§ The PRIME MINISTER
moved, That the proceedings to be taken for passing a Finance Bill to take the place of that passed by the House of Commons in the last Session be brought to a conclusion as follows:—
§ The Committee stage of the Ways and Means Resolutions shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, the 20th day of April next, and on the Committee stage being so concluded the Chairman shall immediately report the Resolutions to the House, without Question put.
§ The Committee on any Financial Resolutions necessary for any provisions of the Finance Bill shall be deemed to have been set up as required by the Standing Orders of the House, and immediately after the conclusion of the proceedings in Committee of Ways and Means on the Ways and Means Resolutions the Committee stage of the Financial Resolutions shall be forthwith proceeded with and brought to a conclusion, and the Chairman shall immediately report the Resolutions to the House without Question put.
§ After the Financial Resolutions have been reported to the House, the Report stage of the Ways and Means Resolutions and the Financial Resolutions shall be forthwith successively proceeded with and brought to a conclusion, and a Bill shall, without Question put, be ordered to be brought in accordingly.
§ The proceeding on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill brought in on the Ways and Means Resolutions shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m. on Monday, the 25th day of April.
§ The Committee stage of the Finance Bill shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m. on Tuesday, the 26th day of April, and the Chairman shall immediately report the Bill to the House without Question put, and the Report stage (if any) of the Bill shall be forthwith proceeded with and brought to a conclusion.
§ If the Resolutions to be proposed in Committee of Ways and Means correspond with those on which the Finance Bill, 1909, was brought in and amended (the subjects of which are set out in the First Appendix to this Order), so far as effect was given to those Resolutions by that Bill as passed by this House, the Committee stage of those Resolutions shall be proceeded with as if all the Resolutions dealing with the subjects under the headings numbered (1), (2), and (3) in that Appendix, and all the Resolutions dealing with the subjects under the headings numbered (4), (5), and (6), and all the Resolutions dealing with the subjects under the headings numbered (7) and (8), and all the Resolutions dealing with the subject under the heading numbered (9), and all the Resolutions dealing with the subject under the heading numbered (10), and all the Resolutions dealing with the subjects under the headings numbered (11) and (12), and all the Resolutions dealing with the subjects under the headings numbered (13), (14), and (15), and all the Resolutions dealing with the subjects under the headings numbered (16) and (17) were respectively, a single Resolution, and the Report stage of the Resolutions shall be proceeded with as if all the Resolutions dealing with the subjects set out in the First Appendix to this Order were a single Resolution.
§ If the Financial Resolutions to be proposed in the Committee on Financial Resolutions correspond with those passed by the like Committee in the last Session of the last Parliament, to which it was proposed to give effect by the Finance Bill of that Session (the subjects of which are set out in the Second Appendix to this Order), the Committee and Report stage of those Resolutions shall be proceeded with as if all the Resolutions dealing with the subjects set out in the Second Appendix to this Order were a single Resolution.
§ On the Committee stage of the Finance Bill no Amendments shall be in order except Amendments which, in the opinion of the Chairman, are properly moved as Amendments to any words or matter which represent additions to 1727 the Finance Bill, 1909, as passed by this House, or substitutions for words or matter in that Bill, or are moved for the purpose of reinserting words or matter contained in that Bill, but not contained in the Finance Bill, or Amendments necessarily consequential thereon, and no Question shall be put by the Chairman except a Question that an Amendment which is in order, and of which notice has been given, shall be made, and all parts of the Bill shall be deemed to stand part of the Bill (subject to any such Amendment) without Question put.
§ For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed under this Order, and have not previously been brought to a conclusion, Mr. Speaker or the Chairman shall, at the time appointed under this Order for the conclusion of those proceedings, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and on any Amendment proposed by the Government which is in order and of which notice has been given, but no other Amendment, and on any question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded, and where any proceedings are to be forthwith brought to a conclusion, Mr. Speaker or the Chairman shall forthwith put any question necessary to bring those proceedings to a conclusion without amendment or debate.
§ The Committee stage of the Ways and Means Resolutions shall, if not previously disposed of, be put down as the first Order of the Day on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 19th and 20th days of April next.1728
§ A Motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown at the commencement of Public Business on any day after this Order is in operation, to be decided without amendment or debate, that any specified day or days be substituted for any day or days on which, under this Order, any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion, or on which the business to which this Order relates is to be put down as first Order of the Day, and, if such Motion be agreed to, this Order shall have effect as if the necessary substitutions were made therein.
§ Provided that the time available under this Order for the consideration of the business to which this Order relates be not thereby diminished.
§ Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 8.15 p.m. on any day, other than a Wednesday, on which the business to which this Order relates is put down as the first Order of the Day shall on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Order "Time for taking Private Business," be taken after the conclusion of the proceedings to which this Order relates for that day, and any Private Business so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
§ On any day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order, proceedings for that purpose under this Order shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Where, under this Order, proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion on a Wednesday, the time at which the proceedings to be brought to a conclusion are so brought to a conclusion shall, if that time is later than 8.15 p.m., be substituted, for the purposes of Standing Orders relating to the precedence of business at different sittings and to the time of taking Private Business, for
§ On any day on which the business to which this Order relates is put down as first Order of the Day in pursuance of this Order, no Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order 10, nor Motion that the Chairman do report Progress or do leave the Chair, shall 1729 be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion shall be put forthwith without any Debate.
§ Nothing in this Order shall—
- (a) prevent any proceedings which under this Order are to be concluded on any particular day being concluded on any other day, or necessitate any particular day or part of a particular day being given to any such proceedings if those proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or
- (b) prevent any other business being proceeded with on any particular day or part of a particular day in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House after any proceedings to be concluded under this Order on that particular day or part of a particular day have been disposed of.
§ This Order shall have effect notwithstanding anything in Standing Order 71, and notwithstanding the practice of the House relating to the interval between the Committee and Report stage of any Resolution or Bill.
|Ways and Means Resolutions.|
|Subject of Resolution.||Date when agreed to by the House.|
|(1) Land Value Duties||26th of May.|
|(2) Mineral Rights Duty||27th of Sept.|
|(3) Increment Value Duty on Minerals||27th of Sept.|
|(4) Excise Liquor Licences||26th of May.|
|(5) Intoxicating Liquor supplied in Clubs||26th of May.|
|(6) Beer (Customs)||26th of May.|
|(7) Death Duties (five Resolutions)||26th & 27th May.|
|(8) Estate Duty deductions||27th of Sept.|
|(9) Income Tax (two Resolutions)||26th of May.|
|(10) Stamps (five Resolutions)||26th of May.|
|(11) Spirits (Customs)||24th of May.|
|(12) Spirits (Excise)||24th of May.|
|(13) Tea (Customs)||26th of May.|
|(14) Tobacco (Customs)||24th of May.|
|(15) Tobacco (Excise)||25th of May.|
|(16) Motor Spirit (Customs and Excise)||25th of May.|
|(17) Motor Car Licences||27th of May,|
|(18) Amendment of Law||27th of May.|
|Levying of Motor Car Duties in Ireland||24th of Sept.|
|Payments out of Consolidated Fund for Development of Roads||24th of Sept.|
|Division of Local Taxation Licence Duties between Local Authorities and Exchequer (three Resolutions)||24th of Sept.|
|Additional Payments to Local Authorities on Account of Land Value Duties)||28th of Sept.|
§ In moving the Resolution which stands in my name, I must say in the first instance, by way of preface, that there is one point which cannot be expressed according to our formalities in the Resolutions which we hope to discuss to-morrow and which it is necessary to deal with at the outset. In order to bring myself within the express terms of Standing Order 66, I must take this opportunity of saying that the Motion required for charges imposed by the Finance Bill is made with the requisite recommendation of the Crown.
§ As regards the Resolution itself, I quite agree with the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) that it is without precedent in the history of the House of Commons, and I trust that it will not supply a precedent which will need to be followed hereafter. This House is most justly and jealously vigilant of its constitutional and time-honoured right to have the whole of the finance of the year submitted to it in principle and in detail, and not to be unnecessarily curtailed or abridged in point of time or opportunity in the discussion of any matter material to the raising of revenue for the expenditure of the year. Therefore it would be quite impossible for any Minister of the Crown who realised, as I hope we do, and was prepared to assert in detail that ancient right of this House, to propose or to support such a Resolution as I am now about to submit unless under entirely exceptional conditions. The exceptional conditions on which I am going to found myself in support of this Motion are twofold. In the first place, the Finance Bill, the Bill providing for the financial arrangements for the year 1909–10, was submitted to the late House of Commons and there subjected to a Parliamentary examination and review absolutely unprecedented in point of the time which it occupied and the call which 1731 it made upon the labours and assiduity of Members of the House. I agree that it was a very complex and important measure, but we gave to it ungrudgingly no less than six months of Parliamentary time—a longer time, I believe, than has ever been occupied in this House in the whole of its history by the consideration of any other Parliamentary proposal. The discussion took place under the freest possible conditions. There was no guillotine Resolution. The closure, both in its original form and in the supplementary form adopted in the course of our discussions, was very rarely applied. I think I am right in saying, if my recollection serves me, that on the Report stage it was never applied at all. Never was there a measure which received so large an amount of careful, expert and attentive consideration and criticism from the vast body of Members on both sides of the House. I may add to that, without entering unnecessarily upon controversial ground, that its provisions—in principle certainly, and to a large extent in detail— were the subject of constant consideration during the whole course of the last General Election. I say, therefore, that the financial proposals which we are asking the House of Commons for the first time to pass under this abbreviated summary form of procedure are proposals which have already been more carefully examined than has ever been the case in our previous history. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not by this House of Commons."] By the late House of Commons, I agree—the House of Commons primarily and naturally responsible for the finance of the year 1909–10, which has now come to an end. If that were not so I should be the last person to suggest any such form of procedure as we are now asking the House to adopt. But I should not regard that as sufficient justification for my Motion if I could not add, as I must and will, that the proposals which we are now going to submit to a consideration of this abbreviated kind are in all substantial and essential respects identical with those which were approved by the late House of Commons. It would not be possible for any Minister to justify such a Resolution as that which I am now proposing if in any serious or substantial respect there was any departure in the Bill founded upon the Resolutions which in the course of the next few days will be submitted to the House from the Bill which had been 1732 exhaustively considered by its predecessor.
§ I am afraid I must make a rather dull statement, and probably disappoint some expectations which have been entertained as to the manner in which we should begin our proceedings to-day. Let me, therefore, at once and in summary say—my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to go into the matter in greater detail in Debate, if called upon to do so—what are the alterations which we propose in the Budget scheme of last year. They group themselves under four heads. In the first place, there are alterations of date necessary in that Bill to get the same effect as if it bad passed as it was intended to pass last year. I do not suppose there will be any serious objection to those. In the second place, there are alterations rendered necessary by subsequent legislation. In particular, the first alteration which falls under that head is necessitated by the passing of the Temporary Borrowing Bill. That, of course, superseded the provisions in regard to the Sinking Fund contained in the Finance Bill of last year, and it has become necessary in that respect to amend the Bill. The only other alteration under this head, which is practically only a drafting Amendment, is due to the passing of the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act. 1909. Thirdly, there will be a Clause, as we promised and undertook, to give validity to what has already been done in connection with the collection of taxes imposed by that Bill. I ought perhaps to make brief reference to that Clause in more detail. It provides in the first Sub-section that "any assessments or charges made, or other things done before the passing of this Act, with a view to the collection of any duty imposed by this Act, shall have the same force and effect as if this Act had been in operation at the time when the assessment or charge was made or other thing done." That will validate whatever has been done on the assumption that the taxes sanctioned by the Bill of last year have actually had legal effect. That includes, of course, an indemnity with regard to all persons, and all things done. Lastly, as regards these alterations, there are certain declaratory Amendments which we have introduced into the structure of the Bill itself. I was asked at Question Time by the right hon. Gentleman opposite what concessions had been made—I think 1733 that was the expression used—to Irish Members. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nationalist."] I am not sure that that to which I am about to refer is not equally desired by hon. Members from Ulster. Perhaps they will tell us presently. It is perfectly true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has always since he held office been, as I think everybody in all quarters of the House will agree, most willing to receive information and suggestions, from whatever quarter they came. He has never, either upon this or any other occasion, purported to have authority to make offers or concessions, except subject to the approval of the Cabinet. My right hon. Friend has held communications, of which he is not in the least degree ashamed, nor are his colleagues, with Irish Members and with others—with various sections of Irish Members—to see whether or not Amendments could be made, consistently with the principle laid down a few moments ago, namely, that there should be no substantial alteration of any sort or kind in the framework of this Bill. There were points in regard to which the language used by the draftsmen in the Bill, as it originally passed the House of Commons, left room for ambiguity and doubt as to whether it adequately carried out the intentions of the Government. The declaratory Amendments to which I am about to refer all relate to this point.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Even after six months! I do not think it is a matter to be the least ashamed of that there should be found in a Bill of this magnitude and complexity some parts at least in which the actual language is capable of improvement. The right hon. Gentleman may, perhaps—I hope in the remote future—I am not speaking, of course, in any personal sense—come to frame a tariff to regulate the taxation of this country. I shall be extremely surprised if he finds at the end of his labours, or even in the following Session, that there is no necessity for any alteration in the language of the Statute!
What are these declaratory Amendments? They relate for the most part to technical matters. I am not expressing any opinion myself as to whether the Bill, as it originally stood, would not have completely carried out, if interpreted by a court of law, all the intentions which we always had, and which we are now seeking only to make more plain. But, in the 1734 first place, notwithstanding what, I confess, I think the plain language of the Bill itself, and the repeated declarations of Members of the Government—undoubtedly fears and anxieties were expressed in the course of the General Election, not only in Ireland, but in Great Britain, as to whether a rise in the value of purely agricultural land might not, under some conditions, become subject to Increment Duty. No doubt a great many hon. Members opposite have used that argument. Possibly some have even secured votes, for aught I know, and may even have won their present seats by suggesting to the electorate that this was the case. Certainly there were doubts and anxieties expressed upon the point in Ireland. Therefore we are inserting certain declaratory words in the seventh clause to deal with that matter. These will make it perfectly clear that as regards the Increment Duty that increase in value in purely agricultural land will not be subject to it.
The next point is one which I confess I also myself thought was clear in the Bill as it stood. I understand that this is a point that affects Ireland, and Ireland alone. We shall hear what the Ulster Members have to say about that. It arises out of the forty-first clause, which is the Definition Clause so far as the Land Taxes are concerned.
The Sub-section or paragraph of that Clause defines the expression: "Interest in relation to land." It is provided that that expression does not include: "Any leasehold interest under a lease for a term of years not exceeding fourteen years "— I am reading what is material. It appears that doubts have been entertained in regard to this by learned persons—doubts which, so far as my opinion is of any value, I do not myself share—whose opinion is entitled to respect. The Sub-section certainly ought not to be left in a condition of uncertainty or ambiguity as to whether it might not be held to include a judicial tenancy under the Land Act of 1881, in which the rent is fixed for a term of fifteen years. It was never our intention, nor the intention of this House, that these statutory judicial tenancies, which possess all the normal incidence of tenancies from year to year, should come under the words which I have cited in that Clause. The Government propose to add words to remove the possibility of the suggestion that such an interest in a judicial tenancy in Ireland is not a leasehold interest for a term of years not exceeding fourteen years. I do not know whether 1735 the Ulster Members think that that is a violent condition inserted under coercionist Nationalist pressure, and alien from the original structure and framework of the Bill.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I now come, thirdly, to a declaratory Amendment of the same character which we propose to make in regard to the Death Duties. It arises on Clauses 60 and 61. This is another matter which entirely affects Ireland. But it does not make any difference whatever in the intention of the Bill, nor I believe in its true construction. It only makes the matter clearer. Under the sixtieth Clause of the Bill the twenty-five years' limitation in regard to agricultural land which is imposed by the Act of 1894 was removed, but under the sixty-first clause, by an Amendment which, I think, was introduced at the instance of Irish Members—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Of course, I should always make that distinction. The limitation, which was abolished in regard to agricultural land generally, was kept up in regard to tenancies from year to year. The only alteration which is suggested to be embodied in the new Bill, as compared with the Bill of last year, is one to make it perfectly clear, what was always intended, that these tenancies from year to year should include statutory tenancies created under the Land Act of 1881 and subsequent Acts.
The fourth and final declaratory Amendment is in Clause 74, dealing with the Stamp Duties payable upon transfers of trust properties. The House will perhaps remember that there was exempted from the operation of those duties conveyances of trust property without consideration, I think, both upon the original creation and upon all subsequent transfers. Some doubt has been expressed—and I am not at all certain myself that it was well founded—as to whether that exemption was made sufficiently clear to exclude from the operation of the tax transfers of trust property where trust is not itself apparent on the face of the instrument employed. We therefore propose to introduce words to make it clear that where the transaction is in fact the transfer of trust property—property held upon 1736 trust—although it does not appear upon the face of the instrument itself, that the exemption, as it was always intended, shall apply everywhere throughout the United Kingdom, wherever such transactions may be. There is no question of locality. These are the only alterations. I think I am entitled to say that the Government have adhered strictly and literally to the expectations which I held out myself on the first night of this Session, that the Budget to be submitted to the new House of Commons would be the Budget which was approved by the old House of Commons, subject only to such alterations in date as were necessitated by the action of the House of Lords, and to changes which were not material changes, and which, as I have pointed out, are really changes in the direction of making more clear what was the original intention of the Government.
I have advanced two propositions which I regard as absolutely essential to justify this Resolution. The first is that we are dealing with a Bill which has already been subjected to an unprecedented amount of Parliamentary criticism, and has received the approval of the representatives of the people. In the next place, the Bill which we are submitting to this House, and in regard to which we are asking the facilities provided by this Resolution, is in all essential particulars identical with the Bill which was introduced last year. I will say a few words in regard to the form of the Resolution itself; it is a rather long and complicated document. Let me point out to the House its general substance and effect. It divides the proceedings upon the Budget into four stages. The first stage will consist in asking the approval of the House to the Ways and Means and Financial Resolutions. That stage we hope to bring to a conclusion at seven o'clock on Wednesday evening next. Our intention was then to circulate the Bill, but there is considerable weight in what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) said at Question-time, namely, that the House should have as long an opportunity as possible for looking at the Bill with the textual alterations to which I have referred, and therefore I will try to have the Bill circulated first as a White Paper, in advance, I hope, of the passing of the Resolution. [An HON. MEMBER: "Showing the alterations?"] Showing the alterations by erasure and omission, so that he who runs may read. That will be done at the earliest possible moment.
1737 The second stage—there will be an interval of two or three days to take the Vote on Account on Thursday and Friday —the Second Reading stage we propose to take on Monday next week. The third stage is the Committee stage, on which I will say a word later—it will be taken on Tuesday—and the fourth stage, which will be the Third Reading stage, will be taken on Wednesday. As regards the first stage, the Proceedings by Way of Resolution, the House will see, if they refer to the Schedule on the Paper, there are twenty-seven Ways and Means Resolutions and six Financial Resolutions. In regard to the Financial Resolutions, they are of a very formal character, and I do not think anyone would desire to discuss them. As regards the twenty-seven Ways and Means Resolutions, they can be reduced by reference to their subject-matter to eighteen—in some cases two, three, or more Resolutions deal with the same matter. We propose these eighteen should be divided into nine groups.
I think that is really a convenient arrangement. I do not really think it would either add to the powers of discussion which the House possesses or in any other way facilitate the progress of the proceedings if we were—if I may use such an expression—to ungroup the Resolutions and to take them as twenty-seven separate propositions, which possibly would necessitate that number of Divisions. We tried as best we could to group them in their proper and natural order and to give the House an opportunity of pronouncing its opinion upon each group. I need say nothing upon the Second Reading.
- The first group will consist of what are commonly called the Land Taxes. That is the three first Resolutions in the Appendix.
- The second group will be Excise Liquor Licenses, Club Clauses, and Beer Clauses.
- The third group will be Death Duties and Estate Duties.
- The fourth will be Income tax;
- The fifth Stamps;
- The sixth Spirits, both Customs and Excise;
- The seventh the other indirect taxes, such as Tobacco;
- The eighth both Motor Spirit and Motor Cars; and
- Nine, General Resolution for the amendment of the Law.
I now come to the Committee stage—the third stage. There we propose that no 1738 Amendments should be in order except Amendments which in the opinion of the Chairman are properly moved as Amendments to what in effect—using not technically but popular and intelligible language —I may describe as the additions and alterations we propose to make in the Bill. Every one of those additions and alterations, whether they have regard to date or whether they have regard to declaration of the law, or to any of the other matters to which I have referred, will be open to amendment and debate, so that it will not be possible for anyone to say, in so far as the Bill is changed in shape or form from last year's Bill, full opportunity is not given in Committee to move and discuss Amendments.
Then we come to the Third Reading stage. I am sorry to have had to go into so much detail as regards technical matters. That is the scope of the proposal we make to the House. I agree, as I stated at the outset, it is a proposal without precedent, and one which I hope will never be invoked as a precedent, that there never will be occasion to invoke such a precedent. But in the circumstances as they actually are at this moment, may I not appeal to the House—to hon. Gentlemen in all quarters of the House—to say there is really no half-way expedient. Either you must submit the whole Budget from beginning to end in all its principles and all its details for discussion by the House, and give at least six months more of Parliamentary time — [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I will not say I recognise, but I fancy I discern the voice of a new Member. I compliment him upon his zeal—either you do that or adopt the summary procedure such as that we are now proposing. This summary procedure, as I pointed out, gives the House ample and complete power to do two things. In the first place, to approve or disapprove of the Budget as a whole; and, in the second place, to consider and, if so minded, to amend any changes which we propose in the Bill which was passed by the late Parliament.
I said on the first night of the Session we proposed to pass this Budget substantially unchanged through this House before we rose for the Spring Recess. In that intention we have never wavered for a moment. Our fortunes as a Government—and speaking for my hon. Friends behind me, if I may, our fortunes as a party, but certainly our fortunes as a Government—are bound up with this Budget. By it we stand or fall, and it is 1739 now for the House to decide, by either passing or by rejecting this Resolution, whether it. will give us the necessary power to carry out that declared purpose and intention.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
Before our lips are closed by this Motion as to a bargain, which, of course, is not a bargain, but by which apparently Ireland is to be sold for a shadow, I hope that nobody will be surprised if I deal at once with a matter which I think has a vital bearing upon the Motion now before us, and which is certainly one of considerable importance to the honour of one hon. Member, and I will add as to the honour and character of a Minister in high station also. I refer, Sir, to the public declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the statement which I made in Cork as to certain negotiations between him and Nationalist Members was a gross untruth and a disgraceful breach of confidence. The facts, so far as I am concerned, are very simple. On the day after I made a speech in this House on 22nd February explaining my own views and the views of my hon. Friends as to the Budget and as to the Government, I was met in the Lobby with a message to ask if I would meet a high officer of the Government in the Inner Lobby, and I said "certainly," and I had a conversation of more than an hour's duration with him in his room, certainly without any suspicion on my part that anything very much out of common was happening. That high official was good enough to say that he had been very much struck by some of my views, both as to the special hardship to Ireland of the Budget, and especially as to the practical destruction of land purchase by the Irish Land Act of last Session which, he stated, had come with the utmost surprise upon men upon his side of the House, and he desired that I should develop my views on that subject. I at once did so, as I should have done with any other hon. Member of the House who had evinced any interest in the matter, and without any suggestion, most certainly on my part, that anything particular was before us in that conversation any more than in similar conversations I have had with dozens of men of both sides of the House on that subject. I have never approached any Minister in this House as to Irish affairs, but if anyone approaches me I have always been most happy to take the utmost 1740 pains to explain my own views without making any mystery about it or expecting any immediate results. That was on the 22nd February. I had to go away to Ireland upon an election campaign, and when I came back, after a successful campaign in Ireland, in the first week of March, I received a message asking whether I should have any objection to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the company of the hon. Member for North Louth, to talk the matter over, and to see whether anything could be done to meet our views, both as to the Budget and as to land purchase. I said at once I should be most happy to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or any other man of influence, on the affairs of Ireland. Our meeting took place in the private house of an eminent Member of the Liberal party—for what reason I do not know, except, I dare say, to prevent any uninformed reports getting into the newspapers. As it happened, a meeting of the Cabinet was being held while our interview was going on. It is quite true, as the Prime Minister said, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not state to us that he had the authority of the Premier or the Government for making concessions which he had not heard, but he did mention that the Prime Minister was aware that he was meeting us.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer told me that he had heard with interest the substance of my first conversation, and at his request I went pretty fully into the whole question of the Budget, as to its objectionable features to Ireland, and also to the breakdown of land purchase, and the exceedingly paltry Treasury economy for the sake of which the greatest Imperial work ever done in Ireland was being ruined. The Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to be very much impressed, and stated distinctly that he saw no serious difference whatever between his views and ours either as to the Budget or to land purchase. In reply to his questions, I stated that our reasons were that the old rate of interest for tenant purchasers should be restored, and the bonus should be re-established, and we should then be ready to insist upon terms on which payment for future sales should be made, and as to the other terms with tenants we should expect that might, be arranged by a friendly conference with the landlords themselves. The right hon. Gentleman requested us to put our proposals in writing, and to employ a 1741 financial expert to estimate what the cost would be, and he promised that he would ask a financial expert, who was a friend of his own in the City, and was not attached in the Treasury to meet our expert and discuss the matter with him. He even, as we heard to-day, mentioned a particular source from which the necessary funds would be derived, a particular source which, as was elicited by a question today, was subsequently publicly mentioned and denounced by the hon. Member for East Mayo, as the Chancellor will recollect I warned him from the beginning would be the case. The right hon. Gentleman, as I stated in Cork, did mention that it would be impossible for him to do anything unless the Irish Members—I am not sure whether he said all Irish Members or Nationalist Members—united in its support; and he promised that he would himself seek an interview with the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and the hon. Member for East Mayo. We were all agreed that the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool would be found amenable to reason. He did promise that he would see the hon. Gentlemen referred to and lay our proposals before them, and ask them whether it would not be possible for us all to come together in a friendly conference and discuss them. As I have said, we thoroughly understood his difficulties, but I felt bound to warn him—knowing what I did of the temper of the hon. Member for East Mayo, whose absence from the House to-day I must heartily regret upon an occasion of very vital importance to him as well as to the country—I warned the Chancellor of the Exchequer, knowing what I did of the hon. Member's views and of his antecedents as to land purchase, that I did not believe it would be very much use proposing a friendly conference, especially on land purchase, although we were ourselves perfectly willing to confer in a friendly way with anybody at any time. A week passed after that, and during that time not one word upon the subject crept into any newspaper. Then, upon a certain day—15th March—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or his representative, had an interview with the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, who said he could do nothing in the absence of the hon. Member for East Mayo, who was away in Dublin.
Then a curious incident occurred. Upon the following morning after that interview the Lobby correspondent of a Dublin newspaper was able to announce for the 1742 first time, and on the best authority, that I had had secret interviews with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now, Sir, I do not describe that as anything more than a coincidence, because I do not know, but it was, to say the least of it, a curious fact that the morning after that communication had been made for the first time by that Lobby correspondent, with whom neither my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Louth nor myself hold any communication. [Laughter.] I do not understand that inane merriment. I will endeavour to show in a moment that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and the hon. and learned Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool insinuated that that newspaper was in our confidence and a partisan of ours, and he gave that as an excuse for divulging what had passed. That correspondent was able to make the announcement the following morning. The next morning the official organ of the party behind me, "The Freeman's Journal," which had been kept adroitly shielded from taking the responsibility of making the first announcement, copied the announcement from the "Irish Independent." Two or three days afterwards, on 16th March, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford went down to Liverpool, and professing to base himself upon that announcement in the newspaper, which he, without a shadow of justification, pretended was a partisan of ours, he made an. attack upon me for surreptitious communications with the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a guilty character, endeavouring to show that my meeting the the Chancellor of the Exchequer to save Ireland from the Budget was the same thing as his meeting the Chancellor of the Exchequer to force the Budget upon Ireland without the alteration of a comma. He went there in public into the fullest details of every one of the stipulations we have made with the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to alterations in the Budget, almost every one of them, and claimed them to be his own property, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had long before yielded those concessions to him. He thereby publicly disclosed the substance of what had passed in our communications with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he disclosed them in an absolutely misleading way. He took care to omit any reference to the awkward question to him of land purchase. The same day the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool telegraphed across to America a similar announcement—that all those 1743 concessions had been already promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Well, even in spite of the provocations of that Liverpool speech, I did not open my lips in my own defence, and, in spite of a good deal of provocation to make a statement in the Press, I made none whatever.
A few days afterwards I received another message from two gentlemen— first the high official whom I have mentioned, and secondly the gentleman at whose house we met, asking me to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the second time, in company with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy). He most unfortunately had been obliged to leave for Ireland, and, when I telegraphed to him to come over, he was unable to get away from his assize work in time to attend the second interview. These two gentlemen informed me that upon the previous night the Chancellor had had an interview with the hon. Members for Waterford and East Mayo, and I think, also, with the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, and that they had positively declined to meet my hon. Friend and myself in friendly conference. They stated also that the announcement in the "Chronicle" of that morning that a bargain had been come to between the Irish Leaders and the Government was absolutely unfounded. They expressed annoyance at the Liverpool speech, and they most distinctly left the impression on my mind that, in their opinion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was then disposed to persist in the concessions he had so friendly discussed, whatever the hon. Member for Waterford and his friends might do.
Under these circumstances, it occurred to me that there was no longer any reason whatever for not letting the public know what had happened, throwing the responsibility upon those who had made it impossible that any of these concessions should be made. Accordingly, so little conscious was I that there was anything in the least discreditable to anybody in any honest effort of the Government to satisfy the claims of Ireland in a vital matter without stipulating for Irish votes on any other question or upon that, that before I met the Chancellor for the second time I sat down and wrote the draft of a letter which I proposed to address to him, and to publish, with his reply, setting forth the substance of what had happened between us and the reason for the break- 1744 down, as I was firmly convinced that, if the Irish people only came to learn what was in contemplation, the attitude of the hon. and learned Gentleman for Waterford would be very promptly modified. I am still more satisfied now that that would have been the case; and if the Government, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of whom alone I speak for the moment, had only had the courage to stand to his guns, I believe the Government would have saved the situation at a very much less disastrous price, both to themselves and to Ireland.
I met the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the second time in his room in this House. He confirmed the statement that these gentleman had positively declined to entertain the proposals to meet my hon. Friend and myself, and that no step whatever had been taken towards an interview. I then told them that, in my view, the immediate publication of the truth would be the best of all ways of bringing these gentlemen to reason, and I then and there read out to him every word of the letter which I had drafted and which I afterwards read at Cork. I will not dwell upon the manifest and obvious self-contradiction between his two statements: First, that I had spoken a gross untruth; and, secondly, that the gross untruth was a disgraceful breach of confidence. I do not want to treat this as a question of dialectics. The Chancellor had two strings to his bow as to his denial. He first made a great parade of denying that he had received the letter. Who has asserted it? Assuredly not I. That statement about his having received the letter was one born out of his own imagination—imagined I cannot conceive for what reason unless to seem to score a point against me by demolishing a statement I had never dreamed of making. Knowing that as to three-fourths of this second interview it had passed without witnesses—the high official I have already mentioned did two or three times come into the room, but he was almost immediately called away to the House, and had no part really in the conversation—the Chancellor of the Exchequer goes on to deny that I read out that letter to him precisely as I read it in Cork. Well, I can only say respectfully to so great a personage as he is that he thereby raises an issue of truthfulness and of straight dealing which I am quite willing to allow to be judged by those who know me and those who know him. The submission to him of that proposal and of that draft 1745 was the principal, or I might say the only object and purpose of business I had in hand after hearing that the other gentlemen had refused to meet us.
That letter was a mere rough draft intended for discussion between him and myself. I read it to him for the simple reason that it was in my own hand-writing, and I am sorry to say, except to a few persons and experts, it is very difficult to decipher. But read it to him I did, in his own language, "without the alteration of a comma," and it is absolutely certain he made not the slightest attempt to dispute the accuracy of the summary I gave of a previous conversation, and it is equally certain he never made the smallest suggestion that he saw any difficulty about its publication on, the score of any breach of confidence. If he had done so I should have instantly put the letter into the fire. I go further, and say that even now, if I could persuade myself that he intended at the time to make any suggestion to me that the publication of that letter to which I invited him to send a reply would be a breach of confidence, I should most cheerfully apologise for my misinterpretation of his intentions; but I am bound to say that, on the contrary, I believe now even more strongly than I believed then that at that moment the Chancellor of the Exchequer was trying to make up his mind to persevere no matter what the hon. and learned Member for Waterford did, and in his mind, no more than in mine, was there anything either to be ashamed of or afraid of if it were instantly given to the public. If he has changed his mind since, if he has satisfied himself that seventy Irish votes can be more effectually bargained for at the expense of the King rather than at the expense of the Treasury, well, that is his affair and not mine.
He is not the only person to whom I read that letter. I had just finished drafting it when the eminent Member of the Liberal party at whose House I met the Chancellor of the Exchequer came over to me at the Westminster Palace Hotel with reference to the second interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I read it to him then and there, as I read it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and most unquestionably he did not utter one word of objection as to the accuracy of my recollection of the first interview, at which he had been present, and was not in the smallest degree astonished at my 1746 proposal to publish those letters. It is perfectly true that on the occasion of the second interview the Chancellor took up a more dubious attitude as to the concessions we had previously discussed, and it is also perfectly true, as I mentioned also in Cork, that he told me he should, before making the reply which I suggested, have to consult the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the Cabinet who were not informed upon the subject. That is perfectly true. We then reverted to the discussion of the previous proposals as to land purchase, and to his suggestion that we should put those proposals down in writing and have the assistance of a financial expert to meet his financial expert. He had dropped by this time the proposal as to the source from which the money should come, and suggested that by a mere economy of the police expenditure in Ireland we could secure all the money necessary to tide us over in those counties where land purchase was allowed to work. But the first intimation I received of the astounding right-about-face of the Chancellor's position, or, rather, perhaps, his peculiar psychology, was a few hours after that discussion, in which he discussed in the friendliest possible spirit the restoring of the Act of 1903 to full activity. He went to a meeting of the Gladstone League, and at the very moment when I was engaged in trying to hunt up the financial assistance which he had requested he made a speech violently attacking the Act of 1903, and stating that that Act had raised the price of land in Ireland by seven years' purchase. I do not quite understand the interruptions from behind me as to "purchase blockers." I will not mention what were the circumstances in Ireland which increased very largely, no doubt, in certain parts of Ireland which did not take our advice, the price of land. I rely on the fact, very well known, that I was able to point out in a letter to "The Times" the gross misstatements of the right hon. Gentleman as to the increase in the price of land in Ireland, and my statements have since been confirmed by official figures in this House. I exposed them, also, without going into any statement whatever of the communications between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and myself. The right hon. Gentleman now complains of breach of faith and speaks of differences between private action and public expression. How he could have been betrayed into making a speech of that kind at such direct 1747 variance with what he said to me I cannot understand. I can only say, in the face of what I call a shocking divergence such as that between a man's private professions and his public action—well, I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman's code of honour is, I know it is not mine. Let me sum up. What were the three statements, and the only three statements, in my letter which the right hon. Gentleman stigmatises as grossly untrue and as a disgraceful breach of confidence? The first is:—I hope I am not mistaken in assuming it to be accurate as the result of our conversations:(1) That in recognition of the 'exemptions and abatements' stipulated for by the Act of Union, you sec no insurmountable difficulty about relieving Ireland from the increased Spirit Duties, Brewery Licences, Stamp and Succession Duties and Land Taxes (so far as they affect the property of Irish tenant purchasers) which were proposed in the Budget of 1909, and also from the proposed general revaluation.That statement, almost word for word, follows a statement on the same lines publicly made three weeks before in Liverpool by the hon. and learned Member, and it was made on the very same day in a cablegram to America from the hon. Member for the Scotland division of Liverpool. That cablegram was to the effect that—The strange fact has been revealed by the 'Daily Independent,' of Dublin, an organ favourable to the Healy faction.[NATIONALIST interruptions.] This is too serious a matter for me to allow myself to be disconcerted by what I hope I may not be out of order in calling "apish interruptions." The cablegram says:—The strange fact has been revealed that Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Healy are willing to accept the Budget, and to support the Government if certain concessions on the Budget are made. These concessions the Irish party and Mr. Redmond have been offered already.In these circumstances I submit, if there is any gross untruth, it is a gross untruth on the part of the right hon. Gentleman's present Irish allies, and if there is any breach of confidence that breach is not mine, because there was a public announcement three weeks before to the very same effect.
Now I come to the second—Furthermore, that:—(2) In face of the unexpected results of the finance clauses of the Land Act, 1909, you are disposed to make such new provisions as will enable land purchase to proceed with the same rapidity and success as under the Purchase Act of 1903.How can the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in face of the speech made by the hon. 1748 Member for East Mayo, call that a breach of confidence. While the hon. and learned Member for Waterford was denouncing that statement as a fable from beginning to end, his own colleague, the Member for East Mayo, on the same day, was contradicting him flatly and was publicly divulging the particular source from which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to derive his money. What did the hon. Member for East Mayo say?One of the projects which I have reason to suspect is now being considered is this—to take £300,000 a year that is going to old age pensions for those who have obtained outdoor relief, and turn that over to the landlords to increase the price of land. Never so long as I have a voice to appeal to the people of Ireland. A more infamous proposal never was made.That proposal was made by the right hon. Gentleman. What becomes of the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford that it is a fable from beginning to end? What was the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman mentioning that fund of £300,000 or £400,000? What was the meaning of his asking us to appoint a financial expert to meet his own financial expert if that now so-called fable is not an absolute and undeniable truth? There is only one other statement in my letter of 13th April, and it ran:—(3) That the only condition you attach to these concessions is the consent of the Irish representatives themselves.It is said that statement is perfectly familiar to the Irish papers. In support of that statement the hon. Member quoted no other evidence whatever, except the fresh communique to the official organ of the party—"The Freeman's Journal"— which eight days before had published a letter containing this official announcement:—The statement of Mr. William O'Brien in Cork yesterday, as reported, probably inaccurately, in the London evening papers that the Irish party had declined a proposition put before them by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a reunion with the Members who are understood to be in agreement with Mr. O'Brien naturallv excited great interest and no small surprise in the House of Commons Lobby last evening. As far as the Irish party is concerned they would entirely refuse to recognise the competence of any English or even Welsh Minister to advise them on their domestic affairs. It is safe to say that the Members of the Irish party had already been fully apprised of the circumstances of whatever took place before Mr. O'Brien divulged it, and that the party warmly approved of the action of their leaders in regard to it.I submit these are the only three statement in my letter to which exception is taken, and I think I have proved out of the mouths of my asailants themselves that if there are any untruths, they are to be found in their statements, which show, at all events, that it is not on my side that falsehood or treachery exists.
1749 If there had been any breach of trust, it has been on the part of my assailants, who three weeks before the publication of my letter had made the facts public property. The charge that I have disclosed anything except with the permission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself is unfounded. Let me add this, and it is a fact which does not redound very much to the credit of party journalism and common fair play and the honour of public men that a letter which gave a categorical reply to my assailants was by common consent suppressed in every Liberal newspaper in London. The gag and the guillotine are not confined to this House. I ask the House kindly to bear in mind that I did not open my mouth in self-defence until after the Liverpool speech. I did not publish my letter until eight days after the official communique in the official journal had announced that it was the common property of seventy Members of the Irish party. I did not publish my letter until after the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had publicly charged me with deliberate falsehood as to a matter which it is now proved out of the mouth of his own colleague, the Member for East Mayo, that it was an absolute and undeniable truth. I then resorted, and not until then did I resort, to the only means of setting myself right with my countrymen, and that was by publishing the truth. I had no reason to fear it, and I thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer had no reason to fear it. I cannot understand why the charge of disgraceful breach of confidence which has been levelled against me has not been turned against the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and his Friends. I cannot conceive a reason except, perhaps, that I am not the master of seventy votes, and that the relations of the Government with the master of seventy votes stand upon an entirely different footing to-day from that which they did then. The master of seventy votes is also the master of the life of this House. Surely the charge which has been made against me should have been turned against him? It is a deliberate charge of falsehood against me for publishing a matter which has been for weeks one of the commonplaces of public controversy, a matter of common gossip in the Irish party of seventy Members, and a matter, too, which had been discussed on Irish platforms. The Chancellor of the Exchequer never made the smallest suggestion to me that there was any guilty secret 1750 to be concealed on his part any more than on mine. How I come to be accused my own, no doubt entirely unministerial, conscience fails to enlighten me. I was perhaps unwise in trusting myself alone into that second interview. I, perhaps, made less allowance for the necessities and the sinuosities of the Ministerial conscience than I did for my own old-fashioned belief that in the long run straight-dealing is highest and best and will prevail. I never desired to pick any quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman. I have no end of indulgence for the weakness of political human nature, and even for the weakness of Ministerial human nature, especially when in a fix, and the right hon. Gentleman is not one of the men whom I should desire to fasten any quarrel of a personal nature upon. But he, having made that charge—a charge which I hope I have now proved to be an absolutely unjust and unfounded one, and, if it is in order to say so, an absolutely brutal one—I am quite prepared to allow my own humble personality and that of a greater personage to be judged by this House with the knowledge, at all events, that I courted no confidences from anybody and I acted frankly and straightly in the belief that I was dealing with honourable and truth-telling men. I have done so during all my life and in all my dealings with men of both political parties; and if now, not for the first time, an Irishman has been too trustful in his dealings with British party politicians, I have the consolation, at all events, of knowing that in this matter it is not Ireland and not I who will be the sufferers.
Now apparently the pea is under a different thimble, the bargain, or whatever you call it, which broke down in the Chancellor's department, through the more than royal aloofness of the Leader of the Irish party, has now been transferred to the department of the Prime Minister, and we hear no more of the cry, "No Veto, no Budget." Apparently that bargain is to be consummated to-night, and by the act of her own representatives Ireland is to be made solemnly to confess that she is under-taxed rather than overtaxed, and instead of gaining a great concession, which the Chancellor then at least contemplated with a friendly eye, and which would at the same time have smoothed the path of Home Rule, Ireland is to get nothing except the crumbs which the Prime Minister to-night dropped from the table of the Treasury. Ireland is 1751 to obtain nothing except the shadowy promise of a sham revolution in an excessively hazy future, by calling in the King to redress the grievance caused by the insufficient majority from England. I should have liked to have said a great deal more. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I have a great deal of respect for the sincerity of the party of a certain group below the Gangway opposite. [A LABOUR MEMBER: "It is not this group which interrupted."] At all events it comes from a body of men in that particular corner and I can only say that hon. Members must really excuse me if I object to postponing the hopes of Ireland until they are the masters of England. Much, however, as I should have desired to say a good deal more on this subject, as I most certainly shall on future occasions in Ireland, I think, under the circumstances, it would be prudent for me to give way at once to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. and learned Member for Waterford to make whatever defence they can offer, and I wish to conclude by suggesting that there is no longer a shadow of doubt in the public mind as between the conflicting statements as to where the real untruth lies. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh."] Well, then there is an easy way of solving it if the Government will only appoint a Select Committee to probe the entire matter to the bottom.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd-George)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down said that he thinks that he was unwise in entering into a private interview without bringing a witness, but the speech which he has just delivered proves that there was another person present at that interview who was quite as unwise. What is the question? I really should like to bring the House to what it is. Ministers in the course of the discharge of their duty have constantly to meet Members of all parties. It is their duty to do that, and they meet them in an informal and purely private manner. When I was a Member sitting on that side I constantly had to meet Ministers, and since I have the honour of holding office under the Crown it has been my duty to meet men of all parties. It is invariably the case that meetings of this character are regarded as purely confidential, and for a very good reason. There could not be a greater justification for that course than the incident that has now happened. What has happened at the moment? One Member had an interview 1752 of that kind, and thinks that he can without consulting the other person, or even communicating with him, or asking his permission, thinks he can go and make public the part of the interview which suits him at the moment when he has got a quarrel on with any of his friends. What happens in such a case is that the Minister is invariably put in a position that he has to make his own statement, and then a question is raised as to who has told the truth. No Minister, under these circumstances, ever takes a note; he has to trust entirely to memory as to what occurred at hundreds of interviews which he holds, where no shorthand writers are present, and I am perfectly certain that if what is now taking place is sanctioned it will be very unfortunate. I regret deeply the support which the hon. Gentleman received from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, because if it means that they sanction such a practice it will be absolutely impossible for any Minister, under any conditions to meet a Member without having an army of shorthand writers at his back to record every fact that takes place.
Since I have been a Minister of the Crown it has been my practice—and I am not sure that I have not carried that practice further than my predecessors—it has been my practice in regard to every Bill which I have had the honour of introducing into this House to interview the objectors of all parties. I have had no end of interviews with hon. Gentlemen whom I see opposite, and outside the House I have met men of other political parties than my own to discuss those Bills with them. I have arranged Amendments with them, and I have discussed matters very freely in private and informal interviews. At such interviews you naturally discuss things in a free and easy way with the object of gaining information. I do the same thing in regard to hon. Members opposite, Nationalist Members, Labour Members, and, of course, I meet Members of my own party—I constantly meet them behind the Chair in order to discuss matters which arise out of the measure in hand, whether it is the Budget or any other Bill. Of course, there are some matters in which I know perfectly well hon. Members opposite differ fundamentally from me, and it would be useless discussing such matters with them; but I have discussed with them Amendments which have been introduced into the Budget, and other Bills, as a result of private interviews which I have had with hon. Members opposite and with other Gentle- 1753 men. I have met, also, gentlemen who are not Members of this House, tobacconists, cab-drivers, and publicans, and I have never been given away, except upon this occasion. I am coming to the statement which has been made later, but I cannot deal with the two branches of the question at once; but hon. Gentlemen opposite may depend upon it that I will not shirk from the particular statement made by the hon. Member. I must deal, however, with the general issues first, which I regard as far and away the most important part of this particular matter.
What has the hon. Member done? He admits that it was a private interview; he admits that he published it; he does not say that he had my assent to that, and the utmost that he has said is, that he wrote a draft letter which he intended sending me. Why did not he send it, then I could have answered it; but he only says that he intended sending me the letter. Does he say that he ever asked my permission to publish an account of these interviews? Never. He talks about honour and straight dealing, and he is going to give us a lesson in regard to them—this hon. Member who goes and publishes an account of a private interview, giving his own account of it, without ever asking the permission of the other party to the proceeding. He stands absolutely alone in this House as guilty of that offence, and I will just tell him what his hon. and learned colleague thinks of him. He will allow me to say that the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) is present, and he has behaved like a man of honour, if I may be allowed to say so. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh at that. [OPPOSITION MEMBERS: "Nobody laughed here," and MINISTERIAL MEMBERS: "Yes, you did."] Hon. Members may laugh, but it is a much more important matter in regard to the proper conduct of public business in this country than they seem to think. For Ministers it would be a very bad thing, and I speak with only four years' experience — it would be very serious if it becomes impossible for Ministers to meet men of all parties and discuss freely with them matters of business behind the Speaker's chair. If such conversations cannot be held, it will be a serious detriment to public business; but let me say this about the hon. and learned Member for Louth, who was also present: He belongs to a profession in which he has attained a very high position, and he knows perfectly well that counsel frequently have to discuss matters outside 1754 the court. He knows that competing counsel do this, and if they can come to an arrangement it is announced, but if not, no counsel would think of giving an ex parte account of what happened at that conference, where matters were discussed informally. That is the view taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I gave half a dozen copies to every gentleman in the Lobby, including a number of Liberal papers.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I read it in one or two of the Liberal papers, but there are at least two Liberal papers I know which did not publish extracts from the letter. Let me read what the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. M. Healy) says. I accept the statement which he makes. It is a very eloquent exposition of the view which I take on this matter:—I should regard these disclosures of private confidences as constituting a permanent stain on the character of those who made them. The reputation of Irish Members, however humble, for good faith and personal honour in their private relations with English statesmen, has hitherto been unsullied. To imperil such a reputation in order to advance a sectional conflict would, in my judgment, inflict on our country a moral evil worse than any which has hitherto sprung from the Act of Union.That is the view which my hon. and learned Friend takes of this matter. I quite agree with him, and that is all I have to say on the general question of the fact that the hon. Member (Mr. O'Brien) has taken upon himself to disclose a private and confidential interview, and give his own version of it. Now I come to his statement. He justifies it on the ground that another hon. Member from Ireland disclosed, not an interview between me and him, but what transpired, according to him, at another interview. If that hon. Member had disclosed what transpired even at the interview between me and himself, that would not be enough to justify the hon. Gentleman in giving a public account of it without first of all, at any rate, asking my permission. But his justification is that hon. Members have disclosed something which took place at other interviews. What justification is that to him? As a matter of fact, they did not disclose it, as I shall be able to prove whenever the question arises. At the present moment I am dealing with him and with the interview which I had with him. He has friends in the Tory Press. He has very strong friends amongst all the enemies of his country. They back him in the Press. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who 1755 are the enemies?"] They are the party that has thwarted all the national aspirations of Ireland. They cheered him today; they cheered him when he attacked the personal honour of a Minister and charged him with lack of truth and straight dealing. This is their sense of fair play. They cheered it before they ever heard what that Minister had to say. Let me point out to the hon. Gentleman the difference between this statement and the others. When these statements that he quoted from the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) were made to the Press, I never saw "Sensational Disclosures," "Revelations as to Private Interviews with Ministers." But the moment the hon. Gentleman's statement appeared in the Press there appeared "Sensational Disclosures," "Disgraceful Revelations," and I found no end of pressmen on my doorstep, asking me whether it was true. What did it mean? It means that they took the view which I took about it, that the hon. Gentleman was the first man to commit a breach of confidence and disclose what happened.
I come to the actual statements made by the hon. Gentleman. He has modified them to-day. He said in his speech that, as the result of the promises which I had made, not a shilling of taxation would be imposed on Ireland, and the Act of 1903 was to be restored. The hon. Gentleman actually went to Ireland, and said I promised, on behalf of the Government, that not a shilling of extra taxation should be imposed by the Budget upon Ireland, and that the Act of 1903 would be restored. He says now that I contemplated with a friendly eye certain changes with regard to land purchase which I am willing to submit to a financial expert. It is one thing to say that I promised on behalf of the Government that the Act of 1903 should be restored, but a very different thing to say that I contemplated with a friendly eye the sending to a financial expert of certain proposals which the hon. Gentleman had not yet sent to me, and which he was going to Ireland to find a financial expert to put into intelligible financial language for me. What is the other thing? "Not a shilling of taxation upon Ireland." Does the hon. Gentleman really know what his own proposals were? His own proposals left four-fifths of the taxation of Ireland untouched—not my promises, but his proposals. Tobacco— 1756 not a word said about it. Publicans' licences—not a word said about them. The great burden of the Death Duties—just one or two little alterations which did not come to very much. Land taxes—nothing said about them, except that a Resolution had been carried that agriculture was not to be burdened. I never intended to burden agriculture. So that when the hon. Gentleman goes to Cork and says I promised that not a shilling of taxation should be imposed upon Ireland, he himself never made the suggestion as to four-fifths of it ever being removed. That is his idea of the actual statement, and it is upon that that he bases the charge against me of a lack of truth and straight dealing. I say still that what I said about that is perfectly true, and that the hon. Gentleman's statement was grossly inaccurate.
Let us take the other point. The hon. Gentleman says I promised to restore the Act of 1903. The hon. Gentleman admits that within two hours after the interview I was denouncing that Act from the public platform. Can anyone in his senses imagine that I was conducting friendly negotiations with the hon. Member, that at five o'clock I said on behalf of the Government that I would restore the Wyndham Act, and that in three hours I should say it was a "most flagitious outrage upon finance"? That statement is too ridiculous. The hon. Gentleman has not told the whole truth, and that is just as essential as telling the truth. He says I talked to him. As a matter of fact he talked to me, and I rarely got in a word edgeways. When I did, I would remind him of the very first remark I made to him. He made a statement of some length on the virtues of the Wyndham Act. The first thing I said was: "Mr. O'Brien, there is a Treasury side to that, and you forget it," and I pointed out to him what a heavy loss it was to Ireland and to the Treasury of the United Kingdom. I said exactly what I said at the public meeting—that we borrowed money at a heavy loss for the purpose of putting it through, that we could not afford to carry it on, and that it was an enormous loss to the taxpayers not merely of Great Britain, but of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman said, "It is only a loss of £600,000 a year." Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say that I was prepared to face a loss of £600,000 a year? Then where does the agreement come in about the Irish Land Act? The hon. Gentleman says he read a letter to me. I will tell the House frankly what happened. The 1757 interview was not of my seeking, and I do not know that it was of his seeking. It was a third party. It is true he was a Liberal, but he is also a very intimate friend of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. M. Healy). This was in the second interview which I had with the hon. Member. He said I was present at the interview which took place with the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury immediately after the first interview. I was not there at all.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
If the hon. Member says so, I do not want to go into it. I only want to make it clear that I was not present. I was told that the hon. Member wanted to see me, and I saw him. I happened to be busy, but I saw him. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who told you?"] The Patronage Secretary told me that he had seen the hon. Member, and that he wanted to see me. The hon. Member proceeded to make a lengthy statement, in the course of which he read extracts from newspapers—mostly Irish newspapers. He read a good many documents, and he read what purported to be a memorandum of what took place at my first interview. I instantly stopped him, and I said, "Not only did I make no promises, but I was not in a position to make promises." And the hon. Member now admits that I made it perfectly clear that I was not in a position to make any promises. I think he might have said that in his speech, for it makes a considerable difference.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
All I can say is that it is not in "The Times" report. If the hon. Gentleman says so, I accept what he says; but surely it is a very essential part of the statement. Where is the bargain if I said I was not in a position to make a bargain? That is all that transpired on that point. Then we discussed land purchase, and I told the hon. Member that I could not face any further loss to the Treasury, but that if he had any financial proposals to make I was perfectly willing to consider them. I told him also that financial proposals had been submitted to me with the view to expediting the process of land purchase by the Irish Land Courts, and that I should consider them as I would consider any that he submitted to me because it is my duty 1758 to consider every financial proposal, especially when it comes from a Member of this House. The hon. Gentleman said he would write me a letter on the subject. I have never received a letter from him. He said his only object in the second interview was to read his letter. Why did he not send me that letter if that was his object? Does he mean to say that he came there to read a letter in order to be able to go away and say he had read it, and that I did not dissent from it? All I can say is that I do not think that is very consistent with what he calls straight dealing. If the hon. Gentleman had a letter to write to me he ought to have sent it along to me. The first I heard of his letter was when I read it in the newspapers on the Sunday morning. He tells me that he intended to send me the letter, and that he read it to me. All I can say is that I have absolutely no recollection of his reading any letter to me. He read extracts from newspapers, and also a memorandum which I challenged on the spot. Is there any other point? I think I have dealt with every point.
I really put it to every fair-minded and honourable man in this House that this is dragging on to the floor of the House and into public discussion a private interview such as every Minister has to hold with Members of this House from time to time. The hon. Member for Cork says he is not ashamed, and that Ministers ought not to be ashamed for having these interviews. I am not ashamed of them. Why should I be? I have discussed with every Member of this House who came to me the question of the Budget, and I am not at all ashamed of having met Irish Members on this subject. Why should I? I have acted with Irish Members for twenty years in this House. I have fought with them against the oppression of nationalities both in this country and outside. I have acted with them through thirteen years in a hopeless minority, and I have acted through several years in a scarcely more hopeful majority. We always had this, blank, dense wall between us and what we conceived to be the freedom of the democracy in the two countries, and I do not mind telling the hon. Member and the House that amongst the motives that prompted me to see Irish Members was not merely natural concern for the Budget. I should have been foolish to deny it, because it cost me eighteen months very hard work. But that was not my chief concern. I viewed with horror the 1759 prospect of a quarrel between the two democracies. I thought that after twenty years' work with this obstacle in the way of progress that at last we had a ray of light, and I thought at any rate it would be a catastrophe if all that were thrown away for a quarrel about things which could be accommodated in this Budget. I am not ashamed of the part which I have taken in preventing that feud, and I invite the House to say that my account of the transaction—an honourable transaction—has been a perfectly truthful one.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
My references to the personal question which has been raised will be very brief indeed. I am not, as I think, directly concerned in the quarrel between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Cork, but the speech of the hon. Member has indirectly brought me into this matter. Now the hon. Member for Cork has practically made this defence, that if he did make a disclosure, he was forced to do so by the previous disclosure made by me. If that were a really true and accurate representation of the facts, I confess that I would feel very sorry and very much ashamed of myself, and I would deeply regret that any word of mine should be held as a sufficient justification for a breach of confidence in connection with a matter of this kind, but allow me in justice to myself to read words which the hon. Member for Cork did not read, which I spoke at Liverpool and Tipperary, and which he said constituted such a breach of confidence on my part as to justify him, and indeed to necessitate him, in publishing his statement. Before I come to the Liverpool speech let me notice the very broad insinuation that he made that I was in some way, directly or indirectly, responsible for the publication of the paragraph in the "Independent" newspaper. I can assure the hon. Member and the House, on my word, that that is an entire mistake and that I had nothing whatever to do, directly or indirectly, with the publication of that paragraph. The next thing he says is that I went to Liverpool and made an attack on him because he had had an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that then I made a disclosure. Will the House kindly allow me to read my words at Liverpool? I said:—I have noticed within the last few days a report in the newspapers of a meeting which it is alleged took 1760 place between Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Healy and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the statement was made that the object of the meeting was to discuss the terms on which the Budget might be passed into law. I am not in a position to say whether such a meeting took place or not, but the fact that an announcement of it appeared in the columns of the ' Irish Independent' newspaper makes it impossible to regard it as entirely without foundation…
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman means by that cheer to convey that he still doubts my word that I had nothing to do with the publication of this paragraph. I should be sorry to think that he did not accept my statement.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I have only to point out to the House the unfairness of that remark. It is not one that I would make. I went on in that speech at Liverpool to say:—Now personally let me say that I have always held the view that when political business has to be transacted by Irishmen with British Ministers, it is far better it should be done quite openly in the face of the whole world. You will easily understand that for the last ten years at least it has been my duty to be in pretty constant communication and consultation with British Ministers, not of the Liberal party only, but also of the Conservative party, and I have always been anxious to do so quite openly and above-board. Therefore I am the last to attempt to cast any blame upon these gentlemen if they had an interview, as is alleged, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. All I will say is that, considering the way that I have been recently sneered at and attacked for going, as it was said, to Canossa, because at his own request I went to Downing Street to discuss the broad aspect of the political situation with Mr. Lloyd-George—considering that, it seems somewhat strange that Mr. Healy and Mr. O'Brien should, having uttered those sneers against me, have been discovered at the same time to have had secret meetings themselves with the same Minister, and meetings for the purpose of discussing the terms upon which, it was said, the Budget might be passed into law. Let me say a word as to those terms. I myself have never believed that on the merits of this Budget there would be any serious difficulty at all in coming to a friendly arrangement, with the Government of such a character as to enable us to allow the Budget to pass if the only question were the merits of the Budget. Except for those portions of that measure which hurt Ireland, we have never attacked the Budget as a whole.Then I go on to enumerate the points which I said, and I say again here, we openly threshed out across the floor of the House last year with the Government, upon which I have no hesitation in saying we obtained some of those, concessions which I have been urging upon the consideration of the Government in private. That was the sole disclosure I made at Liverpool, and I do ask the House whether in common fairness the hon. Member for Cork is justified in. saying that he was justified and indeed compelled 1761 to publish his account of the interview I he had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to publish the document which he read.
Now let me go to the next point with respect to the Tipperary speech. I used these words:—There is only one statement of Mr. William O'Brien which I will notice. He asserted in his speech that my friends and I had rejected what he called splendid concessions on the Budget, and that we had rejected also an offer—these are his words—to restore land purchase right, away by the Treasury on the same terms as under the Act of 1903. Now, no" such offer was made to us by anyone, mid the whole of the statement from beginning to end is an absolute fable.I ask the House to look at the statement which I said was a fable—that any such offer as that had been made to me or my colleagues by anyone. I repeat that statement emphatically here to-night. The hon. Gentleman says that the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it a condition of making these concessions to Ireland that I should attend a conference with the hon. Members below me and with him, and that our assent to these Amendments should be obtained. Fancy the Chancellor of the Exchequer making it a condition that we should assent to proposals which we have been endeavouring to force upon him in public and in private for the last year and a half. All I have to say is that no one, neither the Chancellor, nor the Patronage Secretary, nor anybody else, ever said to me that the Chancellor was making our presence at any conference a condition of making any concession whatever. The first proposal of the conference came to me in this way. The Patronage Secretary to the Treasury approached me very early in the matter and told me that overtures had been made on behalf of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) to the Government, and that these overtures were with the object of bringing about the re-entry into the party of the hon. Member and his Friend.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Master of Elibank)
That is not quite an accurate statement. What I said to the hon. and learned Member for Waterford was that I was desirous of seeing the two sections of the Irish party brought together, because I thought it would be very much more satisfactory if any arrangement were possible that it should be made with the united party.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I at once, and in the most unreserved way, accept that statement, and apologise for having made the statement that I did. It is only an- 1762 other instance of the fallibility of one's memory on these occasions, and, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, all through I never kept any note whatever. At any rate, I repeat my statement that no one, neither the hon. Gentleman nor the Chancellor, nor anybody else, ever told my colleagues or myself that such a conference was a condition of making these concessions, that we never rejected concessions, that concessions were never offered to us, and that the proposals with reference to land purchase were never either offered to or rejected by us at all. That is all I want to say on this personal matter. I regret extremely that I have had to intervene at all. As I said before, if I could accuse myself of being responsible by anything I said in public of leading to this situation I would feel ashamed and would certainly publicly apologise to the right hon. Gentleman.
I want to say a few words in reference to the guillotine Resolutions before the House. I have risen for the purpose of supporting the Motion of the Government. I can quite understand and make allowance for the chagrin and disappointment of hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, the friends of the landlords and the enemies of Ireland, when they find that the hopes on which they have been living for so many weeks, that the forces of democracy in this trouble with the House of Lords were going to be divided, have disappeared. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding, not on one side only, with reference to the attitude of Irish Nationalist Members on this Budget, and on other Budgets. We believe that every Budget which has been passed in this House since the Act of Union, and especially since 1853, has been an unjust Budget to our country. Your own Commission in 1895 by a British majority declared that we were overtaxed. Since then the taxation of Ireland has increased, and, therefore, we believe that every Budget is unjust to Ireland. But the financial injustice to Ireland will not be remedied by tinkering with this tax or with that tax. It will continue until the system of Government of the country is changed; until the finances of Ireland are put under the control of Ireland herself; in other words, until we get Home Rule for Ireland. With reference to this particular Budget, let me say this. Last year the Irish party did not oppose this Budget as a whole. We opposed certain parts of it, and, notwithstanding the fact that the Government had a large and overwhelming majority, we 1763 obtained certain most valuable concessions for our country. But other portions of the Budget we supported in this House and out of it; and it shows how short the public memory is when the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) the other day declared that we had opposed the Land Increment Tax. We did nothing of the kind. We asked two things from the Government: First, that agricultural land should be exempted from it; and, second, that the proceeds of the tax should go to the local authority. And when we got these concessions we supported, and ardently supported, those Land Increment Taxes. It would be strange if we had not done. We were the pioneers in the crusade for these Land Increment Taxes in this House. Thirty years ago, when very few hon. Members, even in the Liberal party, were voting for these taxes the Irish Members were doing so, and we have consistently supported them from that day to this. I believe, with the Prime Minister, that the Amendment we obtained on this tax, excluding Irish agricultural land, was a valid Amendment, but as doubts have been raised I am glad that the Government are going to put in words to make absolutely certain in the mind of everybody that agricultural land is to be absolutely excluded from the operation of this tax.
I will not allude now to the concessions, to what might have been, although I confess I did at one-time hope that large concessions might have been made; and I will not stop now—I do not want to be guilty of any further controversy—to state why I think that at a certain time those concessions became impossible. But I would say this to the Chancellor—that this is the Budget for 1909–10. The Budget for 1910–11 has yet to be produced, and, for my part, I am not asking for any promise or any bargain but I hope that, in proposing that Budget, he will take into account, and, as the phrase has it, favourably, any proposal that may be made for the mitigation of the taxation of Ireland. Let me pass away at once to what is the dominant consideration in the mind of myself and my colleagues on this question. Rightly or wrongly we regard the merits or demerits of this particular Budget as trivial compared with the issue of the abolition of the Veto of the House of Lords. I was anxious, as the House knows, at least that the Third Reading of the Budget should be held up until we saw what the House of Lords were. 1764 going to do with reference to the Veto Resolution. But my object, as stated publicly before, was not merely to use and to have the use of what I thought was a valuable weapon against the House of Lords, but also to have some necessary guarantee that the policy pursued by the Liberal party and the Government in reference to what is called the guarantees from the Throne should be a bold and consistent and thorough-going policy. Now I feel, under the circumstances in which we are standing at this moment, that, after the declaration of the Prime Minister on Thursday last, to defeat the Budget now would be to use it, not as a weapon against the House of Lords, but in aid of the House of Lords, and against the abolition of the Veto. My colleagues, take the view that the abolition of the Veto means the concession of Home Rule to Ireland. That is the view put forward by the Government. There is no concealment about it. There have been public speeches in this House quite recently declaring, as the Prime Minister declared during the elections, that one of the earliest things the Liberal party had decided to deal with, once they had got the Veto of the House of Lords out of the way, was a national settlement with Ireland. I believe that the declaration of the Prime Minister is a sufficient guarantee that this movement will go on now full speed ahead.
The Irish party at their meeting to-day, a meeting attended by sixty-five of their Members, came to the unanimous decision, without doubt or hesitation, to support actively and enthusiastically, both in this House and out of this House, the policy of the Government, as enunciated by the Prime Minister. I am not going to stop to talk about bargaining or any of the absurd nonsense that appears from day to day in the hostile London Press; but this much I must say: There is not a man sitting on that bench who knew, either directly or indirectly, what decision the Irish party would come to until the meeting of the Irish party was held to-day. I have given no guarantees to the Government as to what our action would be. They have asked us for none, and therefore there was absolutely no bargain. Let me say for myself—and I believe I speak for a good many Members on both sides of the House—that it is with feelings of relief and delight that I find that in the remaining stages of this struggle we Irishmen, those, at any rate, for whom I speak, 1765 will be able to march on shoulder to shoulder with the representatives of the democracy of England in furtherance of the greatest constitutional reform which has come before this country for two centuries, a reform the triumph of which we are all convinced will bring untold blessings to Ireland, even more than it will to any other portion of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I am conscious that anything I have to say—and I have not very much to say—will appear extremely tame after the interchange of arguments and civilities to which we have listened earlier in the evening. Nothing interests this House so much as personal conflict. Individually, I detest personal conflicts. I do not mean I merely detest being engaged in them, but I detest other people being engaged in them. It does not entertain me to hear these recriminations upon relatively private matters. On the whole I think we may congratulate ourselves that they do not often occur. For my own part the more seldom they occur the better I am individually pleased, and I am not going to deal at all with the matters which have been quarrelled over across the floor of the House. I will merely assent to one general proposition laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which I think everybody will agree to, and particularly the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) that undoubtedly Ministers are not only justified in having private interviews, but must have private interviews. They are not only justified in having private interviews with their political opponents, but they must have private interviews, and it would be impossible to conduct a great deal of business in this House if we were absolutely precluded from saying anything to each other except in the way of debate, argument and counter-argument across the floor of the House. It is unquestionably and undoubtedly a corollary that no use should be made publicly of these conversations that go on in private. That seems to me a perfectly broad and indisputable principle. I think it should be observed, and I believe it will be observed by everybody on both sides of the House, whatever party may be in power, and whatever Minister may be responsible for the legislation. With these few words I dismiss the whole personal aspect of this controversy. Two aspects only remain. One is what I may call the technical aspect, to which alone the Prime Minister referred in his opening 1766 remarks. He told us that this was a unique performance, and that no Government had ever done what he proposed to do, and he hoped that no other Government would either do what he proposed to do, or ever have occasion to do it. I think that wish was probably echoed by everybody. But let me make this addition to his general view of the House of Commons policy. He seems to think there is something peculiarly sacred in financial matters that ought to make it impossible to extend to them the treatment which comes so easily now, I regret to say, to Governments in dealing with their measures. I do not think that at all. The view that finance ought to be surrounded by special and peculiar safeguards, which other legislation need not be surrounded by, is a survival from a period in our history when finance was almost the only important matter with which we were concerned, when the sort of legislation which is now the daily work of this House was never dreamt of, and when all that was considered was that there should not be raids made by private Members of the House itself on the National Exchequer. All these safeguards were not against the public outside, not against the Lords, and not against anybody at all except our own noble selves. There was a fear that there would be perpetual snatches made at the public purse, and this induced the House to surround legislation on financial matters with these very special safeguards. The distinction between national finance and national legislation on social subjects is always different, and, in some cases, entirely different. For my part, I do not believe there either is, or ought to be, any special sacredness in Bills which, according to the technical rules of our procedure, are to be described as Money Bills. Therefore, I do not base my objection to this proceeding on precisely the same grounds as the right hon. Gentleman, though there is some correspondence in the attitude we both take up on this question.
On what plea did the right hon. Gentleman press upon the House the necessity of making this innovation in our procedure? His plea was that the Budget had been discussed ad nauseam almost in the course of last year, and did not require re-discussion this year. May I make two observations on that? In the first place, I should have had great sympathy with the view of the right hon. Gentleman if 1767 he had brought in the Budget on the first possible opportunity, and, having brought it in on the first opportunity, had said, "We were not allowed to carry the Budget last year. The House of Lords insisted on referring it to the people; the people have pronounced, and we take the first possible opportunity to carry to a rapid conclusion the proposals we laid before the country six months ago." That would have been consistent with all the attacks the Government made for months with respect to what they called "the financial chaos," which they say had been introduced into national affairs by the action of the House of Lords. To have heard them talk in November and December, you would have supposed that as the result of the rejection of the Budget by the House of Lords, every week's delay was causing infinite inconvenience. They get the opportunity of ending the delay, and then we suddenly discover that there is no inconvenience at all. After the months of December and January the inconvenience began rapidly to increase, and it has now reached a point at which I am afraid it is causing great daily loss to the taxpayers of the country. If the Government had come before the House in a straightforward manner as soon as it was assembled and said, "You cannot expect to discuss the old Budget as if it was a new Budget, and we expect it to be pressed through by exceptional measures," I should probably have resisted, because I object to the Budget, and I should have voted against the Resolution as against the First, Second, and Third Reading of the Budget Bill. My objection to this Resolution is not merely that it is part of the procedure to bring into law a Budget to which I object—my criticism is based on the delay which has occurred, and which seems to me to take away all excuse from the Government in the course they are taking. I acknowledge that we cannot expect that the Government will consent to spend the whole of this Parliament in discussing the same Budget as occupied the most part of our time in the last Session of the late Parliament. But one or two things must be remembered even in that connection. This Parliament consists largely of new Members, who have been returned by their constituencies largely to object to this Budget. They have asked their constituents what they 1768 thought of the Budget, and it was very clearly shown, what they thought by returning them to this House.
It cannot be denied that their position is an extremely hard one. They have been sent to this House to do a certain thing, specifically and explicitly, without question, doubt, or a shadow of ambiguity, and that you are not going to allow them to do. Therefore it seems to me that when you take that in connection with the delay, for which the Government are entirely responsible, the last shadow of excuse really has to be abandoned, and we who cherish the traditions of this House may feel that even the very exceptional circumstances of the finances of this year offer no excuse whatever for the Resolution the right hon. Gentleman proposes. The Prime Minister said this was substantially the same Budget as that which was passed last Session. I think my hon. Friend near me (Mr. Pretyman) is prepared to show that even if it is the same Budget as was passed last year, it is not the same Budget as was voted upon in the constituencies. A very different Budget was fought in the constituencies from that contained in the Bill of last year or in the Bill which is to be laid on the Table. But on that my hon. Friend will make his case to the House. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that there are no changes in the Budget, and that even the change excluding agricultural land from taxation is exactly what was contained in the Budget of last year. If that is so, is it not a most extraordinary thing that the Government should have gone on fighting last year, and that the question which we raised over and over again, and always in vain, should now be conceded by the Government, not to the arguments which we put before them for many months, but to the private pressure exercised upon them by the hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway. It is really a most amazing comment upon the proceedings of the Government. Here you have a point on which the Government cannot pretend that they were ignorant, and which they knew from side to side and top to bottom, which was put before them by agricultural Members most ably on this side of the House, and which was pressed upon them by their own Friends, yet it was steadily and systematically refused to anything in the way of genuine Parliamentary Debate. To what do they yield now—what new argument has been brought forward? If the right hon. Gentleman says this is the argument he now 1769 yields to—let there be no misunderstanding—that is the very argument we pressed upon him. That is the very thing we said on the Resolutions, and on the Committee and Report stages of the Bill. That is the very thing we put to the test of Division after Division; that is the very argument the Government refused to listen to last August, September, October, and November; and now, for reasons with which I am utterly unacquainted, or, at all events, which have not been made public, but which perhaps not the least astute of us can guess at, that which was blundering, stupid and ignorant when urged by Liberal agricultural Members and Unionist agricultural Members in the late Parliament, becomes high wisdom when suggested by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. I abstain from dealing with other changes which the right hon. Gentleman touched upon, because I do not think I thoroughly appreciate them, and because I do not think the House generally appreciate them. We must have the two Bills before us before we are able to compare them. The only other observations I have to make are on what I may call the broader aspects of this Question. I began my observations by saying this Motion would have had a justification if it had been moved in the latter days of February which it does not possess now. Why was it not moved in the latter days of February? We heard a great deal about "ramming" the Budget through. We have watched with profound interest exactly what the process of ramming consisted of. I always thought the essence of ramming, used in this metaphorical sense, was that it should be a proceeding both violent and rapid. The Government are quite capable of violence. They are indeed showing some violence now, but rapidity in this matter seems to have been far beyond their powers. We have dragged on week after week and month after month, and the process of ramming proves to be the slowest and feeblest method of advancing the thing rammed. We discover that in Ministerial rhetoric the true synonym of ramming, and what it really means is a slow and tedious process of dexterous diplomacy. I am not one of those who at any time criticised the Government for trying to come to an arrangement with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, or indeed with anybody else whose support they require. I have confined myself to pointing out, 1770 with perhaps wearisome reiteration, that there was something extraordinarily comic, for those who have any sense of political humour, in seeing the extraordinary difficulty there was in getting through the House of the people's representatives a Budget that was described as "the people's Budget." It has always been extremely comic, and it remains extremely comic, and the finale which the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway thinks is such an unexpected tragedy to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, I can assure him that, while it may be a tragedy, it is not unexpected. There, indeed, he is profoundly mistaken. He and his Friends were no doubt, with a high sense of duty, always in the political market, while hon. Gentlemen opposite were always anxious to buy. It is almost certain that when a willing buyer and a willing seller came together something would happen. Still, I will not use the expressions seller and buyer, but I will say people engaged in barter and mutual exchange. When people anxious for barter and mutual exchange meet there is a strong probability, somehow or another they will, if time be given to them, and surely time has been given them, and for which we, as taxpayers, have to pay, if time be given, under those circumstances a bargain is almost sure to be struck.
I was always personally of opinion that a bargain would be struck. What the precise terms would be, I admit, I never conjectured, never foresaw, and indeed I should have regarded it as extremely uncharitable, certainly to one of the parties, to this transaction, if I had regarded the actual bargain which we now know has been accompanied as at all possible. A bargain, I quite agree, cannot easily be accomplished without something being given up on both sides. I thought it quite probable if the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford saw his way to a Budget, which he could approve for Ireland next year, or rather next May, if he could have seen his way to a Budget favourable next May, I thought it extremely probable he would swallow his objections to this Budget for Ireland provided he received a quid pro quo in other directions. Therefore I thought that there would be nothing insuperable in the way of the hon. and learned Gentleman in giving his support to the Budget if he could get out of the Government sufficient return. What, I confess, did 1771 surprise me was that the Government, after saying all they said, doing all they have done, after all the consideration they must have given to this, after all the wry faces they must have made about it privately, that the Government should have given way to the hon. and learned Gentleman in handing over the whole Constitution, the whole relation between the Government and the Sovereign, as the price of the hon. and learned Gentleman's support for the Budget. That, I would honestly say, never occurred to me, that either the Prime Minister or his colleagues would consent to.
There was that much disputed phrase at the Albert Hall. I do not know how it was to be understood. There was that eloquent passage in the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister at the beginning of the Session, which seemed to some people, I agree, to be in complete disagreement with what he said earlier, but which to me appeared to contain in admirable language a perfect summary of the duties of the Prime Minister in relation to his Sovereign and to his public duty. How a Minister who could utter that passage could be found to make himself a party to the bargain to which he had made himself a party, passes my understanding. I was out for a moment when the hon. and learned Member for Waterford was speaking, and I do not know whether he said anything in his speech with regard to the word bargain. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, he said there was no bargain."] He said that there was no bargain. I understand, therefore, that the word "bargain" is not approved of by the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, and it may be that it is disapproved of by right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Bench opposite.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
The Prime Minister quite properly and courteously interrupts me, backing up the hon. Member for Waterford, and says there was no bargain. I gather there is no dispute about what has happened. Two people who have a great interest in working together both are going to do something, which they separately dislike, in order to be able to work together. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford has never pretended to like the Budget. He refused to vote for it on the Third Reading, and I 1772 think there was even a question whether he would not vote against it. [An HON. MEMBER: "He said it was a question."] He said it was a question because at that time he could have voted against it without turning out the Government, and therefore no doubt that public act and sacrifice would have been more easily performed in December last than it would be now. At all events, everybody knows that the Budget the more it is understood in Ireland the less it is liked. That is the information which has reached me, and which none of us for a moment anticipates that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his next Budget, will not have to deal with, because everybody knows he will have. If the hon. and learned Member for Waterford represents his friends in Ireland—[An HON. MEMBER: "Yes."]—and I have no doubt he does, he must object to the Budget more now even than he did then, and I know that then he was on the verge of voting against the Third Reading. He is going to do something which he very much dislikes. He is going to vote for this Resolution, and for the Budget at every stage, if this Resolution is passed. The Government are going to do something which they very much dislike. No human being who made the speech which the Prime Minister made at the beginning of the Session could have liked making the speech the Prime Minister made on Thursday evening last. He therefore is going to do something which he dislikes, and I should have thought he disliked doing what he is about to do even more than the hon. and learned Member for Waterford dislikes what he is going to do. If those two parties who are going to work together to pass the Budget are each, in order to obtain their co-operation, going to do that which they greatly dislike, it may be wrong to say there is a bargain between them, but there is something very like a bargain, and there is the anticipation of what the bargain would be if it was worth while making it.
There is a very clear appreciation of what each is going to get. They may not have met in one of the Ministerial rooms behind the Chair, or in the House belonging to the Liberal Member, of which we heard so much early in the evening. There probably was no meeting at which the precise details of this amazing transaction were fixed up. But in fact when the Prime Minister made his speech on Thursday he knew the result would be to get the support of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. He knew that 1773 with as great certitude as if it had been put down in black and white, sealed, and stamped, and paying the new duty. They knew that with absolute certitude. Why, of course, we were all aware, and if I turn to the other parties to this inchoate bargain, to the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, of course he knows he studied, he scanned, the words of the Prime Minister. He sees that they do drag in the Sovereign's name in the very way in which the hon. and learned Member has always desired that it should be dragged in. The very guarantees, which he constantly demanded, they are going to be squeezed out of a reluctant Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] It is not for me to say why not. I could see a great many reasons why not if I sat on that bench opposite. It is not for me to develop that point, which I daresay will be dealt with by the Prime Minister when he comes to reply.
To me, it seems, although there is no bargain, that the transaction is made neither better nor worse by the fact that certain formalities happen to have been put on one side. There is that kind of alliance which implies that each party is going to have something which he greatly values. The hon. Member for Waterford has given up what he believes to be the financial interests of his country, perhaps only for a time, but he has given them up. The Ministers sitting opposite have given up something far more valuable than the temporary financial interests of any section of the United Kingdom. They have given up the great traditions of which it is their duty to be the guardian. They have dragged in the Sovereign's name in a way in which it has not been dragged in for generations in this country. They have in spirit, at all events, and I think in letter too, certainly in spirit, directly contradicted all those great constitutional maxims so admirably and so eloquently put before the House and before the country by the Prime Minister when he spoke earlier in the Session. These are broad considerations far outside the compass of this Resolution or even of this Budget, important as this Resolution is and far-reaching as the effects of the Budget are. These are questions which touch the very foundations of our Constition and society, and, in my opinion, it was an unhappy day for this country when that bargain or quasi-bargain was arrived at between the hon. Member for Water- 1774 ford, whose whole interests are Irish or what he believes to be Irish, and who owns no affection or regard for the ancient Constitution of this country; who has never pretended to have any—
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I do not understand the point of that interruption at all. My point is that the hon. Member for Waterford has forced the Government out of the position which they occupied, and honourably occupied, two months ago, into a position which no British Ministry has ever occupied before, and which, I hope, no British Ministry will ever occupy again.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Then perhaps the House will give me leave to reply. I would very gladly have left the matter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I thought it more respectful to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that I should say a few words in answer to the speech he has just delivered. I am not going into the earlier part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which contained some perfunctory criticisms of the terms and scope of this Resolution. My sole object in rising is to deal with his concluding observations. The right hon. Gentleman has raised the hypothesis of a bargain or, as he now calls it, a quasi-bargain. What a quasi-bargain is I really do not know. Either the two parties have made an agreement or they have not. If they have not made an agreement, there is no bargain between them. There is no point in the right hon. Gentleman's observation unless he means to suggest to this House and to the country outside that an arrange has been come to between us on this bench and the hon. Member for Waterford opposite, whereby, in consideration of his abandoning his opposition to the Budget, we have agreed to a course which we had not, and should not, otherwise have resolved upon, namely, the policy which I 1775 announced to the House last Thursday-night. I take this, the earliest, opportunity of giving that statement the most unqualified and absolute contradiction. There has not been, and there is not at this moment, anything in the nature of an agreement between those who are represented by the hon. Member for Waterford and ourselves. The right hon. Gentleman says that the hon. Member for Waterford has agreed to support a Budget that he dislikes. What happened in the last Parliament on the Third Reading of the Budget? When, as the right hon. Gentleman rather infelicitously reminded us, the hon. Member for Waterford could have easily voted against it without exposing the Government to the risk of defeat, and when, therefore, he was perfectly free to observe his own conscientious convictions by going into the Lobby against the Third Reading of the Budget, he deliberately abstained from doing it. I have always said, and I think there was very strong evidence to support the statement, that I could discover no satisfactory or sufficient evidenced, either from what we learned from statements in Ireland or from statements by Irish Members here, that the Budget as a whole—not speaking of this or that particular tax—was in any way repugnant to the opinion of the Irish nation. Indeed, it would be marvellous if it were so. Taken in connection with other legislation, which is the necessary outcome of it, the grant of old age pensions, and so forth, I say, advisedly, that there is no Budget in the history of these countries since the Act of Union which has conferred, or would confer, so many benefits upon Ireland. I should really have been very much surprised, although fully recognising the force of the objection taken from a purely Irish point of view' to some particular aspects or some particular imposts, if, after due consideration of the whole scheme, in the interests of the Irish people themselves the great majority of Irish representatives had taken the responsibility of voting against the Budget. I am not entitled to speak for them—they can speak for themselves; but I am entitled to speak for my colleagues on this bench. The right hon. Gentleman says, What a wonderful volte face! On the first night of the Session—though I did not receive much commendation at the time—he says I expressed statesmanlike sentiments in what he is pleased to describe as eloquent language. "Now," he says, "you completely turned round." Have we 1776 turned round? Is there any inconsistency of any sort or kind between what I said on the first night of the Session and what I said on Thursday night? I will read my own language. I said:—In my judgment it is the duty of statesmen and of responsible politicians in this country, as long as possible and as far as possible, to keep the name of the Sovereign and the Prerogatives of the Crown outside the domain of party politics.[Several HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] I am going on, if hon. Members will allow me to interpose one word of comment. I say that again to-night. No man in this country has more scrupulously observed that doctrine than I have. How did I go on?—If the occasion should arise. I should not hesitate to tender such advice to the Crown as in the circum stances the exigencies of the situation appear to warrant in the public interest. Bui to ask in advance—[Several HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] May I finish the sentence?—but to ask in advance for a blank authority, for an indefinite exercise of the Royal Prerogative—Who says I am going to do anything of the kind? I have never suggested doing anything of the kind—in regard to a measure which has never been submitted to or approved by the House of Commons is a request which in my judgment no constitutional statesman can properly make, and it is a concession which the Sovereign cannot be expected to grant.There is no inconsistency between the language which I used on that occasion and the language which I used last Thursday night. Let me say further—and here again I come to the question of a bargain, or quasi-bargain—the policy and the language, which I used on Thursday, was settled by the Cabinet; it was settled without consultation with, or reference to, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford; it represents the considered and independent judgment of His Majesty's Government; and whether the hon. and learned Member for Waterford approved of it or not we should have held it just the same. I hope that is a clear statement. I have nothing to add to it.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
As I intend to oppose the Motion before the House and the Budget generally, I beg leave to say a few words upon the general question. The Leader of the Opposition has used the words "bargain" and "market." I should like to remind the Tory party of one fact. We are here to make bargains only for our country, and not for ourselves. If were were looking for judge-ships, peerages, knighthoods, or Privy Councillorships, I suppose we should be 1777 proper persons to consort with the Leader of the Opposition. If he wants that class of men, he has got plenty behind him. I am going to support him to-night on his merits; but there is no bargain between him and me, and he has not gone into any market-place to seek my vote; he has got it on his merits on this occasion. Having said that I would like to confirm what the Prime Minister has said, that there is no bargain between him and the hon. Member for Waterford; and I think when I bear that testimony it will be believed. What has happened? The Prime Minister sized up the Member for Water-ford at his proper worth and measure as a man without an ounce of political backbone. The Prime Minister knew his man; he had read all those long speeches of what the hon. Member was going to do. "No Veto, no Budget." "The weapon of finance is the weapon that must be used to overturn the House of Lords." "Fudge!" says the Prime Minister. "I will put this gentleman to the test." And anybody who had watched this House for the last two months would have known that any man in the position of a trained statesman like the Prime Minister was absolutely certain the moment he put down his foot at that moment to put it on the neck of the Member for Waterford. Now let me remind the House of this fact. There are only two parties in this House for Ireland to get along with. You must stable your horse with one side or the other. The tactics of the Irish party for years and years has been to attack the Tory party every time they made a concession; even if it amounted to £100,000,000 to describe it as not worth 4½d.; when they gave them a great Bill like the Local Government Act, almost the greatest Act passed since Catholic Emancipation, to deride it and belittle it; and to describe men who are trying to give their country boons as if they were engaged in assassinating Irishmen and in trying to degrade their country. Even since this Parliament began, about ten days ago, because an ass called Anderson, who has been befooled by every stale spy, and despised even by the spies who have befooled him, writes an idiotic article in a newspaper, the Leader of the Opposition is hailed after twenty years with cries of "Pigott" and "Forger." Would not the Prime Minister have been lacking in ordinary common-sense if that party, having declared that the Tory party are what they are, and its leaders are what they are, and having 1778 described these men as Orangemen, forgers, and everything else to which fools can put their tongues, he had thought that the hon. Member for Waterford would go into the Lobby and turn out his friends. And accordingly, with that judgment for which I give the Prime Minister the most absolute credit, he has taken and weighed to an ounce the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford. Though I do not pretend to have the long experience of this House that some others have, I must say that I have never known, not merely an Irish Leader, but an Irish Member, cut a sorrier figure than the Member for Waterford did. My complaint is that there is no bargain between him and the Prime Minister. I make the further complaint that he has gone up and down the country for the last three months, ever since the General Election; has gone into every cross-road, and on to every platform—almost every beer-barrel which was available for him to stand on—to try and make it impossible for the Government to give him the smallest concession. I remember very well what Mr. Parnell did in 1885, when for the first time the Irish Members got the balance of power in this House. He did not go about gloating over it all down the length and breadth of Britain. He did not go blathering about it in the Irish newspapers. He kept his counsel. He made his bargain. Almost the only one of his letters which I have kept is a letter telling me to get some of those fools who in Ireland were talking about coercing the Tory party, to hold their idiotic tongues. But, of course, with a little party like ours, with a country against which there is so much prejudice, the moment anything is seen to be given to us from the opposite side that moment you have 200 or 300 Tory Members—the lions and tigers of the party— writing down to their constituents, or declaring in the newspapers that the dismemberment of the Empire is at hand; that the German Emperor is going to land upon our shores, and that there is proceeding a gross betrayal of British interests. You all know the bosh—every one of you! But it is good party tactics, and accordingly I say that of any man in the representative and responsible position of being master of seventy votes, the least his people could expect from him when a question like Budget negotiations was afoot was that he should hold his foolish tongue.
What situation is he in? In the most humiliating, bedraggled, and contemp- 1779 tible in which I have ever known an Irish Member to be. He said, not once, but twenty times, and had it repeated after him by his acolytes: "I had the friendliest negotiations with Mr. Lloyd-George." You would almost think he had slept at the Treasury—as well as lunched there. "And I can get the Irish people every concession they desire. Do they want to get rid of licences—away with the licences. Do they want to get rid of the Death Duties—they are dead already. Do they want to get rid of the Stamp Taxes—I have obliterated the Stamp Taxes. Do they object to having a fresh valuation of their holdings—they are of no value whatever; they have gone already. I have spoken to Lloyd-George to banish the whole thing." All this went on again and again and again. And the offence of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork, in the eyes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is that he should have said, "Well, if you had all these concessions in your pocket, why on earth have you not got them?" Where are they to-night? I must say I admire the pluck of the Prime Minister. I have to contend against him on a good many occasions. But, at any rate, he has shown himself to be a man. He and his Cabinet have reduced to absolute powder, nonsense, and dust all these pretences from Liverpool to Tipperary. What is he banking upon for the future? All he is going to get in the present Budget? That has all evaporated. But it is all now to be got out of the next Budget. The suggestion reminds me of the tipster: "You have lost your money on the last Derby, but I will make it up to you in the next. I have a splendid tip. You will get all your money back if you will only trust me." When is this next Budget to be introduced? [An HON. MEMBER: "When the House of Lords is abolished."] I will tell you according to the time-table of the Government. I have no other source of information. As I understand the programme of the Government it is this—taking Thursday night's statement: The Government will either resign or dissolve unless they get guarantees that the House of Lords will be effectively dealt with in the present Parliament. How will the House of Lords be dealt with in the present Parliament unless you are going to make a brigade of Guards peers of the realm? Remember what is the alternative to that. If that is refused then the Prime Minister will claim 1780 a dissolution, and if he does not get a dissolution he will resign. He will go to the country not only against the House of Lords, but against the most popular man in England, its King, and will give the Tory party what they have always hitherto tried to annex, but will now have in its real sense, the cry so popular on British platforms, "The King and Constitution." [An HON. MEMBER: "They will say it."] They may, at any rate, be wicked enough to say it. Very well, and when is this next Budget to be produced? Let us assume that His Majesty the King accepts the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman. Nobody would regret it more than I. The Tory party come in. Will they respect in the next Budget the quasi-pledges which are supposed to have been given after the Irish have deliberately rivetted the dog-collar of taxation around their necks in the present Budget and voted for it? We then appeal to the Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer and say: "Our country is overtaxed; relieve us of the Stamp Duties, relieve us of the Death Duties." What will the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Worcestershire say if he is in office? He will say: "Why did you not say that to Lloyd-George?" Let us take another case. Suppose that there is a dissolution of Parliament, and instead of a temporary Budget being knocked together, rigged up as a sort of jury-mast, before this Parliament is dissolved, the Tory party gain a majority at the next General Election. What sort of a Budget will we have then. Is our country and its chances in regard to this important matter of finance, which is at the root of the whole question of Home Rule—are we to put up our country to auction, and support instead of protesting against over-taxation, and depend upon some political Monte Carlo? That to-night, after all his brave words, is the position which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford is assuming. He is going to back the double event. Remember, he must win both in order to get a place. He must either have his 500 peers, or if there is to be a resignation and dissolution, the Liberal party must come back with a majority of 150. I put it to any sensible Irishman, is it wise, is it common-sense, to reject the proposal which my learned Friend the Member for Cork made, namely, that he and we—that is to say, all sections of Irish Nationalists—should unite to make upon the Government the reasonable demand it is not only in our power to make, but 1781 which we had it in our power to carry? That is our trial. That is the trial of the Member for Cork and myself. We tried to get a bargain. We told the Government that if we did not we would vote against them. We are going to vote against them. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford tried to make a bargain. He said, "If the right hon. Gentleman did not carry out his bargain he would vote against that Government," and he is going to vote for them. That is the difference between these two situations. Having put that point, I only wish to say one other word. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork all his life has taken up the line of a settlement of the Irish land question. I think if ever there was a time when a man was entitled to ask that some of the £600,000 per year should be made up to the Irish taxpayer, it was at a time when a Budget was being proposed that laid a burden, as we say, of two millions of money upon the shoulders of our taxpayers.
We may be wrong. The Budget will have to work before it is known who is right or who is wrong. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, assumed a £2,000,000 return from his whisky taxation —but he did not get it. He has no reason to be ashamed of that. In the same way I may be wrong in assuming a total increase for the Irish taxpayer of £2,000,000. Let us suppose it was only £1,000,000. Was it not a most natural thing that the Member for Cork should say, "You are putting £2,000,000 of taxation upon us; give us some quid pro quo in the shape of the restoration of the Wyndham Act "? I can conceive—and this is the one thing I shall say upon the subject—I do not intend to refer to any private conversation I had with any Member of the Government—but I will say this: I think it was a sorry reward for the Member for Cork, when he was willing to forego his strong opinions in regard to this Budget and enter upon some system of adjustment in relation to it, that when all that detail and all those negotiations had been bruited abroad, first by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, second by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division, third by the hon. Member for East Mayo and by their organs in Ireland, that the only man for whom the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had one word of condemnation, and that word a very strong word—his phrase being "a breach I of faith"—the only man for whom he had 1782 a word of condemnation was my hon. Friend the Member for Cork City, who throughout had been made a victim of a breach of confidence by those who are in some sort of relation with the right hon. Gentleman. I think it was a poor reward at any rate for his efforts. Beyond that I do not intend to make any further allusion to the subject. My hon. Friend commands my entire sympathy and support in the action he has taken and in the policy he has pursued. Certainly when this matter comes to be fought in Ireland, where it will be fought out and where we shall have a more fitting arena of conflict, and where we will not have impatient Liberals wondering at the tediousness of either the Liverpool speech, or the Gresham Hotel speech, or the Tipperary speech, or the Athlone speech, because they enjoy that reputation; when we get before our own people at the next General Election, and show our people that the one result that they have got out of this whole Parliament, upon which so many hopes have been built, is an Act to lay further taxation upon Ireland after every Irish Member had protested against it, after a national Convention had solemnly proclaimed the injustice of allowing one single farthing of additional taxation to be placed upon our shoulders, when we have that upon one side, and upon the other the will-o'-the-wisp of the Veto, of the 500 shadowy peers, and of a possible scheme of Home Rule, which would weigh down the farmers of the country with a load of debt and a load of taxation, making their whole lives miserable in order that a few puppets should posture in a so-called Parliament in Dublin, the English Government getting the oyster and the Irish the shell, then, when that event arrives, I have little doubt our countrymen will have no difficulty in deciding which was the sham and which was the reality.
§ Mr. G. N. BARNES
I rise on behalf of the Labour party to say a few words in regard to the proposals now before the House. I need scarcely say I shall not enter into the quarrel on either side between the different sections from Ireland. I wish to say a few words with regard to the speech we heard earlier from the Leader of the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman in his speeches de livered in this House is generally entertaining, generally fair and pleasant. As a rule he also has some fire and vim in his speeches. I noticed that there was but little fire in the speech of the right 1783 hon. Gentleman this afternoon, nor was I surprised at the chastened mood in which he spoke, because it seems to me he must now recognise that the game is up. He must now know that the hopes that he and his Friends entertained as to the defeat of the Budget by Irish votes have vanished into thin air, and he also knows that the illusions held by many on his side of the House as to having long continued arguments in regard to the details of the Budget are going to be denied them. He put in some little plea against the Budget being taken in a summary manner, but so far as I could gather the only argument he adduced in favour of his position was that the Budget had not been taken earlier in the Session. He seemed to think that the Budget having been deferred for two months was some reason or argument and justification for allowing him and his Friends to discuss it in detail, whereas if it had been taken two months ago he would not have made any such demand. I see no difference between the introduction of the Budget now and its introduction two months ago. I am glad, now that the Veto Resolutions have passed through this House, that the ground is clear for the Budget, and in that fact it seems to me is removed the last shred of justification for the action of the House of Lords. I am glad to believe that the Irish party, or at all events the larger Nationalist party from Ireland, led by the hon. Member for Waterford, are, as I believe, about to vote for the Budget on its merits. They never said they were against the Budget.
§ Mr. BARNES
Certainly not, but that was explained by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. He said that he and his party never voted for the Third Reading of the Budget during the whole twenty-eight years of his experience, so that that decision shows that they were only doing what they have done for years. They did not vote for the Third Reading because, as I understand it, that has been the settled policy of the party. They did not vote against the Third Reading, but 1784 that was not because they were against the Budget on its merits. The position, so far as I can gather, was that they could not vote for the Budget until they were satisfied some satisfactory arrangement was arrived at in regard to the powers of the House of Lords.. They wanted the Budget used as a weapon against the House of Lords. I therefore can see no inconsistency in the position of the Irish Members, and I am glad they are going to vote for the Budget, and I am glad that by their vote there is removed the possibility which at one time seemed probable of a rupture between the Irish party and those who sit upon this side of the House with whom I am associated.
We cannot help remembering that the Irish party have always voted in favour of social and industrial reform in this country. I remember on one occasion, before I came into this House, that the Irish party travelled over specially from Ireland to vote for a measure which was a vital concern to the textile workers in Scotland and in England. They have voted in favour of these measures and of every measure of vital interest to the workers in this country. We on our side have generally stood beside them in their fight for freedom and against landlordism and monopoly, and therefore I rejoice in the knowledge that the road has now been cleared for the Irish party to vote for the Budget, and that that carries with it the continued co-operation and good-will in the future as it existed in the past.
We are going to vote for the Motion now before the House for reasons which have already been given more than once. We are going to vote for this Motion because it gives effect to the demands which we have made1, and which was made by myself on behalf of my colleagues on the second day of the Session, that the Budget should be regarded as the Budget of last year, and not of this year. We also demanded that the ordinary rules of procedure should on this occasion be, abrogated—that there should be some summary method of dealing with this Budget. We are, therefore, quite consistent in voting for the Motion now before the House.
There are one or two more considerations I want to put before this House. For my part, I should have voted for this Motion if it had been a good deal more drastic in its character. There has never been the slightest dubiety as to our position, because we have always put it forward fairly 1785 and squarely. I should have voted for this Motion if it had proposed to take the Budget holus bolus at one stage instead of dividing it into four parts, because it seems to me the Budget was amply discussed last year, and all that remains to be discussed now are the Amendments or alterations introduced by the Government as the result of discussion with certain sections of the House interested in particular matters. Nevertheless, the Labour party are going to vote for this Resolution, although it only allows five days' discussion, and we are justified in that course because I cherish the hope that, having regard to my own experience and observation last year, as a result of five days' discussion of the Budget, it is quite on the cards that some new Members of this House who have come here pledged to vote against the Budget may be disposed to alter their opinion.
We are glad that there is now an immediate prospect of the Budget passing through the House of Commons. Hon. Members belonging to the Labour party, and a great number of other hon. Members; sitting on this side of the House, attach immense importance to the Budget, because we believe it sets about social reform in a proper manner. It sets about social reform in such a way as to find the necessary supplies for carrying such measures into effect, placing the burdens on the backs of those best able to bear them. In carrying out those social reforms this Budget does not impose any fresh taxation or any further burdens, upon those people who are least able to bear them. The passing of this Budget will give us a better position when we go to the country, and I believe there are some hon. Members opposite who, when they come to see, as we saw last year, the unfailing courtesy and marvellous patience with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer defended his Budget and met all the criticisms passed upon it, they will view the Budget in a new and better light than they have hitherto seen it. Under these circumstances, the Budget will pass from us with kindlier feelings. I am glad that the Budget, as well as the Veto, is safe, and for that reason the Members of the Labour party will vote for this Motion, which we hope will be carried by an immense majority.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Barnes) has made the speech we expected him to make. He says he is going to vote for the Resolu- 1786 tion before the House. Has he or his party ever failed to vote for any Resolution which has for its object the restriction of Debate in this House? Whenever the Government have sought to make the guillotine more rigid or drastic, neither the hon. Member opposite nor any of his party have hesitated to support those proposals. The hon. Member for the Black-friars Division, in his earlier remarks, said there is no justification for the action of the House of Lords. I should think their action has been fully justified by the fact that the Budget, which was put forward as the primary measure of the Government in this Parliament, has not yet been passed through this House. A further justification for the action of the House of Lords is the fact that 110 Members who supported the Government in the last Parliament have been displaced by 110 hon. Members who now sit on this side of the House, who have been returned to oppose the Budget. I have no doubt, when the Division on the Budget takes place, it will be found that those 110 Members I have alluded to will vote against it, and I have no doubt, when the General Election takes place, as no doubt it will very soon, those 110 hon. Members will again be returned to this House.
In regard to the Motion which has been proposed by the Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman says there are no precedents, and that it is of a unique character; and he also says he does not believe it will be used on frequent occasions. In the short experience I have had various Motions of this description have been brought forward, and on each occasion the Minister in charge has said he hopes such Motions will not be of frequent occurrence. I have had occasion in this House to often make a few observations with regard to the guillotine Resolutions and the closure. I believe this great accentuation of the action of the guillotine and the closure is going to prove one of the most dangerous things in connection with the efficiency of this House, because it increases in severity and in its drastic character with every Resolution brought forward by the Prime Minister. I hope hon. Members on both sides of this House will consider this question on its merits. The position of the Government is summed up in a few words: they have made up their minds exactly how a measure is to pass the House of Commons, and the attitude they adopt is simply to say to the House, "We will allow you to discuss this measure for a few hours, but whatever you say or do, or 1787 whatever Amendments you move, the measure is to be passed as we, the Executive, desire it to be passed." That is a very serious point of view. The position of a private Member is now much different to what it was a year ago, and the moving of these guillotine Resolutions is taking away all those rights which at one time belonged to the private Member. The Prime Minister told us there had been no wavering in regard to the action of the Government, but, in my opinion, there has been a very large amount of wavering. We understood from the Home Secretary that the Budget was going to be rammed through the House of Commons without the alteration of a single comma. It has not been brought forward yet, and if there is any truth in the statement that there has been no wavering, surely some grave considerations must have arisen to have made them alter their minds. What have those grave considerations been? They have been the action which hon. Members behind me were going to take with regard to the Budget. No doubt an immense amount of jubilation is going on now amongst the leaders of the Radical party in regard to the statement which has been made by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, and I have no doubt that statement has taken a great load off their minds, and the Prime Minister will go to bed a happier man than he rose this morning.
We understand there has been no bargains of any kind and that there has been no arrangements between the Government and the Irish party. I have always been of opinion that it would be a most advantageous thing to hon. Members of this House if there was a glossary of Ministerial expressions circulated with the votes, because the meaning of words in our present-day dictionaries have been strangely altered by the Government. Every member of the Government, no matter what subject he has referred to, has made a bid on every single occasion for the Irish vote. The Government have been endeavouring to titivate the appetite of the hon. Member for Waterford, and he has been caught by the bait held out to him. Whether the hon. and learned Member has had a further bargain or understanding as to what is going to be produced in the next Budget I do not know, because on this point the utterances of the Members of the Government mean nothing whatsoever. We have travelled over a very wide area to-day, but I 1788 consider that there has been a very obvious exhibition of tactics. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Salford, who usually speaks in defence of the rights of private Members, is not in his place. When we consider the attitude which the Nationalist Members have taken in regard to the Veto, I can only say that something beyond conviction on their part and beyond the duty they owe to their constituents has actuated them in the action they have taken to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We remember the Budget of last year. Hon. Gentlemen who represent Ireland, or represent a section of Ireland, voted against the Finance Bill on the Second Reading, and they refrained from voting on the Third Reading. What has happened between the months of November and April to make them come forward and support the Government in their attempt to pass the Budget through this House? I say it is an exhibition of tactics, and I believe it is being done on the understanding that the Irish Members are going to receive a quid pro quo later on. As the hon. and learned Member for North Louth told us, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford has cut a sorry figure in this Debate, and I entirely agree with him, but if the hon. and learned Member for Waterford has cut such a sorry figure surely the Members of the Government, with the Prime Minister at their head, have cut a sorrier figure than any hon. Members of this House have ever cut before.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
I rise to say that I am delighted that we find ourselves in a position to support the Motion before the House. I would not have intervened but for one statement made by the Noble Lord who has just addressed the House. He said that no less than 110 Members opposite have been returned for the definite purpose of opposing this Budget. It is surprising how many hon. Members opposite find themselves free to oppose the Budget now that the election is over. I hold in my hand an election address, one of two that was issued by my opponent. My opponent issued an election address at the beginning of the campaign, and he issued a final appeal at the close of the campaign, on the eve of the poll. Will hon. Gentlemen opposite permit me to tell them that in neither of these addresses was the word "Budget" ever mentioned?
§ Mr. A. HENDERSON
I will let hon. Members opposite know presently what it has to do with them. The opening paragraph was a misrepresentation of Socialism. There were three lines dealing with the reform of the House of Lords, but neither the question of the legislative nor of the financial Veto of the House of Lords was ever mentioned. The third paragraph dealt with Home Rule. And, as I have already said, from beginning to end of these election addresses the word "Budget" was never mentioned. I have just been asked what that has to do with hon. Members opposite. If my opponent had been in the House to-day, instead of myself, I suppose the Noble Lord would then have been able to tell the House that 111 Members, not 110, on the other side had been returned as opponents of the Budget. If hon. Members side-track the constituencies and deal with any other question than that which has been referred to them, namely, the Budget, they surely cannot come here and merely count the number of new Members on their side and state to the House that all those new Members have been returned to oppose the financial scheme of the Government. I venture to say they will have to have much sounder arguments than those advanced by the Noble Lord before they can influence the House as he has endeavoured to do.
Let us turn to this Motion. It is objected to, as all these Motions have been objected to during the seven years I have been in the House. When the positions were, reversed, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who now form the Government objected to the Leaders of hon. Gentlemen opposite bringing in these Motions, but I venture to say if ever there was an occasion when summary procedure was justified, this is the occasion. I go as far as my hon. Friend the Member for the Black-friars Division of Glasgow (Mr. Barnes) and say that if the Government had come forward to-day, as I wished they had, and had said this is last year's Budget, the Budget which has occupied the attention of this House for many months—some of us who went through the long days and many long nights know the demands it made upon our time and our physical energy—we discharged our duty towards this financial measure last year, and the circumstances are so exceptional that we feel it is our bounden duty to send it by one Resolution right away to another place, where it received the treatment that 1790 we strongly objected to, then every Member occupying a seat on these benches would have been prepared to give them their warm support. I have already said that the circumstances are entirely exceptional, and that, in my opinion, is a complete justification for the five days' Resolution which the Government are asking the House to consider.
I want to congratulate the Government on a point which has been questioned very much by the Noble Lord opposite. He seemed to be very much concerned by the tactics which the Government have used in trying to bring together the three sections of the House, or, at any rate, the two sections of the House which it is necessary should be united if this Budget is to be carried. It seems to me they would have been very much lacking in their duty if they had allowed any feelings of pride to have stood in the way of a clear and definite understanding in order that all sections of the House who in any way supported the Budget last year should be united in seeing it through all its stages on the present occasion. I have been long enough in this House to have had to take part in private negotiations with both parties. I do not forget, in the Session, I think, of 1905, when right hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible for introducing the Unemployed Workmen Bill, how that measure was received by certain hon. Members of their own party. I remember the negotiations that went on and the interviews that took place with the Members of the small group of independent Labour representatives, including myself, who were in that Parliament. Interviews were repeatedly held with the then Member, I think, for Central Leeds, or at least one of the Divisions of Leeds, the then President of the Board of Trade, and the then President of the Local Government Board. I think all the Members opposite will agree that it would be well-nigh impossible to carry on the work of this House unless such negotiations were occasionally entered into by responsible Members of the Government, and especially by heads of Departments. That, being so, why should we have all this fuss made to-day about the supposed negotiations?
§ Mr. A. HENDERSON
The hon. Member says it is a disgraceful bargain; that, of course, becomes a matter of opinion. 1791 Where is the disgraceful bargaining? The hon. and learned Member for Waterford Mr. John Redmond) has merely informed the House that he and his Friends are not prepared to play the game of their strongest opponents, but they are determined, in the interests of the people they represent, to give their support to the Resolution now before the House and to the other stages of the Budget, believing that that will ultimately prove most effective for the reforms that they themselves have been sent from Ireland to make an effort to secure. That being so, I do not know that the hon. Member for Liverpool has any right to characterise this as a disgraceful piece of bargaining. I again say that this position, as announced both by the Prime Minister and the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, gives me the greatest satisfaction, for, had any other position obtained, and had this Budget been lost instead of being secured, it seems to me that the Government, hon. Members for Ireland opposite, and ourselves, who went to our constituents and pledged ourselves that nothing should be wanting on our part to have this great financial scheme placed on the Statute Book, would have been unworthy of the confidence placed in us. We are only doing our duty in giving our whole-hearted support to the Government in the hope that this scheme will ultimately become law.
§ Captain JESSEL
The Noble Lord the Member for Maidstone protested on behalf of 110 Members on this side of the House against the Government summarily taking the time of the House for the discussion on the Budget, and the hon. Member for Barnard Castle attacked the Noble Lord for having stated that that number of hon. Members joined in the protest. In so attacking him the hon. Member brought forward an interesting document—an election address—that of his opponent—in which he told us there was no mention of the Budget. I am rather surprised at the attitude the hon. Member has taken up, in view of the extremely interesting Debate we had the other night, when the subject under discussion referred to a pledge-bound party and when a colleague of the hon. Member stood up and said he was greatly in favour of there not being a written Constitution, because, after all, the duty of the members of the Labour party was to support the objects of that party. It does seem, therefore, rather 1792 ridiculous for the hon. Member for Barnard Castle to complain of the omission of all reference to the Budget in his opponent's speech, when he must have known that, if his opponent had been elected to this House, he would certainly have been in full sympathy with the policy of the Leader of his own party. Surely it is not necessary for a member of any party to put the whole of his political faith into a particular election address. You must leave something to the undoubted intelligence of the electors.
§ Captain JESSEL
Surely some latitude of choice should be given to candidates who are fighting an election; surely they should be allowed to choose what they wish to put in their address without being dictated to by their political opponents. I was very much surprised at that part of the speech of the hon. Member in which he expressed pleasure at the Government having applied so drastic a measure as the guillotine to the Budget. He said he would have been more than pleased if it had been the old Budget which was brought forward and passed by the House of Commons last year. We do not know as a matter of fact whether the Budget we are now to be asked to pass is exactly the Budget of last year, but if there are to be any new principles introduced into it surely there is the less excuse for the Government to attempt to force the measure through in the way they are proposing to do, without giving an opportunity to the newly-elected Members to enunciate their views on the subject. We have heard a good deal, in the course of the Debate, as to whether or not there has been a bargain between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on the one hand, and the hon. and learned Member for Waterford on the other. I do not think that that need interest the House of Commons very much. The man in the street will be able to see for himself if there is any change in the situation. The great point is as to the Government policy itself. Whereas originally we were told that the Budget was going to be the first business, then we were told that a change had been made, and the Veto was to be taken first. Now, after all, after a further interchange of opinion, we again find that the Budget is to have first place. The plain man in the street will interpret these changes, and will be able to understand why they have been brought about. Of course the result 1793 of all this will be that we shall have a Budget, but whether it is going to be the old Budget or a new Budget we cannot say until we have seen the Bill.
One thing is very clear in my humble opinion, and that is a great difference in the procedure of this House—the too frequent introduction of the name of the Sovereign into our Debates. I very well remember when, some years ago, I came into this House I was sharply reproved for mentioning the fact that the Sovereign, when Prince of Wales, had voted for a particular Bill. But now we have the name of the Sovereign bandied across the floor of the House, and it is very much to be regretted that the party opposite has thought fit to bring in the Crown as a pawn in the political game at the behest of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. I am sure the country will very much regret this circumstance. I personally regret it very much. I blame the Government entirely for this extraordinary change. It is a great change which has come over the procedure of this House, and I believe feeling in the country will very deeply resent this innovation in our procedure. With Lord Castlereagh I protest from these benches that if a great change has taken place in the Budget an opportunity ought to be afforded us by the Government to express our views upon it.
§ Mr. GEORGE TOULMIN
The hon. Member who has just sat down has charged the Government with a change of front in respect of the order in which they have taken the Budget. I submit that the Government is in no respect subject to any taunt on the question of the change of front. They have always put in the forefront two questions—the question of the Budget and the question of the Veto. In many respects the question of the Veto is most important. We are also taunted with a bargain, notwithstanding the most absolute denial on the part of the Leader of this House that there is any bargain between the representatives of the two great democracies of Great Britain and Ireland. I repeat there is no bargain.
§ Mr. TOULMIN
Naturally there is an understanding between allies who are seeking the same object, and that is to restore to the House of Commons that which has been taken from it. There is an alliance to restore and elevate the powers of this House. I regret that the rather exciting 1794 incidents which have occurred this afternoon have led the House a little bit away from what I think is a very important question, and that is the effect of applying a guillotine Resolution to such a subject as the Budget. That is, of course, unexampled, and it is an extremely serious matter as diminishing the power of this House to examine carefully the incidence of every tax which is put on. There is only one excuse, and that is that it is an act of war, and it is really in defence of the rights of the House of Commons that it is taken. So far as the method which is adopted by the Resolution moved by the Prime Minister is concerned there has been, I think, no attack upon details, and I do not see how there very well could be. This Budget has been up to the House of Lords, and the method which is being pursued is very analagous to that which is adopted suppose a Bill comes back from that House, having previously gone through this House, and having received careful consideration in Committee and on Report. Looked at in that light I think, perhaps, this House, which on all occasions ought to be most jealous of any alteration in its procedure which would reduce its control in financial matters, may well support this procedure. Then the great bulk of the Members, I think, all the Members on this side of the House support this, because they think the Budget is a great and a good Act of itself, and so long as the money has to be raised, the methods of the Budget are good. No tax we hold is of itself good, but the money has been spent, and spent upon objects which have been approved by this House. The great tax which commends itself very greatly in my district, and which we should have regretted had political circumstances destroyed it, by the destruction of the Budget, is of course the Increment Tax—the Land Tax. This will remove a very great sense of injustice which has shown itself throughout the whole of the municipalities of England.
The change of front which was suggested by the hon. Member who has just sat down, relates to the order of business. That, in my opinion, as I have said, is no change of front. Why was the Budget not proceeded with instantly? The Opposition agree that up to the end of March it was necessary that that portion of the financial power of the House which remained to it, the chief and most important part that was at its command for Supply, must not be sacrificed in this great 1795 emergency, but that the preparations for the new year's grant of Supply must be undertaken, and the whole of the time of the House was taken for that purpose. After that a very large number of Members on this side of the House—not corruptly bargaining with the other side of the House—considered that it was advisable for the dignity and honour of this House that it should first take the Resolutions on the Veto. The Budget was, however, the very subject on which another place challenged this House, and it was necessary, in our opinion, that we should carry the controversy forward as far as possible, so far as this House was concerned, and it is in the natural and proper order of things that, having unfalteringly asserted the rights of this House, we should now proceed to the subject which is the origin of the controversy. As to the 110 new Members, about whom we have heard such appeals from the other side of the House, they must accept the fate of all beaten parties. They come into this House as a section—a valuable section, no doubt—of a minority, and they must accept defeat as part of that minority. I can quite understand that, coming in the full flush of victory from their constituencies, they are now beginning to recognise their proper position in this House, and they have seen disappear the last hope that they had of calling in the opinion of Ireland in order to defeat the opinion of Great Britain. They now see that the majority which exists in Great Britain is to have its way both in regard to the Resolutions which we have passed on the Veto and the Budget too. I heartily support the Resolution.
§ Mr. G. TERRELL
I venture to think that the position of the new Members in this House requires much more consideration than the hon. Gentleman opposite has given to it. We have discussed this Budget in our constituencies; we have condemned it up hill and down dale; we have also condemned the authors of it and the supporters of it, and I venture to say that our constituencies have sent us here with a mandate and with some message, and that message is to give to this House their opinion on the Budget and of its authors and supporters. I venture also to think that when this Budget is examined there is a great deal to be said which has not yet been said. The Prime Minister seemed to think that because six months had been given to its discussion everything that was 1796 possible to be said, either for or against it, had been said; but I venture entirely to disagree with him. I think there is a great deal more to be said against it. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is to be said?"] An hon. Member invites me to give him features of objection, and perhaps I may suggest a point or two where I may possibly criticise one of the least objectionable of the taxes, and that is the Income Tax; how it is levied and the unfair burden which it places on various classes of the people of the country. To limit my discussion, if necessary, to one small branch of this question, I ask how the Income Tax is levied and collected from public companies under Schedule D? There alone, I suggest, there is an enormous field for consideration whether this Budget does not really effect and damage the industries of the country. In answer to a question which I recently put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I received a reply as to the amount which was collected under Schedule D by way of Income Tax from public companies, and it appears that nearly a third of the total Income Tax comes not from the pockets of the landlords of the other House and of the occupiers, but from limited liability companies in this country. I had the opportunity of going into some of the figures.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Emmott)
The hon. Member, perhaps misled by interruptions from the other side of the House, is now entering into a discussion of the Budget. That hardly arises here except in so far as it bears upon the question of time allotted under the Resolution.
§ Mr. G. TERRELL
When the Prime Minister had stated that everything that could be said either for or against the Budget had been said, I thought it might be to some extent open to me to show by reference to concrete cases that there was still somthing more to be said, and that the time allotted for the consideration of the Budget was not sufficient for the purpose. I should like to refer to a simple case. I do not want to go over the old ground, but there is a ground of interest and importance, namely, the position of the ordinary trading company, which of itself requires a considerable amount of time and consideration. When we remember that the last Budget had six months of consideration given to it, and it is now proposed to give the new Members only six days, the time is very inadequate. I should like to show how very oppressive 1797 the taxes are, and in what a topsy-turvy way they are at present collected from trading companies. It is not really a party question at all. It is a question which affects all classes of the community who are in any way interested in trade. One finds that when this taxation is levied, and is based on what is called the three years' average in good years, the amount which is levied from these companies is exceedingly small, and in bad years it is exceedingly heavy.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member must not go into details of this kind. The only point which arises is the time which should be taken. The hon. Member may mention the point which he considers the time allowed does not give an adequate opportunity for discussing, but that is the only matter which arises now.
§ Mr. G. TERRELL
That is at least a branch which is worthy of some consideration, and there are other branches in connection with economy which might be obtained by adopting a much simpler system of collecting taxation. That is not unimportant, and we see from the Estimates which are submitted that there is a constant increase in the expenditure of the country and also an increase in those Departments which relate to the collection of the Income Tax and other revenues. They are matters which have scarcely received in the old Parliament the consideration which some of us might give to them in the new Parliament, and there are heaps of other instances to which one might refer. I suggest that the time proposed for the consideration of these matters is wholly insufficient.
§ Mr. C. A. McCURDY
I rise to call the attention of the Government to one small point on which I hope they will see their way to make a concession. The Motion says that on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill no Amendments will be in Order except Amendments on what may be shortly described as the additional matter which is being introduced by the Government. I wish the Government to consider, in order to meet the convenience of private Members, and perhaps even of themselves, whether they cannot allow the words "declaratory Amendments" to be added to those exceptions. I recognise as a new Member, who, of course, had no opportunity of discussing the last Budget, and who perhaps has a not unnatural desire to have an opportu- 1798 nity of discussing that Budget, that under the present circumstances any discussion with a view to any substantial amendment or alteration of the Budget would be from our point of view entirely improper. It is inequitable that any man shall take advantage of his own wrong, and I do not wish to take advantage of the wrong done to the House of Commons by another place, but for which wrong the Budget would not be here to-day to be discussed. Therefore I entirely assent to the Government policy of excluding from the consideration of this House any Amendments which involve any alteration of the Budget as passed by the last Parliament. But I need hardly explain that a declaratory Amendment, though an Amendment in name, is not an Amendment in fact. The object of a declaratory Amendment is, if there is a clause in the Budget which to Members of the House means one thing, and by those who have to construe it may be taken to mean another thing, to state beyond terms of argument what the intention of this House was. In the course of the abbreviated Debate which takes place upon this Budget it may transpire, in speeches from any quarter of the House, that there are clauses which may be held to bear a construction not intended by the Government or by any Member of the House, and if that be so surely the Government themselves would desire the right to put such a matter plain by introducing declaratory words even at the eleventh hour before the guillotine falls upon the Budget clauses. The Government have set the example of introducing declaratory Amendments, and I only ask that they will not exclude private Members from doing the same. The reason I ask it is because I believe in the case of one clause of the Budget a declaratory Amendment is vitally necessary unless grave injury is to be done to certain landowning and trading classes of the community if the Commissioners and the courts put upon that clause the construction which I, in my humble way, find is the only possible construction to put upon it. It is Clause 2, Sub-section (2), and further Sub-sections (a) and (b). That is the Clause which provides for the way in which Increment Duty is to be arrived at on the transfer or sale either of the fee simple or the leasehold interest of any land. I do not want to occupy the time of the House with any details, but I wish to state that in my judgment— and I think I will readily satisfy the House—there is great danger if that 1799 Clause is construed by the Commissioners as I think it must be, [...] will involve this, that the Increment Duty may be levied and payable upon transfers of land in cases where in the first place no increment value has in fact accrued, where there has been in fact no increase of value of any land, and where a transfer represents an actual loss to the vendor.
I will give one illustration out of several which I could take to show how that Clause could be applied. Take the case of a builder. I am bringing forward this because some of my own Constituents are builders, who have discussed with me the financial effect of this clause in the Budget. Take the case of a builder who purchases 100 acres at £100 per acre, and reckons that he is going to dispose of them in the next fourteen years. As a matter of arithmetic, he has to get £200 per acre for the land in sales extending over fourteen years if he is merely to get back his money, but if he sells at £50 per acre, that represents a substantial loss on the price at which it is possible to get rid of the land. On the construction of these words as they stand it seems to me that Increment Duty would be payable on each transaction which represents an actual loss. [OPPOSITION cheers,] Hon. Members opposite say so too. All I ask the Government is that, as regards this Clause, they will either make it clear by declaratory words that, notwithstanding the first portion of the Clause as it stands, no Increment Duty shall be payable in cases where no increment value has accrued, such to be determined by a valuation made under the Act, or that they shall allow an Amendment to the guillotine Resolutions now before the House in order to enable a declaratory Amendment of this kind to be presented, so that this question may be discussed, if time permits, before the guillotine falls on the Committee stage of the Budget.
I wish to say a word as to some of my remarks which seem to afford satisfaction to hon. Members opposite. I would like, speaking as a new Member, to make my position perfectly clear with regard to the principle of Clause 2, on which I desire a declaratory Amendment. For my part, I not only support the Increment Duty of 20 per cent, proposed in the Budget, but I agree with the view expressed by John Stuart Mill as regards increment values of the kind this Clause is intended to affect, 1800 namely, those increments which arise not by the labour or by the expenditure of the individual, but as the result of the labour and expenditure of the community. In my view an Increment Duty of not merely 20 per cent., but 100 per cent., would be justifiable and proper, both from the point of view of political economy and from the point of view of the social needs of the country at the present time.
§ Mr. ARKWRIGHT
I think the last two speeches to which we have listened have gone far to justify our attitude on these benches. I do not think our attitude is, or ought to be, an unreasonable one with regard to the discussion of the Budget, which we are ready to admit is, after all, the Budget of last year; but we do think that hon. Members are justified within certain limits of reason, which I am sure they would not strain unduly, in doing what the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. McCurdy) said it was his desire to do, namely, to make his position perfectly clear without going into details. We have an interesting position to deal with at the present time. There is one thing I am sure which we ought never to let beyond our grasp, and that is the principle which we have always held here, that one Parliament cannot bind its successor. I think, if you are going to cut down to the narrowest possible limits the opportunities for discussion by hon. Members, whether they sit on the Front Bench or as ordinary private Members, you are departing from and derogating from the principle that one Parliament cannot bind another. The hon. Member for Northampton proved to his own satisfaction, and I think to the satisfaction of hon. Members opposite, and certainly of hon. Members on this side, that, as one of 120 new Members, he is not only justified, but very well capable of standing up in this House and making definite points. His admirable speech goes far to bear out our contention on this side. The hon. Member for Bury (Mr. Toulmin) took a different line. The hon. Member for Northampton was consistent, but the hon. Member for Bury was, to my mind, somewhat inconsistent, because he, first of all, told us in bellicose sentences that this was an act of war. I should like to know if the Postmaster-General, whom I see present, accedes to that view. He told us that the limits to which the discussion was now condensed were an act of war. I should have thought, if they were an act 1801 of war, he would have stormed the trenches at once, and not have used the opportunity to point out in what respect his own particular constituents were benefited by this best of all possible Budgets. If the hon. Member was entitled to do that in this House on this occasion then there are 120 new Members who have never yet had the opportunity which he enjoyed all through those weary months and weeks and days of last year.
I submit that the last two speeches to which we have listened have gone far to justify us in the contention that without straining the rights of private Members or other Members of this House to any abnormal point, having had what we were told would be the first act of this Session postponed to this point—presumably it did not matter how long it was postponed— certainly I think we should have an opportunity of discussing the Budget more in detail than we shall have. I think that the Postmaster-General will probably have to investigate the question of the licensing portion of the Budget and say what is the position of a public-house which has changed hands before and after certain dates. If he remembers the discussion of last year he will know that without any obstruction from Members on this side, the main obstruction and difficulty really being the obscurity of the complex questions involved, he will see that he will probably have to ask the House to allow him to take time even now in these five days to settle and consider those important subjects. I would like to advert to a statement made by the hon. Member for Black-friars (Mr. Barnes). In the first two or three speeches which he made in this Parliament the view he took, presumably on behalf of the party which he so admirably leads, was that it was not competent, or ought not to be competent, to new Members of this House to discuss the old Budget reintroduced. He did not wish them to discuss it, and he did not wish them to vote. He told us to-night that he hoped a great many of them would now vote for the Budget after hearing it discussed in the House. That seems a topsyturvy and inverted view of what the hon. Gentleman said before.
One point made here to-night was that hon. Gentlemen were sent here to regard the Budget as an act of war and to press it through the House in five days. We have again, the hon. Member for Black-friars' statement that elections are not fought on particular issuer They are 1802 fought on all questions which happen to arise in constituencies at the time. I would remind him and other hon. Members who sit below the Gangway that even they who now say they were sent back here on a direct mandate for the House of Lords Veto Resolutions qualified their speeches in their constituencies, talking in the same breath, or rather under their breath, at the same time, of the reform of the Upper Chamber. Under these circumstances, without straining unduly the privileges of private Members, I do protest against what I believe to be a very rigid use of closure and guillotine, the use of an instrument which the Prime Minister himself said when in Opposition should only be used in times of extreme crisis and public emergencies. Plainly what was passing through his mind was not a thing—a constitutional crisis—which we can discuss in an empty House. Plainly it was not anything of that sort; it was a question of tearing the streets or something of that kind, or of fire, where this House had to act promptly, and when probably it would be an act of necessity. I think that what was plainly in his mind when in Opposition ought not to be absent from his mind when he is head of the Government, and that we ought to be allowed not an unreasonable latitude, but more latitude than five days, for the discussion of one of the most ponderous instruments that was ever introduced into the legislative machinery of this House. There are certainly new lights to be shed on it from experience and discussion; and there are many new Members in this House who in ray opinion are absolutely entitled to voice their opinions and the opinions of their constituents on the question in this House.
§ Mr. F. OGDEN
The hon. Member who spoke last repeated a statement, I think made by the Noble Lord below the Gangway (Lord Hugh Cecil) that there were 110 or 120 new Members in this House who had been returned for the purpose of opposing the Budget in this House which was rejected by the House of Lords. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle on that point read from a poster at the General Election certain statements, made in his address by an hon. Member, and pointed out that there was no mention whatever of the Budget or any of the financial proposals of the Budget in the whole of that address nor in the last letter which the hon. Gentleman addressed to his constituents. The hon. 1803 Member opposite got up and said, surely it was not going to be suggested by hon. Members on this side that their opponents would have dictated to them what was to be put into their election addresses. No one wants to impose any such necessity on hon. Members on the opposite side, but surely it is not competent for hon. Members at one and the same time deliberately to leave out of their addresses to their constituents any references to important questions, and then, having secured election by the careful omission of those subjects, to come to this House and declare that they represent the settled convictions of their constituents on that very point. There can be no doubt that the Noble Lord and the hon. Member who last addressed the House would have included that particular Member as an opponent of the Budget.
§ Mr. ARKWRIGHT
I think the hon. Member has slightly mistaken me. I have always taken the view of the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow that elections are not fought on any particular ground, but are fought on all the issues that are before the country. But, to my mind, it appears plainly that an hon. Member returned on this side is an opponent of the Budget.
§ Mr. OGDEN
All I can say is that there is no great force in an argument which bases itself on the number of persons who are sent to do something unless it can be shown that they have been elected on that particular issue. If hon. Members when they are before their constituents leave out of their addresses and speeches all reference to important matters of policy, all I can say is then it cannot reasonably be claimed that they have been elected as opponents of that particular policy. The hon. Member went on to complain, and I think he represented the view of all sections of the House, that the necessity has arisen to bring the Crown into political discussions. He said the time was when it was regarded as a very serious offence in the view of the House to mention the Crown in our political discussion. I quite admit that it is a deplorable thing when the Crown is introduced into the discussion of political questions on the floor of this House, but who is responsible? Surely not the Government, surely not Members on this side of the House. How does it come about that the Crown has been dragged into these political discussions? It must 1804 be remembered that it was not we who invaded the Constitution of this country, it was the other House who invaded and harmed the Constitution. It was an accepted part of our Constitution that the House had uncontrolled governance of the financial policy of the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] The Leader of the Opposition will be accepted as representing the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he used the word "uncontrolled."
§ Mr. OGDEN
All I say say is that apparently the doctrine of curvature is now having a wider application than was given to it by its author in this House a little while ago. At any rate, most people in the country and most Members of this House hold that the other House invaded the ancient Constitution of this country when they rejected the whole of the financial provisions for the year. Surely that is not a common occurrence—at any rate, I think it is an unprecedented event in the history of this country, and we must make some change in our legislative arrangements, and in the relations between the two Houses, All parties are now discussing, upon one point or another, the constitution of the other House, and it is agreed that the existing state of things cannot be maintained any longer. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] Surely that is not nonsense, for they are discussing the question of their constitution in the other House.
§ Mr. OGDEN
I will merely remark that the present state of things cannot continue, and that a great organic change must take place in the relations between the two Houses, and possibly in the constitution of the other House. The hon. Baronet will challenge this statement, that no solution of this problem satisfactory to us on these benches will be accepted by the other House. Any proposals of ours for rectifying what appears to us to be the injustice to which Members on this side of the House have been subjected for so long will be rejected by the other House.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member seems to be travelling very wide of the Resolution, which is for the application of the Closure.
§ Mr. OGDEN
I desired simply to follow the argument in respect of the introduction of the Crown into our discussions, but I leave that part of the subject in deference to your ruling, Sir. In my judgment the use of the guillotine is always an unpleasant necessity and never should be resorted to eave in extreme circumstances. If ever there was an occasion, however, on which it should be applied, it is when the provisions of a Budget, not relating to finances of this year at all, but relating to the finances of the year that has now elapsed, are under consideration. Ample opportunity was afforded for the discussion of these proposals last year. All Members of the House will agree that never were any proposals so thoroughly, so lengthily, and so adequately discussed. We have already heard that those Members who were in this House during the last Parliament discussed for six months, and under exceptionally difficult conditions, and without the intervention of any exceptional machinery for the curtailment of the Debate, the provisions of this Budget. We have heard to-day that there is no substantial alteration proposed to be made in the Budget, and that only alterations are to be effected which are rendered necessary by effluxion of time, or declaratory Resolutions to make clear points of the Budget which were not clear enough. These are the only alterations which are proposed, and, therefore, it may be said that this Budget is almost identical, and has already received full discussion during six months. I think it will be generally agreed that in the country also there has been an unprecedented amount of discussion of the Budget, extending to the remotest parts of the United Kingdom during the last six or eight months. Although I am one of the new Members for whom consideration may be asked, because of my having had inadequate time to discuss the proposals of the Budget in this House, I do not hesitate to say that I am not conscious of any sense of grievance in not having had a longer period. Every Member, whether an old or a new Member, has surely made up his mind with regard to the provisions of the Budget. And since there is to be no very great alteration, I think the necessity for any lengthy discussion is absolutely removed. In my own part of the 1806 country, and in my Constituency, it is said that the Budget has not only been adequately discussed but that the electors, and especially the working classes, are impatiently demanding that it shall be passed into law without further undue delay. I dare say the proposals contained in the Budget have aroused the passions of many in the community in one way or another. We know there is a minority in the House, and I admit there is a minority in the country, who are being moved to the deepest possible resentment against the Budget, and against the Chancellor of the Exchequer, its author. But while we acknowledge the extent and depth of the resistance offered we ought not to forget, the passionate support which the great majority of the electors of the United Kingdom have given to the Budget proposals. And I say without any hesitation that further delay in passing the Budget, any waste of time in dealing promptly and effectively with the financial proposals discussed last year, will be resented by the majority of the electors of the country. Enough time has been wasted over the discussion, and I am quite sure that if the Government had proposed to pass the Budget through all its stages at one sitting that proposal would have been supported by a large number. These guillotine proposals are not nearly so drastic as that. I think they still offer more than adequate time for the discussion of the various provisions of the Budget and because I think that the time is due, and overdue, when the Budget ought to be placed on the Statute Book I have great pleasure in supporting the Resolution.
§ Mr. DOUGLAS HALL
I rise with some diffidence to address the House for the first time. I think the Prime Minister himself would say that we new Members have a peculiar right to say something on this Budget. We were sent here with a mandate by our Constituencies, not necessarily to defeat the Budget but to amend it. It was admitted by the Prime Minister and by the Government that the Lords had a legal right to throw out the Budget, and therefore to refer it to the people, and the Prime Minister by dissolving Parliament admitted this right to refer it to the people. It seems to me he is not showing any great respect for the will of the people in trying to curb all debate on this subject. It is an admitted fact that one Parliament cannot bind another Parliament except by Statute or by Standing order. Do Members of the Government contend 1807 that they could pass a Licensing Bill or an Education Bill, and force it through the House without the alteration of a comma, simply because it was discussed in a previous Parliament? Do they consider they are bound by the acts of the Members of the Government in the late Parliament? If so, might I ask is the Irish Chief Secretary, for instance, bound not to bring in a Home Rule Bill because he desires and wished to bring in a National Council Bill as the proper solution of that difficulty? I think that that shows to what extent you can bring this form of guillotine and gag, and to what extent also the Resolutions that we were discussing last week could be applied if they ever become law. The present procedure seems to me to be even more drastic than that proposed in the Resolutions which have already been before the House. This procedure is proposed on a Bill which has been discussed only once by Members, some of whom have left this House for their country's good, while others have not had a chance of discussing it, and it is sought to be forced through by this House in only one Session instead of in three Sessions. I think that we might allow the dead to bury the dead and the dead Parliament to bury its stillborn child, and if we are to be in the position of a coroner's jury we might at any rate be allowed the privilege of a coroner's jury to inquire into the cause of the demise of this stillborn child.
As a new Member addressing the House for the first time, I know it is a work of supererogation to ask for that consideration which is always so freely given to a new Member. I, as a new Member, take this opportunity of entering my protest against the doctrine which was laid down by the Prime Minister that this Budget was the business of the last Parliament, and that consequently new Members had no right to have anything to say in the matter. This Budget, unlike ordinary Budgets which are buried in the bosom of the Chancellor of the Exchequer until the moment at which they are made public in this House, has been before the public for the last nine months or so in the course of its three previous editions. We are now to have the last edition, or to have it with some trifling Amendments, and I think I am perfectly justified in protesting that the country has shown its appreciation of this Budget by returning one hundred new Members, 1808 pledged to oppose it. The hon. Gentleman for Pudsey (Mr. Ogden) remarked that this Budget was not before the country in the election addresses of Members on this side, and that they avoided it as an unpleasant subject. We have always heard that the Budget was the last word in Free Trade finance, and the direct negation of that was Tariff Reform. I do not think there is a Member on this side who did not put Tariff Reform in his election address, and who did not discuss the relative merits of Tariff Reform and the Budget. The result of that was that a hundred Members were taken from the other side and put on this side of the House. That, I think, is an indication that those Members ought to be allowed to take part in an adequate discussion on this Question. It is not only a financial Bill in the ordinary sense which is to make provision for the financial needs of the year, but it is a measure which has far reaching results to be apprehended in the future. We have heard lately a great deal about democracy, and on the subject of the will of the people. I maintain that this procedure is not only the stifling of the will of the people, but the stifling of the voice of the people, and that to do so is nothing more or less than unmitigated tyranny.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
The Prime Minister, in moving the Resolution which is now before the House, based his defence of it mainly upon the statement which he made that this Budget which we are now asked to pass after five days' discussion is the identical Budget which we discussed for six months last Session. In the main I do not traverse that statement, but I should like to enter this single caveat which will be of some importance in the minds of those who remember our discussions of last year, and who remember the number of days we were occupied in discussing the declaratory Amendment to show that agricultural land was not taxed. It is very easy for the Front Bench, in an airy way, to declare that an Amendment is going to be introduced which will make it perfectly clear that agricultural land, and any increasing value on agricultural land, as such, will not be taxed. I should like to remind hon. Gentlemen opposite who were present last Session that exactly the same statement was made on frequent occasions, that the House accepted those statements in the first instance with credulity, and latterly with much less credulity as time went on, and that on each occasion when the words of the declaratory 1809 Amendment of which we have heard so much were introduced, and when they were examined by those on both sides of the House who understood the real position of agricultural land, they were proved not to exempt agricultural land at all. So far as that the words are not before us, and after the experience we had last Session, I must enter this caveat that we have merely been afforded a statement exactly parallel to the similar statements made last Session, and which proved to be without any foundation when the words came to be examined. I am not accusing the Government of bad faith; the framers of their Amendments may not have that exact ecquaintance with agricultural conditions which would enable them to see whether land would be hit or not. None of those Amendments have effected the purpose which they were stated to have. If the declaratory Amendment now promised by the Prime Minister, which is to exempt agricultural land from increment duty, requires the same amount of examination which the declaratory Amendments required last Session, the time given for discussing that proposal alone is ridiculously inadequate. I hope the Government will bear that in mind, and that the Amendment will be in a form which is absolutely unmistakable. That there is no Undeveloped Land Duty upon agricultural land is perfectly clearly set forth, as it is stated in Clause 17 that "Undeveloped Land Duty shall not be charged in respect of any land where the site value of the land docs not exceed £50 per acre." If the new Amendment is in words like that, it will not involve the same amount of discussion.
The Prime Minister made a second claim, which, I think, is of equal value with the first. He said that the Budget had been fairly considered in the country, and that the Budget which we are asked to pass under the Closure Resolution is the Budget which has been approved by the electors. I traverse that statement absolutely, and I have documentary evidence to make my case good. Here is a leaflet issued by the Budget League— leaflet No. 36. It was circulated broadcast throughout the country, in the majority, if not the whole, of the constituencies, to nearly every householder in the land, as a statement on behalf of the Radical party of what the Budget does. If I am able to show that the statements contained in that leaflet are absolutely untrue, I shall have made out a case for my contention that the Budget upon which 1810 the people voted is not the Budget which we are asked to pass under the Closure Resolution. Does anybody challenge that?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I have no doubt it was. It was circulated all over the country. No doubt the hon. Member will find that it was circulated in his constituency.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
As I have not yet told the hon. Member what the contents of the leaflet are, how does he know whether it was circulated in his constituency or not?
§ Mr. C. DUNCAN
I am simply challenging the statement that this particular leaflet was circulated in all Parliamentary constituencies.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I said that it was circulated broadcast throughout the country. I am only stating what is known to be the fact when I say that the Budget League was the official mouthpiece of the Liberal party to make their case for the Budget.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Are you going to repudiate the Budget League? Did the hon. Member repudiate it when he was before his constituents?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
No doubt the League did it for the hon. Member. Not only did the Budget League circulate literature, but I am afraid it also circulated candidates.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
If the hon. Member can prove that the Budget Protest League circulated statements which were contrary to fact I am sure he will have the respectful attention of the House while he lays his case before it. What we are here now to do is not to consider the case against the Budget, but the case for it. We are asked to pass a Closure Resolution to force the Budget through the House of Commons in five days. My case is that 1811 the only ground on which that action can be supported is the authority of the voters of the country, and that that authority had been obtained under false pretences. This leaflet is headed:—Not taxed by the Budget.and it says:—From the Land Taxes the following arc specially exempted.Is that accepted as a clear statement that the classes mentioned on the leaflet are not taxed by the Budget and are specially exempted from it? If they mean anything, that is what those words mean. I do not wish to press any statement for more than it is worth. The first class stated to be exempted are:—All agricultural landowners, including market gardeners, nurserymen, and holders of allotments.That has been a question of controversy. But if the statement is correct, why this Amendment in the new Budgets If these people are not taxed by the Budget, why this declaratory Amendment now to say that they are not taxed? To the next statement I attach a good deal of importance:—All landowners of any kind, urban or rural, with holdings of less than 50 acres of an average total value of less than £75 per acre.Can any hon. Member substantiate that statement? Not one. The statement is absolutely false. The fact is that there is an exemption of that character, but only of agricultural land, and only from Increment Value Duty. What makes it all the stronger is that the first statement "All agricultural landowners," is followed by "all landowners of any kind." That is absolutely untrue. Exemption is only for agricultural landowners, and in that case only from Increment Value Duty and not from the Undeveloped Land Duty. Many thousands of small owners of land have voted for the Budget believing that statement. What is next? I take them successively as they come. The next statement is, "That all small freeholders occupying the houses they own of the annual value up to £40 in London …" and so on. There again they are only exempt from Increment Value Duty. They are not exempt from Undeveloped Land Duty if they happen to have land which is not built upon, nor I believe generally from the Land Taxes. The next statement is "That all public parks, and other grounds where reasonable access is given to the public," are not to be taxed by the Budget, and are to be specially exempted from the Land 1812 Taxes. Will any hon. Gentleman opposite get up and substantiate that? They are only exempted from the Undeveloped Land Duty, and not from the Increment Value Duty at all. Nobody can deny that ! There again is another statement absolutely without foundation. The next statement is "All land held by charitable institutions, friendly societies, and all other societies registered by the Registrar of Friendly Societies." That is perhaps the most remarkable statement of all. Thousands and tens of thousands read that responsible statement, and believe that the property of friendly societies is not taxed by the Budget, and is specially exempted from the Land Taxes. What is the fact? Friendly societies only exempted from the Reversion Duty and Undeveloped Land Duty on property that they not only own but occupy—and that is to say, on friendly society leases and friendly society offices, and on no other form of their property. They are not exempted from either of these duties on any property in which their investments are placed. In regard to Increment Value Duty the case is even worse, because not only are they not exempted, but they will under normal circumstances pay a heavier duty than the ducal owner of the same property. That may surprise right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it is a fact. I can prove it. Take a ground rent worth £1,000 owned by a duke and by a friendly society. What is the exemption? The exemption is from the periodic duty only. There is no exemption whatever if that property is leased for building or sold.
What is the effect of that exemption from the periodic duty? The effect is that whereas the friendly society will pay once when the property is leased or sold, the ducal owner will pay in two pieces, once when a death occurs, and once when he leases or sells. Let us take that property worth £1,000, and let us suppose that at the end of ten years it has increased in value to £1,500. If it belongs to a friendly society the society will, at the end of that term, pay an Increment Value Duty at the rate of 20 per cent, on the £400—that is, the £500 increment, less 10 per cent, deduction. What will happen in the case of the ducal owner? A death occurs, say, when the property has increased in value to £1,200. The Increment Value Duty is then payable. Again £100 is deducted. The duty is paid on £100. Then, at the end of ten years the property is worth the £1,500 to which I have already referred, and another 10 per cent, is allowed—£130 1813 —and all the ducal owner will pay on is £170. So that the total result of this wonderful exemption, which is paraded here, is to tax those who ought to be especially exempt, while the ducal owner, who is supposed to be a special subject for the taxes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—in the common ordinary case —I have not gone into the wilds to find anything that is not ordinary—but in ground rents, which are a common form of investment, the ducal owner will pay 20 per cent, on £270, and the friendly society will pay 20 per cent, on £400. Hon. Members are told here officially by the Budget League that they are not taxed, that they are specially exempted, whereas they have a specially heavy tax placed upon them, heavier even than that placed upon the ordinary private owner of land.
We are told that, "All ground genuinely devoted to sports like cricket, football or golf, is exempt." As a matter of fact it is only from Undeveloped Land Duty, and from periodic duty when the land is owned by a corporation. What value that is I have never been able to understand, but there is the fact as the thing stands in the Bill. There is an impression abroad, and this leaflet was, I suppose, intended to justify it, that where the private owner of land allows his land to be used for cricket, football, or games for the public, that there will be exemption from these duties. It is not a fact unless the land is the property of a corporation. No private individual obtains any exemption from the periodic duty on land in process of development, or except land on which £100 per acre has been spent. Well, now, anybody who has developed land will spend at least £100 per acre on it. But there is the bald statement that such person is exempt from these taxes. The fact is that this exemption only applies within ten years of the expenditure of the money, and only if that money has been expended on a road and drains. A man may expend that £100 per-acre, and so long as he does not expend it on roads, if even he spends it a day over the ten years, he gets no exemption of any sort or description. Then I come to perhaps the most remarkable exemption of all, on all land which has suffered decrement. That is very remarkable. I do not quite see how credit can be gained for not charging Increment Value Duty upon land which has suffered decrement. What does that extraordinary statement mean, I wonder? Even the Budget League, I 1814 should have thought, would not suggest that it was necessary to tell people that where the value of their land had fallen they would not be charged duty on its having increased in value? What was it intended to mean? To lead people, I suppose, to think that where they had a decrement in regard to one part of their property they were going to get an allowance for it. Hon. Members who took part in the fight of last Session will well remember how that point was pressed upon the Government, and that they absolutely refused to give way. Everyone knows how ruinous that provision is, especially with regard to those who are known as speculative builders. Those who are engaged in land development feel that it is the greatest hardship of all, so far as they are concerned, that where they have a decrement in one part of the land that they have no offset whatever allowed in regard to increment in another part. If these words are intended to convey the impression to people that they should have such allowance I say that is deception. There is not a single word of truth in them, because everybody knows no such allowance is made. I have given cases from this very leaflet, which has been scattered broadcast throughout the country as grounds upon which this Budget has been recommended to the electors of this country, and these grounds are not founded upon the real facts of the case. After all we can only expect people to take the description and account of the facts of a measure from its author, and the Government must be held responsible. What is more, the electors will hold the Government responsible. What is going to be the position of the Government when all these persons who are told they are exempt from the taxes receive first of all valuation forms and afterwards demands for the taxes from which they were told they were exempt. What would be the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite then? But, quite apart from that, I hope somebody on the other side will get up and attempt to justify these statements. Surely the Government are going a long way to prove that they are doing a good deal that we and the country disapprove. Will the Government venture, in face of these facts, to ask the House to pass the Budget in the form in which it was discussed last Session. Surely we have a right to demand that these exemptions set out in this leaflet and upon which the decision of the country 1815 was given should be inserted in the Budget?
What is the position of the Government in regard to this matter and in regard to the people who have been deceived? What is their position in regard to the man who has voted for them under false pretences? Surely it is not legitimate to obtain votes under false pretences. There can be no question but that thousands of people voted for the Government because they believed the statement circulated in this leaflet and other literature of a similar character?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
There has been a good deal of work done no doubt in distributing this kind of literature, and I am afraid if this Budget passes it will not be a case of work for all but of work for very few. I want to confine myself to the one point—I do not want to take up any further point but that, because the Prime Minister founded his whole case for the Budget upon the statement that it had been approved in the country.
I claim to have made good the case that the Budget which we are now asked to pass is not the Budget which was laid before the country by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and therefore the Budget has not been approved by the country, and it is not only contrary to precedent but contrary to fairness and common-sense that this Budget should be forced through this House without discussion. Hon. Members who have been elected to this House against I the Budget, even in face of this statement, seem to me to occupy a very different position from hon. Gentlemen who have been elected on account of statements of that character. Our position is very much more strengthened in resisting the Budget than is the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite in supporting it. The first time I took part in discussion on the Budget, I said the whole position was epitomised in the very old fable "the wolf and the lamb." We are told that we fouled the water; it does not matter whether we prove that we are down stream or not. All those interested in the private ownership of land, however small that interest may be, stand in the way of socialistic prejudices fathered by the Government. They are to be penalised, no matter how false the statements made against them. 1816 All matters of logic and justice are of no avail so long as the Government can have their way in carrying their Budget through this House without discussion and under closure.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. Joseph Pease)
The hon. Gentleman opposite commenced his speech by being very relevant to the Resolution under discussion. He took exception to the amount of time that was to be devoted under this Resolution to the Amendments which have been introduced by the Government to the Budget of last Session, but he proceeded to dwell upon the items of the Budget itself; and he proceeded to attack a leaflet which had been issued apparently by the Budget League. I am not myself armed with the leaflets which were issued by the Budget Protest League. [An HON. MEMBER: "I wish you were."] I wish I was, because if there was any misrepresentation in this country, it was in agricultural constituencies during the last election. I represented an agricultural constituency in the last Parliament, and I was defeated for that constituency at the last election. I know pretty well what was the character of the literature which was issued and used on every Tory platform without exception. Statements were made that agricultural land was going to be taxed for Increment Duty. We entirely deny that. I give hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite credit for believing that the words in the Budget taxed agricultural land for Increment Duty. The Government believe that the words they put into the Budget exempt agricultural land from that duty. Our expert draughtsmen were of the opinion that these words satisfactorily covered agricultural land. During the course of the last six months we have come to the conclusion that it is better to alter these words so as to avoid any doubt whatsoever. We know very well what Gentlemen opposite stated in the late Session of Parliament. They claimed that their words were the only words that would exempt agricultural land. We thought their words were no better than ours and were equally open to objection. Six months has now intervened, and we propose by a declaratory Amendment to make it quite clear so that all doubt should be set aside. Hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen have no right to suggest that our Amendment is any alteration of the intention of the Budget. We are making this alteration in order to make the Budget absolutely 1817 fair, because hon. Gentlemen opposite and others have thrown doubt upon our proposal. We believe the words suggested by hon. Gentlemen opposite were not clear, and we thought at the time that our own words were absolutely clear. We are not altering the principle of our Bill, but we are altering those words by a declaratory proposal which we think it wise to insert in the Budget we are about to pass.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman opposite on his speech. He says the Government has agreed to insert a new definition of Increment Duty in the Finance Bill as presented to the new House of Commons. I do not understand his reasoning. He says this alteration is intended to make it absolutely clear that the Increment Duty does not apply to agricultural land, and almost in the same breath he complains of the gross misrepresentation which led some of my hon. Friends to tell the agricultural labourers that the Increment Duty did apply to agricultural land. Either that was absolutely clear in the last Budget or it was not. If it was, why stultify that provision by this redundancy in the new Budget? If, on the other hand, it was not, why charge my hon. Friends with improper electioneering tactics because they told the constituents that there was a want of clearness in a matter vitally affecting them?
I desire to discuss these Closure Resolutions on a somewhat broader basis. I confess that under normal circumstances I would have admitted readily that the proposal to apply some form of guillotine to this Budget was inevitable and proper, though I cannot help thinking that the new Members of the House on the figures have a right to claim to express their views at greater length than these Resolutions permit. I will give some figures. On the Third Reading Division on the Finance Bill in the last Parliament 523 Members voted, and there was a majority of 230 for the Budget. If the Division on the Third Reading of this Budget was confined to the same constituencies, that majority of 230 would decline to twenty-six. That might be considered some justification for a somewhat more protracted discussion than this Resolution permits. But there is a far more substantial ground in my judgment for opposing this Resolution, and it is the ground which I have put before this House on a former occasion, and which has never been met, and it is that by universal consent on a vote 1818 honestly given there is no majority for the Budget in this House of Commons. That is the real and fundamental argument against closuring the Debate on these proposals. I need not elaborate illustrations which have already been made so clear. The hon. Member for East Mayo, who never neglects to assist the Government on this or on any other question, said:—This was a good Budget for England but a bad one for Ireland.The hon. and learned Member for Water-ford spoke far more distinctly, and when he spoke at Liverpool on 20th March he said:—The Budget can be made, by concessions. tolerable to Ireland.''I do not think I am straining his language when I say that a direct and necessary inference from that is that unamended and unaltered the Budget is not tolerable in Ireland. But the hon. Member committed himself to a more explicit pronouncement in Dublin when he said:—If Home Rule is put on one title I will fight the Budget.That declaration was loudly cheered by all the Irish party. In view of these facts, am I exaggerating when I say that if the Irish party voted on these financial proposals on their merits they are opposed to the Budget, and they have been induced to give a vote to the Budget because they think they are advancing the prospects of Home Rule? The problem which has faced the Government during the last anxious month has been, How are we to reconcile a campaign against the Lords for suspending the Budget, with the indisputable fact that the constituencies have rejected the Budget? To this dilemma ever growing more acute, are attributable the turnings and twistings of the Front Bench. But before this House assents to the closure it is well to observe what tricks—I use the word avisedly—have been necessary. The Prime Minister has to-day told us that no bargain has been made with the Irish party. The right hon. Gentleman came down to the House on 21st February and announced that the Resolutions are to be embodied and carried through the House in a Bill in the course of the present Session. What was the view of the Leader of the Irish party at that time? He said that was a policy which Ireland cannot and will not uphold. There was not to be a Bill, and the junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil, in one of the few momentary glimpses of independence which the Labour party has shown in 1819 this Parliament, bucked up spirits to whisper to the Prime Minister that he might send up his Resolutions to the House of Lords instead of sending up the Bill founded on those Resolutions. The Prime Minister replied that the Government did not intend to take that course. The Leader of the Irish party makes another speech in which he repeats his instructions, and the Prime Minister took his orders, and on 1st March he came to the House of Commons and said he was not going to introduce a, Bill after all, but he was going to introduce the Resolutions and send them up to the House of Lords as he had been instructed to do by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil and the Leader of the Irish party.
The second declaration was that reform of the House of Lords was to be an integral part of the proposals of the Government. The Leader of the Irish party, having this time taken the measure of the Prime Minister, did not trouble himself to deal with this proposal, but turned one of his lieutenants on to him at Liverpool, and the hon. Member for the Scotland Division on 20th March said:—The Government are pottering, not aver the Veto hut over reform, which is a futile waste of time.The Prime Minister is always ready to accept a suggestion from a certain quarter, and he says he is quite determined not to make a bargain. We then find the Liberal League executing a further strategical movement to the rear, and the Foreign Secretary determines to acquiesce in what he calls the "damnation of the Liberal party." The Prime Minister said there was to be no approach to the Sovereign, but on that point he has completely misled the House of Commons, for he did not make that declaration until the Resolutions had been approved by the House of Commons. Then came this noble sentence:—It is the duty of Statesmen as long as possible, to keep the name of the Sovereign and the prerogative of the Crown outside the domain of parry politics.''The Prime Minister said to-night that he was not described as a statesman from these Benches when he made that statement. I have taken the opportunity since then of consulting some of the Press representatives, and I find, whether you take the Unionist or the Liberal Press, that that particular statement is described as having been received with loud Opposition cheers. "The Times" report, among other reports, gives that description of it, and I undertake to say that there is no 1820 Member who categorically throws his memory back to that Debate, who does not clearly recollect that that statement was received with stony silence on those benches opposite. The Prime Minister coins these high-sounding phrases in a very facile mint, and, in the light of after events, I may describe his oratory as a cross between that of Pitt and Pecksniff.It is the duty of Statesmen as long as possible to keep the name of the Sovereign and the prerogative of the Crown outside the domain or party politics."'The only possible epitaph one can suggest for a Prime Minister who could make that statement, and a few weeks afterwards replace it by the speech the Prime Minister made last Thursday, may be borrowed from the hackneyed couplet:—Here lies our Sovereign Lord the King, Whose word no man relies on—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order," and" Withdraw, withdraw."] Really was there one Member— [Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I would remind hon. Members who keep on calling out "Withdraw" that there is nothing to withdraw.
§ Mr. GEORGE FABER
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. When you have said there is nothing to withdraw, is it in order for hon. Gentlemen opposite—the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division (Mr. Markham) — to keep on crying, "Withdraw"?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division is out of order in continually calling out "Withdraw."
§ Mr. MARKHAM
On a point of Order. I wish to ask whether the hon. Member is in order in making a reflection on the honour of the Prime Minister?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has not violated the usual courtesies of Debate. He is perfectly entitled to compare two statements of the Prime Minister and to argue that, after the comparison of those statements, the word of the right hon. Gentleman cannot be relied upon. No unparliamentary expression has been used.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I confess that the resentment evidently felt on the other side of the House causes me not a little astonishment, as, during the first week of this Session, I heard the leaders of the Labour party and of the Irish party, as; 1821 well as one Member after another, declare that the Prime Minister had broken his pledge. The hon. Member for East Denbighshire got up and, amid the cheers of many of those who have been calling upon me to withdraw, complained of the ambiguity of language used by the Prime Minister which had misled his followers.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I did not say you said the Prime Minister had broken any pledge, but the hon. Gentleman complained—and it is in the recollection of the House—that the right hon. Gentleman, by the use of ambiguous language, had encouraged and led his supporters to fight the election on a false issue. The Liberal party, the Labour party, and the Irish party all complained that the Prime Minister had led them to fight the election on a false issue, and yet I, forsooth, have been asked to withdraw because I said his word was one which no man relied on—the words which you complained you could not rely on in the election campaign —and I repeat—Here lies our Sovereign Lord the King Whoso word no man relies on; Who never said a foolish thing, And never did a wise one.This was the moment in the controversy which was selected by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division for Liverpool to make a contribution to the position. He said at Liverpool:—Does it not strike yon as curious that when Parliament meets, instead of the Liberal lender being the spokesman of Liberal opinion, the Irish leader is the spokesman.I must say that Irish Gentlemen below the Gangway do not consider the feelings of the Prime Minister very much. They might have been content with taking his scalp without exhibiting it on provincial platforms. But let me proceed. In the meantime the Closure Resolutions became insistent, and it was soon very clear that there were two methods only by which the Cabinet, in support of its critical action, could procure a majority of the House of Commons. Those two ways were, in the first place, that the Government might make substantial concessions on the Budget, though, as we recollect, the Land Tax and the rest were all to be carried without the alteration of a comma. The second was that if they found it impossible to make any substantial concession on the Budget they could yield on the question of the 1822 guarantee, and I summarise the position accurately when I say that in the knowledge of the whole House there were two alternative ways, and two ways only, of securing the passage of the Budget and of these preliminary Resolutions. The first of these was to make substantial concessions in the Budget, which was to be carried without the alteration of a comma, and the second was that the Prime Minister should humiliate himself by eating every word he had stated as regards the duty of a Prime Minister. The first: course, that of yielding on the contents of the Budget, involved throwing over the Home Secretary, and the second course involved throwing over the Prime Minister, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, undefeated as ever, was quite willing to do either, and his first impulse and proposal was indisputably to yield upon the Budget, and to-night's Debate clearly proves that.
I do not desire to take part in the discussion which occurred between the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Lloyd-George), but if I might venture one observation I would say that I do not for a single moment believe that the hon. Member for Cork now or at any other time has stated on this question a single fact which he did not believe, and equally—I want to be perfectly fair—I do not for a moment suggest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has deliberately made any statement which he did not believe to be accurate, and I think that the whole of that passionate interlude which took place was between two conscientious Members of this House anxious to make correct statements to the House of circumstances as to which they had no clear recollection. As to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I would never impute deliberate inaccuracy to him. It is a fact that he is constitutionally incapable of stating any proportion of fact accurately. He passes his whole political life in "a little tailor's shop next door" kind of atmosphere. Whether he is referring to the matter in his next Limehouse speech or not, I do not know, but the point here is this. I do not enter into the controversy, but on the statement made by the hon. Member for Cork, the statement made by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), and on the statement made by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond), the Chancellor of the Ex- 1823 chequer expressed himself at least ready to consider the relief of Ireland from the new Spirit Duty, the brewery licences, the Stamp and Succession Duties, the new Land Tax, and from the general revaluation of land, and that proposal meant, in other words, that Ireland was to make England a present of the "people's Budget" in return for old age pensions. Has the House appreciated the statement on this point made by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, who said that:—Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Healy will accept the Budget if certain concessions are made. These concessions the Irish party and Mr. Redmond have been offered already.No bargain, but the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Redmond) has been offered the concessions to which I have just referred. [An HON. MEMBER: "Whom by?"] I should like that question answered. In the answer made in reply to a question by the Prime Minister there is no light on the very penetrating question which the, hon. Member has just asked. When the Prime Minister was asked he said:—'I have not heard of any promises or negotiations "with the Irish party.And yet not only have negotiations taken place, but everyone will unreservedly accept the statement of the hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). He is quite incapable of inaccuracy. It would be absurd to suggest, and no one would suggest, that he stated what he did, and did not believe it to be true. If I reject both that hypothesis and the hypothesis of his inaccuracy we know that the hon. Gentlemen have in fact been promised every one of these concessions. I repeat, who promised them? Who made that bargain? The Prime Minister had never been told that one of his subordinates had promised it. A definite promise is made by a subordinate to the Irish party and the Prime Minister is put in the humiliating position of saying that no bargain has been made, when we now know by that statement that a bargain has been made. There is an old saying that every nation has the Jews it deserves, and there is another equally true, that every Prime Minister has the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he deserves. It became clear, when those proposals were debated by somewhat cooler heads in the Cabinet than that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it was impossible to propose that you should destroy the House of Lords for rejecting a Budget 1824 which you could not pass through the House of Commons without recasting the whole of it in the interests of Ireland. It is too ludicrous to discuss a revolution to be carried on in that way, and certain Members of the Cabinet thought it was impossible also for the Leader of the Irish party to attack the House of Lords for placing these Amendments within his reach. Under those circumstances, as I read from outside the development of the Government attitude, it became clear that it was impossible to amend the Budget and at the same time carry on their appeal to the country to destroy the constitution of the House of Lords for taking the step which alone made those Amendments essential.
Therefore it became necessary for the Government to fall back on the only other alternative. Am I saying what is within the knowledge of everyone when I say that from the first days of this Parliament the Leader of the Irish party, with repeated and insolent publicity, had dictated this second alternative course to the Prima Minister? The Leader of the Irish party did not show much consideration for the Prime Minister. He said, go to the Sovereign with requests for guarantees to become operative in this Parliament. The Leader of the Irish party, to do him justice, has not varied from that demand which has been made repeatedly. The Prime Minister said he would not do this, and said it in the clearest and most explicit manner, until the measure had been through the House of Commons. The Prime Minister, as we thought at the time, had a view of the Constitutional Prerogative, which would not permit him to make statements of that kind, but he overlooked the Home Secretary, who began to play Lady Macbeth to his Thane of Cawdor. "Keep the name of the Sovereign outside party politics," says the Prime Minister. With firmer purpose, "Give me the dagger," says the Home Secretary. No more shameful speech was ever made by a Minister of the Crown than that in which the Home Secretary said, "The time has come for the Crown and the Commons, acting together, to override the Lords." It was an insolent appropriation of the name of the Sovereign to purely party purposes. Everyone knows that the Home Secretary did not mean that the Crown and the House of Commons were to act together. What he meant was that the time had come for the Crown and the Liberal party and the Labour party and the Irish party to act together and go against the House of 1825 Lords. That is an insolent appropriation of the name of the Sovereign for party purposes. It is analagous, physically, to the act of striking a woman. If the use of that name was authorised it was a grave indiscretion, stated in that form in the House. If it was not it was a piece of unparalleled political cowardice. The Home Secretary and everyone else knew that no answer could be made, and he traded on the knowledge that no answer could be made when he made that statement. It is hardly necessary to say to anyone who has followed the manœuvres of the Prime Minister that he at once obeyed the orders. He had become accustomed to it by that time, and he made Thursday's speech. I do not think that I do him injustice when I say that throughout, though the voice was the voice of Jacob, the hand was the hand of Esau. It is no offence to say so, for the Leader of the Irish party and the Members of the Irish party will not resent it. We know the views which the Irish party are proud to hold and boast of holding. The Leader of the Irish party has always treated me with great courtesy in this House, and he is a great observer of Parliamentary decorum. If this were a thing at which he would take offence I would hesitate to quote his words. This is what he said two years ago:—We tell Great Britain that we hate her rule as our forefathers did and that we are as much rebels toiler rule as our forefarhers were.I do not say that the Irish party are ashamed of it. On the contrary, my argument is that they declare themselves proud of it, and declare themselves rebels to the Constitution of this country.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Does the hon. and learned Member think that Lord Dun-raven was a rebel to the Constitution of this country?
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
That is not the point we are discussing. I am discussing the undisputed fact that hon. Members opposite are proud that they are rebels. I make no complaint of that so far as the Irish party are concerned. But what is the position of the Prime Minister from that point of view? The position of the Prime Minister is this. He goes to the Throne with menaces upon his lips which are dictated by admitted rebels. I ask this question. Do the Government really think that the country will stand this state of things? Do they really think they are going to conduct a successful election on threats so 1826 made and directed in such a quarter? I tell them the country has now realised after about two months' office on their part that there is no constitutional tradition, however, solemn, they will not break; that there is no pledge they will not violate, and that there is no dirt they will not eat to cover up the tracks of the failure of the Budget. They call themselves a Government. Whom do they govern? Not even their own followers. They do not govern anyone in this House but the Labour party. I make this prediction to those who represent the Government in this House tonight, that whether election comes soon or late they will pay to their country the penalty of their trickery and chicanery.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
The hon. Member who has just sat down has treated the House of Commons to a speech which any educated meeting in any industrial constituency in the North of England would have said was unworthy of wasting their time. But while the House of Commons is treated to this kind of squib speeches, researches through the dust-bin, the hon. Member fails altogether to bring his mind to bear on the fact that the party above all others that has been guilty of logrolling is the party of which he is so distinguished a Member. The hon. Member has said a great deal about the hon. and learned Member for Waterford; but I would like to point out this simple fact to him, that Great Britain sends to this House to-day a majority of sixty-three in favour of the Budget. The hon. Member shakes his head. You are quite willing to say that the Irish are rebels, but at the same time you are perfectly willing to take their votes whenever you think you can obtain them. But all this small talk is not what the country wants. At the last election Members on the other side of the House would talk about any single question except the Budget. In the industrial North hon. Members opposite talked on Tariff Reform, and the small agricultural holdings which they were going to give when they got back to office; but when it came to a question of speaking on the issue which the House of Lords said they were referring to the country, they took every possible means in their power to say nothing about it. The attitude of hon. Members became so ridiculous that meetings in the north were constantly broken up because the promoters of the meetings refused to speak when the audiences called for remarks on the Budget. Now, I want to say a word in reply to the hon. Member who read to the 1827 House some extracts from a Budget leaflet. I admit at once that the statements were not true. But I ask the hon. Member to carry his mind back to the election of 1900, and recall what happened. A majority of 140 Members was returned sitting on this side of the House on the ground, stated in leaflets, which were distributed through the country, that every vote given to a Liberal was a vote given to the enemy whom we were then fighting. I was a Pro-Boer, but I claim to be as good an Englishman as the hon. Member. The question which the House of Commons has now to decide as rapidly as possible before the verdict of the country is taken was the main issue on which the General Election was fought. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] From our standpoint that was so, and we fought the election on our platform, and not on that of hon. Members opposite. The issue before the country at the General Election was the Budget, and the statement which the Prime Minister has made to-day will give to his supporters in the House and to his supporters in the country the greatest possible satisfaction, because he has literally carried out what he said he would, with the exception of certain declaratory Resolutions, which the Law Officers of the Crown, who are better judges than the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelms-ford of what is the meaning of agricultural land state to be necessary. I am sure, also, that the draftsmen who carried out the intentions of the Government are equally as good authorities as hon. Members opposite. When the Law Officers of the Crown and when the Prime Minister, who is one of the most learned lawyers we have in this House, state what is required in respect of these declaratory Resolutions, then, I think, we on this side of the House should take as correct their opinion as to the point of law, and accept the Resolutions as being only intended to make clear certain points of the Budget.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I cannot but acknowledge what the hon. Member was kind enough to say of me, but there are one or two lessons which may be learned from his statement. He said no one will dispute that the election was fought on the Budget. That was a very interesting statement, but it is surprising that there should have been such a long interval between the beginning of this Parliament 1828 and the carrying out of that which was the great principle at the election, according to the hon. Member. But there is a more striking thing still than that, and it is that the hon. Member openly admits that the party of which he is a member has not a mandate to attack the House of Lords.
§ Mr. MARKHAM
I am sure the Noble Lord does not wish to misrepresent me. It was a natural corollary that when the Budget was defeated the question of the House of Lords followed.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
It follows, then, that whenever one part of the Constitution comes to a decision—whether this or the other House—by a large majority, then all the people who disagree with that part of the Constitution want it abolished. In that state of things, the Constitution would not last two Parliaments, for whichever part of the Constitution— either the House of Commons, or the Sovereign, or the House of Lords—transgresses the popular will, according to the hon. Member, it is to be at once abolished. If the election was fought on the Budget, least of all has the Prime Minister the right to say the sort of thing that he did last Thursday, and to proceed on a course utterly unparalleled and unprecedented in constitutional history, and to proceed to the creation of peers, which would destroy the Constitution, and for which he certainly hs no mandate whatever.
Let me ask what the Prime Minister meant when he said, and he repeated the words to-day, quoting from the proof of the hon. Members' own speech, that he deferred this to the last possible moment. Why was last Thursday the last possible moment? I would ask the Prime Minister himself if, with his habitual contempt of the House of Commons, he was not away? The present Leader of the Opposition was very severely attacked when he was not in his place, though he was more often so than the Prime Minister. I do not believe any Leader of the House has ever treated the House of Commons with such scandalous disrespect. He is never here; he is always away. As he is not here I must ask his colleagues, Why was it the last possible moment? One would place the last possible moment as that when the House of Lords had taken some action. I suggest it was the last possible moment because it was necessary to make that declaration in order to get the votes of hon. Members 1829 below the Gangway. That must have been the meaning of the expression "last possible moment." There is a certain class of speech which politicians often make, but which politicians never believe—that may be said to be orations to the "Horse Marines." I really think when we are told solemnly that there is no bargain, and that the Government did not make the declaration last Thursday with a view to getting the Irish vote—I think they had better address those observations to the Horse Marines. We find ourselves in a position full of instruction and full of peril; instruction because we know now how the Veto Resolutions will be used if they pass. This guillotine Resolution is a model which will be used whenever a Bill has been before Parliament and has to come up for further consideration. Except in financial Bills, there are no preliminary stages, so we know that there will be no Committee stage and that the Second and Third Readings will be speedily guillotined. This is the beginning of things, and this is how the guillotine is to be used to serve partisan purposes. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has found it possible to tear himself away from other business and to return to the House of Commons, which he leads. I was pointing out as he entered the House that the Resolution that he has moved is a model which will be acted on in the future. We know now how utterly unreal are the reconsiderations which this House will have on future legislative proposals, what form they will be, how closely truncated they will be by the guillotine, and, above all—and this is the real significance of the Resolution— devoid of a genuine Committee stage. If there is any stage in this House in which there is any measure of independence remaining to it it is not on the Second Reading or the Third Reading, but it is on the Committee stage. That stage is destroyed in this Resolution. We know, therefore, how it will be in future Bills. We see, in short, that the Government are going to step over all the powers of the Constitution and lay them all flat in order that the Liberal party may have its own way. They are to destroy the House of Commons. This Resolution is restricting Debates more and more closely, and bringing the process of free deliberation more and more into disuse. They are destroying the House of Lords avowedly and professedly, and by their own account they are going to bring, finally, into the controversy the Crown, which must in- 1830 evitably suffer from being moved from the position it has hitherto held. We have a right to say that the Government are leading the country into a revolutionary path and violating all the constitutional principles which their predecessors have followed. They are doing this in a House of Commons, elected, according to the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Markham), upon the Budget, of which in its heart and conscience, though not with its vote, it disapproves, and which has never been consulted in any ordinary proper manner upon these far-reaching constitutional issues which the Government, with an aggregation of violence, are heaping together to compass their purpose.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
moved to leave out "10.30" ["The proceedings on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill -… shall … be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m."] in order to insert "11."
I do not think anyone will deny that a whole day ought to be given to the Debate on the Second Reading.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
moved to add at the end of the paragraph beginning, "If the Resolutions to be proposed in Committee of Ways and Means," the words, "Provided that each Resolution set out in the First Appendix to this Order shall be put as a separate Question to the House." In connection with this paragraph, I think the Government are exceeding their duty, certainly with regard to new Members. They, at any rate, ought at least to have the opportunity of giving a Separate vote upon each tax. Since the Government say that the Budget as a whole is popular, it would be an admirable thing that, say, the Nationalists should give a vote upon each item, so that the country might know how the majority is made up. In these matters the grouping itself is of serious importance. The whole of the Land Taxes are put into one Resolution. The Income Tax Resolutions are put together, but many Members, though they may be convinced that an increase of the Income Tax is necessary, would desire to vote against the Super-tax, especially as it is not known whether the tax is to be taken from April last year or is to start only this year. There are many points on which we shall be entirely ignorant if we have to vote upon them as one Resolution. Then further down you find three put 1831 together, although they are really two separate subjects. And we are asked to pass these Resolutions entirely unconditionally. Even if they are presupposed to be in effect the same as in the last Finance Bill, I do think the Government might accord to the Members of the House, especially the new Members, the opportunity to vote separately for each tax and each Financial Resolution as it is put to the House. I beg to Move.
§ Mr. JOSEPH PEASE
I am afraid the Government cannot accept this Amendment for the reason stated by the Prime Minister at the commencement of the proceedings to-day. There are the Budget Resolutions and the Financial Resolutions, and in the event of the Opposition taking exception to every portion of the Budget—and I believe during the Committee and Report stages in the last Session the Opposition did take exception to almost every portion of the Budget— we might be kept walking through the Lobbies for upwards of six hours. Those who desire to make a brilliant Division record will no doubt look forward to that opportunity. Still, as sensible men, I think it must be realised, although it may be some hardship to new Members not to be able to express their own views on these Resolutions, yet that they will be able to record nine votes against the Budget on Wednesday at seven o'clock. This will be a fair opportunity to exhibit their views.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not suppose that my hon. Friend expected the Government to accept this Amendment, but I hope the House will realise what it is doing. There is no more clearly established rule of order in the House than that separate propositions must be put from the Chair separately. That rule is abrogated with so many others by the guillotine Resolution of the Government. Having regard to the whole tenor of the Resolution it seems to me of comparatively little consequence whether we vote on each Resolution separately, or whether we vote in blocks as the Government are pleased to arrange. The whole proceedings are a sham. They delude no one in this House. This House will have no opportunity of making any effective change in the Budget. That is the object 1832 of the majority. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] As they admit by their cheers. Their reason is quite plain. If the House had an effective opportunity of making a change it might desire to make a change, and that would not suit hon. Members. The whole proceedings are a sham. Everybody in this House knows they are a sham. The only hope of the Government is that they may deceive some people outside. I do not think that they will ever succeed in that. They get their Budget. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is not a sham !"] That, I think, is the biggest sham of all. The most effective way of exposing its hollowness is to allow it to come into operation. However, as I say, they will get their Budget. They have paid the price demanded. There is no bargain; Gentlemen upon both sides of the House are sensitive as to bargains, and the hon. and learned Member for Waterford repudiated the phrase with some indignation. He stated his terms, and the Government accepted them—not at once—they boggled for a long time, but they had to give in at last. They have got peace; they have lost honour. If the right hon. Gentleman retains office he retains it by the sacrifice of his duty as a Minister and his dignity as the head of the Government.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
moved, in the paragraph of the Resolution beginning "On the Committee stage of the Finance Bill," to leave out the words, "And of which notice has been given." ["No question shall be put by the Chairman except a question that an Amendment which is in Order, and of which notice has been given."]
This is an Amendment with which no one will quarrel and which the Government cannot refuse. We are to have the Second Reading of the Bill on Monday, and the Committee stage on Tuesday. No Amendment can be put down until Monday evening, and yet we are asked the next day to pass the Resolution containing the statement, "That no Question be put from the Chair except an Amendment which is in Order and of which notice has been given." If the Government puts down its own Amendment it is impossible for any one to move an Amendment to it because no notice could be given. Surely these words are in excess of what the Government intend.
§ Mr. JOSEPH PEASE
These words were put in probably against the interests of the Government. We thought it might be hard upon the House if the Government should try to move Amendments of which no notice had been given to the House, and therefore we inserted these words to avoid springing Amendments on the House. In the event of an Amendment being germane but for these words the Government could accept them. It is rather in the interest of the House itself than the Government that this Amendment should not be accepted.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I do not quite see the point of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. As I understand, lie says these words in the Resolution were put in in order to prevent the Government rushing Amendments without notice. That might be done by the exercise of a little self-
§ control on the part of the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has only to restrain his ardour and nothing would be done. How a private Member is going to be benefited by not being allowed to put down an Amendment I do not quite understand. There may be a reason.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made in paragraph beginning [" For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed under this Order"] leave out the words "and of which notice has been given."
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 345; Noes, 252.1837
|Division No. 41.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m.|
|Abraham, William||Clynes, J. R.||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Grenfell, Cecil Alfred|
|Adkins, W. Ryland||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Griffith, Ellis J. (Anglesey)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Guest, Capt. Hon. F. E.|
|Agnew, George William||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gulland, John W.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Alden, Percy||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hackett, J.|
|Allen, Charles P.||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Anderson, A.||Cowan, W. H.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Armitage, R.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hancock, J. G.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Crosfield, A. H.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Crossley, Sir William J.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Cullinan, J.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury E.)||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Harvey, T. E (Leeds, W.)|
|Barclay, Sir T.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Barlow, Sir John E.||Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||Harwood, George|
|Barnes, G. N.||Dawes, J. A.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Delany, William||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Devlin, Joseph||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Barton, A. W.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Hayward, Evan|
|Beale, William Phipson||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hazleton, Richard|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Dillon, John||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Donelan, Captain A.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Bontham, G. J.||Doris, W.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Duffy, William J.||Henry Charles S.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor|
|Black, Arthur W.||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Boland, John Pius||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hindle, F. G.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Edwards, Enoch||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Elverston, H.||Hodge, John|
|Brace, William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Hogan, Michael|
|Brady, P. J.||Falconer, J||Hooper, A. G.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Farrell, James Patrick||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Fenwick, Charles||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Ferens, T. R.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Hudson, Walter|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Ffrench, Peter||Hughes, S. L.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Field, William||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Bytes, William Pollard||France, G. A.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Furness, Sir Christopher||Johnson, W.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Gibbins, F. W.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Gibson, James P.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Gill, A. H.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Glanville, H. J.||Jowett, F. W.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Glover, Thomas||Joyce, Michael|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Goddard sir Daniel Ford||Keating, M.|
|Clough, William||Greenwood, G. G.||Kelly, Edward|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Grady, James||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Kettle, Thomas Michael||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||O'Malley, William||Stanley, Albert (Stiffs, N.W.)|
|Lambert, George||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Summers, James Woolley|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||O'Shee, James John||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||O'Sullivan, Eugene||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Leach, Charles||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Taylor, Theodcre C. (Radcliffe)|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pearce, William||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Lincoln, Ignatius T. T.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Thomas, D. A. (Cardiff)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Philipps, Col- Ivor (Southampton)||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Low, Sir F. A. (Norwich)||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Pembroke)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lundon, T.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Toulmin, George|
|Lynch, A. A.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Pointer, Joseph||Twist, Henry|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Verney, F. W.|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Powell, Patrick Joseph||Vivian, Henry|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wadsworth, J.|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Walters, John Tudor|
|Manfield, Harry||Pringle, William M. R.||Walton, Joseph|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Radford, G. H.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Marks, G. Croydon||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Martin, J.||Rainy, A. Rolland||Wardle, George J.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Raphael, Herbert Henry||Waring, Walter|
|Meagher, Michael||Rea, Walter Russell||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Reddy, M.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Redmond, William (Clare)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Middlebrook, William||Rees, J. D.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Millar, J. D.||Rendall, Athelstan||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Molloy, M.||Richards, Thomas||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Mond, Alfred Moritz||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Morgan, J Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Robinson, S.||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wiles, Thomas|
|Muldoon, John||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Munro, R.||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Williams, Aneurin (Plymouth)|
|Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Muspratt, M.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Rowntree, Arnold||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Nellson, Francis||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, Hon. G. G. Hull, W.)|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Samuel, J. (Stockton)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilson, T. f. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Nussey, Sir Willans||Schwann, Sir C. E.||W'lson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Winfrey, Richard|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.||Wing, Thomas|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Shackleton, David James||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Shaw, Sir C. E.||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Sheeny, David||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|O'Dowd, John||Shortt, Edward||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master|
|Ogden, Fred||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Burgoyne. A. H.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Butcher, J. G. (York)|
|Arbuthnot, Gerald A.||Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Butcher, S. Henry (Cambridge Univ.)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Calley, Colonel T. C. P.|
|Attenborough, W. A.||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.|
|Baget, Captain J.||Beresford, Lord C.||Carlile, E. Hildred|
|Baird, J. L.||Bird, Alfred||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Boyle. W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Balcarres, Lord||Boynton, J.||Cator, John|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Brackenbury, Henry Langton||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Brassey, H. L. C. (Northants, N.)||Cave, George|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Brassey, Capt. R. (Banbury)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Brotherton, E. A.||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.|
|Barnston, H.||Brunskill, G. F.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Wore'r.)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Bull, Sir William James||Chambers, J.|
|Bathurat, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Hill, Sir Clement||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Coates, Major E. F.||Hills, J. W.||Peel, Capt. R. P. (Woodbridge)|
|Colelax, H. A.||Hoare, S. J. G.||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Cooper, R. A. (Walsall)||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pretyman. E. G.|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Home, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Proby, Col. Douglas James|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Homer, A. L.||Quilter, William Eley C.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Rankin, Sir James|
|Crean, Eugene||Hunt, Rowland||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Croft, H. P.||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Jackson, Sir J. (Devonport)||Rawson, Colonel R. H.|
|Dalziel, D. (Brixton)||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)||Rice, Hon. Walter F.|
|Dixon, C. H.||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Ridley, Samuel Forde|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Kerr-Smiley, Peter||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Kerry, Earl of||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Duke, H. E.||Keswick, William||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Duncannon, Viscount||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Royds, Edmund|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Rutherford, Watson|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Knott, James||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Fade, B. G.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Fell, Arthur||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Fisher, W. Hayes||Lee, Arthur H.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. M. (Bootie)|
|Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Lewisham, Viscount||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Llewelyn, Major Venables||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Lloyd, G. A.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Forster, Henry William||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stanier, Seville|
|Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Foster, J. K. (Coventry)||Lonsdale. John Brownlee||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Starkey, John R.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droftwich)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Gibbs, G. A.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Stewart, Gershom (Ches., Wirral)|
|Gilhooly, James||Mackirder, H. J.||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkcudbright)|
|Gilmour, Captain J.||Macmaster, Donald||Storey, Samuel|
|Goldman, C. S.||M'Arthur, Charles||Strauss, A.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Sykes, Alan John|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt||Magnus, Sir Philip||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Gordon, J.||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mason, James F.||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Grant, J. A.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Greene, W. R.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Gretton, John||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Gulney, P.||Mitchell, William Foot||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Moore, William||Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Morpeth, Viscount||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent. Mid.)|
|Haddock, George B.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mount, William Arthur||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Newdegate, F. A.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hamersley, A. St. George||Newman, John R. P.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Harris, F. L. (Stepney)||Meld, Herbert||Winterton, Earl|
|Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||O'Brien, William (Cork, N.E.)||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Mealy, Maurice (Cork, N.E.)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Heath, Col. A. H.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Paget, Almeric Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A.|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.|
Question put, and agreed to.