HC Deb 25 July 1902 vol 111 cc1268-325
(12.15) MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

said he was sorry that in rising to move the Motion which stood in his name he would not be able to say much that was new, and the reason was very plain. The grievance of which the Motion made mention was not a new one. The subject had been frequently debated in the House in the past, but nevertheless it was full of interest, not only from the point of view of Ireland, but also from that of England. Certainly it was also full of interest of exceptional and vital importance to Irishmen, and must remain so as long as the injustice remained unremedied. After all, money was a matter of universal interest, and he thought he was right in saying that as many revolutions in political history had been caused by financial injustice as by almost any other cause that might be named. He had no desire to use language of exaggeration, and he intended to do nothing of the kind. He did not think he could be accused of using exaggerated language when he said that if Ireland had the necessary power, the financial injustice which he was asking the House to remedy, and which the House had been asked for many years past to find a remedy for, would itself have been a sufficient cause for a political revolution.

As he had said, the grievance was an old one, and, in consequence, the remark made last year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the effect that it was strange that they had not debated the subject more frequently in recent years clearly:had no good foundation. As a matter of fact, attention was called to the injustice as far back as the year 1800, at the time of the debates on the Treaty of Union, when it was predicted by all the unpurchased and unbribed intellect of Ireland, which was then represented in the Irish Houses of Parliament, that one unfavourable result of the Union would be the financial injustice. Since that time there had been a practically unbroken protest kept going against the injustice which had been perpetrated. It was easy to understand why, in the early part of the last century, before the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed, that protest was not very manifest, because the Irish representative? in this House failed to make it. Everyone knew, except possibly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the persons who sat in this House as Irish Members of Parliament between the year 1800 and the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act, represented Ireland just as much as they represented Russia. They were no doubt Irishmen; they were born in Ireland, but they were the mere slaves and tools of the English Parties. They did nothing for the special interests of Ireland; they were Imperialists in the strictest sense of the term, and consequently nothing that happened to Ireland interested them, except, indeed, when it tended to injure the class to which they themselves belonged. But from the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act down to the present moment the protest against the financial injustice to Ireland had been practically unbroken. It might interest Irish Unionists, and specially Irish Conservative Unionists, to know that among the persons who, from the year 1853 downwards, had most strongly protested against the injustice of over taxation were the Irish Conservative Members representing Irish constituencies. Ho need only mention the names of General Dunne, who represented Queen's County, Colonel French, who represented the County of Roscommon, Mr. Whiteside, who was subsequently Attorney General, and after that the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, and Sir Frederick Heygate, the Tory Member for Derry County. In fact, all the Irish Conservatives who were not in office, or did not expect to obtain office, took the lead in this protest against the injustice to which the country was subjected by the Unionist Government as to finance and against the manner in which the financial arrangements of the country were carried out. Later on came the time of Isaac Butt. There were Members of the House among them, no doubt the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who would remember Mr. Mitchell Henry, and Mr. Butt, and Mr. A. M. Sullivan, and many other competent representatives of Ireland, who constantly made complaints similar to this which he was now laying before the House, that Ireland was being robbed on the present financial arrangement. lie was sorry to say, however, that those complaints found very little echo on the other side of the House. Since 1885, he might observe, the protest had been practically continuous. Sir Joseph M'Kenna three or four times brought the question before the House, and they all recognised with gratitude the services which he rendered to his countrymen on this question. Last of all, he might call attention to the agitation which had taken place in Ireland on this subject, in connection with the Report of the Royal Commission of 1894. That agitation was not a Nationalist agitation. In fact, a large and numerous body of gentlemen in Ireland holding views adverse to the Nationalists directly accepted and supported the Report of the Royal Commission. Meetings were held in all parts of Ireland, and were addressed by Conservatives, and ho might mention as one incident to illustrate that fact that at the Dublin meeting amongst the Members who spoke were Mr. Ian Trent Hamilton, who long represented the County of Dublin in the Conservative interest, and the Archbishop of Dublin, who made a memorable speech. When they saw men of different religions, and different political creeds, arid of various political parties, taking up this attitude, no was tempted to ask whether they were to be regarded as all fools and frauds. The Chancellor of the Exchequer apparently thought they were to be so regarded. He for one declined to think that any man outside the Treasury Bench would venture to arraign the position which these men took up. The Irishmen whom i he had named knew what they were talking about, and they wore as honest as any Englishman. Many of them differed in politics from the Nationalist Members, but they were high-minded men who would not lend themselves to deception in this matter of so great a magnitude. He could only hope that the shamelessness and audacity with which previous Chancellors of the Exchequers had rebutted this claim for justice would not be repeated in the present instance. Whenever they had brought forward this grievance they had been met by hardy denials of notorious facts, or else by paltry and petty efforts of sophistry and rhetoric of which statesmen ought to be ashamed. Although they had occupied a good many hours of the time of the House in debating this subject, he for one thought they ought to take not only the present occasion, but many of the opportunities of redebating the question, if not in the hope that they would eventually obtain justice, at all events in the confidence that they wore exposing to the world the gravest injustice that one country could be guilty of towards another.

What was their grievance? It was that they were overtaxed to the extent of several millions annually. Was that true or false? The Chancellor of the Exchequer denied that it was true. His idea was that they were generously treated. He should like before he went any further to draw attention to a remarkable passage in a famous document by a previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was also a Conservative. In the year 1864 a Select Committee was appointed on the Motion of General Dunne. This very question of the taxation of Ireland was laid before that Committee and it reported upon it, and Sir Stafford Northcote said— Since 1845 the share which Great Britain has had in the remission of Imperial taxation has been proportionately much larger than that which Ireland has, and the additions made to the Imperial taxation of Ireland have been proportionately much heavier than those made to the taxation of Great Britain. It is not surprising that the large increase which your Committee have noticed in the general taxation since 1845 should have given rise to complaint. Norisit surprising that loader complaints should have been made by Ireland than by other parts of the United Kingdom. The pressure will be felt most by the weakest part of the community; and as the average wealth of the Irish taxpayer is less than the average wealth of the English taxpayer, the ability of Ireland to bear heavy taxation is evidently less than the ability of England. Mr. Senior, whose evidence upon the position of Ireland will be found very suggestive, remarks that the taxation of England is both the heaviest and the lightest, in Europe—the heaviest as regards the amount raised, the lightest as regards the ability to bar that amount—but that, in the case of Ireland, it is heavy, both as regards the amount and as regards the ability of the contributor; and he adds that England is the most lightly taxed and Ireland the most heavily taxed country in Europe, although both are nominally liable to equal taxation. It was clear from this that the right hon. Gentleman did not sneer at their statements, he did not ridicule them, on the contrary, he practically admitted that they had a good case, and he ventured to assert, notwithstanding the eminence of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Chancellors of the Exchequer who had succeeded Sir Stafford Northcote, that the reputation of that right hon. Gentleman as a fair and honest-minded man could not be possibly attacked.

How had they fared since the time of Sir Stafford Northcote? This was a matter which could only be determined by figures. He had, unfortunately, only official figures which he could submit to the House, and of course he could not altogether rely upon those figures. He did not accuse the Treasury of deliberately "cooking" the accounts, but he said that it might be possible for them to do so, and he did declare that the figures were framed to the disadvantage of Ireland habitually. He was certain that the figures were not unjust to England, but taking them as they were, what did they find? A Return was issued on the previous day in regard to this matter, and he ventured to assert that many hon. Members of the House would cast their votes on the present occasion without having taken the trouble to examine that Return. They would not know a single tiling about what the figures exhibited. He would like to tell them what they were. The Return showed that in the year 1849 their Imperial taxation was £4,861,465. The population of Ireland was 6,574,278 and the taxation per head for Imperial purposes was 14s. 9d. What happened in the year 1850? Taxation went up to £7,700,000 and the population fell by three-quarters of a million, and there-fore they had the taxation almost doubled. Did that not reveal the injustice of their financial relations? While the population was decreasing the burden was increasing, and the man who could add £3,000,000 to the taxation of Ireland a year at such a time must have had very little regard to the interest of that country and very little consideration for the interests of humanity. What was the last Return? It was for 1901–2, and it showed that the population of Ireland had fallen to 4,443,370, the taxation had gone up to £9,784,000, and the taxation per head, which was 14s. 9d. in 1849, last year had risen to £2.5s. 4d. Was there not something unique in that state of things?—when the taxation was rising, and the population—which, after all, was the chief source of wealth—was decreasing. What had happened since 1898? In that year, after some difficulty, the Government were induced to make an agricultural grant. For two years that "honest and respectable" Government endeavoured to hoodwink them by giving a grant of £150,000 a year. But two years later they were obliged to confess on the floor of the House that the proper amount should have been £750.000 per year, and accordingly they were compelled to increase the grant by £000,000 annually. What had become of the grant? It had been swallowed up in the increase of Imperial taxation. What was the increase of taxation for? It was not required for Ireland, because Ireland did not require any of it. She was not at war with any other nation under the sun—she had no right, in fact, to go to war; and if the money had only been spent on the industrial resources of the country, there would not have been such grave cause for complaint. But the fact was that Great Britain had chosen, rightly or wrongly, to embark for her own purposes upon a bad and costly Imperial policy, and she was dragging Ireland after her into that enterprise by making her pay part of the cost. No doubt Great Britain could afford to pay that cost, for, as the Colonial Secretary said the other day at Birmingham, they could not only pay the present burden for the war, but they could pay it over again if the necessity arose. Ireland was not in that position. What was a pleasant, though a costly, excursion to the senior partner in the concern known as the United Kingdom was a perilous, and even fatal, excursion to its unwilling partner. When was a stop to be put to this increase of Imperial taxation? Supposing it wont up to £10,000,000 next year, to £11,000,000 the following year, and £12,000,000 the year after that—it might eventually reach £15,000,000 or £20,000,000. Would even the present Chancellor of the Exchequer say that Ireland could stand such a drain? Could the money be possibly squeezed out of the country without having fatal effects? He ventured to assert that the more fact that a sum of £10,000,000, which was being annually extracted out of Ireland for Imperial purposes, was a deadly fact for Irishmen to consider and for Englishmen to answer. It was a fact which must lead ultimately to the destruction of Ireland. No other country in Europe of the same size, population, and resources paid anything like that amount in Imperial taxation.

It was said that their grievance was disappearing. A short time ago he referred to the fact that they were always met with hardy denials of notorious facts, or by paltry and petty devices of sophistry and rhetoric. One of these devices was that the percentage of contributions was less now than it was before, and therefore their grievance was disappearing. Surely that was very strange, considering that the taxation was increasing. Naturally, the percentage must come down if 'there was a general increase of taxation, because England would always be the richer partner in proportion to Ireland, and consequently the more taxation was levied upon the whole of the United Kingdom the less would be the percentage of the Irish contribution. But, as a matter of fact, their grievance was not disappearing. If that theory which had been put forward were correct, the only result would be that the more and more they added to the taxation the less became the Irish grievance. He might mention the story of a Munster barrister who had been engaged in defending a prisoner at the Cork Assizes, for which services he had received a fee of £1 when it should have been one guinea. He was promptly called to account for such professional misconduct, and his reply was that he had taken all that the prisoner had. It seemed, to him that the English Government were treating Irishmen in the same way. They wore not only guilty of unprofessional conduct, hut they were taking all that Ireland possessed. It was a monstrous piece of cruelty to extract £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 annually from Ireland for the purposes of Imperial taxation. They could not take such a rain out of the country without injuring it, and the inevitable result must be ruin. The worst of the case was that the money was being taken not from a wealthy class but from the poorest classes of the community, and that was a matter to which special attention ought to be drawn.

Some question had been raised as to what were the proper tests as to the comparative wealth of England and Ireland. The Commission of 1894, after an exhaustive examination of the facts as to the resources of the two countries, came to the conclusion that Great Britain was at least twenty times as wealthy as Ireland. That was the opinion of the majority of the Commission, but that was obviously the result of a compromise, and many members of that Commission must have held the belief that the proportion of wealth was still more marked. That eminent statistician Sir Robert Giffen had come to the conclusion that Great Britain was fifty times as wealthy as Ireland. There was still another test which might be applied. It was a small matter, but still it showed which way the wind blew. This test he referred to was based upon the amount of capital invested in companies carrying on operations in various countries. Ireland had £34,000,000 so invested in such companies, Scotland had £114,000,000, and England £1,300,000,000. If that was to be accepted as a criterion of the proportion of wealth, it showed, at any rate, that England was by far the most wealthy member of the firm. Possibly none of these tests could be accepted as conclusive, but they all pointed to the same irresistible conclusion—that Ireland was infinitely loss wealthy than England. Could any hon. Member visiting Ireland come to any other conclusion than that the country was poverty-stricken? Look at the poor, miserable homes on the countryside in Ireland. Look at the roofless cabins all over the place, and the grass-grown streets, the idle mills on the banks, and the factories standing idle; and then look across to England and see the teeming millions that work, the thousands of factories in full swing, the millions of money invested in foreign and other securities, with the possibility of raising at two or three days notice a sum of,£30,000,000 or £40,000,000 for the purposes of a war; and was it possible to come to any other conclusion than that there was no similarity of circumstances between the two countries, and that it was a downright cruelty to tax them on the same basis? After all, this was a matter of arithmetic, and the difficulties could be easily worked out. He ventured to think that any one taking the trouble to do so must realise that Irishmen had an undoubted grievance, and that they were shockingly overtaxed.

What were the answers that were made to their complaints? Sometimes the answers were flippant, and sometimes they were serious. He would like first to take a flippant answer, which was made by the present Prime Minister on his recent visit to Manchester. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that there was a way open to the Irish people of getting rid of their grievances; let them not drink tea or coftee, not smoke tobacco, not eat Indian meal, not eat anything, let them not wear clothes— and their grievances would disappear ! He might have asked the First Lord of the Treasury to relieve the Irish people in another way—by giving up waging such wars as the Boer war, which had done this country no good. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was a more serious-minded man, had a different kind of answer to the Irish Members' complaint and demand. That right hon. Gentleman said that there could be no injustice, because England, Scotland, and Ireland were treated alike, and all made subject to the same common system of taxation. There were two answers to that argument. A common system of taxation might press more heavily on one district than on another. One of the statements in the Report of the Royal Commission was that identity of the rate of taxation did not necessarily involve equality of burden. The common ! comment upon that was very curious. "Oh," it was paid, "that is a mere truism," as if that would make it any tin; lens true. But they might have, as I they did have, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, a common system of taxation, affecting principally the poor and the industrial classes, but affecting Ireland more than England or Scotland, because there were more poor in Ireland than in the other countries. In proof of this, he pointed to the fact that all Chancellors of the Exchequer, no matter on which side of the House they sat, recognised that not more than 50 per cent, of the revenue should be raised by indirect taxation. But in Ireland 75 per cent, of the Irish revenue was derived from indirect taxation. There was no getting away from that injustice to Ireland. It was pretended, of course, that there were poor persons and poor districts in England and Scotland as well a; in Ireland; hut the difference lay in the existence of the English Channel. Perhaps if the English Channel had never existed Ireland would have been a happier country. But they could not abolish the channel, and the result was that, whilst in England there were poor districts, these depended on the neighbouring rich districts; and if agriculture failed, the people had the industrial towns to go to, where they could have constant and remunerative employment. On the other hand, in Ireland, when agriculture failed, there was no other resource for the people than to depend for help on those who were almost as poor as themselves.

But their greatest answer to the common-system-of-taxation argument— although it did not detract in the least from what he had said—was that it was a violation of the Treaty of Union made between England and Ireland. That was their historical case, and he, for one, would never abandon it. It was the great-sheet anchor of their position. In 1800 Ireland was guaranteed a lower rate of taxation and separate treatment in the matter of taxation after the Union. Article 7 of that Treaty provided for a revision of the financial position every twenty years. That pointed in the plainest possible manner to separate treatment. As long as the- circumstances of the two countries remained dissimilar it could mean nothing else. If that were disputed he would quote an authority who was in a position to speak—viz. Lord Castlereagh himself, lie had not great veneration for Lord Gastlereagh, for he had no hesitation in saying that that nobleman stabbed his country in-1800, that his promises, fair though they were, were never intended to be fulfilled, and that he had a most malicious, instead of a most beneficent, intention towards Ireland. He looked with disgust and contempt on the man who attributed in his hearing any good or noble intention, or act of statesmanship towards Ireland, to a creature like that. At any rate, ho was entitled to use his Lordship's words relative to the Treaty of Union. Lord Castlereagh said— As for the future, it is expected that the two countries can move forward together; united in regard to expenses in the measure of their relative ability, and by there being a provision for the revision, Ireland has the utmost possible security that she cannot be taxed beyond the measure of her comparative ability, and that the ratio of her contribution must ever correspond with her relative wealth and prosperity. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the face of that statement, would, he supposed, get up today again, as he did last year, and say that the interpretation by the Irish Members of the Treaty of Union was wrong; that what that Treaty looked forward to, and provided for specifically, was not separate treatment but common taxation. Well, he thought that it was rather too much, oven for a right hon. Gentleman in his position, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to dispose of the matter in that way—"I am sorry," he says, "that my view differs from that of hon. Gentlemen opposite." As if that concluded the matter ! But the right hon. Gentleman was not as good an authority on the Treaty of Union as Lord Castlereagh. And here he took leave to say that, so far as ho had been able to ascertain legal opinion on that point—and ho had made an effort to do so—that legal opinion was entirely on the side of the contention of the Irish Members, and entirely against the Chancellor of the Exchequer. After having quoted the text of the Treaty of Union, and I the explanation of it given by Lord Castlereagh, it would not do for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get up and say-—"I differ from your view: my view is quite, enough," The Irish Members did not take that explanation, and he was perfectly certain that the House of Commons, if it was quite free to vote, would riot take it either. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Treaty of. Union was obsolete. He wished it was. There was a time when the Irish Conservatives argued strongly that the disestablishment of the Irish Church had broken the Treaty and that the whole Act of Union had disappeared. That statement was made at several Orange meetings and by leading Conservatives, including one distinguished lawyer who became a County Court Judge, or a Judge of the High Court. He thought himself that there would have been some foundation for that argument if the abrogation of the fifth Article of the Treaty of Union, which guaranteed the permanent existence of the Irish Protestant Church, had not been assented to by the majority of the Irish representatives in this House. But although the Irish people did not initiate the agitation for the disestablishment of the Irish Church—that was the work of the English Liberation Society—they did vote for the disestablishment of the Church and the abrogation of Article 5; and consequently it was not a violation of the Treaty of Union. But if Article 7 was obsolete, then what became of Article 2, by which the Irish Members were compelled to be here in this House? The 2nd Article was as old as the 7th, and if, forsooth, it was said that the 7th Article was obsolete, then, he maintained, there was very little logical or legal validity in saying that Article 2, by which the Parliament of Ireland was extinguished, was still in force. At the present time the Colonies, through their Premiers, were holding a conference with the Colonial Secretary. He did not know what was going on, but there was, at all events, a rumour of establishing a Zollverein and making some agreement between the Colonies and the Mother Country, and, as he understood, some specious invitations were addressed to the representatives of the Colonies to enter into this agreement. He would offer one word of advice to Sir Edward Barton, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and the other colonial Premiers. He would advise them to read the speeches which the Colonial Secretary had delivered in the course of these debates, and not to enter into an agreement with England, because if any agreement was entered into which seemed to be good for the Colonies, both now and in the future, it would inevitably be broken. If the terms of the Union were to be kept, there was no answer to the case they had made out.

Another argument that was brought against them was that they were not really over-taxed, because most of the money that was levied on taxation was spent in Ireland. He was really ashamed to have again to answer a thing he had already answered so many times in a way to which no reply was ever forthcoming from the Treasury Bench. In the first place, it was established by Mr. Gladstone in the Home Rule debates that the several charges on Ireland, if they were made upon the same scale as those on England, would be half what they were. The meaning of that was that they were spending twice as much in Ireland, not for Irish but for English purposes, and the chief reason for that was to keep the Irish people down; and to maintain the Union by force and corruption, they were voting millions every year in the shape of Irish Estimates. Half those Estimates were to pay the English supporters. There was not a single supporter of the Government in Ireland, who either was not paid or who did not expect to be paid. That was one of the reasons for refusing to redress the financial grievances of the country. The second thing he would say, was that the Government had no right under the law to take into account the expenditure at all. By the Act of 1817, expenditure was to be made in any part of the United Kingdom according to the necessities of the case. It was not to be allocated, a certain proportion to England and to Ireland and to Scotland, but was to be made whenever and wherever it was required, so that there was a legal objection in the way of setting off the expenditure against taxation. It was the most ridiculous argument in the world to say that because the money was spent in Ireland the people were not overtaxed, and there was no grievance. Turkey was supposed to be overtaxed, but upon this theory it was not overtaxed at all, because the Sultan spent all the revenue in Turkey. Upon the same grounds Italy was not overtaxed, because all the money was spent at home, lie utterly repudiated the theory that expenditure was to be set oft against taxation, and it was no answer to their case.

He would not longer detain the House. He thought he had made a perfectly good case. He had not consciously overstated it, and he had endeavoured fairly and squarely to meet the arguments against it. Although they had made out a good case, he did not expect any good would result; from this debate. He would frankly say, whatever the reason might be, it had always struck him that it was I in financial matters that England had always acted the meanest part towards Ireland. Nothing was more contemptible or unjust than the financial treatment of Ireland, a treatment which had no regard to their resources, to their historical claims for proper treatment, or their future, and, apparently, had no intention of keeping Ireland a loyal member of the Commonwealth. That attitude had been maintained for many years by different Governments; he did not complain of Unionist or Conservative Governments in particular; he thought that Liberal Governments in the past had been the worst of the two. Although, probably, no immediate result would ensue from raising this matter, they had had, at all events, the satisfaction of having proved that towards Ireland England had acted the part of an unrepentant robber. He begged to move the Resolution standing in his name.

(1.27.) MR. HUGH LAW (Donegal, W.)

said it would certainly not be, necessary for him, in seconding this Motion, to go into the details of the case. Though his hon. friend had acted wisely in addressing himself to the historical aspects of the case, he should address himself to that aspect which presented itself in recent years, not because he thought his hon. friend was wrong in taking the course he did, but because he thought they would not make much progress along those lines. Englishmen, as a rule, had very little interest in what happened more than twenty years previously, and probably were as much interested in the treaty of the Union as they were in the treaty of Limerick. Nevertheless, he entirely agreed that they ought to put forward the argument from the Act of Union over and over again, because they could not abandon any part of their case. He thought they were absolutely right in their contention as to the special treatment which the provisions of the Act of Union accorded to Ireland. It must be plain to everybody that a poor country like Ireland could not bear the same rate of taxation as could be borne with perfect ease by a country more wealthy. That consideration must have been present to the minds of the statesmen who passed the Act of Union, and those who dealt with the affairs of the country in the years that followed the Union, and that was the reason why Mr. Gladstone, in imposing income tax on Ireland, imposed it for a time only. The interesting book of the hon. Member for West Islington gave a most admirable Table with regard to these matters. It shewed that in Ireland no less than four - fifths of the income was taken by taxation, whereas one-ninth was the amount taken in England. That itself showed how disproportionate the burden was. In those years which immediately preceded the union, when Ireland governed herself, £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 sufficed for all the purposes of the Government, and most ample and generous contributions for Imperial purposes besides, in spite of the fact that the revenue of Ireland was burdened by pensions for all sorts of people who were too disreputable to be placed on the English Civil List. During that period all the great public buildings which adorned the capital were built with Irish money supplied by the Irish Parliament. Under the Government of this country, in 1819 the estimated revenue had already increased to £5, 253, 909, and the taxation per head was 15s. 5d., and with the exception of a year or two during the whole of the time in which Ireland had been tied up in this partnership the taxes had steadily increased. In 1901–2 the taxation had risen to £11,353,000, and the taxation per head had risen from 15s. 6d. to £2 4s He had not the figures for Great Britain for the same years, but his impression was that, while the revenue had greatly increased, the taxation par head had actually lessened. They had had in the previous two days some good reasons given for the unrest of Ireland under English rule. An extraordinary light had been thrown upon the administration of justice in Ireland, and the House had seen a most extraordinary and convincing picture of the manner in which the people of Ireland looked upon the administration of justice in Ireland in. that amazing case in which an innocent man was shown to have pleaded guilty in order to get a light sentence. Now the House was asked to consider another of the causes of that unrest. Since the Act of Union there had been many Governments—Tory Governments and Liberal Governments, progressive Governments and reactionary Governments, conciliatory Governments and coercive Governments—but all agreed in one thing. Each Government continually extracted from a diminishing people a greater and a greater revenue. Surely nothing further was required to explain the continued unrest in Ireland.

Who were the people on whom these imposts were levied? He did not take a despairing view of his country, he did not believe that everything was on the down grade; in certain classes there had been a great improvement. The Land Acts had contributed greatly to the welfare of the Irish farmers, but every possible improvement was being swallowed up in this continually increasing taxation. In any case, what might be true of some parts of the country was not true of the whole. Just lately they had had an extraordinary flood of light thrown upon the condition of the people in the west of Ireland, the whole of which might be said to be congested, although it was not all so scheduled, and it was on those who were the poorest that the taxation fell heaviest. He had had six years experience as a member of a Board of Guardians in the west of Ireland and he knew the extraordinary difficulty these poor people had to provide for themselves the common decencies of life. A 1d. rate only produced in that union £49 a year, and surely those people had enough to do to live and provide themselves with the merest necessities of life, Yet it was on those people that the English Government piled up year after year more and more taxation. The food of those people consisted to a large extent of meal and tea. The tax on tea had within recent years been increased by 50 per cent., and an impost had recently been put on meal. He acknowledged with gratitude the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in abandoning one-half of that tax, but it was obvious that, pro tanto, there would be an increase of taxation imposed upon those poor people even this year. What concern with Imperial purposes had these people, who could scarce keep body and soul together, and who could not afford proper nursing for their sick? It might be said that seamstresses, dock labourers, and the poorer classes in England had equally little concern in those purposes, but, at any rate, it could be argued that they had in some sort of way expressed their concurrence in the Imperial policy of expansion which was dragging Ireland down. That, however, could not be said of the people of Ireland; they had their own case and were fighting their own battle. Both on treaty grounds and on the broad general grounds of the welfare of what, after all, by the desire of the English people, was a portion of the British Empire, they had a good case and a right to press it.

They were sometimes asked what remedy they proposed. He did not profess to speak with any sort of authority on that point. The most obvious way to deal with the question would be to revert to the old system of separate Exchequers. That, at any rate, had the merit of thoroughness; it would then be possible to rearrange the financial position of the two countries is a manner suitable to each, and the system would possess other great advantages. They could not, at present, however, hope for any such solution of the difficulty. They did not abandon the claim, on the contrary; they would still press for it; but it was possible, without abandoning any portion of their case, to recognise that, while they could not get satisfaction of their full claim, they might be able to find a means of removing a portion of the grievance. There were two ways in which that might be done. One was the remission of the particular taxes, such as those on sugar, tea, and meal, which pressed with undue weight on the Irish people. The other was much less satisfactory, because ho would prefer to keep the money in the pockets of the people, but the difficulty could be partially met by increased Exchequer contributions. For the moment he merely asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do some thing towards meeting the claim they had put forward by adopting the recommendations of the Local Taxation Commission, and by granting an additional sum in relief of Irish local taxation, especially proportioned to the varying needs of the poor localities.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the overtaxation of Ireland, established by the recent Royal Commission on Financial Relations, constitutes a serious and pressing grievance as regards that country, and demands the early attention of Government with a view to its removal."—(Mr. Clancy.)

(1.52) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

rose for the purpose, not of taking part in the general discussion, but of asking a direct question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman had recently stated, in reference to the increased education grant for England, that there was no case for an equivalent grant for Ireland, and that it did not follow, because a special grant was made for England, that an equivalent grant should be made for Ireland. He had further stated, however, that if a ease could be made out for an additional grant for education, it would be taken into account in considering the question. In view of that answer, he reminded the right hon. Gentleman that there was an educational question which had been pressed upon the Government for three or four years without any satisfaction being obtained. Deputation after deputation had waited on the Chief Secretary, who entirely agreed with them as to the grievance and its remedy, but who washed his hands of the whole business, declaring that the Treasury blocked the way. He, therefore, desired to put it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the question of the training college in Marl-borough Street was not one which ought to be settled now. The students wore being lodged in tenant-houses of the worst description, and in a district in which immoral houses prevailed. What right had the Government of England to put students in such a position? In view of the recent declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take this matter into his consideration, and make a grant so that this legitimate grievance might be removed, and the students placed in a decent position.

(1.56.) MR. M'KEAN (Monaghan, S.)

said that after the eloquent speeches of the mover and seconder of the resolution it was really unnecessary for him to speak at length on this question, except to emphasise the points which had been so ably put forward. He would be sorry to share in the opinion of the hon. Member for North Dublin that no immediate result was likely to accrue from the debate. The injustice in the case was so glaring, and constituted such a grave international scandal, that he could not for the life of him understand how men who called themselves honourable could sit on the Treasury Bench knowing of this injust'ce and yet refusing to redress it. From one point of view, the present time was most opportune for an exhaustive discussion of the subject. The conclusion of hostilities in South Africa would enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if Parliament was sufficiently well advised, to make provision for the redress of this grievance next year without having to increase existing taxation—in fact, he would be able to make substantial remissions, and yet remove the grievance. The Prime Minister had recently deprecated the annual review of this subject. It was easy to understand that he should take that view, as it could not be a pleasant matter for contemplation to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. It was doubtful whether in the whole history of the relations between civilised nations there was any parallel for such a state of things.

He proposed, first of all, to deal with the question from a, historical point of view, and he would take three different periods, the first of which was anterior to the Union. Ireland once had a Parliament of her own, and those were halcyon days for Ireland. In those days the taxes of Ireland were light, and certainly not more than about 3s. 6d. per head of the population, but now they amounted to £2 4s. 6d. per head. The National Debt in those days was merely nominal, amounting in 1783 to less than £2,000,000; and as a consequence Ireland was able to pay her way among the nations of the earth without the least difficulty. But this happy state of things did not suit certain so-called statesmen in this country, statesmen of the school whose fatuous policy a short time before had lost to England one of her most promising colonial possessions. The agent provocateur was set to work, the Sergeant Sheridans of those days were set to work in Ireland, and the result was the disturbances which culminated in the rebellion of 1798. That served as the pretext for two objects—in the first place for a political union with England; and in the second place for a not less disastrous fiscal union with this country. They all knew what those two Unions had done for Ireland. It was said that the tree was known by its fruit; and by its results let the Union be judged. What were the results? One paragraph in the historic Report which had been referred to stated that during the sixteen years which immediately followed the Union the debts and the taxes of Ireland were quadrupled, and Ireland was on the verge of bankruptcy. Certainly that was a bad record of sixteen years of British rule in Ireland.

He would leave that point and advance to the second historic period from which he wished to view this question, namely, the middle of the nineteenth century. At that time Ireland lay weak and prostrate from the effects of a terrible famine. So desperate was her position that a great Irishman, who afterwards became one of our most distinguished colonial premiers, retired from his country in despair, leaving her, as he said, like a corpse on the dissecting table. Fancy English rule in Ireland being described as like a corpse on the dissecting table ! Incredible as it might seem to any man who was not familiar with English methods and the spirit of English rule in Ireland, this was the time that Ministers in this country selected to impose a double incubus upon Ireland in addition to the incubus that was already crushing her to death. Here was a tragic picture of a nation being mercilessly and callously bled to death—for what else was it? Just in the same way, Irish industries were extinguished some sixty years ago. Industries were the bread of the country, and just as they had extinguished Irish industries to the injury of the men and women of Ireland who were its flesh and life, so now this country had fixed its tentacles on Ireland, and from every vein, from every artery, and from every pore they were sucking her blood. And what a hideous, wasted wreck they had left behind! The wonder was that there was any Irish nation left at all today. And were it not for the mercy of that Power which watches over the destiny of nations, there would have been no Ireland at all today. It had often occurred to him what language would have been used in this country if these things had been clone by another nation. How the English blood would have boiled with honest indignation, and how they would have raised their eyes to Heaven in pious horror at the iniquity of the wrong-doer ! And yet this country, year in and year out, generation after generation, Ministry after Ministry, went on perpetrating one of the cruellest and foulest wrongs that had ever stained the record of a nation.

He would now advance to the third period, and deal with the present time. What was the finding of the Royal Commission which sat in the year 1894? In one of the paragraphs of that Report it stated, as well as he could remember it, that, taking the basis established by the joint Report, the taxation of Ireland in that year, instead of being £7,000,000 odd, would have been very nearly £3,000,000 loss. There was a paragraph in the joint Report which ho would road to the House. The words used in the Report wore— That, whilst the actual taxation revenue of Ireland is about one-eleventh that of Great Britain, the relative taxable capacity of Ireland is very much smaller, and is not estimated by any of us as exceeding one-twentieth. Did the House and this country realise the significance of this short but momentous declaration? He really believed that they did not. Certainly they never could have realised it in the past, for had they done so it would have boon impossible to delay the remedying of this injustice for one single day. What did that paragraph mean? It meant tour short, simple words. It meant "caught in the act," It meant caught in the act of robbing Ireland. He differed from his hon. friend the Member for North Dublin upon this point, for ho thought that the remedy could not he delayed, and it would have to be found in the near future. It was impossible for the Government to continue its policy of burying its head in the sands of politics. He would rather be a crossing-sweeper fuming an honest wage of 10s. a week than be sitting on the Treasury Bench and earning, or pretending to earn, a salary of £5,000 a year under the circumstances under which right hon. Gentlemen opposite drew their salaries. It had been a standing subject of wonder with him how any men of common honour or honesty could remain members of all these successive Governments, and make themselves parties to, and participators in this gross act of injustice to Ireland by refusing to redress it. The explanation of this phenomenon was given by his hon. friend the Member for North Cork in this House when they obtained the final concession from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a short ! time ago. He feared very much that there was no public conscience in this House, and that there was no moral sense on the Treasury Bench. They wore governed in the House of Commons, and, he feared, in this country by one influence, and one influence alone, and that was expediency. Today the Government had their majority of 150, and vet their ears were deaf to the voice of Ireland. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: They are not sitting here now.] He did not care, and they could stay away if they liked, for it did not matter much about the dead-heads who usually filled the Benches opposite. In a few years time, when the present Government returned to power with a majority reduced to fifty or sixty, then they would suddenly wake up to the justice and reasonableness of Irish demands.

He had never had the advantage of hearing the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer's reply to an Irish case, nor had he ever read a speech by him or by anybody else, either for or against, upon this question. Therefore, he was at a disadvantage to know what his case might be. He had, however, read the Reports of the Royal Commission, and he knew that two or three of the distinguished gentleman who constituted that Commission cut themselves off from their colleagues, and issued a separate Report in favour of the side of the right hon. Gentleman. From those Reports, and from the speech of his hon. friend who spoke before him, he had managed to deduce some of the so-called arguments against the Irish case. One of the tests of the taxable capacity of Ireland, referred to in the joint Report of the Commission, was that based upon the assessment of income tax. Sir Thomas Sutherland, who issued a separate Report, stated that he could not see his way to accept this test. It was accepted by Sir Robert Giff'en and Sir David Barbour. These gentlemen also brought forward the argument that wealth was not a standard under the British system of taxation. No, it was not, and that showed the rottenness of the system. Sir Thomas Sunderland did not see that in making that admission he was saying that their system of taxation violated one of the fundamental principles of any just and equitable system of taxation. What was that principle? Why, that the burden to be borne should be proportioned and adapted to the strength of the bearer. The sooner they made comparative wealth the standard of taxation the bettor, for some day the democracy of this country would wake up. They wore blind now, but the scales would fall from their eyes, and they would see what fools they were. In the last three years something like twelve additional taxes had been put on, and in each case the tax fell on the workers. No fresh imposts had been put on the landlords. This additional taxation had arisen mainly through wars in which this country had been engaged. What concern had the people of Ireland in these wars? What interest had they in the wars which were waged a century ago? England derived benefit from wars in the way of new territory, giving new homes for her surplus population, and providing, new markets for her surplus products. They added new lustre, and possibly new infamy, to the name of this country. But in none of these respects did Ireland gain. When the Irish people sought a new home, they preferred to do so in a land over which floated not the Union Jack, but the free flag of the United States. Therefore it was perfectly monstrous that when the Irish derived no benefit from those wars they should be asked to share in the cost.

He would mention another point, and it was a very good illustration of the contemptible arguments with which the Irish case was met. The Report of the Commission said that there were certain taxes which Ireland did not pay; but what did they amount to? These taxes only amounted to a miserable and beggarly four millions a year. These were the phantom exemptions they had under the Union. Another argument, mentioned incidentally by the hon. Member for North Dublin, was the geographical unit argument. It was said—" Oh ! other parts of Great Britain suffer from the same injustice as certain parts of Ireland." Did two wrongs make one right? It had been well pointed out that the people who suffered injustice in this country had no treaty. Ireland had a treaty with Great Britain. What did this Parliament care about treaties? When a treaty suited them it was an inviolable document, but when it did not suit them it was waste paper. So much for English morality. The set-off argument was used that if Ireland was overtaxed the money was given back. The true question in this case was not whether the money was given back, but whether too much was being spent on the government of Ireland, having regard to the resources of the country. He denied that the expenditure on Ireland, except with regard possibly to an infinitesimal fraction of it, was spent for the good of the people of Ireland. It was spent in paying inflated salaries to their quondam political henchmen now seated on the judicial bench in Ireland. It was spent in paying the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland double the salary the Common wealth of Australia was willing to allow to the official representative of this country out there. It was spent in maintaining an utterly disproportionate force of police in Ireland, whose chief business was to squeeze impossible rents out of a starving peasantry. It was spent in buying the loyalty of a section of the people of Ireland. In a word, it was spent in buttressing up the tottering fabric of British rule in Ireland, for tottering to its fall he was glad to say it was. If this House refused to redress these grievances, it was a fraud and a sham. Did they think that the Power that watched over and weighed so carefully the acts of men was indifferent to the actions and obligations of nations? He believed the moral code that bound individuals was binding also on nations. He believed that the penalty of national wrong-doing was national decay, decrepitude, and demoralisation—and of that there had been some evidence in the last year in this country—and, finally, national death. What he said to the Government was this—See if the handwriting is not already on the wall. (2.26.)

(3.0.) MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

said that there were many contrasts between the Irish debate today and the debate on the previous day. They were now discussing matters relating to figures in a much quieter atmosphere. In the very able speech in which the Chief Secretary yesterday declared himself unable to make the reforms he was asked to make, he founded his refusal on the fear of lawlessness in Ireland. There was no lawlessness connected with the agitation they were now discussing. There were no difficulties of that kind to embarrass the administration, and on that ground it deserved more consideration from the Government than it had received. At any rate, the traditional excuse was not available on that occasion. They wore discussing the question today with considerable advantages. In the first place a great deal of information on the subject had been acquired since it was first mentioned many years ago in the House; and that enabled them to avoid repeating constantly what he might call the historical part of the case. That was very ably stated, so far as was necessary, by the hon. Gentleman who opened the debate. He himself was sceptical of any appeal addressed to the House which was based on history. The House was the Assembly governing the country at the present moment; and would, be thought, be influenced more by argument touching the existing situation. To help them to understand the situation, two Returns had been distributed by the Government within the last few weeks; and the Irish Party had also distributed a paper which showed exactly what the present situation was, looked at from the Irish standpoint. The existence of these papers made it unnecessary to repeat figures which would be tedious to the House. The broad facts were well known; and hon. Members could form a judgment for themselves. Ireland was a country taxed by strangers—he did not use the term in any offensive sense. He believed the Chancellor of the Exchequer was friendly disposed towards Ireland; but, nevertheless, every tax imposed in Ireland was imposed by men who were not representatives of Ireland, and who gave little heed to the condition of things in that country. The country was taxed by strangers to it; and, in the matter of taxation, not the slightest heed was paid to anything that was said by its constitutional representatives in the House. That was a most extraordinary, almost an appalling situation. All the great historical crises in this country had arisen out of situations such as that. There was no constitutional principle more firmly grounded than that taxation should be by representation. But the case of Ireland was a worse evil than taxation without representation. Ireland had abundant representation in the House of Commons, and yet all the pleadings of her representatives with regard to this question were absolutely set aside, and the country was taxed by others who had no constitutional claim to talk in her behalf. That was a very striking situation. Another point was that when the taxation itself was examined they found that the amount of the taxes was growing very rapidly, while the yield of every tax in proportion was growing less. That was also a very striking fact. How was that anomaly secured? It was secured by putting on new burdens in a way which he might almost describe as ferocious. Thus, they had a situation in which a huge amount was being reaped out of a poor country, against the representations of her legally elected Members; that amount being constantly increased owing to the imposition of new burdens, the yield of which was constantly diminishing. He thought that there was no situation in any other country in the world like that. It might be said that taxation was increasing in Great Britain; but there was no parallel between the two countries. In Great Britain taxation was increasing, and the yield was increasing. The population and the necessity for taxation were also increasing in Great Britain; but none of these things were occurring in Ireland; and, therefore, there was no strict parallel between the two countries. The best means of summing up the situation would be to quote certain words spoken by the present Prime Minister four years ago. He replied for the Government to the case made for Ireland in June 1898, and his answer was printed and circulated by the Central Conservative Office. He said— These figures when worked out on the hypothesis that the Local Government Bill will be in operation, and that the expenditure and the true revenue are the same as they are in the present year, show that there is no grievance. The Local Government Act was now in operation; the expenditure remained the same; but the revenue had totally altered. The revenue was the burden, and it had been increased by no less than £2,500,000 in the present year. The whole defence of the Prime Minister was that the then existing figures should continue; but they had not continued, and nearly 30 per cent, more was now taken out of the country than at the time the Prime Minister used the words he had quoted. These words indicated that the Prime Minister thought the taxation was then sufficiently high, and he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not repudiate that view. The Prime Minister on the occasion referred to went on to say that Ireland because of her depression was an object of British generosity and benevolence. Where was the generosity or the benevolence? The right hon. Gentleman further said that anything for the promotion of Irish industries or the diminution of Irish distress should be considered by the House apart from any nice calculations as to what was done elsewhere. Were they not justified, therefore, in asking the Prime Minister, now that he had the power, to fulfil his definite promises? The situation was grave, and anything in the direction of amelioration should be done immediately.

What were the effects produced in Ireland? Some of them were very extraordinary. There was one effect which ought to be thought over by constitutional gentlemen especially on the other side of the House. All the patronage of the Crown in Ireland went to the minority instead of to the majority. That was a situation which did not exist in any other country in the world; but it had been in existence in Ireland for generations, and was full of danger. The minority in Ireland was as 1 to 4; perhaps in the matter of taxation it was even smaller; it was against the national claim and the national religion; yet it enjoyed all the patronage; and huge and constantly increasing sums of money were passing through its hands and into its pockets. He tried to make a calculation, and he found that in 1895 the minority in Ireland was represented in this House by eighteen gentlemen. Twelve of that number were now enjoying £40,000 a year from the State; and if he included the House of Lords the result would be that it would be found that a small group, not exceeding twenty, of the minority in Ireland were taking £60,000 a year from the State. It was very hard in a situation of that kind to keep out corruption; and he did not think it was kept out. He did not understand why the natural order of things which existed in every country in the world should be turned upside down in Ireland.

The continued depopulation of Ireland was often mentioned in this House, but he was afraid that English gentlemen had got into the way of thinking that that was a chronic state of affairs which could not be remedied. That matter ought to be especially considered this year, because the population Returns for Ireland were being issued, and they were of a most appalling character. There was an official tendency in Ireland to minimise the evil, but they now had the correct statement through the census Returns, which showed that there was a tremendous decline in the population which had no parallel in any country in the world. In 1845 the population of Ireland was 8.3 millions, now it was 4.4 millions. In 1845 the population of Great Britain was 19.4 millions, now it was thirty-seven millions. The population of Ireland had been halved during the period, while the population of Great Britain had been doubled. In Australia and Canada the population had also doubled; and even in Denmark, which was a purely agricultural country, depending on exactly the same resources as Ireland, the population had slightly increased. In France the population had increased by four millions, although Alsace and Lorraine had been cut away. Italy had increased from nineteen millions to thirty-two millions; Russia, including Poland, from fifty-five millions to one hundred and thirty-seven millions, and Poland itself had increased rather more than the general average. Even Spain had increased from 14.2 millions to nineteen millions. It was sometimes said, however, that although the population of Ireland was decreasing, the condition of the remnant was improving. He had always questioned that. It would have been thought that if the population were falling so much, the unhealthy conditions of life which existed in England would not exist in Ireland. The census returns, however, showed a most disgraceful picture of over-crowding. In Kerry, with a total population of 193,000, there were no less than 3,074 tenements of one room, with more than two persons in each.


The hon. Member seems to be discussing this matter rather beyond the limits of the question. The fact of the decreasing population of Ireland may be material to the issue, but the hon. Member will not be in order in giving detailed statistics as to the population of Ireland and of other countries.


said he accepted the ruling, but it was a little difficult to discuss the question, because it might be said that none of the bad conditions he had mentioned arose from over taxation. In every county in Ireland, but particularly in Dublin, there was a disgraceful condition of over-crowding, which seemed to be evidence of great poverty; and that evil might be cured if some of the great wealth taken out of the country annually were devoted to it. Statistics in regard to agriculture also showed a very bad condition of things. There was a great want of capital throughout the country; 30,000 acres of land went out of cultivation last year; whereas there was an increase in the land going into grass and the land relapsing to waste bog and mountain. It seemed to him that the facts that he had mentioned showed that there was a sad condition of poverty, and that poverty could not be cured by paying each year a million or a half a million or some large sum out of the Exchequer.

If the question was looked at from any of the standpoints which he had mentioned it showed that there was a very grave situation to be dealt with; and if there was a real difficulty surely something might be done; some steps of a. remedial nature might be taken. He would, therefore, make a few suggestions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if the right lion. Gentleman could give any promise to the House in regard to them they would be very thankfully received. He would not give his own remedies for the present condition of things, because they might be thought to be too violent. The first suggestion he would make was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should take steps to give the actual figures of the exports and imports of Ireland. The whole collection of taxation at present rested upon estimates. It was a terrible thing that they could not have the truth—the actual figures—upon which reliance could be placed. Ireland was the only country in the world which was deprived of these figures. Wales knew the quantity of coal and iron she exported, and butter was to Ireland what coal was to Wales. There was no reason why these figures should be refused. He appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the actual figures should be given, and then they need no longer rely upon estimates. He did not think Ireland got her fair share of the grant for technical education, and that was a matter that should be considered. Ireland could not accept the dictum that no equivalent grant could be given to her when a large sum for education had been granted to England. He recommended an amalgamation and improvement of the numerous small railways in Ireland.


said the hon. Member was now discussing the whole economic condition of Ireland and the remedy for every grievance. The question before the House was the financial relations.


said that he had only desired to suggest a few methods by which the financial grievance might be ameliorated, and he had finished his suggestions. He would therefore conclude by recalling to the memory of the House an expression used by the Prime Minister at Fulham— The future of the Transvaal would show what British ideas of liberty, British ideas of Colonial self-government, and British parity of administration could do to amalgamate races, to bury ancient feuds and to make of South Africa what we have made of so many other portions of the world—repetitions of those free institutions under which we and our fathers have so long and so happily lived. It seemed hard that, while these expressions were being used of the Transvaal, a community so near should have to come to Parliament and make such complaints as those to which they had listened that day.

(3.30.) MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)

said it would be admitted that the appearance of the House did not redound to its credit. They were dealing with great constitutional questions of paramount importance, and the condition of the House was symptomatic of a general tendency to evade the problems presented by the financial condition of the country. He spoke for himself only on this question. Some items of Imperial expenditure in Ireland he did not regard as chargeable to Ireland at all. He disagreed with hon. Members from Ireland who did not think the Navy a benefit to Ireland.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

We have nothing left worth stealing.


But he would make this concession to them. He would say that Ireland was no more chargeable with the Imperial expenditure oil the Navy on moral grounds than Canada or Australia.

MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)



But their full quota was drawn for naval expenditure, while nothing was taken from the Colonies, which were richer, or as rich, as Ireland. The first thing that was beyond doubt was that the Commission which reported on this subject of financial relations some years ago, declared that undoubtedly the taxable capacity of Ireland in comparison with that of Great Britain was not greater than one to twenty, while at that time the taxation revenue raised in Ireland was as one to eleven. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that things had altered for the better, and that it had come down in recent years to one to fifteen. But that was still a remarkable discrepancy which ought to have attracted more attention. It was, however, equally beyond doubt that no individual in Ireland paid in taxation a farthing more than if he were living in England.




Yes; if he keeps a carriage arid a manservant.


said the one fact that Ireland as a separate financial entity was contributing far more than this country, and the other fact that no man was taxed more in Ireland than he would be in England, constituted together the paradox of the present financial situation. But this must be true; that if every individual tax payer in Great Britain and Ireland were taxed exactly in proportion to his taxable capacity, there would be complete equality of taxation between the two countries, even regarding them as separate entities. The situation would be greatly changed, and the complaint would be removed, if they could adjust the taxation of individuals so that each individual would be exactly taxed according to his capacity. There was no such individual taxation either in Great Britain or Ireland. His ideal tax was that each should be taxed according to his capacity to pay, and that all taxation should be direct, but if such a tiling was proposed the very men who would gain most would rise in rebellion. It was indirect taxation which had this inevitable result of individual inequality, and which worked out and remained as an inequality between the two countries. Both in Great Britain and in Ireland the burden of this inevitable inequality fell upon the poorest of the poor. The evil had been intensified by the financial policy of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made himself the exponent, the policy which was called broadening of the basis of taxation. That meant the increase of indirect taxation, and every increase of indirect taxation added to the evil. His main point was that though they were supposed to be dealing with an Irish case, it was not exclusively Irish and ought not to be so regarded. He admitted that the grievance had been proved, and he would vote for the Resolution, if only as an expression of his belief that a state of things had been proved which did, in some sort of way, demand the attention of the House and the country. But Irish Members had been content to prove the grievance without propounding any remedy themselves.


We should not be listened to.


said the hon. and learned Gentleman was not doing himself justice. He should like to know what it was the Irish Members would ask him to vote for inconsequence of supporting this Resolution? He was not going to rush in where Irish Members, he would not say had feared to tread, but had avoided treading; but he wanted to make some suggestions as to the conditions which seemed to him to be required in regard to any remedy that might be proposed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would support him when he said he did not think any remedy was admissible which would involve financial confusion between Great Britain and Ireland. He did not think anything in the nature of separate customs, for instance, was admissible which might redress the balance of taxation and yet not remedy the individual grievance.


What about the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man?


They are de minimis. We might abolish the income tax in Ireland, and so redresa the balance of taxation; hut he did not suppose that the Members for Ireland wanted that.


Yes, we do.


said he did not see how the poor of Ireland were to gain by the abolition of the income tax, although its abolition would redress the mere financial in equality that now existed between the two countries. He did not think, either, that any remedy would be right which, although redressing the financial balance, would aggravate the evils that existed in Great Britain—he meant advances made for Irish purposes involving an increase in indirect taxation upon the poor of this country. What, then, was to be done? He did not say this would be a complete remedy, but it would be a beginning, at all events—the establishment of what he would call a genuine system of democratic finance for Great Britain as well as for Ireland. There would be involved in that, to begin with, the seizure of all the monopoly values, vast in their amount, which were suffered to exist in bath countries, and through them, relieve indirect taxation. The poor in Great Britain suffered under the present system enormously, and they were entitled to redress, in some shape, for the inevitable injustice that followed from the system under which they were taxed at the present moment. He would appeal to the boil. Members for Ireland, in urging the admitted grievance from which they suffered, not to separate themselves from the people of Great Britain, who also suffered under the same grievance.


In the speech which the hon. Member for North Dublin addressed to the House in moving this Resolution, he almost apologised for his inability to throw any new light upon this long-discussed subject. But he made one observation in that speech in regard to myself, to which I would venture to demur. He accused me of, apparently, treating all those distinguished Irishmen who at present, or in past times, have differed from my view of this great subject as either fools or frauds. That is never the position I have taken up I admit that we approach this question from an absolutely different point of view, but I have tried, throughout the years it has been my duty to deal with it, to deal with it according to my honest convictions; and I give them credit for doing the same. But it is clear that Irish opinion has not been satisfied by the speech which has just been delivered. Far be it from me to suggest that the hon. Member for Dundee can be ranked either among fools or frauds—very much the contrary. He has spoken his mind freely and honestly; but the chilling silence with which his remarks were received on the benches below the gangway, and the open dissent of so influential a Member of the House as the hon. and learned Member for North Loutb to his suggestion that the income tax ought not to be repealed in Ireland, on the ground, I suppose, that there are professional classes in that country whose interests are to be considered, as well as the interests of the poor, I think must have convinced him that, at any rate, he did not appreciate the Irish view of this question, and that ho had rushed in, in his proposal of remedies, where Irishmen feared to tread. The hon. Member for Dundee has treated this question from an entirely different point of view from that from which it has usually been debated in this House. It has been debated here as an Irish question, and as an Irish question only. I do not say for a moment that there is not a good deal worthy of consideration in his remarks; but I entirely dissent from his conclusion that our present system of taxation requires a democratic reform, and that in Great Britain the classes who pay indirect taxation are so suffering as to be entitled to large redress in the matter.

I have always felt extreme difficulty in arguing this matter as against lion. Members from Ireland, because I entirely differ from their view of history with regard to it. Take the view which has been expressed to-day, and on previous occasions, by the hon. Member for North Dublin as to the character of the Act of Union. This Act has been described by him and by other hon. Members below the gangway as a fraud. We have heard often enough that it has no binding authority upon them, and we know perfectly well that it never prevented, for a moment, Irish Members in past years from supporting, for example, such a breach of it as the Disestablishment and the Disendowment of the Irish Church any more than it prevents their successors now from supporting, as they steadfastly support, Home Rule for Ireland, without the slightest regard to the opinion of Great Britain upon that subject. 1 think the position of hon. Members for Ireland on this matter was very fairly summed up last session by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, when he said they could tear up the Act of Union without doing any particular wrong, but that England is bound in no way to weaken it to the detriment of Ireland. That would indeed be a one-sided bargain. [An IRISH MEMBER: A forced bargain.] That is not my view of it. I wish to deal with it to-day, as I have always dealt with it, as a fair bargain between the two Parliaments and the two countries, and I find, as I have always found, that I cannot interpret the financial provisions of the Act of Union in the same way as the hon. Member for North Dublin. The hon. Member for North Dublin told us today that the present system of equal taxation was, in his mind, a violation of the Act of Union, and that, under that Act, Ireland was entitled to a separate system of taxation, to be always continued subject to revision from time to time according to the taxable capacities of the two countries. But that is absolutely and diametrically opposed to my reading, or, I think, to any fair reading, of the Act of Union. That Act, from my point of view, distinctly contemplated a separate system of taxation as a temporary matter, and was intended to pave the way to a common system of taxation for the two kingdoms, under which every individual, whether English, Scottish, or Irish, should be liable to the same taxes wherever ho might live, subject only to the celebrated proviso as to exemptions and abatements.


Can the right hon. Gentleman quote a single expression from the authors of that Act to that effect?


I take the Act itself, from which it is perfectly clear that upon the fulfilment of certain conditions, the separate system of taxation and the separate exchequers, continued in the first instance as the relics of a different political system, were to be abolished. Well, the conditions were fulfilled. ["Not at all."] I do not think that hon. Members will improve the fair discussion of this question, even from their point of view, by these perpetual references to what they call fraud and robbery. Let us at any rate try to credit each other with an attempt at honest dealing. The conditions wore admitted to be fulfilled in 1817, in which year, with the assent of the representatives of Ireland in the House of Commons at the time, the system of separate exchequers was abolished and a system of a common exchequer established.

Now, I know perfectly well that the hon. Member for North Dublin and those who agree with him on this question will say that the Irish Members of that day, before the passing of Catholic Emancipation, had no right to act on behalf of their country, and that their action is practically void.


The right hon. Gentleman is not correct in his representation of my argument. My argument, both last year and today was that one of these conditions, viz., as to the circumstances of the two countries being similar has never been fulfilled.


That is a matter of opinion. It is the fact that they were considered to be fulfilled in 1817, and the only answer to the argument that I have ever heard is that the Irish Members of that day had no right to act on behalf of their country. But the Irish representatives of that day, in the exercise of their constitutional powers, had as good a right to act on behalf of the country as the Irish representatives of today. ["No, no."] It would be as illogical to contend fifty years hence, after, possibly, all kinds of changes in popular representation have taken place, perhaps after female suffrage has been established, or other great changes in the franchise have made the conditions of representation wholly different from what I they are now—it would be as absurd to contend that the Irish representatives of today had not the right to speak for Ireland now because of the changes afterwards made in the system of representation as it is to say now that the Irish representatives of 1817 had not a right to act for Ireland then because Catholic Emancipation was not passed until twelve years later. That, at any rate, is my view of the facts of 1817.; Since that time there has been established gradually, no doubt, as between the two kingdoms, this equal system of taxation to which I have already alluded, and which, in my belief, is in itself the fairest system of taxation that could be instituted for the two countries. Now, of course, we have heard a great deal from time to time—less today, I think, than usual—as to the effect of the Report of the Royal Commission of 1894. I think the lion. Member claims somewhat too much for that Report in the terms of his motion to day. The Commission did not report that Ireland was overtaxed; the Commissioners did not get halfway in the solution of the question referred to them. The Commissioners did not deal for a moment with the question of the expenditure of the taxation, whether in Ireland or for Imperial purposes, which obviously to any one reading the reference to the Commission, formed as important a part of the subject in the minds of those who appointed the Commission as the question of the taxable capacity of the two countries. When the hon. Member for Dundee commented on the sparse attendance here today, I could not help thinking that that, to a great extent, might have been due to the fact that this Report of the Royal Commission, of which so much has been made, cannot be, and never has boon, accepted by those who view the question from a Unionist, rather than a Separatist, point of view as in any way dealing with the great subject of taxation in the two kingdoms. It stopped half way, or less than half way, even if you look at it as a mode of solving the question of proper taxation of the two countries under a system of Home Rule. It had nothing whatever to do with the present system of taxation, which is the only practical system to my mind under our present system of political union. I think, therefore, that excessive importance has been attached to the Report of the Commission by hon. Members below the gangway opposite. Something has been said today—a good deal by the hon. Member for Islington—about the present position as compared with that which existed at the date of the Report. I am disposed to agree with him that we shall do no good in this discussion by-dwelling on the time, more than a hundred years ago, when the taxation and the debt of Ireland were alike small, when the expenditure was small, and when similar circumstances no doubt existed in England and Scotland; nor is it of much practical use to discuss the meaning and intention of the Act of Union, or even the Report of the Royal Commission. I think the hon. Member for West Islington preferred to dwell rather on what had occurred since the Commission reported and on the growth of taxation in Ireland since that date.


Only because I have referred to the other before.


There was a rather remarkable paper circulated to Members two days ago by the Irish Parliamentary Party, which, I think, bears evidence on it of the authorship of the hon. Member for West Islington. I do not at all blame him for putting the case forward from his point of view, nor do I for a moment, venture to criticise the Irish Parliamentary Party for accepting his figures; but I wish to deal with the statements in that paper, for I do not think they by any means fairly represent the facts of the case. In the first place, we are told that the facts brought to light by the Royal Commission" fade into insignificance when compared with the results in the years which have since elapsed," and that "seeing the Report of the Royal Commission alleged that, the over-taxation of Ireland in 1893–94 amounted to nearly £3,000,009 a year, it is surely remarkable that during the succeeding ten years instead of any relief being given £3,000,000 more should have been added to the burdens of a rapidly declining population." I do not think that represents the position. £3,000,000 more have not been added to the burdens of a rapidly declining population.


Including this year.


I thought I recognised the authorship. The hon. Member has made an estimate of the yield of taxation in Ireland this year with which I entirely disagree. I was unwise enough last year in debating this question to put before the House comparative Estimates for Ireland and Great Britain for the year that has just concluded. I was unwise, because my Estimates were falsified by results, some taxes producing more, some less. It is very much better to deal with the matter on the basis of ascertained facts than on the anticipations of the yield of taxation. Now, I take the facts for 1901–02, which are before the House, and what do I find? It is said that the position has changed for the worse since the date of the Report of the Royal Commission. I exclude non-tax revenue from the calculation, for it has nothing to do with the question—except so far as this, that the postal service, which is the principal source of non-tax revenue in this country, costs more in Ireland than is received from it. In 1893–94 the total Irish revenue from taxation was £6,644,000; in 1901–02 it was £8,712,000, an increase of £2,068,000 in Irish taxation, which I admit is largo. But what was the case in Great Britain? The total revenue of the United Kingdom from taxation in 1893–94 was £82,439,000; in 1901–02 it was £130,199,000 an increase of £47,760,000. The Irish increase was 4.33 per cent, of the total increase of the United Kingdom, less than the 5 per cent, which, according to the much-quoted statement of the Royal Commission Report, was the taxable capacity of Ireland, as compared with Great Britain. Of every 21s. levied by taxation in the year 1893–94, Ireland's proportion was 1s. 8¼d. of every 21s. levied by taxation last year, Ireland's proportion was 1s. 5d. The Irish proportion of the total tax revenue in 1893–94 was 8.1 per cent., in 1901–02 it had fallen to 6.7 per cent. Those figures show that the Irish grievance, if it be treated, as the Royal Commission treated it, as a question of each country bearing a certain proportion of the whole taxation, is diminishing and not increasing. I have shown that the proportion now is less than it was when the Commission reported; I have shown that of the increase Ireland pays a less proportion than the 5 per cent, which was suggested as her taxable capacity by the Royal Commission.


And yet she pays £3,000,000 more a year.


Now, how is the money expended? The hon. Member for North Dublin told us, as he has before, that the expenditure is matter of common interest, while the taxation is a matter of separate interest. I decline to argue this matter on that ground at all. You may take common expenditure and common taxation, or you may take separate expenditure and separate taxation, but whichever; you take, you must treat expenditure and taxation together. Then it has been said that the question of expenditure has nothing to do with it, that you levy too much taxation in Ireland, and that the grievance is not remedied because you spend more there; but that has been rather negatived by the suggestions which have come from several hon. Members who have spoken today in favour of this Motion, that the grievance might be mitigated by the increase of the grants from the Imperial Exchequer at present given to Ireland, among them by the hon. Member for West Donegal in the very interesting speech in which he seconded the Motion.

But the contention of the hon. Member for North Dublin was this — that our expenditure in Ireland is for English and not Irish purposes, that it is to keep Ireland down by corruption and force, and that it is not for the good of Ireland at all. Well, let us see how much of the increased revenue of Ireland I since the year 1893–94 has gone towards the local expenditure in Ireland, and to what it has been devoted. The expenditure in Ireland for local purposes in 1893–94 was £5,603,000; in 1901–02 it was £7,214,000, an increase of £1,611,000. How has that increase been spent? Has it been spent on the Lord Lieutenant? Not a bit. Has it been spent on the Constabulary? Not at all. The charge for the Constabulary was less last year than it was in 1893–94.

MR. FLYNN (Cork Co., N.).

There was only a trilling difference.


I do not say that the difference was large, but that the amount was actually less. This £1,011,000 has been expended for Irish local purposes in which I venture to say hon. Members below the gangway opposite have agreed. It has been expended, in the first place, in increased grants for the purposes of the Local Government Board in connection with the establishment of local government in Ireland. It has been expended, in the second place, for increased grants to education. But it has been expended mainly for additional giants to local authorities, which in 1901–02 amounted to £1,021,000 as compared with £509,000 in 1893–94, owing of course, to the great grant in aid of agricultural ratepapers in Ireland and the establishment of the Department of Agriculture. That increase of £1,011,000 in local expenditure in Ireland, I will venture to say, has had the tacit, if not the active, approval of hon. Members below the gangway opposite, who now say we must not take it into account in considering the question at all.

Then what is left of the increased taxation of £2,008,000 to which I have referred? What is left, of course, is the additional contribution of Ireland for Imperial purposes. In 1893–94 her total contribution was £1,966,000, or 3.24 per cent, of the total expenditure of the United Kingdom for Imperial purposes. In 1901–02 it was £2,570,000. So far from being one-twentieth, as the report of the Royal Commission would suggest, I suppose, of the expenditure of the United Kingdom for Imperial purposes, it was barely one-fortieth, arid was no more than 2.54 per cent, of the whole expenditure of the United Kingdom for Imperial purposes. In 1893–4 the total expenditure of the United Kingdom for Imperial purposes was £58,008,000; in 1901–2 it had risen to £101,185,000, an increase of £43,500,000 a year, out of which Ireland's contribution to the war and to the general increase of expenditure was only £600,000. That fact is met by the assertion that Ireland has no interest in Imperial purposes, that it is not to the advantage of Ireland that we should maintain a navy, an army, or diplomatic relations with foreign Powers, or expend money for various colonial purposes, and for the supervision of trade and other objects in which the whole of the United Kingdom is concerned. I have heard it said in these debates that if Ireland were sunk beneath the Atlantic, England and Scotland would have to maintain just as large a navy, army, and diplomatic service, and that nothing would be saved. The suggestion that anybody is to be sunk beneath the Atlantic is never an agreeable one. But let us take a converse case. Suppose that England and Scotland were sunk beneath the ocean, would not Ireland require a navy or an army? [Nationalist cries of "No."] Is there nothing in Ireland attractive to foreign Powers? Is she so entirely disagreeable and impoverished a country that no great European Power, but for the existence of Great Britain, might desire to annex Ireland to her dominions? It is all very well, but no independent nation in the world can or does exist without those means of self-defence which are implied by the maintenance of a navy, an army, and those relations with foreign Powers which have to be provided under the head of Imperial expenditure. The hon. Member for Dundee, to my great astonishment, compared the position of Ireland in this respect with that of Canada and Australia.


As to services rendered by the Navy.


Did the hon. Member forget that Ireland is a part of the governing body of the Empire, that Irish Members sit in this House at least on equal terms with ourselves, that Ireland has a fuller representation in this House than any other part of the United Kingdom?


Then take it away.


What I said was that, in respect of the value of the defence rendered by the Navy, the great Colonies were served as fully as Ireland, England, or Scotland.


That may be a reason why the great Colonies should pay more than they do now towards the cost of the Navy; but it is impossible to deal with that without considering the question of control; and in these matters, according to her population and her position, Ireland has the power of control [Nationalist cries of "No !"]—oh, yes, she has ! —which is not given to Canada or Australia. Therefore, I say, this contention that Ireland has nothing to do with Imperial expenditure, and that therefore all she contributes to it may be treated in the words of this paper as the amount that is swept into the British Treasury after all the costs of Government are discharged by the taxes wrung from the Irish people, is a contention that is as contrary to the facts as anything that can be stated in this House. I know that we are told that the division between Imperial and local expenditure in these Returns is not a fair one; I think the lion. Member for North Dublin used the term that the accounts were juggled; and it is suggested that probably they are most unfairly dealt with.


I said I did not know anything about them.


I think the hon. Member went rather further than that. But suppose you were to say— what hon. Members opposite have always asked for—that the cost of the Lord Lieutenant was a matter of Imperial, and not Irish, expenditure, although every colonial governor is paid by the colony. Suppose you were to say that half the cost of the Irish Constabulary was a matter of Imperial, and not Irish, expenditure. I suppose that even hon. Members will not contend that Ireland is so peaceful a country that she would be able to get along without any police at all. Even if you made these deductions the contribution of Ireland towards Imperial expenditure would not be anything like the one-twentieth part that was suggested by the Royal Commission.

But the main contention of this debate has been that it is not now a question of proportion, that it is a question of power to bear the present taxation. It has been said that the population of Ireland is diminishing; that is unfortunately true; but I think the existing population is better able, so far as wealth goes, to bear taxation than they were when their numbers were greater. [Nationalist cries of "No."] If you look at the Returns, I think you will see that the evidence bears that out. You have a diminished population as compared with 1893–4, but that diminished population has £53,000,000 of deposits in the banks of all kinds, instead of £41,000,000 which existed then. The railway receipts improve, and there is a greater use of the facilities of the Post Office in the way of money orders, and correspondence; and the farming stock belonging to this diminished population is greater than it was when the population was larger. I am glad to say that the average annual emigration from Ireland in the twelve years ending 1901 was little more than half the average annual emigration in the preceding decade; and even the hon. Member for West Donegal admitted in his speech today that the Land Acts had done a great deal to improve the condition of the tenant farmer. These facts do riot indicate a decrease of means on the part of the population of Ireland.

But it is contended that there has been a decrease in the yield of taxation in Ireland in these later years—that the income-tax, for example, has produced less for each penny in Ireland than it did some years ago, while it has produced more in Great Britain. It is quite true that for some years—after 1893—there was a falling off in the yield per penny of the income tax in Ireland. But why? Tartly because of the purchase by tenants of estates which, when divided among small holders, paid no income tax, but had paid income tax when they belonged to single proprietors; but mainly because of the great extension of exemptions and abatements of the income tax made in the year 1894, and again by myself a few years later, which, of course, had much more effect on the yield of the income tax in a poor country like Ireland than on its yield in Great Britain. At present, I believe, that the yield per 1d. of the income tax in Ireland is about stationary. But I must say, with regard to this whole question of direct taxation, that whether you look to the low valuation on which the income tax it levied in Ireland, or to the fact that the class in Ireland winch pays income tax is free from house duty, land tax, and assessed taxes, which are levied on precisely the same class in Great Britain, I do not think there is any fair ground for an Irish grievance in the matter of direct taxation. The grievance of indirect taxation has often been brought before this House, and the hon. Member for West Islington thinks he has proved that indirect taxes press more heavily on Ireland than they did by quoting the diminished yield of the taxes upon tea, tobacco, and spirits in the year 1901–02, as compared with the previous year. That is a perfect delusion on the part of the hon. Member. Undoubtedly there was a diminished I yield under each of these heads, not only in Ireland, but in the whole of the United Kingdom, in the year 1901–02 as compared with the previous year; but why? For the simple reason that there was a forestalment of duty of no less than a million on tea, a million and a half on tobacco, and a very considerable sum on spirits in the year 1900–01. which duty properly belonged to the year 1901–02; but the actual consumption of tea very considerably increased in the year 1901–02, as compared with the previous year, while the consumption of tobacco and spirits, at any rate, showed no diminution. There is, I will venture to say, no proof whatever in the Returns of Irish taxation of the fact which the hon. Member appears to consider proved— that the diminution in the yield of these taxes in the year 1901–02 shows strained resources, or decreased consumption of these articles in Ireland.

I have never been able to see that the fact that high taxes are levied on such articles as alcohol and tobacco can be considered an Irish grievance. Nobody need consume these articles unless he chooses. When we come to taxes on tea, on sugar, and on corn, I admit that those taxes arc in a different category. What did I do when, owing to an increase in our annual expenditure and to the of the war, I was compelled last year, and this year, to impose increased indirect taxation on the whole of the United Kingdom—which increased taxation has been borne by Great Britain far more, proportionately, than by Ireland? I took very good care to impose last year, not only a tax on sugar but a tax on coal—not a penny of which touches Ireland at all, but of winch a great industry in Great Britain has bitterly complained. And when in this House the case of Ireland, in regard to the tax on corn, was brought before us, as I think, in able and convincing speeches, I agreed —I was not forced—I ageed voluntarily to halve the tax on maize, because that was the article which is principally consumed in Ireland. That course was precisely in accordance with the spirit of the proviso as to exemptions and abatements in the Act of Union, as explained by Lord Castlereagh himself. Therefore, I think I may say that I have not shown myself insensible to the claims of the poorer classes of Ireland in this matter, and I am quite sure that that view will continue to be taken, by His Majesty's Government. It has been suggested today that something should be done in this way in the near future. Well, I hope that next year may see a considerable relief of taxation, instead of the increase of taxation to which we have been unfortunately accustomed in the past three years; and then I have not the least doubt that the position of the poorer taxpayers—not merely in Ireland, but in the whole of the United Kingdom —will be fairly taken into consideration by His Majesty's Government.

Then I come to the other suggestion that has been made—the suggestion of increased grants. The hon. Member for West Donegal said with truth that there were harrowing passages in the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Taxation as to the great burden of rates in the unions in the west of Ireland, and as to the condition of the poor in those parts of the country. The Royal Commission on Local Taxation made certain recommendations upon that matter, contingent, of course, upon similar action by Parliament with regard to the relief of local ratepayers in the rest of the United Kingdom. I have not the least doubt that when the time comes to deal with the question of local taxation those recommendations also will be fairly considered by those who may have to deal with them. But this Motion today does not mean any policy of that kind. It does not mean, as was completely shown by the silence with which the suggestions of the hon. Member for Dundee were greeted—it does not mean any change in indirect taxation throughout the United Kingdom to the advantage of the poorer taxpayers of the whole kingdom. It means, if it means anything, a separate system of taxation for Ireland as compared with Great Britain; it means the establishment of Home Rule in the matter of financial relations. Well, that, to my mind, would be as disastrous to the finances of the United Kingdom, and to the prosperity of Ireland herself as the adoption of Home Rule in her political relations would be to the political future of these countries; and today I have only to repeat what I have said several times before, that to a Motion of this kind, which I can only interpret in that way, His Majesty's Government must offer their firmest resistance.

(4.45.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

said he was afraid that the speech which the right hon. Gentleman had just made, must be regarded as his "swan song" upon this Question. While regretting that what was probably the right hon. Gentleman's last speech on this subject as Chancellor of the Exchequer should be of a character so unsatisfactory to the representatives of the Irish people, he acknowledged that on many occasions he had met their demands, if not entirely as they would wish, yet in as largo a degree as his political position allowed him. It was quite true that the right hon. Gentleman was not compelled to meet them upon the maize Question, but, after listening to the arguments addressed to him, the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted the force of them, and was manly and frank enough to meet the views of the Irish people in this respect Therefore, he had not regarded the right hon. Gentleman as being an opponent of Irish claims, and it was with some regret that they had hoard that the right hon. Gentleman was not to occupy for any lengthened period that great position that he had held with so much distinction for so many years. He thought it only fair to offer those few remarks to the right hon. Gentleman, and he trusted that ho would take them in the spirit in which they were uttered. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman that the reduction of the population of Ireland ought to be regarded as an increase of its financial prosperity was one which Irish Members found it difficult to listen to without impatience and oven some indignation. The emigration from Ireland had been an emigration of the fittest, while the unfittest remained. The bettor half had gone away, the weaker half had remained. When they said that the population had been reduced by one-half they had not stated the whole evil, because it was the better half that had gone and the weaker half had stayed behind in the country. He should think that between 70 and 80 per cent, of the people who had gone away from Ireland were between the ages of twenty and thirty-five and were the very flower of the nation, and these men and women had themselves helped to build up the prosperity of other nations by stalwart Irish arms which ought to have boon devoted to the development of their own land. The predictions made even in the British Parliament by Richard Brinsley Sheridan and others at the time of the Union had been fulfilled, that unless the financial arrangement wore corrected it must lead to the greater impoverishment of the poorer country. A Member of Parliament named Johns in the year 1800 said the probabilities were that under this financial arrangement the National Debt of Ireland would rise, while the National Debt of England would descend, and it would be like two men on the road one ascending a hill and the other descending. Sheridan, once a distinguished Member of this House, opposed the Act of Union, and one of his main grounds and strongest arguments was that that would take place which hon. Members from Ireland now contended, had taken place, namely, the financial destruction of the poorer country by the richer country.

He wondered how many hon. Members were aware that when the Act of Union was passed the population of Ireland was 5,000,000, and that of England 10,000,000. When he heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer talk about the over representation of this House, he remembered that at the passing of the Act of Union Ireland was one-half of the entire population of these Islands, and they enjoyed only one-sixth of the representation in the English Parliament. Now, when English legislation had destroyed half the population, it was proposed to take advantage of that. In their hour of strength the people of Ireland got one-sixth of the representation in the British Parliament when they were entitled to one-third at least, if not to one-half, and now in Ireland's hour of weakness it was suggested that England should take advantage of her poverty and weakness to still further reduce her representation. The argument that no man paid for the same article one penny more of taxation in Ireland than in England was a real obstacle to a true understanding of this subject, but there never was a more fallacious argument. No man could contend that to have the same taxes in two countries meant equality of burden. Would a tax on salt be the same burden here as in India, or a tax on rice the same burden to our people as to the Chinese? Would an equal tax on coffee be an equal burden to France and to England, or would the same tax on tea be equally felt in this country, especially in Ireland, and in France. Although it was true that in Ireland nobody paid one penny more in taxation for the same commodity than was paid in England, that argument did not establish the proposition that the burden of Irish and English taxpayers was the same.

What was the reality of the whole business? It was that the burden of taxation was dependent upon the ability of the taxpayer to pay. It was quite true that the poor in England suffered under indirect taxation. He agreed that indirect taxation was a burden to the poor, and was felt by them more severely than by the rich. Could anybody argue that 6d. a pound on tea was the same burden to the gentleman living in Park Lane, as to the charwoman who eked out a miserable existence on poor wages derived from her badly paid occupation. He would point out, however, that the poor people of this country paid a far smaller proportion than the people of Ireland. If the whole of England were as poor as St. Georges-in-the-East, as was the case in Ireland, they would very soon have to change their methods of taxation. The reason they could keep up the present system of taxation in England, was, because in this country poverty was exceptional, whereas in Ireland it was general. It was on the principle of invincible ignorance of the conditions of Ireland that the set off argument was brought forward. What was the set-off argument? It was that Ireland shared the services of the Navy and the Army. The Navy was not for the protection, but the subjugation of Ireland; the Army was not for the preservation and safeguarding, but for the subjugation and ruin of Ireland. The Government had a third and more effective line of defence in Ireland; they had bought up the intellect of Ireland.


asked why the hon. Member had gone to represent a Division of Liverpool.


said that was a personal allusion. He hoped that, while representing a Division of Liverpool, ho had devoted what intelligence he possessed to the benefit of the people of his country. Of all the results of the Union he knew no result that brought deeper pain or humiliation to Irishmen than the position of the Irish Bar today as compared with what it was in former days. In the days when no Catholic could sit in Parliament, there were Protestant barristers who fought for the liberties of Ireland. At that time there were none more patriotic than the Protestants of Ireland. The Union had been destructive of all classes. It had been destructive to the landlords of Ireland. The grandfather of the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh voted against the Union, and later on it would be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman made a great and unsuccessful struggle against the restoration of the Parliament which his grandfather endeavoured to preserve. Formerly there was an aristocracy who lived in Ireland; they came over to England arid most of them had gone into the Bankruptcy Court. There was corruption in every vein and artery of Irish Administration. The judges had salaries out of all proportion to the actual necessity. When a prominent English lawyer went on the Bench he made a financial sacrifice. It was different in Ireland, where the change meant on an average the doubling of an income. Yet it was money spent in that way the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarded as compensation for over taxation. He had heard of golden chains. This was the first time that golden chains paid out of the money of the prisoner were regarded as the alleviation of his toils. Another part of the set-off was the police. This argument was actually used while the rafters were still echoing the debate on Sergeant Sheridan. The argument was, "We charge you too much, but then we give you Sergeant Sheridan." Dealing with the Imperial argument, the hon. Member said he called himself an Imperialist, but he defined the word for himself. There were at present in this country honoured representatives of the British Colonies. What did the Colonies do in the way of taxation for Imperial purposes? The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the Navy was of great benefit to Ireland. Was it of no benefit to Canada or Australia? Australia was constantly confronted with the possibility of some enterprise on the part of a European power to take possession of islands in the Pacific which Australians thought ought to belong to them. The result was that nearly always some portions of the British Fleet were in Australian waters. Canada had a frontier running thousands of miles along another country which was friendly. Were the Army and Navy of no use to Canada? In Ireland they could get on very well without an English gun or regiment, yet the Colonies gave nothing practically, and Ireland was taxed to the death. There was the compensation, forsooth, that Ireland had representatives in Parliament, representatives who were out-voted in the proportion of four or five to one. He would make this concession to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Irish representation in this assembly was bad for Ireland, and not good for England. It was an Imperial injury as well as an Irish injury. The Irish Members had a right to intervene in debates and to vote on the greatest questions that came before Parliament. Their votes counted for more in Imperial than in Irish questions. He was a Member of a Party that helped twice to change the Ministry of this country, and they might do so again. But at the very moment when by their votes in that House they made the Marquis of Salisbury Prime Minister and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer Chief Secretary for Ireland, when they gave the present Prime Minister his first chance in official life, they could not appoint a sub-constable or dismiss a Sergeant Sheridan. Give them Home Eule not merely in finance, but -in politics, a properly paid judiciary that should be in accordance with the feelings and aspirations of the people, and the reduced police force which the country demanded, and there would be a real set-off between them and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The expenditure of the British Empire had extended to such proportions that it was a grave danger to the future of England, and a much greater danger to Ireland. That was the financial relation between the two countries. On the one hand there was a poor and small country with a dwindling population, and on the other a great Imperial nation, and the race between them down the road of expenditure was that of the earthen pot and the iron pot. In the recent war England had been able to get Irish soldiers to fight her battles, and some of them were now reading the eulogiums of English statesmen and at the game time eating porridge in the workhouse. It was rather too much that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should come and urge as an argument against the claim of Ireland that England had taken the blood of her sons and at the same time heaped taxes on her people.

(5.20.) MR. M'CANN (Dublin, St. Stephen's Green)

said he wished to make a few observations of a general character. The average total income from taxes levied in Ireland during the last fifteen years of the Irish Parliament was about one and a half millions a year which was expended—about £650,000 a year for the purposes of civil government, and £850,000 a year for the services of the debt, the military, and defence generally. Ireland contributed last year £12,570,000 from her taxes for the service of the debt, the army and navy. It would be seen that there was an increase of £1,720,000 for the cost of defensive purposes, and £6,564,000 increase in cost of civil government in Ireland. But to make the comparison fair between the two periods they must further add to the cost of civil government the amount collected in taxes by the County Councils, and add it to the £7,214,000 a year expended out of our taxes. Putting both together, they got a total of about £10,500,000 a year as the expenditure of the country from the taxation of the people of the country for the present cost of civil government in Ireland, as compared with £650,000 a year at the time this partnership was formed. The increase in the period for the purposes of civil government was therefore £9,850,000 a year. The question now arose, was the taxable capacity of the country better or worse now than at the time of the Union? He believed that the country's capacity to boar taxation was less now, much less, than at the period of the Union. Prices for all sorts of agricultural produce were then most remunerative—they all knew what they were—and they had then quite a number of small industries spread all over the country which gave much employment outside the land. These had all now practically disappeared. They had now practically as industries only the highly centralised manufacture of whisky and porter in Dublin, and linen and shipbuilding in Belfast. But then it might be said that these taxes calculated and applied towards civil government expenditure in Ireland, were spent in the country, and that, therefore, the country had the benefit of the expenditure. This was the usual argument, which meant—if it meant anything—that it was legitimate to extract taxes so largely from the producers, who were the chief payers of these taxes, for the purposes to which they were applied in Ireland in carrying on the civil government of the country. Had this expenditure, or any portion of it, the effect of keeping a single Irish boy or girl from emigrating, or of keeping a pauper, indoor or outdoor, off the rates, or of permanently strengthening in any material way those who had not yet fled the country, or had not yet-become chargeable on the rates? He could not see any portion of this huge taxation working in any of these desirable directions.

There was another point to which he wished to draw attention. The new duties imposed for the, current year I would probably come to £800,000, or £1,000,000 over last year's revenue. What was Ireland's ability to bear all these taxes? The Financial Relations Commission reported that she was then paying nearly £3,000,000 a year beyond her just contribution. During the eight years that passed since then, she had about £3,000,000 a year additional taxation imposed upon her which did not seen to be applicable to any purposes for her material improvement. He knew he would be met at once by the Irish prosperity mongers, who relied upon the bank deposits and current accounts in Irish banks as being a sufficient answer to all allegations as to the poverty and decadence of the country. He would shortly put the matter, and give an illustration. He was a member of a society recently formed in aid of the preservation of the Irish peasantry. He believed that the whole crux of the Irish economic position centred in the peasantry. This society had been at considerable pains to ascertain the facts and diagnose the position. They enumerated and located the peasants as those who tilled the land by their own labour and the labour of their families, and those who worked on the land for hire. They believed that this class worked out nearly, if not quite, half the, entire population. There were 400,000 peasant holdings in Ireland, valued for taxation purposes from a little over £20 a year, and coming down to £1 a year. The average rent paid by these peasant farmers was, as near as they could make it, about £7 to £8. The average income of these people, derivable from their farms, could not be more than £25 after rent and taxes were paid. Allowing five to a family, this did not come to more than £5 a head to live on. This income was only attainable in good years. When the rainy day came round in Ireland, and the potatoes rotted and the turf would not dry, the majority of these people were starving, or next door to it. Let them see what was the yearly contribution of these peasants under the present system of taxation, Imperial and local. They had taken much trouble to ascertain this taxation in various districts of the country, and had struck an average, and had come to the conclusion, from the best data which they could obtain, that they contributed 30s. a head each to Imperial and local taxation. This calculation was made before the recent tax was put upon their food—flour and yellow meal. It came to this, that these 400,000 holdings, containing four to five people in each, worked out to nearly 2,000,000 of people who contributed 30s. a head, or £3,000,000 sterling, a year to Imperial and local taxation. That was, on an income of £6 10s. a year 30s. was paid for taxation purposes. Another question arose in this connection, which was this—To what extent was this peasant benefited in any material way by the payment of this 30s.

Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.) Cullinan, J. Fitzmanrice, Lord Edmond
Abraham. William (Rhondda) Dalziel, James Henry Flavin, Michael Joseph
Blake, Edward Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Flynn, James Christopher
Boland, John Delany, William Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Devlin, Joseph Gilhooly, James
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Dillon, John Grant, Corrie
Burke, E. Haviland- Doogan, P. C. Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton
Caine, William Sproston Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Hammond, John
Caldwell, James Duffy, William J. Hardie, J. Keir (MerthyrTydvil
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Dunn, Sir William Harrington, Timothy
Carew, James Laurence Edwards, Frank Hayden, John Patrick
Cawley, Frederick Elibank, Master of Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-
Clancy, John Joseph Emmott, Alfred Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.
Cogan, Denis J. Farquharson, Dr. Robert Healy, Timothy Michael
Condon, Thomas Joseph Farrell, James Patrick Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Fenwick, Charles Horniman, Frederick John
Crean, Eugene Ffrench, Peter Jameson, Major J. Eustace
Cremer, William Randal Field, William Jones, William (Carnarv'nshire

out of a yearly income of £6 10s? Was anything done with this money to in any way raise his poor standard of living, and to enable him to put by something for the rainy day? The point he was coming to wast his—these non-economic taxes, when collected, found their way to the credit sides of ledgers in banks worked through credit balances when distributed in the various directions for which the taxes were collected, and went to swell the deposits. So the result of their Society's investigations so far was this— that round about £3,000,000 in non-economic taxes, and perhaps as much more in non-economic rents, were extracted annually from the peasantry, and went to swell the deposits in Irish banks. So that, in fact, the bank deposit test was most fallacious, and rightly viewed as he put it, it was a measure of the poverty and wretchedness of the people, and not at all of their prosperity. The deposits were not the peasants' deposits, but of others who were in receipt of the peasants' taxes.

(5.27) Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 117; Noes, 168; (Division List No. 316.)

Jordan, Jeremiah Norton, Capt. Cecil William Russell, T. W.
Joyce, Michael O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Saunderson, Rt Hn. Col. Edw. J.
Lambert, George O'Brien, K'ndal (Tipperary Mid Schvvann, Charles E.
Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Leamy, Edmund O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington O'Brien, William (Cork) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Leigh, Sir Joseph O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Sullivan, Donal
Lloyd-George, David O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Thompson, Dr EC (Monagh'n, N
Lough, Thomas O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S. Tally, Jasper
Lundon, W. O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) Ure, Alexander
MaeDonnell, Dr. Mark A. O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N. Wallace, Robert
MacNeill, John Gordon Swift O'Malley, William Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
MacVeagh, Jeremiah O'Mara, James Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
M'Cann, James O'Shaughnessy, P. J. White, Patrick (Meath, North)
M'Kean, John O'Shee, James John Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)
Minch, Matthew Power, Patrick Joseph Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Mooney, John J. Reddy, M. Yoxall, James Henry
Murnaghan, George Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Murphy, John Redmond, William (Clare)
Nannetti, Joseph P. Reid, Sir R. Threshie(Dumfries) TELLER FOR THE AYESMDASH;
Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N. Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion) Sir Thomas Esmonde and
Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Robson, William Snowdon Captain Donelan.
Norman, Henry Roche, John
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex F. Davenport, William Bromley Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Dewar, Sir T.R. (Tower H'mlets Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie
Arkwright, John Stanhope Dickson, Charles Scott Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Arrol, Sir William Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fr'd Dixon Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E. Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Bailey, James (Walworth) Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Lowe, Francis William
Bain, Colonel James Robert Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)
Balcarres Lord Faber, George Denison (York) Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)
Balfour, Rt Hon.A.J.(Manch'r Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Macartney, Rt Hn W.G. Ellison
Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W. (Leeds Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Macdona, John Cumming
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch. Finch, George H. Maconochie, A. W.
Banbury, Frederick George Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Beach, Rt Hn. Sir Michael Hicks Fisher, William Hayes M'Calmont, Col. J.(Antrim, E.)
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose- Manners, Lord Cecil
Bignold, Arthur Flannery, Sir Fortescue Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe
Bill, Charles Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ. Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh.
Blundell, Colonel Henry Foster, Philip S.(Warwick, S.W. Melville, Beresford Valentine
Bond, Edward Gordon, MajEvans-(T rH'ml'ts Molesworth, Sir Lewis
Boulnois, Edmund Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop More, Robt. Jasper(Shropshire)
Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn Greene, Sir. EW (B'rySEdm'nds Morgan, David J(Walth'mstow
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh.
Brookfield, Colonel Montagu Greene, W. Raymond-(Carnbs.) Morrell, George Herbert
Brown, Alexander H. (Shropsh. Greville, Hon. Ronald Morrison, James Archibald
Bollard, Sir Harry Guthrie, Walter Murray Mount, William Arthur
Butcher, John George Hamilton, Rt Hn L'rd G (Midd'x Murray, Rt Hn. A. Graham (Bute
Campbell. Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. Myers, William Henry
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire Henderson, Sir Alexander Nicholson, William Graham
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Higgmbottom, S. W. Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)
Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore'r Hoult, Joseph Peel, Hn Wm. Robert Wellesley
Chapman, Edward Howard, Jno. (Kent, Faversham Penn, John
Charrington, Spencer Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham Percy, Earl
Churchill, Winston Spencer Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Clive, Captain Percy A. Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse Pretyman, Ernest George
Coddington, Sir William Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Coghill, Douglas Harry Kenyon. Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh) Purvis, Robert
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Knowles, Lees Rankin, Sir James
Colings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Rattigan, Sir William Henry
Cranborne, Viscount Lawrence. Wm. F. (Liverpool) Reid, James (Greenock)
Cripps, Charles Alfred Lawson, John Grant Ridley, S. Forde(Bethnal Green
Crossley, Sir Savile Lee, Arthur. (Hants, Fareham Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Cust, Henry John C. Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Smith, James Parker (Lanarks. Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Robinson, Brooke Smith Hon. W. F. D. (Strand Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Round, Rt. Hon. James Stanley, Lord (Lanes.) Wodehonse, Rt. Hn. E. R (Bath)
Royds, Clement Molyneux Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M. Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Stone, Sir Benjamin Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander Strachey, Sir Edward Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Thornton, Percy M.
Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln) Tritton, Charles Ernest TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Sharpe, William Edward T. Valentia, Viscount Sir William Walrond and
Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew) Welby, Lt.-Col. A.C.E (Taunton Mr. Anstruther.
Sinclair, Louis (Romford) Williams, Rt Hn J Pow'll-(Birm.