§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [19th February], "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ "We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Dickinson.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.361
§ MR. TOMKINSON (Cheshire, Crewe)
said that when the House adjourned the previous night, he was giving an instance of the ferocity of the penal code in our services less than a century ago, in the case of a court-martial held on one Private John Cann, of the 95th Regiment (Rifle Brigade), at Paris, during its occupation by the victorious Allied Armies after the Waterloo campaign. The charge was ono—Of highly mutinous conduct, in drawing his rifle and threatening to shoot anyone who should attempt to take him into custody. And the opinion and sentence was that, the charge being proved, the court doth sentence the prisoner to receive a punishment of 1,000 dashes—which sentence His Grace the Commander-in-Chief has been graciously pleased to approve and confirm.In these days we stood aghast at such a sentence, still more so when we heard that the victim was to receive 500 lashes, and then be taken down more dead than alive; to be cured in hospital, and then brought out to receive the remainder of the sentence! By successive stops and stages this ferocity had been mitigated, until flogging had practically ceased altogether in the Army, save only in military prisons, from which also he hoped to see it removed by this Parliament, and from the Navy, except to the extent to which his hon. friend had called attention. Now it was to be noted that every one of these steps had been vehemently opposed by the authorities as likely to be fatal to discipline, and ruinous to the service, and yet in every case they had proved to be fully justified and beneficial. One argument he would meet in advance. If they abolished the flogging of boys in the Navy they would be making one law for the poor and another for the rich—not in the sense in which it was usually quoted—but to the advantage of the poor. Eton and Harrow boys were flogged without being any the worse, and no one complained. He was not prepared to defend flogging in any shape, and if the two systems were alike or even comparable perhaps this Amendment might not have been moved. But whoever heard of an Eton or Harrow boy having to be watched by a doctor for hours after punishment for fear of bodily or mental c consequences; or was it credible that the 2 punishment of a comrade which was such as to induce his friend to attack the inflicter of it, regardless of consequences to 362 himself, could have been anything short of maddening to the spectator? In his opinion, that boy was morally more deserving of honour and decoration than of twenty-four strokes and three months' imprisonment. He was made of the stuff from which heroic deeds spring, and might have done honour to his country in peace or war; whereas he would now probably leave the service at the earliest possible moment, bearing in his heart feelings of burning wrong and resentment. This was a new House, a new feeling pervaded it, and they confidently looked for a sympathetic answer from the Secretary to the Admiralty, which would justify his hon. friend in asking the House for leave to withdraw his Amendment, in which he should heartily concur.
At the end of the Question, to add the words, 'And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that, whereas the punishment of flogging has been abolished, with the happiest results, for upwards of a quarter of a century in Your Majesty's Army, men in Your Majesty's Navy are liable, under the provisions of the Naval Discipline Act, to floggings of twenty-five strokes of a cat-o'-nine-tails, which is a necessary equipment of every one of Your Majesty's ships, while boys and youths in Your Majesty's Navy, under eighteen years of age, are, by Your Majesty's Naval Regulations, for trivial offences, triable, not merely by courts-martial, but summarily liable to floggings "over the bare breech" of twenty-four lashes with birches 9 oz. in weight and steeped in brine, and to twelve strokes of a cane, such birchings and canings, which must be inflicted by the ship's police, in accordance with the Naval Regulations, "in the presence of all the boys" on board ship, being of frequent occurrence; and we further humbly represent that the retention of the system of flogging in Your Majesty's Navy is neither essential to the preservation of discipline, nor consonant with public opinion, and that the abolition by legislation of flogging in the Navy is urgently needed.'"—(Mr. Swift MacNeill.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. EDMUND ROBERTSON,) Dundee
deprecated bringing this matter forward as an Amendment to the Address, digesting that a better opportunity of discussing it would have offered on the Navy Estimates. He would now, however, make the statement he had intended o make then, and he hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn after the hon. 363 Member for Donegal had heard the sympathetic reply which he was in a position to make on behalf of the Admiralty. The question was, as a matter of fact, dealt with by the. Admiralty on January 30th last, a date implying an intelligent anticipation of events, in a circular addressed to the officers commanding squadrons, stations, and fleets. The circular, which was headed "Summary Punishments—Birching and Caning," ran as follows—My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, having had under their consideration the regulations governing the summary punishment of boys in the Royal Navy, have decided that the award of Punishment No. 20 Birching, as prescribed in Article 759 of the King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions (Article 789 in the revised edition) shall be suspended, both for Boys and Youths under training, and for those nerving afloat until further orders. At the expiration of twelve months a confidential report is to be forwarded by you as to the disciplinary effect of this order on the station under your command. My Lords further direct that punishment No. 21 Caning shall be inflicted only under the actual order of the captain of the ship, and that the regulations respecting the delegation of punishments to the executive of[...]icer shall be regarded as modified in this respect. The above decisions of Their Lordships are to be communicated by you confidentially to the commanding officers of His Majesty's ships and establishments under your command.He hoped that his hon. friends would find his answer a sufficient justification for the withdrawal of the Amendment.
§ MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
said he desired to express his thankfulness for the announcement they had just heard from the Secretary to the Admiralty. The constituency he represented would read it with great satisfaction, because there had, during the election been great dissatisfaction expressed; on this question, and he was sure that all would be delighted at the prospect of the discontinuance of these practices.
§ CAPTAIN HERVEY (Bury St. Edmunds)
, who claimed indulgence as a new Member, remarked that he had some right to speak on this subject as he was the only naval officer on the Active List who had been returned to the present Parliament. This was entirely a naval question. Since he became a naval cadet in 1877, he had had personal knowledge of only two cases of birching in the Navy. The first was so long ago that he had forgotten the circumstances attending it, and the second one was the case of a boy 364 who was birched for gross immorality. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment had mentioned the cat. He knew that there was a cat on board every ship, but that cat was there simply for a pattern of what a cat should be. It was there, not for use at all in time of peace, but as a pattern in case of a direct mutiny in time of war. It was kept solely for such contingencies, which they hoped might never occur. He had heard with great pain the manner in which the mover of the Amendment stated the birch was applied. The hon. Member had represented it to be a most awful instrument of torture, whereas the naval birch was lighter and shorter than the birch used ashore. It was only applied in very gross cases, and in his experience, extending from 1877, had known it to be used on only two occasions. Only that day he was talking the matter over with a naval officer of two years' longer standing than himself and he said he had never seen a birching. The naval birch never had been pickled in-brine. He was informed that morning, however, by a gentleman who had been himself treated with a birch pickled in brine that he suffered no ill effects; in fact it did him a great deal of good. He had seen his birch-rod picked from the hedge and watched the process of its manufacture up to the time when it was applied to his back. That gentleman now occupied a good position. The House of Commons could well leave this question of birching to the naval authorities, and not act in a grandmotherly way towards men who had spent their lives in the profession—the noblest in the world—by telling them whether they should cane a little boy or not. This was not, as the Member for Donegal alleged, a question of rich versus poor. Cadets in the Britannia were caned just the same as the boys in a training ship. [Cries of "Shame."] No, it was not a shame. It was a good thing for them. He could bring cases into the House, if hon. Members cared to see them, where he knew the boys actually benefited.
§ CAPTAIN HERVEY
was not sure that he did not. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why he became a captain in 365 the Navy at an earlier age than almost any one else; and perhaps that was also a reason why he was elected Member for Bury St. Edmunds. The hon. and gallant Gentleman proceeded to protest against the tone in which Mr. MacNeill spoke of officers who had been obliged to order this punishment in the Navy. These officers had been held up to the House as blood-thirsty ruffians who had stood by watching punishment which no humane, decent person would ever allow to be inflicted. It was not right that it should go forth to the world that our naval officers went back to pro-historic days when torture was rife. There was no torture in the matter at all. Naval officers did not mind pain and punishment as a deterrent, but they did not desire punishment to be made a form of terror. He was exceedingly sorry to hear that the hon. Member for South Donegal sent down to Suffolk a number of cartoons representing floggings of boys so as to keep out of that House a gentleman who was doing his best to obtain the answer just made by the present Secretary to the Admiralty. Just before the election a report was circulated to the effect that a boy had been flogged to death on the training ship stationed off Shotley, whereas the fact was that boy died of consumption and had had no punishment of any kind registered against him. The House should have an apology from the hon. Member for circulating such reports. Naval matters in his opinion should not be made Party matters. He apologised for intervening in the debate, but hoped the words of one who had seen what went on in the Navy would be of some use.
§ MR. LEA (S. Pancras, E.)
also asked for a patient hearing as he was a new Member of the House. The hon. Member for South Donegal, had, he said, done good service in exposing this blot on the; Admiralty rules and regulations, which allowed caning and birching. He was, he believed, the only Member of this House who had served five years as a soldier in the ranks, and he doubted if there was any Member who knew what it was to be in the stokehold or lower deck of a man of war. It was all very well for the hon. Member who had just spoken, to take his views from the wardroom or the officers' mess. He himself had many and varied opportunities of ascertaining them, while he was in the service, and since, and 366 he would assert that a British officer, either in the Army or the Navy, knew absolutely nothing of the atmosphere of the barrack room or lower deck. Therefore he hoped that hon. Members on both sides of the House would accept with a certain amount of discount the opinions expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds. Whatever the views of civilians might be with regard to the late Mr. Parnell, there was only one opinion of that great man in the barrack room. His mind wont back to the year 1887, when he joined a famous regiment at Shorncliffe as a private soldier, and he had not been in the barrack room long before he learnt—as every recruit learned—of the flogging, which went on in the old days, and of the debt of gratitude every British soldier owed to the once leader of a great historic Party for wiping out that hideous stain upon our Army. If hon. Members doubted that, let them go out into the street and ask the first old soldier they met—the first old commissionaire—if his memory carried him back to the day when the triangle was erected in the barrack square. The sight once seen could never be forgotten, and the old soldier would be able to describe some of the horrors which took place in those days. Yet the same sort of thing was still going on, not in the barrack square, it was true, but on the quarter-deck of His Majesty's ships. He approached this question in no Party spirit whatever, but he took absolute exception to the argument of the hon. Member who had just sat down when he declined to believe that this was a question of class. He was prepared to corroborate what the hon. Member for South Donegal had said. As regarded the naval and land forces, there were only two classes, the working class from which the rank and file were drawn, and the upper class from which the officers were drawn. It ought not to be forgotten that those men and boys in the Navy were voiceless upon this question, for they were not allowed to make their grievances public. It was useless to say that if they had any cause for complaint they could go to their orderly room, because that was a farce. If hon. Members had any doubt as to whether flogging ought to be abolished he would suggest an easy solution. Let hon. Members and the 367 officials of the Admiralty the next time they had a case of flogging, save it up at Chatham, Devonport, or Portsmouth, and let all those who had any doubt go down and witness it. That would soon convert them. On what ground was the retention of flogging and birching defended? It was said that it was necessary to maintain discipline. That he did not believe, because it was urged in the old days when the late Mr. Parnell did his best to get it abolished in the Army. He had yet to learn that discipline in the Army was in a worse state than it was twenty-five or thirty years ago. There were men in the Navy who absolutely abhorred this kind of thing, and even Captain Marryat wrote in favour of its abolition almost 100 years ago. What were the crimes for which flogging was considered necessary? If they were so serious as to deserve flogging, then those men who had committed them once and undergone a fitting punishment were no longer worthy to wear His Majesty's uniform either as boys or men, and they should be treated as criminals and turned out of the service to which they were no longer worthy to belong. Soldiers and sailors realised that there was a certain amount of dignity attached to the uniform they wore, and they hated flogging for they did not like a sword of Damocles always hanging over their heads. It was a great mistake to suppose that the men in the Navy had not a lively sense of what was going on, and in their hearts they thanked the hon. Member for South Donegal for the great trouble he had taken in the matter. They had heard a lot about cruelties on the Rand, but he had yet to learn that they could treat their own flesh and blood in this way with impunity, because these men sprang from the working classes in towns and villages. Times had changed, and men had changed with them. A great majority had been sent here to support their honoured Prime Minister in the hope that social grievances were to be redressed, and great reforms to be carried through, and tie ventured to suggest that one of the happiest preludes to those reforms would be the abolition of a form of punishment which was a disgrace to our ideas of humanity.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
There is an old proverb which says that it is unnecessary to push an open door, yet it is in some such process 368 that I think we are now engaged. I do not regret that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has paid no attention to that proverb, because the result is that he has, at any rate, made a very interesting speech. At the same time, I would point out that his speech is directed to a state of things which is rather of the past. Taking the particular state of things with which we are now dealing, it certainly is different from that with which we dealt at the time when flogging in the Army was abolished; and I would desire that in the present state of things we should endeavour to avoid all exaggeration, especially that kind of exaggeration which must give great pain to a noble profession. I think great credit is due to the hon. Member for South Donegal for raising this question, and I sympathise with him in so doing. Although the hon. Gentleman began by saying that this was in no sense apolitical question, I am afraid he has not always treated it as though it were non-political. I am afraid the hon. Gentleman has been, as enthusiasts are apt to be, a little too much inclined to take for gospel all the stories of grievance which come to anyone who undertakes to deal with a matter of this kind. I am sure we are all agreed that the officers of the British Navy, speaking of them as a class, would naturally and rightly resent the imputation of cruelty or of the infliction of pain for the sake of inflicting pain. I think we shall all be inclined to agree with the statement that the infliction of this punishment has been comparatively rare. But, having said that, I congratulate the Secretary to the Admiralty upon the decision which has been arrived at. I understand from what has fallen from my hon. and gallant friend that Mr. Pretyman, the late Secretary to the Admiralty, was engaged in bringing the matter before his naval colleagues when the change of Government took place, and the result accordingly would have been the same. I think the House might accept the decision in the form in which it has been presented. The practice of birching has been suspended for twelve months, and I hope and believe it will never be re-established. At the time when Mr. Parnell raised this question on the Army Discipline Act, I was one of the very few Members who heartily supported him. For, in the first instance, many persons who sympathised with Mr. Parnell's 369 action in the matter were deterred from I supporting him owing to his policy of obstruction. In regard to flogging I have personally always taken the strongest possible line. It is a punishment which I hate and detest in all its forms and upon almost every conceivable occasion. The only exception I would make is in the case of certain offences against women and children. Then I am ready that the offenders should be flogged as brutes. I hate the flogging of boys at public schools; and although I have had boys of my own at public schools, I always took care that in no conceivable circumstances should they be subjected to this humiliation, and I venture to say that they have not proved in after-life any the worse on that account.? In the case where flogging is applied as a punishment in connection with the Service, or in similar ways, I am perfectly ready to admit that the great majority of people who are entrusted with this power do not abuse it; but there always will be men who do abuse it, and it is to prevent the abuse which is possible that we must direct our legislation. I had a great deal to do with this question when I was Secretary of State for the Colonies. Let the House know that wherever we have to deal with coloured populations the punishment of flogging is in existence. I was not able to prevent it; but I did take steps, as is well known, to limit and reduce it, and to prevent its extension. I found confirmation of my prejudice against this method of punishment in the facts which I obtained. I required Returns to be made which had never been made before as to the amount and state of flogging in the Colonies, and I found that in the same colony two magistrates acting almost side by side would make a totally different Return. One magistrate would administer a large district without ever applying this punishment, while in the next district another magistrate would consider it a common necessity. That points to the difficulty that you cannot depend on your instruments. Another difficulty is the extreme inequality of the punishment, the nature of which depends on the way in which it is executed. Executed by a particular officer it may, owing to his strength or his character, become much more severe than it would be if a more humane or weaker person were entrusted with it. Again, 370 one man would order the maximum of lashes, while another would think that justice was satisfied by a very much smaller number. I apologise to the House for what is perhaps too personal. I thoroughly sympathise at all events with the object of the hon. Member for South Donegal, and wish to say how glad I am to find that the Admiralty, without any fear of injuring discipline in the Navy under their charge, are able to consent to this experimental suspension, being absolutely convinced, as I am, that once suspended it will not be re-imposed.
§ MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)
asked the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the new order would have the effect of putting down public flogging. He gathered that under the old rule a boy was not only caned, when subjected to punishment, but that the other boys were compelled to witness the punishment.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said there was nothing in the circular dealing with that matter. He suggested that the hon. Member should give notice of a Question on the subject.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said he would suggest to the hon. Member for South Donegal that he should withdraw the Amendment. He had not got all that he asked for, but he had made a step in the direction of the complete abolition of flogging. He expressed gratification that the part which Mr. Parnell played in the abolition of flogging in the Army was still gratefully remembered by British soldiers. He remembered how when his hon. friend first raised the question he was almost howled down. There would always be on the part of the Irish Party a desire to support the cause of common humanity in any part of the world. He felt that they had a very proud record in this House in that respect. His hon. friend who initiated this most interesting debate pointed out that they were supported by Mr. Wilberforce when an Irishman first introduced the proposal for the abolition of slavery. The legislation for the protection of animals from cruelty was proposed by an Irishman, and the measure dealing with that matter was known as Martin's Act. It was an Irishman who abolished the flogging of 371 soldiers, audit was now an Irishman who had abolished the flogging of sailors. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who opposed the Amendment spoke about the honour of the British Navy, and they listened to him with a certain amount of sympathy. But the same kind of language, almost the same words, were heard twenty-six years ago when it was proposed to abolish flogging in the Army. It was said that it was impossible to attribute these cruelties to British officers, but the fact remained that the system was bad. There was no getting over the fact that where they had a cruel and bad system human nature was so weak that men would be brutalised by the system. He thought that the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham would sink deep into the mind of the House, for he had pointed out by a peculiarly strong illustration the evils of the system. The right hon. Gentleman had made inquiry into the working of the system in the Colonies, and found that in the case of magistrates working side by side, one man could preserve order without the punishment of flogging while the other sometimes imposed it. The House was now practically unanimous on this question, and he congratulated his hon. friend the Member for South Donegal on the change which had been brought about on this subject.
THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Sir H. CAMPBELL-BNNERMAN,) Stilling Burghs
I wish to take the opportunity of associating myself with what has been said, as to what we owe to my hon. friend the Member for South Donegal. I well remember the opposition which my hon friend encountered when he first brought this matter forward, and also the courage and pertinacity he showed in insisting upon his views being fully expressed, a pertinacity and courage which have ended in his success to-day. I think, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that we have all been pushing an open door, because the statement made by my hon. friend the Secretary to the Admiralty shows that among the Board of Admiralty itself, as well as among the present political members of that Board, the case has been fully recognised that the discipline of the Navy ought to be maintainable, and could be maintained, without 372 resort to these degrading practices, which are really a relic of older and worse days. I think we cannot select one to whom praise is more distinctly due than the hon. Member for South Donegal.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
expressed his grateful acknowledgments to the Prime Minister and to the House, and asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
moved an Amendment declaring that large numbers of loyal subjects in Ireland view with alarm the statement in His Majesty's Speech in regard to changes in the system of government in Ireland. He said that this was not the first time he had had the honour to address the House of Commons on the question of Irish government. There were certain features in the present situation which differentiated it from any other occasion. When he read in the papers the result of the last election he realised that there would be an immense majority practically pledged to Home Rule. He thought the hon. Member for Waterford would have an easy job in bringing Home Rule triumphantly to the front in the House of Commons. When he read the King's Speech he asked what had happened to Home Rule. Other measures appeared to have usurped its place. But there was no question which so deeply interested all shades of opinion in Ireland as Home Rule. When he saw the few vague sentences in the King's Speech he said to himself that there must be something behind them, for the hon. Member for Waterford could not remain satisfied for a moment with a simple statement of that kind. He had known the hon. Member for Waterford for a number of years, and he was certain that the hon. Member was absolutely in earnest in regard to Home Rule. He knew that the Prime Minister had over and over again openly and without the slightest reservation declared that he was a Home Ruler. But the right hon. Gentleman gave the Nationalist Members very good advice. He did not for a moment cast the shadow of doubt on the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that there was no contract between himself and the hon. 373 Member for Waterford. But without a contract he might give friendly advice. Undoubtedly, in that celebrated speech at Stirling—the only speech delivered during the late great election in which the right hon. Gentleman was drawn on the question of Home Rule—[MINISTERIAL cries of "No, No!"]— he might be making a mistake; he believed that there might have been a case of "heckling"—at any rate in the Stirling speech the right hon. Gentleman gave some fatherly advice—[MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"]—well, friendly advice on Home Rule in general, and very wise advice it was. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was a physical impossibility to bring in a Home Rule Bill this session. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen were so infatuated in favour of Home Rule that they did nor look to the Prime Minister to bring in a Home Rule Bill for the present! But the right hon. Gentleman gave this advice—If you cannot have a Home Rule Mill, yon should take any measure which lends itself to, and leads up to, Home Rule.It required a Scotsman to give that advice. He had no doubt that that advice of the right hon. Gentleman was eminently a wise advice. He took it that the hon. Member for Waterford and his followers had accepted that advice and that they were going to follow it—for the present. The prospect held out by the right hon. Gentleman was of some measure, at some time, which would bring the Irish people more in harmony with the legislation for their country. That was the sort of line which the hon. Member for Waterford should take. He did not know whether that satisfied the hon. Member for Waterford, but he doubted very much if it would satisfy him if it did not mean more than it said. The main object he had—it would be easily understood, for he generally talked with plainness—was that of trying to draw some opinion from some Member of the Government—perhaps the Prime Mnister—although he might be too lowly a personage to draw him—as to what they did mean by this legislation and when were they going to bring it in. They had had various amateur attempts in regard to legislation in 374 Ireland with reference to devolution, which were scouted by the hon. Member for Waterford. He was perfectly sure that the hon. Gentleman would not himself accept as a satisfactory solution of that problem the proposals in the King's Speech. What did these mean? They meant, he supposed, some electoral body, some body to be created in Ireland to carry on Irish legislation of a kind. They did not know what legislation. He concluded that the police would be given into their charge and that there would be other descriptions of legislation. That was to satisfy the hon. Member for Waterford—for the time. [OPPOSITION laughter.] What was the objection they had to this? It was very easy to put it before the House. Why should they object to the establishment in Ireland of a body elected by the Irish people to deal with Irish affairs? But who were the Irish people? He ventured to say that he belonged to the Irish nation as much as any one of the Nationalist Members. The hon. Member for Waterford and his friends might say that afternoon, "Look at the illustration we give you as to how absolutely we are devoid of prejudice! Look at the way we managed the Local Government Board! There is only one Catholic elected to it!" The fact remained that the hon. Gentleman could not get out of the difficulty of the Local Government Board which furnished a good specimen of how elected bodies would be constituted in Ireland. Except in two or three counties in Ireland, or perhaps four, there had been made a clean sweep of all Protestants and Unionists. Well, the exception proved the rule. The House would thus understand why he, speaking in the name of Irish Unionists, distinctly said that any Bill brought in by the Government which gave to an elected body in Ireland power to make Irish laws to deal with Irish affairs was one which Unionists would repudiate, knowing as they did that they would never have a voice on that body which would enable them to effect what they believed to be their duty. The hon. Member for Waterford made a very admirable and eloquent speech the other night dealing with the whole question. He implied that he 375 was so satisfied with the promises contained in the King's Speech that he and his friends intended, for the first time in. history, to give the Government an easy time. He did not know how Nationalist Members would go on. He did not know anything more appalling than to imagine eighty eloquent Irishmen staring at the Treasury Bench and holding their tongues! The hon. Member for Water ford went on to give a most lamentable description of Ireland. He did not know what part of Ireland the hon. Member lived in. It must be a most disastrous spot. Because his experience of Ireland, which was longer than the experience of the hon. Member for Waterford, was that there was no country that he knew which had made more progress. The hon. Member for Waterford gave figures which were meant to show that in Ireland there were declining trade and various other things; and that all this was the fault of the British Parliament. And the inference was that an Irish Parliament would soon remedy all this. How would Home Rule change the matter of the increase of lunatics and idiots m Ireland? He wanted something definite and concrete from the hon. Gentleman. How would Home Rule make Ireland richer and better than it was. The hon. Member for Waterford went on to say that the birth rate was decreasing and inferred that if Home Rule were granted babies would be springing up all over Ireland. How could they estimate whether Ireland was going back or forward? He would give some figures. The Post Office Savings bank was an indication as to the amount of money in Ireland. In 1895 there were sums amounting to £5,337,000 in the Irish Post Office Savings Bank, while in 1905 the sums amounted to £10,737,000. That showed that Ireland was not going back. The joint stock banks which represented the middle and commercial classes in Ireland had deposited in them in 1895 sums amounting to £37,497,000, and in 1905 sums amounting to £44,990,000. He maintained that that was an indication, at any rate, that Ireland was not going back in point of wealth. He would like to hear a logical contradiction of these figures. Besides that, his memory went back forty years, and the whole 376 condition of the people was infinitely better than it used to be. 180,000 Irish farmers now owned their land. Was that nothing? The dress of the people, the food of people, the whole social attitude of the people had to his mind infinitely improved in the last twenty years. He would like Nationalist Members who talked about "the miserable little isle" to listen to this. Ireland was not hopeless as a country. Ireland had had advantages which no other part of the British Empire had had. That House—that tyrannical assembly—had given Ireland a large sum of money. The other day the hon. Member for Waterford and the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool went to Belfast to the Ulster Hall.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
That is quite true. Hon. Gentlemen below the gangway have a way of dealing with traitors which we have not. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: Is that meant for Sloan?] They went to Belfast and the hon. Member for Waterford made an eloquent speech, and the hon. Member for the Scotland Division made a speech of unparalleled pathos. He described Ireland as a wretched, miserable, poverty-stricken island which was tyrannised over by the House of Commons and had the heel of the British Sovereign on its neck. The hon. Member ought to have said that it was not the weight of one British sovereign it had to bear, but that of 140 millions of British sovereigns. What part of the British Empire had ever been treated in the way that Ireland had? He wondered what Scotland would say if they only had the chance of such a shower of gold as Ireland had had. He wondered what Wales would say, or even England. What other part of the British Empire had ever received from the House a gift of over 100 millions of money. He wondered when the Home Rule Parliament came into operation where they would get the funds to supplement those gifts of the British House of Commons? He was afraid he was delaying the House. ["No, no!"]
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said he would now come to the subject, at all events. One of the objects he had in moving the Amendment was to show the invincible objection which Irish Unionists had to the establishment of a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. He would explain by an illustration what he meant. In Ireland they had not only to deal with the Nationalist Party. Sometimes they were hard to deal with, but they did not stand alone. There was an election held in North Louth, and what occurred there exactly illustrated what he intended to convey to the House. He was sure he expressed the feelings of both sides of the House when he said how glad he was to see the Member for North Louth back. The hon. Member for Waterford did not look upon the election in that light. But he knew nothing of the reasons why these hon. Gentlemen had not got on well during the last six years. It happened that it was determined by the hon. Member for Waterford that the present Member for North Louth should vanish from the scene. He was an opponent, and injurious to their cause, as the hon. Gentleman said, whether in Parliament or out of it. But the hon. Member for North Louth was a very courageous man, and they in Ireland looked forward to one of the most amusing elections that ever happened in Ireland. The campaign was started by the parish priest, the Rev. Father Quinn, who made a very eloquent speech, but the language was so strong that even he would not dare to use it in that House. He said that he knew all the Nationalist Members, and he divided his abuse among them pretty equally in terms that he (the speaker) would not care to reproduce. Then the hon. Member for North Louth started also in very good form, and among other things he made a notable remark. He said that his opponents had not as much sense as would conduct a drake to a hen-house. He believed that by the drake the hon. Member meant the hon. Member for Waterford, and by the hen-house a Parliament at College Green where Irishmen could cackle to all eternity. And then a change came over the spirit of the scene. 378 The hon. Member for Waterford was prepared if possible to oust the Member for North Louth. Then Cardinal Logue wrote to say he was extremely sorry that he had written to that effect. Then another archbishop came on the scene, Archbishop Walsh, and that proved a clincher. The combination of two archbishops absolutely flattened out the hon. Member for Waterford. The hon. Member for Waterford wrote a letter, in which he said that although his opinion had not, changed about the hon. Member for North Louth, still, in consequence of the fact that the archbishop had written he withdrew his opposition. Now, what was the lesson to anybody who read these things? When he said in the House that Home Rule meant Rome Rule he was simply put down as an Orange bigot. But here they had the thing proved to the hilt by the hon. Member for Waterford, and he said that the Nonconformists in this House ought to take the incident to heart and ask themselves whether they as Protestants would consent to hand over the Irish loyalists to the authority of those archbishops and priests. He did not know how the hon. Member for Waterford would proceed to carry on the war. He admired the success which the hon. Member had achieved up to the present. He remembered that the hon. Member for Waterford said in this House that if he could employ force he would use it. But he had not the money to buy breech-loading artillery, and he had to put up with the weapons he found to his hand—eighty-two Irish muzzle-loaders, loaded at high presure with oratorical gas, whom the hon. Member had under perfect control, and which he could aim at the unhappy denizens of the Treasury bench, at whom he fired the first shot the day before last. Whether he made a bull's eye he did not know. Whether he hit the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in a tender place they would probably know when he made his speech. But whatever he did, he was confronted in Ireland by an opposition which was absolutely united in opposing his aims, and which he might find in the end was too strong even for him if any attempt were made in the future to hand over the Irish loyalists of a[...]l 379 denominations to a power which their forefathers would not serve, and which the Unionist Party of to-day would never consent to obey.
§ MR. GORDON (Londonderry, S.)
seconded the Amendment of his hon. and gallant friend. The Unionist minority in Ireland were vitally interested in this question, and they were entitled to know the meaning of the language used with reference to Ireland in the gracious Speech from the Throne. The Unionists were the people who would suffer first from any change in the system of government in Ireland, and they were entitled to know what their position would he and what was really meant by the statement—Plans are under consideration for introducing into the system of government in Ireland, means for associating the people in the conduct of Irish affairs.What were those means, and how were they to differ from the means which existed with regard to the association of the people in the conduct of affairs in England or Scotland? If they meant the same thing, let it be told to the House. If they meant something different, let that be explained. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford had said that this language might mean very little, or it might mean a great deal, and the hon. and learned Member was content for the present to say nothing, and to wait in the belief—which perhaps was not quite unfounded—that those words did mean a great deal, and he intended therefore, to let the Government have a free hand to develop them. But in the meantime, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford told them that he would have nothing but a separate Parliament for Ireland. Was that what was intended by this language? If it was, ought not the country to know it at once? Surely it was not too much to expect right hon. Gentlemen—who came into power without putting that at all events as one of the issues to the electors, but stating at the time that this Parliament would not deal with Home Rule, and in many cases knowing that if the Government had said it was going to give Home Rule to Ireland they would have lost the election—surely it was too much to expect that the Government 380 would say what they intended to do in this matter. If the hon. Member for Waterford was right in believing that this was one of those instalments which was to lead up to the larger policy spoken of by the Prime Minister at Stirling, the country was entitled to know it. They knew very well that, ever since Home Rule was brought prominently before the country twenty-one years ago, on every occasion when the country had had the opportunity of expressing a definite opinion on the subject, they had expressed it definitely against an Irish Parliament and Home Rule. Was it now to be said, without consulting the constituencies, that we were to have Home Rule either by one measure or in instalments but under other names than that by which it had been known? Surely the Irish Unionists who were more vitally interested than anyone else, who were the law abiding and industrious people of Ireland, who had every reason to believe that such a change would be disastrous to them and their liberty, ought to know at the earliest possible moment what the Government meant if they did not mean Home Rule by the statement in the King's Speech—We have plans under consideration for associating the people with the conduct of Irish affairs.
§ MR. GORDON
I will read it—My Ministers have under consideration plans for improving and effecting economies.
§ MR. GORDON
said the hon. Member for South Tyrone could not change the language of the King's Speech, which went on to say, "and for introducing into it (i.e., the government of Ireland) means for associating the people with the conduct of Irish affairs." [Cheers.] He understood those cheers perfectly well. Those who cheered understood what the words meant. So did Unionists. They asked in what way it was proposed to associate the people with the management of affairs differently from, that 381 which existed in England or Scotland? In Ireland at present there were county councils, district councils, and poor law guardians, all elected by the people, and all in exactly the same position as similar bodies in England and Scotland. What change was now to be made in reference to them? Was the Local Government Board to be got rid of? Was all supervision over the actions of county and district councils and poor law guardians to be revoked in Ireland and continued in England? If so, why? This vague language might convey a wished-for meaning to the hon. Member for Waterford, but to the Unionists it suggested a meaning which they feared, and which, if given effect to, would bring disaster on the country. If these proposals were to be reduced to a scheme of Private Bill legislation he did not think there was an Irish Member who would say a word against it. The only two things in which the people of Ireland were not associated with the management of Irish affairs in precisely the same way as in England and Scotland were primary education and the police. Was the Chief Secretary going to put primary education in Ireland in the hands of the county councils? Surely to do that would be to betray ignorance of the wishes and feelings of the Irish people, and arouse the utmost contention. Would the Chief Secretary undertake the responsibility of putting the management of the police into the hands of the county councils? If he did he must be prepared for a very short term of office and the sacrifice of his reputation for good sound common-sense and foresight. If the Chief Secretary could economise without any sacrifice of efficiency no one would object, but all the boards in Ireland were under the Chief Secretary. Was he going to divest himself of responsibility for their actions? He would call attention to two or three statements which would go to show that the Government had committed themselves. In the first place, he would point out that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, in moving an Amendment to the Address last session, said—The system of government in Ireland is in opposition to the wishes of the Irish people, 382 and gives them no voice in the management of their own affairs.What did he mean and intend by that Amendment, which received the votes of the Prime Minister and his supporters? The hon. and learned Member meant the same thing as was imported in the King's Speech now. What other statement was there which was well calculated to fill them with alarm although it gave delight and pleasure to the Nationalist Members? The Prime Minister stated in the House in April last—The principle of self - government—the principle of an elective element that shall be a governing element in Ireland—remains in our view the only principle consonant with our constitutional habits and practices, and, what is more, the only principle that will ever work.How was the right hon. Gentleman going to work this new principle in the King's Speech? He said that the only principle that would ever work in Ireland was the principle of self-government. Let the House have an explanation now of what he meant and how he was going to work this matter if it were different from what he referred to in April last. Again, the right hon. Gentleman said in his Stirling speech—His desire was to see an effective control of Irish affairs in the hands of a representative Irish authority, and he therefore thought, that, if he were an Irish Nationalist he would take it in any way he could get it.Was this giving it in one of the ways the right hon. Gentleman suggested the Nationalists should take it? There was no doubt or ambiguity in the language which he used, namely, that what he desired to see was the effective control of Irish affairs placed in the hands of the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say that he would advise Nationalists to accept something which was consistent with, and would lead up to, the larger policy. That larger policy was Home Rule, and let there not be any mistake about it. He had heard the Prime Minister state over and over again in the House for the last twenty years that he was in favour of Home Rule, that his opinions had never changed, and that as he grew older he had become more and more convinced of the correctness of his opinions. He was not alone in these matters. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated in October last 383 that neither he nor any Liberal had ever gone back from the aims of Mr. Gladstone's policy; he said he was as perfectly convinced as ever that the present system of government in Ireland was irrational and unworkable. During the election the question was kept in the background as much as possible. When it was put straight before the electors, they expressed an opinion diametrically opposed to it. Now that there was a Radical majority in the House, there was to be an instalment of something which was to be consistent with and lead up to the larger policy of Home Rule. The Secretary of State for India and the Postmaster-General had also made statements to the same effect. These were statements about which there could be no mistake and no misapprehension. They were made by responsible members of the Government, and now that there was a Parliament elected not on that issue at all, one of the first things they were about to put before the House was an instalment of Home Rule. There was no doubt what the view of the Nationalists was about this matter. The Freeman's Journal had stated that every vote given to a follower of the Prime Minister was a vote given for Home Rule. That was apparently underlying the statement in the King's Speech. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford was only willing to accept it because he believed that, if he was not going to get everything at once, he was, at any rate, going to get a substantial instalment. If it was a system of devolution it would not be accepted by him, because that was not what he and his followers wanted. With reference to the state of affairs in Ireland, the Nationalist Members were there in large numbers, but after all they and the people whom Unionist Members represented lived in the same country and under the same laws. The Unionist people had not the same advantages of climate or situation that the south enjoyed. The south and central parts were far more fertile and far better adapted to agriculture. If Ireland had been overtaxed the people he represented had borne more than their share of the burden. They had made the part of the country in which they lived prosperous 384 and law-abiding. They had created a great city which had trebled its population in the last forty years and had far more than doubled its shipping and its revenues. These people did not ask for Home Rule. They did not ask for the things which were suggested in the King's Speech, whatever they were. He thought it would have been better to set them out in black and white so that everyone could see what was meant. These people said that those in the rest of Ireland who had not made the best use of their opportunities wanted to get the control over the Unionists of the country. If Home Rule were given to Ireland, their property, their industries, and their freedom would be endangered. Why should it be given when the most industrious, the most loyal, the most law-abiding parts of the country did not want it? If the rest of the country were as loyal, as industrious, and as law-abiding there would be no question of Home Rule. Why should it be forced on these people in the north who had always feared the introduction of any of those things which the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the Cabinet had stated they so devoutly desired?
The Liberals thought they would try a far more insidious and dangerous method of arriving at the same result, viz., that of instalments, which they thought would not attract the attention of the public in the same manner as a Bill for Home Rule. If they had a repetition of this year after year they would find that at the end of the life of this Parliament Ireland would have Home Rule, which was about the last thing the British people thought they were helping to bring about when they returned the Liberals to power. They had great reason for apprehension in everything that had been said by prominent members of the Government on the question, and feeling, as he and his colleagues did, the injustice and injury it would inflict upon them they would have been wanting in their duty if they had not challenged the Government to let the country know what they meant by this language, which was described as vague by the uninitiated, but which to the initiated was as clear as noon-day.
At the end of the Question, to add the words, 'But we humbly represent to Your Majesty that large numbers of Your Majesty 's loyal subjects in Ireland view with alarm the statement that Your Majesty's Ministers have under consideration proposals to effect changes in the system of government in Ireland, believing that Your Majesty's present advisers by their past declarations have committed themselves to a policy which will endanger the liberties and property of the loyalist minority, promote discord and civil strife, and impair the integrity of the United Kingdom.'"—[Colónel Saunderson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
said he rejoiced to know that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had in his speech the other night been able to reach the intellect and conscience of so many new Members of that House. He would have rejoiced if on this occasion there had been a full house to hear the other side of the question from the lips of the two political brands who had been plucked from the burning in Ulster. He was sorry to hear the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh in such bad form. Even the old jokes did not do duty on this occasion. The presence of all the ex-Cabinet Ministers even did not seem to inspire him. When the House of Commons discussed, Chinese labour or the unemployed question, there was only one ex-Cabinet Minister present, but the moment the question of Ireland was raised, and there was a chance of striking a blow at the welfare and prosperity of Ireland, then the whole force of ex-Cabinet Ministers was rallied to the House to stay the march of progress. [Mr. WYNDHAM at this stage left the Front Opposition Bench.] This was not the first time the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover had run away. The right hon. Gentleman started a policy of conciliation, and the moment it became practicable he was hunted out by the Unionists from the north of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, his successor, was the strong man, the Sandow of British politics in relation to Ireland, the gentleman with such gigantic genius, intellectual capacity, and splendid public spirit, 386 who, when Bristol would not have him, came over to be the representative of the lodgers of South Dublin. It only showed what a chivalrous race the Irish were, when the offscourings of Bristol—[Cries of "Shame" from the OPPOSITION Benches.]
MR. JOSEPH DELVIN
said he did not use it in a personal sense at all, but purely in a political sense. He thought, he said, the Irish were a very chivalrous race to allow the right hon. Gentleman to enter the House through an Irish constituency after he had hunted all round England in vain to find a philanthropic Tory to make room for him, and even then he got in by the merest fluke. He wished to say a few words in reply to the speeches which had just been delivered from the Opposition Benches. The terrors of Home Rule had been depicted, and they had heard how the loyal minority would suffer under it. They had been told that he had himself been returned by a majority of sixteen, but he would remind the House that the hon. Member for South Londonderry in a permanently Unionist constituency was elected by a majority of only seventy.
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
said it was twenty years since the seat was held by a Nationalist. If the House could understand—as the Member for South Tyrone could explain—the methods and the influences which were brought into play by this representative of law, order, freedom, and liberty all the world over, I and by this high constitutional Chancery lawyer, who was somewhat disappointed. I they would realise what the majority of seventy meant. It had been said that the question of Home Rule had been kept in the background in England. However true that might be in England, Home Rule was not kept in the background in Ireland, and yet the Irish Nationalist Party came back to this House stronger than they left it, and 387 with the people of Ireland more convinced than ever of the irresistible justice of their cause. The right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh claimed to be au Irishman, but it was an extraordinary circumstance that he had never risen in this House to plead for right against wrong, or to appeal for justice for the wretched people in those parts of Ireland where they suffered from landlordism and poverty, and he had never even spoken for the workers of the North of Ireland. He had never pleaded for either Protestant or Catholic workers, and he was, in fact, a representative of the worst form of reaction in the world. For twenty-five years the right hon. and gallant Member had done his best to stand with his little band of loyal men—loyal to themselves.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman was once a Radical, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. There was nothing worse than a concerted Radical. They could never arrest his march into the camp of reaction, and when he got into the camp of reaction he was the greatest reactionist there. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had been a Tory leader off and on for twenty-five years. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of progress in Ireland. He challenged him to say what he had done for progress in twenty-five years. What had he done during the passage of the legislation of the last twenty-five years? Was he n it on every occasion the chief instrument to stay that progress, to prevent the fruition of the hopes even of honest British statesmen, and to put every obstacle in the way of every advantage which even honest men in England desired to offer to the Irish people? And then the right hon. Gentleman came here and said he was just as good an Irishman as the Nationalists.
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
said he stood on the record of the right hon. Gentleman's public life. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman had supported some things. He had supported coercion. His humour never was finer than when 388 he was dancing clown-like upon the corpses of the Irish people. He never seemed to be so merry as when he was working out a chain to bind them and bear them down, and putting on their shoulders those laws which had been denounced, and rightly denounced, as measures of repression and obstacles of reform. He had once more raised the Protestant cry. This was largely a Nonconformist House, and the right hon. Gentleman wanted to impress upon the virgin minds of the Nonconformists of this House what a frightful nation of bigots the Irish were, how they tortured Protestants, how they prevented them from enjoying any of the liberties which citizens ought to enjoy. He would not mind the attack, although it was unjustified, if it were made by a man who did not live in a glass house, but there never was anyone who lived in a more perfect glass house in this regard than the right hon. Gentleman. In the Nationalist Party in this House there were Protestant Members for Fermanagh, Longford, King's County, Cavan, Cork (two members) and Donegal. Cork, Cavan and Donegal were three of the most Catholic counties in Ireland, and he ventured to say that if there was a conflict between Protestant and Catholic on a purely theological question the Protestant would not get 300 votes in any of those constituencies. These counties had returned to Parliament some of the best and ablest of the Nationalist Members, and he was proud they had been returned. They were affectionately regarded by their colleagues, for they knew no religious divisions in the Nationalist Party. What was the character of the representation of those high-minded gentlemen who impeached their own nation? There were sixteen of them, and there was not a single? Catholic among them.
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
That is perfectly true. They offered him a Catholic seat which he had not the ghost of a chance of winning.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Unless it is to make some personal explanation the hon. Gentleman has no right to interrupt.
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
said he always gave way to the hon. Gentleman, because he knew that it was always in his own interest to do so. The hon. Member had referred to the case of Mr. Denis Henry to show that they were not bigots. His own view was that Mr. Henry was not a Catholic, but he was not going to contradict the statement that he was. They put him up for a seat which was formerly occupied by an honoured Member of this House. What was the result? That the constituency returned to the House one of the most distinguished lawyers in Ireland—a Protestant. One of the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman was that Ireland was not a wretched little island with a people miserable and starving. The Nationalists had never made the statement that it was. What they said and maintained was that there never was an island on God's earth more bountifully endowed with all the munificence that an all-wise and gracious Providence could bestow. By the system of landlordism, which the right hon. Gentleman stood for, that beautiful island had been reduced to the state so eloquently described two days ago by his hon. and learned friend the Member for Waterford. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the amount of the deposits in the savings banks. If they had plenty of money in Ireland why was the right hon. Gentleman present at the meeting which was held for the purpose of denouncing the robbery of Ireland by the Imperial Exchequer? The right hon. and gallant Member was one of the orators of what was known as the Financial Relations Association. A Royal Commission, composed largely of Englishmen, decided that Ireland had been charged to the extent of £3,500,000 every year since the Union beyond her taxable capacity. The right hon. Gentleman agreed with that. The right hon. Gentleman was one of the most eloquent denouncers of this grave fiscal wrong. The population of Ireland had 390 decreased by half during the last fifty years; the land was going out of cultivation; the people were flying to America; and the birth rate was decreasing. That was no joke. It was impossible to have an increasing population if the youth of the country, the young men and women, were leaving. If from a little country like Ireland £3,500,000 had been robbed each year over and above what it was entitled to pay to the Imperial Exchequer, surely that country could not be financially very strong, and how could it promote great social and vital reforms if it had not the money necessary. The right hon. Gentleman came to the House thinking that it was the same old House with Ministerial Benches closely packed behind to listen to his many tales and grotesque romances about Irish wealth. But he had a different House to deal with now. The House, whatever its other limitations, was at least ready to listen to truth and justice. He asked the House to listen to none of the slanders uttered by anti-Irishmen in order that they might build up their position at the expense of the impoverishment of their own people. With regard to the Amendment, henoticed something sinister about it. His own opinion was that it was a Brummagem Amendment. Since Mr. Moore was lost to the Tory Party there was not one of them who could draft an Amendment. He believed they could have got Mr. Balfour to frame an Amendment, for he was not very busy just now; but the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh thought a half-sheet of note-paper would not be large enough. Therefore, the wisdom of Birmingham, which was largely responsible for the present position of the Tory Party, had been brought into operation, and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham had drafted the Amendment[...] He noticed a great deal of anxiety in the Amendment for "life, liberty and property." Was it not rather a strange irony coming from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—a gentleman who was so anxious for "life, liberty and property," in Ireland, that he drenched South Africa with blood in order to satisfy the German Jews in the Transvaal, and was responsible for the loss of £250,000,000 of British 391 money, and the sacrifice of 25,000 British subjects in the War. They had also heard about loyalty. Anyone who listened to the right hon. Member for North Armagh would have imagined that his whole passion in life was to give voluntary service to the Empire. They on that side of the House were said to be demagogues, but the Ulster Members were high-minded, public-spirted gentlemen. And would they believe that out of eighteen of them seven occupied well-paid positions in Ireland. The Marquis of Hamilton had £1,200 a year, and his predecessor in the representation of West Belfast—the Minister who guided the destinies of the War Office during its most triumphant period—was too busy with his £5,000 a year to bother himself with the social questions which moved the minds and consciences of his constituents. Then there were the two gentlemen from Trinity College, one with £6,000 a year, and the other with £2,000. Then there was the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry, the indignant, the theatrical gentleman—the gentleman who lost his temper—who got only £600 a year, as a Public Prosecutor. He was greatly struck with one observation which the hon. Gentleman made. He said—This policy of taking what you can get, in order that you may gradually get more, is one which commends; itself to me.And then there was Mr. Atkinson, now Lord Atkinson, who had transferred his genius and capacity to a better place—with £0,000 a year. He would do the Ulster Party this credit, that however anxious they were for titles, they would not take them without salary. He had always been told by the Ulster Members—"Wait till you get to Ulster and then you need never expect to come back to the House of Commons." Well, he had gone to Ulster and where was the gentleman who had so repeatedly challenged him across the floor of the House—the only man of brains and ability in the whole Unionist Party? Mr. Moore, who was to sweep out of existence the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who was the chief antagonist of one of the "traitors" who got up the Ulster Hall meeting—Mr. Moore was swept away while they all remained. He himself had 600 votes against him on the register, but he appealed to the people on the broad platform of industrial reform 392 and progress, and above all on the one question which he would never submit to any other—the question of the right of the Irish people to manage their own affairs. He believed that policy would ultimately be successful, and it was not the business of honest men guided by civic and national spirit to divide themselves on religious issues. The right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh had somewhat foolishly introduced into the debate the subject of the meeting held in the great Ulster Hall, addressed by the hon. Member for Waterford and the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, because a fortnight afterwards the right hon. and gallant Gentleman held a meeting in the great loyal city, and he could not get a hearing. Noble lords passed one by one before what they thought was the frightened democracy, but the democracy was not afraid of the noble lords. The late Secretary for War dared not go within miles of the city. The late Chief Secretary for Ireland was counting up the lodger votes, and had not time to attend. But the hon. Member for Londonderry was there, and he was cheered uproariously. And on the next occasion when they dared to hold a meeting in that Hall, they had to get all the old military influence for the purpose of protecting themselves behind their closed doors. What was the logical conclusion of all this? As he had often said, the Unionist Members did not represent Ulster—they did not represent half Ulster—and they were in the House to protect specific interests. The old bad feeling had not been killed, but please God it would be killed before long. He had been waiting to hear the stock arguments about intimidation and preventing people from performing their duties, but the right hon. and gallant Gentleman prudently did not make any reference to those topics. One Member of the group with which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was associated had asked a series of questions as to why the Chief Secretary was not pursuing his coercion policy in Ireland. Those questions related to the prosecution of two of his hon. friends, where in spite of the jury's being packed eight were for acquittal, and only four for a conviction. These hon. Members went 393 down to a peaceful district to arrange a peaceful compromise between landlord and tenant, and to give advice on the subject. As the result of their action they were brought before the magistrates and then dragged before the Court of Assize. He would like to give the House a specimen of some of the tactics of the hon. Gentlemen who came forward as the Simon Pures of justice and administration. Belfast was a great city, and he was proud of it and its sons. He believed that under a well-ordered Government the Roman Catholic and the Protestant workmen in that city would work side by side. A Mr. Carlisle, however, had had the stupendous audacity to offer himself there as a candidate for one of the divisions. Of course, any one who chose to pay the piper might be allowed to enter into the arena of political conflict. Mr. Carlisle, who was the head of Queen's Island and employed 18,000 men and paid £20,000 a week in wages, was surely as entitled to come forward and offer himself as a candidate as an hon. Member who had no connection with the constituency and no other qualifications to recommend him anywhere. The Northern Whig said about this candidature—The question is, what does Mr. Carlisle mean to do? The time is short and the decision means more to him than perhaps he realises. If this man, whatever he calls himself, and whatever section he claims to represent, helps to hand over one section of the City of Belfast to the bawling blackguards of the United Irish League"——he was one of the bawling blackguards—he had better make arrangments to shift his quarters in twenty-four hours.He had not doubt that a few hon. Gentlemen would have been absent from those benches had it not been for similar tactics more ingeniously pursued and more widely applied in Ulster. The hon. Member who sat for South Derry obtained a majority of seventy—although a Protestant he was a progressive reformer who did not think it his duty to stand bound for ever, and who thought there was some other music in the world besides that to be obtained from a big drum on the 12th of July. He was a man who knew that there were labourers living on 12s. a week in rural parts of 394 Ireland under conditions which would be a disgrace to any country in the world. Some of their candidates were beaten by perhaps the worst system of electoral terrorism ever seen at a Parliamentary election. Those who had beaten them were the men who appealed to the Nonconformists as representing the religious sentiment of the country. He pleaded with Englishmen to do something for Ireland, which had given the world ambassadors, thinkers, philosophers, orators, poets, politicians, and the greatest geniuses in the professions and commerce. In Ireland there was poverty and desolation, a fleeing population, lands going out of cultivation, every sign of retrogression. That was due to the fact that, while Irishmen had been allowed to do something to build lip the fortunes of other lands, they had not been permitted to do anything for their own land. He believed, however, that a better and more glorious day had now arisen for Ireland.
§ MR. DODD (Tyrone, N.)
said the spirit which had animated the Member for South Derry was not common to the people of the north of Ireland. As a matter of testimony rather than argument, he might be permitted to say that he was a Protestant of the Protestants, but he stood upon the platform in North Tyrone surrounded by priests of the Church of Rome. He declared that he had never contributed to any ecclesiastical structure connected with the Church of Rome. Yet he was selected as their candidate, and although his opponent was a Catholic he was elected. He believed they would never have a united, contented, and prosperous Ireland until they had Protestant and Catholic joining in one common struggle for the good of their native land. The Amendment was hopelessly wrong. By what possible machinery could any system of government that Parliament would grant endanger the liberties of the Protestant minority? Their liberty could only be endangered if they broke the law. Would they tell the House in what particular way they thought their liberties or their property would be endangered? He had in vain en deavour to find that out. He had studied 395 with great care the two great works just issued from the Press, the "Life of Gladstone" and the "Life of Lord Randolph Churchill," and he had struggled to find out what hon. Gentlemen opposite were afraid of. Did they fear that a proposition would be made to injure their religion? That was idle and absurd. Did they fear that a tax would be put on the food and the industries of Belfast which would not be put on any other part of the country? What else did it mean if it did not mean that? They knew that the bogey was started for the purpose of keeping the people apart and preventing the two sections of democracy in Ireland joining hands. Hon. Members opposite spoke about the police, but that was a question which could be discussed under any system of legislation. What objection was there to the county councils governing the police? The police of Ireland was as fine a force as could be found anywhere. They were selected without regard to race or religion and did their duty like men; was it contended that they would do their duty less well if, instead of being directed from the Castle, they were directed by the county councils, or was it suggested that while they did the work of the Castle now they would do the work of the county councils then? If they were well officered and well manned they would always do their work well. He had made a compact with his people of North Tyrone to support the democratic policy of the Prime Minister, and he had been told by them that he was not to speak in this House in such a way as ever to interfere with the progress of the business of the House. They had given him a mandate to support the Prime Minister and to support any good, sound measure of local government to Ireland consonant with and tending to the efficiency of the United Kingdom. When he was addressing his people in North Tyrone and spoke to them of Chinese labour, he said nothing about torture, for he knew that that sort of thing could be exaggerated; and he said nothing about outrages, because he knew they could be manufactured. He addressed his people from the standpoint that the system adopted in South Africa was one which struck at the root of individual freedom of thought and action, and he would support the right hon. Gentleman in the method by which he proposed to deal with 396 it. He thought they were doing a good thing in trying to bind together these two countries. That was not a policy which divided; it was a policy that did not hurt but healed; it was a policy that had been adopted by the majority of the people of North Tyrone, and he hoped it would be carried out in a spirit of peace, true friendship, and Christian charity.
§ MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
said he was in the unique position of not being in agreement with any of the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who had taken part in the debate, nor was he likely to be in agreement with those who would hereafter take part in the debate, because he not only opposed the policy of Home Rule, but he was charged by Unionists with supporting it. He was charged by Unionist Members on his right with being an unsound Unionist, and he was charged by Nationalists on his left with being one of the worst kind of Unionists—[Cries of "No."],—one of that kind who were more determinedly opposed to Home Rule than any other kind, because there was no kind of reform introduced for the benefit of Ireland that he had not given his vote for. The success of the hon. Member for West Belfast was due to the fact not that Unionists were less determined against Home Rule, but that they resented being dictated to and being treated badly by those who should have been their friends. His own election in 1902 was a protest against Home Rule. They had all heard of the great Ulster Hall meeting. The fact of the matter was that on that platform men were put up to speak who had been called traitors and renegades and lundies and if they had been called renegades and traitors and lundies did anyone expect that they would be listened to in another place. The responsibility of that was due to the bad manners and bad treatment given to them in different parts of the country when they were trying to obtain their rights. He had been sent there to fulfil certain pledges to his constituents, and he was there desirous and determined to do so, no matter whom it pleased, so far as his judgment and his ability would let him, irrespective of Party. In that way he came into conflict with those with whom he would rather be in union. In his view, everything that was for the betterment of Ireland should have his support, 397 whether the suggestion came from a Nationalist Member or from the leader of the Ulster Party. He was proud of the fact that he was an Irishman. He meant an Irishman of Ireland, and it was his duty as such an Irishman to do all that lay in his power, and he believed with the full consent of his constituents, to better the condition of the people and place them in a more prosperous condition. It did not matter whether the transfer from landlord to tenant was from Catholic to Protestant or Protestant to Catholic. There were so many things in Ireland upon which they did agree that it was pitiful that on the one question upon which they did not agree both sides should allow it to be paraded before Members who did not know Ireland or its grievances or local circumstances. He assured the House, which included so many Members who were new to its work, and were free from the trammels and considerations of any particular Party, that Ireland, so far as the North was concerned, was as Unionist to-day as ever it was, notwithstanding the local changes that had taken place. He admitted that a new spirit had been introduced. A feeling which had come to stay had arisen in that country and was going to make itself felt. It would not be sufficient to come to the House and make speeches. During the recent election there were some candidates who had [...]othing to tell their constituents except about himself. After a session's work they could only tell his constituents that the Member for South Belfast was all right in the House, that he was one of the best men they had of his class, and then having for three-quarters of an hour occupied the attention of his constituents by praising him they finished up by saying it would be a disgrace to let him go back with the same freedom as before, and therefore he must be opposed. And he was opposed. He was responsible to his constituents for his work in Parliament, and it was rather inconsistent of the men who commended that work to say it would be a disgrace to give him that liberty. Notwithstanding these differences he did not think there was any change in the spirit or feeling in regard to the Union. He did not think the present Government fought the last election on the question of Home Rule. He thought it was the Unionist Party. He had said that if the Liberal Party were 398 to introduce a Home Rule Bill they could say, "We did not mention the question of Home Rule, but you did." And that was worthy of note. He did not believe it was the question before the country at all. Some talked of devolution by instalments. He did not know how they were going to criticise the present Government if they were going to bring that in. It would be a very difficult thing. The only consolation he had was that he was not a party to the other business. Unionists were responsible for introducing in an insidious way that which was not their policy. It left them in a very awkward position. It was true that the late Lord-Lieutenant, Lord Dudley, governed Ireland according to Irish ideas.
§ MR. SLOAN
said if ever there was a man who deserved the honour and confidence of the Party it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, who was sincere in everything he did, who stood to his guns, and very often carried the burdens of other people. New Members of Parliament hearing the speeches of the Members for North Armagh, South Derry, West Belfast, and North Tyrone would perhaps come to the conclusion that there was a change of political opinion in regard to the question of the Union. He believed there was a great change coming over the people, that reforms were not only necessary but were going to be demanded, and that the time was coming when no Member could come to the House, certainly from the North of Ireland, and say one thing to his constituents and act differently in the House. There was an honest desire on the part of the democracy in the North of Ireland to do justice to all, believing that they had as good a right to their Unionist beliefs and convictions as they admitted Nationalists had to their convictions on Home Rule. They also felt that while they admitted the Nationalists" 399 right the Nationalists should respect theirs. They should not try how often they could cross each other on the one question which was the dividing line of both, but should endeavour to act together in promoting that which was for the uplifting, the betterment, the happiness, and prosperity of Ireland. He was afraid misunderstandings had been created in the new House with regard to Ireland. They were not a bigoted minority. Bigotry did not apply to the democracy of the North of Ireland. He thought there was evidence of that in the fact that the Member for West Belfast never had a meeting broken up. The narrow bigotry to which reference had been made did not apply to the Protestant democracy of the North of Ireland. He had not exaggerated nor had he tried to conceal anything which he thought he was in duty bound to say. He represented the most industrial, intellectual, and intelligent constituency in Ireland, and he would always try, so far as he could, impartially and without prejudice to do his duty to those constituents and to his country.
§ MR. O'GRADY (Leeds, E.)
said he desired to speak to the House of the British workmen's view of the Irish question. He thought most of them on those benches in their election addresses made a strong point that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland without] qualification or reservation, and the success of that policy was shown in the fact that there were twenty-nine Members on those benches returned upon the independent labour ticket. They had to contend in the election with very much the same thing that had been heard that afternoon. During the stress of the fight it had even been stated from public platforms that they intended marching through rapine and murder to Home Rule. But the British working man had been reading deeply and widely during the last ten years, and was not to be caught by bogies of that character. He wanted as an Irishman to refer to the constant taunt that only one portion of Ireland was loyal. His answer to this was to be found in the record of Irishmen who had come from the South and West and who had died to maintain the prestige of the British nation. If they wished to get rid of all this bitterness upon Irish questions it would be well to cut out the 400 religious controversy, and look at the subject from a wider and broader point of view. The vast majority of the people of Ireland had repeatedly declared in favour of Home Rule, and as the representative of a large Yorkshire labour constituency he ventured to predict that the great principle of self-government which His Majesty's Government intended confering upon the Transvaal would also be granted to Ireland, and thus Irish hopes and aspirations were within measurable distance of the realisation. Green, the historian, wrote that no Englishman could read the history of Ireland during the fifty years that followed its conquest by William III. without his cheeks tingling with the blush of shame. That in a sense applied to its government even till recent times, but he thought the day had now come when at least the working men of Great Britain and Ireland could join hands upon this great question of self-government for Ireland. That was a principle which the Labour Party would stand up for upon all occasions. In conclusion he said he had only done his duty as an Irishman and a Labour man by intervening at this stage in the debate, and if he had strayed in any way out of the ordinary path he submitted himself to the consideration of the House.
§ LORD CASTLEREAGH (Maidstone)
said he was afraid that it might seem presumptuous on the part of a new Member to venture to address the House on the third day of the first session of this Parliament, but he claimed their indulgence. His reason for occupying their attention was that he considered this Amendment to be one upon which from hereditary traditions he claimed to have a right to say a few words. He had listened with interest to the remarks which had fallen from hon. Members below the gangway, and he could find nothing in them which led him to believe that they had in any way changed their views. Their avowed object still was to bring about that separation of Ireland from England which to his mind could only mean ruin to Ireland. In the Speech from the Throne he noted the words—It is my desire that the Government of the country, in reliance upon the ordinary law, should be carried on, so far as existing circumstances permit, in a spirit regardful of the wishes and sentiments of the Irish people.401 He maintained that the late Government had carried on the government of Ireland in pursuance of the wishes of the Irish people. [NATIONALIST cries of "Oh, oh!"] Was the Irish Local Government Act or the Land Purchase Act not entirely consistent with the views of the Irish people, and could it be said that those measures had in any sense been a failure? They had been successful, not only from what they had seen of their working, but also from the Nationalist testimony which had been borne to them. No one was more in sympathy than he with the view that Ireland ought to be governed according to Irish ideas, but those ideas must be consistent with the unity of the Empire, and he very much doubted whether the ideas of the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway were in any way the same as the ideas held by himself and the men with whom he was proud to be allied in Ulster. Were they to judge of the Nationalists by their speeches, which pointed only too plainly to the fact that their one aim and object was the complete separation of Ireland from England? He thought he might venture to say that this House was entitled to know the views of the Prime Minister and his colleagues upon this question. There were two grounds upon which he maintained that this information should be forthcoming. One of them was the very confident speech made by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, in which he laid down that there must be Home Rule and nothing short of it; and the other was that the members of the Government in their speeches and hon. Members opposite in their election addresses made scarcely any allusion to this most important question. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] He ventured to say that hon. Members opposite would not have experienced such inconvenient overcrowding on the Ministerial Benches, and the Government would not have occupied the proud and independent position they now enjoyed, if Home Rule had been the issue before the electors. In the King's Speech there was one point on which the whole House would be agreed—that in which His Majesty's Ministers expressed their desire that their legislation would conduce to the maintenance of tranquility and good feeling between different classes of the community. This object had already been attained by the legislation of the late 402 Government. He maintained that any reversal of this policy such as any scheme of Home Rule or devolution would involve, would of necessity hand over Ulster to the dominion of those who in the past had never been conspicuous in maintaining tranquillity in Ireland. They in Ulster could look back to a hundred years of increasing prosperity, and they attributed that prosperity absolutely and entirely to the Union. Before the Union Ulster was the poorest province in Ireland; now Ulster was named the "Garden of Ireland." Belfast was now the third port in the United Kingdom. Ulster men were not inclined to hand over their prosperity and wealth to men who could not claim that same prosperity and wealth in other parts of Ireland. They who supported this Amendment were opposed to Home Rule in any shape or form. It might be presented in the nature of a definite and comprehensive scheme, and they naturally opposed that; or it might be presented in the more insidious way of instalments. It might be the system of instalments described last night by the hon. Member for South Hackney. That hon. Gentleman suggested that paying by instalments was a very expensive way of paying a debt. He, himself, maintained that England was in no sense in the debt of Ireland. If ever England was in that position the last Government had most adequately discharged the debt by their legislation for the benefit of all classes of the community in Ireland. It was his deep conviction that the separation of Ireland from England in any form could only mean the ruin of the country to which he was so deeply attached by ties of affection and associations of interest.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said the House had somewhat lost sight of the actual text both of the King's Speech and of the Amendment. He had no doubt that the hon. Gentlemen who met last night to draw up the Amendment had considerable difficulty in doing so, but the principle on which it had been drawn was quite clear. It was the same principle as that on which the Ulster elections were fought. The only principle of the Amendment was an attempt to frighten the Members of the House of Commons, just as the representatives of the Opposition attempted to frighten the 403 people at the elections. The hon. Member for South Deny conveniently omitted to quote one paragraph of the King's Speech until he was reminded of it. It read thus:My Ministers have under consideration plans for improving and effecting economies in the system of Government in Ireland.He would like to ask any Ulster Member if he thought it possible to maintain the present financial arrangements between the two countries. Ireland and Scotland had exactly the same population, and the cost of Government in Ireland was £2,000,000 a year more than in Scotland, though Scotland was a richer country than Ireland. Could that system go on simply to satisfy a few gentlemen—happily diminishing in number—in the province of Ulster? The paragraph in the Speech also stated that it was the Government's object to introduce into Irish government means for associating the people with the conduct of Irish affairs. Was there anything extravagant in that? Did Unionist Members lay it down that the Government of Ireland ought to be conducted in defiance of the views of the country? That was what England had been doing for centuries. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had read into the Speech a meaning of their own. He was prepared to wait until the Government told them what they proposed to do. He thought it was the duty of supporters of the Government at least to wait until that explanation was made. If it was unsatisfactory, they could then vote against it. If it was satisfactory, as he believed it would be, they would be glad to support it. With the facts of the present day, it required a good deal of courage in Unionist Members to talk about the state of Ireland, and especially about the state of Ulster. In olden times he did not hesitate to denounce crime in Ireland, but what were the facts in Ulster to-day? He had received that morning a letter from Londonderry County, from Mr. Robert Baily, a man of seventy years of age, one of the most respected Presbyterian farmers in that county, who had fought in every Derry contest for forty years on the Liberal side. Let the House listen to what he had got as a reward from those Gentlemen who were represented on the opposite side of the House—On the 31st January at midnight my family and myself were aroused by flames pro- 404 ceeding from a large barn and hay-shed. On visiting the place we found a large two-storey I barn containing hay and straw consumed by fire. In an adjoining field a large shed roofed with corrugated iron was also consumed by fire. A large portable fowlhouse containing a stock of fowls also fired, and the fowls burnt to a cinder; and out in the field a three-year old bullock lying with its throat cut.Now he challenged hon. Gentlemen opposite who represented, according to their own story, law and order in Ireland, to produce a paragraph from any Unionist paper containing even a report of that outrage. The whole thing had been deliberately suppressed.
§ MR. BARRIE (Londonderry, N)
This incident has been openly and repeatedly published in a thoroughly Unionist paper.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that was what he wanted to know. There were three great Unionist papers in Belfast, but in none of them had this outrage been denounced or condemned. In South Down also a body of men went through the constituency wrecking the houses of Nationalists. They assaulted the police, and they were brought before the petty sessions. Yes, but who had appointed the magistrates of Ireland for twenty years? If there was the slightest tinge of politics about a case brought into those courts they might as well save their money and stay at home. These men were not sent to gaol as they would have been had they been Nationalists, but a fine was imposed upon them. Much they cared for a fine[...] The man who seconded his own nomination, Mr. Hugh M. Simpson—a large Presbyterian farmer, and as respectable a man as could be found in the whole country—was struck down with an iron bar, and, on his way home after the poll, he was knocked down and trampled upon by a band of ruffians. If the finger of a bailiff had been injured in the south of Ireland they would have had the whole district proclaimed under the Crimes Act, and a couple of resident magistrates sent down to try the criminals. That was what was going on. The right hon. Member for South Dublin went to South Tyrone, and he was greatly pleased with his visit; it was an agreeable variation. 405 The right hon. Gentleman was not up to concert pitch. His speech was not strong enough for the local Orange taste. They thought it a very poor affair indeed compared with what they were accustomed to. He was very far from associating the right hon. Gentleman with any of these outrages in South Tyrone, but hon. Gentlemen opposite had talked about Ulster being a law-abiding province. Very well, if these outrages were to go on, it was high time that they denounced them. Why should Presbyterian ministers be boycotted? Why should outrages of the kind he had described be committed simply because these men did not vote with the Orange Party in Ulster? Hon. Gentlemen opposite had bettor talk loss about the law-abiding character of the people of Ulster unless they denounced these outrages. Hon. Gentlemen opposite came to this House and always said that they were the sole protectors of the Protestants of Ireland. He did not believe it. He received another letter that morning from a Protestant minister in the south, who wrote—I have never been in favour of Home Rule. I have always remained a Liberal in politics and felt sorry the Presbyterians sold themselves completely to a Party that had no sympathy whatever for them, and merely used them as tools for election purposes.That gentleman, though he lived in the south, had absolutely diagnosed the position in the north. "Ulster politics," he said, "howeverseem well nigh hopeless." He did not agree with him. He trebled his majority. He could not expect to do more than that. [An HON. MEMBER: I did better.] He thought if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University had had to face an Ulster constituency, instead of the sleepy constituency of Trinity College, he would not have done as well as he (Mr. Russell) did.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said the expression must have come from someone on the other side, but if he had made a mistake he was very sorry for it. In the Speech there was one paragraph which might mean anything, but why people should read a Home Rule Parliament into it he did not know. The expression was vague, he admitted, but he was prepared to wait until he ascertained by further explanation what it meant, and he was not going to vote against the Address because there was a vague paragraph in the Speech from the Throne about Ireland. He thought it was a wonderful thing that hon. Members opposite should raise the question of giving Home Rule by instalments. Who was the author of that policy? He remembered one night last session when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover read a letter, or rather two letters—one from Sir Antony MacDonnelland his reply. That was the first step in regard to the instalment system. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover thought he had settled the land question, and then he was going on to settle the question of higher education, another burning question; then he was going on to deal with the co-ordination of detached boards. Then he was going on to deal with the extension of Local Government.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
I do not think I ever made any proposals for the extension of Local Government.
§ MR T. W. RUSSELL
said that the answer to the observation was that Sir Antony MacDonnell was more than a civil servant, he was a colleague of the late Chief Secretary, and probably it was he who made the suggestion about the extension of local self-government What was the use of right hon. Gentlemen talking about the instalment system when they were the real authors of it? Moreover, what did they mean when they came and said that Home Rule was not an issue at the general election? The hon. Member for Londonderry said it was not the issue at the general election, but it was the only issue he fought, morning, noon, and night. Some of them saw the danger they were in when 407 hon. Members opposite came forward with a programme which tied the question of the Union on to the rotten carcass of Protection. When, however, the early election results at Manchester and Salford swept the decks, the members of the Opposition speedily declared that this Parliament would have no mandate for Home Rule. That was to say, they used Home Rule to frighten the British people. They then spent £5,000 in sending an army of speakers to England to speak against Home Rule. The House would, however, have heard a different story if the Party opposite had been returned. He was an Ulster Member, and he said that hon. Gentlemen opposite were not the representatives of the majority of that Province. Their great leader used to talk about "this sickening cant of conciliation," but he had now got an opportunity to ruminate on the subject. He was not saying—it would be folly to say—that Ulster had been converted to Home Rule. Such a statement would not be true, and nobody had a right to deceive the House. He would, however, tell the House of Commons that there was growing up an irresistible feeling of disgust, first of all, at the inefficiency of those gentlemen who represented Ulster. They knew perfectly well what was said about them in Ulster. They were called a group of deadheads. There was a feeling of disgust, and a growing feeling of Liberalism in the Province. It was Liberal once, and he believed it would be Liberal again, and hon. Members would find that they would not be able to frighten it with their Home Rule "bogey." There were men now in Ulster who saw men as trees walking, and who saw that if the country was not to be ruined the people must unite for her welfare and salvation. The hope of Ireland lay in that. Every great Act of Parliament since the Union had been passed in restraint of the privileges of the minority in the North of Ireland. His conviction was that those men would be driven to make peace with their adversaries. With a democratic Parliament and household suffrage they could not permanently and ultimately govern a country against the will of its people. Sooner or later the Irish Unionist Party, with all its narrowness, would be forced to make better terms with the men they called their enemies than they could do with those who were their friends.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had soared into the realms of prophecy, a course he was not prepared to follow. He would not tell the House what would, happen six years hence, but what had happened at the last general election. The hon. Gentleman had told them that the supporters of the Unionists of Belfast were diminishing in numbers. The hon. Member, whose exact political position he defied the most acute observer to define, had thought fit during the late election to rake up a number of otherwise respectable men to contest certain constituencies in Ulster. The hon. Gentleman's nominees had been beaten in, every case. Two seats formerly held by gentlemen known in the House as his followers—his tail—had been swept away by substantial majorities. In one case, North Antrim, the sitting Member for that constituency did not know whether he was a follower of the hon. Member for South Tyrone or of the hon. Member for South Belfast. The Unionists in Ulster were in a stronger position by many thousands of votes than they were before the general election. But Nationalist or Radical Members were not to assure themselves too much that the winning of one seat in West Belfast meant any diminution of Unionist feeling in that constituency. Nothing of the kind. There was a gentleman in Belfast who, to gratify his own personal petty spite—[NATIONALIST cries of "Withdraw"; "He is a more honourable man than you"]—he repeated, to gratify his own personal spite—
§ MR. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)
You are saying that under the protection of Parliament; you would not say that outside the House.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
I have said it outside. That gentleman came forward and contested the seat not with any intention of winning it, but for the declared purpose of keeping the Unionist out of the seat and handing it over to the Nationalists. It was a temporary victory, and one which would be reversed at the earliest possible moment. The hon. Member for South Belfast objected to the position he (Mr. Craig) took up with regard to his election. What he said was that the Unionist electors in his constituency ought to oppose him to a 409 man, and he still stood by that advice. The Member for South Belfast claimed to be a Unionist, and until the close of the last Parliament the other Members of the Ulster Unionist Party worked in perfect harmony with him and he with them. So far as he (Mr. Craig) was personally concerned he might tell the House that until the 12th July last he did his best as a private citizen of Belfast to smooth over the Opposition that then arose in the constituency and to secure the hon. Member's unopposed return. But on the 12th July, which corresponded somewhat with St. Patrick's Day, most of the Ulster Unionists attended a demonstration of the Orange Order, and the hon. Member for South Belfast attended a demonstration of what is known as the Independent Orange Order, and at this latter demonstration there was given forth to the world a wonderful manifesto which referred to the dangers, that had been faced by the adoption of the elective principle in Ireland, but said that that principle having been conceded by the Unionists under the Local Government Act it could not now be seriously disputed and must proceed to its logical conclusion. It further stated—The weakness of the devolution proposals lay in their reactionary tendency, and in their attempts to set aside the elective principle. … Unionism is likewise a discredited creed.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said he would read the next sentence which was—But the effect of the Unionist policy in Ireland has been to weaken the secular forces of the country and to increase the power and influence of clericalism in every department of life.When he read that declaration by the hon. Member for South Belfast he had qualms in his mind as to his Unionism. He dared say that that manifesto received warm-hearted support from Gentlemen below the gangway, but Unionists then thought and still thought they saw in that manifesto indications of a great change of opinion on the part of the hon. Member. On the publication of this manifesto many thought that the hon. Member for South Belfast ought to be 410 publicly denounced for his share in it, but n[...]action was taken, because they expected that either the hon. Member would explain it in some way, or would repudiate it, or that the independent Orangemen would bring him to task. Such was I the state of affairs when October arrived. About that time the Member for South Belfast, who had acted as a colleague of Mr. William Moore the late Member for North Antrim, took the extraordinary action of going with a deputation to another gentleman to ask him to stand against Mr. Moore. These two actions—this manifesto and his action in seeking to oppose a colleague—were quite enough to make him (Mr. Craig) wish that a person who was guilty of such a want of good faith to a colleague should be opposed. It was true that they were unsuccessful in winning South Belfast, but they did effect a great change in the composition of the majority who had sent him to the House. He got in with practically the same majority as last time, but whereas on the last occasion every Nationalist in the division voted against him, on this occasion every Nationalist voted for him. That appeared also to indicate a certain change in the hon. Gentleman's views. There had been so many taunts at the Members of the Ulster Unionist Party that day that it would be difficult for one to reply to all.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.