§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Question (16th May), "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ *MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
said: It was hardly to be expected, and no one has expected, that this Bill would be allowed to pass without a protest from the representatives of Ireland against 187 any measure of the kind, and without at the same time an attempt on their part once more to induce reasonably-minded Englishmen to assist them in removing the extremely serious grievance under which they conceive their country to labour in the shape of over-taxation. But, however this may be, it is simply impossible for Irish Members anxious to do their duty to their constituents to enough, coming from him, to arouse neglect such an opportunity as the present every Irish Member to a sense of the of denouncing that grievance as forcibly as they can, for they believe it to be largely responsible for the stagnant condition of all Irish industries and for the appalling emigration which, to all appearance, threatens in a space of time easily measureable to leave the land of Ireland—one of the most fruitful on the face of the earth—all but a desert. The Irish people are often told that what they ought to do is to keep quiet and encourage English capital to flow into Ireland. Such talk seems to them simply impudent mockery. They would not, to their thinking, require a shilling of English capital for the ordinary purposes of industrial enterprise if this Parliament did not rob them of Irish capital in various ways and by various devices, amongst the most effective of which, as they believe, is the device of over-taxation. Taking this serious view of the matter, we are bound, on every available occasion, in season and out of season, to do what we can by discussion in the House to put an end to so fruitful a cause of national disaster and ruin. But, if we were tempted or inclined to forget or ignore this vital subject at other times and under other circumstances, there are two facts which would prevent us from lapsing into such a dereliction of duty on the present occasion. Only a few weeks ago the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself reminded us all of this financial grievance in words which were so apt that we cannot soon forget them, and by which he plainly admitted that the taxation of Ireland for Imperial purposes had begun to reach the danger point at which it should not be increased. The only difference between the right hon. Gentleman and ourselves on this point is that, whereas he thought Imperial taxation was only beginning to reach the danger point in Ireland, 188 we hold that it has long since reached that point and passed it, and that we are at this moment, and have long been, feeling the effects of—to use the mildest language—such reckless disregard of Irish interests as successive Chancellors of the Exchequer have shown. The admission made by the Chief Secretary, even though it did not go far enough, is surely enough, coming from him, to arouse every Irish Member to a sense of the deadly peril in which Imperial taxation has placed his country.
But the second fact is not less but rather more disturbing. It is presented by this Finance Bill which, as usual, is framed to meet the needs and interests of Great Britain and without a thought of Ireland, and actually proposes, after all that has been said, not to mitigate but to increase the grievance of which we complain. I will now turn to what has actually happened, and, to avoid going into what is called ancient history, I shall begin with the last financial year with which the Royal Commission on Financial Relations dealt in its Report. According to the Treasury Returns the true revenue from Ireland for 1893–4 was £7,568,649. From that time onward it has steadily increased, almost every year, till in 1902–3 it reached the unprecedented total of £10,205,500. In 1903–4 it fell, owing to the decrease in the taxation carried by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, to an estimated total of £9,925,500. This year, on the best estimate I can make, the revenue extracted from the Irish people will be the largest recorded— namely, £10,378,000. To this enormous increase almost every tax has contributed. No class of the Irish community has been spared. The Irish landlords and the other so-called loyalists of Ireland fear, or profess to fear, that they would be plundered under Home Rule. I wonder that they do not see that they are being pretty well fleeced under British rule. For example, the proceeds of the income-tax rose from #653,417 in 1893–4 to £1,201,000 in 1902–3; that is to say, the produce of this tax has about doubled in ten years. In the present year it will, as I calculate, stand at £1,000,000. The death duties produced £473,927 in 1893–4, since then they have fluctuated considerably, but the 189 tendency has on the whole been upward, and last year they produced about £200,000 more than ten years ago. In my opinion, if the members of the propertied classes in Ireland who cling to the Union as their sheet anchor only continue to do so for a few years more they will find themselves stripped to the skin by their supposed protectors against their own countrymen. Altogether, the direct taxation of Ireland rose steadily, with few fluctuations, from £1,375,944 in 1893–4 to £2,252,000 in 1901–2, and fell, as I calculate it, to only £1,847,000 last year. This year it will be about £1,870,000, or about £500,000 more than eleven years ago, and the increase has been mainly brought about by increases in the rates of taxation.
But it is when we turn to the record of indirect taxation that the addition to our burdens becomes really alarming, because indirect taxation is borne in Ireland chiefly by the poor. In 1893–4 the indirect taxes produced £5,267,775; in 1902–3 they produced £6,890,000 —an increase of £1,622,225 in less than ten years. Again, this increase was mainly caused by increased rates of taxation on the very articles most consumed by the poor, and as the poor, relatively speaking, largely predominate in Ireland, it has in that proportion more affected Ireland than England or than Scotland. In raising the tax on tea, for instance, the one part of the three kingdoms which is most severely hit is the poorest Province of Ireland, namely Connaught, because tea and bread have come there particularly to supply the place of dearer food, such as meat, which the people cannot purchase. Moreover, this injustice is aggravated because, when the tax on tea was raised, that on coffee was left as it was; coffee, relatively speaking, being much more largely consumed in England than in Ireland. In the case of tobacco the increase also hit the poor more than the rich, because they were less able to pay for it, and therefore, for the reason I have just given, hit Ireland much more severely than Great Britain. Even when the tax on tobacco was reduced in 1897–8 from 3s. 2d. to 2s. 8d., to prevent the poor throughout the three kingdoms, and therefore Ireland particularly, from getting the full 190 benefit of the reduction, you reduced the extent of moisture allowed—that was, you made the cheaper kind of tobacco dearer than it would otherwise have been. As to the tax on alcohol, that has not been increased in the last ten years, confessedly because it could not have been increased with profit, but the injustice of the past in regard to this matter has been maintained, that is to say, as the result of half a century of legislation drink for Englishmen has been cheapened and drink for Irishmen, who are and have been the less bibulous and the more sober nation of the two, has been about quadrupled. In fact, some British drinks, such as cider and British wines, which before 1830 were as heavily taxed as beer, have not been taxed at all since that year.
But let us come back to the result of the last ten years taxation operations. That result has been to add about £3,000,000 a year, speaking roughly, to our total taxation. To put it in other words, while at the beginning of the late reign the taxation was at the rate of 12s. lid. per head of the population, it was about £2 16s. 2d. per head in 1902–3. Surely no just or fair-minded Englishman can regard such a development as that without some qualms of conscience; surely no Irishman can regard it with equanimity. Does anyone really believe that Ireland can endure it for very long? And where is the process going to stop? If this country, in the real or supposed interest of the Empire, chooses to embark in another great war within the next few years, and if, as a consequence, fresh-taxes are imposed and the taxation of Ireland is thereby increased by another £3,000,000, does anyone really think that the result to Ireland will not be disaster felt throughout the whole field of her industry and commerce? Let me give a few illustrations of the magnitude of this yearly addition to the taxation of Ireland. It more than equals the whole liability incurred during the last twenty years in providing dwellings for the working classes in both urban and rural districts inlreland. It is more than five times the agricultural grant voted in 1898. It is more than sixteen times the amount of 191 the development grant of last year, to which we are looking so much for improvements in our social system. It is nearly seventeen times the revenue of the new Agricultural Department, which we have been bidden to regard with reverence as the great fount of our material regeneration. It is more than thirty times the revenue of the Congested Districts Board, whose special care is the relief of congestion and the perennial poverty caused by congestion in the West of Ireland. It exceeds many times all the other grants made to Ireland since 1890, including the produce of the local licence duties, the estate duty grant, the Customs and Excise duties grant of 1890, and the Exchequer contribution of 1891. It exceeds the aggregate of all the grants put together, and all voted moneys devoted to other purposes in Ireland than those of law, police, and Dublin Castle. The Government hands over to us considerable sums for local purposes, for which it is admitted that money must be found, and after they have done so they deliberately put their hands in our pockets, and unscrupulously take out again not only all they have put in, but several times as much besides, protesting all the while that they are our generous benefactors, and that Ireland which is thus fleeced is the unreasonable and insatiable spoilt child of the Empire. I call all that mere thieving, tempered with hypocrisy. But the worst feature, of course, of the whole exasperating business is that this addition to our taxation has been imposed on a country whose population and whose wealth have both been declining. We all remember how the Government of the late Transvaal Republic used to be, denounced by the representatives of the mining industry on the Rand, and by their representatives in this House, both on and off the Government Benches, because it increased the taxation on that industry in proportion to its gains. But in the case of Ireland what has been done is to increase its taxation in spite of its losses in men and money. In 1893–4, when oar total taxation was, as I have stated, £7,568,649, the population of Ire- land was 4,500,599. Last financial year, when our taxation had, as I have shown, risen to all but £10,000,000, our population had still further declined to about 192 4,430,000. Is not this single fact in itself the severest condemnation that could be passed on the so-called system of equal and indiscriminate taxation? What a sarcastic comment it is on all the talk we hear about the advantages of a poor country being linked with a rich one, especially when the rich one chooses to embark in wars of aggression, and drags the poor one after it in its costly enterprises?
The decline in the population of Ireland is the most unmistakable proof that can be adduced of material retrogression. No country on the face of the globe which is really prosperous is losing its population. No really prosperous country has ever suffered such a loss by emigration as Ireland has endured during the last half-century, and is still enduring. During the last three years, despite your agricultural grants, development grants, and new Departments, the emigration from Ireland has been twice as great as that from Scotland, and eight times as great as that from England. People in the prime of life, such as are the great majority of Irish emigrants, do not fly from prosperous conditions; they fly because they see no chance of success in life in the land of their birth. But the steady decline in the population of Ireland and the never-ending tide of emigration are not the only infallible signs of its increasing poverty. The statistics of pauperism are very startling. In 1864 the daily average number of paupers was II per 1,000 of the population. In 1894 it fiad risen to 21 per 1,000. In 1903, the last year for which we have Returns, it rose to one in every forty-four. Can any one possibly mistake the significance of such figures as those? What a startling refutation they are of the theory that, though the emigration has been great, the lot of those who have remained behind has improved! And pauperism in Ireland is not of the same kind and does not arise from the same causes as in England. In this country it is both spasmodic and sporadic. It is caused by sudden fluctuations in industries and disappears with the restoration of the normal conditions of trade. In Ireland it is produced by the normal conditions of society, and is a grim and permanent feature of Irish social life.
193 Let me take one test more. The income-tax is not one of the best tests, but it is some test. It is surely a remarkable fact that in 1893–4, when the rate of income-tax was only 7d. in the £., 1d. yielded over £93,000, while in 1902–3, when the rate was raised to 1s. 3d., the yield per Id. was only £85,400. When my hon. friend the Member for West Islington, two or three years ago, brought out this striking fact out of the fulness of his knowledge, of this whole subject, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer affected to answer him in three ways. He said first that a certain amount of income-tax was lost by reason of large estates which paid the tax being broken up by sales under the Land Acts into small estates which were exempt; and he relied so much on that statement that he repeated it a year later. But it will not hold water. When money is substituted for land the owner does not cease to pay income-tax. Right good care is taken that he will continue to pay it on the dividends received from his investments. But there is an even more conclusive answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol. The income from trades and professions is a rough test of the material condition of any country. Take my own profession—that of the law. If business outside the Courts improves, it inevitably happens that business inside the Courts improves too; and vice versa. It is, therefore, most significant that the income assessed under Schedule D in Ireland, in regard to which nothing has happened similar to that which has occurred in the case of income from land, was in 1903 less by more than £1,000,000 than it was ten years before, while the income assessed under Schedule C—the income from funds—declined from £723.000 in 1893 to £616,000 in 1901. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, again, said that landlords in Ireland paid on a lower basis than landlords in England, because, while English landlords paid on their rents received, the Irish landlords paid on the valuation, if it was lower than the rent. That, again, will not hold water. It is notorious that rents of agricultural land in England, without any Land Act, have been brought down by the absence of competition 194 for the land lower than any rents in Ireland or than even the valuation where that was lowest. The Member for West Bristol said, finally, that the exemptions and abatements made in recent years accounted largely for the decline in the yield of the income-tax in Ireland; but, even that cannot be admitted, for there is a larger gap in Ireland than in Great Britain between the large incomes which were always taxed and the small incomes which always escaped, and so the decline in the yield remains without any adequate explanation but one, namely, that the country as a whole is steadily suffering an increasing loss in every element of wealth.
I dare say we shall have once again the old argument s based on the increase of deposits in the banks and the receipts of the railways. It will not now avail. It is threadbare. As to the increase in the bank deposits, it is perfectly notorious that it is a sign not of progress, but of retrogression. The money of Ireland would not be in the banks at such rates of interest as 1½ and 2 per cent, if Ireland were prosperous; it would be invested in industrial enterprises at 5 and 6 per cent., and the difference between the case of Ireland and that of Great Britain in respect of this matter is that, whereas the English bank deposits represent surplus capital, in Ireland they represent practically the whole capital of the country, an insignificant fraction excepted. Then there are the everlasting railway receipts which,, we are told, are increasing. Yes, they have been increasing. But at what rate? While the receipts from the railways in Great Britain have increased from a little over £22,000,000 in 1870 to nearly £43,000,000 in 1903, the receipts from the Irish railways increased in the same time from £1,000,000 to only a little over £1,500,000, and, moreover, I suppose those receipts include the large sums paid out of the rates in aid of the guaranteed lines. The argument based on this increase in railway receipts in Ireland reminds me, in fact, of the plea of the baby-farmers. The children whom they starved to death developed, it is true, during their brief lives; they actually weighed more when they were dead than they did when they were born; but they would not die so 195 soon if their physical development were in the natural healthful ratio.
But what need have I to resort to Blue-books or statistics, or figures? Is not the evidence of our eyes sufficient without those aids? When I go through this country and behold its countless hives of industry, its palaces, and mansions, and comfortable cottage homes, its teeming millions producing wealth greater than that of "Ormuz or of Ind," its ports crowded with ships trading between England and all parts of the world, and then turn to my own country and observe the grass-grown streets of many of its towns, the dilapidated buildings, the idle mills, once the scene of thriving business, its thousands of acres going to waste or remaining in pasture while tens of thousands of people are in need of land, and its principal ports crowded weekly with thousands of able-bodied emigrants flying as if from a plague, I begin to think that all statistics are useless or misleading in face of the proofs, huge as a mountain, open, palpable, of the nation's decay. The truth is—and no arguments, however, specious nor statements however sophistical, can hide the fact— that you have not only been increasing enormously the taxation of Ireland, but that you have been doing so with full knowledge of the fact that she has been, unlike England, growing more and more unable to bear it. In point of fact, economic decay is the natural and inevitable result of excessive taxation in every country which is over-taxed. Over-taxation depletes the wealth of a country, paralyses trade and industry, disheartenes the people, takes away hope and expectation alike, and induces every man of enterprise to fly to some land under happier conditions. Notwithstanding, however, this enormous addition to our taxation, we shall be told, as we were told in 1902 by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, that our proportionate contribution to Imperial expenses has been greatly reduced. It is something like one-fiftieth instead of one-twentieth, said that right hon. Gentleman, and surely that is not too much to ask Ireland to pay. Although, by the way, if that were the correct figure, it would be higher than we ought 196 to pay according to the greatest statistician in these kingdoms, Sir Robert Giffen, who in 1886 estimated the taxable capacity of Ireland, which was greater then than it is now at one-fiftieth that of Great Britain.
But before I give the obvious answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, let me offer a. protest once more against the jugglery in figures by which Ireland's proportionate contribution is set down in the Treasury Returns. That contribution is made out by debiting to Ireland expenditure which is really laid out here and ought to be debited to Great Britain. When the Treasury wants to find out the amount of money spent on Ireland the rule adopted is to account as expenditure on Ireland what is spent there. But when it is desired to find out the amount spent on England this rule is discarded. For example, almost every penny spent on the Army and Navy, in works of construction and in the manufacture of arms and ammunition, is spent in Great Britain, and the result has been the creation of industries which give continuous employment to tens of thousands of skilled and ordinary workmen. If the Treasury followed the rule they themselves have laid down in the case of Ireland, all that expenditure would be regarded as English expenditure. But what they actually do is to put all this vast expenditure to the account of the Empire, and thus it is that they bring out the final result of making it appear that England has millions less spent upon her than is actually the case and, therefore, contributes millions more in proportion to the Empire than Ireland. But let me take the figure set down as correct. Can anything else be expected than that Ireland's proportion of contribution to Imperial expenses would go down with an increase in the taxes on the basis of what is called equal and indiscriminate taxation? It stands to reason that, as long as Ireland is the poorer country of the two, that must be the case. If I wanted authority for this proposition I have it here in the words of the Chief Secretary spoken on the occasion to which I have already referred. The right 197 hon. Gentleman is reported to have stated in this House—He had heard it said by hon. Members sitting for English constituencies, that considering the proportionate contribution of Ireland for Imperial purposes, she was not entitled to any exceptional treatment; but that argument would not bear the test of examination. He contended that the allocation of the savings effected in the course of Irish Government to Irish purposes was based upon economic facts—upon the fact that Ireland's arrested development was not only an evil for her, but deprived her of all financial elasticity, and it so happened that Ireland's proportionate contribution was smaller than it might otherwise have been. If the same taxes were imposed in both countries, Ireland, being the poorer country, would produce a relatively smaller amount for those taxes than they would produce in England. Again, if higher taxes were imposed, such as a war tax, the returns from England would quickly respond; but in Ireland they were beginning to touch the danger point at which taxation ought not to be increasedIn point of fact, the existing taxation might be increased to such an extent that Ireland's contribution would appear a minus quantity, although we should be actually paying much more than we are paying at present. I think I may leave this point now, and I hope we shall hear no more about it in defence of the system on which Ireland is taxed.
I come next to the question of relative taxable capacity and the extent to which Ireland is now over-taxed as compared with Great Britain. But I need not dwell much on that point. The Royal Commission over which Mr. Childers presided has practically settled that point for ever. That Commission comprised the most distinguished financial experts whom Great Britain could produce when it was appointed. But that fact has not saved it from the sneers of persons from whom sneers might have been least expected. The criticisms passed upon its work, however, have been absolutely irrelevant. I call attention to this fact, that what has been assailed in its Report is not the accuracy of any statement made in that document but the fact that, in accordance with the terms of the reference made to it, it dared to consider Great Britain and Ireland as separate fiscal entities for the purposes of the inquiry which it was appointed to conduct. It might have been wrong 198 in doing so, though it is hard to see how it could have been; but if the House supposes it to have been right in taking the cases of England and Ireland separately, not only is there no answer, but none has even been attempted, to the main conclusion—that Ireland was over-taxed in 1894, in comparison with Great Britain, to the extent, at least, of something between £2,500,000 and £2,750,000 a year. Most Irishmen thought it an under-estimate; but let it stand. What the exact figure ought to be now I will not attempt to say; but it requires no argument to show that, if the over-taxation of Ireland reached nearly £3,000,000 in 1894, it must now necessarily largely exceed that amount, since no one in this House or out of it who is not a fool will venture for a moment to deny that, while Ireland has declined in the last ten or eleven years in every element of wealth, Great Britain has advanced in the opposite direction by leaps and bounds. The argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the debate yesterday was that the country was progressing, and that it was better able to stand the strain of taxation than in former times. Of course the right hon. Gentleman meant Great Britain when he made that statement.
The Prime Minister in the concluding speech yesterday stated that while expenditure had increased since 1864, Great Britain was far better able to sustain the increased expenditure now than it was to sustain the low expenditure of forty years ago. What is the answer to this indictment? I am almost ashamed to examine once more the threadbare pleas of successive Chancellors of the Exchequer. To notice them once again seems to attach to them an importance which they do not possess. Everyone of them has been answered again and again, and notwithstanding that fact they are put forward on every fresh occasion as if they had never been answered at all. It is said that, the same taxes being imposed throughout the three kingdoms, no grievance can exist since all are thus taxed alike. In past years Irish Members have contended, and I myself especially have contended, that that was exactly Ireland's grievance, 199 and the head and front of Great Britain's offending, for by the Act of Union this Parliament is bound not to tax Ireland on the same level as Great Britain till the circumstances of the two countries have become similar—which has never been the case. The late Chancellor the Member for West Bristol more than once affected to deny this proposition, and would not hear of such an interpretation of the Seventh Article of the Treaty of Union. I always thought his denials were unworthy of him, and I have never heard them supported by more than the right hon. Gentleman's ipse dixit. Consequently, I for one will never give up the Irish argument based on the Act of Union. It is in my opinion absolutely unassailable. But let me discard it for this occasion, and take the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol and those who agree with him on their own ground. Let me admit, for the sake of argument, that there is no warrant in history or legislation for separate treatment for Ireland in the matter of taxation. Is indiscriminate taxation, therefore, necessarily just? Does identity of the rates of taxation necessarily imply an equality of burthen? Will the present Chancellor of the Exchequer seriously maintain that neither Egypt nor India would be injured if precisely the same rate and kind of taxation as prevails in England were imposed on those two countries? Would the same tax on wines in France and England mean the same thing to France as to England? But it is absurdities like these which are involved in the assertion so glibly and confidently made that there can be no injustice to Ireland, because the same taxes are levied there as in Great Britain. When articles more generally used in Ireland than in England, such as whiskey, are taxed the same throughout, Ireland is hit and England escapes pro tanto. When an article like tea which is used more amongst the poor than amongst the rich is taxed, the poor are hit and the rich escape pro tanto, and Ireland again is specially hit because she has more poor in proportion than England. When tobacco is taxed, the burden again falls with greater severity on the poor than on the rich, and Ireland again, because she has more poor in proportion than Eng-and, is specially hit. Suppose, again 200 that an equal tax were levied throughout Great Britain and Ireland on exports of coal and iron. Here, too, there would be equal, indiscriminate, and, according to the English contention, just taxation; yet in this case Ireland would altogether escape and Great Britain alone would be hit, for the coal and iron industries are British industries, and Ireland, fortunately or unfortunately for herself, can boast of neither of those' industries. In point of fact, the plea drawn from this system of so-called equal and indiscriminate taxation is patent nonsense and founded on falsehood.
I may be told—we have always been told—that this is an English grievance also, as there are poor people in Great Britain as well as in Ireland. I might answer, as I have answered on previous occasions similar to this, that the Act of Union, by which England so jealously stands in other matters, guarantees the Irish people immunity from it, even though the English people themselves choose to endure it and suffer from it; but I shall not use that argument now, though I will never abandon it. Let it be that the poor in both countries suffer. But surely it is plain that the suffering is not equal. Here the poor amongst the teeming millions of prosperous people are a comparative few; in Ireland they are, practically speaking, almost the entire nation. Here there are poor districts, no doubt; but they are surrounded on all sides by rich districts which maintain them and by numberless industries to which they can resort; whereas, in the greater part of Ireland, the poverty is unrelieved by any such admixture or any such accompaniment. In some districts along the western sea-board the annual family budget foots up scarcely to a score of pounds sterling. The nearest field of employment is England, and in times of distress the rate for the relief of the poor mounts up to such figures as seven and eight shillings in the pound and is paid by people many of whom are themselves on the verge of poverty. It is, therefore, absolute nonsense to talk of equality of suffering; besides, the fact that there are poor districts in England which are specially hit by the present system of taxation is no reason for continuing to injure 201 Ireland; and, accordingly, whether we look at this system of so-called equal and indiscriminate taxation from the point of view of the historic and legislative rights of Ireland, or as a means specially calculated for plundering the poor for the benefit of the rich, it seems from the Irish standpoint equally unjust and infamous.
It is said, again, that Ireland is exempt from some taxes which are levied in England. I wonder why those who make that point are not ashamed to do so. For what do those taxes amount to which are levied in England and not in Ireland? I have totted them up, and altogether they amount to £3,000,000 or £4,000,000, or one-fortieth part of the total revenue of Great Britain and Ireland. Supposing that those taxes were enacted for Ireland, how much does the Chancellor of the Exchequer imagine he would get out of them? I venture to say that their produce would not pay a quarter of the cost of collection. Imagine a tax in Ireland on armorial bearings. We have not got any armorial bearings. England took them away when she took away the Irish Parliament; and if we had any I am certain England would tax them as in this country. It is said again that there is a set-off in the shape of excessive expenditure in Ireland. The answer of Ireland to this plea has been made again and again and has never been answered in turn. Let me repeat it as briefly as I can. In the first place, if expenditure could be a set-off to taxation, no country in the world could be said to be over-taxed, and even Turkey must, on this hypothesis, be free from such a reproach. The hypothesis is intrinsically absurd. But in the case of Ireland it is not only absurd, but audacious. For what are the objects of the Imperial expenditure in Ireland? Broadly speaking, the bulk of that expenditure is and has been necessitated by the attempts of this country to govern Ireland without its consent. The money is spent in dragooning and corruption. England holds Ireland by force and by bribery, and it is thus the money goes. But what audacity is required to describe expenditure of this nature as a set-off. Of recent years, it is true, 202 money has been devoted to other objects. But whose money? Take the revenue of the Congested Districts Board. Almost the whole of the capital at the disposal of that body is drawn from the Irish Church Surplus. The funds of the new Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction are mostly drawn from the same source. The endowments of the Intermediate Education Board and of the Royal University are supplied from the same fount. Even the pensions of the Irish national teachers are in great part similarly provided. The Agricultural Grant, the Estate Duty Grant, the Customs and Excise Grant, and the Development Grant of last year are the equivalents of similar grants made first in England and Scotland and are in no sense British money. If they had not been made, Ireland would now be contributing the aggregate of all those grants in aid of English and Scotch local purposes. So that it comes to this that, so far as the monies voted by this House for useful or reproductive Irish purposes are concerned, all come out of Irish pockets. Even the bonus of £12,000,000 provided by the Land Act of last year for the purchase of Irish land is to be got by taking the whole amount out of grants already made to Ireland for other purposes. You call this British liberality; you count it, forsooth, as a set-off; but you will not impose on the Irish public at least by such tricks of debate. The English Parliament may over-tax because it has the power. But it has not the power to make black white, and this plea of a set-off cannot be made to look to Irish eyes as other than an imposture.
Now, all this I call a very shameful record. England has a giant's strength as regards Ireland, and it has been tyrannous enough to use it like a giant. It has had a small and weak nation completely in its grip, and while it has been glad enough to use the services of its sons on every field of battle, it has not been ashamed to requite that nation for those services by robbing it, as if it had just conquered Ireland in war and were exacting from it a ransom. What strikes one most about this story is the unintermitted persistence in wrong-doing. Since the amalgamation of the Exchequer in 1817 203 there has scarcely ever been a Chancellor of the Exchequer who has not been engaged in one or more predatory expeditions in Ireland. In whatever other field of administration or legislation misgovernment of that country may have been modified; in the field of finance, England has consistently acted for nearly a century in a manner which suggests that the object nearest the hearts of successive Governments was to bleed the Irish people to death. I have heard virtuous protestations in this House against such charges or any charges involving deliberate malignity to Ireland on the part of British statesmen, and I suppose we shall hear similar protests again to-day. I could understand those virtuous protestations if it could be shown that English statesmen in the past were not made aware of the real nature of the results to Ireland of over-taxation. But it is too much to ask the Irish Members to believe in their sincerity, in face of all that has been written and spoken on this subject by Irishmen, and even by some Englishmen, in the interest of Ireland during the last half century. But for argument's sake let me put deliberate malignity out of the case. What remains? What remains is nearly as reprehensible; for the only alternative conclusion is that England has thought exclusively of British interests, has wholly disregarded Irish interests, and has cared not a jot whether Ireland sank or swam, provided England was safe. It appears to me at least that the latter accusation is only a shade less serious than the other, while the result to Ireland has been the same. The saying of Grattan, like so many of his sayings, has been verified to the letter—A nation that loses its liberties, loses its revenues.And whether this result has been brought about deliberately, or without thought, it is one which to all Irishmen must be a source of indignation. "Evil is wrought by want of thought as well as want of heart." To the Nationalist majority at least this financial grievance appears large enough to justify an insurrection, if an insurrection were possible, and we, the representatives here of that majority, should be more or less than men, if, while it remained unredressed, we did not continue 204 to denounce it as an infamous wrong, without even a rag of justificatiou or excuse.
§ *Mr. WALDRON (Dublin, St. Stephen's Green)
said that if the expenditure of this great country had reached a figure to cause alarm to her statesmen and economists, what must be the position of Ireland in relation to her share of such expenditure? The British expenditure, however great, however dangerous to her financial stability, however disorganising to her credit, was at any rate sanctioned by her Parliamentary representatives, or the great majority of them. It was undertaken for objects of which Englishmen in the main approved, and it was possible—though personally he held the opposite opinion—that it might in the future improve the markets for English manufacturers' exports and so to some extent be justified. But it had been incurred for purposes objected to at every step by the majority of the representatives of Ireland, for purposes which they held conferred upon that country no benefits of any sort. They practically had no manufactures, no articles to export save cattle, sheep, and horses, and the vast military and naval expenditure to which, in the face of their reasonable and repeated protests, they were compelled to contribute, opened up no new markets for agricultural produce. When the Financial Relations Commission issued its Report in 1396, the Irish taxation was £8,031,000—for the year ending March, 1901, it was £9,500,000, and for the year ending March, 1905, it would be over £10,000,000. The Financial Relations Commission was appointed because Mr. Parnell said that the fixed Imperial contribution of £2,500,000 was excessive, and now, after eight years, with about 170,000 to 180,000 less of population, they found the Imperial contribution raised undoubtedly by £:500,000. What was to be the end of this system—for what purposes were such monstrous taxes raised? He was acquainted with the doctrine of the set-off, but he thought it had been so often expressed that it was hardly necessary for him to say more than a few words about it. It consisted in setting up as a counterbalance to these taxes the fact that about £7,000,000 was re-spent in Ireland. Yes, 205 but how? In continuing, against the wishes of the great majority of the people, a system of law and police, the most expensive, in relation to the population of the people, in the world, by a Civil Service comprised for the most part of non-representative non-elected boards. These things were not required in Ireland, and they were increasingly and justly protested against. Let him give a few figures to illustrate his meaning. In Belgium with a population of over 6,500,000, law and police cost only £1,400,000, while Ireland, with 4,500,000, cost £2,200,000. He believed that some of the economies for the Land Act —indeed, most of the £250,000— was to come off that, but even after that abatement it would stand at some £500,000 above Belgium. Further, it was treated as an Irish charge, when no one would deny that probably one-half of it was fairly an Imperial charge. And so they could go on through the whole weary list of items.
It might be asked how this system was to be altered as regarded taxes levied under the general law of the country. He confessed he had very little hope, unless a fixed Imperial contribution was arrived at. Even if such fixed contribution was taken at the sum, found to be admittedly excessive, of £2,500,000 in this year, if there was a method of putting Irish savings to separate Irish funds for Irish purposes, they would still be some £300,000 to the good. He should have thought that every Chancellor of the Exchequer, from the very nature of his studies, would have been in favour of economy. Could he conceive of a system less likely to develop it than the one which prevailed now? There was no incentive to save. It was a commonplace of Irish life that they should get as much as they could out of the Treasury, though he thought the Treasury was much better able to protect itself than was the Irish taxpayer to raid the Treasury. If this were done, he for one would welcome the government of Ireland, without any Party representation, by what was called, in the language of the day, a great pro-Consul. He believed that any capable administrator of the type of Lord Cromer or Lord Curzon or Sir Antony MacDonnell—he thought, even 206 for financial justice, they should not care to have Lord Milner—given a fixed Imperial contribution, would provide Ireland with nationalised railways and nationalised waterways, and save in addition £1,000,000 for other useful purposes in Ireland. If they would not give to Ireland the right to manage her own local affairs, they were bound to take some steps to prevent her being taxed to death. Ireland, if she paid a fixed Imperial contribution of, say, £2,000,000 a year, would then be at liberty to do what, in his opinion, she herself, or whoever was responsible for her financial management, ought to le able to do—viz., to think parochially, to turn from the standard of this wealthy country to the modest arrangements of Switzerland, or some other small agricultural European country. If that were done, he believed that Irishmen who thought that the Union was best for Ireland, or those who, like himself, thought they should be left to manage their own local affairs on their own soil, would both find their country wealthier and happier.
§ *Mr. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said the situation was an extremely interesting one; no English Members were present, and they might almost imagine that this was an Irish Parliament with certain limitations. He believed that every Irish representative knew that whatever he said, and however cogent his arguments or reasonable his demands, nothing would come of it, and the whole combined representation of Ireland would find itself quite powerless to influence the Government in this matter. His hon. friend had sketched a rather large programme, and he would remind him that there was an agitation on foot to diminish the number of Irish Members. The hon. Member for St. Stephen's Green had said. "Sweep them all away." They might as well be swept away for the power they exercised in Parliament. The hon. Member had asked that a pro-Consul should be appointed for Ireland on the lines of government adopted in Switzerland. He could well understand a Nationalist Member making such a proposal if it were only to call attention more forcibly to the most infamous system of government in the world. 207 For three or four years nothing had been said on this financial question, and a great many people thought that because they had been silent the question was dead. But that was not so, for it was very much alive, and the only possible way to kill it was by dealing with it. The form of the debate that day was different to what it was in the past. Generally speaking, Irish Members had been induced to allow the Budget to go through upon being promised a day for an academic discussion of this question. A change had now been made by which Great Britain got two-thirds of the time allotted for this question, and one-third was given to Ireland. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would try to treat this question seriously, for he was Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland as well as for Great Britain, and he occupied that position in a separate capacity. At the time of the Union there was a separate Irish Chancellor, but when he was abolished there was an understanding that the British Chancellor should do justice to Ireland. They had now a new Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he trusted he would be able to say something reassuring. They had not got the figures upon this question, and those quoted by his hon. friend stopped at the year 1902. He thought this was a little hard, because when they were dealing with Great Britain they were furnished with the figures for the present year. They were now dealing with the vital affairs of a nation and the absence of those figures gave a sort of unreality to the whole business. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might easily tell them how his proposed taxation would fall upon Ireland just as he had done in the case of Great Britain.
There had been an interval of three years since this subject was discussed, and an interval of ten years since the Royal Commission met. What had happened in the interval? Great Britain had been through a war, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would probably tell him that the taxes had been imposed on account of the necessities of that war. There were two other great wars during the 100 years of the Union, and no doubt he would say the same thing as his predecessors said after the Crimean War and after the Battle of Waterloo, that for 208 various reasons the war taxation could not be reduced. In the present instance it had not been reduced in England. But the case of Ireland was not the same as that of England. The latter was a progressive country with a growing population and increasing wealth; whereas Ireland had a diminishing population and no wealth. Yet, although the circumstances were so different, the same system was applied to the two countries. Since this question was last discussed the dream of Imperialism had arisen before the British mind, and a large majority of the House of Commons was pledged to the policy of expansion. The protest against that policy, even on the Opposition side of the House, had been to him rather disappointing. When challenged during recent debates by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state what items of expenditure they would reduce, the reply of the Liberal leaders had not been very clear. Personally, he had never concealed his views on the matter, and was always ready to go into the division lobby in support of them. As far as Great Britain was concerned, he would reduce expenditure all round—on the Civil Service as well as on the Army and Navy. The policy of Imperialism required money, and the extra funds necessitated by this purely British dream were being dragged out of poor starving Ireland. It was a gross injustice. The Navy, the greatest branch of our extravagance, was said to exist for the purpose of protecting the vast commerce of the country. But Ireland had no commerce, and therefore did not need the protection, but still her declining population of peasants had to pay for the insurance of the commerce of the richest nation in the world. Looked at from that point of view, it was singularly unjust that so large a proportion of the increased taxation should be dragged out of Ireland-Another point that should not be lost sight of was that, whereas the expenditure: had increased by £50,000,000 during the last ten years, £40,000,000 was spent on the Army and Navy, and the whole of this money was spent in Great Britain. Although the Irish situation would not be relieved by a portion of the money being spent in Ireland, he thought it was a fact that ought to be considered. It was frequently said that 209 a kindlier feeling was growing up between England and Ireland, but no reflection of that feeling was to be found in the financial policy of the Government.
What were the results that were being achieved by this policy? It used to be the custom to blame the House of Lords for the mis-government of Ireland, but the real seat of oppression was the House of Commons. Irish questions were settled, not by Irish opinion, nor by Irish Members, but by an Assembly in which, to one Irish Member there were five British Members, who knew nothing of the situation, and had not passed through the starvation and ruin which the Irish people had had to endure. Let us look for a moment at the results which had been achieved in this financial department. In 1860, a new chapter in Irish oppression was opened, and what had Great Britain got out of it? The taxation of Ireland was doubled during ten years, and according to a Treasury Return, Great Britain got an Imperial contribution of £5,400,000. At first, therefore, the oppression paid. But ten years later the contribution had fallen to £4,400,000; in 1880, it was £3,200,000; in 1890, it was £2,600,000; and in 1900, it was only £1,600,000. Why had the contribution so diminished? Because, as the patient bled to death, expensive restoratives had had to be applied, and the cost of governing Ireland had continually increased as new exactions were made. The hon. Member for Dublin had pointed out that the Imperial contribution had increased during the last four years by £1,000,000. But that £1,000,000 had been secured only by increasing the taxation of Ireland by £2,000,000, the other £1,000,000 being to a large extent wasted. The only other fact needed to fill in the miserable storv was that since 1860 the population had diminished from 6,000,000 to 4,400,000. Thus there was the awful tragedy, probably unparalleled in history, certainly unequalled in the present day, of a country with a constantly decreasing population having to pay constantly increasing taxation. The profit of the policy was small, and showed a tendency to diminish. But if the results to Great Britain were bad, to Ireland they were simply ruinous. Irish ports were 210 crowded, as they had been for fifty years past, with emigrants hurrying away from the tyranny enforced of this House, but the people who remained, instead of being better off, were more miserable than before. In Great Britain pauperism had halved; but in Ireland it had doubled. There was a complete stagnation of industry in the country. Why should the House of Commons take so much interest in the Transvaal and West Africa and so little in Ireland? The white population in the Transvaal was only 200,000, and in West Africa it was probably under 20,000; ought not a little consideration to be given to the 4,400,000 in Ireland?
There was also the unconstitutional aspect of the question. Irish Unionists sympathised with Nationalists on the question of taxation, and yet, although Irish opinion was practically unanimous, it was powerless to effect the slightest alteration. Surely the cry of a united people ought to be listened to by the House of Commons; or the responsibility of refusing such an appeal when made would be extremely grave. Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer say what he would like to have the Irish Members do which they had not done in this matter? They had convinced their own country-they would never convince this-they had been patient, a tribunal had considered the question, and judgment had been pronounced in their favour. What more were they to do? What recourse was left open to Ireland if the demands of the Irish Members were so constantly neglected in the way they had been for the last 100 years.
He might be asked to state what the remedy was. In his opinion the remedy was that Ireland should be allowed to take full charge of her own financial matters. Ireland was the only part of the Empire outside Great Britain in which Great Britain interfered in financial matters. We did not interfere in the Isle of Man or in the Channel Islands nor in any colony as we did in Ireland, and what was the result? Those communities prospered, while Ireland was ruined. The treatment meted out to Ireland was the exception to that meted out to other parts of the Empire, 211 There was no question of religion or of race involved in the matter because all classes alike supported it. We should give to Ireland financial autonomy, subject to her paying a proper contribution for a fixed period-say seven years. Let the finances be left in her own hands. What was the use of the Irish being economical; they derived no benefit from any economy, it only went to swell their contribution. Switzerland flourished because of the cheap and economical government of the country. Ireland failed because of the extravagance of its government. He denied that there would be any difficulty in setting up a Customs House for Ireland. He saw no difficulty whatever for the reason that so few articles affecting this country would be touched. The matters to which attention had been drawn were very grave, and it was unfortunate that more British Members of the House were not present to consider them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in picking out tea for an increased duty had picked out an article which hit Ireland far harder than Great Britain. One-seventh of the revenue derived from this tax would come from Ireland, instead of one-twentieth, which was all to which the Exchequer was entitled. The right hon. Gentleman got one-seventh from this poor country, which had not one-seventh of the population of this country nor one-seventieth of its prosperity. That was the system which had been adopted towards Ireland throughout the past century and he thought the right hon. Gentleman now, on behalf of the Government, should at least order some large inquiry into the matter, in order to discover a remedy for it. In his opinion, the Irish representatives were well entitled to bring the matter forward.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said that now the question of Irish land was in a fair way of settlement he thought this was by far the most important of the Irish questions which the House could discuss. The House had been listening during the past few days to the complaints of English Members as to the general expenditure. If the representatives of a rich country like England were crying out against expenditure, surely the representatives of a poor country like Ireland had a double right to do the same thing. What was the case of Ireland in 212 this matter? The population of Ireland was a diminishing one, and not only that, if hon. Members looked into the Emigration Returns they would find that the very best of the population was leaving the country. He was curious to look at the ages of emigrants, and he found that the overwhelming majority of the people who had left Ireland during the last twelve months were men and women between the ages of seventeen and thirty years. The country was being bled to death. A people passionately attached to their native land, as the Irish people were, did not leave it without cause, and it was the duty of this country to investigate the cause and try to bring about a remedy for this state of things. There was thus a diminishing population, and the people that were left, instead of getting richer, were getting poorer. The pauperism of Ireland a few years ago was at the rate of eleven per 1,000; at the present time it was twenty-two per 1,000. The pauperism of England was steadily diminishing; that of Ireland was steadily increasing. It was the duty of the Government to go to the root of the matter, and see what it really meant. While in Ireland the population was diminishing and pauperism was increasing, the taxation was going steadily on. Surely that was a good case at least for inquiry. He thought an inquiry absolutely necessary.
What was the case of England as against that? Every year this subject of the financial relations was discussed; the same statement was made that the matter was all settled in 1819, when the principle of indiscriminate taxation was adopted, that the people of Ireland were not taxed any more heavily than the people of England, and that if there were poor in Ireland then there were also poor in England. That was the English case as set forth from the Treasury Bench upon every occasion that this question was raised. Then, in addition to that, they told the Irish people to look at the set-off, and said it was true that Ireland paid £10,000,000 of general revenue per annum, but what was expended in Ireland must be considered. It was the question of the set-off that he wished to touch upon; and the first thing he wished to point out was that nobody in Ireland under the present system had 213 the slightest interest in economy at all. "The more money spent in Ireland the better," was what the people argued. One gentleman to whom he spoke on the subject said his great complaint was that the Government were reducing the constabulary, which was one of the only professions left in Ireland. The Irish people had got into the way of thinking that the spending of money was to the advantage of Ireland, but they seemed to be ignorant of the fact that the money spent came from Ireland itself, not from England. He had looked into the Appropriation Accounts and had endeavoured to compare Ireland with Scotland. Ireland was a poor country, Scotland a rich country; Ireland had no mineral resources, Scotland great mineral wealth. For the three items Supreme Court of Judicature, County Courts, and law charges, not including the Irish Land Commission, Ireland paid £421,687 last year, while Scotland paid only £259,373. There was more crime in Scotland than in Ireland. Ireland was absolutely a crimeless country, because agrarian crime had practically disappeared. Notwithstanding these facts that Scotland had far more crime aid law business than Ireland, it managed to conduct all its legal business for so much less. What did it all mean? Scotland and Ireland had equal populations. Everybody who knew Ireland and Dublin knew perfectly well that the business of the country could be effectually done by half the number of Judges in the High Court. As to the County Court Judges, there could be no doubt that counties could be amalgamated for this purpose, and at least the services of a quarter of the County Court Judges could be dispensed with. Nobody, however, had the slightest interest in promoting economy, because Ireland would not get the benefit of it. The Local Government Board in Ireland cost £79,875 per annum, in Scotland it only cost £15,825. He had never heard that the local government business of Scotland was ineffectively conducted; it was probably better conducted than that of Ireland. This was, therefore, a very striking difference. The money was all spent on officials of one kind or another. Nobody had any interest in reducing the number of these, because Ireland would 214 not get the benefit of the reduction; it would go to swell the Imperial quota. Take the Registrar-General's Department in Ireland. That cost £22,913. The same Department in Scotland cost £12,239. The Valuation Department cost £32,000 in Ireland. There was no such Department in Scotland or England, as the work was done by local assessment committees without any charge at all. The office of the Secretary of State for Scotland cost exactly the same amount as the Chief Secretary's office in Ireland, the cost in the case of Ireland being £41,650, and in the case of Scotland £41,678. But a still more flagrant matter was the case of the police Ireland, which was actually devoid of crime, was governed by a gigantic system of police, who had nothing to do. What was the position of agrarian crime? The Chief Secretary had actually given notice that he was no longer going to publish the quarterly Returns, for they were not required. The legislation passed by the House had told upon the land question, and agrarian crime had disappeared. There were about half-a-dozen black spots kept black by landlordism and nothing else, but for all practical purposes agrarian crime had disappeared. There was very little ordinary crime. Yet the cost of the Royal Irish Constabulary for the year came to £1,412,429. Add the sum of £156,785 for the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and they got a total of £1,569,214 for policing a practically crimeless country. Ireland was not a country of large towns. It was not a country where there was great mining or anything of the kind. But Scotland had large centres of population, and everybody knew that large centres tended to breed crime. Well, the police cost in Ireland £1,569,214, and, according to the local taxation account for Scotland, Scotland was policed last year for £529,116. Was this not a monstrous state of affairs? Surely a Government that was responsible for the government of Ireland ought to face these facts. The least that could be done was that there should be an inquiry.
The hon. Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of Dublin-his own representative in that House-made a most admirable speech, and certainly the hon. Member was a distinct acquisition to Irish debates so far as finance was concerned. Supposing the Chancellor of 215 the Exchequer, convinced that a case had been made out for inquiry, came to the conclusion that really this House could not settle this Irish difficulty of finance. So far as Englishmen and Scotchmen were concerned, they showed no interest whatever in this question. Why should they not have what the hon. Member for Islington called financial autonomy in Ireland? They had financial autonomy seventeen years after the Union, and therefore the question of the Union and separation could not be raised. If they could have a separate Irish Exchequer and financial autonomy with a reasonable amount fixed for the Imperial quota he did not indicate the amount, but it should take into account the condition of Ireland and Great Britain and fixed on the Scotch basis, they would be able to save, according to the figures which had been given,at least £2,000,000 sterling per annum, and nobody would be a bit the worse but everybody would be better off. Why should this not be done? Look at the state of the House of Commons at the present moment. Where were the Ulster Unionist Members? If there was a Coercion Act to be maintained they would all be there fighting like grim death. If there was anything to crush individual Irishmen down they were always on the spot and on the job. Where were they to-night, when this question which was crushing the life out of their constituencies was being discussed? Why were they not there to impress upon the Government the necessity for action? [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: Because Moore wants a job.] Everybody in Ireland wanted a job. That was the crying curse of the whole thing. If they took thirty men out of the Library of the Four Courts they would find that all the rest were there in the sure and certain hope of something turning up, or they would not be there at all. The whole thing was done in jobs in Ireland, and the sooner it was brought to an end the better. He did not in the least doubt the good intentions of the Chief Secretary in this matter. He was perfectly persuaded that he knew that things could not go on as they were. Did anybody imagine that he did not know all about "jobs"? He knew a great deal better than 216 many hon. Members. He thought it was a reasonable proposition which had been put before the House by the hon. Member for Islington. There ought to be an inquiry into the taxable capacity of Ireland and. into the question of a set-off and how far it affected the Irish people. If that inquiry was granted it would produce a great benefit for Ireland.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
thought it was very unfair of the hon. Member for South Tyrone to quarrel with the Ulster Members. Did he not know that the Chief Secretary had given notice that he intended to reduce the number of Judges and reduce the salary of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland? The Unionist Members were now considering that proposal, and unless they could get a proper assurance on the subject, they might vote against the Government tonight. Just as on the University question, if Dr. Traill had not been appointed Provost of Trinity College the Irish Unionist Members would have voted against the Government on Chinese labour. That was how Government majorities were made up. He intended to support this proposal to reduce the number of Judges and the salary of the Lord Chancellor in Ireland, for anything calculated to turn the denizens of the Library of the Four Courts into a Ribbon lodge was known to make Unionists and Loyalists in Ireland absolutely discontented, and therefore he should give the measure his cordial support. He did not believe that when the measure had been passed there would be one intelligent supporter of the Government left in Dublin. The hon. Member had asked why they could not have financial autonomy in Ireland, and he had told the House that in 1817 they had a separate Chancellor of the Exchequer.? On looking in the Dublin Gazette about six or eight months ago, just after the financial rumpus in the Cabinet and the changes in the Ministry, he was greatly surprised to find that Ireland still had a Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the name given was "Mr. Austen Chamberlain." He confessed that he never had such a shock in his life, and he asked himself at once, "Why am I not the Mayor of Birmingham?" He possessed all the 217 qualifications for that office, for he was only in Birmingham once, and then only for a single night. He knew nothing whatever of Birmingham or its finances or its debt, he cared nothing about its people or whether its industries went up or down, or whether its guns were no longer what they were. Accordingly, he had every qualification for being placed in charge of Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman was Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland, and they went through the tragic farce of appealing to him on that occasion, as they had appealed to his predecessors for the last quarter of a century. Every one of them knew that if the right hon. Gentleman was to listen to their arguments he would not be allowed to hold office for long, and if he were to make a sympathetic speech about Ireland, or to agree that Ireland was over-taxed, his colleagues in the Cabinet would fire him out. It would not be the right hon. Gentleman's fault, but he would that night repeat the speech which the Treasury had prepared for eight or nine of his predecessors, whom he had heard deliver it in that House. It was part of the farce of Irish representation in that House, and it ought to be put an end to.
What Ireland wanted in the first place was a Government. He did not care whether it was an Orange Government or what sort of a Government. It wanted an Irish Government. It wanted some man in Dublin who would keep a diary, a ledger, and a profit-and-loss account, and would see that Ireland was fairly treated. How could they expect the right hon. Gentleman to do anything? He (Mr. Healy) knew nothing about England, though he had lived there off and on for thirty years. And what could they expect him to know? When the right hon. Gentleman was Secretary to the Treasury there was a little Bill called the Derry Central Railway (Ireland) Bill. The Government had lent it some money; he (Mr. Healy) did not know what the figures were, but he would suppose it was £100,000. The railway was worth £300,000. The Government could not get their money. The little railway was not paying. Accordingly the Treasury sold the whole thing to the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway Company. 218 He said "You ought not to destroy the chance of competition. You ought to dandle these little railways on the knees of the Treasury." The railway had hardly been sold, thereby confiscating £300,000 or £400,000 of these people's money, than the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway sold it, stock, lock, and barrel, to the Midland Railway. That was what came of these petty Treasury manœuvres, and the right hon. Gentleman was as unconscious that he was doing Ireland any wrong, as he was unconscious to-day, he himself was satisfied, that the English connection was doing Ireland any harm in Ireland. He was much in this House in what he would call his Radical days. He used to think that Ireland was misgoverned by England out of a spirit of malignity. It was nothing of the kind. The English did not hate the Irish. He wished the Irish could return the compliment. They were simply absolutely indifferent, and they were satisfied in their smug self-satisfaction that anything they had done must be right, and that it was the privilege of the Irish to grumble at it. Now he had sadly come to the conclusion that it was almost beyond the wit of one Parliament, one statesman, or even one generation to undo the misfortune of their system in Ireland. It had taken the English 730 years to fasten themselves upon the country in the way they had done. There was no power in that House to a large extent to undo it. If they did it in that House by some great political cataclysm, such asMR. Gladstone tried to organise, it would be put an end to in the House of Lords. They had no Government now. What had happened? Some Englishmen were discontented, and he saw a grumble in The Times newspaper because His Majesty the King made some speeches in Ireland. His Majesty was lectured by The Times for having been civil to the Irish people. Why did the Irish people receive the King? Because they thought he was a King, and because they thought he could do something for them. The Times pointed out their delusion, and said he could do nothing for them, because he was entirely in the hands of Ministers. When the Irish made a treaty with the British they never accepted the British Constitution. Government by a king in Ireland would be far preferable to 219 government by Parliament. Government by Parliament in Ireland was a curse. They could get nothing out of Parliament. The Irish Members came to the House year after year. From time to time there were new Chief Secretaries. He had seen a score of them. His hon. friend the Member for Dublin said, "Send us Lord Cromer." Why! he, himself, would welcome Lord Milner. He would welcome a potentate from Japan. But give them government by the Irish, whether Orangeman or Papist, Unionist or Nationalist. Give them something in the country that would work.
It was said they had a Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was amusing himself while the debate was going on in trying to find out whether they had a Chief Secretary or not. What was the Chief Secretary to-day in Ireland? Absolutely nothing. Let them take the clock and divide it into twelfths, the whole clock representing Ireland. Over how much of the area of that clock had the Chief Secretary any power?The first five minutes represented, let him say, the Army. Had he any power to move a single soldier or to make barracks? No; he had nothing to do with the Army. Let. them take the next five minutes-that represented the Navy. What had the Chief Secretary got to do with the Navy? He could neither appoint nor dismiss a coastguard. He had nothing to do with the Navy. Then as to the next five minutes. Had he got anything to do with the revenue in Ireland? No; the revenue officers were independent of him. He could not appoint a man of them The next five minutes represented the Inland Revenue, a most important Department, because they had officers all over the country making the most important decisions affecting Irish land. The other day they decided that when a man sold his farm he should pay stamp duty He became a peasant proprietor, having to pay his instalments for the next seventy years to the Government. The tenant-right would be perhaps £100 or £200, and would be satisfied by a 10s. stamp duty. But the Inland Revenue said when he sold his little patch of land he would be compelled to pay, instead of 10s., a stamp duty of £5. Could the Chief Secretary 220 alter that? Nothing of the kind. The next five minutes he would devote to the Post Office and its army officials. The other day there was a great row in his constituency in Dundalk. The people there said to him-" When you became Member for Dundalk we had an Irish postmaster, and out of fourteen or fifteen officials there were ten or eleven Catholics." Now in Dundalk the last postmaster was an Englishman, and he had changed the Catholic officials, so that instead of the proportion being ten or eleven Catholics to three Protestants, it was the other way about. That was because they appointed a man at Dundalk who was brought from Plymouth or Birmingham or some English town. So it was all over the country. Every little office was given to some Englishman or Scotsman who was imported. He only wished the Chief Secretary would lay down for his British colleagues the law or rule which the Lord-Lieutenant in a most admirable letter laid down the other day to the Galway County Council when they appointed a Catholic doctor to the lunatic asylum board. The Lord-Lieutenant said that promotion in those cases should go by seniority. The Irish members whether in connection with the Post Office, Inland Revenue, or any of the other Boards were always told that seniority was beside the question, and that the real thing was that the best man should be selected for the office. He came now to the next five minutes. Where was the Treasury in Ireland? Why, the Chief Secretary lived in a house and in a park over which he had not the smallest control. It was governed for him by what was called the Board of Works and every member of the Board of Works was appointed from London. Two out of the three at the present moment were Englishmen and the third was brother of the Treasury Remembrancer. He had heard from former Chief Secretaries that if the Chief Secretary for Ireland cut a peach or a bunch of grapes in his own garden he was debited with it. He did not know whether that was true; but the right hon. Gentleman did not deny it. Fancy a country like that. Fancy the Chief Secretary of the country having no power over his conservatory, which was managed from London by the Board of Works. Then 221 the next five minutes represented the Board of Trade. All their railways, all their canals and all their tramways were managed for them from London. When they had an inquiry in Dublin as to whether a tramway was going ten or eleven miles an hour, the Government officials brought a man from London to decide it, and he brought a Birmingham speed indicator in his pocket. This grievance affected the railways themselves. When a great accident took place in this country more precautions for passengers were ordered to be introduced. It was proper that the London and North Western Railway Company should adopt special methods for the safety of the travelling public, but in a go-as-you-please country like Ireland these were not matters for the Board of Trade at all. The other day there was a dispute on the Kingstown Line as to whether the Kingstown Company was to pay a certain rent to the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Company, and they had a great meeting in their board-room and the thing was solemnly decided in this way. "Resolved that under our Act which we got last year, we sever connection with the Kingstown Company and we appoint the Board of Trade to act as arbitrator between the two bodies." That was what the English system had brought the country to. Two small Irish railway companies invoked, in regard to this arbitration, the Board of Trade, although no Englishman practically knew a tithe as much about the matter as the ordinary inhabitant of Dublin. Then there was the Woods and Forests. In buying a foreshore property or a pier it was necessary to apply to the Woods and Forests, and strange to say any money that was contributed in Ireland to the Royal Revenue was invested in England in purely English securities for the benefit of the Royal family, so that the Irish quit rents were withdrawn from Ireland in globo year after year. What remained? The right hon. Gentleman could appoint a policeman, could direct prosecutions, and the way in which many of the prosecutions had been made had been demonstrated by the fact that the Crown prosecutor had prosecuted a Scotch sailor for marrying his mother-in- 222 law. It was only in Ireland that jokes of that kind could be perpetrated.
With regard to the set-off he should like to make a suggestion. The question of home manufactures was agitating Parliament; he would point out that the handcuffs at present used in Ireland were made in Germany, that the batons with which police struck Irish heads were imported from Norway. Could they not make a beginning with Irish industries and make them at home? He had spent some years of effort in the House trying to have the Royal Irish Constabulary and coastguard uniforms made in Ireland, and he had never till then realised the cunning of the contract system-he did not blame the Englishmen-he dared say Irishmen would do the same-of the way they managed to put Ireland out of a share in these contracts. The Prime Minister was sympathetic, but he was also absolutely paralysed! He said that the Treasury insisted that indigo was the best dye for stuffs of this class. Now, all new industries connected with fabrics of that kind used chemical dyes, and it did not pay manufacturers to dye their stuffs with indigo. It did not pay any manufacturer in Ireland now to put down an indigo dyeing plant, and consequently only some four or five English manufacturers were able to comply with the Government specification. Irish Members were allowed three out of the twenty one allotted days in Supply. Accepting that proportion there ought to be £20,000,000 of expenditure in Ireland. Instead of that they got practically no expenditure. Actually the other day the merchant tailors of Dublin met in a body to protest against the fact that the War Office were secretly sending out circulars ordering young subalterns to order their clothing from houses in London. The matter was raised in that House, and answered with some of the usual official lies. They said that the adjutant's lette of instruction was not official, that the War Office knew nothing about it. It was like when a landlord in Ireland had to be shot. Nobody ever knew anything at all. The "hard word" was passed; and the Irish uniform trade was practically killed because the War Office knew nothing whatever about it. The hon. Member for West Bristol used to ask why 223 Lord Iveagh should not pay income tax just as Lord Rothschild did. But he never contracted to pay it. If they had no income-tax in Ireland, Irish families instead of going to the Channel Islands and places in France where they could live cheaply—even Irish landlords—would be induced to stay at home. It was easier for a man with an income of £5,000 to pay a 1s. 3d. income-tax, than it was for a man with an income of £500, consequently the poor country was much harder hit than the rich one.
They were told that if they gave up drinking whisky their grievance would disappear. But what would happen if they gave up drinking whisky. There would be a tax on salt. The mild Hindoo did not drink whisky, but he ate salt and could not get on without it, and so his salt was taxed. If the Irish ate or drank stirabout it would be taxed. They were in the position of having no Government to deal with but a series of changing and fluctuating officials passing along that Bench opposite like shadows. What between the Rules of the House, the existence of the House of Lords, want of time, and indifference, they were powerless to do anything, and so year after year, and generation after generation, they had this Irish exodus and this misery going on, and practically without any benefit to England. They told the mountaineer and hillside man of Ireland to think Imperially, and consoled him with the reflection that his money was going for hunting the Mad Mullah in Somaliland, and told him the flag was waving high at Lhasa or Gyangtse. These were the prospects held out to the Celtic imagination. He wondered they did not send lantern slides of the Mullah hunt to comfort the Irish people. Could any man on that Front Bench bring a conscientious investigation to the subject? Not a man thought it worth while to study it as they did the case of 200,000 white men in the Transvaal. It was not a reduction of Irish Members that was wanted but their abolition; and the abolition of the rule in Ireland of this Parliament; and if they were not to have a Parliament of their own set up, at any rate let them have some system of government which would be Irish in thought and spirit.
§ Mr. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said that they could not speak of Ireland in this connection without alluding to the poverty which undoubtedly existed in that country. The House must bear in mind that in considering any financial question they were on the one hand considering the finances of one of the richest countries in the world, and on the other they were considering the finances of one of the poorest countries in the world. It was no consolation to Irish Members to know that there was a great deal of poverty in England. The poverty which existed in Ireland was the direct result of the government of Ireland by this House. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for North Dublin that it did not require statistics to prove the difference between the conditions which existed in England and in Ireland. In England, no doubt, there was a great deal of poverty in some of the large towns, but a great deal of that poverty pertained to the Irish population. But who was responsible for that? The English Government did not educate the Irish youth properly, and they were compelled to come over to this country and compete with English labour; and consequently Irish Members held England responsible for the great deal of poverty that existed in these English towns. It was true that poverty existed in this country, but it was not so noticeable beside the immense prosperity to be witnessed on all sides. Anyone who crossed the Channel to Ireland would find a transformation scene of the most hideous description, for there they would see decay and people flying from the land. However they looked at the connection of Ireland with this country, they would find that it had been fruitful of nothing but disaster. Take the last twenty-five years—they had had a great famine where over 1,250,000 people died of starvation, and in 1880 there was another famine averted only by the charity of the world. Other comparative famines followed in 1886, in 1892, and in 1896. On the last occasion of the famine in 1896 they were told that there was no necessity for anything to be done, but one month after that statement the Government were compelled to institute relief works in the West of Ireland, and they paid the magnificent wages of 6s 225 per week, and at those starvation wages large bodies of able-bodied men were prepared to work. A greater proof of poverty than that could not be found. Local and Imperial taxation was increasing in Ireland at an extraordinary rate, whilst the population was decreasing. As had been pointed out by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, a large percentage of those left in Ireland were old men and women and young children, because the people who ought to be the mainstay of the country had emigrated.
When the Union was established, one of the great advantages claimed for it was the beneficial financial effects which would flow from it. That prediction had been falsified, and those who predicted ruin had proved to be correct;MR. Curran once said that the Union would mean the emigration of every man of consequence in Ireland, and simply the participation of Irishmen in British taxes without British trade. Time had since shown that they had participated to the full in the taxes and no increase in trade had taken place. Again,MR. Curran said that their scanty means had been squandered as profusely as their best blood had been wasted in the madness of England's aggression. There again his words had proved true, for had not the South African war thrown enormous burdens upon Ireland? and some of the best blood of Ireland had been spilt in South Africa. Between the years 1851 and 1884 no less than £28,000,000 were sent to Ireland from the United States, including South America, and excluding Australia and elsewhere. But without that vast sum of money from the United States the condition of Ireland would have been very much worse. Again and again they had brought forward this question of over-taxation with little or no effect. He wished to join in paying his tribute to his hon. friend the Member for St. Stephen's Division for the masterly statement he had placed before the House, although he was not very sanguine that it would have very much effect upon the decision of the House. Some time ago an equally able statement was made by his hon. friend the Member for Longford, and no step whatsoever was taken to rectify in the least the case which he made out, and which as a matter of fact was unanswerable. He would not go over 226 the ground which had been traversed by his hon. friend, but he wished to read to the House a quotation which appeared in the Report of the Committee of 1865, which was drawn up by Sir Stafford Northcote, and which inquired into this subject. Sir Stafford Northcote quoted the evidence of a witness named Senior, who said—The taxation of England was both the heaviest and the lightest in Europe, the heaviest as regards the amount raised and the lightest as regards the ability to bear that amount. Perhaps in the case of Ireland it is heavy both as regards the amount and as regards the ability to contribute. England is the most lightly taxed and Ireland the heaviest, though both are nominally liable to equal taxation. I do not believe that Ireland is a poor country because she is over-taxed, but think she is over-taxed because she is poor.What would be the result of this debate He was not very sanguine about anything tangible being done for Ireland, and he thought they had great reason to complain of the way in which the decisions of the Royal Commission had been treated. He had heard some suggestions that afternoon as to further inquiries being necessary on this subject. As far as his own humble judgment was concerned, he thought the Government had plenty of information before them, for they had had inquiry after inquiry and if they wished to do justice they had plenty of data at their disposal. What was their complaint? The Royal Commission recommended that Ireland should not be called upon to pay more than one-twentieth of the taxation of Great Britain. For the sake of unanimity that decision was arrived at. But many of those who signed that Report believed that far from being able to bear a proportion of one-twentieth, Ireland was not actually able to bear more than one-fortiy-sixth of the total taxation. That Commission was composed of Englishmen principally, and when the Repot first appeared there was an inclination on the part of English Members to ridicule that Commission and its findings; but so overwhelming was the evidence produced, that they issued this Report in which they stated that, according to their opinion, Ireland was overtaxed to the extent of £3,000,000 a year. What had been done to remedy that? Here was a Commission appointed to inquire fairly and squarely into the financial condition of the two countries, and they 227 found a verdict. What was the Government going to do with that verdict? Were they going to give effect to it? Not at all it was to be a dead letter because the verdict was against this country. He would like to know what would have been the result if the verdict had been the other way. Had the Commission said Ireland was under - taxed, within twelve months another tax would have been clapped on, and because Irish representatives called attention to these things they were said to be always cavilling. He was not surprised at the action the Government took, because Ireland had never been granted anything except as the result of considerable and long-sustained agitation, and until this matter was brought home to the Government in a very forcible manner there would be no redress. The treatment of Ireland in this respect was characteristic of the treatment of Ireland all through by this country.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
said that everyone must realise the undoubted difficulties presented by the association of a poor country with a prosperous, ambitious, world Power like England. The Amendment had an important bearing upon the whole question of expenditure. After reading the Report of the Financial Relations Commission, no one could deny that a strong case was made out in almost every page, and that everything in it tended to be progressively aggravated by every increase in the general rate of expenditure throughout the country. He believed that it was a fact that the cost of Irish government was greater in proportion to the area of the country than any similar national area. No doubt a great disparity existed between the cost of the services in Ireland aid Scotland. He should like, however, to see a Return presented to that House, so that they might be able to discover the true relationship between the cost of the two administrations. He ventured to think that some curious anomalies would be revealed. He had been much impressed with the high salaries of the Irish law officers. The Lord Chancellor, for instance, had £8,000 a year salary with £4,000 a year pension. That was the scale under which Lord Ashbourne 228 was remunerated for taking part in the deliberations of the British Cabinet.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that £3,000 of that is for performing his duties as Speaker of the Irish House of Lords?
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
would be sorry to say that Lord Ashbourne had not as good a claim in respect of that important office as in respect of any other duties he performed. That salaries of this scale should be paid was a hideous anomaly when they reflected that it was quite impossible for anyone to earn at the Irish Bar (so he was told) anything like a sum approaching £8,000.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
They knew how difficult it was to keep down expense in this country, but in Ireland it was only natural that the whole spirit and sentiment of the people and of the Government and the officials themselves should be exerted in favour of multiplying offices, keeping up salaries, and generally increasing the cost of administration. Irishmen knew that any economy they might make in internal administration only went to swell the Imperial Exchequer, which might be used, and very often was used, for purposes from which the representatives of Ireland totally and completely dissented. It was evident from the Report of the Committee that sat on National Expenditure that the control of the Treasury was much more likely to be effective against new proposals for expenditure than against old continuing items. As he listened to the debate he said to himself, "Thank God we have no financial relations with our Colonies." This money question was the root of all the existing bitterness. The discontent that prevailed between England and Ireland arose not so much from differences of religion and race as from the belief that the English connection was not a profitable nor paying one. If Ireland were more prosperous she would be more loyal, and if more loyal more free. He knew it would be said that this was not the time to forego revenue, but it should be a matter for consideration whether they did not 229 lose in pauperism, in lack of initiative, and social friction more than they obtained by the exertions of the tax collector. He fully admitted that, starting on the basis that Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom the case for the Treasury was unanswerable. If they assumed that the area of ground was exactly the same no matter which side of the Channel it was, there was no sort of case which could be presented for the treatment of Ireland as a separate taxable area, but to do that was to ignore all the differences of race, of religion, of interest, of occupation, and of history. If the argument had to be sustained upon the basis that Ireland could only be treated as a mere group of English counties without any individuality or identity, it was absurd and would not bear investigation. It would be hard to increase taxation in Ireland while at the same time it was proposed in some quarters to reduce its representation. The question of a separate Exchequer for Ireland, a fixed Imperial contribution, and correspondingly autonomous power to regulate the expenditure of money raised for Irish purposes, was one that could not fail to be brought much nearer the arena of practical politics. In so far as the Irish would lose in Imperial representation in that House they would gain in the same proportion in autonomous authority in their own country, and if any extension of financial autonomy could be made it should be carefully made to the Irish people as a whole, and not to the particular section who happened to support a Conservative Government. These were doubtless problems which would not concern the present Parliament, but the steady rise in the general expenditure of the country, and the distressing effects which high taxation undoubtedly caused to the Irish people, brought these problems much nearer to practical politics, and they would have to be dealt with by those who sat on the right of the Speaker after the next general election.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork County, N.)
said the hon. Member for North Dublin had brought out two striking facts-first, that the grievance recognised by the Royal Commission in 1894 had been intensified 230 in the years that had since elapsed and, secondly, that although Ireland contributed considerably more than she did ten years ago, her proportionate contribution was smaller. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not follow the somewhat ungenerous example set by his predecessors of making light of the Royal Commission. That Commission might appear to have been appointed ad hoc in connection with the Home Rule Bill, but though its Report was strong, the official facts and figures were even stronger. The Commission reported in 1896 that Ireland was contributing about one-eleventh of the total revenue. The amount then drawn from Great Britain was £75,796,000 and from Ireland £7,568,649, or 9–08 per cent. In 1899ߝ1900 the revenue drawn from Great Britain was £117,385,000, and from Ireland £8,664,000, a percentage of 7 38, or less than one-thirteenth of the total. In 1902–3 the total expenditure had risen to £146,000,000, towards which Ireland contributed £10,205,000, a percentage of 6–98, or less than one-fifteenth. Thus there was the strange anomaly that while Ireland paid more and. more her grievance seemed to diminish. She was now paying £3,000,000 more than ten years ago, and yet her proportionate contribution was smaller. Under the new system an effort was being made to reduce the extravagant expenditure in Ireland, but it should never be forgotten that extravagant expenditure was no justification for excessive taxation. To put the matter in another way, the revenue drawn from Ireland ten years ago amounted to £1 8s. lOd. per head of the population; six years later it was £1 18s. 2d; in 190–3 it was £2 6s. 1d; and for the current year it would be about £2 16s. Against that might be set the condition in Denmark, a country in keen competition with Ireland. There was a population of 2,465,000, the revenue was £4,209,000, or only £1 14s. per head. Under these circumstances, it could not be considered surprising that Irish representatives should persist in calling attention to the disastrous financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer would doubtless adduce the old argument that the same kind of taxes were levied in Ireland as in Great Britain, it might be 231 useful to remember that, in giving evidence before the Royal Commission on that point, Sir R. Giffen said—The amount contributed by Ireland to the Customs and Excise revenue. … is only evidence that in matters of taxation Ireland is virtually discriminated against by the character of the indirect taxes which happen to hit articles of special Irish consumption.… It is quite possible for a Government so to adjust its taxes as to take 10 per cent, of the taxable income of one community and 20 per cent, of the taxable income of another community, although the taxes are the same in each case.Identity of taxation did not necessarily mean equality of burden, as a community could be discriminated against by the selection of the articles upon which a tax was to be levied. For instance, if Great Britain were financially incorporated with France, a tax on wines would hit France very severely while it scarcely touched this country. The question of the financial relations of Ireland had been debated again and again without any beneficial result; once more an unanswerable case had been made out, and doubtless once more it would be ignored.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN, Worcestershire, E.)
Several hon. Members have already presumed that when came to reply to the various criticisms which have been made should do little more than repeat the arguments which my predecessors have used on previous occasions. I confess that I do not think I can add very much to the fulness of the information which the House has already in its possession. I might say that by those who have supported the hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the debate, very little has been added of a novel character to the speeches with which the House is familiar. The hon. and learned Member for Louth, in one of those speeches which always delight the House, travelled over a wide field which I thought had very little relevance to the Amendment which would have been moved had it been in order, and to reply to it would carry me far beyond the discussion of the financial relations between the two countries. The main portion of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech was concerned not so much with the financial relations of the two countries as with the 232 general character of the government of Ireland at the present time. The question of Irish administration, and of the distribution of powers in relation to Irish affairs is scarcely germane to the particular matter before the House with which we are dealing, and that is the financial relations which exist between the two countries, and the contribution which is exacted from Ireland for purposes which are common to the whole of the United Kingdom. I said just now that a greater part of the arguments have travelled over ground familiar to the House, and have not added anything novel to our debate. There has, however, been one speech which, I think, touched something of a new note, and which certainly excited my own interest and that of my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary; I mean the speech of the hon. Member for St. Stephen's. He had some practical proposal to lay before the House. I will refer later on to the points which the hon. Member has raised, but I wish to say now that his speech took a very distinct line from that of the hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the debate and from several of the subsequent speakers. The hon. Gentleman recited facts in relation to Ireland, unfortunately only too true, regarding her economic and social condition, and he spoke of her comparative poverty and the diminution of her population which has been going on from year to year. I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not accept this as an answer, but I wish to point out that the facts which the hon. Gentleman related are not peculiar to Ireland. They are common to all those parts of the United Kingdom where the circumstances are similar to those of Ireland; and, as between individuals or classes on the two sides of the Channel, there is no injustice in our present system and there is no tax which bears more hardly on the Irishman than on the Englishman or aggravates conditions in Ireland in a way which is not equally true of those portions of Great Britain where the conditions are similar.
After listening with great attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the discussion, was left without any clear idea of what he thought the financial relations between the two countries ought to be, or whether 233 he was of opinion that Ireland ought to contribute anything to the common expenditure of the United Kingdom. If we extracted wealth from Ireland for our common purposes out of proportion to the wealth of that country, I think the hon. and learned Gentleman would have a very strong case for a revision of our fiscal arrangements. But is that anything like the case? We raise in Ireland a considerable amount of revenue. [An Hon. Member: How much?] As regards the current year I have not the figures, but I will endeavour to get them for the hon. Gentleman. The question is, do we take from Ireland a greater contribution than is, on any possible argument which has been put before the House, an unfair proportion of our common expenditure? The hon. Gentleman looks only to the amount of money raised and refuses to consider the subsequent expenditure of that money.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I thought the hon. and learned Member brushed aside any argument with reference to the set-off, and argued that we were not entitled to place against the contribution of Ireland the cost of local administration in Ireland.
§ MR. CLANCY
I hope the House will not take the right hon. Gentleman's account of my argument as correct.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I confess that I had some difficulty in ascertaining what was the line of argument which the hon. and learned Gentleman took up.
§ Mr. CLANCY
The right hon. Gentleman must not take me as assenting to the proposition which he has expressed. I had no proposal to offer for remedying this Irish grievance. I carefully Refrained from making any suggestion of the kind for the simple reason that I have no power to carry it out and no responsibility for making any such proposal.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Of course I accept my right hon. and learned friend's account of his speech and his reasons for not putting forward any 234 proposals. I am only anxious to as certain what is the line of argument which the hon. and learned Gentleman followed, because, after all it is to the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite that I am particularly anxious to address myself, for I do not want to be beating the air, putting forward reason to which they attach no importance. May I invite the House to consider what has been been the contribution of Ireland for common purposes, say, during the last ten years, and how the expenditure authorised for the purposes of England and Ireland severally has affected that contribution during that time? I am asked to accept the finding of the Royal Commission that the taxable capacity of Ireland is not more than one-twentieth of that of Great Britain, and I assume, as I think I am entitled to assume, that it is fair in the circumstances to say that Ireland may rightfully be asked to contribute not more than one-twentieth of our common expenditure. [An HON. MEMBER: That was done year ago.] Yes, that was done years ago. To make that contribution to our common expenditure Ireland would have to provide a revenue over and above her expenditure equal to 4.8 per cent, of the total revenue obtainable for Imperial purposes. Ten years ago, in 1893–4, she contributed not 4.8 per cent, but 3.24 per cent. Year by year from that time until the changes in taxation which followed the outbreak of the South African War, the percentage of her contribution steadily diminished. When the new taxes were raised for the war her percentage came in 1902–3, on the old basis of calculation, to 2.66 per cent.—far lower than it was in 1893–4 and lower than, on the basis adopted by the Royal Commission, she could pay. Though I have not received the actual figures for 1903–4, I think I shall be right in saying that on the old basis of calculation Ireland's contribution is 2.50 per cent. But the methods by which these contributions are arrived at are open to considerable doubt, for the statistics for calculation are obtained for a short period and upon imperfect data. The calculations are founded on observation of the trade between the two countries during a period of four months. They are taken from four months observation of a portion only of the 235 trade in dutiable goods which passed between Ireland and Great Britain. Of course it is obvious—I am speaking now of indirect taxation—that you cannot merely take the amount of duty paid in Ireland, because a great deal of duty may be paid on goods in London which are subsequently removed for sale and consumption in Ireland, while, on the other hand, a certain amount of duty is paid on articles—tobacco especially— in Ireland, which are subsequently removed for consumption in Great Britain. Accordingly an attempt was made to ascertain the real consumption in each of the two countries; but it has always been felt that the basis of calculation has been formed on too narrow an observation and examination of the facts, and that the results arrived at are not wholly trustworthy or reliable. Last year a serious attempt was made to arrive at more accurate figures, and instead of observations being confined to four months of the year they were extended; over the whole twelve months in order to eliminate miscalculations from seasonable movements of trade. The House can readily understand that trade in some dutiable articles is often brisker at one season than another, and precautions were taken to secure as far as possible an accurate account of the revenue produced by indirect taxation in Great Britain and Ireland respectively.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
It was done by the Customs with the assistance of railway companies and carriers between the two countries. The result has been to show that the figure which have given as the proportion of Ireland's contribution to our common expenditure, namely 2.50 is too high. It is now calculated that Ireland contributes: £340,000 less than was assumed on the old basis. That, no doubt, is in part due to the lessened population to which the hon. and learned Gentleman and other hon. Gentlemen have referred, but it is partly due to the proportion of Ireland's consumption having been over-calculated on a previous occasion. This over calculation of consumption in Ireland was especially true in regard to tea, so that the 236 hon. Member for Islington will at least have the consolation of knowing that when he finds himself compelled to oppose the increase of the tea duty the hardship will not fall so specially on the Irish people as he has supposed. The old calculation was that in Ireland the consumption was 8lbs. per head of population, as compared with 61bs. per head of population in England. It would appear from the further observations which have now been been that the consumption is a little over 61bs. in both Great Britain and Ireland, slightly less in the latter country. Without pledging myself to their absolute accuracy, the figures in pounds appear to be 6.245 in England and 6.115 in Ireland.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not attempt to correct the figures for 1902–3, but I give the figures as nearly as I can for 1903–4, and subject to fuller correction before they are laid before the House in the next Return which will be presented during this session. Of course, the further back we have gone from 1903–4 the less can the figures be compared, for they were calculated on a different basis and did not conform to the existing state of affairs. It would appear that the proportionate contribution of Ireland for 1903–4, instead of being 2.5 is only 2.14. In other words, while Ireland contributed a thirtieth of Great Britain's contribution in 1893–4, she only contributed a forty-sixth of Great Britain's contribution in 1903–4. In 1893–4 the total revenue derived from taxation contributed by the United-Kingdom was £96,856,000, and in 1903–4 it was £146,803,000, an increase of nearly £50,000,000. Towards this increase Ireland contributed £2,041,000, or 4 per cent., and Great Britain yielded £47,906,000, or 96 per cent. Turning to the other side of the account and looking at local expenditure, find that in 1893ߝ94 in the United Kingdom the total amount was £36,221,000. In 1903–4 it was £51,770,000, an increase of £15,549,000. Of this increase there was devoted to Ireland £1,974,000, or more than 12¼percent, and to Great Britain £13,575,000, or nearly 87¼ per cent. The balance of the revenue contributed by the three kingdoms 237 which was available for Imperial expenditure in 1893ߝ94 was £60,634,000, and in 1903–4 it was £95,033,000, an increase of £34,399,000. Towards this increase Great Britain contributed £34,331,000, or practically the whole, and only £68,000 of the annual expenditure had fallen on Ireland. The hon. Members who have spoken, with, think, perhaps, the single exception of the hon. Member for St. Stephen's Green, have been disposed to repudiate, as far as could ascertain, Ireland's liability to contribute to Imperial expenditure at all.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am not speaking of the hon. Member for Islington, I am speaking rather of the speeches which have come from the Irish Benches in which most of the Members disassociated themselves from all interest in the Empire, or in our common possessions and dependencies, or in the Navy and Army, or in the purposes for which these services are maintained, or in the country's position and power and strength in the world. They are entitled to take that line if they think fit, but they will not expect a Chancellor of the Exchequer—
§ MR. CLANCY
May I ask to whom the right hon. Gentleman is referring? I never said a word on the subject, nor I do remember that any of my colleagues have done so.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
think the hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I think heard references in these speeches to the Navy, the Army, and to colonial and foreign policy generally as being matters in which Ireland has no concern, and if these references were not meant to imply what I have stated I do not understand the relevancy of the references in the debate, or why they were introduced except as matters of prejudice.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I have perhaps paid more attention to the 238 speeches of the hon. Gentleman's colleagues than he has vouchsafed to them. But, however that may be, I am willing to accept the view that I have misunderstood the whole intention of the remarks and that the hon. Member and his friends are willing to accept the obligation of Ireland to contribute her fair share towards the expenditure for the interests of the Empire of which Ireland forms a part. I am delighted to find that they recognise their interest in the Empire. If that be so need not argue the case further, for the figures I have quoted are sufficient to show that the contribution Ireland makes is not exorbitant, nor, indeed, what she would contribute if the recommendations of the Commission on which so much has been said were carried out.
There is another side of the case which has been put forward by the hon. Member for St. Stephen's Green and emphasised by the hon. Member for South Tyrone and the hon. and learned Member for Louth. It is that am not entitled to say that Irish expenditure should be used as a set-off against taxation, because that expenditure is extravagant, that salaries are on too lavish a scale, that there are too many paid officials, and because the whole machinery of government in Ireland is far more expensive than is required for her needs or found necessary in other countries similarly situated. Hon. Gentlemen will see at once that anyone speaking from this Bench would be likely rather to welcome than oppose attempts to effect economy. I am very anxious to find matters on which can retrench and economise, but they warn me that I can hope for no help from them, because they say that Ireland has no interest in such a policy, and that any economies made would go to swell her contribution. Her quota is not now as high as the hon. and learned Gentleman for St. Stephen's Green is willing to place it. I am not prepared to accept the proposal that there should be a separate Exchequer for Ireland. I admit that one Budget a year is quite enough for me. The Chief Secretary and myself have done something to meet the criticisms of hon. Gentlemen. We have agreed, as my predecessors have done, that certain 239 economies, if they can be effected, should not be reaped by the Irish Exchequer, but should go to the advantage of Ireland itself. I quite admit that in many respects Irish administration is far too costly. I agree that she has needs which are different from the needs of this country, and that there is no more wasteful system of Irish or British finance than to insist that wherever money is expended on one object in one part of the United Kingdom, an equivalent amount should necessarily be spent on the same object in another part. It often happens that the money is not required in the other part and could be much better spent on a different object. That is the principle on which my right hon. friend proceeded in connection with the Irish development grant, and he proposes to proceed further in respect of the same matter in a Bill which is to be presented to-morrow. I agree, following the example of my predecessors, that any economies which my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary can persuade the House to make in connection with law charges and the cost of the judiciary in Ireland should pass unscathed through the Exchequer and should be devoted to those purposes of development in Ireland which commend themselves to my right hon. friend in consultation with Irish Members of all shades of opinion. I am perfectly prepared to consider further proposals in this direction made to my right hon. friend or to myself direct by hon. Members, in which case I must consult with him, or proposals dealing in the same way with other economies if hon. Gentlemen think they can be secured. I recognise the advantage there is to everybody concerned in engaging the interests of Irishmen themselves in favour of economy, and of securing their assistance in reducing any extravagance or waste.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am not quite prepared to do that. It would not be easy to fix a figure which would be generally accepted, and it might easily happen if they did that 240 a few years hence this figure might give rise to fresh difficulties. But I am prepared while I am responsible to consider any proposals for economies which my right hon. friend can bring forward, in a spirit not, I hope, unfair to Ireland, and remembering always that am Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland as well as of the United Kingdom. It would be a happy day for Ireland and this House if we could devote our attention more constantly and continuously to practical proposals of this kind rather than to debates of a character which are apt to aggravate differences rather than to heal them, and to divide us further instead of uniting as in any useful or common purpose. Each case must be considered on its merits, but I shall not be unfavourably disposed to any proposals which my right hon. friend may make.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said that he entirely sympathised with the statement with which the right hon. Gentleman began his speech. He was glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman had followed the example of his predecessor in office and of the Chief Secretary in promising to devote to Ireland the savings made in Irish administration. But he scarcely agreed with a single one of the propositions laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. He felt less presumptuous in saying that because he had the support of the right hon. the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman dealt with a paradox, viz., that the gross contribution of Ireland to the Imperial Exchequer had, roughly speaking, increased, and yet the proportion of the contribution of Ireland had considerably decreased. In 1893–4, when this famous Report was issued, the contribution of Ireland was £7,500,000, in 1903 it was £10,250,000; and this year it was £10,300,000, and, therefore, they saw here an increase of the amount taken from Ireland; but the right hon. Gentleman thought that he had answered that fact by his proposition that the contribution of Ireland was getting smaller every year. He was astonished that so acute a gentleman as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequern to see the inconsistency of that. Therefore, he 241 held that the proposition which the right hon. Gentleman put forward as an answer to the case of Irish Members, was a confirmation of it. He had the Chief Secretary on his side. On 16th March last, the Chief Secretary said, he had heard it said by hon. Members sitting for English constituencies, that, considering the proportionate contribution of Ireland for Imperial purposes, she was not entitled to any exceptional treatment; but that argument would not bear the test of examination. He contended that the allocation of the savings effected in the course of Irish government to Irish purposes was based upon economic facts—upon the fact that Ireland's arrested development was not only an evil for her, but deprived her of all financial elasticity, and it so happened that Ireland's proportionate contribution was smaller than it might otherwise have been. Few people felt that it was possible to differentiate the taxation as between the two countries. If the same taxes were imposed in both countries, Ireland, being the poorer country, would produce a relatively smaller amount for those taxes, if they were maintained unaltered over a period of years, than they would produce in England. Again, if higher taxes were imposed, such as a war tax, the returns for England would quickly respond; but in Ireland they were beginning to reach the danger point at which taxation ought not to be increased. After that, why should he labour in his poor, imperfect language to answer the right hon. Gentleman?
When they were dealing with this financial question he wondered sometimes what was the extraordinary miasma that seemed to come over all Irish discussions in this House. What were the facts? This country was increasing in wealth and in population, Ireland was decreasing both in population and wealth. When the right hon. Gentleman was alluding to the enormous diminution of the Irish population he did not appear to regard that as a grievous thing for Ireland. This Report about the financial relations of Ireland was produced in the year 1894. Did the House realise the fact that Ireland had lost since, 3,600,000 of her population? And yet they were told that Ireland had no grievance, and that Ireland was prosperous. The whole thing 242 was tragic. He had always said that he did not believe that the present Chief Secretary fell below any of his predecessors in his desire to do good to Ireland. But if any amount of local grants were given to Ireland, and at the same time her taxation was increased, what was given with one hand was taken away with the other. It was a question which it was difficult for anyone to say anything about. He had called the attention of the House to the fact five or six times that whereas every other part of the Empire was increasing in content, prosperity, and population this part of the Empire was steadily going down. It was a thing which brought grief and distraction to Irishmen and ought to bring shame and humiliation to Englishmen.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said he sympathised with some of the remarks made by the hon. Gentleman opposite who had just resumed his seat, but could not subscribe to them all. He had always held the view that the financial relations between England and Ireland were not on a satisfactory basis, but he did not agree with the speech of the hon. Member. He disliked the tone of the speeches which sometimes prevailed on the opposite Benches in such debates as the present, because he hated to hear Ireland described as a country of hopelessly irreclaimable beggars. The population was declining it was true, and he was very sorry for it, but that the wealth of the country was decreasing he denied. He deplored the fact that Ireland was unable to retain a large population, but the population declined not from any inherent misfortune that hung over Ireland, but from the indisputable facts that in other countries there were offered to Irishmen opportunities which did not exist in Ireland to prove their capacity. If hon. Members could give coal mines to Ireland it would be different, but how could they create in Ireland industries which could vie with the industries of England, Scotland, and America? The Irish, who were the most intelligent race on the face of the earth, said, "Why should we go on living in this country where we can earn only 1s. 2d. or 1s. 6d. a day, when we can go to England, or Scotland, or America where we can earn three times 243 the sum, with an infinitely better prospect of rising in life." They might well say this in the congested districts of the South-west, or, indeed, anywhere except in the North-east of Ulster, where they had given Irishmen a chance of showing what they were made of. He did not agree that Ireland was decreasing in wealth. He ventured to say, if they calculated the wealth per head of the Irish people, that in the last twenty years Irishmen had become three times as wealthy as they were. The fault he had always found with the Irish Government on the question of spending British money in Ireland was that the Chief Secretary could do very little, as the Member for Louth had said in his admirable speech. The Government of Ireland lacked the elasticity which would enable them to spend the money in Ireland which they knew ought to be spent there, without applying for it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, as a rule, was not sympathetic about spending much British money in Ireland. The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer indicated to him that a certain amount of elasticity had set in at the Treasury. He thought Bann drainage was looking up. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, who desired to further the industries of the country and the wealth of Ireland as much as anyone he had seen in that high position, was bound to meet them, when they asked for an expenditure in Ireland, with the statement "I will do it with the greatest pleasure, but there is the Chancellor of the Exchequer." Now the Chief Secretary could not say that again, when he pointed out in his most persuasive tones that a sum might be laid out with great advantage in Ulster—he would not mention the precise locality—he could not say now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not sanction it. They had now a Chancellor of the Exchequer who was in a most sympathetic mood, and, with a little squeezing, was ready to part with a certain amount of money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a gesture. He did not know what that sign meant, but he hoped it was not a sign of the negative. In the new Army Regulations, a general commanding a district was now allowed to sanction a small outlay. Formerly if 1s. 6d. was needed to buy a chin strap for a soldier the general 244 commanding could not authorise that outlay, but had to send it to the War Office, to get the approval of red tape, and many clerks, and very often the chin strap was not forthcoming. Now they were going to allow a certain amount of elasticity in that matter. That was what he wanted given to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. When the Chief Secretary was persuaded that a certain expenditure was necessary to develop the resources and welfare of Ireland, he ought to have power to get the money. He did not think any Chief Secretary was likely to expend an extravagant amount in furthering the welfare of the country he was supposed to rule.
As to how he should vote he regretted extremely he should have to vote against the proposal of hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division said there was nothing original in the debate. He never heard a more original debate in the House. They had heard Members opposite say what he had never heard them say before, though he had often thought it, that Irishmen were not fit for representative government. The hon. Member for Louth stated that was the case. What he wanted was a ruler—an Orangeman would do, so long as he was not subject to the government of that House.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said perha that was only a piece of fireworks. The hon. Member for Oldham had taken his first step in the Home Rule direction. His hon. friend came over to Ireland on that very question of the financial relations of Ireland with England, and addressed a company of bankers. He said—Talk about dumping as an enemy of trade! As far as Ireland is concerned the great dumper is her gigantic neighbour.He thought at the time this country had dumped many millions of pounds on Ireland, and he never heard Irishmen take objection to that form of dumping. They had had, too, the suggestion that a new form of Home Rule might be proposed which would deal very largely with the question of finance. His hon. friend might then occupy the position 245 of Chief Secretary. If he did he hoped that the generosity which characterised him in his unofficial character would characterise his official character. They should all hail that with satisfaction. The reason he opposed the Amendment was very simple. He was still of opinion that Ireland was not fairly treated in this matter, and if the Amendment had simply expressed that fact he should have voted for it. It said a great deal more than that, however. It said that, in view of the inequitable nature of the existing financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland, the House declines to sanction any measure involving additional taxation until these relations are adjusted on an equitable basis. The Amendment, so far as those voting for it were able, would prevent them having an Army or a Navy, or carrying on the business of the country. He was not prepared to assent to a proposal of that kind. He looked upon the financial relations between England and Ireland as very important, but the defence of the Empire and the maintenance of its security he looked upon as a thousand times more important, and he hoped that the Chief Secretary, now that his colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to be in a sympathetic humour, would seize the occasion to strike while the iron was hot, and get a certain amount of money from the British Exchequer to improve the finances Ireland.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
expressed his astonishment at the closing remarks of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh. For some years past the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had been a great advocate for the revision of the financial relations between England and Ireland, but now, when an Amendment was before the House having that effect in view, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman found himself unable to vote for it. He had been amused by the argument the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had put forward that the diminution of population was a sign rather of the growing wealth of Ireland than otherwise, it so reminded him of the old story that Ireland was the best country in the world to live out of because wages 246 and employment were so much better elsewhere. Such conditions should not obtain in Ireland and it was because the conditions were such that the population of Ireland was diminishing year by year in this calamitous manner. The question was, Was Ireland fairly taxed or not? In particular, all Irishmen were bound to join in the protest that nothing had been done to carry out the recommendations of Mr. Childers' Commission. It was incumbent on Ireland to see that there was a revision of these financial relations, under the wrongs of which she had so long suffered. The right of Ireland to be taxed was based on the conditions contained in the treaty entered into between the independent Parliaments of England and Ireland at the time of the Union. A solemn contract was then entered into that the two countries were not to be subjected to a common taxation, but that the particular circumstances of each country were to be taken into consideration and each country was to be taxed according to its capacity. That contract had no right to be abrogated, except with the consent of both peoples. A Commission consisting of the most able financiers of both countries, although the majority were English, in 1897 came to the conclusion that the taxable capacity of Ireland was one-twentieth that of England, and that for many years Ireland had been overtaxed to the extent of £2,750,000 per annum. It was no answer for the Government to say that a certain proportion had been expended in Ireland. The hon. Member for North Dublin had clearly shown that that was a fallacy. It was no satisfaction to the poor peasant of Connemara to know that his tea and tobacco and whiskey had been overtaxed, but that the money had been expended in keeping up the several departments of Dublin Castle. The question was quite of a different character. The question was whether Ireland was or was not overtaxed, and the test of taxation was the equality of sacrifice and not equality of burden, and if, as was the case, an income of £12 in Ireland was taxed as much as an income of £40 in England, that was neither just nor fair. Ireland had no trade or commerce necessitating the maintenance of a Navy at a cost of £34,000,000 a year, 247 neither had she shores to defend necessitating the maintenance of an Army at an annual cost of £32,000,000. The expenditure of Ireland would be amply met, if one-twentieth of the taxation was knocked off. That was the principle involved in this Amendment, and he asked for fair play in this matter; he asked the English Members to join with the Irish Party and show their sense of disapproval that nothing had been done to carry out the recommendation of the Childers' Commission, and to endeavour to adjust the taxation so as to at all events remove what was a crying grievance in Ireland.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Wexford, N.)
said that one of the interesting features of the present debate had been the admission by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the present financial arrangements between England and Ireland were not proving satisfactory to the English Exchequer. The taxation in Ireland since 1864 had risen from £7,000,000 to £10,000,000 and it seemed to him that it had now reached the danger point alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in the speech which had already been quoted. If that was so, was it not time to consider whether some change could not be made in the present arrangements? The hon. Member for the St. Stephen's Division of Dublin had made the very valuable suggestion that a fixed contribution should be made by Ireland to the Imperial Exchequer, and that the rest of the taxation should be devoted to purposes purely Irish. That was really the key to the situation. Such an arrangement would be good business for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer took exception to the discussion of Irish administration in this debate, but he himself had been guilty of the same error, because he had complained that the administration of Ireland was highly extravagant and that very little value had been obtained for the money expended upon it. The Irish people were perfectly prepared to join the Chancellor of the Exchequer in promoting economy in Irish administration, and to relieve the House of any discussion of the Budget by Irish Members, if the Government would allow the 248 Irish nation to make a contribution of, say, £1,000,000, and to manage the balance of £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 in their own way. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to a Customs Committee of Inquiry. Was it to be understood that a Committee was at present sitting, or that one would be appointed?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
was understood to say that the Board of Customs were inquiring into the real incidence of the Customs duties. When the new financial Return was laid before the House it would contain the figures on a new basis, and he hoped to be able to attach a Memorandum showing the difference in the modes of procedure by which the results were arrived at.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE
said that for years they had been trying to ascertain what the Customs figures really were, and he suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should not confine his energies to one year, but, if it was found to be of value, issue the Return year by year as a matter of course.
§ MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
complained that the present practice showed an entirely fictitious balance in respect of Ireland's contributions to the Exchequer. What was wanted was an international system of book-keeping which would show the real facts of the case. It was almost impossible to understand the present system under which Ireland was debited with amounts with which she ought to be credited and vice versa. He suggested that a supplementary Commission should be appointed to inquire into the results of the former Financial Relations Commission in order to see how matters stood at present. He also advocated the establishment of a department of the Board of Trade in Ireland. Hon. Members were mistaken if they supposed the feeling with regard to this over-taxation was less keen than formerly. It was only the acute agitation in connection with the land question which had allowed the matter to take a less prominent position, and the disappointment aroused by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech would probably cause the Irish people to realise that they must agitate once 249 more if they were ever to get any satisfaction. The Nationalist Party, at any rate, would never let the matter rest until Justice was done.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:— Ayes, 278; Noes, 165. (Division List No. 126.)253
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cust, Henry John C.||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil|
|Aird, Sir John||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hn. Eden||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Hunt, Rowland|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Hutton, John (Yorks., N.R.)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dickson, Charles Scott||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P.||Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred.|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Duke, Henry Edward||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.(Salop)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fardell, Sir T. George||Kerr, John|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r)||Keswick, William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds||Fielden, Edward Brockleh'rst||Kimber, Henry|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick Georg.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Knowles, Sir Lees|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lambton, Hn. Frederick Wm.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Fisher, William Hayes||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Mich. Hicks||FitzGerald, Sir RobertPenrose-||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Backett, Ernest William||Fitzroy, Hn. Edw'd Algernon||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks, N.R.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Flower, Sir Ernest||Lee, Arthur H.(Hants Fareham|
|Bigwood, James||Forster, Henry William||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Bill, Charles||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fyler, John Arthur||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Galloway, William Johnson||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Gardner, Ernest||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Bawles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Garfit, William||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.|
|Brassey, Albert||Gordon, Hn J E (Elgin & Nairn||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Lough, Thomas|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Gordon, Maj. Evans-(T'r H'ml't||Lowe, Francis William|
|Bull, William James||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Butcher, John George||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Campbell, J.H.M (Dublin Univ.||Graham, Henry Robert||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Carlile, William Walter||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Green, Walford D.(Wednesbury||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Greene, Sir EW(B'rySEdm'nds||M'Calmont, Colonel James|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinb'rgh W|
|Cavzer, Sir Charles William||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Malcolm, Ian|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Groves, James Grimble||Manners, Lord Cecil|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J.(Birm||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A (Worc.||Hambro, Charles Eric||Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E (Wigt'n|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh.)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Chapman, Edward||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Charrington, Spencer||Harris, Dr. Fredk. R. (Dulwich||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.|
|Coates Edward Feetham||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Mitchell, William (Burnley)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H.A.E.||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Heath, James (Staffords, N.W.||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott(Hants.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Heaton, John Henniker||Moore, William|
|Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C. R.||Helder, Augustus||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Mount, William Arthur|
|Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray, C.|
|Cripps Charles Alfred||Horner, Frederick William||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hoult, Joseph||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (B'te|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Howard, J. (Mid., Tottenham)||Myers, William Henry|
|Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Tuff, Charles|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Valentia, Viscount|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Percy, Earl||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J.||Walrond, Rt Hn. Sir William H.|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Plummer, Walter R.||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunt'n|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Shaw-Stewart, Sir H.(Renfrew||Welby, SirCharles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Pym, C. Guy||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Sloan, Thomas Henry||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Randles, John S.||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Rankin, Sir James||Spear, John Ward||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Ratcliff, R. F.||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Stanley, Edw. James (Somerset||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lancs.)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Renwick, George||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Richards, Henry Charles||Stock, James Henry||Younger, William|
|Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Ridley, S. Forde (Bethn'l Gre'n||Stroyan, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas Thomson||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Robinson, Brooke||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Duncan, J. Hastings||Labouchere, Henry|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Dunn, Sir William||Lambert, George|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Edwards, Frank||Langley, Batty|
|Allen, Charles P.||Elibank, Master of||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Ellice, Capt EC(StAndrw's Bghs||Leamy, Edmund|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidstone||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Leng, Sir John|
|Bell, Richard||Farrell, James Patrick||Levy, Maurice|
|Black, Alexander William||Fenwick, Charles||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Blake, Edward||Field, William||Lloyd-George, David|
|Boland, John||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||Lough, Thomas|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lundon, W.|
|Brigg, John||Flynn, James Christopher||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Furness, Sir Christopher||M'Crae, George|
|Burns, John||Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|Burt, Thomas||Grant, Corrie||M'Kean, John|
|Caldwell, James||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Harcourt, Lewis V. (Rossendale||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Harwood, George||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin|
|Cawley, Frederick||Hayden, John Patrick||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Healy, Timothy Michael||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Helme, Norval Watson||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Mooney, John J.|
|Crombie, John William||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||Moss, Samuel|
|Cullinan, J.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Murphy, John|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Horniman, Frederick John||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Newnes, Sir George|
|Delany, William||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Devlin, Charles Ramsay(Galwy||Jacoby, James Alfred||Norman, Henry|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Dobbie, Joseph||Jordan, Jeremiah||Nussey, Thomas Willians|
|Doogan, P. C.||Joyce, Michael||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Kearley, Hudson E.||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Duffy, William J.||Kilbride, Denis||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Schwann, Charles E.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Shackleton, David James||Wason, John C (Orkney)|
|O'Dowd, John||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Weir, James Galloway|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon N.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||White, George (Norfolk)|
|O'Malley, William||Sheehy, David||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Shipman, Dr. John G.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Shee, James John||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Partington, Oswald||Slack, John Bamford||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Wilson, Fred W. (Norfolk, Mid.)|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Soares, Ernest J.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Sullivan, Donal||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (H'ddersf'd|
|Rea, Russell||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir Thomas Esmonde and Captain Donelan.|
|Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Thomas, J. A. (Glamorg'nG'w.|
|Robson, William Snowdon||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Wallace, Robert|
|Russell, T. W.||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.|
§ Bill accordingly read a second time, and committed for Tuesday, 31st May.