Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main Question [12th March], "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Courtenay Warner.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ * LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is my intention, with the indulgence of the House, to run briefly over the heads of the Queen's Speech as far as they refer to the legislation proposed for this year. I will run rapidly over the names of the Bills in the order in which they come. The place of honour is given to the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Bill. Then conies the Registration Bill, then the Bill for the Abolition of Plural Voting, and then the Bills for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales and the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland. The Bill for the Equalisation of Rates in London follows, and then there is the Bill giving greater powers to the Couuty Council, as announced yesterday in the House of Lords, and the measure for the exercise of local control over the liquor traffic, which was, I think, emphasised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday. There are also to be measures—which is a noun of multitude—for the promotion of conciliation in labour disputes and also for the amendment of the Factory and Mines Act and the reform of the system of conducting inquiries into fatal accidents in Scotland. There are thus 12 first-class Bills—six of them being highly controversial—and in addition there is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget, which will take a mouth to pass if one-tenth part of the rumours about it prove to be true. In addition, there is the question of the expenditure of money on the Navy, and there is also the whole of the year's Supply to be got through. Now, I put this plethora of Parliamentary Business before the House, and I ask what is likely to be the future of this Session. The House has been called together on the 12th of March, a date which I think can only be paralleled by going back to the year 1868. I must remind the House of what was the character of the Session of 1893–4. Parliament met on the 31st of January, 1893, and adjourned on the 23rd of September. It met again on the 2nd of November, and adjourned for three or four days for Christmas. It finally was prorogued on the 5th of March. It sat altogether 12 months. The real Session 165 of 1894 began on March 12, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested last night that it would take three veins possibly to pass his programme of legislation. He said—If we do not finish it this year we will finish it next year, and if we do not finish it then we will finish it the year afterwards.So that after having had a Session of 12 months we are now to have a triennial Session. With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman I consider his programme, if it is to be a Sessional programme, an insane programme; and I cannot get over the arrogance of Her Majesty's Ministers in bringing forward this unmanageable programme in the face of an Opposition which is at least 300, in imagining that the Opposition will sit for three years, and in even declaring that they shall sit for three years to pass that programme. I ask if yon see anything sensible, anything Parliamentary, anything that any-one can understand in such a proposition, laid before men of ordinary common sense? I never heard of such a proposition. You have had opportunities as we have of testing the opinion of the people as to the long Sessions of Parliament and as to the want of legislation that those long Sessions invariably produce. In my opinion the attempt to pass all these Bills will end in passing hardly any of them, and you will go to the country at the end of your Session with a programme hardly touched. You do not mention Home Rule in the Speech from the Throne; but it is certain, and you must know it, that Home Rule will never pass. The House of Lords, you say, is to be abolished; but it will never be abolished. We shall none of us live to see the abolition of the House of Lords or to see an Irish Parliament established in Ireland. I must be allowed to allude to the heavy loss which the whole of the House of Commons, and particularly the majority of it, has sustained in the retirement of the First Lord of the Treasury from Office. Gladly do I offer my humble tribute, to borrow the words used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last evening, of admiration and regret that the great Leader of the House has gone from us. For 20 years I have had the advantage of being in the House of Commons with him and of hearing many of the great speeches he uttered during that period—in fact, nearly all of them—and I have been 166 fascinated by the style and arguments of those speeches—I have sometimes been almost carried away by them; and I venture to think that I am right in saying that the value has been almost immeasurable which any Member of the House must set upon his presence in the House of Commons; and I think that one may legitimately entertain doubts whether the high standard of the customs, manners, and traditions of the House of Commons will he maintained in the future so easily, now that we have lost the advantage of his controlling hand. But if I believe the House has sustained a great and irreparable loss—a loss which cannot well he adequately expressed in words—I still further cannot measure the loss which the Chancellor of the Exchequer —the Leader of the House now, whom I am very glad to see in his new position—and his supporters have sustained, If anyone in the House could carry through an heroic policy, if anyone could ever carry through an heroic programme, it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian; but I am afraid his retirement has left a gap which will not easily be filled. I say this the more confidently because without his great name, without his great influence among the masses of the people, without his eloquence, his gifts of oratory—which were unrivalled by any in this House—without his unequalled political experience and knowledge, I fancy not only your Party, hut also your polities will suffer: and how will you get through the great tasks he has bequeathed to you I cannot altogether understand. Is there one of you who would say yourself that you could bear his shield or hurl his spear? I think not. Looking, then, to the future, and to the enormous mass of legislation which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put before us as the programme for the next three years; and, looking at the absence of enthusiasm in the country—and as far as I can judge even in your own ranks—caused, as it must be caused in any army, political or military, by the loss of a great Leader, I am confident that the task which has been foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech is beyond powers like yours to accomplish in one year, in two years, or even in three years. Are you thoroughly united on the great policy of the establishment of an Irish 167 Parliament? The utterances of one very high in authority among yon seem to me most ambiguous. Those utterances have varied within the space of four months and even in the space of a few hours. I must ask the House to allow me to quote a speech which was made on September 7 last year, on the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill in the House of Lords, by the noble Earl who is now the head of the Government. What was his attitude towards the Bill at that time? Speaking to the Lords, he said—You might have allowed the Second Reading to pass sub silentio, or have carried it with every form of protest; but when you got into Committee you might have modelled the Bill to your liking. You might have struck out every clause you disliked—perhaps you will say that would be every clause —then it would have been open to you to substitute what clauses you preferred. You might have had an opportunity—which, of course, you are not going to take—of declaring and defining your policy with regard to this great question of Ireland. The Bill might then have gone down to the House of Commons, where it would have met, no doubt, with a stout resistance. But what would ultimately have come about, what would have happened if you and they had both insisted on the mass of your Amendments? A conference might have taken place between the two Houses which might have led to a future result; and I say that the patriotic course for your Lordships to have taken, unless you are determined never to devolve any local business to Ireland, was to give this Bill a Second Heading and take an opportunity of settling with the other House. I find that suggestion receives very little favour from noble Lords opposite.That was the expression of the noble Earl on September 7. But that did not give much idea that the noble Earl was animated at that time with any great affection for Home Rule or for any particular form of Home Rule. The noble Earl added one more sentence—I speak as a witness, but not as an enthusiastic witness, in favour of Home Rule.I think it right to bring these utterances to the notice of the House of Commons. The noble Earl has since become First Minister of the Crown, but I think these words about the non-enthusiastic witness expressed his feelings at that time. But the noble Earl has made a great change, which all of you have made, and which the Secretary of State for War, who is slumbering, I am sorry to see, described as "having found salvation." The noble Earl now tills the Office of First Minister of the Crown, and this change has 168 stiffened him. The necessity for keeping the Gladstonian Party together led to the declaration at the Foreign Office on Home Rule to the Party which he leads, and which I declare he cannot go back from. It is different from his other speech, but I say that, if challenged, he would not go back from the plain English meaning of that speech. In his speech at the Foreign Office the noble Earl said—The other question that I have said requires more than a passing word is the group of questions that are known as the Irish Question. Gentlemen, to that question we are bound by every tie of honour and of policy. [Loud and prolonged cheers.] I know it would be affectation to deny that a speech of mine in the House of Lords last year has raised some doubts as to my position on that question. I think it must be to those who have read that speech in a cursory manner that these doubts occurred. It is said that all roads lead to Rome, and there are many roads by which to arrive at a conviction on Home Rule; but I venture to say that our line is as direct as any that conducts to the goal, and that it will not be any the less steadfastly pursued.
§ DR. MACGREGOR
I rise to Order. I wish to ask whether the noble Lord is in Order in discussing Home Rule, which has no part in the Queen's Speech?
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER
The noble Lord is in Order. The question which he is discussing is the absence of Home Rule from the Queen's Speech.
§ * LORD R. CHURCHILL
I advise the hon. Gentleman, who has passed most of his life in Scotland, but very little in the House of Commons, to be careful before he lays down a rule of Order to the Chair. The noble Earl continued in these words—If, gentlemen, you had any doubts in your minds as to the course that I was likely to take on this question, I think there is one pledge that this Government gives, the character of which is as significant as that of the headship which Mr. Gladstone lately imparted—I mean the presence of Mr. John Morley. [Loud cheers.]That declaration was made to his Party, and it binds the noble Earl as tightly and as permanently as any political pledge could bind an honourable statesman. Not only does he pledge himself to those who are to keep him in office by their votes, but he refers to the presence of the Chief Secretary in his Government as forcible a confirmation of his words as the Leadership of Mr. Gladstone; and as 169 proving that his mind is irrevocably fixed on the measure of Home Rule which connects with the name of Mr. Gladstone, and with the Gladsttonian Party. Therefore, I lay down—and my friends on this side of the House will see what I am driving at soon—that we, the Unionists, ought to have no doubt that the noble Earl is bound to prosecute the scheme of Home Rule which was brought in last year and rejected by the Lords; that he is identified with that scheme of Home Rule which was coupled with the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian—that scheme, and no other. This is the measure which the Chancellor of the Exchequer adheres to, if no more, certainly no less; the scheme which all his colleagues also adhere to; the scheme of 1893, which we Unionists ought to draw from the noble Earl's speech at the Foreign Office as being that which he has absolutely and irrevocably and publicly pledged himself to. That is the scheme which the Unionist Party must still take as their position for resistance in Parliament and in the country, and for resistance in the constituencies whenever the Government work themselves up to a Dissolution. It was a great and remarkable admission for the noble Karl to make when he said that it was necessary for Home Rule that the English majority should be converted. Put all that argument was, I believe, but quicksands and traps to beguile Unionists and to lull their fears. That admission was only made to cajole noble Lords and the Unionist Party. I think we can prove that there is not the slightest likelihood of the English majority being converted. The bye-elections were one indication of that; and the greatest proof of the fact that no conversion has taken place, and that none will take place, is to be found in the insuperable reluctance of Her Majesty's Government to dissolve. While the noble Earl showed to his colleagues and to his Radical supporters his fidelity to the whole Home Rule Pill of 1893 in terms which he can never get out of, he also has an eye to the Irish majority which is necessary to keep him in power; and I therefore reiterate that we must hold a firm grip on that utterance of the noble Earl as to his opinions on Home Rule. That is the key to the policy which the First Minister of the 170 Crown has embraced. It is, and it always has been, the; habit of the noble Earl at the head of the Government to try to be reserved, to try to be mysterious, and to try to bewilder instead of to speak plainly and to make his policy "understanded by the people." Put that is the platform upon which we must fight, as we have fought before, and we must never abandon it, as it is the only platform upon which we are assured of victory. I turn to another ambiguity to which I desire to draw the attention of the Government. It is also a matter mentioned in the Queen's Speech. It was sometimes said that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian—whose loss we all regret—was a little difficult to understand; but I declare that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian was in all points as clear as the sun at noon-day compared with the utterances which the noble Earl at the head of the Government sometimes gives expression to. In the Queen's Speech the subject of Scotch Church Disestablishment is mentioned. Last Session, the House will remember, the subject was left to a private Member, the Representative of one of the Divisions of Glasgow; this Session the Government have, in the same sentence in the Speech, definitely placed two measures of Disestablishment—in Wales and in Scotland—before Parliament. Obviously, therefore, they are on the same equality in the view of the Government. But the noble Earl in his speech last night, whom I suppose to be the best-informed man on the subject in Her Majesty's Parliament, said—I do not place these measures on the same foundation.He draws an elaborate distinction between the claims of Wales and those of Scotland, and confesses that be attaches importance to the Scotch Disestablishment being placed second in the sentence in the Speech. Well, the noble Earl is going to address a great meeting at Edinburgh in a few days. Do you think that the Scotch people will take an ambiguous declaration like that as to the priority of Disestablishment in Scotland and in Wales? I think the noble Earl will have to ask, "Are you in favour of Scotch Disestablishment or not?" because it is on that question that, Scotch elections will mainly turn. It is im- 171 possible to rely upon the vague words uttered in the noble Earl's speech last night as to whether the Scotch Church is to be disestablished or not. I must now deal with what the noble Earl said at the Foreign Office about the House of Lords. He adopted a form of language which will please hon. Members opposite. He spoke very much as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did, who said—It is the voice of the nation which is to decide,that is the regular, orthodox style. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—whether its Representatives are or are not to be 'controlled' by the House of Lords. But what yon have to do in the House of Commons is to give voice to the convictions and to the will of the people. The House of Lords may deal with these matters as it thinks fit; but when the House of Commons, by the voice of the majority of its Members, acting in no ambiguous manner and with no divided sound, sends up measures to the House of Lords, if they are to be mutilated, or if they are to be rejected, then the time will come when the opinion of the nation must be taken on that question. It is for you to prepare and ripen that opinion.But that is what we are saying every day. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—If I may venture to give you any counsel, it is that you shall devote yourselves to this object, and this object above all; that you shall show a united front; that the Liberal Party shall come together as one man, and that, therefore, when they speak of the majority of the House of Commons there shall be no doubt as to what that majority is and what its intention is. The intention of the majority is to execute what they think, and understand, and believe to be the mandate of the people.That is the policy which was certainly bequeathed to the Liberal Party by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian in his last address in this House, and it is the policy that was declared by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, and that is the policy which has been consecrated before the Party at the Foreign Office by the noble Earl. I do not complain. He has to maintain his position by votes in Parliament and by votes in the country. I merely remark upon the presence in the existing Cabinet of no less than six Peers. I also remind the House of Commons that, when the noble Earl was not in the Ministry, be was for mending the House of Lords, and he proposed a scheme for its reform; 172 but this year, when he is the First Minister of the Crown and has to keep together a majority, he is in favour of ending the House of Lords. In conclusion, I would remind the Party to which I have the honour to belong that it is clear that the Gladstonian policy of Home Rule and the scheme of Home Rule with which the late Prime Minister was connected, that the Gladstonian policy against the House of Lords, and that the Gladstonian Newcastle Programme have been publicly adopted by the new First Minister of the Crown. [Ministerial cheers.] Yes, that is no doubt satisfactory to you, and it is equally satisfactory to me; and I would further remind the Members of the Unionist Party that we have exactly the same Radical and revolutionary policy to oppose that we have had to oppose for the last 10 years, that the same methods of opposition which we have given to those forces must be resumed, and, in my judgment, if that is done, that opposition will be as successful in the future as it has been in the 10 years which have preceded this memorable Session.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I should be glad if the House would allow me to make one or two remarks upon the Irish policy of the Government which has been touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and has been dealt with by the noble Lord who has just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made some remarks about Ireland with the tone of which I have no fault to find. There was, however, one passage in his speech which I have heard with regret—that was, the one in which the right hon. Gentleman declared that he was prepared to receive the proposal announced in the Speech with regard to the evicted tenants in an attitude of critical suspicion. I regret that; and I was not a little astonished at that declaration, because I do not believe that there is a single man in this House who is less capable of anything like political vindictiveness than the right hon. Gentleman. Put I am bound to say that the tone of his remarks about the evicted tenants did seem to betray a temper of mind in respect to deeds or misdeeds in Ireland which, to some extent, savoured of political vindictiveness, 173 and that I am perfectly sure the right hon. Gentleman himself must know is fatal to anything like a settlement of the question which he equally must know is indispensable to the peace of Ireland. I will pass from the language of the right hon. Gentleman to that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I noticed that when my right hon. Friend received a deputation on the subject he said he desired a settlement of the question if it could be obtained upon reasonable terms. The other day the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin was still more explicit, and he used language which I venture to contrast with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and which I sincerely hope will be the spirit which will animate the reception of the Government proposal when the time comes for making it known. My right hon. Friend said—They were told that in the Session about to be opened the Government would bring in an Evicted Tenants Hill. He himself should be in favour of any well considered Bill for that purpose. It was desirable that they should be generous in their treatment of these tenants, for they went out at a time when Ireland was greatly agitated, when men lost their heads and ceased to be masters of their actions. A new arrangement was necessary, and if the Government brought in a reasonable Bill he should he willing to give it all the support he could, and he believed it would be the policy of the Unionist Party to give it an unhesitating support.That is the language of statesmanship, and J hope these words will have the weight they ought to have, considering the source whence they came, when the Bill is before the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made some remarks upon what he regarded as the controversial innuendo of the expression in the Queen's Speech "the ordinary law." The right hon. Gentleman said that after all the whole difference between what we call ordinary law and what he regards as special Criminal Law consisted in two things. First, the power to hold secret inquiry; and second, the power of change of venue. I have a pretty strong recollection of that Crimes Act, and entirely dissent from the right hon. Gentleman's description. By far the most vital difference between the ordinary law and the special Criminal Law was, not change of venue nor secret 174 inquiry, but the power of the State to try cases where the most delicate points of fact and of law come in—cases of conspiracy—before the Resident Magistrates without a jury. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have forgotten that that was the real sting and fang of the Act; and his own officers must have told him that when the time came to suspend those powers, under his rule or under that of his successor, the sting of the Act was being drawn. The right hon. Gentleman says that reverting to the ordinary law is not the secret of the tranquillity which now fortunately prevails in Ireland, and he admits that I am not likely to maintain it is so. I agree with him that the factors in the social state of Ireland are far too complex for any one simple explanation of that kind. But I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that at this time last year he prophesied, and his friends round him—especially those from Ireland—prophesied, that our action in revoking proclamations which brought these powers into operation would probably lead to trouble and turmoil. The right hon. Gentleman said that I was glad enough to use the powers of secret inquiry when I could get them. He refers, no doubt, to the secret inquiries held under the Explosives Acts. Three such inquiries have been held—one of them when the Member for Leeds was Chief Secretary, and two of them since I have been Chief Secretary. Two related to explosions at Dublin Castle, and one to an explosion elsewhere. I will confess to the right hon. Gentleman, or rather I will assure him, that I did not give my sanction to the holding of those Courts of secret inquiry with any great expectation that any good would conic of them. But I did the best that I could. In the last ease I summoned a Magistrate to preside over it with whose powers the right hon. Gentleman is well acquainted, and I gave the powers of secret inquiry a full chance. But all through the controversy, from 1887 to the present time, I have always held the same view, that secret inquiries in Ireland—unless in very exceptional cases, such as the Phoenix Park murders—have not made persons amenable to justice, and what has happened in connection with the two secret inquiries in Ireland since I have been responsible for Irish 175 administration entirely bears out that opinion. The right hon. Gentleman said that the present Government have been favoured in their administration of the law in Ireland by various circumstances —by the fact that gentlemen from Ireland have done the best they could and have used all the influence which they possessed to keep the country as quiet as possible. The right hon. Gentleman did not say last night, but he has said elsewhere, that we had had the advantage of having clergymen on our side; and he enumerated among the favourable conditions the fact that we are now confronted by an Opposition which has never done anything to severely criticise the action of the present Executive or to make their work difficult. That language was used at Manchester not many weeks ago. The right hon. Gentleman forgot that in five successive weeks at the beginning of last Session five Votes of Censure were moved, wound up with a full-dress Censure Debate moved by the right hon. Gentleman himself. Therefore, I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to take much credit to himself.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Quite true, he did not refer to it last night, but he did in his speech at Manchester. People often use on platforms language which they are slow to repeat here. The right hon. Gentleman said that he did not dispute the allegations made in the gracious Speech as to the great quietude and tranquillity which now happily prevails in Ireland; but he took the occasion to say that he had never been a profound believer in crime statistics, and I quite understand the reason which induced such a criticism. Hut those statistics have been the barometer by which all Governments have tested the state of things in Ireland; and we have the right to resort to them in the present case. I may add that all the Judges' Charges—with one exception, to which I will refer later—during the Spring Assizes bear testimony to the same fact, that Ireland is in a condition of general tranquillity which has not been equalled for many years past. Of course, all parties agree in rejoicing over that state of things. The right hon. Gentleman then complained of us for 176 hanging up Home Rule. He remarked that the suspension of the measure for Home Rule was a great injustice to Ireland, and it was said by the Leader of the Opposition in another place last night that so long as that measure is held in suspense, so long as Ireland is left in a condition of uncertainty as to what her immediate political destiny is to be, so long there can be no security for either any land transactions or any others. The facts do not support that contention. Whatever the fortunes of Home Rule may be, it cannot be denied that the temporary suspense of the prosecution of that measure has had no such disastrous or mischievous effect upon transactions in Ireland as the right hon. Gentleman seems to apprehend. The noble Lord in another place said that the proper policy in Ireland was to push forward peasant proprietorship and such schemes as light railways. But why is peasant proprietorship not pushing itself forward? Because the Act which the right hon. Gentleman passed in 1891 is, for reasons which were pointed out to him then, not working as be hoped it would do and as I hoped it would do. When we are told that tardiness in land purchase is due to a want of sense of security, everyone must know that it is not the true explanation, nor one that the most competent experts on the Land Question—men detached from Party controversies—would countenance. I will now turn to the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down, and my observations need be very few. As far as Home Rule is concerned, the speech of the noble Lord is one which certainly gave us no dissatisfaction on this side of the House. The noble Lord has perceived, and has stated in emphatic language, what it is that the now Prime Minister indicated in his speech, and what is the policy which the new Prime Minister intends to pursue. There can be no mistake in the mind of anyone who heard or who read the speech of the Prime Minister at the Foreign Office yesterday—there can be no possibility of mistake—as to the intention of the noble Earl to use all the power which his new position gives him to prosecute the cause of Home Rule. There is a reason for that which, after all, the Leader of the Opposition very plainly and justly stated. It would be contrary to all honour, 177 it would be a departure from every tradition by which public men in England for a century past have held themselves bound, if a Minister who was responsible with other Members of a Government for the production of a Home Rule scheme in 1893 were to come into power in 1894, and, without a word of retracting, to hesitate or to flinch from further prosecution of that measure. The Leader of the Opposition took that point at once, and it is an unanswerable point; and no one who knows Lord Rosebery would suspect that he is the man who is going to begin the degradation of the traditions of English statesmen and of English public life and honour. I am glad the noble Lord has stated so clearly that the Prime Minister, in terms never to be got out of, advances the policy of Home Rule. The noble Lord referred to some language used by the Prime Minister, not at the Foreign Office, but in another place. I do not wonder that all words and declarations upon this most important subject, which for so many years has aroused such passion, should be carefully scrutinised. The noble Lord referred to the declaration of the Prime Minister that before Irish Home Rule is conceded by the Imperial Parliament England will have to be convinced of its justice. Lord Rosobery was speaking in the House of Lords. He was speaking to the House of Lords in connection with the action of the House of Lords. What the action of the House of Lords in regard to the Home Rule Hill has been we here know only too well. Lord Rosebery's language meant that it was, and could be of no avail for us to submit Home Rule Bill after Home Rule Bill to the House of Lords, certain as those Pills would be, in the present temper of the House of Lords, to meet the same fate as the Bill which was sent up last year—that it could be of no avail to send such Pills up until we had made further progress in the conversion of the minds of the people. Of course, we do not entirely decline to face the facts. We know as well as you do that, there is a majority in the number of votes in this House against us; but we have a right to anticipate—and Lord Rosebery expressed his own confident anticipation—that the same process of conversion which swelled our English supporters between 1887 and 1892 will 178 take place. Lord Rosebery may be right or he may be wrong, but that is what he fold the House of Lords. Lord Rosebery said—If we can go on giving proofs and pledges that Ireland is entitled to be granted that boon which she has never ceased to demand since the Act of Union was passed, I believe that the conversion of England will not be of a slow or difficult character.We think he is right, but what he said was an anticipation of the conversion of English constituencies as distinguished from those of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland—a, conversion which will not be slow nor difficult, but will be easy and rapid. I find no inconsistency whatever between a declaration of that kind and the declaration which he gave at the Foreign Office earlier in the day. It could not be, and was not, an expression of the doctrine that in dealing with future Home Rule Pills we are to regard the only question as one whether the majority was not only Imperial but was also English. That is an impossible doctrine. It is an impossible doctrine that you should require us always, and especially in connection with Home Rule, to have a second majority. I do not wonder—I frankly confess it—at the vigilance, at the suspicion, at the jealousy on the part of the Irish Members of all sections. I do not blame them. They have been made for ages, I may say, the shuttlecock for English Parties to play with, and having at last found an English Party with English Leaders who have pledged themselves to fidelity, I say that I do not wonder, with all their confidence in our good faith, that at any whisper of dissension—such idle and groundless rumours as those referred to yesterday of dissensions in the Cabinet—they are occasionally stirred by suspicion and animated by jealousy. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin said yesterday that he found some fault with us for not instantly repealing the Coercion Act. Now, I put it to my hon. and learned Friend, and to the hon. Gentlemen who sit around him, whether there could be conceived a more absolute waste of time than for us to have brought in a Bill for the repeal of the Crimes Act last year, or to have made a promise to bring it in this year. We know perfectly well that the same 179 tenacity we exhibited in resisting the imposition of that Act would have been shown by hon. Members opposite in resisting its abrogation.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow mo to say that I founded my observation on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself, who, a few days after the Motion which be himself moved against the introduction of that Bill, said in the country that the Liberal Party would not be always in a minority, and, unless he mistook its spirit, the first duty to which it, would turn when it came into power would be the repeal of that measure.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Does the hon. Gentleman really mean that he would rather that we had brought in last year a Bill for the repeal of the Coercion Act than a Bill to grant Home Rule?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Would my hon. Friend rather have a Bill for the repeal of the Coercion Act or a Bill for the evicted tenants? I do not believe, whatever he may say—sincerely, no doubt, for the purposes of debate at the moment —that this is a serious accusation against us. Then my hon. Friend asked, "When is the Home Rule Rill to be brought in?" I was glad to hear him say, speaking for the group of which be is one, that the Irish Members did not wish to force the hands of the Government unduly: they had made no demand that Homo Rule should be included in the programme of the Session. That is language of moderation, of good sense, and of policy. In answer to his question, which is not an unfair one, I have to say that it is impossible—and the House knows it—to chalk out and draw a, hard-and-fast line of dates, hours, all definitely fixed. We frankly admit that, having brought forward proposals of such Constitutional magnitude and of such importance as the Home Rule Bill of last year, we are bound-to prosecute them with all the despatch that circumstances will allow, and that we are bound also to prosecute them in the manner and with such regard to time and season as in our judgment is most likely to commend those proposals to the favourable consideration of the country. I do not consider that a very Machiavelian position. It seems to me to be a position of 180 common sense, and one which Ministers and Governments have taken up before now with respect to measures. Whether the Government will in 1895 bring in the Bill of 1893, amended or unamended, whether they will advise a Dissolution without passing a Home Rule Bill through this House, by what distribution of business we can best devote the time of Parliament, having regard to the purposes to which this Parliament was elected—these are questions which no right hon. Gentleman on the opposite Bench will deny at this stage it is wholly premature to discuss; and it is not reasonable nor in conformity with Parliamentary practice to expect the Government to be prepared with a cut-and-dried programme. If anyone believes that there is any flinching on the part of the Government as to the policy on Home Rule, they do us a great injustice. They must know in their minds that we are as men of honour bound to that policy. Whatever our fortunes may be, whatever may happen at elections, there are those among us who will never cease to adhere to that policy. We should be the most dishonoured of political Parties if there was any inclination in the mind of one of us to flinch or recede from the policy which Mr. Gladstone first pressed upon us. I can only say for my own part, as the noble Lord has mentioned my name, that, so fat as I am concerned, every day of my experience of Ireland and of Irish government strengthens and deepens my conviction that all we find most troublesome in the facts, or in the defects, if you like, of the Irish character, in the working of some Irish institutions, can only be removed, can only be mitigated and modified, by giving Ireland those habits of responsibility which self-government alone can give, and which self-government has given to the people of this Island.
§ MR. J. REDMOND (Waterford)
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have often had occasion to feel for the difficulties of the position occupied by the right hon. Gentleman as Irish Secretary in this Government. Those difficulties have been enormous, but I confess that I do not think that during his experience a more difficult or—if I might be permitted to say so without offence—a more humiliating task ever fell to him than when he found himself put up on this occasion to try 181 and remove by the strength of his own character for friendliness to Ireland the bad impression which had been created by the ambiguous and halting phrases on this Irish Question used by his own new Chief yesterday in another place. I bad hoped I would not have found it necessary to take part at all in the general discussion on the Address from the Throne, and I had intended to have waited for a later stage to move the Amendment of which I had given notice; but events have taken such a turn that I feel bound to let that Amendment be moved by some other Member and to intervene at once in the discussion in order to give expression to the dissatisfaction, the distrust, and the alarm which have been inspired in my mind, at. any rate, by the declarations that have been made recently by Ministers, and as much by what they have not said as by what they have. We recognise, of course, the fact that as the Home Rule Question stands at this moment we cannot, in Ireland, hope to have it carried into law without another General Election, and without a verdict being given in its favour by the people of these Kingdoms. But the one tiling we were afraid of was that that appeal to the constituencies would be indefinitely postponed, and while indefinitely postponed the Home Rule Question would be put on the shelf and shifted back from the position of urgency to which it had been raised by the labours and sacrifices of the, late Mr. Parnell, and that Ireland would find, as the necessity in the minds of Englishmen for considering this question disappeared, that the chances of obtaining a settlement of it would recede altogether from their views. Same of the dangers which we foresaw from such a change of policy have already arisen. The Leadership of the English Home Rule Party has passed from the right hon. Member for Midlothian, whose pledges have been explicit and clear, into the hands of men of whom I must say that we have no strong faith in their devotion to the cause of Home Rule, and whose declarations upon the subject have been halting and ambiguous. I do not refer to the Chief Secretary in these observations. He will not, perhaps, take it as a compliment for me to single him out. But I have never thought that he entertained anything else than an honest desire to prosecute this cause, and 182 I am convinced that he would not lend himself permanently to any plan for defeating the hopes of Ireland. But it is perfectly clear, from the speeches of the new Prime Minister and the Leader of the House of Commons last night, that the Home Rule Bill will not be introduced again into either House of Parliament during the existence of this Parliament. If I am wrong in this the right hon. Gentleman can easily contradict me, and say that if the Government in their wisdom decide to postpone the appeal to the constituencies they will reintroduce the Bill, and thus keep it as an urgent subject before the public mind. But they have made no such declaration, and it is clear that the intention of reintroducing the Bill in this Parliament has been abandoned. It is also perfectly elear that the life of this Parliament is to be prolonged indefinitely. The Leader of the House said last night that the Dissolution would lake place when the I time is ripe, and the time apparently will be ripe when the whole of the Newcastle Programme shall have been sent up to the House of Lords. The official organ of the Liberal Party. The Daily News, says to day that, the phrase as to the Dissolution taking place when the time is ripe means that a Dissolution is only to take place when every item of the Newcastle Programme has been passed by a majority in this House, and submitted to the House of Lords. This Parliament is to last until this House has passed Welsh and Scotch Disestablishment, and, I suppose, the Local Veto Bill. In face of all that, how anyone can pretend that the life of this Parliament, according to the present intentions of the Government, is not to be indefinitely prolonged, and Home Rule during that time put upon the shelf, passes my comprehension. If matters stood then; the situation would be serious enough from the Irish point of view, and in my opinion it would be intolerable. This Home Rule Question is urgent; you have said on hundreds of platforms in England that it is urgent, and will not brook delay. You have even said that it was so urgent that no reform for the Liberal Party or English people could be carried until the Irish Question was first settled. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary complimented my hon. Friend the Member for the 183 Harbour Division of Dublin on the moderate and reasonable character of his statements with reference to this Session. I submit that we have never taken up an unreasonable attitude in this matter. If the Government believe that they will have a better chance of carrying the General Election if they pass certain English Bills, or if these Bills are rejected by the House of Lords, well and good. They have already passed one of those Bills, and another of them has been rejected by the House of Lords. The Government have now this Session before them. I presume that the Evicted Tenants Bill will be the first measure dealt with this Session, although that is not yet certain, because The Daily News—in the silence of the Ministers upon the point I must quote their organ—said the other day that the fact that the Evicted Tenants Bill was the first mentioned in the Queen's Speech did not mean that it would be first dealt with. But that Bill will not occupy a long time, and you will have the remainder of the Session in which to pass a Registration Bill. At the end of that time, if you are not prepared to keep the Home Rule Question alive by bringing it into the House of Commons again, you can then dissolve Parliament, having passed your pressing English Bills, or having got, in consequence of their rejection elsewhere, your grievance against the House of Lords. What we ask for is a declaration of intention upon these points. At present we only know two things: The first is that Parliament will not be dissolved, and the second that the Home Rule Bill will not be heard of again in this Parliament. That position is an absolutely intolerable one from the Irish point of view, and it is impossible to avoid the reflection that an extraordinary change has come over the fortunes of the Home Rule cause since the days when the cry "Ireland blocks the way" was heard on Liberal platforms. The Leader of the House of Commons said last night that Home Rule hung up was at any rate better than coercion in operation. The right hon. Gentleman sketched out a comfortable little programme for his Party in Ireland for the next few years, its items being Home Rule hung up, Ireland absolutely peaceful and contented, the Irish Members trustful and faithful, and 184 British Liberal measures quietly passed into law with the aid of those Irish Members. What occurs to mo is that that is an exceedingly pleasant and profitable programme for the Liberal Party, and if it came into operation the temptation would be irresistible not, to disturb that programme by taking down Home Rule from the shelf on which it had been placed. But the situation is really far worse than this, because it appears from the declaration of the Prime Minister last night not merely that Home Rule is to be shelved and a Dissolution indefinitely postponed, but that after the next General Election, even if the Liberal Party should obtain a majority in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and in Great Britain, we are not to get Homo Rule unless, forsooth, there should be a majority of English Members in its favour. I listened most attentively to the Chief Secretary's defence of his Chief in the other House. The right hon. Gentleman does not like the expression "hanging up of Home Rule," and his phrase is "the temporary suspension of the prosecution of Home Rule." He congratulates himself on the fact that this "temporary suspension of the prosecution of Home Rule" has not had a bad effect in Ireland. Ireland, be says, is still peaceful and trustful: Ireland is still crimeless. What is the almost necessary inference to be drawn? That if Ireland was not peaceful, trustful, and crimeless it would be more difficult for you to persist in your "temporary suspension of the prosecution of Home Rule." The right hon. Gentleman says that the Prime Minister, after all ought not to be taken too seriously. ["No, no!"] Yes, these were his words; and he says it ought to be borne in mind that the Prime Minister spoke in the House of Lords. He also says that he does not complain that the Irish Members should be suspicious even of a whisper. A whisper is his convenient description of the first official speech of a new Prime Minister. But what is the right hon. Gentleman's explanation of Lord Rosebery's extraordinary statement? He says that Lord Rosebery did not mean what the words he used ordinarily mean—that he did not mean that a majority in England for Home Rule would be necessary, and adds that, after all, it can be of no avail to submit Home Rule. 185 Bills to the Lords until some further progress shall have been made with the conversion of England. In view of this explanation I will ask leave to read the words that were used by Lord Rosebery.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I rise to Order. I wish to know whether it is in Order to quote in this House the words of an English Minister spoken during this Session in the House of Lords?
§ MR. J. REDMOND
It would be unfair to prevent me from reading the whole passage, considering that the Chief Secretary was allowed to read half of it. This is what the Prime Minister said—The noble Marquess made one remark upon the subject of Irish Home Rule with which must confess myself in entire accord. He said that before Irish Home Rule is conceded by the Imperial Parliament England, as the predominant member of the partnership between the Three Kingdoms, will have to be convinced of its justice.I repudiate this idea of predominant partnership. If Ireland is to be a portion of the United Kingdom she must be so on an equal footing with England, and it is a preposterous and insulting doctrine to say that the votes of Irishmen as partners in the Empire are not of the same value as the votes of Englishmen, Scotchmen, or Welshmen. Lord Rosebery goes on—That may seem to be a considerable admission to make—for apparently the Prime Minister was aware that he was making an important political pronouncement—because your Lordships will know that the majority of English Members of Parliament. elected from England proper, are hostile to Home Rule.Then comes the ground and the hope on which Ireland is to remain quiet and satisfied during the remainder of the years of this Parliament, for Lord Rosebery continues—I believe that the conversion of England in regard to Home Rule depends on one point, and one point alone, and that is the conduct of Ireland herself. I believe that if we can go on showing this comparative absence of agrarian crime; if we can point to the continued harmony of Ireland with the great Liberal Party; if we can go on giving proofs and pledges that Ireland is entitled to be granted that boon which she has never ceased to 186 demand since the. Act of Union was passed, I believe that the conversion of England will not be of a slow or difficult character.in the face of the only hope for Ireland being that she is to go on indefinitely on good behaviour, and in trust and loyalty to the great Liberal Party, can anyone truthfully say that the position of the Home Rule cause has not altered enormously since the time when the aged Leader of the Liberal Party declared throughout Great Britain that the question of Home Rule must be settled because it blocked the way, and because the Liberal Party would not be able to achieve any reforms until Ireland had been satisfied? It would be idle to pretend that the effect of the statement of Lord Rosebery has been modified or removed by the chivalrous speech of the Chief Secretary. The speech of the Prime Minister, in my opinion, entirely changes the whole aspect of the Home Rule Question. If Lord Rosebery is right in his view about the English majority, then the House of Lords were right in rejecting the Home Rule Bill. We were promised that, if the Lords dared to reject the Bill, all Great Britain would be made to ring with a cry for the abolition of the House of Lords. We were promised that, under such circumstances, the Government would at once pass the Bill again in an Autumn Session and send it again to the Lords, and that, if the Lords dared again to reject it, all England should be made to ling with their misconduct. Was all that talk mere moonshine? We know that the promised agitation did not come off—that not even a, Parish Vestry passed a resolution denouncing the House of Lords for rejecting the Bill. We know, too, that if Lord Rosebery is right about this English majority, then all this talk about the House of Lords and about the agitation against it must have been mere hollowness and insincerity, then not only is Home Rule hung up in this Parliament, but no Government can ever seriously introduce another Home Rule Bill until an English majority in its favour has been first obtained. Ireland, North and South, may be united as one man in favour of Home Rule, and Scotland and Wales may be united in favour of if, and it may be a just thing to grant; vet, according to the doctrine of Lord Rosebery, Ireland is not to have it if 187 there is only a majority of one among the Representatives of England opposed to it. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like to believe that that is Lord Rosebory's view. I do not like to believe it; but I have read his words, and those words are plain and distinct. I denounce this change of attitude as a backing out on the part of Lord Rosebery on this Irish Question—as a giving away of the whole position upon which the Homo Rule cause was founded by the right hon. Member for Midlothian, and I say that the declaration about England being (he predominant member of the partnership is humiliating and insulting to Ireland. I know that the views of Lord Rosobery on this matter do not, coincide with the declaration made by his colleagues at other times. In reading to-day one of those incisive and vigorous speeches which the Home Secretary is in the habit of making, I find that the right hon. Gentleman in August, 1892, denounced in this House the present Leader of the Opposition because he had ventured to say some time ago what Lord Rosebery has now said in the House of Lords. The Home Secretary said—What does the right hon. Gentleman mean? It is not disputed, as I have said, that we have a majority of the whole of the electors of the United Kingdom. It is not disputed that in three of the four component parts of the United Kingdom—namely, Scotland. Ireland, and Wales—we have a majority also. 'But,' says the right hon. Gentleman in effect, 'notwithstanding that majority of yours, I am entitled, speaking in the name of the people of England who have cast their votes the other way, to claim to ignore and override the opinion of the mass of the people of the United Kingdom, or even, if need be, to summon to my aid that pliable instrument which the Constitution has placed at my disposal for the purpose of making the will of the English minority prevail.' I protest in the name of sound Constitutional principle against this disintegrating and anarchical doctrine. I protest, in the name of the unity of this still United Kingdom, against this fantastic development of an abstract Separatist logic. So long as we have an Imperial Parliament, and so long as in that Imperial Parliament, as I trust and believe will always be the case, every part of the United Kingdom is represented, so long the Government and the policy of the Government must be determined by the vote of the majority. Yes, by the vote of the majority; and by the vote of the majority I mean a majority of the whole. Under the right hon. Gentleman's theory England is to have all the advantages of the most extreme form of Home Rule without any of the counterbalancing checks and safeguards of Imperial control.188 It is an interesting question for us to determine whether the Home Secretary is still of that opinion, and whether in expressing that opinion he expresses the opinion of the Government, or whether the opinion of the Government is now represented by its titular head, the Prime Minister? So far as we are concerned, it is utterly impossible for us to overlook this extraordinary and deliberate statement made in the House of Lords yesterday. One word more and I will have finished. There is another matter about which we have heard absolutely nothing in any of the Ministerial statements, and that is whether Lord Rosebery, in speaking of Home Rule, means the same thing as the Chief Secretary, and the same thing as we mean. Does he mean the Home Rule Bill which was passed through this House last year? I notice that neither he nor the present Leader of the House has said one single word about standing firmly by that Rill. On the contrary, we have had many disquieting circumstances on the matter. We know the views of the Leader of the House—at least, we know them from time to time. We know that he was a thoroughgoing Home Ruler in 1886, but after the Parliamentary crisis he made a speech in which he denounced Mr. Parnell's ideas of Home Rule as Fenian Home Rule. Yet last year he supported a Bill which contained almost all the prominent demands Mr. Parnell put forward. Has the right hon. Gentleman gone back to his ideas of Fenian Home Rule or not? He has said nothing to us as to what kind of Homo Rule he is now going to stand by. And what Lord Rosebery has said is worse than silence on the question, because he sounded the note of compromise so far back as the Second Reading of the Homo Rule Bill last year. He clearly showed that his view of the settlement of the question was a compromise on that Bill. The Irish Members accepted the Bill, but avowedly and openly, as a compromise upon what they considered they were entitled to. It therefore comes to this—that Lord Rosebery's ideas of a settlement of Home Rule is a compromise on that compromise. If that be so, then I say that the situation of the question is a lamentable one from an Irish point of view. What was the phrase used by Lord Rosebery last night? It was "local 189 self-government for purely local affairs." He would not trust himself apparently to use even the words "national self-government," or "Home Rule," or "autonomy." By "Home Rule" we Irishmen mean something move than a purely local self-government for purely local affairs. We mean by "Home Rule" a Government which would he consistent with the supremacy of this Parliament and with our position in the Empire, a national Government with something of the pride and the honour attaching to a, national Government and a national Parliament; and therefore I say that the silence of the Leader of the House as to what he now means by Home Rule, and the words used by Lord Rosebery last night, are calculated to inspire us with suspicion and with doubt. All I have to say in conclusion is this: if it be the plan of the Government to put this question conveniently on the shelf for the next three or four years, and to go on quietly and smoothly here with English Hills, just as if no Irish Question were clamouring for settlement at your doors, just as if Ireland were prosperous, contented, and happy, and if it be their belief that Ireland will acquiesce in that view and maintain this peace and order and tranquillity which they desire, I think they will find they are living in a fool's paradise. For my part, I have no doubt whatever in my mind that as soon as the Irish people realise that this is the programme of the Liberal Party a spirit will arise in Ireland which will make the government of Ireland by England at all, on the predominant partner theory at any rate, an absolute impossibility; and, for my part, if this is the Programme of the Liberal Party, the sooner that day conies, in my opinion, the bettor.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I venture to ask the attention of the House to a few words at this period of the Debate, because it is to the general Debate that I wish to address myself. At the outset let me say that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary referred to certain language he said I had used with respect to the Evicted Tenants Bill in answer to a deputation, in which I said I should gladly see any reasonable settlement. The words themselves are so slightly compromising that it is hardly worth while to correct them, but so far as I can recollect I have never 190 received any such deputation or uttered any language at all upon the subject.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
was understood to say that the right hon. Gentleman had not accurately gathered what he had said.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Possibly the right hon. Gentleman is right. I hope I may, in the first instance, be allowed, on behalf of my friends as well as myself, to associate ourselves with all that has been said as to the great loss that the House of Commons has sustained by the withdrawal of its most illustrious Leader. We are quite as conscious as any can be that our Debates will lose very greatly in colour and force and dignity owing to his absence. It would ill become me—it would be a presumption which I certainly will not venture on—if I were to attempt to add anything in praise of his character and abilities. All I would wish to say is that at a time when, unfortunately, voices are sometimes raised in order to envenom political differences and to transform them into personal animosities, that we who were his loyal followers, but who for some seven years have found ourselves, much to our own regret, compelled to come into sharp conflict with him, would now desire to forget the incidents of that contest, and only remember the great services he has rendered to this House and the country. It is natural, I think, that more than usual interest should be taken in the Speech from the Throne and in the commentaries on that Speech, which have been made in another place and at the meeting at the Foreign Office. We have a change of Government—a, new Prime Minister. It can well be imagined that there are, or there have been, some people who have thought that with a change of Minister there would also cornea change of policy: and I do not think I shall be accused of being hypercritical when I say that the speech which Lord Rosebery made on the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill did lend itself to an impression, which I believe was widespread at the time, and the possibility of which he himself has recently admitted, that he was a Laodicean in regard to Home Rule, and that he was lukewarm in respect to what has been the leading item in the Programme of his Party. But, Sir, we have been now assured that that speech was en- 191 tirely misconstrued. It appears that to the careless eye and the careless observer it was so studded with jokes that such a comparison might be distracted by the laughter which these jokes produced, and the true inwardness and meaning of the speech might thereby be missed. That is a warning to all of us not to be too funny. But I confess that I have never been under any illusion and have never supposed that the change which we have witnessed would or could involve a change of policy. Whatever Lord Rosebery's private opinions may be, circumstances are too strong for him, and prescribe absolutely the course which he must take; and I quite understand the argument which has been used with so much effect to-day by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, an argument which he used with so much vehemence and emphasis that I almost thought he addressed it not merely to the House of Commons, but also to the House of Lords. I quite understand that argument—that I it is quite impossible that Lord Rosebery can have accepted the Leadership of his Party in order to betray it. I quite I understand that it would be an insult to him to assume that by any possibility he could have varied in the slightest from the proclamation of policy which was made by his predecessor. If there are any doubts upon the subject they would, of course, have been dispelled by the speech made at the meeting at the Foreign Office. The world was told then that the Government stood where they did—that there is no change in the measures of the Government—and that, I venture to say, is the answer to the hon. Member who preceded me. Of course the measures are the measures of the late Government, and it is to them, and to every important principle in then), to these actual measures, that the Government is strongly committed. Lord Rosebery went on to say that the measures of 1893—and they, of course, include the Home Rule Bill of 1893—remain the exposition of the policy of the Liberal Party, and we have no intention of receding from any one of them.Those words, I think, are sufficiently clear and precise, and accordingly I feel that we are face to face with the old policy. What that policy is is not so clear. We know it is the old policy, but we did not know, oven when we had the 192 old Leader, exactly what that policy was. Hon. Members who have been to Egypt will recollect that it is very common there for experts to take impressions of the hieroglyphics in the temples and ancient monuments of Egypt, and these impressions are technically called "squeezes." These "squeezes" represent all the mystery and all the imperfection of the inscriptions they endeavour to copy. Now we know the policy of Lord Rosebery is a "squeeze" the policy of Mr. Gladstone. We are face to face, thou, with the old Gladstonian Party, although the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian is no longer there. The play is the same, but the part of Hamlet has been cut out. The Party who are chiefly concerned appear to be perfectly satisfied with this result. They congratulate themselves as though they had improved their position. If they are satisfied, so are we. We are glad that we have a distinct issue upon which once more we can meet them, and I cannot help saying that, while we regret his absence from this House, we are very glad that we have lost our most redoubtable opponent. Everybody, then, for once in a way, is satisfied, except the hon. Member for Northampton, who must be, I am sure, at this time an object of universal sympathy. The hon. Member for Northampton has been going about with his lantern looking for an honest Radical. he has been preaching in the wilderness, and not even the Member for Camborne (Mr. Conybeare) would come to listen to him. He stands alone, a solitary monument of what has been, and all I can say to comfort him is that he must recollect that it is not the first time that "Truth" has been left at the bottom of a well. But although I think it (dearly established that the measures of the Government and the policy of the Government is not changed, there is something to be said as to the time at which the most important part of that policy is to be brought forward. Has not that been a little postponed, if not by the speech at the Foreign Office, at all events by the speech in another place? My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary devoted himself to expounding the speeches of his Leader. It appears that the value of Lord Rosebery's speeches lies in the application of them; and I must say that the explanation of the 193 speech in the House of Lords was an explanation that explained nothing. For what is it that Lord Rosehery has said? He has practically postponed the reconsideration of the Home Rule Question, while of course he is still a devoted follower of the policy. He has postponed its application until England, the predominant partner, has been convinced. "Oh!" says my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, "but that will be a very rapid performance." What do you mean by a rapid performance? Do you think that that will take place, and, if it docs take place, how will you know that it has taken place before a Dissolution? It is perfectly certain, therefore, that, even according to the gloss that has been put upon Lord Rosebery's language by the Chief Secretary, Home Rule is absolutely placed upon the shelf during the continuance of the present Parliament. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, hut then we are told that Home Rule will come forward again when circumstances will allow, when it is thought the time is favourable for its further prosecution. Home Rule is jam yesterday and jam to-morrow, but it is never jam today. The Government are committed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government to postpone absolutely all further consideration of what has been the prime object of their policy, of what is the cardinal issue, the great dividing line between Parties, while, forsooth, we are to be invited for Party purposes to consider the long list of measures in the Newcastle Programme. We are to spend this year, next year, and the year after next in this work in spite of the fact that one of the cardinal doctrines of the Newcastle Programme is triennial Parliaments. We are to spend three years more of the time of Parliament in proceeding with the measures which are repeated year after year in the Queen's Speech. We know what that means. This is part of the process of converting a majority of the British people. The predominant partner is to be drugged with the Newcastle Programme in order that afterwards he may be able to swallow Home Rule. All these measures are baits for the British electorate. They are allurements by means of which the British elector may be induced to adopt what otherwise it is perfectly certain he would scornfully re- 194 ject, and therefore we have in this policy of the Government—in these tactics which I do not think are straightforward tactics—a particular comment on another statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary when he told us at Newcastle that every single vote given for British legislation was two votes given for Home Rule.
§ An hon. MEMBER: It was at Manchester.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, at Manchester. Then that is the light in which we must consider the policy to which the Government invites our attention. Our course, at all events, as Liberal Unionists is made absolutely clear. We separated from the Liberal Party because we would not consent to the establishment of such a Parliament in Dublin as that which has just been indicated by the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. J. Redmond). We have not changed our view upon that subject, and our duty will now be to prevent this great issue from being obscured and to secure as quickly as we possibly can that appeal to the people to whose decision Lord Rosehery himself has referred us.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he thought he was one of those who, as the right hon. Gentleman had hinted, was not particularly satisfied with the present arrangement. He had thought that as a question alike of principle and of expediency the Prime Minister should he in the House of Commons, and he took it that what had happened that night clearly proved that he was right. For what had they been doing that evening? They had during the past two hours been discussing what was the meaning of certain words used by the Prime Minister in the House of Lords. For his own part, he was an exceedingly simple person. He generally attached to words used the plainest moaning. He confessed that he entirely agreed with his hon. Friend opposite when he said that the position—the Parliamentary position—of Home Rule was entirely changed by the words used by the Prime Minister yesterday. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members cried "Oh!" but what were the facts? Did they understand for a moment before they were told so yesterday that Home Rule was to be dependent upon an English majority being in favour of it? 195 If so, why did they waste their time over: a Home Rule Bill last Session? If so, why had he and many others been round the country denouncing the House of Lords? He had hoard many Conservatives justify the House of Lords, but he never heard such a complete justification of that House as that which was made by the Earl of Hosebery yesterday. For his part, he did not understand all this discussion about words. He did not trouble himself about what Lord Rosebery, or Lord Salisbury, or any other Beer thought or said about the subject. He (Mr. Labouchere) stood whore the Member for Midlothian stood when he left that Treasury Bench? What was their position then? They asserted that Home Rule was the absolute right of Ireland; they asserted that when there was a majority from the United Kingdom in favour of Home Rule, it was the duty of that majority to give to Ireland what was its absolute right, and now it was absurd to tell him that there was not a difference if they were told that whether there was a majority of the United Kingdom in favour of Home Rule or not that which Lord Rosebery called "a scheme of local self-government"—this whittled-down Home Rule—should not ever pass till there was a majority of Englishmen in its favour. He should like to have that majority, of course; but he considered it the duty of the Party of which he was a Member to bring in a Home Rule Bill whatever might be the view of the majority of the English people or of the gentlemen who sat on the other side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had told him that he (Mr. Labouchere) had his sympathy. He was always delighted to have any gentleman's sympathy. In this particular case he could assure the right hon. Gentleman he did not need it. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman why. Where did he (Mr. Labouchere) go for sympathy? Well, where did the right hon. Gentleman go? He went to Birmingham. He (Mr. Labouchere) went to his constituents at Northampton. He would tell the light hon. Gentleman that-public opinion was as sound in Northampton as it was unsound in Birmingham. He (Mr. Labouchere) had been to the only masters that he recognised—his constituents. And he had come back not 196 only with a full assurance that his constituents agreed absolutely with him in his protest as a Radical against their having put over them a Premier who was in the House of Lords, but they had given him a mandate, and that mandate he was going to fulfil. They expected in the Address something about the House of Lords. They were very much disappointed, and he suspected that a great many other people were disappointed also. They felt that it was his duty—a duty which he most willingly accepted—if there was no sound declaration in the Address against the House of Lords to move an Amendment to the Address, and that Amendment he was going to move. Now, they had had a good many utterances from responsible gentlemen in the Ministry in regard to the House of Lords, but what did these utterances amount to? They amounted to this—that something ought to be done at some time. What that something was that ought to be done or when it was to be done they did not know. Very possibly, after this assurance in regard to Home Rule in Ireland, these declarations would be supplemented by a statement that they were only to deal with 'the matter of the House of Lords as soon as the House of Lords were induced to agree with them on the subject. He was not going to inflict on the House an indictment against the House of Lords. He had more than once in previous Parliaments spoken on the subject, and he had already stated his views of the recent conduct of their Lordships' House. It would be admitted that the House of Lords consisted of hereditary Peers, Bishops, and gentlemen who had been sent up some because they were brewers, some because they were bankers, some because they were rich nonentities, and some because they were failures in the House of Commons, and it was a remarkable thing that the last three Lords whom the Liberal Party had selected for this honour—Sir Hussey Vivian, Mr. Stuart Rendel, and Mr. Cyril Fowler—who, unless he was mistaken, qualified themselves for being hereditary legislators by voting for his Resolution, declaring that there ought to be no hereditary legislators in this self-governing country. These were the sort of men they made Lords. He said nothing against these gentlemen. No 197 doubt there were gentlemen in the other House, and no doubt they had many estimable private qualities, but unquestionably they were all from one class, and that was the capitalist class. Some had capital in land; some had capital in cash, and not only was that the case, but they were all Conservatives—and when he used the word "Conservative" he meant it entirely in the Party sense of the word. As for Radicals, if an angel were to appear from Heaven and say, as was said of the City of the Plains, that unless three just Radicals were to be found in the House of Lords the House of Lords would be destroyed, why it would be destroyed. The theory of an Upper Chamber, as he had always understood it, was to prevent hasty and impulsive legislation: to give the country time to think twice over a matter before it was absolutely decided; to step in when the Lower Chamber proceeded ultra vires and brought on any matter to which the country had not assented, and it also had the cardinal duty of revising Hills in a non-political sense. A worse set of men to discharge these duties than the House of Lords could not possibly be brought together. They were not independent of Party feeling or class feeling. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian in his last speech in that House said the position was intolerable. How did they understand it? Why they thought it was a call to arms. They believed they were going to fight the House of Lords, and they responded with rapturous cheers to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. The Leader of the Opposition frankly and fairly took up the glove; he came forward like Goliath the Philistine and defied them; he told their array that they were very brave in words, but he did not think they would be very brave in deeds. As yet the right hon. Gentleman had been right. They all anticipated immediate action—action prompt and drastic upon this matter. He would not go back beyond 1880. In that year the Liberal Party gained the elections: the country was entirely with them. A Liberal Ministry was formed, and they brought in their programme. One part of it was a Hill for the government of Ireland, it Hill providing for compensation for disturbance. What happened? 198 That Pill was thrown out in the House of Lords. Mr. Forster, the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, attributed all the difficulties, all the troubles, and all the outrages that ensued in Ireland to the fact that the Government having the responsibilities of Office were yet not able to carry out their own government in Ireland. In 1893 they again had the majority in the country, but what happened? During last Session three important measures had passed that House. The Home Rule Hill was passed after a, long discussion, but was thrown out by the House of Lords in a day or two. The Employers Liability Hill was so emasculated in the House of Lords that the Government thought it was not justified in going on with it after it came back with the Lords' Amendments. How was if they had been able to pass the Parish Councils Bill? Because the Duke of Devonshire told the House of Lords that it would be a serious matter for them to throw out three important measures in one Session. Hut they had to pass that Hill in a somewhat emasculated form. Now what was it that was proposed? One of the Hills mentioned was in reference to registration. The Duke of Devonshire had already told them he believed they meant to gerrymander the constituencies in the Registration Hill and that the Lords would take care to throw that Bill out. The Conservative Party always considered giving more power to the people as gerrymandering the constituencies. So that that Bill would only be passed by that House in order to be thrown out in the House of Lords. Then as to the Welsh Disestablishment Bill. Would any gentleman in the secrets of the House of Lords get up and say that if the Commons passed that Hill the Lords would pass it and send it up to Her Majesty for approval? They all knew perfectly well that this Session again must be absolutely wasted, because the Hills they passed would be thrown out in the House of Lords. Hut it might be said that after the General Election, which must occur at some time or other, the Lords would pass those Rills which they had rejected because they would see that the country was with the Commons. Not in the least; for the Lords—the Conservatives—had invented a new doctrine to meet this difficulty; they 199 said that I the Liberals always submitted several issues to the country, and that if they got a majority it was by a species of log-rolling, one elector voting on one issue and another man on another issue; so that the real effect of the Election, no matter what the result might be, was not to show that the people were in favour of all those popular issues, but that possibly while they were in favour of one they were against another. ["Hear, hear!"] "Hear, hear," said the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but he would ask had not the Conservative Party adopted the same doctrine? Had not they done a little log-rolling between the parsons and the beer-house keepers, the parsons looking after their loaves and fishes, and the publicans after their beer? Every one on that side of the House, whether English, Irish, Scotch, or Welsh Representatives, desired to end the House of Lords. He was sick of seeing popular measures destroyed in the House of Lords—sick of pouring good Radical liquor into a Tory vat. They had been told it was necessary that a few more object-lessons should be presented to the country. Object-lessons they had had enough, and the Government ought to consider they had had enough. Were they not aware of the resolutions passed at so many public meetings? Of course, it was of no use to speak to gentlemen opposite, but he could assure them there was not a single Radical in the country who was not of the opinion that there had been sufficient object-lessons for dealing with the House of Lords, and who did not desire to go in and fight it. Now, how were they acting with regard to this intolerable position? The only way to deal with it was to put an end to the constant opposition which produced it. They wanted taken away absolutely from the House of Lords the power to interfere with the declared will of the country through its Representatives in that House. For his own part, he was in favour of the total abolition of the House of Lords. He knew of no reason why the Bishops of one particular Church in this country should for a single day longer interfere with the declared wishes of the people. It had been suggested that they ought to have a suspensory veto. He would be disposed to vote in favour of a suspensory veto provided it were Sessional; but he 200 could not suppose for a moment that the Lords would be content to appear simply like rooks in a rookery—simply to caw and complain; for there was no doubt that if the House of Commons were to decide in favour of a measure in one Session, they would not alter their opinion in the next because 500 gentlemen, who represented absolutely nobody, had protested against their action. Practically, a suspensory veto was, to all intents and purposes, the same as the abolition of the House of Lords, because it absolutely did away with their right to interfere with the decisions of the Commons. It would put a measure off for a Session, but he regarded that delay as a mere waste of time. Certainly if a measure for a suspensory veto were supported by a majority of the Members on that side of the House, he would not refuse to vote for it merely because he was himself in favour of a still larger and stronger measure for dealing with the House of Lords. Three things were absolutely essential in the settlement of the question between the House of Lords and the people of this country: first, that that House should be strengthened; secondly, that Bills passed by the Commons should become the law of the land; and, thirdly, that if the Commons devoted themselves to a measure urged and agitated for by people outside who called upon them to vote for it, they should make it absolutely certain that the Bill would not be rendered nugatory by the opposition of the House of Lords. They had often heard that it would require a revolution to put an end to the House of Lords, but there was nothing in the world more simple. There were Constitutional means of overcoming the resistance of that House. It had been suggested that the Government for the time being should only issue writs of summons to those Lords who were in accord with them. Well, that would not be un-Constitutional. Our old Kings were accustomed to do it, though the practice had fallen into desuetude. Hut, for his own part, he thought the simpler course would be to create 500 Lords.
accepted the phrase—and cook them in their own 201 juice. Nobody would suggest that that was un-Constitutional. In the reign of George I. a Bill was brought in to limit the power of the Crown to create Peers. That Bill was passed in the House of Lords and came down to the Commons, where it was opposed by Sir Robert Walpole and others, who based their opposition on this: if it were impossible for the Crown to create Peers in order to pass any particular measure upon which the Peers were in opposition to the will of the country, the Lords would be absolute masters of the situation; and on that ground the Bill was thrown out. But it was unnecessary to go back to the time of George I., for in the reign of William IV., when the Reform Bill was passed, the then Prime Minister obtained permission to create a sufficient number of Peers to carry that Bill through the House of Lords; and the mere threat created such alarm among its Members that so many of those who opposed stayed away that the Reform Bill was passed. He mentioned those facts to show that there were Constitutional precedents. His Amendment was in two parts: the first was declaratory, and the second expressed the hope that should the Lords not be inclined to yield, Her Majesty should be advised to use the Constitutional power in her hands. He was anxious to be at one with the Government in this matter; but if for any recondite or State reason they did not like the latter part of the Amendment, he was ready to strike it out, because really his great desire was that the essential first part of the Amendment should be passed by the House. He sincerely hoped the Amendment would not be opposed upon merely technical grounds. It could not be said to be objected to because it was not in the Address to the Crown. It was not in the Queen's Speech, but Lord Rosebery had himself informed them that the Queen's Speech was rather a setting forth of their views and putting down of the measures they anticipated would be passed during the present Session. No one could complain that this would be a Vote of Want of Confidence. As he understood it, a Vote of Want of Confidence would be if it were proposed to strike out any particular point on which their minds were bent, or to add anything with which they did not 202 themselves agree. Surely it was more vanity and red-tapeism to say, "We do agree with you, but we think the moment ill-chosen—we do not like to have our beautiful Address interfered with, and we will therefore vote against you." At the present time it was most desirable that the country should be assured of the views of the Government, and upon a question of this kind it was better not to depend upon the words of this or that Minister uttered in Parliament or at a meeting in the Foreign Office, but that the House and the Government should state solemnly the views they entertained on the matter. He repeated his hope that the Government would not be prevented from accepting this Amendment on mere pedantic grounds. People outside did not understand pedantic grounds. They looked upon the Resolution as directed against the House of Lords, and it would be the greatest disappointment to Radicals outside the House if the Government refused to accept it. It would be adopted with acclamation, and had been adopted at every Liberal meeting in the country. Properly understood, this would be a Vote of Confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers. He wanted to free them from a degrading servitude to the House of Lords—to give them power to carry out their own views and their own measures. To look upon this as a Vote of Want of Confidence was as though a slave-owner, raving at a philanthropist who was seeking to strike off the chains of his slave, were to represent that the efforts of the philanthropist amounted to a Vote of Want of Confidence. He begged to move his Amendment.
§ MR. W. ALLEN (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
cordially seconded the Amendment which the hon. Member for Northampton had chosen a very opportune time for moving, a time when the House of Lords had abundantly proved beyond the possibility of doubt that they paid very little heed to the opinions of the Commons or the wishes of the electorate. He supported the Amendment not only on account of deeds done by the House of Lords in the past or because of the measures they had ruined during the last Session of Parliament, but because he was opposed to the principle of a Second Chamber. It was contrary to the true interests of a Democracy to permit to exist a Chamber 203 which had the power of vetoing measures passed by the Representatives of the people chosen by ballot at the polling-booths. The electorate were convinced that the Liberal policy was right and wise, and by their votes sent a Liberal majority to that House; but the measures passed there in the interests of the people had to pass through the burning, fiery furnace of the House of Lords. Those measures had to go before a body of hereditary legislators who had not been chosen for their fitness to represent anybody, but were in their places by mere accident of birth. Lord Rosebery could not see why that accident of birth should prevent a man serving his country in any position; but there was no reason why that mere accident should enable a man to sit in a Second Chamber, and should give him the power of criticising and destroying Bills passed by the Commons. The Leader of the Opposition said the other night that throughout the whole civilised world existed the principle of a Second Chamber; but surely the whole civilised world was at liberty to progress, and to shape its requirements according to the altered conditions of changing time. Forms of Government surely should not be made in a cast-iron mould—unalterable. Government should be as perfect a machine as could be devised, and if it was to properly perform the work required of it should have all the latest improvements. Existing forms might have answered in the past, but surely when a Government had to drop its measures because there was not the least chance of passing them, the time had come when legislation must be accelerated. That would be done by taking from the Second Chamber its veto, and no longer allowing it to throw out the measures the Commons had passed. Take the example of last Session. Several important measures had been passed by the Commons. The House of Lords had rejected them. That House threw out the Home Rule Bill, which had in the Commons occupied a time so long that it was unexampled in the history of Parliament. They destroyed the Employers' Liabilty Bill and the Scotch Fisheries Bill. The House of Peers thought they were better able to form a correct opinion of the real requirements of the 204 working classes than the Representatives of the people themselves, and by their action last Session had vastly increased the difficulties of legislation. But it was not only during last Session; they had been constantly doing the same thing for the last 100 years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who was now acting in concert with the other side of the House, had saidthat during the last 100 years the House of Lords had never contributed one iota to popular liberty and freedom; that they had done nothing to advance the commonweal, and had denied justice and reform;and he instanced the Irish Land Act of 1870, the Compensation for Disturbance Act, the Act of 1880, and the more important parts of the Land Act of 1881, all of which they had thrown out. No one would deny that the Irish Land Question lay at the very root of Irish difficulties, and the House of Lords, by their action in mutilating and rejecting those Bills, had done much towards widening and deepening them. On the other hand, when, in 1882, the House of Lords had to consider a Coercion Bill, they managed to rush it through all its stages in one Sitting. When they had before them any Bill to ameliorate the condition of the Irish people they seemed to revel in its destruction. They were always out of tune with any measure of freedom. It was unnecessary to go into what that House had done in regard to laud legislation and ecclesiastical and social reforms; but he must call attention to the way they had treated Bills to reform the representation in the Commons. One would have thought the House of Commons would be the proper body to determine the constituencies and electors by which it should be chosen. Going back for a moment to 1830, he found that a number of the electors of Newark complained that the Duke of Newcastle had controlled the election in their borough, and the answer given by the Duke to their Petition was—"May I not do what I like with my own?" And still at the present time, after all the old means of influencing the electors had been swept away, much the same feelings and ideas wore manifested by the Tory House of Lords. It seemed to him that the elected Representatives of the country were capable 205 of legislating for the people without the intervention of the other House. In 1871 the House of Lords rejected the Ballot Bill, which was introduced to enable electors secretly to choose their Representatives and to secure purity of election. But the Lords oared nothing for that, they delayed the necessary reform as long as they dared, and they only gave way because the voice of the country and of the House of Commons was most pronounced against them. Even then they gave way most ungraciously. The Chief Secretary for Ireland once told the country that the Lords were never to be found on the side of justice, and he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that the history of the last 50 years furnished a most damning record of their actions. By their conduct they were reducing Parliamentary Government to a farce. One of the old cries of the Liberal Party was "Government by the people for the people," and if they meant to stick to that they could not do otherwise than vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton. It was nothing more than a snare, a sham, and a delusion to say that the people wore being governed by the people when these hereditary legislators were enabled thus to control the action of the House of Commons. The House of Lords was a House composed of great dignitaries of the Church and of men who held a position by accident of birth, and they were now as much out of sympathy with the people as ever they were. The Peers, in fact, were now the mere puppets of one man, their Party Leader, who put a penny in the slot, and the machine worked. For these reasons he most cordially seconded the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton.
Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words—
And we humbly pray Your Majesty that the power now enjoyed by persons not elected to Parliament by the possessors of the Parliamentary franchise to prevent Bills being submitted to Your Majesty for Your Royal approval shall cease, and we respectfully express the hope that, if it he necessary, Your Majesty will, with and by the advice of Your responsible Ministers, use the power vested in Your Majesty to secure the passing of this much-needed reform."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."206
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I need hardly say, with regard to the views which my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton takes of the course adopted by the House of Lords, not only this year, but in many preceding years, towards Bills passed by the House of Commons—I need not say how entirely I concur with the language and with the principles laid down by the late Prime Minister on this subject. He has said that it is one of the great subjects of the present time; he has said it is one which will occupy the attention of this House and of the nation in a most serious manner, and that it is quite impossible that the state of things—I am speaking not of this Bill of that, but of a long-continued series of actions by the House of Lords in rejecting and in mutilating Liberal measures which are sent up by the House of Commons, and which are approved of by the great majority of the nation—is a state of things which ought not and cannot continue. In that we are entirely agreed, and upon that view we mean to proceed. But the question I have to ask myself is, whether or not I can vote for or support the Resolution moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton. I do not quite understand at what my hon. Friend aims. He begins by humbly praying Her Majesty that the power now enjoyed by the House of Lords shall cease. But then how is Her Majesty to make that power cease? That is assuming a power in the Crown—[Mr. LABOUCHERE dissented.] Well, that is what the Amendment states.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
May I explain? Her Majesty has responsible Ministers, and no doubt acts by their advice. Therefore when I used the words "Her Majesty," it was the mere technical form used in the Address for Her Majesty's responsible Ministers. I should like them to bring in a Bill.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
That is not what my hon. Friend has said. What he has said in this Resolution is that he prays the Crown to put an end to the House of Lords. That is a proposition which he can hardly, I should imagine, expect the Government, or indeed any Member of the Liberal Party, to vote for. Then he proceeds in the second part to say that—We respectfully express the hope that, if it be necessary,207 that is a curious qualification, but I suppose he has made up his mind that it is necessary—Your Majesty will, with and by the advice of your responsible Ministers,there he introduces responsible Ministers, but not in the first part—use the power vested in Your Majesty to secure the passing of this much-needed reform.Well, then, my hon. Friend says that that means the creation of 500 Peers. But in the beginning of his speech he rather objected to the few Peers that had been created, and he passed rather a censure upon the Peers who had been made recently. His views, however, are more extensive, and he desires, I presume, that the result of the passing of the Amendment should be that to-morrow or next week there should be 500 Peers created on the spot. I suppose that my hon. Friend has his list ready.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I have a list of stalwarts, who will sacrifice themselves for a short time, in order to destroy themselves as Peers and their brother Peers.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I have no doubt my hon. Friend has his list ready, but is he prepared to guarantee that they are stalwart?
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
But before we are committed to a policy of that character I think the House will see that we should consider whether the method my hon. Friend proposes is a practicable one. I do not desire to pursue these criticisms on what, after all, is a very serious matter. I do ask hon. Gentlemen who feel with me to remember that we are debating a very serious subject, in which every step ought to be most carefully considered, and that the spirit in which we must proceed in a matter of this kind, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian has impressed upon us, ought to be one of grave deliberation, and we ought not to embark on a Resolution of this character, which in my opinion will not tend to advance the object which my hon. Friend has at heart. If my hon. Friend has not confidence in Her Majesty's Government—I do not know whether he has——
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
So I understand; and that being so, I hope those who have a more benevolent view of Her Majesty's Government than my hon. Friend takes will be disposed to trust them to consider and deal with a question of this gravity and importance, and to bring under the consideration of the House and of the nation the manner and the measures which we think proper for advancing a matter in which we are as deeply interested as in my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 145.—(Division List, No. 2.)
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, again pro posed.