§ [SIXTH NIGHT.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Legislative Authority.
§ Clause 2 (Powers of Irish Legislature).
In page 1, line 14, to leave out from the beginning of the Clause to the word "there," in line 15.—(Mr. Cavendish.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words, 'With the exceptions' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, he thought this was one of the most important Amendments they had had upon this Bill, and it was another of those tests by which they sought to ascertain the intentions of the Government. They had already heard them say that the Parliament was to be a subordinate Parliament; and when they got their answer to this Amendment they would learn further as to the quality of the Legislature which was not to be called a Parliament, but which, it appeared, was to have all the powers of a Parliament. They had spent a great deal of time in speaking— he would not call it discussion, because discussion presumed the existence of two parties; whereas, up to now, they had had arguments and inquiries on the one side, and, on the other hand, they had had nothing but lectures, platitudes, and interruptions, so that up to that moment it could not be said they had had half-an-hour's discussion on the Bill. He hoped the Government had seen they had wasted time enough over this attempt to carry out the policy which they 932 successfully carried out in the country during the past six years—namely, to observe all the issues of this measure. ["Question!"] He expected that; but he would remind hon. Members opposite that they could no longer go on the vague phrase of "Home Rule," which might mean anything, but they now had the Bill before them; and the Amendment sought to elicit from the Government some meaning as to the measure which they had at last been obliged to discuss. Perhaps the hon. Member who called "Question!" had not yet been consulted by the Government as to the answer they should give to this Amendment, because on Friday night a Member said that hon. Members were in "a tight place!" It was the Government who were in a tight place over this Amendment and others that had been brought forward, because they were unable to give a definite answer as to whether they accepted this Amendment until they had ascertained the wishes and had obtained the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Hon. Members wore not in any tight place, and they had a perfect right to be silent, seeing they had the Government Bench to say what they wanted said, and to do what they wanted done. There would be a considerable amount of support to this Amendment. His hon. Friend below him the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) he hoped would say something on it, because, in his election addresses, the hon. Member laid down this principle in a most statesmanlike manner—he said the Home Rule he was going to affirm was that in which the Imperial Parliament delegated certain measures and subjects to the Parliament in Ireland; and all that was not so delegated in the Bill he declared should be retained for what he called "the Mother Parliament." He (Mr. Collings) thought that was a very statesmanlike statement. If he consulted the feelings of the Government Bench, he should wish his hon. Friend not to speak, because they were very uneasy under his utterances. But he had no doubt the hon. Gentleman would vindicate his position by speaking on this Amendment. Then there were a large group sitting on that (the Ministerial) side of the House who had in their addresses gone on the same lines, but very much further than his 933 hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey). They had been unwilling —at least, they had not expressed their willingness further than to include such measures as Gas and Water and Private Bill Legislation; and he would be curious to know what they would say to delegating from this Parliament everything, with the exception of what was held back by the Bill itself. It might be said it would be difficult to define in a Bill the measures which should be delegated to the Irish Parliament; but the same difficulty existed with regard to those measures which they kept out of the Bill, and which would produce the same amount of discussion and anxiety. In Canada everything was retained in the power of the Federal Government, except those subjects which were delegated to the Provincial Parliament. It was not only due to the Committee, but it was due to the constituencies, that they should know something more about the powers of this proposed Parliament, because the interest taken in the measure by the constituencies, now that the actual text of it was before them, was really astonishing. He should wait with anxiety to know what the Government had to say on the point, if they were allowed by hon. Members opposite to answer. Perhaps the Government would tell them frankly; but, at any rate, there were Members on the Government Bench who had spoken very much on the lines of this Amendment. He did not see his right hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), who was equal to all and superior to a good many on the Treasury Bench in making his ideas clear and explicit, so that they could all understand them; but if that right hon. Gentleman would give them his opinion on this Amendment, and tell them why the Parliament in Ireland should not be restricted to those measures which were distinctly delegated by the Imperial Parliament, they would be very much indebted to him. At any rate, he hoped their appeals would not be treated as previous Amendments had been treated, but that they would have a discussion upon this Amendment. By discussion he meant a debate in which both sides should give their reasons and arguments, and not waste the time of the House, as 934 the whole Session was likely to be wasted, by a fruitless attempt to get at the mind of the Government with regard to the proposals of the Bill and their intentions regarding it.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I waited because I hoped some Member of the Government would tell us what is the view of the Government with regard to the very important Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. Victor Cavendish), in a speech which the Committee will consider was extremely excellent and well-reasoned. My hon. Friend bears a name which will always be honoured in this House, and I think it will be a pleasure to all sides that he is himself likely to add to its lustre. The Amendment itself has suffered a little, perhaps, because it is one of a series of Amendments; it is only by putting them together that the exact effect of what my hon. Friend proposes can be ascertained. However, I think it is pretty generally understood that my hon. Friend desires that in this Bill we shall specify the powers we are to give, not, as is done here, by giving up all our powers with certain exceptions, but by keeping all our powers except those we specifically delegate. I think the House will see there is a great deal of difference between the proposal of the Bill and that of the Amendment. It is not merely a matter of drafting; it is also a matter of principle. My hon. Friend said he had not thought it necessary to put on the Paper the powers which should be delegated to the Irish Legislature. The fact is, my hon. Friend is not raising that point at all, but is merely raising at the present time the question of the method. If the Government view the Amendment favourably, it would be natural that they, who must know exactly what are the powers which they desire to delegate, should put them on the Paper. If they decline to do that and wish to throw the responsibility on the Unionists, no doubt we can furnish a list of the subjects we should think it safe to entrust to an Irish authority. I imagine the list would be considered rather short and rather incomplete by the Government. The proposal of the Amendment is that the Government should state to the Committee what powers the new Parliament is to 935 have, and not what powers it is not to have. In the first place, I wish to point out that that course would be in accordance with all the best precedents with regard to the creation of subsidiary Legislatures. It would be in strict accordance with the precedents of the United States of America and Canada. They may not appear, on first sight, to be in accordance with precedent in the United States of America, and I must explain that the principle in all these cases has been that the power which claimed supreme authority should state definitely what portion of its power it was willing to delegate. In the case of the United States the separate States all claimed supreme and independent authority before they made the Union, and when they united they delegated to the Central Authority those powers which they did not intend to retain in their own hands. In the case of Canada the opposite course was followed. In Canada it was intended that the Dominion Parliament should be the supreme authority, and the powers reserved for the Provincial Parliaments were all specially delegated to them; whereas all the rest, unnamed or unforeseen, were retained in the hands of the Central Authority. The Dominion Act not only declared the powers to be given to the Provincial Parliaments, but also declared the powers to be reserved to the Dominion Parliament, but with a provision that that was not in any way to lessen the authority of the Dominion Parliament to deal with all such matters not specially reserved to Provincial Parliaments. Now, I would urge, in the second place, that the method which we propose is the more natural and easier way—easier to the Government, I mean, as well as to the Committee—of dealing with this subject. Let me put an illustration. Suppose a man told his friend that he was in difficulties and asked for money, would not the friend be certain to ask, in the first place, how much money was required in order to relieve the difficulties? And if he were satisfied he would advance the sum asked for. Surely he would never hand over his purse to the petitioner and say, "Keep back £5," or some other amount which he would name, "for me and take all the rest," knowing that, in doing so, he might be giving more than was asked for and more than he wanted to part with. 936 The case now is precisely the same. This is a Bill brought in on the demand of the Irish Members. I suppose the Irish Members know exactly what they want; and I assume the Government are willing to give it. Would it not be right that we should state in the Bill what it is the Government are going to give to them, instead of leaving the matter in such a form that we may be giving to the Irish people more than they ask for and more than we want to give? In the third place, I should point out that this plan is the only way of letting the Committee and the country know what it is we are doing. I defy a layman, and I do not believe there are many lawyers who, without more consideration than they are willing to give, could say exactly what it is which, under this Bill, is being given to the Irish Parliament. We retain certain things for ourselves; hut the moment you give the remainder you find heaps of things which you have not retained, and as to which it would be difficult to say beforehand whether the Government would be willing they should be handed over to the Irish Parliament. I will take two or three matters as an illustration, as showing the kind of questions that arise, and which will have to be raised by Amendments to this clause, with the probability that even after we have exhausted our ingenuity in raising Amendments on all the principal subjects that may be discussed, we may still have forgotten something which the Committee would have liked to have brought before it. Take the case of marriage and divorce. That is one of the subjects that is not named by way of exception, and, consequently, would be handed over to the Irish Parliament. I do not know what is the opinion of the Government; but I would ask them, is it their opinion—is it their intention—that the Irish Legislature should have the power of dealing with the question of civil marriages? That is an important question, and one worthy of lengthened debate. It may be the Government do not intend that a matter of this importance should be taken from the Imperial control. If so, it was an omission on their part, caused by the particular way in which they have drafted the Bill. Then there is another question. Foreign trade is not to be in 937 the hands of the Irish Legislature; hut, as I understand it, all that concerns domestic trade will he in their hands. Is it intended they should deal with factory legislation? I do not know the intention of the Government, but would point out this will have to be seriously debated, because we have, by our own factory legislation, imposed very serious obligations in the interests of the working classes upon manufacturers and other persons engaged in industry; and if the Irish Parliament is to be permitted to relieve manufacturers in Ireland from all these conditions, of course they would be in a better position, so far as competition went, than the English manufacturers, and that might be an indirect way of giving a bounty and encouraging and stimulating Irish industry. I say, again, I am not pronouncing authoritatively on the subject; it is one of very considerable difficulty; but I say it is very much fairer and better that the Imperial Parliament should state to the Irish Legislature it is one of the subjects to go to them, instead of leaving it, to be discovered by implication as we are obliged to discover it under the form of this Bill. Then there is another important question to be considered. Navigation is excluded from the control of the Irish Parliament; but does any-one know what it means? I have asked several lawyers, and they have told me that it is open to considerable doubt. It appears to be very doubtful whether merchant shipping legislation is included in the term "Navigation." Do the Government intend that the merchant shipping legislation is to be different in Ireland from what it is in this country? Is a shipowner in this country, upon whom a burden has been placed with the desire of protecting life at sea——
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
rose to Order, and asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was in Order in discussing these extraneous subjects— subjects that were not in the least connected with the clause?
The right hon. Gentleman is in Order, because the Amendment raises the question of the powers to be delegated to the Irish Parliament.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am accustomed to these interruptions; but I think that they have got rather low down. Do the Government intend that the shipowners of the country, who object to the regulations imposed upon them, should be able to transfer their ships to Irish ports in order to escape all these regulations and obligations? If so, this will raise a very serious question; and it appears to me that this is one of the questions which might easily escape the notice both of the Government and of the Committee in consequence of the form of the Bill. Coinage is also excluded from the powers of the Irish Legislature. Banking and currency are not included. Banking and coinage will raise an infinity of questions with regard to which it may be extremely doubtful whether the Irish Parliament should be in a position to pass legislation differing from the legislation of this country. I would impress upon the Committee the extreme importance of having all the powers specified which it is proposed to confer, in order that Parliament may not, by inadvertence, find that it has conferred some power which Ireland does not desire, and which it might be inconvenient that it should possess. Under the proposal of my hon. Friend, mistakes, which must be made in forming a new Constitution, were much more easily corrected than they would be under the Bill; because nothing would be easier, if certain powers are granted, and it is found hereafter that something has been omitted which it is desirable to add, than to bring in a Bill making the necessary addition. On the other hand, if Parliament grants more than is wished, or more than is or has been asked for, nothing will be more difficult than to withdraw the power already granted. Under the proposal of my hon. Friend, also, it would be much more easy to treat this question as an experiment. I do not suppose that the Prime Minister is under the belief that he is making a final settlement of the Irish Question. Every reasonable man believes that even if the Bill passes as it stands now it would not be accepted as final by either the Irish Members or the Irish people; and certainly it would not be accepted by the Irish Members and their constituents of the future. The Bill, therefore, must be 939 in the nature of an experiment. If the proposal of my hon. Friend were adopted, it would be open to the Committee to treat the Bill as an experiment, in which case the Committee might think it wise to be very moderate in the concession of the powers to be made, retaining always in the hands of the Imperial Parliament the power of adding more hereafter and averting any mistake now of attempting to secure anything in the nature of a final settlement even by the largest concessions. The question of supremacy is connected particularly with this clause; but the very idea of supremacy goes to the wall if Parliament hands over to another Legislative Authority all the powers which are not expressly reserved. The Supreme Authority always delegates and defines its delegated powers, reserving to itself all the other powers which it does not specifically give away. If the Government refuse this Amendment it will confirm the impression which we have derived from their attitude towards previous Amendments—that, although they are willing to establish what has been described as a paper supremacy, they have no idea in their own minds of creating a real, vital, and satisfactory supremacy. The Prime Minister will no doubt remember that this was one of the points raised early in the discussions of the Bill of 1886 by the present Duke of Devonshire—then Lord Hartington— and as being one of the conditions which were preliminary even to the consideration of the question of establishing a new Legislative Authority in Ireland. Speaking from memory, I think the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) expressed a willingness to give the proposal of that time, now embodied in this Amendment, his favourable consideration if it ever came formally before him. I hope, therefore, that he will give every consideration to the terms of this Amendment.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE,) Edinburgh, Midlothian
There is one satisfactory subject in connection with this Amendment, and that is the manner in which it has been presented to the Committee. I join with my right hon. Friend (Mr. J. Chamberlain) in bearing testimony to the excellent performance of the Mover of it, and in expressing the hope that may 940 be entertained of the hon. Gentleman's future. I cannot, however, say as much with regard to the beginning of the Debate this afternoon. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham began his speech by saying that the result of the speech of the right hon. Member for the Bordesley Division (Mr. Jesse Collings) must have been to draw a reply from the Government. I have never in all my life heard a speech which appeared to me to less need a reply. I am surprised that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham has been under any difficulty or doubt as to the mode in which the Government must deal with a question of this kind. It is a misfortune of the Amendment that it does not contain any decisive words. As far as the mere verbal effect of the Amendment is concerned, it looks more like an enlargement of the powers of the Irish Government than their contraction; and it will, therefore, be understood that, though I am not making any objection to the Amendment verbally, yet I object to its obvious and recognised meaning. I do not think that it is a good Amendment verbally considered, because, considering the nature of the reservations which the Government introduce in a subsequent clause, it is right and even needful that there should be a reference to those reservations in the present clause, where they are conferring the main legislative power. There are two methods in considering this question which may be adopted and which have been fairly stated by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. You may grant by the enumeration of that which is granted, or you may grant by the enumeration of what is not granted. That is really the point at issue. It is quite true that there is one method of dealing with the question which the Government have treated as a matter of drafting, and that is the method by which we have gone through the particular subjects of local government in Ireland winding up the catalogue with a covering clause; but that is not a method of proceeding which need, in any degree, narrow the distance between the Government and their opponents. Therefore, I put it aside. The Government have considered it largely, and their conclusion is that it is not attended with any recommendation of convenience or policy to 941 counterbalance the considerable complication which it would tend to introduce into the provisions of the Bill. What is the meaning and essence of this Bill? It is a Bill to constitute a Legislature in Ireland for the purpose of dealing, I may say, with all properly Irish concerns which are not Imperial concerns, subject, possibly, to some limited reservation like the limited reservation the Government have inserted in the Bill with respect to land; but, speaking generally, it must be well understood that the Government divide the subjects of government as between Ireland and Great Britain into two classes—one, those which are of common Imperial interest; the other, those which are of local interest, or are domestic matters belonging to Ireland. Our object is to reserve, as strictly as it is possible to do so, to the Imperial Parliament the subjects which are of Imperial concern. We have laboured to make enumeration as full as we can make it according to our reflections and inquiries. We do not say that it is complete. It is possible we may not have included in it something that ought to have been included; but that is a detail, and the line can be drawn in particular cases when they arise. But with regard to those matters which are Irish, domestic and local, we do not intend to proceed by giving a subject here and a subject there, and keeping back every other matter to be met by a covering clause. That would be totally contrary to our intention, to the distinct meaning of the Bill, to everything that has been done in all prior legislation of a developing kind, and to the policy and expediency of the case. My right hon. Friend has said that the Bill is in the nature of an experiment, and that the course he advocates would make the experiment more easy. But if the Government accept the Amendment and the consequent Amendments, will my right hon. Friend accept the Bill?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Just so. I might best describe my right hon. Friend's attitude by a homely phrase which undoubtedly requires an apology, which is, that he intends to deal with the Government on the principle of "Heads I win, tails you lose." In the arrangements of the Bill we are to enter upon a new and complicated investiga- 942 tion; and when you have completed it within this year, or within some future years, you are to wind up——
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Surely my right hon. Friend does not contend that it is not competent for us to try and amend this Bill unless we are prepared to accept it?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
No; that is not my contention. I am merely unveiling a state of facts. When my right hon. Friend used this honeyed language as to the blessings and benefits of this experimental form, some soft-minded man might think that he was relenting a little in this matter, and that he was ready, in conformity with the precedents in former years, to proceed on the principle of the delegation of certain subjects to an Irish Legislature. There might be some reason in giving way, if we had it authentically that by doing so we could conciliate our opponents without endangering the vital essence of our measure; but as it is, the case is this: We are to undergo the very considerable labour of re-construction, and we are to have our return not is £ s. d., but in nought, nought, nought. My right hon. Friend has raised a number of questions, most of them of vast importance, in order to terrify the Committee; but there is not the smallest doubt of the intention of the Government, which is to reserve effectively, simply, and largely all that can fairly be called Imperial matters, and to give as effectively, as simply, and as largely all that can fairly be called Irish and local matters. My right hon. Friend has enumerated a number of questions. He asks, "Do we hand over the Marriage Law?" Yes, we do; why should we not? Ireland has got a different Marriage Law now from the English law. Why in the world, therefore, are we to convert this Bill into a restricting instead of an enlarging Bill, and to take away from Ireland that distinction in the Marriage Law which she now enjoys and largely prizes?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I thought my right hon. Friend did. Someone suggested it. I am aware that there are no Divorce Laws in Ireland. That is a very great distinction in the Marriage Laws in Ireland; and if I am rightly 943 informed, it is one that Ireland highly prizes, and in that I think Ireland is right. As to factory legislation, if the Irish people suffer by it, they will suffer at the hands of men whom they will have chosen to govern them. It is purely a matter of local interest and concern of which the Irish Representatives are best qualified to judge. In such a matter they have every title to judge, and they will need no instruction from England as to the principles of humanity and of the best policy. As to the currency, I am not quite sure whether the language of the Bill as it stands is the best adapted to its purpose; but the intention of the Government is plain: They consider that the standard of value is an Imperial matter, and that that standard of value, and everything touching it, should be reserved. If proposals are to be adopted for introducing a double standard, that will have to be decided in this House. If Ireland were to give power to issue promissory notes, that would be a matter of currency; and would be within the powers of the Irish Legislature under this Bill. But if she were to say that those notes should be legal tender for debt, that, I think, would immediately be a part of the standard of value. Speaking largely and generally, the Government propose to resist as incompatible any limits being imposed on the local Irish concerns, which are to be handed over to be dealt with by the Irish Parliament. The Irish people, according to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, are to be treated as little children. A child would be given some pocket money, but a very limited amount. Great Britain is to stand in loco parentis to the Irish people; but the Irish would regard the assumption of that attitude with very considerable misgiving, considering what has been the history of Ireland for 700 years. The affection which England has shown to Ireland during that period does not justify proceeding on the parental basis. The difference between the position of the Government and that of the right hon. Gentleman is this: The great measure under consideration has in it something of an experiment, for we have no absolute certainty as to the future. But the right hon. Gentleman recommends one form of experiment, and the Government recom- 944 mends another. The Government method is to concede local affairs and to retain Imperial affairs, and that is the often-tested and always successful plan on which Parliament has proceeded in all its legislation up to the present time. That experience supplies guidance in the present case. But the experiment of the right hon. Gentleman is wholly novel, and one upon which no light is cast by experience in any quarter. It would be at once rejected by those who spoke in the name of the Irish people. The Government desire to avail themselves of all the guidance to be derived from practical results, and these are largely available. Another reason for reserving Imperial subjects nominated, and for granting local subjects not nominated, is that the subjects of common interest between England and Ireland, though of vital importance, could be brought into a very narrow compass. But the great bulk of the business of Government is local and domestic, and this domestic part of the business of Government is continually extending. There are a multitude of subjects now regarded as proper and ordinary matters for the cognisance of Parliament which, when I began Parliamentary life, Parliament would have utterly declined to recognise. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that not a single man representing the Nationalists of Ireland would travel with him a single inch on the road he pointed out. That form of legislation would attain none of the objects desired on one side of the House or the other. The proper and only method is to reserve Imperial subjects, for two reasons: First, because it is a task which can easily be performed, and which has been performed in the main. If any defect in the enumeration be found later, it can easily be remedied; secondly, because it is impossible to enumerate local subjects. When Ireland proceeds to deal with her local affairs, it is almost a moral certainty that subjects will come up which, in a process of previous enumeration, will never have come into one's mind. The result will be that Ireland will come to the House of Commons to ask for further legislation. Every practical object is in favour of the Government plan. But, over and above all these practical objects, is the great question of principle. What Ireland asks is 945 the restoration or concession to her of the power of dealing with her own local Irish concerns. If that be not given to her, it would be better to give her nothing. Anything else would be a miserable mockery, and a great descent from the lofty elevation at which British legislation has hitherto been conducted. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the United States. He said that there the States are the supreme power, and that that power limits the subjects which are given to the control of the Federal Government. That is so, but the reason they are limited is that they are few and very easily to be described. There can be no doubt that in the United States a condition of things obtains which does not obtain here. In the innumerable— the multitude—of cases that might be cited, where is one favourable to the right hon. Gentleman's view? Canada affords no example of the relations between a subordinate and a supreme Legislature. One view is that the purposes of local government ought to be left free and open within the proper sphere. The Government desire to do everything to preserve the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; but it will not be a supremacy which will satisfy the right hon. Gentleman, because the right hon. Gentleman will not admit to be a real supremacy anything but a supremacy which would irritate and reduce Irish affairs to a still more obnoxious position than they occupy at present. But with regard to the assertion of the principle of supremacy, the Government desire to keep it in its absolute fulness—subject to no limitation, except the geographical limitation. They desire to be faithful to their pledges in regard to it; but they desire to be equally faithful in their pledges with regard to the effective grant to Ireland of local government and local administration.
§ *MR. H. MATTHEWS (Birmingham, E.)
In the course of the speech which he has just delivered, the Prime Minister said to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, "If we accept this Amendment, will you accept the rest of the Bill?" That is hardly a fair question. The Opposition are surely entitled to ask the Government to accept an Amendment without being thereby bound to accept the rest of the Bill. 946 The speech of the Prime Minister must make it clear to everyone that what Parliament is asked to create is not a subordinate Parliament at all. It is quite true that the right hon. Gentleman has said that the Irish Legislature is to be subordinate to the Imperial Parliament; but, at the same time, the right hon. Gentleman has stoutly resisted the insertion of the word "subordinate" in the 1st clause. If the right hon. Gentleman desired to set up a sovereign and supreme Parliament in Ireland, he could not have employed more apt words for the purpose than are to be found in this Bill as it stands. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the case of Canada. I am quite aware that in the case of Canada a supremacy has been reserved to the Imperial Parliament, but that supremacy is a purely nominal one, and has no practical effect whatever. Is that the sort of supremacy of the Imperial Parliament which hon. Members opposite intend to reserve in the case of the Irish Legislature? I am not aware of any instance in which this House has interfered with the internal affairs of the Colonies after the grant of Representative Government has been made to them. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister appears to have a confused notion with regard to the affairs which an Irish Legislature should have control over, and those which it should not have power to deal with. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman says that only Imperial affairs and matters of common interest are withdrawn from the control of the Irish Legislature. But, at the same time, the Irish Legislature is not to have control of even denominational education, which would appear to be a matter of local interest, while it is to have control over the law of marriage and divorce. Surely it is a matter of common interest to the two countries that the law relating to marriage and divorce should be the same in both. If a man were hold to be married in England and not married in Ireland, and if his issue were legitimate in this country and illegitimate in Ireland, and could not, therefore, inherit property in Ireland, how inconvenient it would be! It may be said that there is at present a considerable difference between Scotch law and the English law upon this 947 subject, but that is no reason why a third law should be established. Is the Irish Legislature to have power to deal with the Merchant Shipping Act, with the law relating to bankruptcy and insolvency? and will it be empowered to authorise the issue of a paper currency which is not to be a legal tender, and which will have no reserve of bullion behind it? Surely all these are subjects of common interest; and yet the Irish Legislature, as we have gathered from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, is to have power to deal with them. And, moreover, over these questions, which may be determined so disastrously for the two countries, the Ulster Representatives will have practically no control. Again, there is the subject of the Criminal Law. Surely it is of the first importance that the Criminal Law of the two countries should be identical—surely it is a question of common interest? Are we not entitled to ask the House to introduce safer provisions than are given at the present time? Suppose it were proposed to set up a different Criminal Law as to murder from that which prevails now——
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
There is a different Criminal Law at present in Scotland.
§ *MR. H. MATTHEWS
The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary says there is a different law at present in Scotland. I am sorry to say that is so; but that difference, which we have inherited, is no reason why we should set up differences in Ireland. A difference of any kind is to be deplored. But in regard to any future changes in the law—the Criminal Law—do the Members of the Government and the gentlemen supporting them ever intend that a supremacy should be exercised? Do they intend that this Legislature shall be no more a subordinate Legislature than in Canada, or will they tell us how, or under what circumstances, you intend to exercise a supremacy? I ask hon. Gentlemen do they intend never to exercise that supremacy? Do they mean the Irish Legislature to be a Colonial Legislature? If so, this mode of dealing with the question is the right one to adopt. But if they mean to create a subordinate Legislature, it is clear that the only logical—sensible—mode is to 948 enumerate those subjects which you delegate. Even in the case of the Colonies the rule has not been quite universal. For instance, in the case of New Zealand you gave a Legislature with power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of New Zealand, provided that such laws were not repugnant to the laws of England.
§ *MR. H. MATTHEWS
That is a clause which undoubtedly enables the Imperial Legislature to pass an Act "expressly extended to Ireland"—whatever those words may mean—and Irish Acts will be valid so far as they are not inconsistent with that Act. That is what Clause 33 says in singularly inflated language. But that section does not prevent the Irish Legislature from creating a totally different system of laws from those prevailing on this side of St. George's Channel. Under the Bill the Irish Legislature will be perfectly free to legislate as it thinks proper. The right hon. Gentleman will probably say that if there is inconsistency between the Acts of the two Parliaments it shall be the Imperial law that shall prevail. That is true in theory as it is in the case of the Colonies. But when you have given powers so wide as these to the Irish Legislature you will never be able to defend your action if you endeavour to interfere in Ireland. The only way to preserve to yourselves any practical control and right of interference is to part wholly with those subjects on which von do not wish to interfere, and to reserve all those subjects on which you are likely to desire to interfere. Take the Criminal Law, for instance. It would be a great misfortune if that were to become different in the two countries. Is the penalty of death to remain in one and to be done away with in the other? The truth is, that the more light that is thrown on this subject the more plainly it appears that unless some of these Amendments are accepted by the Government the Legislature you are creating is not a subordinate Legislature. The Irish Judges will construe any two 949 Acts which may happen to clash in favour of the Irish Parliament, and will give—and rightly give—a wide and sweeping interpretation to the 2nd clause of the Bill which will practically exclude British control. The presumption will always be in favour of the Irish enactment—and ought to be. It will be held that the Irish Parliament is vested with the widest and most ample powers to say what shall be the law on all subjects that the Legislature can touch at all. Every conceivable subject that can be made a matter of law, with the exception of Clauses 3 and 4, is committed to the Irish Parliament; and in the case of a conflict, as I say, the balance will always incline towards the vast powers of this clause. With that regard for popular Institutions and Assemblies which this House has always exhibited you will not be able to interfere. That would appear to be the clear result of the 2nd clause as it stands now; therefore, for my part, I shall vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had made a most remarkable speech, and had told them a number of things which, speaking for himself, he did not know before. The right hon. Gentleman had said that in some instances laws which wore valid in Scotland were void in England. That was obviously a mistake. He had told them that the Colonial Legislatures were Sovereign Legislatures—oblivious, apparently, of the fact that in earlier days there were a large number of Acts passed by this very Parliament interfering in specific matters that were within the competence of the Colonial Legislatures. But the most extraordinary of all the right hon. Gentleman's extraordinary statements was the one which he put forward, in conjunction with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, to the effect that all the precedents made in favour of delegation of authority, with the exception of the doubtful case of Canada, were to be found in cases of subordinate Constitutions, and that there were none in favour of the method adopted by the Government. There was not a single precedent in favour of delegation; but in every instance that could be brought forward the precedent was completely and conclusively in favour of the method adopted in this Bill. In the 950 United States there was called into existence—not a subordinate Legislature, not a Provincial Parliament, not an ordinary Legislature of Home Rule—but a life of the nation, a supreme Sovereign Authority which, by its constitution, was Federal in its nature, spreading itself and distributing itself between various co-ordinate parts. That was not a Legislature in point. Then lot them come to nearer illustrations. In the case of Canada, the Australasian Colonies, the Cape of Good Hope, and our Crown Colonies, we had granted powers not specifically, not enumerating them, but according to the stock and well-established form which was the legal formula expressing Home Rule. What was that formula? It was the power of making laws "for the peace, order, and good government" of the country upon whom the Legislature was conferred. That formula was adopted in the case of Canada; and it was a mistake to say—as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had said—that an analogy in the case of Canada was to be found in the distribution of legislative powers between the Dominion Parliament and the Provincial Parliaments. It was to be found in the grant of Home Rule to Canada in the delegation by the Sovereign Parliament in 1867—in the 97th section of the British North America Act of 1867. By that Act they gave powers in general terms, as they were given them by this Bill; and they made reservations as they did in the present case, with this difference: that in the case of Canada the reservation was made in favour of the Provincial Parliament, while here it was in favour of the Imperial Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham spoke of this system of delegation of specific powers as if it were Home Rule, and as though he were accommodating himself in some way to the desire which was being expressed by those who, with the Government, were in favour of a system of Home Rule for Ireland. That reminded him of the set-off in the historic days of the Round Table. The right hon. Gentleman said, in effect, that the Unionists did not bring forward these Amendments and make these speeches because of enmity to the objects of the Government, but because they wanted to put the Bill into a definite shape. The real object of 951 the Government was not to assist the Government, but to destroy the Bill. They were giving to the Irish people, under this Bill, a restricted form of government, with great safeguards, greater than they had reserved in the case of any of their Colonies. They were giving powers to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the country. It was not desirable to restrict those powers and to have constant friction between the two countries, and constant questions arising as to whether a particular question came within one form of specific delegation or another form of specific reservation. Did the right hon. Gentleman know the amount of friction which had taken place between the Dominion Parliament in Canada and the Provincial Parliaments? Did he know that almost constantly questions which had caused the greatest friction and bitterness came before the Privy Council in consequence of the obscurity of the form of delegation? And did he know that the consequence of the system there was that they had the Dominion Government making one set of laws for, say, Ontario, and the Ontario Legislature making an exactly similar set of laws for itself? It was not difficult to show that there was no precedent whatever in favour of the course which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham proposed, while every precedent supported the course which the Government wished to follow. It was impossible to state what the Irish would want, because they could not define the whole range of questions which must be discussed by an Irish Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken had said they were going to allow the Irish Parliament to make Marriage Laws, and that the result of that would be that they would put the Irish Parliament in the position of being able to annul marriages which had been legitimately contracted. But there was absolutely nothing in this statement. No doubt, any law the Irish Parliament might make would affect persons domiciled in Ireland; but it would not touch persons domiciled on the other side of St. George's Channel; and if it did, the case would be a proper one for the exercise of the veto. In the exercise of the veto in such a case, we should only be following the precedent of what had been done in the case of the 952 Australian Colonies. It was said in support of those Amendments that if they were adopted the Imperial Parliament would be in a better position to interfere if it wished to show that its supremacy was a real one. The reasons advanced by the supporters of the Amendment seemed to him to disclose what lay behind all their arguments touching supremacy. It was evident that what they were aiming at was to so mould the Bill and introduce words into it to alter its form as to render it possible to say, "In passing this Bill, Parliament declared by implication, if not in terms, for the policy of allowing the Imperial Parliament to interfere at every turn to overhaul the work of the Irish Parliament." He trusted that in the course of the Debates on the Bill the Government would not show any weakness—he did not believe they would on this point — but would reject every Amendment, and that, while maintaining intact the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, they would make it plain that they meant to give Ireland Home Rule in substance, and not merely in form or theory. They should make it clear that what they meant to do was to give the Irish Parliament the power of managing its own affairs, and that by rejecting this plan of specific delegation and everything else of a similar nature they would make it plain to the Irish people that what they were endeavouring to pass was a real Home Rule Bill and not a sham one.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down hoped the Government would reject all Amendments. ["No, no!"] Yes; he had taken down the hon. and learned Gentleman's words. He had said—"I trust they will reject everything." ["No, no!"] Hon. Members said "No, no!" but the hon. and learned Gentleman to whom he referred did not interfere in the matter.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, the matter was before the House. He had taken down the hon. and learned Member's words. Of course, if he did not mean them it was another matter. Those who desired that the Government should not concede anything were very likely to have that desire gratified, judging from what had taken place since they had got into Com- 953 mittee, because hitherto everything that had been moved by the Unionist Party had been rejected. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in the larger part of his speech, dealt with historic analogy; but the Ulster Unionist Members agreed with the hon. Member for North Armagh, and were of opinion that no historic analogies touched this question in the smallest degree. They desired rather to look at the question as a plain, practical matter, affecting those residing in Ulster in their business and general home relations. Therefore, they thought that references to countries thousands of miles away had no reference to the question at issue. The speech of the Prime Minister differed, in their opinion, extremely from the speech which he delivered on Thursday evening, be cause they were then unable—and possibly it was their own fault—to understand that he gave any information in answer to the inquiries of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham: and he could not help thinking that it was the duty of the right hon. Gentleman, as Prime Minister, to come down to the low level of their capacities, and make them understand the answer he had given. But they could not make that complaint that afternoon, because the Prime Minister had been perfectly clear in the statements he made. The one, great, central illustration to which the hon. Gentleman referred again and again, and which appeared to be the, substance of his speech about treating the Irish people as children—giving them some pocket money and saying that, if they used it well, they should have some more—absolutely failed. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister again and again spoke of Ireland. But there was just one difficulty that arose. The majority in Ireland undoubtedly had the larger number of votes; but the minority had the larger amount of property; therefore, when the Prime Minister talked of giving pocket money to the Irish majority, the analogy failed altogether. It was not a case of giving pocket money to a child to see how the child would spend it. It was a case of appointing trustees or managers over the affairs and properties of other people. The majority in an Irish Parliament would be the managers of the wealth of the minority; and, therefore, it was no insult to the majority of the Irish people 954 to say—"We will give you small powers at first to see how you will exercise them." Surely there could be nothing wrong in stating what were the subjects to be left to the Irish Parliament; and if the Unionist minority were to be treated fairly, it was only common justice to tell them what were the powers which the Irish Parliament was to exercise over them and their property. "But." said the Prime Minister, "this is only a detail." Well, it appeared to him (Mr. Rentoul) that if there was one thing which was not a detail it was just that particular thing. The exceptions should be extended to such an extent as to make the Bill valueless to Irish Home Rulers altogether. The Prime Minister said that the principle was that they should give the Irish Parliament control over Irish subjects and withhold from it control over Imperial subjects. But in 1886 the right hon. Gentleman said it was impossible to make a distinction between local and Imperial subjects; and that difficulty certainly remained at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman said he would unveil the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He said to the right hon. Gentleman— "Will you accept the Bill if we accept this Amendment? "The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham naturally said "No." "Then," said the Prime Minister, "we have the matter clearly before us. We offer you a Bill; you offer us an Amendment; but if we accept it, you have no intention whatever of accepting the Bill." But this was not the case of a Bill being offered for the acceptance of the Irish minority; it was a Bill thrust upon them by a majority gained by refusing to let the constituencies know what the Bill was going to be. It was on that account that they said that the Government were acting in a tyrannical manner in regard to the Bill. The Government obtained a majority over the Opposition, the validity of which the Opposition disputed, because they said that the mind of the people of the United Kingdom had not been taken, and the question was not fairly before them. That being so, the Prime Minister brought in a Bill and said, "You must pass that." The Opposition put forward Amendments frankly, and said they objected to the Bill 955 entirely; but because they brought forward Amendments was it unreasonable that they should seek to amend it, so that if they were compelled to accept it it might be brought as near their views as possible? Would the Prime Minister wish them to offer no opposition to the Bill at all in Committee?
§ MR. RENTOUL
said that a large number of the Irish Unionist Members had intended to take up the line of saying that, because they objected to the Bill in toto, they would take no part in the discussion; but, wiser counsels prevailing, that policy was not adopted. Their position had been stated on hundreds of platforms, and it was that unless the Army interfered they would not accept the Bill.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
asked whether the hon. Member was in Order in the observations he was making?
said, the hon. Member was irregular, as he was not confining himself to the Amendment before the Committee.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, his point was that the Prime Minister had said that the Government had pulled aside the veil of the Opposition, but he (Mr. Rentoul) was showing that they had no veil to pull aside. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had remarked upon the unbusiness like way in which the question was put in the Bill. He had used the illustration of a man coming to ask you for a sum of money, and your offering him your entire purse with the request that he should hand back what he did not want. It was a very common thing for a husband to settle something on his wife; but it would be an extraordinary thing for a man making such a settlement to say, "Take all my property, but reserve a little for me." Yet something very like that was done in this Bill. All the powers of the Imperial Parliament were to be settled on the Irish Parliament, and then in the 3rd clause certain powers were reserved to the Imperial Parliament. As to giving a man your money on the understanding that he was to give you back what you did not want, he had known that course to be followed in the case of a certain Home Rule Member, and, in the end, not one penny was returned. That would be 956 the experience of the Imperial Parliament if the Bill were accepted. Was it unreasonable that the Ulster Members should want to know exactly what powers were to be given to the Parliament that would be over them? The Irish Parliament would consist of a majority of Home Rulers and a Loyalist minority. Therefore, was there anything unfair in the minority wishing to know the best and the worst at once? If they did, they might perhaps be less reluctant to accept the Bill than they were. Many hon. Members had spoken on this question from every possible point of view. [Ministerial cheers.] Yes, from the point of view of the entire and absolute freedom of the Irish Parliament, and the point of view of the Irish Parliament having such-and-such powers. Looking at the absolute statement of the Home Secretary the other night as to the extent of the power of the Irish Parliament, was there anything unreasonable in asking the Government to accept the Amendment—in asking that they should give the information sought? If that was given, then compel them, if necessary, to accept this Parliament. At any rate, let the Government tell them what the powers of this Parliament were to be in order that they might see how they stood. It was on that ground that he desired most earnestly that the Government should see their way to accept this arrangement, and see whether a policy of conciliation from any point of view would not have some effect. They might find the Ulster Members more approachable than they thought. They, at any rate, wished the Government to treat them as men who were willing to talk on this subject. [Ministerial cheers.] Exactly. When he said that he meant what he said. He had already said it was a question with the Ulster Members whether they should touch the Bill and debate it at all; but now they had consented to debate it with the limited powers at their disposal. They treated the Government as fairly as they could. They told them what their objections were, and then voted against the Bill in the frankest manner.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, there was one speech he could not understand — namely, that of the hon. and learned Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane). He said 957 that the, Canadian analogy was no analogy at all. That, he confessed, went a good deal further than the Prime Minister's speech. The Prime Minister had not denied the Canadian analogy. If the hon. and learned Member had been in his place, he (Mr. Russell) would have asked him what Sections 91 and 92 of the British North America Act really meant if they did not constitute an analogy for the Irish case. Why, in Section 92 of the British North America Act the work of the Provincial Legislatures was set out and the subjects enumerated. Beyond those subjects they could not go; and if they went beyond them, the Supreme Court of Canada would declare the Acts to be un-Constitutional. So far as an analogy could be perfect, this analogy was perfect. It was impossible to say that delegation could not be carried out; for in Canada,, ever since 1867, it had been the law, and no very great difficulties had arisen under it. There was one practical argument in favour of delegation and against reservation. Under Section 4 of the Bill the Irish Legislature was forbidden to endow religion; but the question might arise, what constituted the endowment of religion. It might be found, for example, that the endowment of religion was effected through education. But if the principle of delegation were adopted, it would be impossible for any such question to arise. The powers of the Legislature would be clearly set forth in the Bill itself, so that those who ran could read. Under the system of reservation all kinds of difficulties would arise which, under the principle of delegation, they would be free from. What was the real argument against this principle? One argument used by the Prime Minister seemed to preclude all debate on the matter. The right hon. Gentleman stated with the greatest clearness that the Irish Members would not go one inch of the way with the Government if they adopted the plan of delegation. That was the effective argument on the Ministerial side of the House.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
"Quite right, too!"—that was a nice confession for a Liberal to make. He had always thought there was a British view of the question as well as an Irish one, and 958 that Irishmen must not ask more than Great Britain would concede. But if the method proposed in the Bill were adopted, for the reason given by the Prime Minister that the Irish Members would not move one step of the way if delegation were attempted, then the Irish Members were the real Leaders of the Liberal Party, though they did not sit on the Treasury Bench. These were the men who dictated to the Government what they should vote for, and what they should not vote for. That was a fine position for the great Liberal Party—that they should be mere hewers of wood and drawers of waters for the Irish Nationalists! He was not very much concerned one way or another with regard to the Amendment, and he would tell the Committee why. He thought delegation the better plan of the two. He did not see, for instance, why the question of regulating the public-house system should not be delegated to a Body in Ireland. He did not see why the English people should decide how many public-houses there were to be in Ireland, and what hours they should remain open. This subject was preeminently a matter for the people of Ireland, and the people of Ireland alone; and, therefore, he was prepared at any time for a system of delegation of that kind. On the broad national question, he was against an Irish Parliament altogether, but thought that the principle of delegation was better than the principle of reservation, and on that ground he should vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
said that no one had attempted to answer the observation that the subjects to be delegated—if they were to be delegated— were not capable of being enumerated with any approach to accuracy. If they wished to give only a few subjects for the consideration of the Irish Parliament, it would be very easy indeed to do it— as was done in the Canadian Act for the Provincial Assemblies. But that was precisely what the Government and their supporters did not want to do. The object of the Amendment was to limit the Bill: his object was to prevent the Bill being limited. They had been asked by the late Home Secretary (Mr. H Matthews) what sort of supremacy they wished to have over Ireland. So far as legal supremacy was concerned, there was only one they could 959 have, and that was the same that they had over all Her Majesty's Dominions; but he meant, most emphatically, to do everything he could to make the supremacy of Parliament over the affairs that would be discussed in Ireland as small and simple as he could. If the Irish people demanded it, he should find it difficult to refuse that they should have the uncontrolled management of Irish affairs. That subject, however, was not appropriate for discussion now; but he could imagine nothing more disastrous than to create a Parliament in Ireland, and then have constant appeals from Ireland to the Imperial Parliament, encouraging the different Parties in Ireland to contradict or fight one another, with no sense of responsibility, because they would feel that their battles must be fought over again on the floor of that House at Westminster. He would readily vote for a limitation of the powers and opportunities the House of Commons would have of interfering with or regulating the decisions of the Irish Parliament, but he must decline to attempt to further restrict the powers of that Parliament. Treating the Amendment as a very neat method of raising the question whether this was to be a gas-and-water Bill merely or not, he should vote against the proposal.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
said, that on all previous occasions when the sovereign power had parted with some of its authority, it had delegated the authority so parted with, and limited it to the necessities of the case. The case of Canada had already been mentioned; but the very interesting case of Australian Federation—which, though it had not become law, had been defined very clearly—had not yet been alluded to. In the Regulations which had been passed by the Representatives of the Australian Colonies, it had been clearly laid down that those Colonies should only give up such powers as would be sufficient for the purpose of the common Government, and such powers were very clearly defined. He thought the hon. and learned Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane) might have 960 given lay Members of the House some further light on the interesting question of the Marriage Laws. He understood from the hon. and learned Member that by this proposal the Irish Parliament would have the power of divorce over people domiciled in Ireland, whilst the British laws would apply to people domiciled in other parts of the United Kingdom. He was anxious to know whether, in the event of the succession to property passing by death, the Imperial Parliament would tax the person who succeeded to Irish property and who would be illegitimate under the British law? The hon. and learned Member had said that, after all, this was the old question of supremacy. No doubt this was so. The Opposition desired to limit the powers to be given to the Irish Legislature. They were not satisfied that the supremacy which extended over the Colonies was sufficient for the purposes of Ireland. They, therefore, intended to do all they could to limit the powers to be given to the Irish Legislature and to destroy the proposal of the Government. The Prime Minister said the intention of the Government was to draw a distinct line between Imperial and local affairs. The intention of the Opposition was to do precisely the same thing, only the Opposition proposed to define the local matters with which the Irish Legislature was to deal, and the Government did not. The Opposition desired to define the local matters in such a way as would clip the wings of the Irish Legislature as much as possible.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, the question he asked himself in reference to the Amendment now before the Committee was, What was the House driving at? Supposing the House had agreed that some such thing as Home Rule was to be established in Ireland, what particular form of Home Rule was to be set up? Was it to be something corresponding to Colonial Independence, or was it to be that which had been described as Home Rule all round? The hon. and learned Member for Haddington said that Parliament had never intended to enumerate subjects to be delegated. The answer to that was that in all the cases referred to by the hon. and learned Member Parliament had been setting up Colonies practically independent of Great 961 Britain, and over which we had a merely nominal supremacy—a supremacy which, legislatively, had never been exercised, and which in the way of veto had long since ceased to be exercised. If Parliament was going to give Ireland the degree of independence which the Colonies had, he admitted that the Government were quite right in not attempting to define by legislation the objects which the Irish Legislature was to be allowed to legislate upon. If, on the other hand, Parliament was going to set up some relation between Ireland and the Parliament of Westminster which might be followed hereafter by similar relations with Scotland, Wales, and England, the precedent that must, be followed was the Canadian precedent. The speech of the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid) had rather surprised him, as he thought that the hon. and learned Member was an avowed disciple of the principle of "Home Rule all round," and that under these circumstances he would have seized upon the opportunity of making a precedent which might be applicable afterwards to other parts of the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Member for Dumfries used one argument, and one argument only— an argument which had been previously used by the Prime Minister—namely, that it was too difficult to enumerate the subjects with which the Irish Legislature might be entrusted. But had the hon. and learned Member looked at the Canadian precedent, or did he think that such a small, meagre, and impoverished delegation as was therein contained was not sufficient for the Irish Legislature?
§ MR. R. T. REID
May I interrupt my right hon. Friend to say that I have had some practical acquaintance with this subject of delegation. I assisted my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen in drafting a Home Rule Bill for Scotland. [Laughter.] It is in print. We tried to enumerate the subjects to be delegated to the Scotch Parliament, and found it perfectly impossible to do so.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he had no doubt the hon. Members for Dumfries and Aberdeen found it difficult to put a limit, to Scotch ambition. But he submitted they were not all Scotchmen; and it was quite probable that if they tried they would be able to 962 find a sufficient number of subjects to delegate to a Scotch Parliament, as he believed they would be able to enumerate a sufficient number of subjects to satisfy an Irish Parliament. In the Canadian precedent it would be found that in no less than 16 classes of subjects delegated, besides education, agriculture, and emigration were dealt with in separate clauses. Amongst the classes of subjects were municipal institutions, a subject which covered the whole code of laws, and the carrying out of which would give ample scope to the most ambitious Irish Legislature for many years. That was a precedent which ought to guide those who pursued the idea of a system with a Parliament at Westminster with four subordinate Parliaments, the Parliament at Westminster having general powers and the four subordinate Parliaments delegated powers. There was the subject of marriage, which, apparently, it was proposed to give power to the Irish Legislature to deal with. It was true that the Marriage Laws were now different in England, Scotland, and Ireland; but, the difference between the English and the Irish laws on the subject was formal rather than real. Nearly 30 years ago a Royal Commission had been instituted in order to discover, if possible, a means of bringing about uniformity in the laws of the two countries. That object had never been attained. It was an object that every subject of the United Kingdom should desire to attain, but the process adopted in the Bill would make it practically impossible to attain. If marriage were kept for the Parliament at Westminster, uniformity might by-and-bye be obtained; but if it were given as a subject to be dealt with by a subordinate Legislature, he was afraid they might bid good-bye to uniformity in this matter. The Prime Minister seemed to think that the Irish people were distinguished by their views with respect to marriage and divorce, and that he was paying enormous respect to those views by the extraordinary line taken in the Bill. The Irish feeling, in the right hon. Gentleman's opinion, was so strong that persons who might obtain divorce in England could not obtain it in Ireland through the Divorce Court, but they could do so by the process of a Bill in Parliament; so that the feeling which the Prime Minister said should be respected was over-ridden, not by 963 providing a system of Divorce Courts, but by providing the costly machinery of a Bill in Parliament. In other words, Irish opinion might be flouted, but it must be flouted by means of a machinery which involved a considerable amount of cost. That was only an illustration of the difficulties that would result in the future if an Irish Parliament were to be set up with general powers instead of delegated powers. The precedent of the United States Government, which had been appealed to, ought to lead them to be very jealous in retaining general powers at Westminster and in abstaining from giving any largo powers to the Parliament in Dublin. The weakness of the United States Constitution rested on the few subjects that were confined to the Legislative Congress and on the immense difficulty in increasing that number of subjects. He believed that in the United States the best class of citizens had long desired a uniform law of marriage, but the laws of the Constitution prevented them from obtaining their desire by reason of the machinery by which any Constitutional Amendment could be enforced being so cumbrous, unpractical, and difficult to work. They were about to take a step which would make the maintenance of a Common Law and the development of a Common Law in different parts of the Kingdom increasingly difficult. If it was desired to have a Legislature capable of legislating for all the people within the United Kingdom, the real precedent—which was the Canadian precedent—must be followed; but if, on the other hand, it was desired to pursue the ideal Colonial precedent with no supremacy and with the complete isolation and separation of Ireland, then the plan in the Bill was the one to stick to. But if this Parliament desired to maintain a real Legislative Authority at Westminster, he submitted that the plan to be adopted was that of the enumeration of the subjects to be delegated to the Irish Assembly.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
said, he had intended to make some observations on this Amendment, but the right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken had so well expressed his views on the question that he would not trouble the Committee very long. He had thought over the question of Home Rule for many years, 964 and when he stood before his constituents he made a distinct promise. He said to them—With regard to Home Rule, I think my fellow-townsmen are entitled to a frank expression of my views. (1). I am in favour of the Imperial Parliament delegating to a Statutory Irish Parliament the full control of Irish home affairs, the matters delegated being set out specifically in the Act, and all others being thereby reserved for the decision of the Mother Body.He did not pretend to have as good an opinion on the Home Rule Question as the 17 Members of the Cabinet; but, although he had not thought about it so much as they had when they sat together, he had thought about it probably for a longer time than most of them, and he had come to the conclusion that if they would enter on this policy of Home Rule—and he certainly was not one of those who began it—there was no tarrying until they came to a Federal system. Therefore, he set himself to this conclusion: that if he voted for Home Rule, he would vote for a Home Rule which would give effective power to Ireland in Ireland, while retaining the Imperial power finally to the Imperial Parliament. He was going to keep the promise he made to his constituency. [Liberal Unionist cheers.] That statement need not have been cheered. Hon. Members would believe him when he said that they had lost votes by their cheers. It was not satisfactory to him to be cheered when he told the House he was going to vote against his hon. Friends. Those who had cheered him did not cheer him for his merits, but because they thought he was going to do some mischief. He could assure hon. Members who cheered that he was not a whit better than the Radical Members were who had been accused again and again of having made promises to their constituents which they had broken. He should like to see these promises. He knew the Radical Members, and he was bound to say that amongst the whole 140 of them, there was not a single one of them that gave a promise to his constituents which he was not going to redeem. If there was anything which would prevent Radical Members from voting for some of the Amendments, it would be the utterances of his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. He was going to vote with his 965 right hon. Friend on this Amendment. But his purpose in so voting was to press an effective Home Rule Bill for Ireland which should fit, in with the Federal system, which, rightly or wrongly, he believed to he coming; while the purpose of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was not to amend the Bill in that direction, but to destroy it. There were thousands of people in the country who saw with sore dismay the right hon. Gentleman taking that line. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, he really believed there was a lurking honesty in him; and he would ask him whether, when he argued so powerfully that if they were going to have Home Rule they should have this plea of delegation, did he honestly desire to convey that if the Amendment were adopted it would conciliate Liberal Unionist opinion to the Bill? The right hon. Gentleman only laughed at him now. Well, he submitted that if that question were not answered, his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's position was perfectly right. His right, hon. Friend said—"I propose a plan; it may not be as good as yours; but if you will not help in amending that plan, I will stick to it." If he had not made that promise to his constituents he would go into the Lobby with the Prime Minister, because the right hon. Gentleman, as a practical politician who wanted the Bill to be carried, was justified on having taken a line to stand by it, unless, by giving way on a point, he could conciliate Liberal Unionist opinion; and, if he could not do that, his wisest course was to he strong. Though he believed the right hon. Gentleman's plan was the best plan, he thought that the Prime Minister could have just as easily proceeded by way of delegation, and to define measures, instead of reserving measures; and, as he had given the promise to his constituents, he proposed to go into the Lobby for the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 275; Noes 228.—(Division List, No. 83.)
§ *MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.) moved, in Clause 2, line 14, to leave out "and subject to the restrictions." He said the Amendment on which the Committee 966 had just voted aimed at changing the scope of the restrictions in the Bill by removing them from the negative side to the positive side, and by stating distinctly the subjects that were to be included with in the powers of the Legislature about to be created in Ireland. The issue he wished to raise by his Amendment was quite different. No doubt it was absolutely necessary to limit the action of this proposed subordinate Legislature to certain subjects. It was clear that in some way or other it must be clearly and distinctly stated that such questions as the succession to the Crown, peace, and war did not appertain to the Legislature they were about to set up. On that they were all agreed. But the restrictions set forth in Clause 4 of the Bill were of a different category, and he wished to show that restrictions were illusory as safeguards to the minority, and derogatory even to the mongrel local Assembly they proposed to set up in Ireland. These restrictions, which he wished to remove from the Bill, might be divided into two classes. The first class related to religion, and the second concerned ordinary morality. A point which he wished the House to remember—and it was a point which they were apt to lose sight of— was that the Irish Legislature would, without doubt, be practically dominated and ruled by the priests. That was clear; and whether they liked it or disliked it, whether it, was a bad thing or a good thing, they must recognise it, for recent, events in Ireland had told them conclusively that Archbishop Walsh and his successors would pull the strings of the Legislature in Dublin. These restrictions that concerned religion were matters of very keen concern to the Irish people. It could not be supposed that a Legislative Assembly established in Ireland and very largely influenced by the priests would long support a number of restrictions which touched very deeply the religious sentiments and wishes of the Irish people; and he believed that when the Legislature was set up in Ireland attempts would be made to do away with them. But, even as they stood in the Bill, those restrictions could be circumvented and set at defiance; and was it reasonable, then, that they should be put in the Bill, especially as it was inconceivable that the Imperial Parliament would enforce these restrictions, if need 967 be, by war? If 80 per cent. of the Irish Members were powerful enough to force this Home Rule Bill on the House of Commons, and as they thought—though erroneously—within measurable distance of passing it—it was absurd to suppose, if they got a Legislature in Dublin— in which they would be even more powerful—that they would allow these restrictions to remain. The other class of restrictions was of a still more remarkable character. These restrictions formed a sort of second table of the Decalogue, and it was certainly an extraordinary thing to find them put into an Act of Parliament. It was possible that the Prime Minister thought that the Decalogue had been somewhat forgotten in Ireland, and that he wished to set it up in the Home Rule Bill, for Clause 5 was, practically speaking, some of the Commandments in other words. It was absolutely forbidden under the clause to deprive any person of life, liberty, and property without due process of law. That simply meant that the Irish Legislature was told "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not steal." It was true that the words "without duo process of law" were added; but had they come to this, that they needed to put into a Statute which set up a Legislature in Ireland a clause which enacted that these offences against the Decalogue should not be committed by that Legislature? He wondered that the whole Decalogue had not been inserted in the Bill. When he had proposed to introduce into Clause 1 the words "subordinate Parliament," which everyone agreed this Legislature would be, the Prime Minister charged him with wishing to degrade the Irish Assembly, and said the proposed words, if accepted, would be a bar sinister against that Assembly. But now they proposed to enact, for all posterity to see, that when they thought the time had come to set up a Legislature in Ireland, they thought it necessary to state distinctly in their Bill that they were afraid the Legislature would commit these crimes against the Decalogue, and that for that reason they inserted in the Bill in so many words the Commandments "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not steal." Surely that was a bar sinister, darker and more shameful than the words "subordinate Parliament," which the Prime 968 Minister himself declared would be the position of the Irish Legislature if the Bill became law? The Irish Members must have come down very considerably if they were going to allow those objectionable restrictions to remain in the Bill. But he objected to these restrictions from the United Kingdom standpoint as well as from the Irish standpoint. If the Irish Representatives were retained in their full strength in the Imperial Parliament, the restrictions, if allowed to stand, would be a source of continual agitation in the House, for they would be denounced as an insult to the Irish nation, and the Prime Minister would in a few years have as hard words used against him by Irish Members as the right hon. Gentleman himself had used towards those who carried the Union. Suppose an agitation were got up in the Imperial Parliament to remove these restrictions, how could Parliament possibly refuse to do away with them? From the Imperial standpoint it would be, therefore, much better to remove the restrictions now than to allow them to remain to be the cause of friction in future years. There was a great deal of talk on the Ministerial side of the House about trusting the Irish people; but instead of trusting them they were about to declare that so little did they believe in the Irish people that it was necessary to put restrictions in the Bill to prevent their Legislature from killing and stealing. He thought that on those grounds the clause setting up the restrictions was the most remarkable in the Bill. Personally, he was not anxious that the Bill should become law, and he did not wish to promote its passing. But if they were going to set up in Ireland a Legislative Assembly, and if they were going to put restrictions in the Bill indicating that they did not trust the Irish people, and gave them the Legislature under compulsion, then the Irish people would not have the Legislature long before they would knock out these restrictions; and as he, therefore, thought they ought to be knocked out now, he begged to move his Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 14, to leave out "and subject to the restrictions."—(Mr. Bartley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."969
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I will not endeavour now to deal with each particular safeguard that is contained in the Bill. By doing so I do not think the Committee would escape from having to consider in detail the clause as a whole when the Question is put from the Chair that the clause do stand part of the Bill. Hon. Members must feel that it would be a very strong measure, at the present stage of the clause, to decide that the whole of the restrictions upon the power of the Irish Legislature should be cut away. Undoubtedly the effect of the proposed Amendment would be to enlarge the scope of the Home Rule Bill. It is the first proposal of the kind that has come from the Opposition. I will only make this remark—that the restrictions which the Amendment proposes to sweep away constitute a bonâ fide attempt to narrow the power of the new Irish Legislature; and I must say that the way in which the Nationalist Members have acquiesced in this limitation of the power of that Legislature is most creditable to them, and affords a singular example of the moderation with which they have conducted themselves in this House in connection with the details of this Bill. I may be told that these restrictions are not of much value; but I think it will be admitted that there is not the smallest doubt that if they were swept away it would be regarded as very much enhancing the demerits of the measure. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment said it was not consistent with the respect due to the Irish Legislature to impose any restrictions of this kind. Well, take the very first of them, which prohibits the new Irish Legislature from setting up an Established Church. That, according to the hon. Member, is an improper restriction upon its legislative powers; but that is exactly the restriction that is imposed upon the Federal Legislatures of the United States. In my opinion, it is most improbable that any Irish Members would be in favour of establishing a Church of any denomination, whether these restrictions existed or not. The restrictions have been inserted with the goodwill and entire approval of the Irish Members, in order, if possible, to allay those jealousies which, however unhappy and unreasonable they may be, they find entertained and even enforced in 970 this House. This Irish Legislature has been called, not inaptly, a "subordinate Legislature," and there is nothing at all improper in this policy of imposing restrictions. When we come to the clause, each restriction will he decided on its own merits; but, in my opinion, it is most unreasonable to cut out the whole mass of the restrictions that are contained in the clause at this stage, and therefore I must offer the strongest opposition to the Amendment.
§ MR. ROSS (Londonderry)
said, that up to the present he had taken no part in the proceedings of the Committee. His constituents had very grave doubts as to whether he should in any way take part in the proceedings at all. He did not disguise that the position they took up with regard to the Bill and to every one of its clauses was a position of uncompromising hostility. But, although he entertained these sentiments towards the Bill, he thought it was his duty to endeavour to draw from the responsible Members of the Government explanations as to what the clauses really meant. He knew that these restrictions were put forward in the guise of being safeguards; but, as safeguards, they were absolute shams. There was not one of them that was not capable of being got round. Even the one mentioned by the Prime Minister had been demonstrated to be absolutely ineffective. Therefore, his constituents would much rather have no restrictions at all. He spoke with a full sense of his responsibility; he knew what the people who elected him wished; and he told the Government not to hurt the feelings of the Irish Members at all—not to strain the allegiance of some of their own supporters—by introducing these safeguards. He hoped he would hear no more of what the Prime Minister had said about, the acceptance of these restrictions by the Irish Members showing their moderation and the spirit of compromise which animated them, for, with great respect to the Irish Members—for he did not wish to say anything insulting to them—he did not believe that that attitude could be maintained. The great point of the Irish Members was to get the Bill through by hook or by crook, and when they had the house over their heads in Dublin they could then get anything else they wished for. He did not believe these safeguards were intended for the 971 Loyalists in Ireland at all. They were intended for the protection of the Government when the Government were brought face to face before the country. That might be put off for a long time; but he sincerely believed that the time would come when the Government would have to answer to the country for the wrongs and oppression that would be wrought by this Bill, and then the safeguards would be useful to them—then they would say—"Look at all these clauses we put in for the protection of the loyal minority." But he did not think the country would be satisfied with that answer. The Representatives of the people of Ulster told the Government that they did not want these safeguards and restrictions; and he would, therefore, support the Amendment.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not proceed to a Division on his Amendment, for if he does some of those who oppose this Bill will not be able to vote for it. The position some of us take up with regard to this Bill is that we oppose the Bill, and desire to see it defeated; but it may pass, and we desire to make it as good a Bill as safeguards can make it. There are illusory safeguards in the Bill, and we desire to remove these illusory safeguards. But this Amendment proposes to strike out some of the safeguards we desire to see in the Bill; and if carried it would really give to this proposed Irish Legislature greater powers than those proposed to be conferred by the Bill as it stands. Therefore, I trust the hon. Member will not go to a Division on his Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I quite agree that this Bill is full of illusory safeguards; but the Amendment really goes much further than illusory safeguards. It touches every one of the restrictions contained in Clause 4. My desire is, when we get to Clause 4, not to diminish its restricting power, but to increase it. As far as it goes, I think it is an improvement in the Bill, but it does not go far enough. When we get to it I shall try to make it go further; but, in the meanwhile, I think it would be inadvisable for my hon. Friend to persist in his Amendment; the proper course for him to adopt would be, when he sees how Clause 4 is modified—if it should 972 be modified—to move to omit that clause. As the Prime Minister has said, it would be rather a strong order, on the 2nd clause of the Bill, to take the course proposed; and, under the circumstances, I am inclined to advise my hon. Friend not to press this particular Amendment.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said that, while sympathising with his hon. Friend opposite, he watt in a difficulty. He had no great belief in the restrictions proposed by Clause 4, and less belief in that particular one which had been singled out by the Prime Minister with regard to religion. The Prime Minister was, in his view, entirely inconsistent in singling that out. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the restrictions that prevented the Irish Parliament from establishing or endowing religion. He himself had put a Notice on the Paper to omit that special subsection, and for this reason—the Church question was reserved for the opinion of Scotland, Wales, and England; and he did not see how they were logically going to make an exception in the case of Ireland. Moreover, if they made it, it would not be observed. He thought, upon the whole, inasmuch as they would have an opportunity of dealing with each of these restrictions separately when they came to them, it would be better that the present Amendment should not be pressed.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, he did not desire to put the House to the trouble of a Division; and he would, therefore, withdraw the Amendment and bring it forward later. ["No, no!"]
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD moved, in Clause 2, page 1, line 15, after "mentioned," insert ''and subject to the assent of Parliament as hereinafter provided." This Amendment, he said, was the first of a series which were designed to provide practical machinery by which the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament might be maintained. They had had a number of discussions on this question of supremacy; and the answer of the Government had been that the proposals which had been made would not put the supremacy in a better position, but would put it in a worse, and that their proposals were impracticable and out of 973 place. The object of his Amendment was to make a practical proposal with regard to the maintenance of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament — a subject on which they had been told that both sides of the House were equally exercised, and equally desirous that a practical and effective supremacy should be maintained. He submitted there could be no such practical supremacy unless there was a possibility of that House intervening on any particular measure and saying what it had to say on such a measure before it was passed into law. Clause 5 provided the whole of the machinery in the Bill with regard to giving the assent of Her Majesty to anything the Irish Legislature might do; and under that clause far wider powers were given to the Legislature which it was proposed to constitute in Ireland than were in most cases given to our self-governing Colonies, in regard to which the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was almost null, or the weapon was such a rusty one that it was practically never used. With regard to our Colonial Legislatures, there was a bar put on which might be effectively used and exercised with regard to giving the Royal Assent to any Bills which might be brought into a Colonial Legislature. The Governor of a Colony was not merely the mouthpiece, as it were, of the Legislature for the purpose of giving assent to a Bill; but he had, in fact, a real discretion, and could exercise that discretion, in order to give or withhold assent to a Bill. According to the Bill now before the House, it was proposed that the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland, who held a position corresponding to that of a Governor in the Colonies, should have no discretionary power of that kind, therefore this was a weaker Bill, and gave more power of freedom to the proposed Legislature in Ireland than had hitherto been given in the case of many of our Colonial Legislatures. This Bill provided that the Lord Lieutenant should, on the advice of the Executive Committee, give or withhold the assent of Her Majesty to Bills passed by the two Houses of Parliament; so that, practically, for the purpose of giving or withholding that assent, the Lord Lieutenant had to act on the advice of the Executive Committee, and had no 974 independent power to give or withhold assent.
I understood he only wanted to refer to it for the purpose of illustrating his argument; but he is going beyond that.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
said, his desire was simply to make a statement as to Clause 5, and not in any way to debate it. He simply intended to point out that the Lord Lieutenant had no voice in the matter, and that the only possible place whore the exercise of any supremacy could come in was in the last lines of Clause 5—Subject, nevertheless, to any instructions given by Her Majesty in respect of any such Bill.
THE CHAIRMAN (interposing)
said, it was extremely important that in the discussions on this Bill no subsequent Amendment should be anticipated. Such a course was out of Order.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
was afraid he had not made his meaning clear. He intended simply to state what the possibilities were of intervention under this Bill, and to point out that his Amendment proposed to supplement that possibility of intervention by providing that no Bill should pass without the assent of Parliament. He wanted to show that these lines did not include any supremacy of Parliament, and that the line with reference to instructions given by Her Majesty was the only possible line in the whole of the Bill where any practical attempt was made to maintain the supremacy; and what he proposed to do was to supplement that by inserting an express provision that a Bill which had passed the two Houses of the Irish Legislature should not pass into law without the assent of the Imperial Parliament. That must be followed up by another clause, and it would be convenient he should state to the Committee what the clause was.
There is no disposition to prevent the hon. and learned Gentleman stating his case; but if he goes beyond the ruling it is my duty to call him to Order.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
had not the slightest intention of going beyond the ruling of the Chair, and his remark was made in reply to an observation of dissent from the Chief Secretary.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
On a point of Order, may I point out that the Amendment states, "subject to the assent of Parliament as hereinafter provided"? Is it not competent for the hon. and learned Gentleman to show under that what he provides hereinafter?
It is competent for the hon. and learned Gentleman to point out what it is he intends to provide, but not to discuss it, and so anticipate other Amendments.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
observed, that he proposed to refer to the clause, "hereinafter provided" to show how it fitted in with that he had moved. And he would simply read the sub-section which he intended to move to add at the end of Clause 5. It was this—Every Bill which has passed both Houses of the Irish Legislature shall be laid before each House of Parliament, and shall not, except in case of urgency, be presented to the Lord Lieutenant for Her Majesty's assent until 40 days after it has been laid before both Houses of Parliament. If within such 40 days an Address be moved in both Houses of Parliament praying that Her Majesty's assent be not given to such Bill, and if both Houses of Parliament present such Address to Her Majesty, such Bill shall be null. Provided, nevertheless, that if the Lord Lieutenant is advised by the Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Ireland that the immediate enactment of any Bill is a matter of urgency, such Bill may be immediately presented to the Lord Lieutenant for Her Majesty's assent.There were other proposals by which, in one form or another, the assent of Parliament was intended to be provided. He did not, therefore, wish in any way to tie himself or the Committee to any particular form of assent which the Committee hereafter might think it right should be inserted in the Bill. What he did desire to do was to lay before the House this proposition—that in the majority of cases at all events, except in cases of urgency, when an immediate enactment might be a matter of necessity, they ought to reserve the right of Parliament to intervene before assent was given to Irish measures. That right of intervention would, he thought, be best preserved by providing that a delay should take place after a Bill had passed both Houses in Ireland, and that during that 976 delay the Imperial Parliament should have an opportunity of considering the proposal.
I ought to point out to the hon. and learned Gentleman that if he moves his Amendment now and it is negatived he will not be able to move his Amendment to Clause 5. I would, therefore, suggest he should withdraw his Amendment now, and raise the question on Clause 5.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
said, he was explaining that he did not in any way desire to tie himself or the Committee to any particular form to which assent should be given; but he was simply illustrating what he meant by the assent of Parliament by referring to the particular Amendment he had put down, and the rejection or insertion of these words would not in any way tie the hands of the House with regard to any specific proposition. He desired to submit that if any Amendment was to be moved at any subsequent stage of the Bill by which the assent of Parliament should be reserved in any particular case, here was the proper place where a Saving Clause should be put in. The present Amendment corresponded with the words preceding it—"With the exceptions and subject to the restrictions in this Act mentioned"—words which pointed, as his Amendment did, to provisions that were to follow. He had stated at the outset, and he repeated, that some assent of this kind was necessary if they were to preserve in a practical form the supremacy of that House. The supremacy of Parliament did not mean merely that they should have the power to repeal any measure which was passed by the Irish Parliament; but it meant, if supremacy was to be an effective power, that, before the act was done to which they objected, they should have an opportunity of discussing it in that House, and of there determining before assent was given whether or not it was a measure in which the Imperial Parliament should interfere. He apprehended that such a power would be rarely used. The very existence of the power of discussing in that House whether or not assent ought to be given to a measure would probably prevent the necessity in almost every case of resorting to the exercise of that power. But in the case of new legislation that power might be required. Take, for instance, the case 977 of legislation with regard to laud. If Irish Members were true to their pledges on the Land Question, any Land Act which the Irish Legislature passed must be one to which the great majority of hon. Members of the House must necessarily offer uncompromising opposition. If the Lord Lieutenant gave the Royal Assent on the advice of the Executive, and if this Parliament had 110 power to intervene, where would the supremacy of Parliament be? If power wore reserved to Her Majesty to refuse assent, that would not be the supremacy of Parliament; it would be the supremacy of Cabinet Ministers, and there would be no possibility of testing in that House whether such assent ought to be given. If in regard to legislation of this kind Parliament was to be supreme, it must have power to consider proposed legislation before there was any possibility of the assent being given. He had been considering this question as affecting new legislation, and he would now take the case of old legislation. Part of the supremacy of Parliament consisted in maintaining the laws as they stood on the Statute Book; and, except on certain subjects, it would be in the power of the Irish Legislature to repeal clauses as they stood at present on the Statute Book. Take the law relating to bills of exchange. Under this Bill the Irish Parliament would have perfect power to repeal or modify the law as to bills of exchange, or any other part of the Mercantile Law. In order to maintain that uniformity in their Mercantile Law which they believed to be essential to the prosperity of the United Kingdom as a whole, they would then have to exercise the Royal Prerogative upon the advice of Ministers. It was not right that the Royal Prerogative should have to be called up in a matter of that sort, as it assuredly would have to be under that Bill in order to obtain uniformity of commercial laws. Of course, one hardly expected that the Government would assent to an Amendment of this sort, because hon. Members on his side of the House knew perfectly well they would be told this was not the right place to move it, or that a mere paper declaration of supremacy was no declaration of supremacy at all. But he contended he was now proposing practical machinery 978 for the assertion of that supremacy; and surely there were some hon. Gentlemen opposite who had pledged themselves over and over again to an effective and practical supremacy available in case of necessity, who would admit that the time had come when they ought to give effect to their declarations? This was the proper place to indicate that in some form or another it was intended to make the supremacy effective. Speaking from a Conservative point or view, he said that in making a great change, such as that proposed by the Bill, they ought to work cautiously, and, as far as possible, see that evolution and development might have time to act in a matter of this sort. They had done so in the Colonies, where they had preserved far greater powers for intervention than in this Bill. Had they more reason to trust Irishmen than they had to trust the Colonists? Why should they give more freedom to Ireland and retain less power of intervention than they did in the case of the Colonies? He held that the Imperial Parliament ought to keep the reins in its hands, and that as time went on and things worked well it could give more rein and greater freedom to the Irish Legislature.
§ The Amendment referred to was as follows: Page 1, line 15, after "mentioned," to insert "and subject to the assent of Parliament as hereinafter provided."
MR, E. STANHOPE (interposing)
desired to ask what would be the effect of moving this Amendment. Would it have the effect of shutting out the Amendments to be moved by the hon. and learned Member himself and other hon. Members to Clause 5. If it had that effect, he would suggest to his hon. Friend that he should not move it now.
I have no doubt that if these words are moved now and negatived they would shut out the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member to Clause 5, and all Amendments of this kind. I pointed that out to the hon. Member while he was speaking, but I could not say his Amendment was out of Order.
I distinctly considered what the hon. and learned Gentleman said. I am distinctly of opinion that if these words are negatived they will shut out the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member to Clause 5, and all other Amendments of the same character.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
May I say that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanhope) interrupted me as I was in the act of moving?
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I would suggest to my hon. Friend that, seeing he cannot withdraw his Amendment, he had better go on with it.
My own impression was that the right hon. Gentleman was in time to stop the hon. Member from moving it; but he was very near it.
§ MR. SHEEHY
I was opposite the hon. and learned Member, and I distinctly heard him move the Amendment.
I must point out to the right hon. Gentleman that that was my impression. The question has to be decided by me.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Is it your ruling that, the Question not having been put, the Amendment can be withdrawn?
§ [Hon. MEMBERS: It was put.]
§ MR. MACFARLANE
I wish to ask you, Sir, whether an hon. Member, having spoken to an Amendment, is then entitled to withdraw it without the leave of the Committee?
It was perfectly plain that if the hon. and learned Member had moved the Amendment he could not then have withdrawn it without the leave of the Committee. My impression, under which I have acted, is that he did not move it, and that is the reason I did not put it to the Committee.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
On a point of Order, may I ask upon what question the hon. and learned Gentleman was speaking? What was his position during his long speech if no question was to be put at the end of that speech?
§ MR. PLUNKET
I submit to you, Mr. Mellor, that the point raised by the Chief Secretary does not apply. Till a Motion is actually made the hon. Member is entitled to speak unless he is interrupted by you. The fact of his having made his speech does not, in the least degree, affect the question.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
May I ask, then, whether it is competent to any or every hon. Member of the Committee to get up and make a speech, and then to sit down without making any Motion?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the point of Order has been decided, and that, therefore, this discussion is irregular.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
I want to move a previous Amendment to that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I beg to more the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member who last addressed the House (Mr. Bousfield).
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I rise to a point of Order. I wish to ask you, Mr. Mellor, whether, having given your decision upon the question arising out of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Hackney, and having called upon another hon. Member to move his Amendment, it is competent for the hon. Member for the Harbour Division to go back and move the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment?
The hon. and learned Gentleman is out of Order, for this reason: that that part of the clause has been passed, and I have called upon Commander Bethell, who is in possession of the Committee.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL moved, in page 1, line 15, to leave out the word "granted," and insert "delegated." The hon. and gallant Gentleman said the Amendment was of the same character as some of the Amendments which had already been moved. This question of supremacy must crop up here as it had cropped up on other Amendments. The Amendments had endeavoured definitely to declare the supremacy of Parliament in so many words. The Government had practically pledged themselves to accept in some form or another an Amendment or clause which would have the effect of declaring in so many words the supremacy of Parliament, and he suggested that the acceptance of his Amendment would meet the wish of the Government. So far as he knew, the word "granted" had never been used in any other delegated powers they had given to any other Body. In the Act relating to Canada the powers were "vested in and exercisable by." He contended that these words were much more on all-fours with the words he proposed than with the word in the Bill. From the sentence in the Act under which these powers were conferred on the Colonial Parliament, it was quite obvious much more restricted powers were intended to be given to the Irish than were accorded to the Colonial Parliament, and for this reason: The Acts relating to the Colonial Parliaments stated that they should have power to make laws of every description, which was a much wider proposal than anybody ever dreamed of giving to the Irish Parliament. He hoped the Chief Secretary would not take up an attitude 982 of hostility to this Amendment. Surely it would be wise and politic on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to soothe the susceptibilities of Members of the Opposition, and go a little way to meet their reasonable and legitimate views. He would remind the Committee that the late Government made reasonable concessions to the Liberal Party when they were in opposition. He agreed that the substance of the question raised by the Amendment was the same that had been discussed all last week and all that day. That question was the question of supremacy, which they should continue to discuss until some concession was made to them. They should insist on having defined in clear and unmistakable terms the supremacy which they desired to see exercised over the Irish Parliament. He would, therefore, express the hope that the Chief Secretary would accept the Amendment which he begged to move.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 15, to leave out the word "granted," and insert the word "delegated."—(Commander Bethell.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'granted' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has taxed mo with showing hostility towards Amendments. I do not regard him as very serious in moving the proposition he has done, and I cannot suppose he regards his own Amendment as a serious one. The hon. and gallant Gentleman falls back, as everybody does, or has done, and he moves an Amendment to the Bill upon the necessity of declaring unmistakably and formally and positively the doctrine of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. I do not complain of that; I only wonder that anyone should suppose that that doctrine was in any way whatever furthered or asserted or made more emphatic by substituting the word "delegated" for the word "granted." The hon. and gallant Gentleman in his speech showed that he is not more particularly than the rest of us a master of the niceties or distinction in phrase. Here is an Amendment turning entirely 983 upon the distinction between "granted" and "delegated,'' and I submit that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not adduce one single consideration—or, indeed, did not show the slightest necessity for adducing considerations—to induce the Committee to believe that the word "delegated" more clearly and emphatically asserts and preserves the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament than the word "granted." I can tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman that there are lawyers and sea lawyers. There are lawyers who say that "granted" is a word which more clearly asserts the Parliamentary supremacy, or as clearly, as the word "delegated." There is not a shadow of foundation for the contention on which the hon. and gallant Gentleman rests his Amendment. To declare that supremacy will be better preserved by substituting "delegated" for "granted" is to show a complete want of appreciation of the distinction between the two words. In 1886 the words we used were—"it shall be lawful for the Irish Legislature." In order to meet the views and wishes of the Party of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, we have now substituted the words "there shall be granted." The use of those words indicates that there is a granting power and a granting Authority, and what can that Authority be but the Imperial Parliament which passed the Bill? The Amendment is an entirely futile one, and the Government will certainly not assent to it.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
The right hon. Gentleman is certainly what he said my hon. and gallant Friend was not, a master of the English language, and that he should fail to see the difference between "granted" and "delegated," strikes me as somewhat extraordinary. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Government substituted the word "granted" for the words "it shall be lawful," not, it will be observed, because they were themselves convinced of the necessity of emphasising the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, not to please any of the hon. Members behind them, who are watching the attitude of the Government with regard to the question of supremacy, with, 984 I think, an increasing interest, but to satisfy hon. Members on this side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman says the use of the word "granted" shows that there must be supremacy, because if anything is granted there must be authority to grant. But I have never heard that when yon have granted a thing, you have power to take it back again. "Granted" means conveyed in a much more permanent way than "delegated." If you delegate a thing, you simply confide it temporarily, and have the power of resumption. That is the distinction which would strike the general reader, if it would not strike the legal mind. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has consulted the Solicitor General on the point. The right hon. Gentleman says we are arguing this question with undue iteration. Yes, but I think we are educating the public by iteration as to the attitude of the Government upon this matter. We remember that they will not have the word "subordinate," and that they will not have any specification or delegation of powers; and that when they have a difficulty on a question of definition, they would rather give the benefit of the doubt to the Irish Parliament than to the Imperial Parliament. They say it is difficult to give a definition of Imperial and local concerns; and when they regard the difficulties as equal, they give the benefit of the doubt to the Irish Legislature. This spirit runs through the discussion of every Amendment. The Government resist the assertion of anything like supremacy, relying on the exposition of the doctrine of supremacy by the Solicitor General (Sir J. Rigby)—an exposition which conclusively proved that it was not an inalienable supremacy at all. [Cries of "Oh!"] The Solicitor General does not deny it.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir J. RIGBY,) Forfar
The right hon. Gentleman is putting an improper interpretation upon my argument.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
I did not say that there was any doubt at all about the supremacy. I have never stated anything that would lead to that 985 conclusion, and I wish again to say that I consider it so firmly established that this Act cannot in any way invalidate it.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I observe that the Solicitor General has not denied that part of my argument which says that he rested on statute and not upon inalienable supremacy. This is too important a matter to be allowed to remain unexplained. I do not wish to press the Solicitor General at all unduly; but I would ask him whether I understand him to state that the Imperial supremacy rests in the main upon the Act of Union, and not upon inalienable right? This I understand to be the case, and the consequence is, that we must look more carefully at every question in which the supremacy is involved than was necessary before that was established. In the refusal of the Government to use the word "delegated" we have one more proof of the extreme reluctance they have to specify or emphasise by any single word in the Bill the fact that what Parliament gives Parliament might again take away. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. J. Morley) considers that the words "delegated" and "granted" are not so dissimilar that one might not be used for the other why will he not, at all events on this point, meet us? The right hon. Gentleman says it is a small and futile matter.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I did not say it was a small and futile matter, but that it was a small and futile Amendment.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Well, then, if it is a small and futile Amendment why not accept it? The right hon. Gentleman thinks it can do no possible harm, and I should like to see the Government on one occasion admit a word which more clearly indicates that what Parliament gives Parliament may take back.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
said, he had already given a vote in favour of delegation, and he thought the matter had been settled. He now found they were quarrelling not about the thing itself, but about the form of words to be used. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had contended that the use of "granted" implied the giving of that 986 which could not be taken back again. But was not a Charter "granted"? A Charter was granted to the East India Company, but that Charter was afterwards withdrawn. Imagine the right hon. Gentleman coming down to the House and arguing—although he could not have done so at that time, because he was then a Liberal—that the Charter ought to be withdrawn because it had been "granted" and that it might have been withdrawn if it bad been "delegated." The Committee had said it would not adopt the principle of delegation, and he accepted that decision, although he was sure that on a future occasion the principle would have to be adopted if a Home Rule Bill was to be carried through Parliament. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that they were simply discussing a trifling and futile Amendment; and if hon. Members opposite wanted any support on the Ministerial side of the House, and any support in the country on questions of principle they would, in his opinion, exercise a wise discretion in dropping discussions about words and debating only really important matters.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he desired to correct a misapprehension into which the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) seemed to have fallen in regard to the East India Company. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that that Company's Charter, having been granted by the Crown, was arbitrarily taken away. On the contrary; the Charter had been granted, revoked, re-granted, and re-granted again at various intervals, in every case for a term of years, before the end came. No one had greater respect than he had for the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley) upon a question of language; but he would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the word "granted" was a great deal stronger than the word "delegated." "Granted," of course, implied a granting power, but the grantor parted with his power in making the grant, and could not recover it. Delegation was a far weaker operation, and meant a deputing of a power which could be revoked, and 987 which in ordinary circumstances would be revoked. It had something of a temporary signification. Of course, nobody contemplated revoking without very good cause the power proposed to be given to the Irish Legislature, but the right to revoke ought to be retained. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had misunderstood the Amendment in a manner which was certainly not worthy of his great literary authority, and he hoped the proposal would be pressed to a Division.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
desired to ask the Government why they had departed from the form of words in which legislative powers were conferred upon the Legislatures of New South Wales and Victoria? Was it intentional or unintentional that that form of words, which was repeatedly used in Acts dealing with the Colonies, had not been employed in the present case? If they were not used, and the Government had determined to abandon the form of words almost consecrated in the Forms of the Colonial Legislatures, was it because the expression used in the clause was either greater or less in authority than the expression used in establishing legislative authority in Victoria and in New South Wales? There was a very material difference, as hon. Members would see by referring to the Act of 1854 or 1855. The Solicitor General would no doubt be able to say why the Government had abstained from adopting the words used in the other cases.
§ Mr. Channing rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 218; Noes 146.—(Division List, No. 84.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'granted' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 251; Noes 186.—(Division List, No. 85.)
§ MR. A. CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
said, he wished to move an Amendment giving the Irish Legislature power to make laws for 988the making, maintaining, and improving of railways, tramways, canals, waterworks, reservoirs, gas and lighting works, fisheries, and all other things which are the subject-matter of Bills known in either Houses of Parliament as local Hills, and also for the confirmation of Provisional Orders.This was an honest Amendment.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I would ask whether this Amendment is in Order? Having passed the 1st clause of the Bill, is not this Amendment really trifling with the Committee?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
Is the hon. Member entitled to describe his Amendment as an honest one, thereby implying that the other Amendments are dishonest?
§ MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
asked whether the hon. Member, by moving this Amendment, would shut out one in his (Mr. Ambrose's) name?
I must put the Question in one particular form—namely, that the words "peace, order, and good government of Ireland" stand part of the clause; and if the Committee adhere to those words, no doubt the hon. Member's Amendment will be shut out. If, on the other hand, they are rejected, the hon. Member can move his Amendment.
§ MR. CROSS
said, he was not sorry that he had elicited from supporters of the Government a hostile expression as to his Amendment, because it would bring into clear significance the fact that their view was wholly and totally opposed to the view he had ventured to express in his Amendment, and which he held was the opinion with which a great many Members went to the poll at the General Election. He had been about to go further, and say that he hoped the House would see that his Amendment was in the way of concession, and he thought an important concession, to the views of those who believed in the doctrine which they called Home Rule. He admitted in his Amendment that Ireland had a serious grievance—that in the matter of Local Government Bills she was 989 at a great disadvantage. He conceived that the House had not proved itself able to deal efficiently with these matters, and he proposed, therefore, to concede to the new Irish Government the powers which the Imperial Parliament had not been able to exercise satisfactorily. But if he went so far with those hon. Gentlemen who believed in the doctrines of Home Rule he did not do so because of the reasons which actuated the supporters of the Government. Those reasons were matters of ancient history. They believed that Ireland had grievances 100 years ago, and that that country ought to be erected into an independent nation. He moved his Amendment for different reasons. He ventured to think that Parliament could not deal efficiently with local Bills, and his experience in the House, though brief, had confirmed him in that view. Piles of measures were introduced and placed on the Table of the House, and they were very little noticed, though in the localities where those measures were required they were regarded in a very different light. According to the arrangements under which the House carried on its business, this condition of affairs could not well be otherwise. He might be told that these Bills were dealt with after 12 o'clock at night. That was true; but he ventured to say that nothing in that House impressed the imagination of a now Member more than what took place after 12 o'clock at night. A long list of Bills was read, and some were passed, the House not understanding their contents. Not only was their contents unknown, but the House was comparatively indifferent to what the Bills were. Those were the conditions under which local Bills were deal with; and when such a conditions of things prevailed, he thought it was not too strong a phrase to say that the whole thing was a farce. It might be urged that the local Bills of that House were properly considered in the Committees. He did not wish to disparage the work performed by Committees of that House. He recognised the weight of their Labours, and he wished to relieve them of those labours because they were over-worked. There was a Debate the other day on the question of limiting the hours of miners, and he understood 990 the proposal met with the assent of a majority of the House. [Cries of "Question!"] If the proposal had been to restrict the hours of legislators to eight hours it would probably have been——
§ MR. CROSS
said, his point was that that House was unable to discharge its duties as regarded Private Bills, because in Committee the Members sat from 12 to 3, and then they sat in that House from 3 till 12 or 1. ["Order!" and interruption] The House was not fit to discharge its functions as things wore now in respect of local Private Bills. He would go further, and say that the House ought not to deal with local Bills. Having to bring such Bills to be dealt with in London meant both delay and expense. [Cries of ''Question!" and "Order!"]
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
rose to Order, and asked whether the hon. Member ought not to confine himself to the question whether the lesser powers which he suggested could alone be conferred on the Irish Legislature?
MR. J. A. BRIGHT
would like to ask whether it was usual for hon. Members to subject a new Member in his maiden speech to continual interruption?
§ MR. CROSS
said, he was trying to do so. He was not unaccustomed to interruptions from the Irish Party in that House, and in other places when he had occasion to say things not altogether palatable. Continuing, he said, that under the present state of affairs, the expense and delay of conducting local Bills in Parliament were very great. It might be that certain witnesses would be delighted to come to London because of the outing; but they were coming at other people's expense, and it was not a very delightful thing from the point of view of those who had to pay the money, and it was not to the public interest that expenses should be piled on in this way. 991 [Cries of "Agreed!" and "Order!"] He did not think that Parliament was the proper tribunal for such measures. He had knowledge of a Committee consisting of 17 Members which was appointed the other day, and it was a curious fact that five was to be a quorum. He concluded from that that the attendance was not very regular—[Cries of "Question!"]—and that the duties imposed on Members were such that they could not give proper time to these questions. He would also urge that the House did not possess the necessary knowledge which was required for the purpose of dealing with local affairs involving knowledge of details of a local character. The question arose whether this Parliament which it was proposed to set up in Ireland was a fit and proper tribunal to entrust with the powers of dealing with local business. It might be said that his argument had been practically admitted, for last year there was a proposal before Parliament that a Body should be elected to deal with these questions in the nature of a Commission composed of Judges, Members of Parliament, and Railway Commissioners. He thought that the power of dealing with these matters should be dealt with by some Local Authority elected for the purpose, and which would be responsible to Parliament. He thought the days had gone by when nominated Bodies could obtain much support or countenance in this country. He understood from the Government that it was one of their main conditions in proposing their Home Rule scheme that nothing should be enacted by the Bill which should not be equally capable of being extended to Scotland. [Cries of "Question!" and interruption.] It could also be extended to Wales if the Welsh people wished it. [Cries of "Question!"] He contended his proposal was of a nature eminently calculated to meet the requirements and necessities of Scotland in regard to local measures. Wales might speak for itself when the time came. If it preferred the present system—— [Cries of "Question" and interruption.] He did not think the Home Rule scheme of the Government was one which they themselves would allege could be extended to Scotland. [Cries of "Question!"]
§ MR. CROSS
said, he understood it was an important condition of the Government's scheme that there should be nothing in this Bill which was not capable of being extended to Scotland. [Cries of "Question!" and "Order!"] The Prime Minister, speaking in Edinburgh in 1892, said that no principle should be laid down for Ireland—[Interruption]—which could not be admitted for Scotland if she should desire it. As it stood, the clause was not one that the Government would propose for Scotland. [Cries of "Question!" and interruption.]
I have already pointed out to the hon. Member that this is a measure for Ireland and not for Scotland. The question is entirely distinct from Scotch Home Rule at the present moment.
§ MR. CROSS
said, he bowed to the Chairman's ruling, of course. [Laughter.] Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite laughed because he bowed to the Chairman's ruling. He should postpone the consideration of his argument as to how the clause might affect Scotland; but he gave the Government fair warning that he should not fail to watch every clause in the Bill and criticise it if it were a clause which might one day be applied to Scotland, and other Scotch Members would not be justified in taking any other course. He would admit that if the Government intended to make Ireland a nation then the proposal was petty and insignificant; but he would remind them that if that was their intention, then their own proposals were petty and insignificant. He understood what was meant by the liberty and freedom of a nation; and he was greatly mistaken if any nation, worthy to be called a nation, would submit to the conditions laid down in the Bill. If, on the other hand, the Government did not intend to make Ireland a nation, but to delegate to Ireland subordinate powers, he respectfully submitted to them that the course they had adopted was not a course likely to realise wise and prudent calculations. He would 993 admit the time must come when a delegation of powers must take place from that House to Local Bodies. He asked those hon. Gentlemen who led the Liberal Party whether their course would not be wiser and better—[Cries of "Question!" and interruption.] He was entitled to his opinion as to the manner in which the Liberal Party had been conducted of late years. [Interruptions.] Although he was a young Member of the House, he had worked for the Liberal Party for many years; and he had been in the secrets of the Liberal Party. He was entitled to an opinion in the matter, and he asserted that the Government had not gone into this question of Home Rule in accordance with the traditions of the Liberal Party. [Cries of "Question!"]
I really must call the attention of the hon. Member to the Amendment which he is moving.
§ MR. CROSS
, resuming, submitted that his Amendment was a step in the right direction, and he hoped that Unionist Members would see their way to support it, on the broad plea that devolution of some sort was becoming inevitable. He hoped, also, that some of the hon. Gentlemen who supported the Government would also vote for it. One hon. Member, at least, was committed to his proposal. ["Question!"] He alluded to the hon. Member for Rossendale, who, in common with many other Gladstonian candidates, drew attention to the anomalies to which he (Mr. Cross) had referred, and justified their support of the scheme of the right hon. Member for Midlothian by conveying to the minds of the electors that the Home Rule which they proposed for Ireland was practically simply the giving of powers to deal with such matters as he had referred to in his Amendment, which he now begged to move.
In page 1, line 16, to leave out the words "peace, order, and good government," in order to insert the words "making, maintaining, and improving of railways, tramways, canals, waterworks, reservoirs, gas and lighting works, fisheries, and all other things which are the subject matter of Bills, known in either House of Parliament as local Bills, and also for the confirmation of Provisional Orders in." —(Mr. Alexander Cross.")
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. W. K. GLADSTONE
The hon. Member says this is an honest Amendment, and I am bound to believe him. But, with all respect to the hon. Member, I cannot help feeling that it is a ludicrous Amendment. When his Amendment was read out from the Chair, I noticed that some hon. Gentlemen opposite had considerable difficulty in maintaining their gravity. To put it fairly and candidly, is it not a ludicrous Amendment? Because, surely, in everything we vote in the Bill we must have some regard to what we have voted already? We have determined to constitute in Ireland not a tribunal for dealing with railways and the other matters mentioned in the Amendment; but we have determined to constitute a Legislature. That Legislature is to consist of the Queen and of two Chambers. Is it to be conceived that that Legislature and that interposition of Her Majesty the Queen is seriously to end in the declaration which the hon. Gentleman, seriously I suppose, invites us to make—namely, that Her Majesty and these two Chambers for the bettor government of Ireland are to deal only with matters relating to railways, tramways, canals, waterworks, reservoirs, gas and lighting works, and so on. I must hold, viewing the consummation to which some hon. Gentlemen seem in danger of leading the Committee, it seems to me we are in danger of substituting not only jokes for earnest, but extremely bad jokes.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I have been in the House now for 17 years, and although that is a very short time in comparison with the lengthened service of my right hon. Friend, still I fancy it is much longer than most of the present Members of this House; and I will say, at all events, in my own experience—and I doubt very much whether the longer experience of my right hon. Friend will qualify what I am about to say—I have never known, during all the time I have been in the 995 House, any lack of courtesy shown towards a new Member addressing the House for the first time. I confess I should have thought the very fact that my hon. Friend behind me was a now Member would have jnstified the House in according to him, at all events, a patient consideration of his Amendment, even if, in the words of my right hon. Friend, they thought the Amendment to be entirely ludicrous. I say that even then I still think the ordinary courtesy of Parliament might have suggested a little more decent attention to what my hon. Friend said. I come to consider the Amendment; and, I ask, is it ludicrous? My right hon. Friend, at an earlier part of the discussion this evening, fell foul of me because, he said, I proposed an Amendment, and in proposing this Amendment I was not willing to say that if the Amendment were accepted I would accept the Bill.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I should be sorry to do my right hon. Friend an injustice; but I am in the recollection of the Committee. I will say that I understood my right hon. Friend to make that accusation against me. We are placed in a difficult position by the action of the Government. When we move an Amendment the Government either ask, in order that they should give fair consideration to that Amendment that we should go on and say, if they do so, that we would accept the whole Bill, or else they accuse us of a desire to destroy the Bill, and of an intention to make no Amendment in the Bill. That is their first case as against the Opposition, and when we do propose an Amendment of value then they say that the Amendment is ludicrous. We have never placed ourselves in absolute opposition to what the Prime Minister calls the principles of his policy. But the principles of the right hon. Gentleman's policy is always varying, like the arguments by which he supports them. Still, at different times my right hon. Friend has said that his principle was to establish some sort of Legislative Authority in Ireland, leaving 996 it an open question as to what sort of Legislative Authority it should be and what matters it should deal with. If we accept that as the principle of the measure, some of us, in view of our past pledges and promises—[Cheers and counter cheers] I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that we find it more difficult to swallow past pledges than they do. But we cannot, in view of our past pledges and promises, entirely oppose a principle of that kind. I, for one, may say that I have no objection whatever to the establishment of a Legislative Authority in Ireland, and to give to that authority, experimentally, certain powers. The difficulty is as to what extent those powers should be conferred. In a previous Amendment I endeavoured to press upon the Government the importance at this stage of dealing with the matter experimentally, leaving to the Imperial Parliament to extend the powers hereafter, if those powers which are now conferred were not abused. My right hon. Friend treated that also as a ludicrous Amendment.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I never said so. It is not difficult to quote or misquote my words. I never said that the Amendment of my right hon. Friend was ludicrous.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
In my opinion, my right hon. Friend treated my Amendment as ludicrous—[Nationalist cheers]—and convoyed that impression to his friends and allies opposite. I did not quote my right hon. Friend's words, but I said that that was the effect that the words which he had made use of produced upon the minds of his hearers, and he certainly refused to give the Amendment consideration, because he said that if he were to accept it he would be in the position of a man who would lose, whatever happened, and that I was playing the game of "Heads you lose, tails I win." If that is not treating my Amendment as ludicrous, I do not know what is. Now, I come once more to the Amendment before the Committee, and, I ask, is it a ludicrous Amendment? The right hon. Gentleman merely read it out with an ironical intonation, and that was 997 all the argument which he offered against it. That is his way of dealing with the Opposition. Again and again he has met the serious arguments which we have put forward with no answer, and with nothing but a dramatic expression of opinion. Is it a small or ludicrous thing to propose to give to the Legislative Authority, which is to deal with the interests of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 of people, what my hon. Friend by his Amendment proposes to give to the Legislature of Ireland? Is it a ludicrous thing that this House should have been occupied for I do not know how many weeks with the powers conferred upon the London County Council? Was it contemptible?—did it deserve what I have called the ironical intonation of the right hon. Gentleman that we should confer upon the London County Council what I have heard described as Home Rule for London? If that was an important subject and deserved the consideration of the House, why is it a ludicrous thing to propose to confer upon the Legislative Authority in Ireland similar powers to those which have been conferred by the House upon the London County Council? The Amendment would give to Ireland all the business connected in our minds with great Municipal Institutions; and I said in this House many years ago, as I say to-day, that Municipal Institutions touch the lives and welfare of the people of this country infinitely more than a vast deal of the business that is done in this House. Under these circumstances, I say, it was unworthy of the Prime Minister to treat this Amendment in the way he has treated it. I have never, either in this House or outside it, doubted the ability of my right hon. Friend. [Nationalist, cries of "Question!" and "Order!"] I yield to no man in the House in my admiration for the Prime Minister. [Renewed cries of "Question!" on the Nationalist Benches.] I am not going to be put down. My admiration for my right hon. Friend is much more genuine than the recently-bought eulogies of hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway. My right hon. Friend has not paid me for my praise. I say my right hon. Friend could, if he chose, make some kind of answer to the arguments adduced, and I 998 do not know why he should prefer to evade them. I had no intention of taking part in this Debate. I rose only to justify my hon. Friend, whose Amendment is serious and not ludicrous, and was proposed, in the view which my right hon. Friend has recommended to the attention of the House, with a desire to amend the Bill.
§ MR. DUNBAR BARTON (Armagh, Mid)
congratulated the hon. Member for Camlachie on bringing forward such a useful Amendment. Why was that Amendment received with irritation by the Nationalist Members, with rudeness by the Liberal Party, and with impatience by the Leader of the House? It was because the subject of the Amendment was what hon. Members on the Government side had taught the English people to believe was Home Rule. Every man who had spoken on English platforms or mixed with the English people knew that the Amendment contained more than the English people were taught to believe was contained in Home Rule. The Liberals won the Elections on gas and water, and now the gas was exploded and the water had flowed away. The Prime Minister, in answer to the Amendment, said—"You create two Houses, and are you going to give them only such powers as these?" They now knew why the Upper Chamber was put in. It was not as a safeguard for the Loyalists, for it would do the Loyalists more harm than good, but in order to give a false importance to this miserable Legislature. When the Committee appreciated the difference between the Amendment and Home Rule, they would have the reason why the Loyalists were willing to sacrifice their lives and liberties against Home Rule. They opposed the setting up of a Legislature in Ireland; but they would not be justified in offering resistance to a measure embodying the principles of this Amendment. They had no objection to what were called local matters, but which were really very important matters—such matters as were dealt with by Private Bill Legislation in this country—dealt with in Ireland. Many of them were sorry that a Bill in that direction had 999 not been passed by the late Government; for they believed that it would have led to the circulation of money, to municipal enterprise, and to increased employment, which was badly needed in Ireland. The Unionists would like to see some tribunal set up in Ireland to deal with those matters. But what they objected to was a Bill by which the administration of the Criminal Law was to be handed over to the men who were responsible for the outrages of the National League and the Land League; the law of property was to be handed over to the men who organised and carried out the Plan of Campaign; commercial property in the North of Ireland was to be handed over to the merchant princes of New Tipperary; the taxation of Ireland was to be placed in the hands of the gentlemen who financed The Freeman's Journal, and the Executive of the country was to be given into the hands of men who had formed the executive of every criminal conspiracy which had occurred in Ireland during the last 15 years. The Bill was, forsooth, for "the peace, order, and good government" of Ireland! He told them that if they passed the Bill they would have civil war in Ireland, for no free people, with the rights of freemen, would submit to have their lives and liberties and property placed in the hands of such a body as the Bill proposed to set up in Ireland. The Ulster Unionists did not object to the local development of Irish affairs in Ireland. They did not believe those things could be better managed in Ireland than they were in England; but he and his friends would be willing, even at a sacrifice, to have local matters attended to in Ireland. It was the omission of the words, "peace, order, and good government of Ireland," that led him to support the Amendment. He again congratulated the hon. Member on his Amendment, which, like the policeman's lantern, turned upon the criminal, exposed his guilty face, and detected him in the act of his ill-doing.
§ *MR. MADEN (Lancashire, Rossendale)
said, that although he was known as the "gas and water "Member—and he was not ashamed of it—he was as good a Home Ruler as any Member of the House. The hon. Member who had proposed the 1000 Amendment supported a Local Authority for dealing with Local Bills. He had no objection to state now that he thought Ireland should have power and authority over local matters. But he went further than that. In his speech some time ago at the Constitutional Club the Leader of the Opposition referred to the seven subjects which he had enumerated as fitting to be referred to an Irish Parliament. If anyone referred to that speech he would find that, as well as gas and water, he mentioned the Land Question and the control of the police as subjects that ought to be referred to the Irish Legislature. He intended to vote against the Amendment, and in so doing he would not be breaking any pledge which he had given his constituents.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As I am unwilling to give a silent vote on this Amendment, I will tell the Committee in a few words what my views are concerning it. The hon. Member for Rossendale claims to be as good a Home Ruler as many of the hon. Gentlemen who sit behind the Government. I have not the slightest doubt that that claim is well-founded, though I admit that I am rather surprised at the foundation on which it rests. I was not aware that the hon. Member was known as the "gas and water" Member; but I remember that at a certain celebrated Election he made a speech in which it was generally understood that he had cut down the claims for Home Rule to the kind of subjects mentioned in the Amendment.
§ *MR. MADEN
said, that at the meeting to which the right hon. Gentleman referred he was asked by letter at the last moment to mention six subjects upon which the Irish Parliament could legislate. He replied, and stated seven things which he thought could be dealt with by the Irish Parliament, but never said they were the only things.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I can assure the hon. Member that I do not wish to lay too much stress on an explanation given evidently under exceptional difficulties; but I think he is more unfortunate than most of us when answering 1001 the questions of our constituents, for, as far as I can make out, of the seven things that he was prepared to give, five of them are mentioned in the Amendment treated so contemptuously by the Prime Minister, and the other two are subjects which the Prime Minister has excluded from the purview of the Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
But, passing from the Member for Rossendale, I wish to point out to the Committee that the Amendment consists of two questions— first, what it leaves out, and, second, what it puts in. It puts in those important Municipal Institutions—a policy which I have long advocated. I was the author of a Bill to give to Scotland and Ireland control over Private Bill Legislation, with which so much of the time of the House is, as I think, unnecessarily occupied. But, owing to the determined hostility of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that Bill did not become law. With regard to the more important part of the Amendment—what it leaves out—I have not much to add to what has been said by my hon. and learned Friend. The words which we proposed to leave out —"peace, order, and good government" —seems almost ironical when we see who are to maintain peace, who are to preserve good order, and who are to control the Government. It is impossible for us to forget that if this Amendment is carried it will lead to the possibility of carrying a Bill that will not be a dangerous Bill. It would destroy this Bill. The Government would be compelled to drop the Bill; but that does not make me less reluctant to support the Amendment. For that reason I shall follow my hon. Friend into the Lobby if he presses the Amendment.
§ SIR F. MILNER (Notts, Bassetlaw)
said, he wished to say a few words before the Division, as he understood the Amendment of the hon. Member for Harrow would not be allowed to be discussed. He thought that this Amendment exactly fitted the declarations of hon. Members opposite at the General Election. He had read dozens and dozens of their speeches, and he noticed that in constituency after constituency Gladstonians stated that although the Prime Minister, in his infinite wisdom, 1002 had given them no details, yet Home Rule for Ireland meant simply giving to the Irish people the same privileges of local government which had been given to the English people. He did not believe that a single Gladstonian would get up and deny that that was his definition of Home Rule. [Several supporters of the Government here sprang to their feet and shouted, "We do deny it."] He observed that among those who denied his statement was the noble Lord the Member for Barnsley, but he thought that he would be able to find words in the speeches of the noble Lord which fitted in exactly with the terms of the Amendment.
§ EARL COMPTON (York, W.R., Barnsley)
I should like to meet that challenge at once. I went to Barnsley in 1889 to fight a bye-election. A Liberal Unionist came down to speak against me, and gave it as his reason for doing so that I went further in the direction of Home Rule than either the Prime Minister or the late Mr. Parnell.
§ SIR F. MILNER
said, he would try to furnish the noble Lord with some satisfactory evidence in proof of his assertion. But hon. Members opposite well knew that their definition of Home Rule was giving to the Irish people the same justice as had been given to the English people. Hon. Members did not attempt to reply to the searching arguments addressed to them. The Amendment would, of course, be rejected; but it would serve to show to the country the false pretences on which Gladstonian Members were now representing their constituencies.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
said, if the Amendment was ludicrous, as the Prime Minister had described, it followed that the pledges of a good many of the right hon. Gentleman's supporters were also ludicrous. The statement applied to a great many hon. Gentlemen—it was a matter of common notoriety. Most hon. Members who had to conduct a contest with Gladstonians in the country would support him in saying that the tendency was to minimise all that was to be done. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister himself stated in June last in Edinburgh that one of the main principles upon which he proceeded was that what was 1003 to be done for Ireland should be of such a nature that it might also be done for the other parts of the Kingdom. That was the line which the right hon. Gentleman and a great number of his followers in different parts of the country adopted. As he had been challenged, he would give examples. The hon. Member for Mid Oxfordshire said—The Parliament in Ireland should have full power to legislate on purely Irish affairs, subject to the veto of the Imperial Government.The hon. Member for Accrington said—The Irish Parliament will have legislative and executive powers in respect of matters exclusively Irish, subordinate to the Imperial Parliament.These were by no means the strongest examples that could be quoted. What he claimed in regard to this particular Amendment was that it embodied the view which the Opposition would accept if it were taken by the Government. They were perfectly ready to give to Ireland those powers of Local Government which had been granted to other parts of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. AMBROSE (interrupting)
There was an Amendment further down on the Paper in my name which I understand may be cut out if you put the whole words included in the present Amendment. I ask you to adopt the course usually adopted when it is desirable to save Amendments lower down by putting only the word "the" in the first instance. I claim that by the usages of Parliament I am entitled to that.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
On the point of Order, I submit that the words "peace, order, and good government" are, in fact, language of common form, and, therefore, must be put together.
§ MR. BARTLEY
May I draw attention to the fact that there is a subsequent Amendment to leave out the word "peace" and another to leave out "order"? Can those three words be considered as language of common form?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
Have you not put the Question from the Chair; what is the Question before the Committee?
In answer to the first objection, the word "the" is part of the Bill and no part of the Amendment, and is in possession of the Committee. It would not help the hon. and learned Gentleman if I put the word "the." "Peace, order, and good government" is a common form, and it is a form which is universal for this purpose; and, therefore, I propose to put the Amendment thus—to leave out the words "peace, order, and good government of Ireland," in order to insert the words of the Amendment—Making, maintaining, and improving of railways, tramways, canals, waterworks, reservoirs, gas and lighting works, fisheries, and all other things which are the subject matter of Bills, known in either House of Parliament as local Bills, and also for the confirmation of Provisional Orders in.
§ MR. AMBROSE
May I ask, Mr. Chairman, whether or not, when those words have been passsd, I shall be precluded from moving my Amendment, proposing to transfer matters of local government?
I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman will be ex-eluded if the Committee accept the words "peace, order, and good government."
§ MR. AMBROSE
Mr. Mellor, may I ask on what grounds you rule this. My Amendment does not deal merely with local government, it deals with the Central Government; and surely peace, order, and good government equally appertain to that.
§ SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)
Am I not right in saying it is the usage of the Chair to put the question, if possible, in such a way as to include only the particular Amendment before the Committee, and not shut out any subsequent Amendment if it can possibly be preserved? What I mean is that if the Chairman puts the Question that the word "the" stand part of the clause, and it is resolved in the affirmative, an opportunity will be left for the hon. Member to propose the Amendment of which he has given notice.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I wish to ask, for the information of the Committee, what is the Question which the Chairman is about to put?
What I propose to put is that the words "peace, order, and good government" stand part of the clause. If I were to put the question that the word "peace" alone stand part of the clause it would shut out the hon. and learned Gentleman quite as much.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 296; Noes 251.—(Division List, No. 86.)
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.