§ [SEVENTH NIGHT.]
§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Legislative Authority.
§ Clause 2 (Powers of Irish Legislature).
§ MR. MACFARLANE (Argyll)
I rise to a point of Order. I wish to know whether, if an hon. Member who has put an Amendment upon the Paper, and either 1056 is absent when called upon to move it or does not wish to move it, it is open to any other hon. Member to move such Amendment? In that case I wish to know why the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin was prevented from moving the Amendment he proposed to move yesterday?
I cannot answer abstract questions of this kind, but am prepared to rule on matters as they arise. Had this question been put yesterday I would have replied to it. With regard to the Amendments that stand upon the Paper, in my opinion the subject-matter of the first, in the name of the hon. Member for the Guildford Division of Surrey; and the second, in the name of the hon. Member for North Islington, could be better discussed on the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury.
§ MR. BARTLEY
That being your ruling, Sir, I do not desire to press my Amendment to the prejudice of that in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury.
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
said, the Amendment which he had to propose—the second in his name on the Paper—had for its object to insure the practical retention by the Imperial Parliament of the power of restraining at any moment the undue exercise of the powers granted to the Irish Legislature. As regarded legislation, of course, they had the veto of the Crown, which could exercise a restraining influence; but as the Bill stood there was no power to which effect could be given reserved to the Imperial Parliament to restrain the action of the Irish Executive. It might be urged that what was given by Statute could be restrained by Statute, but exceptional circumstances demanded exceptional remedies; they were bound to look not only on the theoretical side of the case, but also on what was likely to be the practical effect, and they ought to reserve to the Imperial Parliament powers far in excess of those reserved in the case of the Colonial Legislatures. Look at the number of subjects which they intended to prevent the Irish Parliament dealing with. There was, for instance, a distinct reservation under Section 3 which prohibited the Irish Government from making Treaties with 1057 Foreign Powers; but there wore many cases independently of making Treaties in regard to which the Irish Government might be brought into contact with Foreign Powers. By way of illustration, he would suppose that the Irish Government decided that Germans should be excluded from Ireland from a given day. Such a proceeding might be a source of complaint against the Imperial Government on the part of Germany. The German Ambassador would approach Lord Rosebery; and although Lord Rosebery might reply that his Government regretted the action of the Irish Government, his power over the latter would be nil. and the Irish Government might be expected to stand their ground notwithstanding any representations he might make or any advice he might tender. Where, then, was the supreme power? He would take another case which was absolutely certain to arise. Under this Bill, the Government reserved the whole question of the land for a period of three years. No doubt this was done with a bonâ fide desire to settle the question. But let them bear in mind that this subject had been under the doctor's knife 23 years, and then they would sec that the Prime Minister was over-sanguine if he thought he was going to settle it within three years. If this Bill passed in 1893, the Land Question would have to be settled before 1897, and, if this were not accomplished, a Bill would have to be brought in to extend the time. Under such circumstances, he would have thought that any Ministry would consider that an Address to the Crown by both Houses limiting the time to a further period of three or five or seven years would be a better mode to adopt than by bringing in a Bill for the purpose and occupying the time of the House in discussing it. He believed that not one in ten Members opposite would vote for this Bill, unless they thought that it would clear this Parliament of Irish affairs. They all hoped that if the Bill passed—and their great hope was that it would never pass—it would he a final measure. But what hope of finality was there in this Bill? The Land Bill of 1881—which was to finally settle the question—had been amended four times in important particulars, and it was obvious that many causes for intervention, now unforeseen, would arise, and 1058 have to be dealt with in supplementary legislation. The new Parliament would be able to legislate for Ulster. They might desire to legislate in a satisfactory manner; but they would then have a Catholic Parliament legislating for Protestants—a Parliament elected by the poorer class of farmers legislating for capitalists; and he would be a bold man who would say that the legislation in Dublin would be satisfactory to Ulster. Supposing that legislation were passed by the Parliament in Dublin, affecting Ulster in such a way as to cause riots in Belfast, it would be a long time before the feelings thus aroused could be set at rest. The only possible means which could be effectively applied would be to interfere at once by summary process; but no summary process was provided in the Bill. They were thought to be unduly inclined to attribute evil motives to hon. Members from Ireland; but, without attributing evil motives to them, it might fairly be said that, with the exception of the hon. Member for South Longford, those hon. Members had no experience whatever of legislative authority or constructive statesmanship. They were, therefore, sure to make mistakes at the outset, and mistakes would be very dangerous in the present condition of Ireland. The Solicitor General, when appealed to last night by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, would not deny that the supremacy of this Parliament over Ireland rested upon Statute; and it therefore came to this: that questions of supremacy would have to be interpreted by judical authorities. That which had been given by Statute could be also taken away by Statute.
§ MR. BRODRICK
, continuing, said the hon. and learned Gentleman told them that it was a statutory authority derived from the Act of Union. Well, he himself was not a lawyer, and he must leave it to lawyers to discuss the point with the Solicitor General. The supremacy, from the Opposition point of view, was being watered down by the Government from day to day. The Home Secretary-assured them that he would have no objection whatever to the insertion of certain words in the body of the Bill, and the Opposition desired to see the supremacy put into a practical form. They 1059 did not want this already overburdened Parliament to be constantly discussing Irish affairs if this Bill were passed. It was for these reasons that he suggested by his Amendment the most practical and ready form of meeting the difficulties which would hereafter arise.
In page 1, line 18, at the end of the Clause to add the words—" But it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, upon the Address of both Houses of the Imperial Parliament, to diminish or restrain the whole or any part of the powers herein granted to the Irish Legislature."—(Mr. Brodrick.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The hon. Member's speech was evidently prepared for delivery on another Amendment, for it certainly was not directed to the Amendment which he proposed, and I will not, therefore, follow him through it. So far as I am able to judge from the tone and terms of his speech, there exist no substantial difference between the hon. Member and the Government except our expressed disinclination to put into the Act itself what is already contained in the Preamble. So far as restricting the Executive action of the Irish Government is concerned, there is not the smallest necessity for the Amendment, because the Executive action of the Irish Government will be restrained by the Viceroy in respect of all its decisions and actions, just as the Executive action of the British Government is restrained by the intervention of the Sovereign. The Bill does not propose to invest the Executive Council, of which it contemplates the creation, with governing powers. I am not conscious of any ground upon which the existing machinery will be found to be insufficient. The hon. Gentleman did not accurately represent the scope of his Amendment. His Amendment deals with the exceptional powers to be conferred by the Bill. Executive powers are not given by this Act, but I am very doubtful whether any Executive power would fall within the scope of the Amendment. But what might plainly be within the scope of the Amendment, and what is the object of the Amendment, is that the whole of the legislative powers given by this Act would be liable to be revoked upon an Address from both Houses of Parliament. 1060 The Government cannot, of course, concede that the House should spend mouths and mouths upon the discussion of this Bill and upon the construction of a system of government for Ireland, and that then it should be possible for a single vote of each House to abolish it at will. That would be a proceeding absolutely without precedent; it is entirely contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and it is entirely contrary to the usages of common sense. The House never could be disposed favourably to entertain such a proposition, and it is one which it is totally impossible for the Government under any consideration to entertain. The hon. Gentleman appeared to think that the Imperial Parliament would not be able to restrain the Irish Government from interfering with the arrival and landing of German immigrants in Ireland.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The hon. Member will recollect that during the present Session a Debate was raised in this House in the interest of the protection of native labour for the purpose of promoting legislation in restraint, if not of the importation, yet of the existence and employment of foreign immigrants in this country. [Hon. MEMBERS: Paupers.] The Debate did not turn upon paupers at all, because it was expressly for the purpose of getting rid of persons who were employed; and, so far as it turned upon paupers, it was declared that the Motion considered as paupers those who were actually in employment, and who would be paupers if they were not employed. Any attempt to restrain the importation of immigrants from abroad would be a question affecting the law of navigation, which would be excluded from the purview of the Irish Parliament. Such a proposal would involve negotiations with all the Powers with which we had Treaties, and that would be a strictly Imperial concern. It would be the absolute duty of the Viceroy to refuse compliance in any action of that kind. The hon. Gentleman said a difficulty would be created owing to the fact that there would be no Minister responsible in this House for Irish affairs. That is not a matter which requires notice in the Bill. There is no provision in any Act of Parliament making a Minister responsible to the House of 1061 Commons for anything, but the House of Commons has no difficulty in bringing home responsibility to Ministers by the simple expedient of turning them out of Office. Let the hon. Gentleman bear in mind, first of all, that the Viceroy will be an Imperial officer, and therefore susceptible to the action of this House if the House chooses to interfere.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
There is nothing to prevent his being a Member of the Cabinet; but responsibility is not limited to Members of the Cabinet. They can turn out anybody else who is not a Member of the Cabinet just as well as they can turn out a Member of the Cabinet; and when they do choose, in the exercise of their discretion, to turn out a Cabinet, the hon. Gentleman knows from his own personal experience that the other Members of the Government are also turned out. The fact is this— and I say here what I have said elsewhere again and again—if this Bill were criticised by the Irish Nationalists in the same manner and the same spirit as it is criticised by its present opponents, I should not know how to answer them. Such are the securities and safeguards taken in this Bill for the action of the Imperial Parliament, and for an entire reservation of every power necessary for the government of the Empire, that, in my opinion, if these captious objections wore taken by the Irish Nationalists, I should not know how to answer them. There is no principle by which you can handle a Bill of this kind except that of reasonable trust in those who are to work it, and avoidance of the preliminary presumption that seems to be at the bottom of every suggestion that has been made, that, wherever power is given to other than Irishmen it will be reasonably used, but where it is given to Irishmen it will be unreasonably used. What is there to prevent the House of Commons from interfering to procure the dismissal of the Viceroy or from stopping the Royal Assent to a Bill which is altogether unreasonable? The hon. Gentleman said there would be great difficulties in finding fit persons in Ireland to carry on the work of government, because the Irish had had no practice in the work. I have seen a good deal of the action of 1062 Irish Members. I am not speaking of purely political action, but of practical action. I recollect, for instance, one of the most complicated Bills ever passed through Parliament—the Land Bill of 1881—and I am able to say that of the few Members who mastered the complicated details of that measure there were certain of the Irish Members who had the most complete mastery of it, whereas I do not think I found one or two Englishmen who understood its machinery. The right hon. Gentleman who was formerly Chief Secretary for Ireland, I think, would also say that he had not found in those gentlemen any incapacity for such work. Where, then, is the difficulty? I have often known the wretched plea set up that because they had had no practice, the people of a country were not fit for free Institutions. Free Institutions carry with them their own education. In the case of Ireland, I rejoice to say that, not with standing the lamentable degree to which Irish personal action has been excluded from the work of government, the atmosphere of that House and the duties of Members have constituted those who sat on the Benches below the Gangway opposite perfectly competent for the discharge of the duties which will accrue to them under this Bill. I make no complaint of the tone of the hon. Member's speech, and consider that he was perfectly entitled to raise this question. I believe the hon. Gentleman has acted in perfect and absolute good faith; but it would be unprecedented, un-Constitutional, impolitic, and most unreasonable that the powers conferred by the Bill should be made revocable by the sudden and momentary action of a Resolution passed through by the Houses of Parliament.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman has made an appeal to me with regard to the political capacity of the Representatives from Ireland, and certainly I am the last person in this House to dissent from the account which he has given of their capacity for Parliamentary debate, their mastery of difficult details of highly technical Bills, and their power of dealing in a free Assembly with all the points that arise on discussions of great questions of policy. Undoubtedly many of the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have shown the very highest qualifications described by 1063 the right hon. Gentleman, and certainly neither I nor my hon. Friends never intended to impute want of capacity to the Members who so ably represent the Nationalist Party in this House. But this is really not a question of capacity, nor is it a question of character. Two distinct points have been raised—one referring to the Irish Executive and the other to the Irish Legislature. The right hon. Gentleman stated to my very great surprise that the Bill did not create an Executive in Ireland.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
What I said was that it did not confer Executive powers. Unquestionably, it creates an Executive in appointing the Council of the Viceroy.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My mind is not always subtle enough to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his distinctions. But I quite accept what I now understand him to have said, that the Bill did not create Executive powers, which being an abstraction could hardly be created, but that it did create the machinery by which the powers are to be carried into effect. That is the creation of an Executive, and the point we have to discuss is not whether the Executive is going to be composed of wise men or of foolish men, of good men or of bad men, but whether, when you have created this Executive if you leave it wholly uncontrolled by the Imperial Parliament, it might not perform acts in Ireland by which the Imperial Government might be very seriously embarrassed. I believe it will be found that in certain cases the separate States of America have done things which have very seriously embarrassed the Central Government at Washington; and all the consolation the Central Government could give to foreign countries which have felt themselves aggrieved by the action of the State Legislatures was to say they were very sorry, but that the Constitution of the United States prevented them from exercising any jurisdiction over the State Legislatures in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, aware of these dangers, and he thinks they could be met by the fact that the Viceroy could be dismissed by a vote in the House of Commons. It is, no doubt, possible by the elaborate machinery of a Vote of Censure to get rid of a Viceroy; and as it is possible to get rid of him, it might, to a certain extent, be possible to 1064 control his actions. But I deny that in all cases the Viceroy would have the power of controlling the Executive machinery. The Viceroy might have the very best will in the world to carry out the wishes and maintain the interests of the Imperial Parliament as distinguished from the Irish Legislature, but under the Bill you give him practically no power. The power rests with the Executive Council, with whose action there is nothing in the Bill which enables you in any way to interfere. Therefore, it is highly desirable that either in this clause or at some later stage of the Bill we should provide adequate machinery by which the vagaries, errors, or crimes—if vagaries, errors, or crimes there are—of the Executive Council might be restrained. I admit that the Amendment does not touch the question in an effectual manner, because, reading the words in their most natural sense, they deal with the powers not of the Irish Executive, but with the powers of the Irish Legislature. I now come to the second question raised, which is, whether it is possible or desirable to restrain the action of the Irish Legislature, and, if so, how far the Amendment effects that object. That the Irish Legislature may pass laws inflicting great injustice and great hardship has really been admitted. The very fact that three years, however inadequate a term that may be, are even by the Government themselves required to elapse before one great class of domestic legislation is touched, is sufficient proof that in their opinion it is not impossible that the Irish Legislature might use its powers in a manner which the Government themselves would very greatly regret. But there is force in what the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to the particular means of meeting the danger which my hon. Friend has proposed. My hon. Friend proposes that, in whole or in part, Amendments to a Bill passed by the Irish Legislature shall be introduced not by a fresh Bill, but by a Resolution passed in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords. I admit that that is a very great innovation, and to discover whether it is justifiable we must wait till we know what is to be done with the Irish Members in this House. This is another example of the extraordinary embarrassment in which we are placed by the total ignorance in which we stand as to 1065 the Resolution of the Government with regard to the presence or absence of the Irish Members, If it is the intention of the Government to revert to their plan of 1886, and exclude the Irish Members—a plan accepted by all the Irish Members at the time—then the suggestion of my hon. Friend would certainly be wholly unnecessary. The action of this House would not be in all probability impeded by the proceedings of a powerful and a united body of gentlemen absolutely determined that no change should occur, and, if any change were requisite, no doubt it could be effected without any very undue control. But suppose it became clear that, unless some restraint in regard to particular matters was imposed upon the Irish Legislature, great injustice was likely to occur, then the concentrated and uncompromising opposition of 80 gentlemen representing Nationalist opinions might undoubtedly have the effect of preventing the Imperial Legislature from taking any action whatever in restraining the Irish Legislature until the time for action was passed. Therefore, Sir, I say I cannot pronounce an opinion upon the expediency of my hon. Friend's suggestion until the Government vouchsafe to tell the Committee how they mean to deal with Clause 9, and I think it might be worth while to defer a final decision on the point to a later stage of the Bill, when it can be raised with far more effect and with far more complete knowledge of its necessity and its bearing. But at the present time we are kept by the Government in darkness so complete and absolute as to be unable to judge how far it is expedient or inexpedient to adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
had listened to the speech of the Prime Minister with a good deal of astonishment. Last night the right hon. Gentleman described an Amendment as ludicrous, and that night he had described the Amendment now under discussion as captious.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, then he, in common with many hon. Members of the House, was really incapable of understanding the plain meaning of the English language. The right hon. Gentleman was not unintelligible if he 1066 was heard; but not infrequently hon. Members found great difficulty in hearing him; and perhaps it was for that reason that he had made a mistake. But what was the real point here? The real position of the Government was this. They looked at the future of the Irish Parliament with perfect confidence. They (the Unionists) did not. The Government were prepared to trust hon. Members opposite. They (the Unionists) were not. [An hon. MEMBER: Why?] Why? Because of the record of these men; because of the lives they had led during the last 13 years, of the iniquities they had been guilty of, of the cruelties they had perpetrated, and of the dishonesty that they had openly avowed. A Government that was prepared to take these men on trust and to have perfect confidence in them bad no right to object to those who did not trust them and had no confidence in them trying to obtain all the securities and safeguards they could get. The real point of difference was this—and he would deal with the matter not from an Executive standpoint, but from the standpoint of the Legislature. Let them assume that this Irish Legislative Assembly passed an oppressive Statute, what was to be the course of procedure in that House in regard to it? He should be told by hon. Members above the Gangway that the Imperial Parliament did not part with its power to sot matters right if they were put wrong. Yes; but what chance would the Imperial Parliament have in reference to an oppressive Statute to put it right? Look at the situation that would be created under the Bill if a Statute were passed that the majority of that House considered oppressive! They had got 80 Irish Members, first of all, hanging on their flank to deal with; and what was more certain than that one Party would make terms with the 80 outside and bring them in, and the position of the Imperial Parliament in endeavouring to right the wrong done in Ireland would be almost intolerable? What was suggested by the Amendment was that, instead of going through all this difficulty and facing this uncertainty, it should be possible by an Address of both Houses of Parliament promptly to apply such remedy as Parliament might, think necessary. He did not think that was captions criticism of the Bill at all, and those who were 1067 concerned for the loyal minority in Ireland had a right to see that these safeguards were made real and should not be shams.
§ MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said, the hon. Member for South Tyrone suggested that there would be a practical impossibility of redressing wrongs and remedying gross abuses of the powers entrusted to the Irish Legislature by the normal action of the Imperial Parliament if this Bill should pass, because there would be a solid body of 80 Irish Members who would dominate the situation. No one knew better than the hon. Member that out of the 80 Members there would be 20, at any rate, on the side of the oppressed.
§ MR. BLAKE
believed there would be 20; but, at any rate, there would be some; therefore, the statement of the hon. Member was not correct. If they took 20 from the 80 Members that would leave 60, and take 20 from 60 that gave a net of 40 on the side of wrong and injustice, which was to overbear the sense of right and justice of that House. If this Bill, giving a Constitution to Ireland, was to proceed as it was proceeding, and to pass through that House in spite of the firm and uncompromising opposition of more than 300 Members, he wanted to know what the danger would be which was to prevent a Bill redressing palpable wrong and injustice passing through that House, though there were 40 Members presumably on the side of wrong and injustice? When Irishmen were content to accept the situation which put their Constitution—their permanent Charter—at the mercy, so to speak (although he preferred to say the sense of justice) of that House— when they were content to leave every Act of theirs to be subjected to the possible action of that House in future, when they would have only 40 or thereabouts to speak for Ireland according to his computation, was it not enough without suggesting that they, who were painfully building up that Constitution by the ordinary process and with the ordinary securities of Parliament against a compact Opposition of more than 300 Members, were not to have the benefit of the same Parliamentary securities which hon. Members were now using so exten- 1068 sively and unflinchingly to prevent the construction of a Constitution, and that they were not entitled to use these same securities to the extent that 40 might use them in preserving unimpaired and in presenting their view with reference to subsequent Acts which might be impugned in that House? Irishmen acknowledged the right of the Imperial Parliament to interfere. They acknowledged that by a Bill any Act of theirs might be undone in England; but they contended that they were entitled to insist upon it that their Acts should only interfered with by a Bill.
§ MR. POWELL WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken when he suggested that anything might be overt or wrong in the operations of the Executive of the Irish Government—if it ever got one——
§ MR. POWELL WILLIAMS
thought they wore speaking to an Amendment which concerned the Executive of Ireland. ["No, no!"] Then, like other hon. Members of that House, he had failed to understand the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. But his object was rather to deal by way of illustration with a point which was raised by the Leader of the Opposition. That right hon. Gentleman referred to the United States of America, and to the difficulties which had arisen in their Constitution through the very large powers which the States possessed; and he said that very often all the Central Government could do, when cases of difficulty arose involving their relations with foreign countries, was to say—"We are very sorry." But they had had to say something a good deal more substantial than that they were very sorry, for in certain cases they had had to pay heavily through the unconstitutional action of certain States. He would remind the Committee of what recently took place in New Orleans affecting the Italian Government. There was an attack upon the Italian inhabitants of New Orleans. A certain number of them were killed, and the Italian Government immediately claimed from the United States that there should be remedies——
§ MR. POWELL WILLIAMS (continuing)
observed, that the Italian Government claimed from the Government of the United States that there should he remedies for these deeds, and that the perpetrators of them should be brought to justice. But what did they find? The Central Government of the United States declared they had no power whatever to interfere with the Executive of the particular State. They remonstrated with the State of Louisiana entirely in vain; and, as a result, the Central Government, through the action of an independent Executive which it had set up in one of its own States, had to pay a sum of 25,000 dollars as compensation to the families of the persons killed. Then they had a distinct, concrete case of a difficulty arising with a foreign State, and he did not think they could have a stronger illustration of the necessity of keeping their hand and power directly upon any possible unconstitutional action of the Executive it was proposed to set up in Ireland.
§ MR. ROSS (Londonderry)
commented on what he described as the invincible repugnance of the Government to every Amendment which proposed to deal with supremacy, or the method of asserting that supremacy. The Members of the Government had declared they were ready to accept a proper Amendment in the enacting part of the Bill declaratory of the supremacy. He was sure that, ancillary to that, they would be willing to accept some reasonable method for making that supremacy effective; but, to all Amendments up to the present which had been put forward by the Opposition, they had shown a most determined resistance. There were two things on which the Opposition were determined. There were, first, that there should be in the (Mulcting part of the Bill an ambiguous expression of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; and, secondly, that there should be some means for making that supremacy effective. The whole question of supremacy seemed to have got into a haze. There was no clear idea on the other side of the House of what the supremacy should be, and he fancied that hon. Members who supported 1070 the Government differed very much among themselves on the subject. He ventured to say if the average hon. Member opposite were asked what was meant by the inalienable supremacy, it would be found that all he had in his mind was that England was the stronger Power and could at any time enforce her wishes by the exercise of vis major. They should never arrive at any clear method of supremacy so long as the confusion existed. There could be no degrees of supremacy, and when once supremacy existed, it must pervade all branches of——
§ MR. ROSS
said, his argument was that hon. Members had no clear idea of what supremacy was; but he would not pursue the subject. As he understood the Amendment assuming supremacy to exist, it proposed a summary method of enforcing it. No matter how great the faith of hon. Members opposite might be, they surely must admit, that the people in the North of Ireland had some grounds for suspecting that the great powers to be entrusted to the Irish Parliament might be abused, and they demanded as a matter of right that some means should be given to the Loyalists to protect themselves. They could not wait for an Act of Parliament, which might be obstructed in that House. The point he wished to put before the Committee was this— when any great danger arose on account of the exercise of some of the powers on the part of the Irish Parliament the Loyalists asked for a summary remedy. In his judgment the Amendment suggested a reasonable remedy; and he really failed to understand, if the Government were sincere in their professions, why they would not accept some Amendment of that character. The Home Secretary had said that if right hon. Gentlemen agreed to give these powers to Ireland, they must not have a petty, peddling interference with the powers they so conferred. This method, which was suggested by the Amendment, would not be made use of on every petty occasion, but would only be exercised on occasions of great danger and emergency; and, that being so, he had as yet heard no real answer against the adoption of the Amendment.
§ SIR E. REED (Cardiff)
preferred to speak of the Amendment from the point of view of one who hoped that if a Legislature was established in Ireland it might work wisely and well, and that it might not be hindered and restrained by unnecessary and unjust restrictions. He very much doubted whether it would be fair to any Legislature to subject its legislative power to interference by mere Address to both Houses of Parliament. He was one of those who thought it was highly probable, judging from the different methods and spirit that animated many of the Irish Members from those which prevailed among those who were not honoured by being Irishmen, that the Irish Legislature would pass laws which would be very painful and objectionable to the Imperial Parliament. It was desirable, therefore, if such laws were passed, that means should be found to enable them to be corrected by the Imperial Parliament. But he thought the Irish Legislature would have no chance whatever of conducting the affairs of the country with success and advantage if the Imperial Parliament was to set it up, as it were, with a lash of this nature held over it. Hon. Members opposite seemed to demur to the suggestion that their methods and spirit of action were somewhat different from his and that of other Members near him. But it was a remarkable fact that the moment an hon. Member ventured to speak a word of criticism about the Bill his Irish supporters flew at him. He should like to know why the Irish Members of any constituency were to dictate to Representatives as to whether they should speak and discuss any measure in its details or in its principles? It must he borne in mind by hon. Members that the Committee were discussing this Bill raider conditions which the Prime Minister had told them in 1886 were dangerous. He, for one, at almost every stage of that Bill felt that they did run considerable risks from passing a Home Rule Bill for Ireland against the majority of voices in Great Britain and under the practical dictation of an Irish majority. He thought there was a danger, and for the reason that it was dangerous he thought that the Government should grant every possible opportunity of debating points of danger as they arose. He should claim the right 1072 to discuss the measure from that point of view, and to point out what he thought would be of advantage alike to the House of Commons, to the Empire, and to Ireland. He objected to the Amendment and should vote against it, because he did not think that it was a proper method of exercising the authority of the Imperial Parliament over a subordinate Parliament. He believed conscientiously that Irish Nationalist Members were most anxious to profit by the present situation by entering into reasonable engagements for the purpose of guaranteeing the propriety and efficiency of their action in the future Parliament of Ireland; but he could not attach too much value to that. He was rather surprised himself to hear occasional speeches from the Front Bench in which they were reminded that the Irish Nationalists accepted this or that, and did not criticise this or that, hut accepted the Bill most readily, and seemed to show a statesmanlike quality in doing so. He agreed with that view. He thought nothing would be more unstatesmanlike than to expect from the Irish Nationalists anything but a most cordial support of the Bill. But he said, on the other side of the question, that if he were an Irish Representative and wished to make the future Legislature worth anything, he should object in the strongest possible manner to this proposal, because he did not believe that, if it were adopted, the Irish Legislature would have a far chance. Could they expect that the Legislature of Ireland would be as good a Legislature if they fettered it by unwise methods and proceedings as if they gave it the reasonable freedom which any Legislature might enjoy for the purpose of doing its work properly? He thought not. He hoped before the Bill passed through Committee to see some sort of a clause introduced which would give greater expression and security to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; but he must say he did not think this was a proper mode of dealing with it. If this Irish Parliament was properly constituted and if it was left reasonably free he should not have any great fear of Irish legislation, because Irishmen would know well that any oppressive legislation passed by it would be met and dealt with by the Imperial Parliament. He did not think it would he a right thing 1073 to put the Legislature of Ireland under the control of this Amendment. He thought to do so would have an irritating and injurious effect; and he should, therefore, vote against it.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
ventured to suggest to the Prime Minister that if, as appeared to be the ease, they had not the advantage of entirely apprehending all that the right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to make clear to them, he, on his side, had also failed to understand one very essential portion of their ease. Had the Government looked at matters in a proper light they would have saved considerable time and trouble. It was said that the Amendment was not justified. Well, the justification for the Amendment was that there was a radical discrepancy between the views of the Government and those who represented the minority in Ireland with regard to the main issue. And what, was the main issue in Ireland? It was that the Government did trust, but the loyal minority did not trust, the future Legislature which it was proposed to setup in Ireland. The Prime Minister urged them to show confidence in hon. Members opposite. He (Mr. Arnold-Forster) had not long been a Member of that House; but as a visitor he had often listened to its Debates, and on four occasions he had heard the eloquent perorations of the right hon. Gentleman, in which he assured them that if some particular legislative change, were effected with regard to Ireland they would see an absolutely new state of things. He had heard other speeches of like purport since he had been in the House. But not one single prophecy of the right hon. Gentleman had come true. Hon. Members had some right to be suspicious; they had some reason for their distrust on the ground of what the Prime Minister had done, but more especially on the ground of circumstances that were within the common knowledge of them all. The Prime Minister said that free institutions brought their own education. But what free institutions had Ireland lacked during the last 20 years? There had been no distinction between the free institutions of the two countries, except that the laws regulating Ireland were more favourable than the laws in England am. Scotland; and if there had 1074 been any departure from those institutions it had been when the right hon. Gentleman himself had thought fit to curtail certain powers because they had been abused. That being so, had they not some reason for mistrusting the honesty of the men who would be their future rulers? He did not want to put the matter too finely; but he supposed that such an occurrence as this might take place:—They might have hon. Members opposite sitting in the Upper or Lower Divisions of the Legislature in Dublin and lending themselves to a policy which, to their minds, was right and honourable, but which, to the minds of hon. Members of that House, was neither right nor honourable. If hon. Members of that House were to find themselves face to face with the results of the policy that had been promised by hon. Members opposite, they would be in a very serious position if they could not give an immediate counter to the execution of that policy. The very fact that the Committee was now asked to accept the clause upon the assumption that hon. Members opposite had on a few recent occasions given their testimony in favour of a policy of conciliation was only worth anything at all if they assumed that everything that these hon. Members had said scores and hundreds of times was absolutely not to be believed. Without some such provision as was suggested in the Amendment, they might have hon. Members opposite bringing in some legislative project affecting the police in Ireland and carrying it. There might be hon. Members who would believe it was the duty of the Irish Legislature to act vindictively towards the Royal Irish Constabulary; and the views of hon. Members in Dublin of what was just to the Irish Constabulary led him to doubt very much whether their views as to what was just and right would coincide with the views of hon. Members in that House. There might be the widest divergence of views, not only with regard to persons, but also with regard to property. He could understand hon. Members saying, as had been said, that they did not consider that the Irish Legislature would be under any finicking obligation of honour in dealing with the landlords in Ireland, and they might think it would be a very good thing to disregard the 1075 obligations of honour. If that view were carried out, they would be face to face with an amount of injustice and tyranny that would require instant action by that House. He would venture to remark that the Prime Minister had not grasped the depth, intensity, or reality of the position under this clause; he did not appear to remember that he was dealing with the lives and fortunes of men and women. That was the whole point of the Bill. The Unionists insisted upon this and other Amendments, because they knew what had been done in the past, and because they had been promised in black and white by the hon. Member for East Mayo and others that worse things would be done in the future. They wanted protection. The hon. Member for South Longford had said that the Imperial Parliament had a right to interfere with any unjust legislation that the Dublin Parliament might pass. He told them that some 40 Members would be returned——
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, he apologised if he had misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. But did he forget the position of the Irish minority under the Bill? He hoped that the Committee would not forget that the Bill provided that in county after county the representation, which was now a Loyalist representation, would be interfered with. In one case 15,000 persons would return five Members to support the Party to which the hon. Member belonged, while 36,000 persons would only be able to return five Members to support the Party to which he (Mr. Arnold-Forster) belonged. [Cries of"Order!"] He was not transgressing—ho was merely speaking to the point raised by the hon. Member for Longford. They were told there would be effective protection, but the practical gerrymandering of the Schedules to the Bill would place the minority in Ireland absolutely at the mercy of hon. Members opposite. If this clause did not pass in its amended form it would be necessary to insist upon some parallel Amendment; for, unless some power which had its origin in the Imperial Parliament should stand between the Loyalists in Ireland, and especially in the South of Ireland, 1076 and the direct oppression which had been promised to them over and over again in the clearest words by hon. Members opposite, and which they had declared it would be their duty and their pleasure to put in force when they got into power, they would deprive Her Majesty's subjects of that liberty and protection which made life tolerable.
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said, as there appeared to be no intention to press the Amendment, and as the discussion had gone on long enough, he had to move that the Question be now put.
§ Several hon. MEMBERS rose——
§ MR. RUSSELL
said, he desired to ask whether, after the ruling of the Speaker on the subject the other day, it was competent for the hon. Member to preface a Motion for Closure by a speech?
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said, that the criticism of the hon. Member for South Longford, assuming that the hon. Member was entitled to take the Bill as it stood, entirely lost all its force, unless the Prime Minister was now prepared to state to the Committee that Clause 9 was to remain as it appeared in the Bill. If the Government continued to leave the Committee in obscurity on some of the most important clauses of the Bill they must expect that hon. Members representing the minority in Ireland would continue to move Amendments for the purpose of mitigating the evil effects of the Bill, and so securing that peace, order, and good government should be maintained. They were asked to rely on the ability of the Irish Members. He agreed with the Prime Minister that the Irish Members had shown considerable ability; but that did not prevent their ability from being directed into wrong channels. It had been directed to the destruction, and had been destructive of peace, order, and good government. Surely the Prime Minister was not justified in 1077 supposing that the considerations and influences which affected the Irish Party in the past were to cease active operation because a Legislature was established in Dublin? He (Mr. Macartney) was convinced that those considerations affecting the prosperity and welfare of Ireland would be more likely to be active, because the seed which had been sown by prominent politicians in Ireland would only then begin to bear its full fruit. There were, no doubt, hon. Members on those (the Irish) Benches who would wish to conduct the business of an Irish Parliament in a manner consistent with the traditions of the English Parliament; but those few hon. Gentlemen would not be able to control the forces behind them. They had aroused a spirit which they would have to satisfy. To put it as it had been roughly put to him, the Nationalist feeling in Ireland was in reference to the present representation— "Oh," it was said, "the men who are in Parliament now are good enough for what they have to do. When we get-Home Rule, we will send to Dublin men more accurately representing opinion in Ireland "—and these new men, without experience of Parliamentary life in England, or of ever having been in touch with Executive power, would control the Irish Government! As to the misuse of the ability of the Irish Members, he would remind them of the ability displayed at Tipperary; if the same extravagance wore shown in the Irish Legislature it would soon lead to the bankruptcy of the Irish Exchequer. They had also seen how this ability had been exercised in commercial life. There was the spectacle of The Freeman's Journal. [Cries of" Order!"]
§ MR. MACARTNEY
said, he was only giving an instance of the spirit in which an Irish Legislature would be conducted. [Cries of "Order!"] He was speaking in a perfect covey of Deputy Chairmen, and, therefore, it was difficult to keep the chain of his argument. He would content himself by saying that He should support the Amendment, because, whether it was the best method for attaining its object or not, it would, at least, assert, the right which the Irish minority claimed.
§ *MR. H. S. FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said, he had not intended taking part in the Debate, but he had not previously taken part in the proceedings of the Committee, and he thought English Members had as much right to be heard as the Irish, for they had just as great an interest in the matter. It was refreshing to hear a Member of the Gladstonian Party suggesting, as the hon. Member for Cardiff (Sir E. J. Reed) had suggested, however timidly, the right of private judgment. Most of the Party opposite—[Interruption] —had abandoned that right. The Government were not prepared to listen to any arguments. [Cries of" Question!" and "Order!"] They were entirely in the hands of their Irish followers. [Renewed interruption.] Unless there was an indication from the Irish Party that they were prepared to accept the Amendment, the hands of the Government were quite bound, and he offered them his sympathy. [Cries of "Order!"] Many hon. Members of the House had had to complain of those interruptions—even eminent Members. He had hoped that a new Member might not be subjected to them; but courtesy was a practice unknown on the Nationalist Benches. He said the Government was entirely in the hands of the Irish Members. Since the Prime Minister had decided to follow the Irish Party all argument was lost upon him. [Renewed interruption.]
I am afraid I must say that the hon. Member is out of Order. The hon. Member must confine himself to the Amendment.
§ *MR. H. S. FOSTER
said, he was merely pointing out, that the Government were in the hands of the Irish Members. If the Mover went to a Division he should certainly support the Amendment, because it would restrain the future action of the Irish Legislature; and with respect to that Legislature the Opposition had grounds of reasonable suspicion. The Government ought to understand what that meant, because a good many of their Irish supporters were imprisoned by the Prime Minister on grounds of reasonable suspicion. [Interruption.]
It is absolutely necessary for the hon. Member to keep to the Amendment. ["Cries of Divide!"]
§ *MR. H. S. FOSTER
said, that his reasonable suspicion was grounded on the action of the Irish Members both inside and outside of the House. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Cardiff had told the Committee that as soon as he exercised the right of private judgment his Irish constituents flow at his throat. [Cries of "Question!" and interruption.] Was the conduct of the Irish Party in the House on this present Bill worthy of any deliberative Assembly? It was hardly possible for any opponent of the Bill to string two sentences together without perpetual interruption from the Irish Party. ["Hear, hear!" and cries of "Divide!" and "Question!"] Were they not justified in coming to the conclusion that if the same men had power in Ireland they would show the same intolerance there as they did to their opponents in that House? No independent Member wanted better example of what an Irish Legislature would be like than to watch the action of the Irish Party towards their opponents in the House of Commons. [Interruption.] They could have no confidence in these men. Their conduct justified him in saving—and he submitted to the Committee—that they were entitled in face of it to vote for every restriction that would fetter the hands of the Nationalist Party in Ireland.
§ MR. BRODRICK
, who rose amid cries of "Divide," said, the discussion had brought out from the Prime Minister the declaration that he was not at variance with the Unionist Members in regard to giving the Imperial Parliament proper control over the Irish Parliament. Having regard to that opinion, and in view of the fact that the Government seemed to think that his object would be effected in a bettor form than that suggested, he would ask the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment—["No, no!"]—reserving to himself the right, unless a more satisfactory arrangement were secured, to re-introduce it on Clause 9.
§ Mr. John Ellis rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."1080
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 300; Noes 244.—(Division List, No. 87.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That, those words be there added:"
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 247; Noes 303.—(Division List, No. 88.)
§ MR. DARLING (Deptford)
said, he had given notice of the following Amendment:—Provided always, that if any Irish Act is inconsistent with an enactment made by Parliament after the appointed day, and expressly extended to Ireland, it shall be read subject to that enactment made by Parliament, and shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be wholly void and inoperative.He thought it would be better to move the Amendment on Clause 33; therefore, he would not now ask the Committee to consider it.
§ *SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
I beg to move to add at the end of the clause—Provided that in the making of such laws, and in all matters pertaining to the carrying out of the powers conferred by this Act, both Houses shall, except as in this Act provided, have equal rights, powers, and privileges.I can assure the Committee that this Amendment is not submitted in a spirit of "captious criticism." I hope that some hon. Members who support the Government will see that the question ought to be dealt with in some practical manner. The, Committee has determined that there shall be two Houses of Legislature in Ireland. This decision was arrived at on arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. A section of Members—a large section—sacrificed the opinions they entertained in deference to those arguments, for there are many strong supporters of the Government who hold the view that Second Chambers are objectionable. Arguments were addressed to them to the effect that in this particular instance a Second Chamber was necessary in order that there should be a safeguard established—that they should give up their opinions and apply to the. conduct of legislative affairs in Ireland the safeguard of a Second Chamber. I am sure that hon. Gentlemen who support the Government, and who voted in favour of the creation of a Second Chamber, even if they sacrificed their opinions, did not intend to make 1081 this Second Chamber a Second Chamber in name only. I would submit to the Committee that if the Bill remains as it is framed, without Amendment in the direction suggested, the Second Chamber will become, or may become, perfectly useless, will afford no safeguard whatever, and supporters of the Government who voted for it will have voted for it in vain, without receiving any return for their sacrifice of principle. I would point out the position in which this Second Chamber now stands. In the 1st clause it is provided that the two Houses of Legislature shall make laws for Ireland; and I think that does bring within it the necessity that the two Houses shall take some part in making laws; for, although there is no express declaration to that effect, it is implied that the two Houses shall take part in making laws. Beyond that this House has done nothing in respect to the construction of a Second Chamber as a part of the Constitution. And the Committee must recollect that when a statutory Legislative Body is constitutionally formed, subordinate to the body forming it, that Legislature so constructed never can, without receiving express powers, interfere with its own Constitution. All the power conferred must be defined by the Body which creates the subordinate Parliament; and unless we take care in the construction of this new Constitution we shall find that we have left to the statutory Parliament the right to alter its Constitution. We must see that the Second Chamber is not merely a name, but that it shall have real powers conferred upon it, so that it may act as a check upon unwise legislation. The only references I think you will find in this Bill to anything that can approach what I have termed the construction of the constitution are those in Clause 2, Clause 8, which I think deals merely with a question of procedure, and Sub-section 2 of Clause 32. At present the Bill confers no power on the Second Chamber except, by implication, gathered from the words of Clause 2. I understand the intention to be that the Second Chamber should take an equal part in making laws with the Legislative Assembly. If it is said that the Legislative Council is only to take a very small part in the work of the Irish Legis- 1082 lature, the power of that Body might be reduced to such small dimensions as practically to be non-existent. Inasmuch as the Bill does not attempt to confer power on the Second Chamber, you are going, in fact, to leave to the Irish Legislature the limitation of the power of that Chamber. That, I am certain, is not the intention of the Committee, and it is only to remedy this defect that I ask the Government to consider this Amendment. Let us see how the matter would work out. In the Legislative Assembly, without a doubt, the Nationalists would be in a majority. As to the Legislative Council, I have heard no calculation of the relative strength of the two Parties that would not give to the Nationalists a majority in the Chamber. I think the most sanguine calculation of the numbers places the minority at 20 out of the 48 Members of the Council. If you leave to the Irish Legislature the power of settling what are to be the duties of the Second Chamber, you will leave it to the majority to destroy the safeguards which are intended to be the protection of the minority. Supposing the question has to be dealt with by Irish Act of Parliament. In that case, immediately after this Bill came into operation it would be necessary to determine the powers of the Chamber. Of necessity a Bill would be introduced into the two Chambers, the voting upon which would be controlled by the Nationalist majority in each Chamber. That Bill might reduce the power of the Second Chamber to nothing at all. It might say that the Second Chamber should not initiate a Bill. I ask the Committee is that its intention, and ought that to be its intention, when we are framing the Constitution of a subordinate Body? Ought not we ourselves to bear the responsibility of saying what the powers of the Second Chamber should be? The 2nd sub-section of the 32nd section provides that—The privileges, rights, and immunities to be held and enjoyed by each House and the Members thereof shall be such as may be defined by Irish Act.I do not think that that means that the power of the Second Chamber is to be defined by Irish Act; but if it is not so, the whole subject is left untouched. In the 18th section it is provided that Money Bills shall not be introduced in the 1083 Second Chamber. That section makes the Legislative Assembly something like the House of Commons, and makes the Second Chamber something approaching the House of Lords, where Money Bills cannot be introduced. What can be the objection to inserting an Amendment providing that the Second Chamber shall not be entirely crippled by the vote of the Irish Legislature, but that it should have powers which may constitute it a safeguard? Unless such an Amendment be adopted, the Second Chamber may be a skeleton house, and nothing more. The hon. and learned Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane) said it was only a skeleton, and that the procedure of the Legislature in Ireland would be filled up with what he called the Common Law procedure of Parliament. I deny the accuracy of that argument. There can be no Common Law pervading the procedure of the Irish Legislature. Where would it come from? The Legislature will be a Statutory Body, and can, therefore, have no powers beyond the powers which are conferred upon it by Statute. It will be unable to introduce the traditions of the old Irish House of Commons, and we cannot convey to it the traditions of this House of Commons, or the spirit of our procedure here. If we shrink from the duty of ourselves defining what the powers of the Legislative Council are to be, and leave it to the majority in the Irish Legislature to say what shall be the relative powers of the two Chambers, we shall not set up a Second Chamber which can be a safeguard to the minority, but shall simply erect a sham which will be worse than useless. There is much more that I think could be said in support of this Amendment. I am not asking that we should proceed in an arbitrary manner; I simply ask that we should declare that in all matters respecting the making of laws and pertaining to the carrying out of the powers conferred upon the Bill both Houses shall, except as otherwise provided, have equal rights, powers, and privileges. May I respectfully ask the Prime Minister not to use one argument against my Amendment? I hope he will not say—"If we give you this Amendment, will you support the Bill?" I think that would be a one-sided bargain. The price he offers me is not good enough.
§ *SIR HENRY JAMES
I was asking him to be kind enough not to offer it. That was the offer he made to my right hon. Friend (Mr. J. Chamberlain). [Cries of"No!"] I beg pardon, but it was so. The question was put to my right hon. Friend—"If I accept this Amendment, will you support the Bill?" and that offer was cheered very loudly. But how can such an argument be used against us? This Bill contains 40 clauses. We suggest an Amendment on one clause, and my right hon. Friend wants us to accept the other 39 clauses if he agrees to the one Amendment. If we say no to his offer the cheers are very vociferous at our expense. I will tell my right hon. Friend what would be a sufficient offer. If he would agree to let us amend every clause in the Bill we would consent to accept the Bill, but I do not think my right hon. Friend would afterwards recognise his measure, and I admit I do not think the Committee would regard the Bill as worthy of being passed in its amended form.
In page 1, line 18, at the end of the Clause, to add the words—" Provided that in the making of such laws, and in all matters pertaining to the carrying out of the powers conferred by this Act, both Houses shall, except as in this Act provided, have equal rights, powers, and privileges."—(Sir H. James.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
I desire to say only one or two words with regard to this Amendment, and I do so because I do not think it at all clear what, under the terms of the Bill as it stands at present, the intentions of the Government are in relation either to the First Chamber or the Second Chamber. As far as the 2nd section is concerned, I should certainly be of opinion that if the Bill is to pass in its present form the two Chambers would have exactly the same rights. Of course, if I was perfectly satisfied that that was the intention of the Government, and if I thought that was the construction of the Bill, taking the measure as a whole, I should not have thought it necessary to intervene in the Debate. But when I come to look at the 8th section, I think it throws an entirely different light on the 1085 2nd section; and it leads me at once to the idea, which may be entirely erroneous, that it is not proposed by the Bill to confer equal powers on the Upper Chamber, if I may so describe it. The 8th section says—"If a Bill or any provision of a Bill adopted by the Legislative Assembly is lost by the disagreement of the Legislative Council," the two Chambers are to sit together for the purpose of seeing whether they can amend their differences or whether it is necessary to hang up the Bill or have a Dissolution. To my mind, it is plain that the only originating power recognised by the 8th section is in the Legislative Assembly. The section does not go on to provide or suggest that if the Legislative Council performed the same functions they would have the same power of summoning the Legislative Assembly and going through the same process. Taking the two sections together, the real construction is that the Legislative Assembly only are to have an originating and initiating power, and that no such power whatever is to be conferred upon the Legislative Council. Is that the intention of the Government? It certainly seems extraordinary that the matter should be left in a state of doubt. I think the Chief Secretary is under the impression that the Second Chamber will, under the Bill, have equal originating powers. I should like to have some explanation as to what is to be the method of procedure by which the Upper Chamber, after originating a Bill and passing it, may force the Lower Chamber against its will to consider it. Is there any reason why the Upper Chamber should not have originating or initiatory functions conferred on it? You will observe the mode of procedure is this: that when the Lower Chamber passes a Bill, and the Upper Chamber refuses to agree to it, the two Chambers will deliberate together; then why should not the same process be followed when the Bill is initiated by the Upper Chamber and objected to by the Lower Chamber? I have been of opinion all along that the Second Chamber will be of no use as a safeguard; but, at the same time, I think that, as the House is going to give this safeguard against our will, we have a right to see that it is a real and not a sham safeguard. It seems to me that if the Upper Chamber had an 1086 originating power, that might be a substantial benefit and protection to the minority, because, assuming that the Chamber is a real Second Chamber, many persons represented in that Chamber will not be represented in the Lower Chamber, and their views could be put forward in the shape of a Bill which never could be brought into the Lower Chamber at all. For these reasons I respectfully press on the right hon. Gentleman that there is really a substantial question involved in this Amendment, and that unless you give the Upper Chamber co-equal originating powers with the Lower, it will be no use as a safeguard.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
If my right hon. Friend is content to provide for the exercise by the Upper Chamber of the powers properly and ordinarily appertaining to a Legislative Chamber the Government will have no objection whatever to the substance of the Amendment. Our opinion, however, is that it would come in more properly in Clause 32, and probably it would be better that the Amendment should stand over until that clause is reached. It has always been the intention of the Government that the Second Chamber shall have initiating powers, and I am astonished at the suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. He said he thought it was quite clear that there never was any intention of allowing the Upper Chamber to initiate legislation. The fact that it is stated in the Bill that they shall not have the power to introduce Money Bills is enough to show the contrary. The hon. and learned Gentleman said he would admit it was doubtful. There is no question at all of abridging the privileges of the Second Chamber with respect to those powers which ordinarily attach to a Legislative Body. The Government desire that those powers shall be possessed as fully and largely by the Upper Chamber as by the Lower, except with reference to Money Bills. I trust my right hon. Friend will see there is no substantial reason for taking a Division, and I hope he will be inclined to acquiesce in the view that this Amendment should be introduced in a subsequent clause.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
I quite admit, as a general rule, the claim of those in charge of a Bill, when they accept an 1087 Amendment, to select the place in the Bill in which it should be inserted. I shall be glad if the right hon. Gentleman will indicate what words he will accept.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My opinion is that the Government would be disposed to accept the first portion of the Amendment, as to the making of laws and all the other offices and powers ordinarily attaching to a Legislative Chamber.
§ Mr. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
was glad that the statement of the Prime Minister had removed existing doubts with reference to the exceptional power provided by the Bill, and that he had promised that the two branches of the Legislature should have equal power. But in the 8th clause there was a provision settling the disputes between the two branches of the Legislature. Amendments had been placed on the Paper establishing perfect equality between the two Chambers, and when the proper time came they could discuss the desirability of providing for cases in which the Lower Chamber rejected a Bill initiated by the Upper Chamber. The Prime Minister said that this Amendment would come more appropriately on Clause 32, but the clause said that the privileges of the Houses should be settled by Irish Act subject to a Proviso. They were anxious, however, to have this equality settled by this Bill.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
That will be done by Imperial enactment. I desire to keep a free mind in regard to the provisions against a dead-lock, but I repeat that the intention of the Government is to provide that on matters and powers which ordinarily attach to a Legislative Chamber there shall be a perfect and bonâ fide equality between the two Chambers.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
After that statement of the Prime Minister I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. I hope we shall not have any difficulty in determining the words to use when we come to Clause 32.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that the Amendment was a very important one, and the Committee ought to consider the language in which it was to be phrased. The Prime Minister had done nothing more than was absolutely necessary in determining to reserve the question of reciprocal action of the two Chambers, 1088 in regard to a joint Session, until the Committee reached Clause 32. He was not prepared to say that absolute reciprocal action between the two Houses would be desirable or convenient; but he understood that the question was an open one. He shared the perplexity of the Prime Minister as to the meaning of some of the words in the Amendment. He had no objection as to the making of the laws by the two Houses being equal; and in all that ordinarily attached to the functions of a Legislature, the two Chambers might have equal powers. But he was doubtful what might be intended by including in the language of the right hon. and learned Gentleman—And in all matters pertaining to the carrying out of the powers conferred by this Act.This meant Executive action. If the right hon. Gentleman meant that the tenure of office by the Executive Committee of the Privy Council in Ireland was to be affected in any way by the Legislative Council, the Irish Members should meet the proposal with a flat denial.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
I do not intend to go back from what I have said, but there must be no misunderstanding as to our position. We do not intend that the Legislative Council shall be reduced to an absolute nullity in the way in which the hon. Gentleman has stated. In the power of expressing an opinion we claim that there shall be equal power of action, except in cases specially provided for.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend, and subscribe to everything he has said. The Upper Chamber ought to have the power of censuring the Government in the same way as the House of Lords possesses it. Of course, we cannot in this Bill provide what effect such a condemnation ought to have, either on the Government or on the country.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
said, he wished to secure the insertion at the end of the clause of the words—The question, whenever it arises, whether any law passed by the Irish Legislature does or does not relate exclusively to Ireland, shall be determined by Parliament, in manner hereinafter provided.1089 The object of this was to secure for this Parliament the right of interpreting its own Acts. He was aware that in Clauses 22 and 23 there were provisions dealing with the powers of the Irish Legislature, and no excess of jurisdiction on its part by referring such questions for decision to the Privy Council. But that would not meet all grievances or cases of hardship which might arise in the dim, distant, and uncertain future after the passing of the Act. Some cases might arise in which it would be a denial of justice to refer them to a costly legal tribunal like the Privy Council. It seemed to him very fitting that this House should be the interpreter in any cases that might arise, and that they should reserve to themselves the right of decision. He had frequently known cases in which the Judges had been puzzled as to what the mind of Parliament was with regard to some particular Statute. He submitted, therefore, that some machinery of a simple character ought to be erected by which any Party could appeal to this Parliament to express its opinion as to any act done by the Irish Legislature, or as to any law that might be passed by it; and he thought it would be a denial of justice to compel a person aggrieved to go to the Privy Council by instituting a suit, or to the Lord Lieutenant or the Secretary of State in order to get him to move in the matter. He therefore referred, in the concluding part of his Amendment, to the machinery he proposed to add in a separate clause at the end of the Bill, and which he had already down on the Paper. It was simply that any subject of Her Majesty who felt aggrieved by any law passed by the Irish Legislature, or by any Act of the Irish Executive, or by any proceedings, either civil or criminal, that might be taken against him, should be at liberty to state his grievances by simply writing a protest, and stating the grounds upon which he considered he was aggrieved; and that Her Majesty's Attorney General should then place that protest before Parliament, unless he should certify upon the protest that there was no reasonable grounds for the appeal. The protest would thereupon come before Parliament for its decision; and if either House should resolve that the act done, or the law passed, exceeded 1090 the power of the Irish Legislature or the Executive, such act done or law was to be suspended in its operation. He implored the House not to part with the right of the interpretation of its own laws; and for these reasons he moved the Amendment with the three words omitted.
In page 1, line 18, at end, add—"The question, whenever it arises, whether any law passed by the Irish Legislature does or does not relate exclusively to Ireland, shall be determined by Parliament, in manner hereinafter provided."—(Mr. Kimber.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I have no right to appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I can hardly think he seriously intends to press his proposal upon the Committee. This is a subject of very great importance, and one upon which we have established a complete system of legislation after a long and, I believe, thoroughly satisfactory experience: this question of ultra vires in regard to the conflict of Legislatures is a very high question. It is a question upon the consideration of which, beyond almost all other questions, all passion, all ignorance, and all collateral motive in the matter ought to be excluded, and which ought to be dealt with entirely and exclusively in a judicial frame of mind and by judicial institutions. This is not my opinion alone; these are the established principles of our law. Wherever we have subaltern Legislative Authorities, whether in India or the Colonies, and the laws of those Institutions come into conflict with Acts of Parliament, we have a machinery for dealing with the matter. Cognizance is taken of any question that arises in the first place if it so happens in the Imperial Courts, and their Judgments are liable to review in the last resort by the Privy Council. In the opinion of the Government, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is a tribunal which has acquired in a very large and notable degree the confidence of all parts of the Empire. The hon. Member proposes to supplant and expel the idea of reference to this judicial tribunal, and to provide that the question of the interpretation of Acts of Parliament in the matter of ultra vires as between the subaltern and Imperial authority shall be 1091 decided by a political vote in a political Assembly.
§ MR. KIMBER
said, he expressly stated that he did not wish to get rid of, or exclude, the jurisdiction of the Privy Council should any suitor desire to appear before it.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The hon. Member wants as a rival to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council a Reference, in the first place, to a political officer, the Attorney General, and then to either House, and not to both Houses of Parliament. The House of Lords has a judicial character as well as a political character. I should have thought if there was one thing we could be quite clear about it was that the Reference, if it is to go to the House of Lords, must go to it in its judicial capacity. No; that judicial capacity is to be cast aside when a question of the highest importance has to be decided. I think the hon. Member will recognise that his proposal is one that ought not to be pressed.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
While sympathising with the hon. Member in his desire, as shown in his Amendment, to make the supremacy of Parliament a living reality, I do not think he would be well advised in pressing the Amendment to a Division. The question is whether the matter should be dealt with by a legal tribunal or by a Legislative Assembly animated by Party feeling. Such an Assembly would give a series of decisions, which in the nature of the case might, and probably would, be somewhat contradictory, according as one Party or other in the Assembly gained the upper hand. That would bring about un-certainty and confusion, which would be not only extremely unfair to the Irish Legislature, but also extremely inconvenient to the very individual whom the hon. and learned Member desires to protect. Above all, what is required is that decisions on matters of this kind should be clear and based on a settled principle acted upon throughout. That would be quite impossible, I think, if we were to leave the decision to the fluctuating majority of a popular Assembly, and for that reason, if for no other, I am rather inclined to think that the Amendment, even if supplemented by the proposed clause, would not conduce to the smooth working of the Bill if it should 1092 ever become law, or to the interests of the suitor, and I therefore would suggest that the hon. and learned Member should withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
, in moving in Clause 2, page 1, line 18, at the end to add—Provided that, notwithstanding anything in this Act contained, the supreme power and authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters, and things within the Queen's dominions,said: I will not enter into any wide discussion upon the question of the supremacy of Parliament; I will only touch upon the subject in order that it shall not be supposed that I agree with the views expressed by the Solicitor General. When by the Act of Union the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland came together, there then came into existence a Parliament which was supreme, though it might be called statutory in the sense that it derived its existence from the Act of Union. I put it to my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, if the Act of Union had not been successful, and it was thought desirable, and enacted, that two Parliaments should exist—one for Ireland and one for Great Britain—and that they should be co-ordinate and equal, the Parliament of Great Britain would have no supremacy over Ireland any more than the Parliament of Ireland would have supremacy over Great Britain. I take this opportunity of protesting against the view that it is unnecessary we should take means to protect the supremacy of Parliament. We ought most certainly to take means to protect the supremacy of Parliament. I admit that with respect to this Bill the question is almost academic, because I do not assort that there is any attempt in the Bill to get rid of the supremacy of Parliament. But as many persons do think that this supremacy is practically got rid of, there ought to be no possible doubt left upon the matter. I refuse to regard the question of doubt arising only from a legal point of view. If the question had to be discussed according to judicial rules before a legal tribunal we might trust that the supremacy of Parliament would be recognised. But we have to look to what might take place, not only from a legal, but from a 1093 political, point of view. We shall hare the question raised as to whether the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is maintained under many different political considerations and aspects. We shall have many men saying—"You have no right to legislate for Ireland, because virtually you gave up the supremacy of Parliament." I can understand This House of Parliament or the Irish Parliament saying—"We look at this question in a broader light than the Judges. We heard Ministers say that the Irish Parliament was not to be interfered with except in extreme cases, which would never arise." Irish Members may say they always intended they should never be interfered with; and that when Parliament granted this power, it was asked expressly to declare that it retained its own supremacy, and it refused to do so. If the supremacy is to be a living force; if it not only exists, but is to he exercised, it is absolutely necessary that there should be a declaration of that supremacy. It can never be maintained if we do not assert it. I fully accept all that has fallen from the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary on the subject. I fully accept their view that the supremacy of Parliament is to be maintained, and is not to be interfered with. But while I accept those assertions, I must say that they are of no value either for the construction of the Act or to control the action of politicians. Therefore, I trust that this assertion of supremacy will be placed on the face of the Statute. My right hon. Friend objected to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Deptford, on the ground that it was too narrow, and that it was something in the nature of a Preamble. My right hon. Friend also objected to it on the ground that it limited the supremacy and confined it only to Ireland, and he asked why not say that the supremacy remained unaffected over the whole Empire? I have accepted that view of the Prime Minister, and I have declared in my Amendment that the supremacy exists, notwithstanding anything in this Act, overall the dominions of the Queen, and thus the power will be asserted of making laws for Ireland. But, having thus framed the Amendment in general terms, I must ask that this should be the place in the Bill in which this declaration should be inserted.
In page 1, line 18, at the end of the Clause, to add the words—"Provided that, notwithstanding anything in this Act contained, the supreme power and authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters, and things within the Queen's dominions."—(Sir Henry James.)
§ Question proposed, "That those word be there added."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I and my Colleagues have been perfectly clear and distinct in proceeding in this matter since 1886. We are perfectly convinced that, without any mention of the supremacy at all, it would remain absolutely unaffected, unlimited, and one over the whole Queen's dominions. I know of no limitation whatever of the supremacy of Parliament except the limitation of geography. I do not believe that the assertion of it is in itself necessary, or adds any strength to it whatever. But when there are those in large numbers and in good faith who attach great importance to the reassertion of that supremacy, the Government are not disinclined to meet them. The whole question is as to the terms in which it is to be re-asserted, and whether it is to be by preamble, by proviso, or by clause. My right hon. Friend has avoided the rocks and shoals which surround the question if we were to try to clothe in exact terms powers with respect to which the sound doctrine is that it ought not to be limited, trammelled, or confined by any exact terms. I will not criticise the language of the Amendment, because if supremacy is unaffected it remains un-diminished. Apart from the particular place in the Bill where the declaration should be inserted, I think the course adopted by my right hon. Friend is judicious, and one to which we cannot make any objection. Some hon. Members are not satisfied with the assertion of supremacy in the Preamble, and want it expressed in a more drastic form, either in the shape of a proviso or a separate clause, which would imply its being put at the end of the Bill. To a certain extent, the question has been obscured by a feeling of suspicion and jealousy being imported into it, and in these circumstances the Government think it would be better that a proposal on the matter should come rather from those who feel the necessity of it than from our- 1095 selves. I am glad the matter has fallen into the hands of my right hon. Friend, and I do not think I shall be inconsistent if I were to ask him to agree to bring up this proviso as a separate clause. The most effective form of proceeding is by a clause, which does not hang upon any one particular proposition of the Bill, but affects all the Bill alike. The Government, therefore, think that direct enactment by clause rather than by the kind of subordinate place that is assumed by proviso is the best and most satisfactory method of showing their respect and homage for this great doctrine of supremacy, which, in our judgment, should be esteemed as a hallowed thing. I hope my right hon. Friend will resolve to deal with the matter by bringing up an additional clause to the Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman responds to the appeal which has just been made by the Prime Minister, I will venture to lay before the Committee some reasons which I think ought to induce him to keep his Amendment in the place where he has proposed it. The object of the Amendment, according to the Prime Minister, is to reinforce and hedge round the supremacy of Parliament, which the Prime Minister has called a "hallowed thing." The supremacy of Parliament may be a hallowed thing, but, like other hallowed things, it has very little influence upon some of those who pretend to worship it. I wish the political religion which is embodied in the words "assembly of Parliament" to be a real religion, and I value those words not so much for themselves as because they are a fitting introduction to other Amendments to be proposed which will give them practical value. The words will make it clear that the Legislative Body to be established in Dublin derives its descent in no manner or way from Grattan's Parliament. They will also act as a kind of instruction and indication that, so far from Irish matters having passed beyond the control of this House, it will be their business still to control them, and, if need be, to manage them. I want the supremacy of Parliament to be a practical thing. If the supremacy of Parliament is to be a practical thing under the Bill, we must insert machinery to make it so. It may be a very 1096 hallowed thing, but not practical; and if it is not made real and practical, if its influence is allowed to be ignored or disregarded, the result will lead straight to the road of separation. What is the view of the Government on this point? Do they mean this "hallowed thing" to be the kind of supremacy, and that alone, which exists in relation to Canada? Will they be good enough to answer that question "Aye" or "No"?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I thought I had answered that question by stating that, in my opinion, the supremacy of Parliament is absolutely one throughout the Queen's dominions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman will hardly go the length of saying that as a practical machine the Imperial Parliament is as efficacious a machine in Australasia and Canada as in Kent and Surrey. It may be one from the lawyer's point of view, but it is not one from the statesman's point of view; and no man who turns his mind from the unrealities of a Constitutional lawyer to the realities of everyday political life will maintain that this one and indivisible supremacy is really the same in every part of that geographical area to which alone the right hon. Gentleman has said he limited it. I do not desire, if Home Rule should be ever given to Ireland, that the Imperial Parliament should deal with Ireland in the same minute manner as it now does with England and Scotland; but neither do I desire that the Imperial Parliament should be deprived of all practical meaning and be reduced to the hallowed nothing which is the object of the right hon. Gentleman's political adoration, or to the mere abstraction which it is in relation to Australasia and Canada. It is because the words are of inestimable value as a preface and indication of what we mean to do in this Bill, if we can, and what we mean to do in subsequent Parliaments, if we must, that I hope they will be allowed to remain as they are. For these reasons I desire they should be made part of the Bill in this place, and I strongly urge my right hon. and learned Friend not to yield to the suggestion of the Prime Minister.
MR. J. MORLEY
I think the speech with which the right hon. Gentleman has just favoured the House shows how difficult, how impossible it is to carry on the discussion on this most important 1097 subject in anything like a serious and even partially amicable spirit. I would appeal to the Committee whether the tone of the speech of the Prime Minister is not a model which should be followed on a great and serious occasion in a great deliberative Assembly? But my right hon. Friend had no sooner made his conciliatory speech than the right hon. Gentleman opposite rose and made a mockery—[Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Not a bit of it.] I do not wish to use any derogatory phrase, but it seems to me that the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was nothing else than pure mockery. No one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman how serious are the issues before the Committee.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I may, perhaps, be permitted to remind the right hon. Gentleman that throughout the Debates on the Bill I have consistently expressed my own personal indifference to the retention of a mere paper supremacy. In the observations which I have made I have merely expressed the views from which I have never wavered.
MR. J. MORLEY
It is quite true that the right hon. Gentleman stated on a former occasion that he cared no more about proposals such as the right hon. Member for Bury wished put into the Bill than he cared about the order of precedence at a London dinner table. The value that the right hon. Gentleman sets upon these proposals being so slight, I regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have joined in the controversy in so polemical a spirit. On behalf of my Colleagues and myself, I wish to say emphatically that we do not intend that this declaration of supremacy, whether it is agreed to in the form of a proviso or in the form of a clause, should be used as a platform upon which to raise a number of Amendments. That we do not intend, and to that we will not he parties. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite contended that there must be effective provisions to secure "a vitalising supremacy." Our position is that no such Amendment as my right hon. and learned Friend proposed is needed for that purpose. The Bill is saturated with supremacy. Supremacy stares us in the face from every page in the Bill. There is the legislative power reserved to the Imperial Parliament; there is the veto, and there are the other provisions which provide in the most 1098 effective way for the exercise of the supremacy when occasion arises, although the Government believe that such occasions will not often arise. In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman has said— indeed all the more on account of what the right hon. Gentleman has said—I hold that the best plan would be, if the Committee insists upon an additional declaration of supremacy, to embody the declaration in a clause at the end of the Bill. In assenting to the words proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman—whether they are agreed to in the form of a proviso or in the form of a clause—we wish it to be clearly understood that we do not mean to go one inch further in the way of accepting Amendments such as will give satisfaction to the Leader of the Opposition and will assist him in his sinister purpose, avowed in public, of destroying the Bill.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had replied in a very polemical way to a speech which might have been polemical, but which did not seem to him to have been so polemical as the reply. The Chief Secretary for Ireland would do well to remember that "a soft answer turneth away wrath." The Prime Minister, he understood, had assented to the principle of the Amendment. He admitted that the place where it was proposed to insert the Amendment was not quite the proper place, and was of opinion that it ought to have taken the form of a Proviso to the 1st clause. He thought that progress would be facilitated if the Government would consent to the addition of the words to the clause under consideration as a temporary expedient, and to their transference at the Report stage to the 1st clause in the form of a Proviso where they would properly find a place. The Government would still be able to safeguard themselves. They had already done so by expressing very clearly what they meant by assenting to the Proviso.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am sorry to say that I consider it an extraordinary demand to make upon us, that the words should be inserted here with a view to their being subsequently transplanted in another place. That is not the proper method of proceeding.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
Do I understand my right hon. Friend to suggest that the 1099 Amendment should stand as Clause No. 2 of the Bill?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I do not think a new clause is always necessarily at the end of a Bill; but, certainly, I am disposed to think the host course would be to place it at the end.
§ MR. POWELL WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)
asked whether it would be in Order, assuming the Government accepted the proposal for a new clause at the end of the Bill, to discuss the clauses of the Bill in relation to the new clause?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman had stated with regard to his last Amendment that it rested upon the responsibility of the Government as to the place.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
We have really got so near together that I had hoped my right hon. Friend would have agreed to its insertion early in the Bill. It is for the Committee to decide the position of the Amendment and not for me; but, personally, sooner than lose the Amendment I would consent to place it as Clause 2.
§ MR. J. COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, that after the construction put upon the Amendment by the Chief Secretary it hardly mattered much where it was inserted. The right hon. Gentleman, whose warmth was the flush of political fever rather than the glow of political health, had given them to understand that wherever the Amendment was placed it would only mean in the eyes of the Government that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over the Irish Legislature was to be just the same as the supremacy of Parliament over the Legislatures of Queensland, Victoria, and Canada, and everybody knew we could legislate for Canada and Queensland; but would Canada and Queensland take any notice of our legislation? That seemed to him a little trap the Unionists were running into. The Government were proposing another paper guarantee. He could quite understand the pleasant tones of the Prime Minister and Chief Secretary. It was a sort of invitation to walk into my parlour; and the Government would be able, when doubt was expressed as to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, to point to these words as a proof of the explanation—["Question!" and cries of "Go on!"] It was all very well for Gentle- 1100 men on the Front Bench to say "Go on"; but there had been no remonstrances from that Bench against the disorderly interruptions which were continually practised on Unionist speakers. He thought it was high time the Government should try to keep their allies—or rather their masters—in something like order. The real reason why the Chief Secretary and his friends would like to put this in Clause 41 was so as to remove it from any apparent connection with Ireland. The Leader of the Opposition very well pointed that out, and he hoped the right hon. and learned Member for Bury would act on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition. If this were inserted in the 1st or 2nd clause or put in in immediate connection with the Legislature for Ireland it would indicate clearly what they wished to do, and would give force to the declaration which was contained in the Amendment; whereas if it were put in later, where it had no immediate connection with the Legislature in Ire-land it would be another paper safeguard.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
thought he could satisfy his right hon. Friend. He would rather not come to an absolute decision at once; but he would undertake that the clause should come before Clause 8.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the Unionist Party, in their general scheme of opposition to the Bill, were involved in some contradictions, and they might take the present case as an illustration. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury, the parent of this Amendment, no doubt considered it of some importance; but the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jesse Collings), sitting beside him, had subjected it to ridicule as a "paper safeguard." Neither the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney), one of the most acute debaters in the House, nor the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir H. James), appeared at all to enjoy the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Certainly, he could understand the feelings, of the right hon. Member for Bury, who, having drawn this expressive Amendment, and having achieved in reference to it what might be called a Parliamentary triumph, had his triumph ridiculed by the right hon. Gentleman who sat beside him. This Amendment added nothing to what was contained in the Preamble; 1101 it added nothing satisfactory to what was contained in Clause 33; it did not increase or render more intense the supremacy with which, as the Chief Secretary said, the Bill was saturated. It added nothing to the facts, so that really he was disposed to treat the question whether the Amendment was or was not inserted in the Bill as a matter of no practical importance. Whether the Amendment was inserted in the Bill or not, everything would go on just the same; it would make no difference whatever. But he did think considerations of importance were found on matters connected with the question of the place of the Amendment in the Bill. In the first place, he did not think the Amendment was a Proviso. They might call it a Proviso, but it was not in the nature of a Proviso, though it began with the word "provided." A Proviso was something growing out of the clause, related to the clause; but this was a proposition of the most general, unlimited, and absolute character, which really applied wherever they put it; and, therefore, he should object strongly to treating it as a Proviso limited to any clause. The clause to which it was proposed to add it was one which merely dealt with the making of laws; but the Proviso spoke of "power over all matters and things" which would go beyond the sphere of simply making laws; therefore it was clear it was not a Proviso to the clause to which it was intended to be put. If there were ten thousand reasons for the Proviso, there was one conclusive reason against treating it as a Proviso, which was given by the Loader of the Opposition, when he said—"We want it put in here, because we want to make it a platform for further obstruction."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I said it would be the preface to other Amendments which, of course, the Government are not bound to accept.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the principle of the Government was that the supermacy did not need to be vitalised in the sense of the word used by the Leader of the Opposition. The principle of the right hon. Gentleman was that he wanted this Proviso inserted here, so that in future 1102 clauses, and perhaps future sub-sections of the Bill, he might introduce Amendments interfering with the scheme of the Government, and endeavouring to alter the whole scheme and framework of the Bill; and this, in his judgment, was a conclusive reason why it should not be inserted here, because if it was inserted it would enable hon. Gentlemen to carry on their opposition and prevent the passing of the Bill through the House in the longest Session. His view of the matter was that this was a general proposition relating to the whole Bill, and it should be inserted at the end. If it was inserted in connection with this clause it would be held to have special relation to the making of laws; and why should the supremacy have any more immediate connection with the making of laws than anything else? The supremacy was intended to affect everything— Executive action as well as the making of laws, and why was it wanted to be put after a section relating solely to the making of laws? Because the right lion. Gentleman wanted to use it hereafter as a justification and an invitation to that House to interfere and to intermeddle vexatiously with the Irish Legislature. This was evident, both from the nature of the Amendment itself and also from what he thought was the intention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that the supremacy should be in Ireland as elsewhere, and he thought this Proviso should not be appended to a clause affecting the Legislature, because it would be held hereafter that it was inserted there to justify an interference with the Irish Legislature, which they hoped would not be necessary.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, he hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not recede from his Amendment, or accept the offer of the Prime Minister to introduce a clause asserting the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament some time at the end of July. He was under some disadvantage in arguing the point, inasmuch as not one Member of the Government was present.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. RENTOUL
, continuing, said, it was pleasant to find that the President of 1103 the Local Government Board (Mr. H.H. Fowler) was now present, and that he, at least, among Members of the Government, took some interest in the supremacy of Parliament. It had been said all along on this matter that it was unnecessary to declare the supremacy of Parliament as it already existed, and that it could not be expected to exist in stronger force than it did. That might be so in a legal sense; but they knew very well that they could not enforce the supremacy without the insertion of words in the Bill. At one moment they were told the supremacy was covered by the Preamble of the Bill; at another that a clause should be introduced to assert the supremacy. For his part, he was glad to think that the Government were now willing to declare in the authoritative part of the Bill that the supremacy of this Parliament did exist, and that it could not possibly be taken away. It would be impossible to assert it in action unless they put it in the Bill. It would be of no vital force whatever unless it were inserted in the Bill, and they on his side of the House wanted a clear declaration in the Bill. They did not share the trust of the Government in the Nationalist Members—a trust which, in the case of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, had only been shown during the past six or seven years. They believed that the Government really meant that this Parliament should be supreme; but the Nationalist Members did not mean that. It was perfectly true men might change their opinions, but if Irish Members had done that they had not said so, for there had been no retractation of former views on the part of those hon. Members. The late Mr. Parnell had not withdrawn any of his declared views; neither had the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond); the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. J. M'Carthy); the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connnor); nor had the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). If they had withdrawn or altered their expressed opinions he had not seen any evidence of it. They had been told that the supremacy of this Parliament existed in all parts of the British Empire in a condition that was one and indivisible. If those words meant anything, they implied that the supremacy in Canada and the Colonies 1104 was the same as it would be in Ireland. That was not enough. They desired that the supremacy in the case of Ireland should be the same as in Kent or Suffolk. They wanted a supremacy capable of being enforced in a practical manner. Until that evening the statement had not been made that the Government would consent to have the supremacy declared by a clause. The Prime Minister had offered that if the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir H. James) would draft a clause the Government would accept it. In that case it would not come before the Committee until the months of July or August. Under the circumstances they desired the right hon. and learned Gentleman to adhere to his Amendment. What was the value of any legal enactment if there were no machinery for carrying it into effect? They wanted the enactment to come in at the end of Clause 2, and they would then be able to propose machinery for carrying it out. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had pointed out that the announcement made by the Prime Minister showed that the new Parliament would not derive its existence from Grattan's Parliament, but by Statute, and that which that House created naturally that House could at any time destroy or modify. The Leader of the Opposition had well said that a declaration of supremacy in the Act would serve as an Instruction to the Irish Parliament which would be constantly before their eyes. If no such declaration were inserted in the Bill the Irish Parliament might say, not without reason, that they had been led to believe that no such supremacy was ever to be exercised. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), in his extreme desire to have the suggestion of the clause negatived——
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, that gave them the idea that there was something very considerable at stake. The Prime Minister offered a clause to be inserted in the Bill after Clause 2—that was to say, it was to be Clause 3. But such a clause could only be inserted in the Bill after all the other clauses had been discussed. Their point was to get the declaration of supremacy into the Bill now. The hon. Member for Kerry said 1105 that they wanted a platform for obstruction. That was not so. What they did this for was as a platform for machinery. The declaration of supremacy was not merely for the purpose of preserving the dignity of the Imperial Parliament, but as a safeguard for the loyal minority in Ireland. They wished to have machinery to carry out effectively the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament and to preserve its dignity. That was the chief object of the loyal minority in Ireland. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury would stand to his Amendment, as, by postponing the matter until July or August, they would be precluded from applying the machinery necessary to the fulfilment of the purpose they desired carried out.
§ MR. CAMERON CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said, it seemed to him that the assertion of the supremacy was the more necessary after what had been said in the course of the Debate. When the Government had urged that the supremacy was inalienable, and when they had refused to call the Irish Legislature subordinate, because they wanted to draw no distinction between it and the Colonial Legislatures, it had become plain that the supremacy over the Irish Legislature was to be of the same character as that over the Colonial Legislatures. If that were the case it seemed to him that the constituencies throughout the country were, to a very large extent, deceived during the last Election. In the Colonies the people realised that the only safeguard for their interests consisted in the character of the sense of fair play of Members elected to represent them in their Legislature. In the present Bill, as it stood, absolutely the only safeguard the minority in Ireland would have would be the character and the sense of fair play of the Representatives of the majority of the people. He believed that when the people of Scotland at last realised that the fate of their brother Presbyterians in the North of Ireland had no stronger guarantee than the sense of fair play and the tolerance of the Representatives of the majority of the Irish people they would be very slow to support a measure of this character. In the future, if the measure were carried without Amendment, the Imperial Forces would be maintained to force men to 1106 obey laws which Englishmen believed to be unjust and cruel—laws which were in accordance with Irish ideas, but not in accordance with the ideas of the people of the United Kingdom, who, however, would still have the responsibility of enforcing those laws in which they did not believe.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
remarked that the two sides of the House did not look upon the question of supremacy from the same standpoint. What had been said by the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) went a certain way to prove this; but he should like to draw the attention of the Committee to an article which appeared in October last in The Nineteenth Century from the pen of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond.) The hon. and learned Member in that article quoted a long extract from a statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) declaring that the supremacy of Parliament was inalienable, and the hon. and learned Member subscribed to that doctrine, but went on to say—For my present purpose I accept that as a true description of the position from a strictly Constitutional point of view. The rights of the Imperial Parliament, after the creation of the Irish Legislature, would remain intact. Those rights would remain dormant as far as Irish affairs are concerned.That was the hon. and learned Member's view of supremacy. It was, however, the very opposite of the view of the right hon. Gentleman who had moved the Amendment. The hon. and learned Member went on to say—A Parliamentary compact would be entered into binding the Imperial Parliament to leave these rights dormant.Was the assertion in the Bill part of the "Parliamentary compact"?Such a compact, of course, cannot in strict theory bind successive Governments; but in practice it must hare that effect, by imposing a moral obligation on Parliament not to act contrary to the Statute. We would expect a clause in the Home Rule Bill to specially provide and undertake that whilst, the Irish Parliament continued in existence the power of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for Ireland would never be used.He (Mr. T. W. Russell) would like to know from the Government whether this was their idea of supremacy? Of course, they could not possibly concede the demand of the hon. and learned Member 1107 for Waterford; that would be too absurd. Had they come to a compact with the hon. and learned Gentleman, who sat silent during the Debate, that he was not to press for a specific clause, on the ground that the assertion in the Preamble was all nonsense?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he was quite sure that there had been no compact with the hon. and learned Member. Had his Party numbered 19 instead of nine he would have got all he wanted. The hon. and learned Member must, however, see that the position of the Unionists with regard to supremacy was a different position from his. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) had objected to the insertion of the Amendment in the Bill at this point, because, in his opinion, it would pave the way for further obstruction.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he would toll the hon. Member the way in which he viewed it. The Amendment undoubtedly amounted to the assertion of supremacy; but the mere assertion without machinery to make it effective would be of precious little use. Let there be no mistake about it. Let the Government and the hon. Member for North Kerry understand that if the Amendment wore carried, it would establish a basis for the adoption of effective machinery to carry it out. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley) had maintained that the supremacy intended to be given by this Bill was, practically, the same supremacy as was given elsewhere. But were there any safeguards in the British North America Act for any minority? In 1867, when the Canadian Confederation was agreed upon, the Canadians were practically unanimous, and there was no minority to safeguard like that in Ireland. If there had been, he had no doubt safeguards would have been provided. The supremacy which suited Canada without a minority demanding protection was not a supremacy that would suit Ireland with a minority which the Government admitted ought to be protected. Let the Committee, therefore, thoroughly understand that the Amendment of his right 1108 hon. Friend was the first of a series designed to make the supremacy effective. The question of enforcing the supremacy, if ever occasion should arise, would have to be dealt with. It would be perfectly legitimate to establish an Imperial force in Ireland for the assertion of the Imperial supremacy. What was the good of Imperial supremacy if it had no power to enforce its will? The two sides of the House, as he had said, were not talking about the same thing. The supporters of the Government wanted a paper supremacy; they wanted a mere fraud——
§ MR. MANFIELD (Northampton)
Mr. Mellor, I rise to Order. Is it right for the hon. Member to make such a charge against us?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, that if he had hurt anyone's feelings he would at once withdraw the expression. The ideal of the Ministerialists, at all events, was a mere paper supremacy. The Unionists, however, wanted an effective supremacy. If the Committee adopted the Amendment and went no further, the supremacy would be a sham. He had never asked for safeguards, and did not believe in them; but, if there were to be any at all, he was determined that the Government should not go to the British electors and parade before them sham safeguards as being beneficial to the Irish minority. The Unionists intended to let the electors know exactly what the Government and their supporters were doing. They intended to make it clear that, instead of adopting real safeguards, the majority of the House were simply inventing shams to deceive the electors.
§ *MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
said, he had been of opinion from the first that mere words, either by way of preamble or by way of enactment, would have little or no effect in securing that supremacy which the Government and their supporters were pledged to the country not to interfere with by the Bill. If the House wished to secure the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament it must do so by machinery, and not by mere words either of preamble or of declaration. He had no hesitation in saying that if the clauses of the Bill were to be turned out of the Committee in the same shape as that in which they had entered it and the preamble remained as it was, the measure would be a fraud and a pretence. 1109 The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley) said not only that the Bill was redolent of supremacy, but that it was saturated with supremacy. He did not wish to say anything that would he considered rude; therefore, he would refrain from making the comment that was on his lips. they were told, however, that the Bill was saturated with supremacy. Without complaining of the ruling of the Chairman last night, he might allude to the Amendment he (Mr. Ambrose) had been prevented from moving to show what their position would be if the Proviso proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury were not accepted. They had adopted the words "for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland," and he had had an Amendment on the Paper proposing to give to Ire-land a central Local Government Hoard, and to transfer various other Departments to Ireland in the same way. The ruling of the Chairman had been that that Amendment was inconsistent with the words he had quoted, and which had already been incorporated in the Bill. If the clause were not amended with the proposed Proviso when hon. Members came to propose their Amendments which were intended to secure the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament they would be told that their Amendments were inconsistent with this clause. In the clause itself there was matter which was absolutely inconsistent with the supremacy of the Parliament at Westminster. The Irish Parliament was to have powers in respect of the "peace, order, and good government" of the country; and though there were certain exemptions in Clause 3, if they took Clauses 2, 5, and 10 there was sufficient in them to exclude, he would not say the theoretical supremacy to which the Solicitor General referred, but the practical supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. Clause 2 gave a general power—that, was admitted. Then there were exemptions which withdrew from the Irish Parliaments nearly every subject of interest which the Irish Members would like to deal with. There were two points on which there was no exemption. There was no exemption whatever with regard to the subject of taxation. The Bill left power to the Irish Parliament to tax Irish subjects at pleasure, except in so far as 1110 that power was modified by subsequent sections of the Bill. Now, if the Irish Parliament had the right to tax, it followed that, in addition, they had the right to refuse taxes. They had the right to refuse the necessary supplies for the maintenance of the Imperial Government in Ireland, and for the maintenance of the Government of Ireland, whether Imperial or Irish. As he had said before, he cared very little for more words. He should not think that this Proviso would in itself do anything to accomplish the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. He believed in machinery. Well, one of the important points and tests of supremacy was the power of taxation. Give away their power of taxation, and they gave away their supremacy. What wax it that gave to the House of Commons its power in the British Constitution? It was its right to impose taxes, and with the right to impose taxes the right to refuse taxes when they thought proper, and to originate Money Bills. So important was that consideration that from the earliest times the right had been asserted and jealously maintained. Even at the present day the House of Lords was not allowed to amend a Money Bill. When a Money Bill was sent up to the House of Lords from the Commons the House of Lords must either reject it or pass it. That indicated the importance of the money question—and our relations with the United States also indicated it. It was on that point that we lost America. The Northern States resisted the taxation by Great Britain, and Great. Britain gave up its power of taxation; but with that power it gave up its supremacy, and America acquired absolute independence. He wished to ask the Solicitor General his opinion on the 10th clause. ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. AMBROSE
said, that he did not intend to discuss the clause, and, with all submission to the Chairman, he was within his right. [Cries of "Order!"] The point of Order was a matter be bad considered, and he maintained that he was within his right, because he was justifying his construction—[Renewed cries of "Order!"]—he did not often speak therefore, he would appeal——
The hon. and learned Gentleman may refer to the 10th clause, but I have pointed out that he must not discuss it.
§ *MR. AMBROSE
said, he only wished to refer to it, for the purpose of proving the construction he had put on the 2nd clause. The 2nd and 3rd subsections, of the 10th clause set forth—(2) The duties of Customs and Excise and the duties on postage shall be imposed by Act of Parliament, but subject to the provisions of this Act the Irish Legislature may, in order to provide for the Public Service of Ireland, impose any other taxes.(3) Save as in this Act mentioned, all matters relating to the taxes in Ireland and the collection and management thereof shall be regulated by Irish Act, and the same shall be collected and managed by the Irish Government and form part of the Public Revenues of Ireland.If the Irish Parliament refused Supplies, or attempted to pass a Bill forbidden under the restrictions of the 3rd and 4th clauses, what would happen? Everyone knew the power of the purse. Suppose the Irish Parliament said to the Lord Lieutenant—"If you don't pass this Bill we will not grant you Supplies?" If that occurred, where are you? How would the money be obtained to keep and maintain the officials of the Government and to prevent absolute anarchy from taking place? Could the Solicitor General say, inface of the 2nd and 10th clauses, that the Imperial Parliament could impose taxes in Ireland? If they parted with the power of taxation, as he thought he had shown they had, where was the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament? The Executive in Ireland, as the hon. Member for North Kerry had rightly said, would be the servants or agents of the Irish Parliament. How, then, were they to be at the command of the Imperial Parliament? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Haddington had said that the power of levying taxation must be given whenever the power of legislating was conferred. That power, he had pointed out, was inherent in Local Boards and County Councils. But in the case of those Bodies, if they sought to levy unjust rates, their proceedings could be quashed in a Court of Law; or, if they did not exercise the functions they were required to exercise, they could be compelled to do so by a mandamus. In these cases the power of levying rates was controlled by the Imperial Government through 1112 the medium of the Law Courts. But that would not be the case with reference to Irish legislation. There would be no Courts to keep the Irish Legislature within its proper jurisdiction—to quash their orders when they exceeded their powers, or to compel them to issue orders when they neglected to do so. It was said that a remedy would be found in the Privy Council; but that body would be useless from that point of view.
§ *MR. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.)
did not wish to give another silent vote on the subject of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman pressed his Amendment to a Division, it would be necessary for him (Mr. Strachey) to vote for it, because he could not see what harm there could be in giving expression to Imperial supremacy on the Bill itself. He thought that the Amendment would satisfy, not only many hon. Members, but many persons outside the House—satisfy their prejudices, or whatever they might be called. The argument of the Government was that the Irish people were to be trusted to carry out the Bill in a fair and proper spirit; and, that being granted, why on earth could not the Government say—"We may run the risk of the supremacy not being so strong, but if the Amendment satisfies a great many persons inside and outside the House we accept it."
§ *SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
There is one point which, I think, will interest the Committee at this moment, and that is—what is the position which the Government propose to take if this Amendment is pressed to a Division?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am interested in knowing what is to be the response to my invitation. I have had no answer to the appeal I made to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury.
§ *SIR E. CLARKE
The right hon. Gentleman says he has had no answer to the appeal he made to my right hon. and learned Friend; therefore I may be allowed to call to the recollection of the Committee what took place at the beginning of the discussion. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman proposed the Amendment the Prime Minister expressed himself as entirely satisfied; and the right hon. and learned 1113 Member gave some reasons, which, I think, were very good reasons, for believing that the part of the Bill in which he proposed to introduce these words was the right part at which their declaration should be inserted. Then the Prime Minister, in his gracious and winning manner, made the most charming of Ministerial answers. He approved of the form of the Amendment; he sympathised with the object of it; he was at one with my right hon. and learned Friend in substance and intention: but, at the same time, he asked, not as a stipulation on which he was going to insist, but as if it were a favour, that the right hon. and learned Member would be good enough not to insist upon this Amendment at this time, but allow it to be postponed until we come to deal with new clauses. I listened to that appeal, and I did not wonder that my right hon. and learned Friend for a moment yielded and did not see to what point he was being led. The important tiling with regard to this matter is that we should get this Amendment in, as early as possible in the discussion, as a definite declaration of the supremacy.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The hon. and learned Member is mistaken. The purport of my offer to my right hon. Friend was to insert the clause somewhere before Clause 3—that is as early as he proposes.
§ *SIR. CLARKE
I heard the whole discussion, and I will point out to the right hon. Gentleman that his supposed concession is no concession at all. It does not matter a jot where the new clause is put in the Bill. To my thinking, the thing that matters is this. If this Amendment is relegated to the position of a new clause it will come on for discussion somewhere in July, when the whole Bill, including the Financial Clauses, will all have been subjected to discussion in this House; and if we are unwise enough to part with this clause and allow it to be postponed until the latest stage of the Bill, whenever on the intervening clauses we may desire to discuss their effect on the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament we shall be met by the declaration—"We, the Government, have promised you a clause, and you must wait till the moment you see it before you can discuss it." I am glad that my right hon. and learned Friend 1114 did not accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and I sincerely hope that he will be firm in his resolve to have this declaration, of which the Prime Minister has in terms approved, inserted in this part of the Bill. If we want an illustration of the importance of the point at which we have now arrived we should find it in the interesting fact that the long silence of the Irish Benches has been broken. The hon. and learned Member for Louth and the hon. Member for North Kerry have actually made speeches—not ejaculations, not epithets, but actually speeches—on the proposal before the Committee. It is perfectly clear, from the speech of the hon. Member for North Kerry, that he means to resist now and at any time the insertion of this declaration.
§ MR. SEXTON
On the contrary, I agreed to the declaration: but I pointed out that this is not a Proviso: it is not limited to this clause, but it applies to the whole Bill, and it ought to be inserted as an independent clause.
§ SIR E. CLARKE
I think it was clear from the hon. Member's speech that he meant to say that no such declaration was necessary in the Bill at all, and that he would resist the insertion of any such declaration in the Bill.
§ MR. SEXTON
I said the very reverse. I said it added nothing to the declaration already in the Preamble, but that I had no objection to the insertion of it as a clause.
§ *SIR E. CLARKE
That is exactly my point—that the Government, under the inspiration or direction or advice of the hon. Member for Kerry, and those who act with him, are resisting the putting of this declaration into the Bill.
§ MR. W. GLADSTONE
I said I was waiting for the answer of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury.
§ *SIR E. CLARKE
I think that answer has been given to the right hon. Gentleman. ["No, no!"] The right hon. and learned Gentleman said the question was one for the Committee. It 1115 is clear that the Committee will not permit the withdrawal of this proposal, but will persist on its being put from the Chair. We are, therefore, entitled to know whether the Government are going to vote in favour of or against this proposal, the principle of which they say they agree with. I should like to add that the 2nd clause, to which it is proposed to attach the proviso, is exactly the right place at which to make such a declaration. The 1st clause constitutes the Legislative Assembly; but the 2nd clause grants to the Irish Legislature power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland. It is when we are conferring that power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, that it becomes essential to show that these powers are not granted in derogation of the power which the Imperial Parliament possesses in all parts of the Empire. I do not agree with my two hon. Friends who spoke last. I do not agree with the hon. Member for South Tyrone and the hon. Member who spoke from this side as to the worthlessness of paper declarations in an Act of Parliament; and I am quite prepared to hear the flouts and jeers that are given to those who are merely Constitutional lawyers. I attach some importance to declarations in Acts of Parliament, and I cannot forget what the conduct of the Government was in 1886. In that year they put into their Bill the 37th clause, which was a specific declaration with regard to the powers of the Imperial Parliament. When the draftsman of that Bill (Lord Thring) wrote his article explaining the drafting, he said that it had been the desire of the Government, when legislative power was given to the Legislative Assembly, that there should be a clause by which the Irish Members, in accepting the gift, should accept the limitation of it at the same time. They put that into their Bill of 1886. Why is it not desirable or necessary to put it in the Bill now? I may be allowed to speak on this matter, because I think I was the first to protest against the enshrining in the Preamble of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. I am glad we have got to the point when the Government accept the proposition I made, and agree that the Bill itself shall contain a declaration as to the powers of the Imperial Parliament. 1116 It is no use for the Government to tell us that they are prepared at some future time to accept this proposal. What we want to know is whether they will accept the proposal made to them to-night. If they will, then I do not want to consider what other Amendments may be proposed. I agree that the Government are free—as declared by the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant—not to consider any Amendment as consequential, but to meet all Amendments fairly and independently when they are proposed in this House. It is not with that view that I desire to have this declaration in the Bill. I wish to have in the effective clauses, as early as can be, in the most appropriate place, a declaration of the undiminished, unaffected supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is in a position to see that he will have to deal with the question, aye or no, will he or will he not accept, this Proviso in the Bill? I venture to think that it would very much tend to the shortening of this discussion and to the clearing of the views of the Committee on the subject, if the right hon. Gentleman would now tell us, aye or no, whether, when this proposal is put from the Chair, he will support it?
§ *SIR H. JAMES
The right hon. Gentleman says he is waiting for my answer. I thought I had given my answer before the adjournment. When my right hon. Friend said that he would insert the proposal as a new clause I categorically replied, and said that the matter was in the hands of the Committee, and that it was not a matter on which I could bind the Committee. I also added that, as far as I was personally concerned, if the alternative lay between losing the words of the Amendment and the suggestion which the Prime Minister made—personally I should accept the suggestion.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am aware of the fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the matter was in the hands of the Committee. But what I understand is, that he is satisfied with the proposal made.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
My extreme desire was to have these words inserted in the place at which I moved their insertion. 1117 The right hon. Gentleman will recollect that in moving the Amendment I gave my reasons for wishing their insertion at this particular portion of the Bill.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I intend to adhere to the offer I have made, and I have not yet got an answer to that offer.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
I have stated as distinctly as I could the position I occupy. I am sorry if I have not made my meaning clear. I can only repeat what I have already said. I hope the Prime Minister will accept the answer I have already given.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I think my right hon. and learned Friend has made his meaning perfectly clear. As far as he is personally concerned he has moved his Amendment, and he stands by it; but, rather than lose it altogether, he himself is prepared to accept the suggestion of the Prime Minister. I am only repeating what has been said by my right hon. and learned Friend. Now, I think it is for us to ask the Prime Minister, under these circumstances, what is the position of the Government? Do they insist upon the alternative which they have suggested to my right hon. and learned Friend, which he personally is willing to accept under stress, but which he has told them plainly he thinks not so favourable as his own original proposition, or will they accept the Amendment as a Proviso to Clause 2? That is a plain question—we in our turn are entitled to a categorical answer.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My answer to that is that if, as I understand, my right and learned Friend agrees to accept our proposal, though he prefers his original plan, obviously his course is to ask the Committee for leave to withdraw his Amendment. That is my proposal. If he asks leave to withdraw his Amendment, then he accepts my proposal; if be does not ask leave to withdraw his Amendment, then he rejects my proposal. If be will state what course he will take, then I will state what course I will pursue.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Of course, my right hon. Friend has not given an answer to the question put to him. It is no use asking my right hon. and learned 1118 Friend to withdraw his Amendment, because it is perfectly evident that, if he did, leave would be refused.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Surely we want to come to practical business. What is the good of my right hon. and learned Friend asking the leave of the Committee to do anything which he knows beforehand it will not grant? The Prime Minister knows as well as anybody that the Amendment will not be withdrawn. Very well. I ask, under these circumstances, what is the Government going to do? The difference between the two sides of the House would appear to an uninstructed stranger as absolutely infinitesimal. The question before the Committee is whether the proposal made by my right hon. and learned Friend shall be put as a separate clause, between Clauses 2 and 3, or whether it shall be added as a Proviso to the 2nd clause? Can anyone conceive a smaller issue than that? [Cries of "Why not agree" from the Ministerial Benches.] My hon. Friends say, "Why not agree?" That is precisely what I ask; I am not going to tell the Committee why we shall not agree. I have said it would "appear" to be infinitesimal. If it were infinitesimal, why on earth should the Prime Minister have made any difficulty? If the Prime Minister thought it to be not of the slightest importance, do you suppose that he would have delayed the proceedings on this Bill for two or three hours? No; this is one of the cases which not infrequently arise in Committee in which, where apparently a difference is infinitesimal, a difference in words or a difference in methods cover a very serious difference in principle. The difference in principle is this. We know that the Government are perfectly ready to grant any words we like to ask for which do not go beyond a paper supremacy. I admit that in a Preamble or a clause the Government are willing to give us all the satisfaction we can desire, provided that the promise of supremacy in the Bill is not made effective in the Bill. The Nationalist Members are willing to accept this Amendment. The hon. Member for North Kerry said he did not think it went one jot beyond the Preamble. The 1119 Amendment, however, has been raised with a distinct view, in order to put it before the House as the first of a series of Amendments which would make the supremacy effective. We take this as a datum line, and we want the Government to accept it as a foundation for the subsequent Amendments. When the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said, as he did in answer to the Leader of the Opposition, that when the Committee came to these subsequent Amendments the Government would reject them, in so doing the right hon. Gentleman took away all interest in the present Amendment. We do not thank the Government for accepting this Amendment unless they do so in the spirit in which it is proposed. The spirit and intention, surely, are of some importance. I pointed out on a previous occasion that while using exactly the same words right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench and hon. Gentlemen who support them are using these words in absolutely opposite senses. I am very glad to see the hon. Member for Waterford in his place. The hon. Gentleman stated in writing that he himself would come down to this House and would move Amendments to define the principle of supremacy, so as to make it impossible that this Parliament should interfere with affairs committed to the Irish Parliament by this Bill. I have not seen those Amendments up to the present.
§ MR. J. REDMOND (Waterford)
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I never stated that I would move Amendments to make it impossible for this Parliament to interfere, because my view is that, whatever Amendments were moved or carried in that direction, the power of this Parliament to interfere will still remain.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member has interrupted me again and again when I referred to this matter; but he always makes a statement absolutely irrelevant to the one I make. The hon. Member has said two things not necessarily connected—two things that ought to be treated separately. The hon. Member has said that the theoretical supremacy of this Parliament cannot be disputed or disposed of. I quite agree with that, but I do not care one brass farthing for that theoretical supremacy. I know what 1120 the theoretical supremacy of this Parliament is over Australia and Canada, and I do not want to sot up in the case of Ireland a supremacy which is worth no more than the supremacy over Australia and Canada. The hon. Gentleman, so long ago as October, 1892, declared his intention to make it perfectly clear that the supremacy of this Parliament over the Irish Parliament should be limited. The hon. Member was referring to a speech made by the Chancellor of the Duchy in which the right hon. Gentleman appeared to have said—It is not a question of asking us to divest, ourselves of this power, because we could not do so.That is the legal fiction—that is the imposture which has been exposed to-night, and the hon. Member knows perfectly well that it is an imposture. Referring to these words of the Chancellor of the Duchy, the hon. Member for Waterford in his article said—The rights of the Imperial Parliament would remain intact; those rights would remain dormant, so far as Irish affairs are concerned. A Parliamentary compact would be entered into binding the Imperial Parliament to leave those rights dormant.I will now quote the hon. Member again, because he is perfectly consistent, and why he should endeavour in this Committee to prove himself inconsistent I cannot imagine. This is a passage from his speech in the Debate on the Address in August, 1892—It comes to this, therefore: that what we ask is this—that in this Home Rule scheme there shall be a specific undertaking—a clause specifically undertaking that while the Irish Parliament continues in existence the powers of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for Ireland should never be used.Now, Sir, after that, what is the use of the hon. Member getting up and interrupting mo and trying to minimise the significance of his own words? Let the hon. Member get up and say he has changed his mind.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Well, then, the hon. Member has not changed his mind. Now, Sir, I have all I want for the purposes of my argument. This is the crux of the whole Bill. It only shows how hon. Members who call themselves Liberals are entering upon a project for destroying the Empire. If I wished I could go on quoting from hon. 1121 Members belonging to the larger suction of the Nationalist Party language which practically comes to the same thing as the language of the hon. Member for Waterford; but it will be sufficient to take the hon. Member as representing not only the opinion of himself and his Colleagues, but the opinion of all the Nationalists of Ireland. And now the Government are putting themselves at the mercy of the Nationalist Party, because, while you are saying one thing, the Nationalist Party are saying another. They do not say it in this House. They have good reason for not saying it. But are you so weak; are you so foolish as to be deceived by their silence? When this Bill is passed the Nationalist Party will say, and they will have a perfect right to say—"You gave us this Constitution knowing that we said we only accepted it on the understanding that your Imperial supremacy would for ever remain dormant, and you sat silent and allowed the Bill to pass." That is the question raised by this Amendment. The question is whether there is to be an effective supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over all persons and matters in Ireland after a local Legislature has been established there.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND (Waterford)
said, it seemed to him that the words "supremacy of the Imperial Parliament" had an entirely different meaning in the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and those he represented, than it had in the mouth and mind of himself. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends seemed to mean the exercise of the right of control and revision, as the Leader of the Opposition once put it, day after day in every detail of Irish public affairs, constituting thereby the Imperial Parliament after they had given Home Rule to Ireland, a sort of Court of Appeal upon every single act in every Irish matter of the Irish Parliament. To his mind the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament meant an entirely different thing. In that declaration of his, which he had heard repeated so often in the House that he really was sick of it, he used the word "dormant," and that word seemed to be translated by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham into "dead." Of course, it must be evident to every man that in the case of Ire- 1122 land, as in the case of every part of the Empire to which they had given representative institutions, they must, by the very concessions of these representative institutions, make a compact with the country that they would allow it to manage its own affairs free from capricious interference upon their part, with local matters. What he meant by the supremacy of Parliament was this—that if Home Rule were granted to Ireland, Ireland was to be allowed in her own Legislature, free from the interference— the stupid, meddlesome, and ignorant interference of that House, to manage her own affairs subject to this condition: that the Imperial Parliament had the power, which, in his belief, it could not divest itself of by any Act or any section of an Act. [Opposition cries of Oh!"] He was expressing an opinion that was not merely his own opinion, but was the opinion of the greatest Constitutional lawyers of the Kingdom—that the Imperial Parliament would have the power to interfere to prevent any act or oppression or injustice. It might seem egotistical in him to quote his own statements; but, really, there was a good excuse for him. Hon. Members had quoted over and over again from speeches he had made, not from those he delivered on the First and Second Reading of the Bill, but from speeches made many years back. He held in his hand a speech which he made in that House in 1892, in which he said, on this very point of the supremacy of Parliament—The Imperial Parliament is supreme. None of us desire to touch its supremacy, and it must remain to the end of things the supreme Imperial Parliament. It cannot divest itself of that supremacy. But I and others gather from the constant repetition of the phrase, that what is desired and intended by some people is that after you have given us a right to an Irish Legislature to deal with Irish affairs, you wish to constitute this House a sort of Court of Appeal before which every act of the Irish Parliament would be brought up, reconsidered, interfered with, and destroyed.That was the position he took up—and he did not at all hesitate to declare frankly what he had always held—that it was the duty of Irish Nationalists so to mould whatever Home Rule Bill was passed as to make it as difficult and as troublesome as possible for the Imperial Parliament to interfere in purely Irish matters. He bad never denied that, no matter what 1123 they might put into the Bill, the Imperial Parliament would have the power to interfere if it liked. But his desire was— and it was the meaning of the Amendment of which he had spoken more than once—so to frame the Bill that it could not he a matter of everyday occurrence for that Parliament to interfere in every petty detail of Irish life. An hon. Member who spoke that night, and, he believed, a countryman of his, used the phrase that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was to be exercised over Ireland in the same way as it was exercised over Kent and Sussex. That was an absurdity. Either reject this Bill altogether—that would be a perfectly intelligent course—or, if they granted a Legislature to Ireland, it followed of necessity that they must permit that Legislature, in purely local affairs, to manage these local affairs according to local sentiment. The Irish Nationalists, on their part, desired to insist that it would be a sham and an imposture if they were to give a Legislature to Ireland, with the intention in their minds not to allow that Legislature to manage the purely local affairs of Ireland, free from the meddlesome interference of the Imperial Parliament. But they stated at the same time that the Imperial Parliament had the power—a power which they believed it could not divest itself of, and of which they would have no right to complain if it were exercised to put down any intolerable acts of oppression, which they believed would not arise in Ireland, but such, if they did arise, they would he glad to see any power step in and destroy.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I wish to have this matter set straight. Let me say, in the first instance, that I accept the assurance of the hon. Member. I have never taunted the hon. Member with inconsistency. I believe he has been absolutely consistent, and I should not blame him if he said he had changed his opinions; but what I want to know is whether the hon. Member has changed his opinions? The speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman had nothing whatever to do with the point I raised. The hon. and learned Member said that he protested against interference with every potty detail being a matter of every day occurrence. Of course, there is no sensible person in the 1124 House who believes that any interference of that kind would be possible or justifiable. It would reduce the proceedings of this House to a farce, and would be justly resented by the people of Ireland. Therefore, if I could regard exclusively the speech made by the hon. and learned Member just now, I would be practically in agreement with him. But the statement which the hon. and learned Member had just made is not the same as he made in August, 1892. The hon. and learned Member then said that the powers of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for Ireland should never be used. I agree with the hon. and learned Member that the powers of the Imperial Parliament should not be used in every petty detail of every day occurrences; but what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said is that those powers should never be used. He also said—We do not object to the retention of the right of revision, of amendment, review, and repeal of specific Acts of the Irish Parliament acting within its proper limits. We, therefore, claim that in purely Irish affairs we shall have full and supreme control.Hitherto, in arguing the matter I assumed that on the Ministerial side of the House there was an absolute concurrence of opinion that the supremacy of Parliament should be maintained intact and unimpaired over all persons and all matters; but from the cheers which interrupted me a moment ago it appears that there are some Members on the Ministerial side of the House who support the contention of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford that the powers attaching to supremacy should never he used in Irish affairs. Oh! this spectacle of a united Party. They will not say what they mean by the supremacy of Parliament because they have not yet agreed upon the point themselves. Well, Sir, I have got a quotation from another article written by the hon. and learned Member at a later date. [Cries of "Oh!"] I will not be interrupted; I will not be contradicted; and when my accuracy is challenged I shall certainly prove my case. In October, 1892, the hon. and learned Member wrote—The power, which in the case of the Colonies is harmless because it is a dead letter, would in the case of Ireland be a reality, and would be a perpetual source of humiliation, of heart burning, and of danger. We therefore say that a formal compact must be entered into that, while 1125 the Irish Parliament lasts, it will be permitted sole and unfettered authority on all purely Irish affairs, free from interference by the Imperial Parliament, and subject only to the constitutional veto of the Crown.The hon. and learned Member will apparently have the support of certain Members of the Gladstonian Party. But I appeal to the bulk of that Party, to the men who are pledged up to their eyes to their constituents to maintain the effective supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. I appeal from the supporters of the Government to the Government itself. The Prime Minister himself has said, the Chief Secretary for Ireland has said, that whenever the Irish Parliament did anything oppressive or unjust the Imperial Parliament would have an immediate and effective right of interference, and of course that involves that the question of the injustice or oppression must be decided by the opinion of the majority of this House, and not by the opinion of the Members of the Irish Legislature. Then what we want is that these declared intentions of the Government shall be carried out. We desire to retain in the Imperial Parliament an effective supremacy, the effective right and power to interfere whenever the Irish Legislature does anything oppressive or unjust.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham has pursued his double avocation—first of all, of converting into a matter of hot and envenomed Debate that, which is between the right hon. and learned Member for Bury and Her Majesty's Government, and which was a perfectly pacific and friendly discussion. That is the position which the right hon. Gentleman has chosen for himself in this House. And he has also endeavoured to determine and apply with unflinching rigour to the hon. and learned Member for Waterford that law of consistency which he disclaims for himself. In inconsistencies, in contradictions, in waverings, and in violent speeches, made in both extremes, no man in the House can for a moment compete with my right hon. Friend, and it would be an interminable task to bring into juxtaposition his innumerable contrarieties against himself. With respect to the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, 1126 what I have to say is this—that neither can I undertake to say how far the hon. Member's declarations at one time or another observes that inconsistency which I in vain look for in the declarations of policy of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham who now, arraigns the hon. Member, and I have listened to the declarations of the hon. Member for Waterford to-night and on former occasions, and I have heard the hon. Member give what appears to mo to be a rational, just, and constitutional account of the supremacy of the Crown, and as to the use of that supremacy in the government of Ireland. I am bound to say also that in one portion of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham an account was given of the application and use of the supremacy in the government of Ireland which appealed to me in some degree to approach the language and spirit of reason and good sense. I accept the declaration of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford as being given in good faith. I hold the hon. and learned Member bound to his words, and what is a great deal more, the hon. and learned Member will bold himself bound to his declaration in its terms and spirit. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham has used in one portion of his speech some extreme language as to the authoritative sense which he intends to impose on the words of this Proviso. The right hon. Gentleman said—Do not accept it unless you accept it as the first of a series of Amendments intended to make the supremacy real and effective.But for one circumstance I should have been disposed to treat these words of my right hon. Friend as making it impossible for the Government to accept the words of the Proviso. In the earlier and pacific stage of the Debate I had entirely accepted the words of the Mover. There was one question pending between the right hon. and learned Member for Bury and myself, and that was the position the words should occupy. I had hoped that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had pledged himself to accept the proposal I made that he should bring up those words as a separate clause, the Government binding themselves to insert the clause at the beginning of the Bill—that is to say, not later than before the 3rd 1127 clause. I pointed out that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's acceptance of that arrangement, of course, implied the withdrawal of the present Amendment; but it appears that the right hon. and learned Gentleman declines to ask for leave to withdraw.
§ *SIR H. JAMES
For the third time I now interpose in this matter. I understood that I gave the right hon. Gentleman a clear and specific answer before the adjournment as to the position I occupy, and I do not understand why the question is repeated. I have ascertained that the Committee will not allow this Amendment to be withdrawn, and yet the right hon. Gentleman now brings me to the front and presses me to withdraw it in order to make it appear that I have separated myself from my friends. I cannot comply with the request made to me by the Prime Minister.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I understood that the right hon. and learned Gentleman agreed to my proposal. I understand now that he will not ask leave to withdraw. He may take that line if he chooses. I am in this position—that I had certainly accepted the terms of the Amendment, and, as the late Solicitor General truly stated when I made the request to the right hon. Gentleman, I did not make it an absolute stipulation of the condition of my acceptance. I also have this difficulty in connection with the Forms of the Committee. I believe that if I were to obtain a majority of the Committee in negativing the insertion of these words in the clause, I should thereby preclude myself from bringing up any clause, or concurring in any clause, at the close of the Bill, for discussion. I am not disposed to take that course. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has retreated, or changed his mind, and has decided not to ask for leave to withdraw the Amendment, which I thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman would ask leave to do, I am not in a position to resist the insertion of the words. But I am entitled to say that the Government will reserve to themselves a discretion later on as to the position the words shall take in the Bill, and of giving to them the entirely unexceptional form which I suggested at an earlier stage. I am desirous, in strict faith with the Committee, to accept the words which I had 1128 already accepted before the peaceable progress of the Debate was interrupted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I hope that one thing will be clearly understood, and that is that this Amendment, considered as the initial stage of a series of Amendments intended to foreshadow the limitation of the powers of the Irish Legislature, is entirely and emphatically disclaimed by the Government, and that to all the Amendments which have that character attaching to them the Government will offer a consistent and unflinching opposition. The intention of the Government is to bring about the failure of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham's object, which is to set the Committee by the ears.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the Committee is to be congratulated that the Government has, at 20 minutes past 11, announced their intention of accepting the Amendment, which, if they had accepted it at 20 minutes to 8 o'clock, would have saved 3½ hours of the lime of the House, which the Government are always telling the Opposition they are wasting. The course that the Government are pursuing is not only one which is very little calculated to promote harmony in Committee, but it is eminently calculated to waste time. Apart from that, the right hon. Gentleman has, although late in the day, accepted the Amendment proposed by the right hon. and learned Member for Bury, but he has chosen to qualify that acceptance with the announcement that he means to restrict the Amendments to words which if left alone in the Bill will be worth absolutely nothing. The right hon. Gentleman is prepared to pay his homage to what in an earlier speech he described as a hallowed thing—namely, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament—but he is not prepared to introduce one particle into the Bill by which that hallowed thing shall also become an effective thing. The Prime Minister has told the Committee, in language as clear as he or any one else could make it, that he is perfectly prepared to introduce words into the Bill to which he can appeal as showing that the Government have preserved the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. But, at the same time, he has given expression to his unalterable determination not to allow one single Amendment to be 1129 introduced into the Bill by which this nominal supremacy can be turned into a real supremacy. The statement of the Prime Minister leaves nothing to be desired, for once in a way, in point of clearness. All I wish is that the country should understand that when the Prime Minister and his Colleagues, and the hon. Gentlemen who now support him, talked to their constituents about maintaining the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, in the Home Rule Bill, they had nothing in their minds but the intention of preserving that which was absolutely ineffective in practice;—which the long experience of this country in dealing with the Colonial Legislatures shows to be nothing in practice, and which we may therefore assume that unless we succeed in modifying the Bill in Committee, or at a later stage, will reduce the powers of Parliament over the affairs of Ireland to the level of the powers it possesses over the affairs of Canada and Australia. I congratulate the Government on having at last put an end to a long and perfectly useless discussion, but I cannot congratulate them on having in any way improved their Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.
ruled that the next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for South Derry, was out of Order, as it was included in the scope of the Amendment which had just been agreed to.
§ SIR THOMAS LEA (Derry, S.)
On a point of Order, Mr. Mellor. Does not my Amendment go further than the one which has just been accepted?
I think the Amendment which has been accepted is much larger than the Amendment of the hon. Baronet, and includes that Amendment.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
rose to move to add at the end of the clause—Provided always that there shall remain and be in each House of Parliament a Minister of the Crown holding office in the Imperial Ministry responsible for Irish affairs.
§ MR. SEXTON
On a point of Order, Mr. Mellor. I wish to ask whether this Amendment, which relates to Executive Government, can be properly moved on a clause relating to the Irish Legislature; and whether it should not rather be moved on Clause 5, which relates to Executive Authority?
§ MR. SEXTON
Clause 2 relates to the Irish Legislature only. The Amendment relates to Executive officers, and therefore it has nothing to do with Clause 2, but it has to do with Clause 5, which relates to Executive authority.
I think that is so; and the Amendment ought to be moved on Clause 5, or brought up as a separate clause.
MR. J. G. LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk), moved to add the words—
Provided that no such laws be repugnant to the law of (treat Britain and Ireland.
He said that the Amendment was simply to provide that the Irish Legislature should be placed in the same condition as the Colonial Legislature occupied at the present time. The words were taken out of the Act which constituted the General Assembly of New Zealand, and which was passed in 1852.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
Mr. Mellor, I wish to ask whether the provision of this Amendment is not covered by Clause 33?
§ MR. J. G. LAWSON
said, that Clause 33 merely asserted that those Irish Acts which were not repugnant to Imperial legislation should be valid. His point was that those which were repugnant should be invalid.
§ MR. J. G. LAWSON
said, the clause he should briefly refer to was Section 53 of the Act 15 and 16 Vict., chap. 72, which constituted the General Assembly of New Zealand. In that section it was provided—It shall be competent to the said General Assembly (of New Zealand), subject, as hereinafter mentioned, to make laws for the peace, order, and good Government of New Zealand, provided that no such laws be repugnant to the law of England.That was exactly what he proposed by his Amendment for this new subordinate Legislature it was proposed to set up in Ireland. In the case of New Zealand it was provided by an Act that laws repugnant to English laws should be invalid. 1131 The same thing had been read in all laws establishing Colonial Legislatures, and that was the case up to the year 1860. In that year it was considered necessary by this Parliament to pass a general Declaratory Act setting out fully the condition of the Colonial Parliaments with regard to their power to make laws differing from the laws passed by the Parliament of England. That Act had a great and important hearing on the subject they were now discussing. It was entitled "An Act to remove doubts as to the validity of Colonial Laws." It was found necessary to clear up some doubts about Colonial Laws, and accordingly this section was enacted in the Colonial Law—Any Colonial Law which is or shall be in any respect repugnant to the provisions of any Act of Parliament extending to the Colony to which such law may relate, or repugnant to any order or regulation made under authority of such Act of Parliament, or having in the Colony the force and effect of such Act, shall be read subject to such Act, Order, or Regulation, and shall, to the extent of such repugnancy, but not otherwise, be and remain absolutely void and inoperative.That applied to every Colonial Legislature in this Empire, and the object of the Amendment was to provide that a new Legislature to be established in Ireland should be placed in the same position as all Colonial Parliaments were in. How had this matter been dealt with in practice, and how had they proceeded since 1865 to work the Colonial Legislatures with reference to that Parliament without any great amount of friction? That had always been a delicate task. He was glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer present, and he wished to read to the Committee an authority the right hon. Gentleman would recognise and approve. A letter signed "Historicus" appeared in The Times in 1879. It said—The whole question of the relations of the Imperial authority to the representative Colonies is one of great difficulty and delicacy. … Colonial independency is a mere matter of abstract right. The Mother Country has not parted with her claims of ultimate supreme authority.He read that for the purpose of showing what difficulty there had been in working the relations of these subordinate Parliaments and the Imperial Parliament. Three-fourths of that difficulty arose because, with the exception of New 1132 Zealand, in creating these Legislatures it was loft open how far they were enabled to pass laws repugnant to the laws of England. A uniform system had now been established for deciding how far laws passed by Colonial Legislatures were repugnant to the laws of England. In Todd's Essay on Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies, it was stated—All Colonial enactments are submitted to the Secretary of the Council by the Colonial Department, and, when necessary, to the Law Officers of the Crown, to ascertain their legality, and to determine whether they contain any provision which is repugnant to the law of England. And any law to which objection could be taken on the ground of repugnancy is, to the extent where it is so repugnant to Imperial legislation, absolutely void and inoperative, and should be formally disallowed by the Crown.If the Prime Minister had expressly declared he was about to place Ireland in the position of a Colony—that was to say, had enacted it in the Bill, and had put in plain words the substance of the speech he made in answer to the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Islington, they would not have had to trouble with this Amendment; because if the Irish Legislature was known and declared to be analogous to a Colonial Legislature, then the Act of 1865 would cover this matter, and the law would be as he desired it to be without any further Amendment. In such a case they would have the same method as they had in the Colonies of discovering whether the laws passed in Ireland were or were not repugnant to the English laws. It was, he understood, suggested that Ireland would never make any alteration whatever in her laws if these words were added to the Bill. But the Colonies had succeeded in passing a large number of measures in spite of being in the position he desired to place the Irish Parliament in. Canada, for instance, passed the Copyright Act, 1875, which made a great difference between the laws of Canada and those of this country. And what did they do? They came to that House and got an Act passed consenting to the Act which had been passed in Canada. So, also, the Irish Parliament, if it altered the law in such a way as to be repugnant to the law of the rest of the Kingdom, would, before they received the Royal Assent to such a Bill, have to 1133 obtain an Act from the Imperial Parliament declaring it right such a Bill should be passed. Of course, it would be competent to argue that the Bill dealt with matters exclusively Irish; and, if so, there would be no difficulty in passing the necessary measure of assent through the Imperial Parliament, so that there would not be a complete check or stop on Irish legislation, but there would be a check on legislation which they in that Parliament did not consider just. He should like to remind hon. Members that they had their constituents to consider in this matter. They had made certain promises to those constituents which they desired to fulfil. It was in them, as their Representatives, that the constituents reposed confidence, and to whom they looked to see that justice was done throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, and no British citizen was deprived of the protection of the law of the land. It might be argued that, even without the words he proposed, the Imperial law would override the law of the Local Legislature. At the time that the Merchant Shipping Act Amendment Bill, 1875, was before the House, Mr. Childers brought forward a clause with regard to British deserters. The then Solicitor General, speaking on behalf of the Conservative Party, said—There could be no doubt that the Act of the Imperial Legislature would override any Act passed by any Local Legislature.Mr. Serjeant Simon thereupon remarked that he heard that statement with amazement. Then came the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said—He hoped the Government would not endorse the high prerogative doctrine of the Solicitor General, it was exactly by such a dangerous assertion of power on the part of the Imperial Legislature that they had lost their great Colonies in America, and he thought that Crown lawyers of the present day would have profited by the experience of the past. It was both unnecessary and impolitic to raise these questions in regard to Colonies having representative institutions.At that time it was clear that the right hon. Gentleman did not think it was undoubted that a law passed by this Parliament would override a Colonial Act. Lest such doubts and difficulties should arise in the future, he desired to have it plainly put in the Bill that if the Irish Legislature passed a law repugnant to the law of England, then the law of 1134 this Parliament should overrule that of the Local Legislature. He begged to move the Amendment.
At the end of the foregoing Amendment, to add the words, "Provided that no such laws be repugnant to the law of Great Britain and Ireland."—(Mr. Grant Lawson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
said, this matter was provided for already. It was provided definitely in the Bill that any law repugnant to the law of Great Britain and Ireland shall be totally void of force. Therefore, he could not consent to insert in the Bill a provision to attain a purpose which was attained already. He remarked that when Amendments of this kind was put on the Books, they ought to be moved in the form in which they were put on the Books.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
asked did he understand the Government did not accept the Amendment?
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
submitted that that was not so. What his hon. Friend proposed to enact was that when Irish Acts differed from English Acts they should be void. As far as the 33rd clause was concerned, no enactment was proposed in regard to those Irish Acts which were repugnant to the British Acts. All that was stated was that Acts which were not repugnant to British Acts should be valid. What they desired to provide was that when these Acts were repugnant they should be invalid. He hoped his hon. Friend would adhere to the Amendment. It was an important Amendment in the light of the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had given the weight of his great Constitutional authority to the proposition, that it was not undoubted that an Imperial Act would over-ride a local Act.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
desired to be allowed to state that his hon. Friend had misapprehended what he (Sir W. Harcourt) slated in the passage he had read. What he stated was that it would 1135 be unwise to use the power of England in the way it was used when she tried to force the tea on Boston and when she passed the Stamp Act, which led to the Rebellion of the American Republic. That was a totally different proposition from saying that the Imperial Parliament had not power. He believed that most Constitutional lawyers held that, independent of the veto, they had that power, and what he stated in the passage to which the hon. Member had referred was that it was a very unwise use of that power which was exercised by the Imperial Parliament at the time to which he referred, and that was very much the doctrine which had been very ably stated that night by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. The hon. and learned Gentleman had admitted the power existed, but that it would be a very unusual thing to exercise that power upon all occasions to over-ride communities either like Ireland or like our Colonies, or like what the United States of America were. That was all he (Sir W. Harcourt) stated on the occasion referred to, and to his then statement he begged to adhere.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, there seemed to be a sort of impression on the other side of the House that they could separate English and Irish affairs, and that everything which the domestic Legislature which was to be established in Ireland would legislate upon would be exclusively Irish. But they lived too near Ireland for that possibility to exist. The County of Lancashire, for instance, was very much connected with Ireland, and its traders had a perfect right to ask that the laws under which they took contracts should not be disturbed by what the Irish Parliament might hereafter do. On this ground he supported the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 215; Noes 265.—(Division List, No. 89.)
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.