded that any body or Party who puts forward such a programme would not have the slightest chance of securing its acceptance at the hands of the people of the country. But I desire to turn for a few moments to another speech—to that of the Prime Minister. I do not for a moment desire to make a complaint as to his absence from the House. We can all understand it; but I should like to say that after having elaborated the objections he had to answer, and having expressed a desire to answer all of them, he sat down without having answered a single one. He made a statement which filled me with surprise. He said that he had previously given explanations of all the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham at an earlier period of the evening. A more astounding statement was never made in Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman made such explanations he has not made them clear to this House, which is still in as much doubt as it ever was as to the intentions of the Government upon some of the most important provisions in the Bill. No doubt the reason he is unable 716 to make his explanations clear to us is because he lives upon a different planet to us. The right hon. Gentleman sits down feeling certain of having demolished the arguments we have brought forward, and feeling certain that nothing remains to be answered; and yet we feel that, somehow or other, the fog which surrounds this subject has not been lifted, but has been made more dense than it was before. I cannot help referring to a statement made to mo a good many years ago by a witness absolutely unimpeachable. I was often told by my father that in 1845, when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) retired from the Government then in power, Sir James Graham wrote a letter to Sir Robert Peel in which he referred to the impending resignation of the right hon. Gentleman; and he said in the conclusion of his letter it was no doubt a misfortune that Mr. Gladstone had failed to seal a letter he had sent, but that in his case, perhaps, it did not matter, as he (Sir James Graham) would defy any postmaster in the Kingdom, having read it from beginning to end and many times over, to arrive at the faintest glimpse of the right hon. Gentleman's meaning. If the right hon. Gentleman has made an explanation he certainly has not made it to the House. No doubt he has made it to hon. Members below the Gangway. That we can well understand. They know a great deal of his intentions—a great deal more than hon. Members sitting behind him can know, or pretend to know. The Opposition have been kept willfully in the dark with regard to the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman and his Government with regard to this Bill. As a matter of fact, he has made no explanation at all. I would ask any candid man, for instance, whether any satisfactory explanation has been given as to the position which Ulster will occupy under the Bill? It is true that in 1886 the right hon. Gentleman said that if hon. Members representing Ulster were to express a strong desire to be excluded from the operations of the Bill the Government would be perfectly prepared to reconsider the matter; but he now says that he has never been able to extract from the discussions in this House any opinion from the Ulster Representatives to that effect. 717 Then take the Financial Clauses. Is it conceivable that the right hon. Gentleman can contend that any explanation has been given to the House with regard to the future position of the Financial Clauses? Why, he has met all our criticisms and objections by simply saying that the Financial Clauses are going to be postponed until the end of the Bill. We, of course, know that that means that he intends to postpone them until he has made a compact with hon. Members below the Gangway. When he tells us he has informed us fully of the cost of the Home Rule proposal to this country, he is stating—without, I am sure, a desire to deceive us—something that is not the fact. We do not know the cost. All that we have yet been told is that the calculations on which the original proposal was made were wrong.
That is so, but, as I have already pointed out, it is impossible to prevent hon. Members referring to questions such as these. But, at the same time, it is out of Order to discuss the details of other clauses.
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
I submit to your ruling, Sir. All I am pointing out is that the Prime Minister, although he said that he had given an explanation as to the questions put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, has, as a matter of fact, offered no explanation at all. I find another matter which has arisen on the Second Reading of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Brodrick) raised objections to the Financial Clauses. Nobody can deny that the speech of my hon. Friend was cogent, keen, and powerful. No reply has ever been attempted to those objections. If my hon. Friend was right, instead of the Irish Government starting with a surplus, they will begin with a deficit. I should have thought that to any such allegation, supported as it was by figures, an attempt, at least, at an answer would be made by the Government against whom 718 it was directed; but it has not been answered, or attempted to be answered, by the Government. Again, the Prime Minister also said that he had given an explanation with regard to the retention of the Irish Members in the House of Commons. Is it possible that any such statement can deceive any man in this House? Why, he has also told us that he is waiting for Clause 9 to make a statement on the subject, and that if we want to get a complete view of the intentions of the Government in this respect, we must wait until Clause 9 comes under discussion. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to say that upon the First Reading he spoke for three-quarters of an hour about the retention of the Irish Members. That is perfectly true, but he spent all that three-quarters of an hour arguing against the proposal in his own Bill. Then the right hon. Gentleman asks us not to shut our minds against any arguments that may be adduced hereafter. Now, we have never shut our minds to any arguments that may be adduced on this subject; but while every faculty of which the right hon. Gentleman is possessed is directed to gain any indication of opinion from Irish Members, his mind is shut to every argument of his opponents. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to say that the explanations he had previously given wore the best the Government had to offer. I can very well understand that, for as in the course of the previous discussion on the Bill practically no answer whatever was given to the main arguments we adduced, so now, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham repeats a question to which hitherto he has received no answer, the Prime Minister might very well take refuge in saying that the explanation he has already given is all the answer that he has to give. The right hon. Gentleman told us, indeed, that there was a happy time coming—what he called a "proper time"—when he will give us a proper answer. In my opinion that time will never arrive. When, upon the 1st clause, we asked for the intentions of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman put us off to a later clause, so, at a later stage, if we attempt to raise a discussion, the right hon. Gentleman 719 will tell us that it is too late, and that we have missed our opportunity, as the clause on which an explanation might be given was passed. I believe the proper opportunity to propose an Amendment, or to ask any question, to meet with the approval of the right hon. Gentleman passes the wit of man to determine. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Opposition desire to prolong the controversy. I can assure the Committee that we do not want to prolong it beyond the point when a plain issue is submitted to the people of this country. The people of this country are no longer to be hoodwinked by having put before them all sorts of inducements to vote for Home Rule, except the explanation of what Home Rule means. We desire that a plain issue shall be placed before the country at the earliest possible opportunity; and we desire that that issue should be decided, not by what the right hon. Gentleman calls the cream of all classes, but by the free voices of all the people of this country, educated as they have been by seven years' experience, and still more by the education they are receiving by the discussions on the Bill. We have no fear of the result, and are perfectly sure that, in the words of the Prime Minister, the Bill, which is a hash to-day, will be a cold fragment to-morrow. The right hon. Gentleman also says that he will choose the moments which, in his judgment, are most suitable for giving information on the provisions of this Bill. We cannot help that. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, is entitled to use his own discretion. But we, on our part, are entitled to use every opportunity that is given us to express our opinions upon the provisions of this Bill; and we are entitled to say, as I want to say now, that there are many reasons why we should think that the Bill at the present time is a worse Bill than when it was introduced. On the 1st clause we tried to obtain information, to introduce Amendments, and to secure safeguards; but we failed in all those endeavours. We endeavoured to discover whether the interpretation Placed upon the Bill by the Government was the same as that placed upon it by their Irish allies below the Gangway; but the right hon. 720 Gentleman was determined that we should not find that out, and so, he, in the plainest terms, told those Irish allies not to speak at all When the Nationalist Members were challenged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham whether they adhered to the statements which they made to their constituents in respect to this Bill, and whether they would venture to repeat those statements in this House, the Prime Minister advised them not to utter a single word. The fact is that the greater part of this Bill is still unsettled. A considerable part of this Bill is going to be thrown into the arena of discussion in the House of Commons. We are without definite knowledge of the intentions of the Government as to what they will insist upon. But we know they will not be guided mainly by the discussions that take place; they will mainly be guided by the attitude assumed by hon. Members below the Gangway. Therefore, I venture to say that I have proved the proposition with which I set out—that we are entitled to regard this Bill, if possible, with greater dislike than we looked upon it at the beginning of the discussion. We are asked to establish in Ireland a separate Legislative Body, constituted we do not know how, and whose relations with the Imperial Parliament are, at the present moment, altogether undefined. We are entitled to reason as to the effects and results of an Irish Parliament from the character, the antecedents, and the recorded utterances of those who are going to administer that Parliament; and, if we are to judge from the utterances of Irish Members, there can be no doubt as to the objects and intentions with which they are going to accept an Irish Parliament. The Prime Minister said he accepted their Parliamentary declarations as complete as to the manner in which they would administer the Parliament; but the right hon. Gentleman said the same thing in 1886. And surely he ought to be enlightened by the proceedings of No. 15 Committee Room, when the Irish Members repudiated the interpretation which had been placed on their views, and showed very plainly that the objects for which they desired a separate Parliament and the manner in which they 721 would administer it were altogether different from their professions in this House. Of course, it will be said that our fears as to the action of the Irish Parliament will not be realised. I am not concerned to argue that at all. The question is whether it is possible, and if it be possible for the fears which the Opposition entertain to be realised we have a right to examine the provisions of the Bill with every care to see whether there is anything in it that will afford security. I attach no value to any of the safeguards proposed; you may put in 50 more, or take all out, and the result will be just the same. If they are of any value, the mere insertion of them in the Bill will lead to an agitation for their removal the moment the separate Parliament is established. The Government themselves attach no value to these safeguards. The Secretary for War told us on the First Reading of the Bill that they were put in to assuage the fears of innocent persons. We are not so innocent, as we believe the Parliament to be established will practically bean independent one. Some Ministerial Members dislike the Bill as much as we do; but they solace themselves with certain crumbs of comfort. One of these is our experience of Legislatures in the Colonies. They tell us that there are many Parliaments in the Colonies, and that the addition of another one in Ireland cannot, after all, endanger our Imperial supremacy. I will give only one objection, but it is an objection which, I think, goes to the very root of the matter. When we gave Legislatures to the Colonies we abandoned all ideas of forcing our wishes upon them. A Colony might cut off the salary of a Governor, or enter into a Treaty against the wishes of the Imperial Government with a Foreign Power, and we could not send troops to compel that Colony to respect our wishes. The fact is, our relations with the Colonies rest entirely upon the goodwill of both parties to the contract. They have got the power of separation. They could leave us to-morrow if they wished. But they are attached to us by friendly feelings—by feelings of attachment towards the Mother Country. Will anyone venture to say that the case is the same as regards Ireland? There 722 we are going to retain a supreme, a coercive power—a power that we can use, and that we intend to use, and, as I believe, we will have to use if Ireland gets this independent Parliament, with the chance of separation at an early date. It has been said over and over again that there is no danger, because we have an Army and a Navy to enforce our decrees. Very shortly the Committee will have to argue that question in detail; and I believe it will be shown that the position of the Imperial troops in Ireland, dangerous as it may be in time of peace, will be even more dangerous in time of war. If the Irish Parliament thinks fit, not necessarily by legislation, to carry out acts calculated to undermine the position of isolated individuals, such as the landowner, or to take away his property, how is it possible for the Army of Great Britain to afford him any protection at all. I deny, also, that the presence of the Army can be of any value to isolated individuals if it is going to be used against the Civil Authority in Ireland, unless you are prepared to face the terrible calamity of civil war. I have only one further objection to raise. It is the favourite argument of the Chief Secretary that increased responsibilities placed upon Irish Representatives will be a guarantee that they will use their powers rightly and well, and will do their best to have their legal obligations respected. I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman strongly entertains that view; but we do not agree with him in his estimate of the Irish people. Even if the Irish Leaders have these intentions, I believe the power has gone from them to act upon them. For years they have been leading the Irish people to believe that their obligations need not be respected. They have advocated the Plan of No Rent. They have supported, and supported even by violence, the Plan of Campaign. They have supported all resistance to legal obligations, until it is perfectly notorious that at the present time many of the people of Ireland are looking forward to Home Rule because they believe they are going to get everything for nothing. If the Irish Leaders get the power they will be called upon to make good their promises. I, therefore, object to this clause, because it is dangerous in principle 723 and practice, because it would place those into whose hands the government of Ireland would fall in such a position that they would be unable to act except in accordance with the pledges they had given to the Irish people, and because it must inevitably lead to further breaking up of the Imperial Parliament. We know that the Prime Minister no longer entertains the opinions which, judging from his past speeches, we thought he did entertain. But that is not the case with many of the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues, who look at the grant of a separate Parliament to Ireland as a first step to the creation of separate Parliaments for Scotland, Wales, and England also. Well, I object to this separate Parliament because it is a step in that direction. If these right hon. Gentlemen put their views upon paper and endeavour to work out separate Legislatures for the different parts of the United Kingdom in the shape of Bills, the first thing that will happen will be that their scheme will be laughed out of the House of Commons. The Parliament of the United Kingdom fulfils all the objects for which it exists; and any changes which have been effected in Ireland, so far from diminishing, have increased the responsibility of the Imperial Parliament, and their obligations to protect all the minorities of the Irish people. We, Sir, at any rate can have no doubt. We must oppose the grant of a separate Parliament to Ireland, under whatever guise or whatever form that separate Parliament may be proposed.
§ *THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir JOHN RIGBY,) Forfar
I will not interpose long between the Committee and the Division. I will not waste time by following hon. and right hon. Members into a discussion which the right hon. Member for Birmingham, at the beginning of his speech, said was in the nature of a Second Reading discussion. My task is comparatively a humble one. I hope to address myself to that part of the Debate upon this 1st clause which has to do with the question of Constitutional Law. I have been amused—I have been surprised at some of the claims, real or affected, which have been put forward by hon. Members on the other side. I acknowledge that there may be 724 truth in a way in what the right hon. Member for Cambridge University has said, that a Law Officer is obliged to give his opinion to the House. So it may be. I hope I shall never shrink from my responsibility on that head. But to put forward a suggestion that it is the right of any hon. Member of the Opposition to demand that at any time he asked for it the Law Officer should give an opinion upon a question which that Law Officer might think futile or silly—it might be an important question, but, in his humble judgment, ill-timed—to put forward suggestion of that kind is a thing I have never heard of, and until it is shown to me to be the recognised rule of Parliamentary life I should never submit to it. The kind attentions which have been paid to me confirmed me the more in thinking that I was right in abstaining from speaking on this Bill. I wished to knew what were the points upon which the House or any section of the House, really wished that an opinion should be given; I wished, as the Debate went on, to know precisely the extent of the claims which are supposed to be valid as against a man in my position, and at last I heard a complaint, made to the effect that I listened for a longer time than I spoke. That I hope will always be the case. Only two points of Constitutional Law, us I understand, have been raised since the Bill has been in Committee. One was by the hon. and learned Member for Deptford as to the right to name Her Majesty the Queen as a branch of Parliament. If a Law Officer is to answer questions of that kind, his time would be fully occupied indeed. If the hon. and learned Gentleman who raised the question had taken the trouble to look at the nearest text-book at hand, he would ascertain, without doubt, what the law is. Questions of that kind are idle and futile, whether they are put forward by learned or unlearned gentlemen. Members of this House who do not profess to be learned in the law might well put forward such a question, and might well ask for a fair answer; but when it is put forward by a learned Gentleman, it is, I say, idle and futile. The Constitutional view as to the supremacy of the Parliament of the United Kingdom now, or after a Bill of the general character of that before 725 the Committee has been passed, is a question on which I have not been silent before. I have nothing now to say on the point. What I said on the Second Reading of the Bill I will say again—that, supposing this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, the United Kingdom will still be the United Kingdom, and Ireland will be a part of it. This Parliament of the United Kingdom will remain, to all intents and purposes, the Parliament of the United Kingdom, including Ireland. Not one jot or tittle of the authority of this Parliament will be taken away by such a Bill as this; and further than that, I affirm that it is Constitutionally impossible that this Parliament, by any Bill it could pass into law, could deprive itself of that authority. This has been proved by numerous instances, and by none more than by the cases that arose under the Act of Union with Scotland and the Act of Union with Ireland. Under both of those Acts the Parliament for the time being—in the first case, the Parliament of Great Britain, and afterwards the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland—efforts were made to establish a Constitution which should last for ever, which, in other words, should bind future Parliaments; but it was held that those efforts were altogether unavailing, because the Parliament for the time being had no right or authority to limit or restrict in any way the authority of its successors. With regard to both the Act of Union with Scotland and the Act of Union with Ireland, most important parts affecting the very essence of the Acts have been repealed, although the arguments which are now advanced were then insisted upon. Those Parliaments of the 18ih, and the beginning of the 19th, centuries could only make the law for their time, and the supreme power and authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom remained to undo that law, however plain the language might be expressed that the Parliament of the time did not intend that it should be removed. I do not hesitate to say that I prefer that the Parliamentary draftsman should say nothing in a Bill of this kind about the supreme authority of Parliament. It appears to me that the most workmanlike way is to leave the matter alone, for we have no power to interfere with that 726 authority, and therefore it is of little avail to attempt to support and establish it by words more or less plain. But if it can be shown that some advantage would be gained by departing from this plain rule of what I shall call proper Parliamentary drafting, we might perhaps give way. If it be thought that consciences would be quieted or that some doubtful opinions would be converted into certainty by a declaration of the supremacy of Parliament, then it may be worth while to print that declaration. But if it is to be done, it certainly ought not to be done in a proviso upon a particular clause of the Bill. That course is more likely to raise doubts than to allay doubts. If anything is to be done with the object of recognising the continued supremacy of Parliament, it ought to be something that will affect the whole measure. Let it be as simple as possible; let it be as general as possible, bearing always in mind that too limited a declaration would probably do harm by raising additional doubts, while the declaration cannot be too extensive, because it is impossible to increase that which is already supreme and unlimited. Of the proposals which I have heard none of them meet this objection. The Committee knows from what has been already stated by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, that if an independent clause, which ought to be placed at the beginning or the end of the Bill and not in the middle, is brought forward for the purpose of recognising the superiority of the Imperial Parliament, it will be considered. Care, however, must be taken not to create doubt where none really exists by the use of doubtful phrases. The right hon. Member for Bodmin asked whether the authority of Parliament was to be vital or whether it was to be sterile. This House cannot say what it is to be. It is beyond the jurisdiction of this House. If we were to enact in the plainest language that that authority should determine to-morrow, in the next Session of Parliament an Act might be passed reviving it in lull force. It is useless to attempt to lay down what shall be the extent of the authority, for the subject by its nature evades us. If the Bill passes into law the Irish Legislature will be under great obligations—I 727 do not say more than obligations of self-interest, self-justification and common sense—to take the greatest pains not to exceed the limits that will have been imposed upon it and accepted by it, and it must also take the greatest pains not to do anything within those limits which would be plainly subversive of natural justice, for such action would rouse the indignation of this country and the world; and if it should be indulged in the supreme authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, would be felt at once as a vital authority. But if the Irish Legislature should not be guilty of such acts—which we believe will be the exact result—it need not fear any meddling on the part of the Imperial Parliament. An authority may be vital without being meddlesome; it need not be sterile because it is dormant and has to wait for the occasion when it arises.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
Mr. Mellor, I rise to move that you do report Progress. The clause under discussion is one of great interest, and more time is required for its discussion. Some of the speeches that have been made still remain unanswered. I wish also to point out that, so far as I am aware, not a single hon. Gentleman from Ulster has had an opportunity of expressing his views. I therefore move that you report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
MR. J. MORLEY
I am sorry to say, Sir, I cannot accept this Motion. It is quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, that we have been debating this Motion five hours. But what have we been debating? The 1st clause contains the assertion that there shall be established a Legislature in Ireland. Surely that proposition was accepted by the House on the vote for the Second Reading. Thou there are two Committee points. The first is, that there shall be two Houses of that Legislature. That has been established after debate by the vote of the Committee. The second Committee point in the clause is the names of these two Bodies 728 of the Legislature. These questions have been decided after debate and by a Division. I submit, Sir, with all respect, that most of what we have heard to-night, including the powerful speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, has been Second Reading debate, and not debate upon the clause at all. All I can say is that, so far as I understand, this kind of debate upon a clause is an immense innovation in Parliamentary practice; and if upon every clause of this Bill you are to raise, and you may raise, the principle you are trying to establish to-night, all these Second Reading questions which have been raised and discussed to-night, this Bill will not be out of Committee in 12 months. [Opposition cheers.] I quite understand why you cheer; but let this be understood—that we shall do all we can in accordance with the Forms of the House, as rightly understood and interpreted in conformity with the traditions of the House—we shall do all we can to resist your tactics. We shall oppose this Motion and take care, if it should be attempted to carry out the same tactics that you have attempted to-night—
MR. J. MORLEY
Surely, Mr. Mellor, to say that the word "tactics" is out of Order is a most childish contention. I beg to move that the Question be now put.
§ Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 260; Noes 304.—(Division List, No. 79.)
§ House resumed.
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman loft the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the Clock.