§ (1) On and after the appointed day there shall be in Ireland an Irish Parliament consisting of His Majesty the King, and two Houses, namely, the Irish Senate and the Irish House of Commons.
§ (2) Notwithstanding the establishment of the Irish Parliament or anything contained in this Act, the supreme power and authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall remain unaffected and un-diminished over all persons, matters, and things within His Majesty's Dominions.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Augustine's, Kent (Mr. R. M'Neill), and the Noble Lord the Member for Perthshire (Marquess of Tullibardine) propose to postpone Clause 1. It appears to me that in this Bill to postpone-Clause 1 leaves a tail without a head. It is impossible to go on with a discussion as to the powers of the body without knowing what the body is. Therefore, I do not think I can take that Motion.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
On a point of Order. May I ask you whether there is any precedent whatever for your ruling this Amendment out of order? It is entirely a new ruling on the Committee stage of a Bill.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
May I inquire whether on the Home Rule Bill of 1893 an exactly similar Motion was not moved and ruled in order by your predecessor?
§ The CHAIRMAN
In reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman, that was the case. In reply to the Noble Lord, the practice of the House has altered since 1893. He asked me for a precedent for the course I propose to adopt: I say there is one. On 10th July, 1899, the hon. Gentleman who is now Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, rose to propose the postponement of the first Clause of a Bill, and Mr. Speaker, who was then Chairman of Ways and Means, declined to accept the Motion on the ground that it was not competent to postpone the effective Clause of a Bill for the subordinate Clauses. It appears to me that that precedent exactly governs the present case.
§ Sir E. CARSON
May I ask, as you have stated it, if you are right in so stating that this same Amendment was allowed on the Bill in 1893, and under exactly similar conditions; have you heard Mr. Speaker rule that he was bound by the ruling of his predecessor when the case was on all fours to that of the Bill of 1893?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I heard that ruling, and I am following the decision of Mr. Speaker himself when he occupied this chair as Chairman of Committees.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
You say that you cannot separate the head from the rest of the body. The real question is what particular body are we going to put the head upon. That is the point I want to raise.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
May I ask that your ruling may be recorded at the Table in view of a Motion to disagree?
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
As the first Amendment stands in my name, I submit, with great respect, that this is not a question of postponing an effective Clause only pending the decision on a subordinate Clause. The question here is really this, if the Committee passes the first Clause it commits itself to the constitution of the Parliament in Ireland consisting of two Houses, one of which is to 746 be the Senate, and the point I wish to raise on the question of postponing the Clause is that we should postpone the consideration of that Clause until the Committee has had an opportunity of considering and deciding whether or not there is to be a Second Chamber at all, and if you would allow me to present the case for my proposition—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member's Amendment would put what is first off to the end. It postpones Clause 1 to the end of the Bill.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
With great respect, may I point out to you that this is exactly the same point as was taken in 1893. In 1893 the proposition was that the first Clause, which also was an effective one in the way of shaping the Irish Parliament, should be postponed until after the consideration of a later Clause—Clause 9—dealing with the representation of Ireland in this House, and the point that it was out of order was raised by an hon. Member below the Gangway, I think one of the hon. Members for Cork, and the Speaker held it was in order for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who moved the postponement of the Clause, not only to move his postponement, but actually to go into the merits of the question of the representation of Ireland in this House under that Clause, in order to show that the first Clause establishing an Irish Parliament could not rightly and properly be discussed until some decision had been come to upon that point, and in order to elicit from the Government a statement of their intentions with regard to the representation of Ireland in this House. What I desired to submit is precisely a similar case. My object is to elicit from the Government a statement of their intentions with regard to the Second Chamber whether or not they intend to adhere to Clause 8, or to give way to criticism on their own side directed against the establishment of a Second Chamber in Ireland.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have to consider all the facts, and I have given my decision. The next Amendment standing on the Paper in the names of the hon. Members for Sheffield (Mr. James Hope), for Croydon (Mr. Malcolm), York (Mr. Butcher), and Gravesend (Sir Gilbert Parker), raises the question of time and conditions for the operation of the Bill. Some of them are outside the scope of the Bill, which will be observed from the ruling of Mr. Speaker. 747 In so far as they deal with the question of time, they must be raised on later Clauses of the Bill, where the question of time is dealt with—that is, Clauses 42 and 46.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
May I very respectfully ask you how this ruling which Mr. Speaker has just laid down from the Chair, based entirely upon the precedent of 1893, binds you? As I understand, you just ruled the precedent of 1893 had no binding force at all. I submit very respectfully, therefore, if that is so, you are not entirely to rely upon the precedent of 1893 any more. You must consider this matter entirely de novo, without reference to the precedent of 1893, and without reference to the ruling Mr. Speaker has just given. I do not wish in any way to comment upon your rule, or to remind you of the statement of Mr. Speaker that he did not know where he should be if he did not abide by the precedent of 1893.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Noble Lord misunderstood me. I was not ruling that this Amendment is beyond the scope of the Bill. The immediate point is this: that these Amendments deal with the time when the Bill comes into operation, and my ruling is that they cannot be moved at this stage.
On a point of Order. With regard to the matter of time—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear," and laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, but it is a most serious matter for us to know the foundations upon which we can discuss this Bill. You say from the Chair, Mr. Whitley, and I bow to your ruling, that this matter of postponement and suggestions to take a referendum, and so forth, which you call matters of time, must be raised in the proper place. Is it not possible that the Government may refuse to allow us to discuss the matter at a later stage when we reach those Clauses? Therefore I ask when will we have an opportunity of pinning down the Government to the trickery they practise?
§ Mr. MILDMAY
How can it be said, Mr. Whitley, that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sheffield is a time Amendment, when you consider the distinction between the position in 1893, when there was a constitutional method of ascertaining the wish of the people, and when there is no such method now?
§ Mr. MOORE
On the question of time, Mr. Whitley, I listened to your suggestion that it should be raised on Clause 42. May I point out respectfully that is a very different matter which is raised in Clause 42. Time is mentioned here in the opening words of Clause 1, "on and after the appointed day"; that is the day for the creation of the Irish Parliament. We cannot move an Amendment on Clause 42, postponing the creation of the Parliament because that Clause deals with transitory provisions and under that head we cannot move a time Amendment which deals with the fundamental provision, such as is dealt with in Clause 1. Therefore, I submit we cannot deal with it on Clause 42, which is concerned with transitory conditions.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
May I call attention to the fact that the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Sheffield is not an Amendment dealing with the matter of time, but an Amendment dealing with conditions. If you look at the words of the Amendment you will see it begins with the words "if and when," and the whole effect of that Amendment would be to enforce conditions under the operations of this Bill. That Amendment might well be carried and the Bill might still come into operation on the appointed day. It really does not necessarily impose any but a temporary check.
§ The CHAIRMAN
My point is we must decide what it is we propose to do before we decide "if and when," even upon an Irish Bill. The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Hunt) proposes to leave out Sub-section (1), which is equivalent to the rejection of the Clause, and it is therefore not in order.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
On what precedent Mr. Whitley, do you base your decision that it is impossible to move the omission of Sub-section (1)?
§ The CHAIRMAN
On a number of precedents. It is a Second Reading practically over again to move to leave out Subsection (1).
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Has it not been the habitual practice of this House to con- 749 sider Amendments of the greatest importance raising the whole question on the first Clause.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Not recently. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Baird) is covered by the same point.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I submit to you, Mr. Whitley, that here we have the point on which the Bill is to come into operation. I submit that the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby is just as much in order here as on Clause 46. Of course, if you were to rule that the question having been disposed of here, and that it could not again be raised on Clause 46, we should have nothing more to say, but I do submit that it is in order here and that we have a right to discuss it on the first occasion on which it can be raised.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
May I ask at what, stage of the Bill it will be possible to introduce this Amendment as to the time for the commencement of the Bill?
§ Mr. MOORE
On a point of Order. May I submit that Clause 46, which deals with the appointed day, deals with the first day for the first meeting of the Irish Parliament. This Section deals with the creation of an Irish Parliament which is an entirely different thing, because an Irish Parliament cannot meet on a certain day until it is created. I therefore submit that you cannot move an Amendment in regard to the day for the creation of an Irish Parliament on a Clause which deals with the first meeting.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
On a point of Order. The Bill provides that there shall be an Irish Parliament on and after the appointed day. Really, I submit to you, it must be in order for the Committee to decide whether they desire that to be the decision of the Bill. The question whether the Parliament is to come into being on an appointed day is a separate question. This Committee might decide that the appointed day is a matter provided for in Clause 46, but none the less that the Parliament should not come into being on the appointed day; that the House of Commons should be created, and so on; but that it should not have power until a later day, which is the appointed day. The two 750 questions are separate. What we are really now doing is to insert a particular day in this Clause. I submit very respectfully it may be within the control of this Committee to say upon this Clause whether or not the Parliament shall meet some other day.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Because I have already ruled we must first decide what it is we are going to do before we consider the time. I think the Committee will find it is for the convenience of all parties to do so.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Forgive me if I press this matter, because it is of some importance, governing not only the proceeding of this Committee, but future Committees. You say, Mr. Whitley, we are not to settle the time until we know what we are going to do at the time. That is a criticism of the drafting of the Bill. The Bill itself fixes that time as the first proposition, and therefore it is the first proposition that comes up for the consideration of this Committee. I hope hon. Members opposite will bear with me in making these statements. They will not always be in a majority, and they will some time desire the protection and guidance of the Chair, as we do now. I submit very respectfully we are dealing with the Bill as drafted, and the draughtsmen have chosen to deal with the question of time before the question of substance. Then the Committee should follow that course, and deal with the question of time before they come to the substance. May I remind the Committee that in the case of the Education Bill of 1906 the Bill began with very much the same words. There were a very large number of Amendments dealing with the appointed day, and they were all discussed and decided upon before we went on with the rest of the Bill. Under the ruling which you have just given, Mr. Chairman, we shall never be able to deal with these words "on and after the appointed day" in any Bill under any conceivable circumstances.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have given this point very careful consideration, and I 751 have concluded that my decision is the proper ruling to give on this point. The proper place to discuss it will be when we deal with Clause 46.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
In those words you have brought in an indeterminate point of time, and I would like to ask how can it be out of order to make that a determinate point of time.
§ The CHAIRMAN
In all these matters it is necessary for the Chair to consider the proper time when these questions can be raised, and I have decided that point.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "on and after the appointed day." I do not dispute your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but as you seem to think it is a matter of convenience that the whole of this question should be left over, I move to leave out those words. The whole matter would then be left at large to be dealt with whenever it arises in the Debates upon the Bill, and it would leave open the discussion of the point raised by the Noble Lord as to whether the appointed day is from the commencement of the Act or from the day of meeting of the Irish Parliament.
§ Mr. MOORE
If my right hon. Friend's Amendment is carried the Clause will then read, "there shall be in Ireland an Irish Parliament consisting of His Majesty the King and two Houses." Under those circumstances I take it there can be no objection to my moving an Amendment which under other circumstances would be out of order, making the date the year 1920. I make that suggestion, not because I want the Bill to come into force, but because I want to postpone its operation in order to give us breathing space to take counsel and courage, and, above all things, to allow us to have an opportunity of consulting the electors. I therefore cordially support the Amendment which has been moved by my right hon. and learned Friend to omit these words. It seems to me that there was no clear conception in the mind of the draughtsman of this Bill when he put in those words, and I shall support my right hon. Friend's Amendment.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
This Amendment raises the question whether it is desirable that the date of constituting an Irish Parliament shall be the date of its operation or whether it shall be left indefinite 752 in this Bill. If this Amendment is carried we shall decide that at some proper period of the Bill some definite point of time will have to be inserted so that it will not be left an indefinite and perhaps an uncertain date. I think that is in every respect better, because public feeling in Ireland is very warmly excited about this Bill already. At the present time in Ireland parties are ranging themselves on one side or the other for the struggle which they think is going to take place when this Bill comes into force. The minority in Ireland has anticipated the grave consequences, and they are already disturbed in their mind and looking forward with grave apprehension to what is to follow. It seems to me eminently better that there should be a fixed date before we enter into what I am afraid may be a revolutionary struggle, and we should know when this Bill is coming into force, and it should be fixed by Act of Parliament. If this is done persons in Ireland interested will be able to make their calculations accordingly, and they will then see precisely when the Bill is to come into force.
I disbelieve in the Bill altogether, because I think it is a measure which will do not only serious mischief in its ultimate consequences, but it is also one which troubles and disturbs the people. It is a Bill which dislocates the public mind. Therefore, is it not on every ground better to have a fixed date, and that there should be that determinate element? This Bill is improperly drafted if your ruling, Mr. Chairman, is accurate, that it would have been better to postpone the whole question of the appointed day until we have settled the point of substance. It is true that the Clause reads a little off-hand. It says:—
"there shall be in Ireland an Irish Parliament consisting of His Majesty the King and two Houses, namely, the Irish Senate and the Irish House of Commons."
As you have ruled, Mr. Chairman, that the question of substance is properly considered before the question of time, we must, in deference to your authority, believe that that is the proper way of dealing with this Subsection. We shall first consider in that way the substance, and I understand the question of time will remain open for subsequent decision. We shall then go on to decide a definite date, only determining that some definite date shall be put in when we reach the Clause dealing with that matter. For these 753 reasons I beg to support the Amendment which has been proposed by my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I want to point out that this Clause sets up automatically two mutually destructive entities. Clause 1 provides that—
"on and after the appointed day there shall be in Ireland an Irish Parliament."
Clause 46 provides that—
"The appointed day for the purposes of this Act shall be the day for the first meeting of the Irish Parliament."
May I point out that until the appointed day there cannot be an Irish Parliament, and until there is an Irish Parliament there cannot be an appointed day. I should like to know which proposal is going to take precedence. What is going to happen at one minute past twelve on the fatal morning in face of these two mutually incompatible statements? This is a point which I think the Prime Minister might clear up, and until we know which is going to come first I do not see how we can proceed at all.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have been very much impressed by the arguments brought forward by my hon. Friend. I do not say that there are no arguments to be brought forward against the Amendment from the other side of the House, but as I have not had the privilege of listening to those arguments I am inclined to think that the arguments used by my hon. Friends on this side are correct, and that the legal array of talent on the Front Bench opposite is unable on the spur of the moment to find any arguments with which to confront this proposal. Under these circumstances, desirous as I am of voting only upon a really serious issue and on the merits of the case, unless I hear from right hon. Gentlemen opposite some valid reason against this Amendment I shall be obliged to vote for the proposal of my right hon. Friend. As to the Amendment itself, it seems to me, from the point of view of a clear Clause, the omission of these words is necessary. If the Amendment is carried, the Clause will do what I believe is the desire of all hon. Gentlemen opposite and of hon. Members below the Gangway. That is to say, it would set up in Ireland an Irish Parliament, and I fail to see how that object is damnified or injured by the omission of those particular words. I am 754 surprised at the attitude of hon. Members below the Gangway on this point, and I hope they will give us their objections to this proposal. If the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has no objection to the omission of these words, I hope we shall have his support in the Division Lobby. Am I to understand that there is to be no answer to the very able arguments which have been raised not only by humble people like myself, but by my right hon. Friend below me (Sir E. Carson) who is an eminent lawyer, and whose Amendment should receive every respect. I hope in what is undoubtedly going to be a long and arduous discussion that our Amendments are not going to be received with any want of courtesy from right hon. Gentlemen opposite. This is a very serious question, and it should be discussed in a serious manner, and I hope the Prime Minister will have the courtesy to tell us why he objects to this Amendment. If, on the contrary, he does not object, then the right hon. Gentleman is wasting the time of the Committee, because he might have got up and settled this point.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am sorry that I should be suspected of want of courtesy in this matter. The sole reason why I did not rise is because I wanted to see the argument developed, and it has not been developed. I wanted to see if there was any substance in it. The argument has not been developed either by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London or the Noble Lord below the Gangway. I wanted to gather whether this is an Amendment of substance, not being on the Paper. I think it would be better to take these words as they are. I will deal with the only point of substance, which, I think, was made under a misapprehension by the Noble Lord the Member for the University of Oxford. He seems to think that if these words are left as they are there will be no fixed day provided by the Act for bringing into existence the new Irish Parliament. He is under a misapprehension on that point, because he does not apparently appreciate Clause 42. Perhaps he will turn his attention to Clause 42, which is in these terms:—
"The Irish Parliament shall be summoned to meet on the first Tuesday in September, nineteen hundred and thirteen."
So we have fixed in the Act the very date on which the Parliament is to come into existence, subject to the power given 755 under Clause 46 of varying it by not more than six months earlier or later as may be fixed by Order of His Majesty in Council.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The very clear explanation of the Prime Minister makes the case for this Amendment very much stronger than it was before. The right hon. Gentleman has explained to the House that these words are really just the same as if you had written into the Bill the date fixed in Clause 42, subject, of course, to Clause 46 giving the power of varying it by six months. The Committee has now to consider whether they think it desirable this Parliament should come into existence on some day in September, 1913. That is a very important issue, a tremendously important issue, because the Government have told us quite definitely that they have no intention of consulting the country, if they can possibly avoid it, until long after that date. The real issue is whether this Bill is to be passed through Parliament and, if possible, into law behind the backs of the electors in the country. That is the issue, and that is a very important issue. I can understand a Member of the party to which I belong, if he holds views which have long ago been discarded by that party, being desirous of using political power which temporarily belongs to his party in order to pass a Bill which is disapproved by the electors of the country, but is it credible that the Radical party is going to commit themselves to that doctrine? Is it really what they desire to do? Is there any hon. Member opposite who honestly doubts that if this Bill were submitted to the electors of the country it would be rejected by an overwhelming majority? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] There are two members of the Liberal party who hold that view, the hon. Member for Salford (Sir W. Byles), who is always a very courageous exponent of the views he may hold, and the hon. Member who sits on the back bench and whose constituency for the moment escapes me. There are those two, and only those two Members of the Radical party—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no"]—who really believe that the majority of the people of this country desire this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "There are scores of them."] There may be a few more wild fanatics and partisans who have persuaded themselves of that.
§ An HON. MEMBER: Why do you not fight by-elections on Home Rule then?756
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Nobody really seriously thinks the majority of the electors of either England, Scotland, or Wales are in favour of this Bill. The real question we have got to decide is whether, in those circumstances, this House ought to pass this Bill without insisting on some reference to the constituencies. I desire to draw the attention of the Committee to the very terms of the Parliament Act. The Parliament Act provides for a delay of two years in the case of the other House rejecting any Bill. The point of the delay of two years is that no Bill of serious importance which the other House thinks ought to be submitted to the country shall be passed until the electors—and we were told over and over again by the Government that this was such a Bill—have had time to think about it and form their opinion about it. What is the use of their forming their opinion unless they are to be given some means of expressing it? By inserting those two years you committed yourselves to the proposition that this House has no right to pass Bills of which the country disapproves. I should have thought the Radical party would not have required a statutory enunciation of so obviously a constitutional principle as that. They now desire to put into this Bill a date which, unless we are fortunate enough to turn the Government out in the next year, which I hope may be the case, though no one can regard that as certain—[Laughter.] No, because I know hon. Members opposite will support the Government; yes, and their£400 a year as well.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Yes, but I am very anxious for a Dissolution and you are not. I am sorry I should have wounded the hon. Member. I rather fancy£400 a year is not a matter of great moment to him. It may well be you are opposed to the policy of the Referendum. I can understand that, but surely you are not going to say you are going to pass this Bill against the wishes of the electors. Suppose the by-elections go as they have been going lately, suppose in every case you retain a seat you retain it with a greatly decreased majority, and suppose in many, cases you lose, how are you going to justify 757 yourselves before the country and posterity if you venture to pass a Bill of this gigantic moment without the assent of the electors? Surely that is real tyranny. That is a usurpation of power which was not given you for this purpose at all.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I must ask my hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) to treat this matter seriously. I do not expect hon. Members opposite to do so, because they would destroy the Constitution with the lightest of hearts, but I am sure no hon. Friend of mine would treat this other than as a very serious question upon which feelings are very keenly aroused, and the proceedings on the first day of the Committee of this Bill do not seem to me calculated to suit those feelings. I do not know whether the Government and their supporters desire deliberately to exacerbate and exasperate the feelings of hon. Members on this side of the House. The hon. Member for Glasgow made a very irrelevant speech in reference to a previous Amendment. I do not know whether it is their deliberate purpose to exasperate the feelings of hon. Members on this side of the House—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think hon. Members in the neighbourhood of the hon. Member were interrupting. I deprecate these references, but, if hon. Members do interrupt, they cannot expect to go without retort.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I assure you, Sir, I am grateful for your protection, and I shall not say anything, unless I am provoked, which is outside the strict limits of the Amendment to which I am speaking. Had I been allowed a quiet hearing, I should have concluded my observations a long time ago. This Amendment raises in the only way in which, according to the rules of the House, it can be raised—the broad question whether this House under the Constitution as now settled has the moral authority to pass a Bill of this magnitude without consulting the people of the country. I believe myself, profoundly, the more that question is put before the public of the country the more certain will be the answer. No, that is not what we intended when we passed the Parliament Act. We never intended to put the House of Commons into a position of uncontrolled 758 supremacy. That was never argued. We understood from the Government that their two years' delay and their other provisions were such that the House of Commons would never pass a Bill which was not approved by the majority of the electors of this country. What is the Constitution you are seeking to establish by your action now? You are seeking to establish the rule of the bureaucracy pure and simple, and absolutely nothing else. The right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Treasury Bench issue their decree. They say we wish this Bill to pass, and we decline to allow any Amendment. They send the Chancellor of the Exchequer down to some part of the country to denounce any one, even Members of his own party, who ventures to suggest an Amendment to a Government Bill, not indeed to this Bill, but to another Bill of equal importance, and there are not ten men on that side of the House who wilt venture to vote against the Government.
There are a large number of people who sit on that side of the House who do not agree with this Bill or with other measures brought forward by the Government. Everyone knows that is true, and any one who cares to converse privately with Members of the party opposite will surely find I am not exaggerating. That being so, they all vote quite obediently. I am not blaming them for it. It is very difficult for them under the Constitution under which we live to vote according to their consciences and according to their opinions on a particular measure, because what they have to say to themselves is, "If we vote in that way we shall incur the greatest obloquy. Supposing we are men of public honour and spirit, we may be content to suffer that, but then, in addition to that, we shall be turning the Government out, and the Government, with all its faults, stands for the general policy with which we agree; we are, therefore, bound to vote for every proposal they put forward." That is the position of the majority of the Members in the House of Commons, and everybody knows it. That being so, unless you allow sufficient delay to permit the country being consulted in some form or another, the effect of your existing Constitution is to put the matter absolutely in the hands of the Cabinet without any kind of appeal, except it may be to the party caucus. For that reason, I do earnestly press upon the Committee the desirability of not insisting on these words, but leaving, if they wish to do so, this Clause as 759 an expression of the principle of Irish Home Rule, reserving to the country, by reason of a sufficient delay, an opportunity to be consulted on this gigantic constitutional change before it is forced into law and acquires authority.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
The Noble Lord has told us that it will be an act of tyranny and a constitutional outrage to pass this Bill without referring to the judgment of the people. The answer to that in my mind is that hon. Members on the Opposition Benches have no real desire to refer this question to the judgment of the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Try."] They tell us that the last General Election did not obtain that judgment; but if we accepted the invitation which they have extended to us, and if we had another General Election to-morrow, would the result be any more decisive? [HON. MEMBERS: "Try it."] If we were to accept that invitation hon. Members know very well that they would not fight the election on Home Rule at all.
§ The CHAIRMAN
May I suggest we are getting back to a Second Reading Debate, whereas, as a matter of fact, we are now in Committee on the Bill, and are dealing with a particular point.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Am I right in suggesting that this Amendment raises this issue: that the House has a right to demand that a time shall be fixed sufficiently long to enable an appeal to be made to the people of this country?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment raises the question whether the time should be dealt with by an Amendment by putting the words "the appointed day" in this Clause, with a subsequent definition in a later Clause. So far as that raises a question of whether the date named in the subsequent Clause is the right one or not, the hon. Member is entitled to discuss it. But he is not entitled to raise another Second Reading Debate.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
I only rose to point out one fact. Hon. Members opposite are demanding an opportunity to refer this question to the judgment of the people; yet we see that at every byelection they do not use the opportunity afforded them. Hon. Members deny that fact; but may I 760 give an instance in point? There is at the present moment an election—the result of which will be declared to-night. It has been taking place in Hythe, and it afforded an opportunity to obtain the judgment of the people on this Bill. But what was the method adopted by the party opposite? Did they seek to obtain that judgment? I would ask the Noble Lord—
§ The CHAIRMAN
In the first place, I would remind the hon. Member that he should address the Chair; and, in the second place, I may tell him that the subject with which he is now dealing is out of order.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
I merely wish to say that the result of recent elections show that the arguments upon which this Amendment is based are a mere debating device, and not the result of genuine conviction.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I really think the Opposition are entitled to ask the supporters of the Government to try and adopt some uniformity in the line of argument they take on this question. The hon. Gentleman has told us that the Opposition refuses at election time to discuss Home Rule; but it was only the other day that it was claimed from the Front Bench opposite that we were misrepresenting the fact when we said the matter was not properly discussed at the last election. It appears to me that the Prime Minister and his Friends use this argument accordingly as it suits them. They ring the changes so far as we are concerned. But supposing the hon. Member opposite was correct in his facts, which he is not; supposing he was correct in his inferences, which he is not, it would be no answer to the point pressed on the Committee by my Noble Friend—the Member for Hertfordshire (Lord Robert Cecil). Hon Members may agree with that view or not, but nobody can deny that the Noble Lord put before the Committee a question of the gravest possible moment, and advanced in support of it arguments worthy the attention of the Committee—arguments which ought to be met by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Your ruling makes it perfectly clear, while none of us desire to raise here again in Committee the whole question which was discussed on the Second Reading, that this is the time, the only time it may be, when we can discuss the question whether this Bill at this moment should tie us down to the suggestion of the Government, or whether we are to have the opportunity of reserving to this House the right to say, 761 whatever your decision is as regards the present situation, that there shall be an opportunity for the people of this country to consider whether they shall endorse it.
In your ruling earlier this evening, you were good enough to tell my hon. Friends that there would be another opportunity of raising this question on a Clause which comes on at a later period of the Bill. You will, I am sure, acquit me of any intention to discuss your ruling if I make this one remark, that we, of the Opposition, have struggled to do our best under difficult circumstances to strictly conform to the ruling of the Chair and to obey the Rules of Order. On the many occasions with which I can charge my memory in reference to rulings of the Chair similar to the one you have given to-day, we have been content to wait for these later opportunities. But with what effect? You can help us, and you are good enough often to do so, by advice and recommendations as to the proper place to make certain changes. But you cannot, however anxious you may be to help us in our Debates, and we recognise that you are anxious to advise us—you cannot control the action of the Government. There is only one person in this House who can give us the guarantee which is the corollary of the suggestion and advice embodied in the ruling which you have given from the Chair. We are told we must not Debate this now, but that on later Clauses the opportunity will offer. One of my hon. Friends this afternoon, following upon your ruling, asked the Prime Minister if he would give us guarantees that there would be an opportunity of raising this question. The Prime Minister did not respond to the invitation, and I do not know that we blame him for not doing so, because we are aware that he is determined to carry this Bill through in the shortest possible period of time. We are in this position, that we are doing our best to keep within the rules you have laid down, and to avoid anything like a repetition of the arguments used in the course of the Second Reading Debate; but we do press on the Government and on the Committee this point, that this is the time—it may be the only time—at which this House can secure for itself and for the country the rights which they enjoyed before the Constitution was altered, and, unless we press this on the Committee now, we may never, during the long Debates that are to come on this Bill, have an opportunity of bringing before the Committee one 762 of the gravest matters which can be raised. I think the argument advanced by my Noble Friend is not only one entitled to the attention of the Committee as a whole, but one which carries us very far along the new road which the Government are asking us to trace.
I am not going to argue whether Home Rule is before this country or not. Whatever may be the facts of the case as to past and present elections, and, indeed, as to future elections, whatever may be the views of hon. Gentlemen as to the form of Home Rule, no man who seriously considers the responsibility of his position here can deny or dispute the fact that there is in this Bill, in reference to this House and to Ireland, matters of which the country have not the faintest notion, and to which no Minister in his speech ever made the slightest allusion before the Bill was read a second time. Therefore we are enitled to press on the Government, before they commit what we regard as a great outrage on the country and the Empire, that they shall allow something to be put into the Bill that will give us security that the measure shall not be placed on the Statute Book or come into active operation until the people of the country have an opportunity of knowing what its contents are.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, in moving his Amendment, set an example to his followers by saying nothing in support of it. I have listened carefully to every speech delivered this evening, and I must say that they have followed the example of the right hon. and learned Gentleman by advancing nothing in supporting the Amendment, although they have done so with great prolixity. The right hon. Gentleman is a very able advocate. When he has a good case he can be trusted to make the most of it. When he throws up his brief it is not likely his juniors will do better with it. When Ulysses cannot bend the bow there is very little hope for the disappointed suitor.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. H. TERRELL
The Prime Minister tells us that in Clause 42 the appointed day is fixed, and that it provides the date for the first meeting of the Irish Parliament, which is to be on the first Tuesday in September, 1913. But Clause 46 provides that the appointed day shall be the day of the first meeting of Parliament or such other day, not more than six months later, as may be fixed by Order of His Majesty's Government made in Council. The result 763 is that the Irish House of Commons will have to meet six months before it is created, and I think it is only an Irish House of Commons that could possibly do that. The only other alternative is to have these words stand part of Clause 1. Then you, in substance eliminate the words in Clause 46 enabling His Majesty in Council to fix the appointed day at some period not more than six months later than the first meeting of the Parliament. One of the two alternatives is necessary. In the one case you come to an absurdity, and in the other case you eliminate part of the Bill which the Prime Minister has considered to be important. I submit that one or other alternative ought to be taken. We ought now either to eliminate these words which will make the Bill really intelligible as to the date on which the Parliament is to be created, or we come to the difficulty to which I referred.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I desire to emphasise the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. H. Terrell). I think these words ought to be left out from this Clause. They are quite unnecessary for the purposes of the Bill. I differ from the Prime Minister in regard to Clause 42. I understand that Clause 1 is to establish an Irish Parliament. The appointed day referred to there is an illusive day. It will not be the day fixed under Clause 42, the first Tuesday in September, 1913, but it is not going to be fixed by this House; it is going to be fixed by Order in Council, and it may be some day six months earlier or later, according as the Executive of the day may please. If we leave out these words "the appointed day," the probability is that we may have some real opportunity of discussing the question of the appointed day. It may well be, if this Bill is long in Committee, that by the time we come to Clause 42 and Clause 46, the Prime Minister may have adopted those methods with which we are only too familiar, and thereby give us no opportunity of really discussing either of those problems. On the other hand, if we leave out these words we shall have some sort of guarantee that an important Clause like Clause 46 will be given fair discussion by this Committee. We ought not to transfer to the Executive a power which should be exercised by this House. As Clauses 42 and 46 were referred to by the Prime Minister, it is interesting to see whether there has been 764 any alteration since the Irish Government Bill of 1893. There was a provision in that Bill that there was to be a margin with regard to the appointed day of seven months earlier or later. Under Clause 46 of this Bill there is a margin of only six months. Under the Bill of 1893 I see the first Tuesday in September, 1894, was fixed as the appointed day. I do not think we need attach much importance to Clause 42 of this Bill. What we want to know is whether sufficient opportunity will be given to the people of this country of knowing when this new Parliament is to come into being. It is only by having a full discussion on some Clause that we can possibly obtain that. I think the right course is to leave out the words "on and after the appointed days" at this point, in order that after the people have heard, by our Debates in Committee, something more of this Bill, when we reach Clause 46 we may be able to press the whole question raised by the Noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil), and to ensure a real opportunity being given to the people to consider the measure before it comes into operation.
§ Mr. MILDMAY
Unless I am mistaken, the question at issue is whether or not the people of this country are to have any say as to the form which the Government of this country is to take in the future. In that sense it appears that the principle of democracy is at stake. We challenge the assertion made by the Prime Minister that—all the governing principles of this Bill were laid before the country at the last election.Is it or is it not a governing principle that the Home Rule given to Ireland shall be of such a nature that it will be capable of extension in a federal sense to England? Is it or is it not a main principle that Irishmen should have representation in the English Parliament without taxation? Is it or is it not a governing principle that we shall be taxed for Irish purposes without representation in the Irish Parliament? Is it a main principle, or is it a mere detail, that you are proposing, in defiance of every federal precedent, to raise up tariff walls within these islands?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That would allow subsequent Amendments to be raised on this one. I cannot allow that.
§ Mr. MILDMAY
Shall I be justified in alluding to the argument used by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Lees Smith), when he resented the suggestion that Home Rule had been driven into the background at the last General Election?
I should not have risen on this occasion had it not been for the remarks which fell from the hon. Member opposite (Mr. MacCallum Scott) in taunting my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Carson) for proposing this Amendment, and then, as he said, leaving it to his junior counsel. If that is the way we are going to be taunted throughout the Debates on this Home Rule Bill, I can assure hon. Members opposite that they will get as good as they give. The Committee will bear in mind that on the spur of the moment, in order to save some Amendment of my hon. Friends, the right hon. Gentleman moved this Amendment and left it to those hon. Members to bring forward their arguments. The hon. Member opposite had better devote himself to smaller fry, and not attempt to belittle the Leader of the Irish Unionist party in the House of Commons. The Amendment is most vital to us in Ireland. The Clause says in so many words that this Bill shall come into force on 13th September, 1913. Does anybody think that is a fair time to allow the country to study so complicated a measure? There is not one man, who is a free agent in this Committee, who can say it is fair that so short a time shall be given. That is the whole point of the Amendment before the Committee. We who have gone through the country know that in every case when we were anxious to bring forward the danger to this country while this Government were in power, know that we were told, wherever there was a Radical sitting, that there was no use in mentioning the subject at all, because it was as dead as Queen Anne. Is it not all the more necessary that what is denied to the country before the Bill was introduced should now be permitted to the country when the Bill has been introduced?
I think one hon. Member said that the people were not very keen on reading the Debates of this Committee. I have no doubt whatever that as time goes on and the gross scandal is revealed in connection with this Bill, the country will soon learn what are the real intentions of the Government, and what a sordid bargain was entered into between them and the Nationalist party. Is there to be no sense of fair play towards the minority in Ireland? You deny us the chance of going before the country in the first instance, and now you deny us a fair chance in which to present our case. I call it mean. I call it 766 low down, on the part of Radical Members, to deny us any chance of reforming the Upper Chamber. That right has been taken away, and now, under the miserable compact entered into, the Bill is going to be forced through the House of Commons against the will of the whole country, and no reasonable time is to be given to us to show up the iniquity to the very gentlemen who have elected hon. Members opposite. Why is it they are determined to carry through all the sordid bargainings that have been carried on? Simply and solely because the whole party—I do not blame the leaders a bit more than their followers, because they would not go to such extreme lengths were it not the case—are too cowardly to face the consequences of going to the country. This Amendment is one which has every element of justice in it. No one has denied that. Hon. Members have had an opportunity of getting up and declaring that there was something unfair and outrageous in this Amendment. Some of them have spoken, but not one has said it is an unfair Amendment. Supposing my right hon. Friend's wishes are carried out by the Committee, what will be the effect? That we should go on to discuss the question whether there shall be in Ireland an Irish Parliament, but the appointed day, which is the 13th September, 1913, will not be inserted at the very beginning of the Bill, and it will leave us free, later on, to insert such a time as will give us an opportunity to convert those who rashly put their faith in the Radicals, through misstatements on their part, at the last two General Elections.
As the hon. Member for Northampton was speaking, a letter was put into my hand. I know it is out of order to read that letter. Before the hon. Member was interrupted he was going to travel along lines, which I only wish I had the chance of travelling along, for that letter was one of the most sordid I have ever read. I hope to have an opportunity of reading it to the Committee later. [Laughter.] It said things which will stop that laughter of hon. Members, who, by a cruel, sneering manner of conducting these Debates, hope to smooth over their treatment of the House and the country and their failure to convince by argument any Member of this Committee. That is not going to have any effect on us, except to make us fight all the harder for what we consider to be decency in the House and honesty in the country. The fact that a Gentleman who is not an Irishman and who knows nothing about Ireland has got up from the Front 767 Bench to answer this Amendment reveals the absurdity of this whole Debate. If the Debate is to be conducted in a reasonable way a Minister who is not bound down by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) should take charge of it, so that we may not have the voice of a Front Bench man and the hand of the hon. Member for Waterford.
§ Mr. J. H. CAMPBELL
The Prime Minister obviously attaches considerable importance to the retention of these words, which must be construed with reference to the subsequent Clauses which fix the appointed day in 1913. Therefore you have, at the very outset, the Government plan avowed and declared, namely, to set up this Parliament at this particular date. It may well be that when we come to Clauses 42 and 46 the exigencies of public time and other reasons may deprive the Committee of any opportunity whatever of considering either Clause, and we shall then have committed ourselves, without discussion and without a chance of Amendment, to this fixed date in December, 1913. It is because we protest against any fixing of the date, even by inference, at the outset of the Bill that my right hon. Friend has proposed to leave out these words. This is one of the most important questions that is likely to arise in the whole of the discussion, because it entitles us to raise the question whether changes of this magnitude ought to be, under our Constitution, carried into law without the electorate being given, in the first place time to consider them, and in the second place an opportunity to decide upon them. We are, in all probability, foregoing every opportunity for raising that question again. Therefore I hope my Friends behind me, when they realise the importance of the issue that is now raised and that, under your ruling, is now open for discussion, will deal with it fully and fairly. I will not enter into the controversy as to the extent to which hon. Members opposite committed either themselves or their supporters to Home Rule at the last General Election. I will merely mention one figure which, I think, in it self ought to be conclusive on that point. There were something like 286 Gentlemen returned to this House who now sit upon the benches opposite. Out of that number 184 never even mentioned the subject of Home Rule—
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is not very easy to keep the Amendment to the real point. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will see 768 that I have already had to pull up one or two Members. If I allowed it to go on we should have the whole Second Reading Debate over again.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
May I respectfully suggest that what you have pulled up other hon. Members for was a different matter. One wanted to refer to certain pamphlets which were published in the pending election at Hythe. I am dealing with the General Election.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I really cannot allow this. The point of the Amendment is whether this method of drafting the Bill ought to be adopted—putting in the words "appointed day" at this stage.
§ Mr. J. H. CAMPBELL
While probably it was necessary and inevitable that there should be in this Bill a consequential change dealing with the reduction of Irish Members in the House, I do not think anyone will say the country ever knew, probably right hon. Gentlemen themselves did not know at the time, what their plan was going to be, and certainly no question ever arose, as far as I know, during the course of the last General Election, as to whether the Irish Members were to be retained in this House or entirely excluded.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman will see that if that were permitted every one of the forty-two pages of Amendments could be reviewed on this Amendment. In order to be fair to all alike, I cannot allow these arguments to be developed.
§ Mr. J. H. CAMPBELL
I have no wish to develop them if you would only allow me to mention them. I think the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised to accept the Amendment. His own case is, as I understand, that the whole fixing of the time is to be postponed to a later date. We may or may not have an opportunity of discussing it. If we have not that is our misfortune. If the whole question of time is to be postponed till this late stage of the Bill, why should the right hon. Gentleman ask the House now to adhere to these words, which have no meaning, because their effect and meaning is to be entirely controlled and dependent upon what this Committee may do when they come to the later Clauses in the Bill. I cannot conceive, from his own point of view, what harm it would do or how it interferes with the Bill, but it gives 769 us this great guarantee and security, that if you leave these words out now, we must get an opportunity later on of determining this vital question as to the date of the commencement of the operation of the Act.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I think it is absolutely necessary in the case of this particular Bill to keep as much in your own hands as you possibly can in order to have a lever to deal with questions later on. Hon. Members opposite who are interested in Scottish, but not apparently in Irish Home Rule, who are interested in questions like the franchise and are prepared to name a certain date in the Bill, will have given away a very strong lever when it comes to this particular point in the Bill later on.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I am not going to deal with the franchise question. I merely wish to point out that there are many reasons why these words should not be inserted here which will crop up in the Bill, and hon. Members will throw away their only lever with the Government if they do not back up this Amendment now. In very much the same way a lot of hon. Members who spoke with regard to Irish Home Rule in the country stated—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must really ask the Noble Lord to keep to the point which I have endeavoured to explain.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I intervene for the sake of saving time if I can, and not of replying to arguments which have been put forward. I cannot accept this Amendment. I think the words ought to remain as they are. At the same time it is a perfectly reasonable proposition that hon. Members should be assured that they will have an opportunity of discussing the actual date at which this Parliament is to be brought into existence. Be it observed —I say this by way of caution—that I do not in the least degree admit that that date ought not to be the date named in the Bill, or that it ought to be a date after there has been an opportunity, by dissolution or otherwise, of some reference to the country. I think that at the proper time and place in the Bill there ought to be an opportunity of discussing what is undoubtedly one of the most important of all the points raised. I am quite ready to give an undertaking that there shall he an 770 opportunity, be it on Clause 42 or in some other place—I think Clause 42 is the appropriate and natural place—of discussing the date at which the Irish Parliament should come into existence. I think hon. Members might be content with that assurance.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The assurance which the Prime Minister has given us is, of course, some measure of satisfaction, but I was going to object to the words from a drafting point of view. The right hon. Gentleman has not pointed out, nor has any speaker on the other side, the slightest necessity for these words here, nor any reason why they want to keep them in. Having regard to your ruling that we are not to deal with the point of time on this Clause, we ought to have no words dealing with time in this Clause, and the words, "the appointed day," are particularly unfortunate, having regard to the two later Clauses, because there the appointed day is wrapped up in such hopeless confusion that it would be infinitely better to leave the words out altogether here. No one has yet said it would make any difference. The Prime Minister said there was a fixed date for the appointed day. That is not so. The only fixed day is the day for the first meeting of the Irish Parliament. Curiously enough this is a Tuesday—the first Tuesday in December, 1913. Why Tuesday is selected I do not know.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I do not attach any importance to that. The appointed day is a variable date, which may be six months before or six months after the day fixed for the first meeting. Was there ever such ridiculous draftsmanship? It is absolutely hopeless. I do not think any Bill ever had worse drafting in it. For these reasons I hope my right hon. Friend will press this Amendment to a Division, notwithstanding the pledge given by the Prime Minister.
§ Sir E. CARSON
As the Prime Minister has told us we will have ample time at a later stage to discuss this question, I certainly am prepared to accept that promise. In these circumstances I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
With reference to the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman, I may take it that we shall have a full discussion as to the date of the operation of this Act.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.771
§ Mr. AGAR-ROBARTES
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1) after the word "shall" ["there shall be in Ireland"], to insert the words "subject to the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry being excluded from the provisions of this Act."
I propose this Amendment as an honest attempt to solve one of the most complex questions in connection with the government of Ireland. It is an attempt to remove what has been in the past a stumbling block to similar Bills on similar occasions. I, for one, am sincerely anxious of seeing some measure of Home Rule carried into law. If my Amendment is accepted it will rule out the four counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry, and thus remove one of the chief obstacles to Home Rule. I think this Bill makes the mistake of treating Ireland not as two nations, but as one nation. I think everyone will admit that Ireland consists of two nations different in sentiment, character, history, and religion. I maintain it is absolutely impossible to fuse these two incongruous elements together. It is as impossible as to try to reconcile the irreconcilable. The great hostility which manifests itself in North-East Ulster against the not unnatural aspirations of the majority in Ireland, the dreaded supremacy of the Church to which the majority belongs, a Church which Protestants in Ireland know from experience, and which we know from history, never wavers or hesitates in its endeavour to establish not only spiritual but civil and political power wherever it obtains a foothold— that feeling is so strong and vigorous among the Protestants in the North-East of Ireland that if you try to impose the rule of an Irish Parliament on these strenuous Protestants, I am forced to the conclusion that you are attempting what is impossible. Of course, there are Protestants in the South, and also in the West of Ireland, and it is very likely that hon. Members opposite who come from Ulster may object to the Amendment for fear it may be said that they are trying to save their own skin while deserting the Protestants in the South and West of Ireland. I do not think that is a charge which can be supported by argument, or which can hold water. In the first place, the Protestants in the South and West of Ireland live under totally different conditions to those in North-East Ulster. They live, for good or ill, among a population of Roman Catholics who will largely predominate in 772 the Irish Parliament. They are scattered and cannot be singled out for special taxation or for special attention at the hands of the Irish Parliament. The Protestants in the South and West of Ireland in my opinion cannot be put in a worse position under the Irish Parliament. The numbers are small and insignificant, and therefore it is wrong from my point of view that the overwhelming majority of the people in Ireland should be checkmated by merely the minority in the South and West, provided you put in the Act such safeguards as it is possible to put in an Act of Parliament. That is the view which has been adopted by the Government. It has been practically adopted by everyone in this House. It is the policy that the views of the majority should prevail.
If that is the view of the Government, then the views of the majority in these four counties should also have due regard paid to them. I quite agree that it would be possible from the administrative point of view to make out a better case for the total exclusion of the whole of Ulster from the Bill, but I have chosen four counties for these reasons: In these counties there is an overwhelming body of Protestant opinion. The Protestants there demand no special privileges. All they ask is to enjoy the same laws and liberties which we enjoy in this country. I maintain that there are several arguments why special treatment should be given to the North-East of Ireland. First of all, there is the question of the majority. The Protestants in these counties are in a overwhelming majority. Then you have to consider the character and composition of that majority. From outward and visible signs we can be sure that the Protestants of North-East Ulster are determined, if possible, to ignore, and, if necessary, to resist, every action of the Parliament established in their country. The Protestant majority in North-East Ulster is composed of men who have shown themselves in the past to be industrious, resolute, and determined. We find them today massed together with personal differences put aside, and standing together, men of all kinds and conditions, in the common determination never to submit to the Parliament established in Ireland. There is also ingrained and embedded in them a spirit of antagonism to any change, and especially against this change, which they honestly and sincerely believe will endanger their lives, liberties, and property. They have built up in the past, through 773 their industry and enterprise, great industries. The Protestants in the South and West of Ireland cannot be singled out for exceptional taxation, but in the case of the teeming population of North-East Ulster it is possible that they might be subjected to exceptional taxation. Take the case of the great city of Belfast. It might be made the object of unwelcome attention at the hands of the Irish Parliament. I admit it is a matter of speculation, but still it is a speculation which the Unionists of North-East Ulster are not prepared to risk. The animosity which they feel towards Home Rule has not been lessened in any degree by the safeguards in this Bill. It has apparently developed and increased. You cannot, in my opinion, therefore reconcile these two conflicting interests. You cannot reconcile what I have described as these two nations by putting one in subjection to the other. There are some things which will not mingle together. We have it on the best authority that orange bitters will mix with sherry, but I have never heard that orange bitters will mix with Irish whisky.
§ Mr. AGAR-ROBARTES
In my opinion, it would be a great delusion to imagine that you can bring these two hostile factions together, that you will find wounds will heal, and that ancient feuds will be quietened simply by establishing a Parliament in Ireland, and trying to await further developments. I am afraid the result will not be quite satisfactory to the supporters of this Bill, unless you do the one thing proposed by the Amendment—unless you remove the storm centre from the operations of the Bill. It would be possible to use several arguments in favour of the Amendment. The first that comes to my mind is that it is argued that the views of the majority must be listened to, and that the national aspirations of Ireland cannot be ignored. Well, if this Amendment is carried, the Home Rule majority of the people in Ireland will have Home Rule, and, on the other hand, the Unionist majority in North-East Ulster will be excluded from the provisions of the Bill, and will be enabled to retain their liberties and their political allegiance with this country. The chief danger of disturbance and civil war will thus be removed. You may thus be able to satisfy to a great extent the demands of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and also to a greater extent allay the religious fears of the majority of 774 Protestants in Ireland. It may be argued in the first place that the hon. Members for Ulster have not asked for special treatment. But it was never expected that they would, as they would be accused of surrendering the Union and trying to bargain to secure their own safety at the expense of the whole of their fellow-Protestants in Ireland. Another argument which has been used against this Amendment, I believe by the "Times" yesterday in a leading article, was that the hon. Member for Waterford would not assent to it. There may be some truth in the suggestion. The hon. Gentleman may be casting a covetous eye on the hive of industry in North-East Ulster, with the idea later on of extracting money for Nationalist aspirations. A third argument is that this Amendment would cause probably the whole reconstruction of this Bill. It would do this Bill as it stands no harm to be reconstructed; and I say it is much better that this Bill should not pass this House just as it stands if you will by passing it set up in Ireland a system which in my opinion is foredoomed to failure and may produce greater bitterness and strife than have been seen in Ireland in years gone by.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
I delayed in rising, because I thought it possible that some of the hon. Members from Ulster might have been desirous that their views should be recorded, but at the same time I have no hesitation whatever in saying that it is not the intention of the Government to accept this Amendment which has just been moved by my hon. Friend. Indeed, it would require a very great deal of evidence from Ulster itself to lead to the belief that she desires to cut herself off from the rest of Ireland. It is a delusion to think that the feeling of the Protestants of Ulster is so very strong as to make one suppose that the shrewd inhabitants of that prosperous province are entirely devoted to no other question than their religious opinions and religious differences. They are strongly involved with the general prosperity of Ireland, and there are certainly bankers, and Belfast banking corporations, whose joint branches I see whenever I motor about in all parts of Ireland. I see in the most prosperous towns in the south and west evidence in the main streets of the activity of the banking interest throughout the whole of Ireland, and although I do not pretend to have any figures at my disposal, I should be very much surprised indeed if it were not the fact that many of 775 the industries of which Belfast not only boasts, but that a great deal of the enterprise which the North-East of Ireland is able to show, in many ways is derived to a considerable extent from the moneys and savings of the agricultural portion of Ireland, and it is perfectly obvious to anybody acquainted with Ireland that the banking business has spread over all parts of the country, and that the working capital for the industrial enterprises of Belfast and the neighbourhood is derived to a not inconsiderable extent from the moneys of the people of the South and West of Ireland. I am, therefore, not surprised at the representatives from the north-east of the country having held their tongue in this matter of cutting themselves adrift from Ireland as a whole. Anybody acquainted with other industries in Belfast knows the extent to which they depend upon the rest of the country. For instance, in the seed industry, the seed merchants of Belfast make their profits entirely or almost entirely from the sales of their seeds in the agricultural portion of Ireland. Therefore one would require to hear a great deal more than we have heard yet to induce the Government, in dealing with the problem of the better government of Ireland, to suggest that these four particular counties should be excluded from the operation of the Bill and left as an annex to the Parliament.
My hon. Friend has not dealt with Ulster as a whole. He has omitted several important counties which form part of Ulster, where the division between Protestants and Roman Catholics is very marked and strong, and where there are a great number of Protestants who might be supposed, if they were animated with this desire to be associated only with people who think as they do upon certain Christian doctrines, to have desired that they also should be exempted from the operation of the Bill. I therefore think that the proposal of the hon. Member is in itself a somewhat fantastic proposal. It creates another minority, which is in no way of a satisfactory character. I presume that the cities of Belfast and Derry are intended to be included in the words of the Amendment, although the words confine it to the four counties. But on this assumption the total population of these four counties— according to the last Census—is just over one million—1,030,080, and of these, no doubt, a large majority—753,000—are Protestants; but the difference between the 776 700,000 odd and the million represents a very considerable Roman Catholic population in those places, and for my own part, although I dare say hon. Members will differ from me very strongly, I am persuaded that the distinction between Roman Catholic form of religion and the Presbyterian, and also the Protestant Episcopal Churches, is not of such a character that it should be regarded as a permanent and final boundary line of division between the different portions of the population of Ireland. I hope that I am not extravagant in saying that I believe it is quite possible for people to entertain the strongest differences of opinion, as between Roman Catholics and Protestants, and yet be closely and intimately associated in politics and in agricultural and commercial pursuits.
We have already experience, under the various boards of technical education and the like, of the Catholic clergyman and the Protestant minister, and the Catholic and Protestant members of these committees working together with such a degree of affection and regard that it almost seems as if they were sorry that they had been kept asunder for so long. I, at all events, look forward to a future of a more noble character than the past, in which hon. Members opposite still delight to dwell. Surely we are entitled to hope for it in these days when many Noble Lords talk of Christian unity and of advising Nonconformists. I protest I listen with interest to the advice which they give, and sometimes have a faint hope that it may be taken. Christian unity is a possible conception for which we should strongly pray. But how can you ever have Christian unity if you exclude the Roman Catholic religion altogether from it? Surely Noble Lords, who are advocating that union and looking forward to a time when there shall be unity of Christianity in this country, do not exclude altogether and for ever Roman Catholics from the purview of these generous hopes? I am not prepared to say myself that there will ever be unity of such a kind; but I am quite sure that there will be co-operation between Catholics and Protestants on every other form of legitimate and noble work, whether of patriotic, industrial, or commercial enterprise. I therefore feel myself that Home Rule without the co-operation of Ulster as a whole, not merely North-East Ulster, but all parts of it, would be of an imperfect description. I share the view which was expressed by Mr. Parnell in the speech which he made on the Second Reading of the first Bill—a 777 speech which I wish every hon. Member in this House would revive in his recollection or become acquainted with it for the first time. I confess that I know of no other speech, in all my research into this matter, which puts the case for Home Rule with such logical force, such clearness and such good businesslike sense and justice. And his view was that he could not dispense and Ireland could not dispense with the co-operation of Protestants as well as Catholics in this work.
We have been told that that is an impossible dream; that that can never be done; that there are two nations and two religions which will ever keep these people asunder, in Ireland alone apparently, because in other nations cooperation and friendship of the closest character has been found possible; and I confess that nothing surprised me more in Ireland, since I had even the slender acquaintance which, if you like to say it, any Englishman can make with it in six years, than to find how friendly and how well Catholics and Protestants can and do work together. It is said that the moment you set up anything like Home Rule you end all that. I do not believe it. Of course, those who differ from me are entitled to their opinions. I do not say that the introduction of this subject has not accentuated these feelings of opposition for a moment, and has not delayed the process which was going on; but that process of reconciliation is not going to be destroyed by any legislative proposals of any sort or kind. I believe in human sentiment and the growth of religious toleration and conviction; and therefore I can only say, speaking on behalf of the Government, that this proposal, made, I am quite sure, in perfect good faith by the hon. Member for Cornwall, but unsupported as far as I can make out by any of the persons supposed to be associated with Ireland is one which the Government cannot accept.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I think the speech to which we have just listened is interesting, and undoubtedly with a great deal of the pleasant anticipations which the right hon. Gentleman brought forward I entirely agree. I think that his speech in itself is the best possible indication of the complete absence of reality from the discussion in this House, as compared with what this question really is in Ireland and in the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that he had not risen in order to give hon. Members from Ulster an opportunity of speaking. Everyone, I 778 think, whatever his views, would certainly have desired and have the right to expect before rising to say anything on this question, that the determination of the Government should be expressed. As far as I am concerned, I rise now at the earliest possible moment to put as clearly as I can, and so far as I can speak for my hon. Friends behind me, what is the attitude we take up in regard to this the most vital Amendment which can possibly be introduced in connection with the whole Bill. But before doing so I should like to make reference to one or two remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. He says that the Protestants of the North- East of Ireland think occasionally of something else besides their religion. That is perfectly true. He says they think about business. That is perfectly true; but I can assure him, and I think I am not overstating the impression which I believe prevails, that on this question their business and other considerations sink into insignificance before their actual hostility to the proposal now before them. In addition to that, what does the hon. Gentleman mean when he says that the people of the North of Ireland are carrying on banking and seed trade and other business with other parts of that country? What in the world does he mean? He must mean one of two things. Either that the people of the North of Ireland realise that if Home Rule is carried they would have no further trade or business with the other parts of Ireland, or it means that they are going to have a fiscal system so complete in itself that it would be impossible to deal fairly and consistently with it. Then the right hon. Gentleman made another serious remark to which I listened with interest, and to which I attach great importance. He spoke about the desirability of the disappearance of religious differences. I am sure nobody desires it more than we do, and I think I desire it as much as anyone. When he spoke of religious differences disappearing, that was true until unfortunately, for reasons that I have characterised before and do not intend to characterise now, the Government again brought forward this question, and again raised all this bitterness which was dying down. He tells us that in time Irishmen in the north and other districts of Ireland will realise that they can live together, and will find that they have business interests greater than the hostility which exists between them. 779 That is true. But if he applies it to the North of Ireland, will he tell me why the same thing does not apply to the Irish minority as a whole. He tells us that in the time to come this problem and these differences will disappear, and that hon. Gentlemen who sit on these benches will realise that to share in the privileges and destinies of this great Empire is not an unworthy thing.
There are two points of view on which I am going to speak on this question very briefly. The one is our attitude and the other is what is the attitude of the Government, and how they can justify their action within the general principles upon which their Bill is framed. The right hon. Gentleman made a short speech. I think he could have made it shorter. Everyone would have understood him, and he would have told us everything that we want to know if he had got up and said, "The hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) will not allow us to accept this Amendment." I ask right hon. Gentlemen who sit on that bench what did they mean in the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Foreign Secretary on Home Rule if this is a question which is finally decided and on which they are determined there would be no Amendment? I would ask another thing. There is no one who knows anything about Ireland, and least of all the Chief Secretary, who could for a moment maintain in this House or out of it that the hostility of the people of the North-East of Ireland to being put under the rule of a Parliament in Dublin is not at least as strong as the hostility of the people of the rest of Ireland to being under the rule of the British House of Commons. No one can deny that. On what ground can you say the minority of Ireland—a very small minority against the rest of the United Kingdom— is to have this separate treatment? You tell us we do not understand their point of view, and that with the best intentions we cannot govern Ireland according to Irish ideas.
What about the North of Ireland and the South? The point of view of the North of Ireland is as different from the rest of Ireland as that of Ireland is from ours. If Ireland as a whole cannot be ruled according to our ideas, what right have you to think that the people of the North of Ireland should be driven out of this Union for which they have affection, and be placed under an authority which they, 780 rightly or wrongly, regard as a tyranny as horrible as that to which any small nation has ever been subjected? What justification have you for it? The right hon. Gentleman tells us that there are only a million of us, but that million is a fourth of the people of Ireland, and the whole of Nationalist Ireland is only something like a fifteenth of the whole population of the United Kingdom. If a fifteenth of the Kingdom claim a right to separate treatment, and the ground on which you are giving it to them is that they have persistently demanded it, then a fourth can certainly claim with greater justice from this House that they have a right to be kept under the Government which now represents them. We may spend much time in discussing Amendments as to whether or not this Bill as a whole is to be carried. You have a majority; I do not doubt that you will stick together; but this opposition of Ulster, and nobody knows better than I and hon. Gentlemen who sit on these benches, is a real fact in this Home Rule controversy, and nobody who is acquainted with the feeling and the temper of the people in the North of Ireland can for a moment doubt that they will use every means in their power so that nothing short of force will drive them out of the Union to which they adhere, and compel them to accept a Government which they detest. I say that, from the point of view of the Government and the principles on which they justify this Bill, they have absolutely no right to refuse the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Gentleman.
Our attitude is this. I am going to vote in favour of this Amendment. I am going to vote in its favour not for a moment that it would take away my opposition to Home Rule; I say, and I believe it quite as strongly as hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway believe that it is necessary, that Home Rule is unnecessary, that it would be bad for the United Kingdom as a whole, and I believe bad for Ireland. For that reason I still oppose it. But while we oppose this Bill root and branch, yet we are discussing it in Committee, and the ground on which we are discussing it is that we will support any Amendment which, bad as the Bill seems to us to be, would make it less bad than it was before the Amendment was introduced. That is the line on which I, and I hope my hon. Friends will support the Amendment. That is the ground which we can justify, as I am perfectly certain that on any principle on which hon. Gentlemen have gone to the 781 platforms of this country, it is utterly impossible to justify their refusal to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
Unlike the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, if there is one part of public policy in which I believe it is the policy of devolution and Home Rule. I am of opinion that the differences of which we have heard will in time pass away, though at the same time the great difficulty in carrying Home Rule is Ulster. The Ulster difficulty is a very real one, but I believe in time Ulster will throw in her lot with the rest of the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Never."] I have a right to my opinion as well as others, and that is my belief. At the same time I think the proposal which has been made for separate representation of these Northern counties of Ireland, however fantastic it may be considered will not be the only thing fantastic in our Constitution, and if it be fantastic, yet I think it may be expedient. I believe the proposal ought to be accepted, and, therefore, I support it.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
A very interesting Debate has been initiated at rather an inconvenient hour. It touches on what is really the most difficult question for the Government and its supporters that can be raised. As my right hon. Friend has very truly said the Bill contains a great many serious objections, but we object to the constitution of an Irish nationality and we do not believe it is a reality. I do think, however, that the Amendment makes this great difference, that if we put it into the Bill—I do not go into the precise number of counties, or whether there should be one or two more—it substantially excludes the North-East of Ireland, and would make this great difference that it would save the measure on its becoming law from leading to an immediate and violent crisis. I do not believe Home Rule will ever work well, but if this Amendment were accepted I think it would avoid the violent shock which might otherwise arise on its becoming law. If you reject this Amendment, if you insist on forcing on the minority in the North-East of Ireland, a system of Government which they detest, no one can doubt that there will be a violent crisis. There is something more important than how we are going to conduct banking and business, and what we want to hear from the Government is their policy with regard to Ulster. They say they are not going to accept this 782 Amendment now. We want to know what is their alternative plan. How are they going to deal with the situation which is going to be created. We were discussing some time ago when the Bill was to come into force. Suppose after the statutory two years a Bill comes into force, and the Irish Parliament comes into existence in September, 1915, we should have a General Election by law in December, 1915, by effluxion of time. How are you going to deal, in the face of the ordinary General Election, with the question of Ulster, which will then be very nearly a burning one? Hon. Members would then have to face the situation in which they found themselves. They would then have the alternative either of receding at the last moment or of sending troops to impose the Bill by force on Ireland. I am quite confident that when the time comes not a soldier will be sent. No one who knows how British Governments conduct their affairs supposes that any British Government, even the present one, could in the name of self-government, send troops to shoot down people and force them under a Parliament they detested. That is an absurdity which no Government could possibly be guilty of, but then what are you going to do? My right hon. Friends sit in positions of responsibility, and naturally hesitate to declare that they are in favour of rebellion, even of the most justifiable kind. I am in a position of less responsibility, and I have no hesitation in saying that Ulster will be perfectly right in resisting, and I hope she will be successful. In so far as my influence goes, I shall do my best to help and assist her—I do not suppose in fighting, but in whatever way which is most helpful.
I want to know what the Government and hon. Members are going to do, and how are they going to get out of the difficulty they are creating? One of them, supported by another hon. Member, reasonably suggested this Amendment. It is a far stronger Amendment from their point of view than it is from ours, as my right hon. Friend has truly pointed out. From their point of view it is both the logical sequence of their proposal, and it does remove or mitigate one of the great dangers that threatens them. Why is anyone who believes in Home Rule afraid of this Amendment? What would happen? You would have a frontier in Ireland. On one side you would have all the benefits of self-government, local autonomy, that which has carried so much benefit, as hon. Members think, to all parts of the world, and 783 on the other side you would have the domination of the Saxons, and the tyranny from which you are going to free the rest of Ireland. Can you doubt, if your principles are true, that between the one side and the other the unhappy counties will find they have made a mistake, and very soon come round to the notion that they would be much better under a Home Rule Parliament, and hasten to place themselves under it? If you believe in your principles, can you doubt that? We naturally take a very different view of what would be the result of exhibiting the two forms of Government side by side. How can you take that view? Can you suppose, if you put Home Rule side by side with the Union and exhibit it side by side, that if there is a word of truth in what you say, or an iota of reality in your case, but that sooner or later Ulster would make haste to join the rest of the country? So it seems to me if they reject this Amendment, and it is very difficult for hon. Members to resist it, they abandon the whole case they have put forward. They are in favour of self-government. Does not self-government extend to Antrim, Armagh, and the rest of the counties? They are in favour of recognising common sympathy as the basis of nationality. Is the common sympathy of Unionist Antrim, Down, and Armagh and the rest with the United Kingdom not to be regarded? They are in favour of trying to heal an ancient dispute, and they think they are going to do it. Is it not best not to try and force together those who are divided by age-long differences?
The right hon. Gentleman makes a mistake in supposing that the question is only a religious question. It is a religious question aggravated by long-continued partisan disputes. Of course, we all know that people of different religions can often live happily under one Government, but not where there has been a long and bitter dispute extending over many years. Why not act on your own principles, and trust the theory which you preach to us? Why not take this Amendment which logically carries them out, and then, relying on your principles, sooner or later the matter will turn as you desire? Hon. Members behind me take the opposite view when it comes to the point of cutting out Ulster. They want Nationalist and Roman Catholic Ireland with loyalist and Protestant money. They are not satisfied with the true basis of their nationality, if such a thing exists: they want, as an hon. Member very truly said, to take the honey out 784 of the hive of North-East Ulster, and people who take honey out of hives commonly get stung. I suggest that in the end it will be wiser for the Government to act according to their own principles, even though the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) does not allow them. They have as much to offer the hon. and learned Member for Waterford as he has to offer them. Why should it be always they that are sold and he that is bought in these transactions? Why do they always have to meet his wishes and never ask that he should meet theirs? After all, they have got to justify, two years hence or three years, to the British electorate the policy of either giving in to Ulster or coercing Ulster. What is the use of not facing the facts of the case, and of being blind to what is evidently true? This is not a matter to be shirked over by a pleasant answer like that which the Chief Secretary has given. It is the great reality of the question, and unless the Government have an alternative scheme to this Amendment they are mad in their own interests, and still more in the interests of the country, in not accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. PIRIE
I must say that I think the Committee is entitled to some answer from the Government to the question which has been put to the Government by the Leader of the Opposition when he asked for some explanation to the very striking allusions which were made in the Second Reading Debate both by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and also by the Attorney-General, as regards the intentions of the Government on this matter. This is only one of the instances of reticence for which I have to criticise and find fault with the Government. Right through all this Debate in Committee we have to go through point after point of importance, and unless we have information of what the intentions of the Government are, then as far as I am concerned, on every occasion that I am in doubt as to what my position will be owing to the uncertainty, evasiveness, and wilful reticence of the Government, they will lose the benefit of the doubt unless they clear up the situation. They seem to imagine because we are here as a party we are to be deprived of all powers, save simply voting, because they chose to give vague descriptions about federalism and other things. To my mind this is far too important a matter to the welfare of the subordinate nationalities of the Kingdom to be treated as an Irish 785 question. Let me look at it as regards the immediate question under Debate. When I spoke on the Second Reading I distinctly laid down this proposition, that I believed it to be the bounden duty of the Government to give Ulster the opportunity of standing out of this Bill. I expressed the opinion also that I believed Ulster would not take advantage of that offer. I would put this case before the Committee: Suppose after the declared intentions of the Government to treat this Irish question as only part of a great Imperial question that they were to go on with a federal system for the United Kingdom, what would be the case of Ulster then? Do the Ulster Members say that if federation as regards the United Kingdom were carried out, if all the subordinate nationalities of the United Kingdom had Parliaments of their own, Ulster would stand alone? I believe that if the Government were perfectly frank, the case from the Imperial point of view as regards Ulster itself would be made infinitely easier. The Government are their worst enemies by the course of studied silence that they are pursuing. The Noble Lord opposite dealt with the same question. He wanted to know, as we all want to know, what the Government are going to do. Believing, as I do, that the Government suffer from their reticence, I shall support the Amendment. Supposing this federal system for the United Kingdom were carried out, there might be one other alternative for these four counties when brought face to face with the question, either of joining the Irish Parliament or of standing aloof. Supposing there were a Parliament for Scotland, they might possibly elect to join that Parliament instead of the Irish Parliament. Anyway, they might be given the choice. For these reasons I shall support the Amendment.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I do not know what my hon. Friend means by his charge of excessive reticence. We have discussed this matter in principle and in detail at very great length on the Second Reading. Neither I myself nor my colleagues have shown the slightest reluctance to grapple with the question in all its aspects. I should like to recall the attention of the Committee to the Amendment before us. I listened with very great interest to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, particularly to its concluding part, in which he announced his intention of voting in favour of the Amendment. I have not yet heard from any of the representatives 786 of Ulster—Who at this moment are conspicuous by their absence, but perhaps we shall hear their opinion soon—whether or not they approve of and accept the advice of the Leader of the Opposition. In anticipation of their statement, let me point out what their position is. The theory of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite is that you cannot trust the Protestants of Ireland— what are called the Loyalist minority—to the tender mercies of an Irish Parliament; that if you do so they will be persecuted or oppressed from the point of view both of religion, of social equality, and of social, political, and industrial rights. That is their position, and that is the basis to a very large extent of the whole argument against Home Rule. What is the effect of this Amendment? Let us accept their premise. By accepting this Amendment you will take out from Ireland just that body of the Protestant minority which is best able to protect itself, and you will leave without any kind of redress or protection not only the scattered Protestant minority in the south and west, but the Protestants in the remaining parts of the province of Ulster. Was there ever such a self-stultifying Amendment? I do not wonder it has not been moved by any of the representatives of Ulster itself. Are these chivalrous champions of the rights of the Protestant minority going to take shelter in what my hon. Friend has so kindly provided, in this oasis, or Alsatia, or whatever you may call it, in which they are a majority, in which they are exposed to no kind of hardship or injustice, in which they may snap their fingers at their Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. It is really a most extraordinary proposition. We shall be glad to hear what the representatives of Ulster have to say regarding it. As to our position it is perfectly plain. References have been made to statements made by some of my colleagues and certainly by myself, when, speaking on the First and Second Readings, we said we were most anxious—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The statement to which I referred was by the Foreign Secretary. I am speaking from memory, but my recollection of what the Foreign Secretary said was that if Ulster continued to resist it would be possible to make another arrangement.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That remains to be seen. My right hon. Friend was speaking of the future. I thought the right hon. Gentleman referred to another 787 statement—certainly my hon. Friend did— a statement which I am very glad to repeat, namely, that we are as anxious as anybody can be to secure in this Bill the most adequate and complete safeguards possible against religious or any other persecution. Any practical suggestion proceeding from the Members from Ulster, or from any other quarter of the House, which will supplement or render more effective the safeguards that we believe we have adequately provided, will be received by us with the utmost sympathy and consideration. There is no step in that direction that we are not perfectly ready to face. This Amendment proceeds on an assumption which I believe is radically false, namely, that you can split Ireland into parts. You can no more split Ireland into parts than you can split England or Scotland into parts. Without in any way disparaging or expressing anything in the nature of disrespect for the demonstration in Ulster, I say that you have in Ireland a greater fundamental unity of race, temperament, and tradition—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—I am expressing my own opinion, which I believe to be justified by experience. You have an essential unity of race and temperament, although I agree that unhappily dissensions have been rank, partially by religion, and partially, as the right hon. Gentleman said, by the organisation of partisanship. These dissensions have spread, and have had a most noxious influence, both on the social and on the religious life of Ireland; but they are dissensions I believe which do not go down to the foundation of the national life. The more Irishmen are encouraged and empowered to cooperate in the great works of governing their own country, the more convinced am I that these differences will disappear. It will not be by the waving of a magician's wand, but they will be reconciled, and in the course of time completely disappear in that common sense of fundamental and overpowering unity which I believe to be the centre of Irish nationality.
§ Mr. LONG
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has never shown, if I may venture to say so, a more brilliant example of dexterity in Debate than in the speech he has just made. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University put the case with absolute clearness to the Government, and asked for their answer. The Prime Minister carefully avoided 788 giving any answer, or of attempting to state the position of the Government. Dexterous and clever as the Prime Minister is, he knows that this task, at all events, is beyond his power. He therefore does not attempt either to answer the questions of my Noble Friend or to deal with the criticisms of his own supporters. I find something to complain about in the opening remarks of the Prime Minister. I readily admit that he never fails in courtesy to his political opponents, but on this occasion he was extremely unfair in the method and manner of his comments. He kept saying to us on this side of the House, "You hold this view and that view, and that religious difficulties will make government impossible," ignoring the fact that this Amendment had been moved from his own side, and, so far, has found two supporters on his own side. He talked about the representatives of Ulster in a way which I thought was unfortunate. He suggested, without the smallest foundation for it, that in the action of the Ulster Members, if they voted for this Amendment, there will be found betrayal of the cause of their fellow-Unionists in Ireland. Had he listened to the speech of my Noble Friend, and if the Prime Minister believes in the policy of which he is the head and front in this House, as my Noble Friend so well said, if he believes that Home Rule is going to bring all these blessings upon Ireland, what is the best way to do, to allow Ulster to see these blessings adjoining her, and so later desire to share them, or to tell her she will have to take Home Rule at the point of the bayonet?
My Noble Friend said, and was entitled to say on behalf of the Opposition, that we are justified in asking the Government what is their policy. The Prime Minister declines to answer. They have never told us yet what is their policy, what is the method by which they are going, as he says now, to find a way in which the opposition of Ulster is to be overcome. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked the Government a further question which the Prime Minister declines to answer. He referred to the speeches made by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and by the First Lord of the Admiralty. I did not hear that of the Foreign Secretary. I did hear that of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and I say that the First Lord made the most definite overtures for the exclusion of Ulster. He not only used language which at that time was unmistakable, but he said he would 789 like discussion of this question as between the different parties in Ireland. What was the meaning of that speech? Was it made by the First Lord of the Admiralty without consultation with his colleagues? If so, that is a new way, and another novel departure on the part of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. We always used to understand that when a Minister who was a member of the Cabinet spoke from his place in Parliament and used definite statements, or made definite suggestions, that he spoke not for himself, but for the whole Government of which he was a member. That is the whole principle of Cabinet responsibility, and government by Cabinet. If the First Lord made his statement without the knowledge and approval of his colleagues he had no business to make that speech, because it clearly indicated that there was in the minds of the Government some question of the adoption of this Amendment.
I have given careful consideration to this question. I foresaw it would be an extremely difficult question. Some of us have had to make up our minds, and there is undoubtedly a great deal to be said for and against the Amendment. The Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary, and especially the latter, did not touch upon the greater difficulties which I thought he might have touched upon—the difficulties in connection with administration, local government, and so on. When I am asked by the Prime Minister how I, a Unionist, who has worked in the closest possible alliance and cordial friendship with my Unionist Friends in the North of Ireland, can support an Amendment of this kind, I tell him not only why, but why I feel bound to support it. It is because I have asked myself the question that the Prime Minister, when he is asked, declines to answer, and which I venture to think he has not asked himself as he ought to have done before he made himself responsible for this Bill. I asked myself what is the policy that Ulster will adopt if this Bill is forced upon them? What is to be the language of those who are Ulstermen; the opinions held by those who are in Ulster; the action of Ulster? I can only say that if I lived in Ulster and had the Ulster feelings and the Ulster traditions—not holding the ideas which the Prime Minister gave utterance to at the end of his speech, or indulging in vague hopes based upon purely imaginary ideas—holding those views if I were an Ulsterman. knowing that all that I cared most for and held most dear would be endangered, and it being my solemn 790 opinion as an Ulsterman that the liberties and privileges not only of myself, but of my children, would be endangered—
§ Mr. LONG
I am not saying whether the Ulstermen are right or wrong; I said if I were an Ulsterman, and believe as the Ulstermen do believe—the hon. Member must not misinterpret my remarks, for I said perfectly plainly, if I were an Ulsterman and holding the views of Ulstermen— I should resist Home Rule by every means in my power. Holding that view—I have expressed it on many occasions—how can I vote against the proposal which offers to give a portion of Ulster, not the whole, but a portion, that which Ulstermen say they will fight in order to maintain? That is the only answer I can give. The Prime Minister has given a different answer. He says that in our interests as a whole, in the interests of Ulster as a whole, this Amendment is to be refused. Then I say if that is the line which he takes up in his responsible position as head of the Government, he is bound to answer the further questions which were put to him, and which we have put to ourselves and have answered; he is bound, I say, to tell us what is the policy of the Government in regard to Ulster. You refuse to bring them in by showing them the advantages side by side of your form with their form of government; you refuse to do it by gentle measures. Are you afraid to say that when the time comes you will force upon them that which you cannot get them to accept by the sword, the bayonet, and the use of force. You must make up your minds. You have no right to pass this Bill and decline to face the possibilities of the future, and to say "Let to-morrow take care of itself." You have declarations made to you solemnly, and made by men who are in deadly earnest, by men pledged to the action they mean to take. We have answered our question. Great though the difficulty and manifest though the disadvantages are, I shall vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member, and I believe the great majority of my Friends on this side of the House will vote for it not because we like it—we detest it all cordially, and are opposed to it all—but because it is the only answer we can give to the question which every honest man must ask himself, "what is my duty towards those who say no power on earth will induce them to accept Home Rule?"
§ Sir JOHN JARDINE
I am well satisfied with the answer given by the Prime Minister. I have not spoken in these Debates upon this Bill at all, and I would have remained silent but for the fact that the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University challenged all Members sitting on this side of the House, including myself, to say what is their attitude on this matter. He stated that we were unsettled in our views, and did not know our own minds, and that we were following our leaders in this matter like sheep. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has, to some extent, adopted that argument. Let me first of all, as an officer of long Indian experience, express my dislike to any arguments being used here which threaten force in resistance of laws that may be passed by the Imperial Parliament. The reports of our Debates in this House go to the furthest limits of our Empire, and I am sure that in a country like India it would be a bad thing if, time after time, these threats of force and the use of the bayonet and the sword and so forth are to be used against measures lawfully passed through Parliament. These things, published in India, are bound to have bad effect. I know the excuse is that it has been done on many occasions; this kind of argument was used in another place. The record of Debates show that it was used in the time when the Irish Church Disestablishment Act was under consideration. I think that kind of reasoning is doing very considerable injury. Although I am afraid I may be repeating the arguments of the Prime Minister, I wish to say, because I have been challenged to do so, why I will not vote for this Amendment. I answer at once that this Amendment is not proposed by Members from Ulster. In a previous Debate It was asked what is the demand of that part of Ulster which objects to this Bill. We have had no answer. So far as I understand from previous speeches this will not help Ulster or cause Ulster Members to look favourably on this Bill. Why should I vote for a palliative that will not be any real medicine for the disease and that will bring no balm to Ulster minds?
This is a proposal to make these four Ulster counties into a place like Newfoundland. Newfoundland has a Government of its own; it did not want to be merged with the great Dominion of Canada. Why should we turn into a component part certain counties of Ulster? There is no 792 natural frontier between those counties and the rest of Ireland. Why dissever them and make them into another Newfoundland? That would not conduce to good government. After the Rebellion in Scotland the chiefs of the Highlands and many of their followers did not want to be incorporated for the future, but, so far as I remember, there was no suggestion that the Highlands should be made into a separate province, and I do not think any Scotch Member will rise in his place and say that it would have been a good thing for Scotland to make them a separate province. The Union of Highland and Lowland in Scotland has produced an effect which we hope will be the same in Ireland. In Scotland they have one opinion and one aim. They fought for their interests and they are thankful to be regarded as Scotchmen, and there is no demand for separation in the Highlands or in the Lowlands among the Catholics or the Protestants. Their tendency is for Scotch Home Rule and not for division. I think I have answered the argument of menace and physical force against the law—the argument of the Die-Hards, and I think I have answered the argument of trying to split up Ireland and contrasted it with the advantage of uniting all parts of Ireland together. There are Protestants in the South of Ireland and Catholics in the North of Ireland, and, moreover, there has been times in Irish history when all parties have got on very well together under their own legislation. We are all familiar with the long standing quarrel and bitter feeling that has come down to this time.
My chief reason for objecting to this Amendment is that I think it is only by binding all parts of Ireland together and requiring them to live together under Constitutional Government, with all the safeguards in the Bill, that we can make Ireland prosperous and contented. The Prime Minister has offered to insert any other safeguards that may be necessary. It is not by slight alterations such as proposed by this Amendment which is not asked for, but is rather denounced by our opponents, and which will only be voted for by hon. Gentlemen opposite, because it is proposed from this side of the House that you will settle this question. It is not an offer from Ulster. I think it is high time now after generations of disturbance in Ireland that better feelings on both sides should prevail. We are trying by this process and by this new framework of a constitution to make a new 793 departure. Might I illustrate the position by a homely little story from Scotland. There was a wee boy and his parents provided him with a pair of "breeks"; they were made well and fitted him well for a long time. They were fashioned to his little limbs and suited his disposition, and he was well satisfied with them and an anxious world of parents and neighbours admired them. After a time the boy began to complain of pains and restrictions. These breeks, he said, hurt his tender limbs. They were not loose enough for comfort; they were too narrow for expansion: in fact they hindered his growth, and he longed for trousers. But his parents and admiring friends, admirers of the garment that once fitted him well, and careless of the flight of time, refused him all relief from his hide-bound state. Canny as to spending money, stoutly conservative in opinions, they insisted that the breeks, venerable during the past, should endure as his covering for the future. But all in vain. What was the result? One fine morning the question solved itself ambulando. As he jumped a ditch, crack went the breeks.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I do not know how this question of "breeks" affects the position, but I am sure if the First Lord of the Admiralty had the benefit of hearing this story he might have a different view of the rights and wrongs of Ulster. The Prime Minister tried to put hon. Members on this side of the House on the horns of a dilemma as to how we should vote in regard to this Bill. I am sorry the Prime Minister is not here, because a more ungenerous position in which he attempted to place us has seldom been put before the House. His argument seemed to be: "Although you are convinced that the people of Ulster would be badly treated under the provisions of this Bill, although you believe in all honesty that you are placing the men of North-East Ulster under the heel of their hereditary enemies, you are not entitled to come to their rescue because there are a number of other men in the south and west who are going to be equally illtreated under the provisions of this Bill." Really, I think I am justified in saying that that was an ungenerous attempt to put us on the horns of a dilemma, when, as a matter of fact, there is no difficulty whatever as to how we should vote. I most honestly believe that the men of Ulster believe they are going to be wronged. Not only that, but I believe myself they are going to be wronged by 794 this Bill, and I have made that statement on scores of platforms.
I believe that the people of Ulster and the people of the South and West of Ireland will be badly treated as soon as the hon. and learned Member for Waterford becomes Prime Minister of Ireland. At any rate, that is my honest belief, and I may be wrong. That is the view I take, and I think it is the view which is reasonable for any one of us to take, having regard to the past history of the Irish party and their dealings with the loyalists of Ireland. My position is perfectly clear. I see an opportunity of rescuing from the domination of the Irish party one province. I admit that I cannot rescue the loyalists from the South and West of Ireland, but I can rescue the loyalists from the North-East of Ulster. This proposal does not quite include the whole of Ulster, but it can easily be extended to achieve that object. My position is much the same as that of the leader of an army who has two of his garrisons in the enemy's country very seriously beleaguered. Is he not to attempt to rescue one of those garrisons because he is not able to rescue the both. This Amendment gives us the opportunity at any rate of rescuing one. The Prime Minister says that by voting for this Amendment we are leaving to the tender mercies of the Irish party the loyalists of the south and west, but had the right hon. Gentleman realised more fully what his own colleagues have said with regard to the position of Ulster, he would not have made that statement. The First Lord of the Admiralty realised the position of Ulster a good deal more seriously than the Prime Minister, who treated the whole question exceedingly lightly, as it seems his policy to treat all the Amendments we have moved this afternoon. I am not going to deal with the suggestions made by the First Lord of the Admiralty, but I want to call the attention of the Committee to the way in which the First Lord openly admitted the genuineness of the Ulster case. He said:—I admit that the perfectly genuine apprehension felt by a majority of the people of North-East Ulster constitutes a most serious barrier to a satisfactory settlement, and it is impossible for a Liberal Government to cavalierly or contemptuously to ignore the sincere sentiment of the well-defined community of the Protestants of Ireland.I wish the First Lord of the Admiralty had heard his leader treat cavalierly and almost contemptuously the opinions of the 795 people of the North-East of Ireland. He said:—We may think they are unreasonable, but there they are, no one disputes the honesty of their opinion. We may think their opinions are prejudiced, but they are facts of a most stubborn kind.If we exempt Ulster from this Bill we shall be providing them, not as the Prime Minister remarked with an Alsatia, but with a strong coherent body of opinion in the North-East of Ireland independent of the hon. and learned Member for Water, ford and his colleagues and not within their jurisdiction, not amenable to their pressure, and we should provide them with some way which they could flee to, and a strong body who would be able to defend themselves against possible persecution from the Nationalist party. The only crime of the men of the North of Ireland is their loyalty to the Union Jack, and every single argument the Prime Minister has used in the course of his speech, every single argument in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, can be used in favour of the exemption and separate treatment of Ulster. The only argument the Prime Minister has adduced for granting Home Rule is the consistent demand of the Nationalist party, and that is the only demand and the only argument which has come from any quarter of this House. We have not heard it argued that Home Rule is going to improve the position of Great Britain, or that it is going to include the Army, the Navy, the Civil Service, commerce, or agriculture. The only argument is that we must give Home Rule because the Irish people have demanded it for the last thirty years. The Prime Minister said that the verdict in favour for Home Rule was the same in 1886 and 1892, and he says:—One thing that has remained constant is the insistence and persistence of the Irish demand.That is the Prime Minister's reason for granting Home Rule to Ireland. I venture to say that during that same period of thirty years the one thing that has been maintained is the insistent and persistent Ulser demand not to be put under the heel of an Irish Parliament. Every argument the Prime Minister has used in favour of granting Home Rule to placate the Nationalist demand can be used in favour of granting the Ulster demand, because their demand has been just as sincere and just as insistent and persistent as has been the demand of the Nationalist party for Home Rule. I said just now that I was honestly of the opinion that if Home Rule 796 was granted to Ireland it would be detrimental to the commercial well-being and material prosperity of the people of Ulster. I cannot help remembering in this connection a speech made by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. John Dillon) when one of the previous Home Rule Bills was being debated. I do not hesitate to say that is a speech which in England has made more converts from the Liberal party against Home Rule, and made more men determined under no circumstances to vote for Home Rule, than any other. I do not think it has ever been apologised for or withdrawn. The hon. Member said:—When we come out of the struggle we will remember who were the people's friends and who were the people's enemies, and we will mete out our reward to the one and our punishment to the other.That, to my mind, is a sufficient reason why every loyal Member of the Conservative and Unionist party, yes, and every loyal and honest Englishman on the other side of the House, and every man who is not fettered by the party whip, should join in this Amendment in order that at least we may save the people of Ulster from having the rewards of punishment meted out to them by the hon. Members who sit below the Gangway.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I cannot understand why, in the speech he made, the Prime Minister altogether ignored the point which seems to me to be the one above all others of importance in this discussion. The Prime Minister asked those who sit on this side of the House what is their attitude towards the Amendment, but, having regard to the plain and simple fact that this is a Bill brought in by the Government to disturb the whole existing order of government in Ireland, surely the onus of answering the question, "What are you going to do about Ulster?" lies upon the Government. Before any of us are asked what our view is with regard to this Amendment, we want to know the answer of the Government to that question. We want to know whether they agree with some of their more irresponsible supporters in the Press, particularly I think in the "Daily Chronicle," that the Opposition of Ulster is a false opposition, and that there is no real feeling against Home Rule, and that it has died down since the first and second Home Rule Bills? We want to know whether they think, if this Bill is passed into law, it will be accepted by Ulster? We want to know whether they agree with that view or whether they agree with the view of the First Lord of the Admiralty that there are 797 difficulties to be got over in Ulster, and that there are claims of Ulster which have got to be satisfied? My hon. Friend quoted some apposite words used by the First Lord of the Admiralty in his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, and that right hon. Gentleman has emphasised that point in other speeches which he has made. He emphasised it at Belfast, where he said:—When Ulster insist upon their own rights and "privileges, they are in a very strong and respectable position.I would like to ask the representative of of the Irish Department of Agriculture (Mr. T. W. Russell) what the Government propose to do regarding those rights and privileges of Ulster? In spite of what has been said by the irresponsible supporters of the Government in the Press, and of the laughter below the Gangway on both sides of the House, when any reference is made to the armed opposition of Ulster to this Bill, I believe there is not a man who in his heart of hearts does not know you cannot pass this Bill without the acquiescence of Ulster. You have got to come to terms with Ulster before you pass this measure. I should like to know what is the real mind of the hon. Gentleman who represents the Irish Board of Agriculture. No one has had a greater experience of affairs in Ireland. Is he prepared to get up and say the opposition to Home Rule in Ulster is less acute and is easier to be got over than it was in the case of the two previous Bills?
§ The VICE-PRESIDENT of the DEPARTMENT of AGRICULTURE, IRELAND (Mr. T. W. Russell)
I spoke on the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I know it is true the hon. Gentleman spoke on the Second Reading of the Bill, but he never answered that question. The hon. Member made many speeches both in this House and in the country at the time of the two former Home Rule Bills, and he showed then as strongly as any hon. Member has shown in this Debate the impossibility of carrying any Home Rule Bill which Ulster refused to accept. There are, we know, certain methods open to any Government of sending up toy balloons to see which way the wind is blowing, and there have been suggestions made, in the "Morning Post" and other papers, that there will be some compromise with Ulster. Therefore, when the Prime Minister comes down and says the onus is upon us to say what we will accept, surely we are entitled to ask: "What are 798 you going to do? What is your proposal? Are you prepared to stick to the proposals in the Bill throughout?" It is perfectly clear the Government would like to proceed if they could by the most devious by-paths to compromise this question, and I believe before the Committee stage of this Bill is over they will be prepared to suggest some compromise. I say therefore we are entitled to ask the Government to-night what is their suggestion. They know perfectly well they cannot force Ulster to accept this Bill if they do not want to do so.
My Noble Friend the hon. Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) has already pointed out the absurdity, if this Bill passes into law in its present form, and if Ulster takes the method of objecting she most certainly will take, of reducing Ulster to a state of subjection by sending the King's troops against her. Is there any man in the Government who is prepared to ask the King's troops to go and fire on men who have been loyal to the Union Jack for the sake of those who have trampled upon it? Heaven help the men of the South of Ireland who attempt to march against Belfast in order to bring her to subjection. Are the Government prepared to send the King's troops to do that? Everyone knows they are not prepared to do so, and everyone who knows the mind of the Government and sees it expressed in their party Press knows they would avoid that contingency if they could possibly get out of it. Just as they are ready to make any bargain, however sordid, with those who sit below the Gangway, so they would be prepared to make any bargain with us in order to avoid the Ulster difficulty. We know the recent exposure with regard to what took place at the Veto Conference two years ago. They are ready to make any bargain. The only reason they have been so silent on the present occasion is that they know those who sit on this side of the House will come to no bargain of any kind and come to no compromise. It is because they are on the horns of that dilemma, and not we, that they are unable to give us any answer to our question. I do not know what the result of the voting on this Amendment may be, but, at any rate, it will have one useful effect; it will show to the Committee and to the country that the Government themselves, unless they can come to some arrangement with the representatives of Ulster who sit on this side, realise that the Bill is dead from the start. We have had it from the Prime Minister 799 that that is the case. I should very much like, in conclusion, to ask one question of the representative of the Board of Agriculture in Ireland (Mr. T. W. Russell), in reference to what the Prime Minister said upon Ulster in the course of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman said, "You can no more split up Ireland than the United Kingdom." Did the right hon. Gentleman mean that they had departed from the policy recently contemplated of extending the principle of Home Rule to Scotland and Wales? Has that been abandoned by the Government? [An HON. MEMBER: "He never said so."] I, at any rate, understood the Prime Minister to say that you could no more split up Ireland than the United Kingdom. If he intended it to apply only to England, I would ask does that include Wales, and has the intention of giving Wales Home Rule been abandoned? I have never heard an argument of a more boomerang nature than the one used just now. We were told that it was impossible to adopt the Amendment because it was impossible to split up Ireland. If it is true you cannot split up Ireland into two governments, it must be equally true you cannot split up the United Kingdom into four governments. The two things hang completely together, and one would hardly have thought it necessary to emphasise the fact. The whole thing is an absurdity. It would be equally sensible to say that we in the county of Sussex are a separate nationality from the people of London. No one in their senses would suggest there are not two nationalities in Ireland. But if the argument holds good in one case it must hold good in all cases. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, with his knowledge of Irish affairs, will give us a more adequate answer than that given by the Prime Minister to our question—"if you do not accept our Amendment, if you do not exclude Ulster from the Bill, what are you going to do unless Ulster agrees to the proposal?" We know that she is determined not to agree; she is determined by every means in her power to oppose it. She is pledged, and she has never yet broken her pledge, if necessary to oppose it by armed force. We have never had an answer to that question; we also have never had an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman why in the years 1886–1893 he made speeches in this House and outside showing how impossible it was to carry the Bill if in face of the opposi- 800 tion of Ulster. We have never been told why he has now altered that view, and I venture to say we should all welcome some declaration from him to-night.
§ Mr. MORTON
I understand the Noble Lord to say that the people of Ulster and hon. Members on the other side, speaking on their behalf decline to make any bargain on this question. Hon. Members opposite have said the very same thing in regard to every reform for the last fifty years. Of course they are quite right in taking up that attitude from their point of view. I sympathise very largely with my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment. I am quite as anxious as he is to protect the Protestants of Ulster. I have voted with him on several occasions against the present Government during the last few years, and I should not hesitate to again vote against the Government if I thought they were doing anything likely to injure Protestants in any way in Ireland or elsewhere. I am afraid, however, that my hon. Friend is going the wrong way to protect the Protestants. If you took the Ulster Protestants out of the Irish Parliament you would be damaging the Protestants in the other parts of Ireland. I hope-to see the day when the Protestants will be in power in this Irish Parliament. Indeed, I confidently anticipate that that day will come, but I do not think that, by keeping them out of Parliament, you are doing anything but harm to the Protestants living in other parts of Ireland. May I point out that we are told that nearly half the residents in Ulster are Roman Catholics. Why should they not ask to be separated as well? If you are going to cut out the Ulster Protestants you will take from the Protestants in other parts of Ireland the very protection which you desire should be given to them. I desire to strengthen the Protestant representation in the new Parliament: not to weaken it. I was glad to hear the Prime Minister say that he was willing to consider the making of the safeguards, if necessary, stronger than they appear to be at the present moment. I should be out of order if I were to discuss that question now, but there can be no difficulty in making them so strong as to properly protect the Protestants, and I certainly, in view of the Prime Minister's promise to consider the matter favourably, shall take the opportunity of proposing some Amendment with a view to strengthen them when we come to the Clause dealing with that point. On the 801 Second Heading we had no opportunity of discussing this matter at all. There is no doubt that some of us on this side of the House were not allowed the opportunity we ought to have had of debating this Bill. We are as much interested as anybody else. I cannot support the Amendment, but I am quite as anxious as anybody in the Committee to protect Protestants wherever necessary, in Ireland or in any other part of the United Kingdom. I cannot see that the Amendment covers all parts of Ireland, because it apparently leaves out the city of Londonderry altogether.
§ Mr. MORTON
Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that the city of Londonderry is not in the county of Londonderry! I am sorry to have to teach Irish Members something about the geography of their own country, but having been a part owner of property in the city of Londonderry, I happen to know something about it. It was carved out of county Donegal, and, geographically, it remains in that county, with the exception of a little bit on the south side of the river. Therefore my hon. Friend has left out a part in which I am actually interested. From my knowledge of the city of Londonderry, I do not think the Protestants there need have any fear. They are not in the majority now. It is worth bearing in mind that since the Catholics became the majority the city of Londonderry has been more quiet and orderly than it ever was before. They have stopped the regular riots they used to have every year, and they have removed the muskets, and from my experience of the Catholics in the city of Londonderry, I do not think you will have any complaint to make of them. I notice this, too, in regard to Londonderry, that although they may call themselves Unionists and all that sort of thing, they were most anxious, and probably more anxious than Nationalists, to take advantage of every Act that Parliament had passed for the benefit of Irishmen, whether in connection with the land or otherwise. I have no doubt that if this Home Rule Bill is passed they are the people who will make use of it. They will insist on getting all they can out of it, and no doubt all the Saxon money as well. I should have been very glad if we could have come to terms with the Ulster people, but I do not see how it is possible to cut Ulster away 802 from the rest of Ireland. I do not think there is any necessity for making a bargain in any part of the United Kingdom, except in regard to the safeguards which have been mentioned by the Prime Minister. In that connection we are entitled to ask for the assistance of Parliament. Otherwise, I really cannot see what good it will do to anybody to cut out these four or five counties. Although I am sorry I cannot support my hon. Friend on this occasion, I hope I shall be always with him in support of Protestants and Protestantism in this country.
§ Mr. JAMES MASON
The reason for granting Home Rule has been based mainly on the suggested fact that there has been a consistent and steady demand for it from the majority of the people in Ireland. If that demand is to be used as a strong argument for granting Home Rule to the majority in Ireland, surely the fact that Ulster demands to be left out of the bargain should be granted some consideration? What is to be the position of Ulster under this arrangement? What is the objection to leaving Ulster out of the bargain? I suppose, partly, it is a geographical objection? But the principle objection really is that Ulster is the most bleedable part of the whole of Ireland, and that the Irish Parliament looks forward to getting more money from the people who live in that part of Ireland than from any other. Certainly the financial proposals in this measure make it not only likely, but almost certain, that the financial legislation of the Irish Parliament will be so framed and the raising of new taxes will be so ordered, that the burden will fall principally on the manufacturing districts—that is to say, to a great extent on Ulster, and not on the rural and agricultural parts of Ireland. The second question which affects the position of Ulster is to what extent the power of this Parliament will be maintained for protecting the individuals who inhabit that part of Ireland from unfair treatment from those who inhabit the rest of Ireland. The question is whether the so-called supremacy and safeguards which you propose to introduce into this Bill are of any real value at all. It is extremely doubtful, no matter what nominal or verbal safeguards you introduce, whether you can really do anything effective short of employing force, which of course, you do not for a moment contemplate. We all know that, theoretically, we retain supremacy over the 803 Dominions of the Empire. We know that legally we can raise money and impose taxes in those Dominions; but we know equally well that practically we can do nothing of the kind, and that as for any kind of interference in their local legislation, we are as absolutely powerless as if we had no legal authority.
The question is whether this House is to have the power to maintain certain big features of administrative machinery which will tend to the safety of all the inhabitants of that country. Can this Parliament be assured that such a thing as trial by jury will be maintained in Ireland? So far as I can see, it will be competent for the Irish Parliament to do away with that method of trial and to substitute some other. I fail to see how the Imperial Parliament could interfere, short of using force, in carrying out that interference. What is to be done if Ulster is treated unfairly by the Irish Parliament? What can the Irish Parliament do to resist interference of that kind? It can do what has already been done on several occasions. The Irish Parliament can put the Lord Lieutenant in an immediate difficulty by resigning office. That has been done on previous occasions. We know that attempts were made to interfere on one occasion in the question of the trial of the Zulus in South Africa, in 1906, and that when this Parliament endeavoured to interfere, in a very reasonable and just cause, in the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, public opinion in that country was so strong that this country had to climb down. There was another case in which the interference of this country in the affairs of a Dependency was shown to be equally unreal, although nominally strong; that was the question of the Newfoundland contract, in which this country endeavoured, through the Governor, to refuse the Royal Assent to a certain proposal for the sale of certain property to individuals. The question of the sale was, of course, a very improper one in that Colony. But still it was one which concerned the people of that country alone. But the Colonial Secretary was obliged to refuse to act in the way he had originally desired, on the ground that the matter contained in the proposal of that Legislature was a matter entirely of local administration, and one that affected Newfoundland alone. The point of my argument is that in all these cases which arise, and which will undoubtedly arise between Ulster and the Irish Parliament it cannot be said that 804 they are questions which are not local to Ireland and not Irish questions alone. But if that is the case, and if this Parliament here is not to interfere for the reason that these matters are purely Irish matters, all the social safeguards and offers of protection to the Protestants of Ireland as against the Irish Parliament are so much waste paper, and might as well be not introduced at all. I do not believe for a moment that, short of using force, it will ever be in the power of this House or this Parliament to interfere in the interests of a particular part of Ireland against the rest, and the sooner the House and the country realise that the so-called safeguards are, some of them, a fraud, and most of them incapable of being put into effective action, the better for all parties concerned.
§ Mr. COWAN
I have been particularly struck by the docility with which Members-representing constituencies in the four counties affected by the Amendment have allowed their case to be stated and argued for them by their colleagues representing English constituencies. At the same time I assume that the Ulster representatives who will take part in the Division will vote for the Amendment, and if I could be assured that they really are in favour of it, and would accept it as an entire settlement of the claim of Ulster, and, that concession being made to them, that they would thereupon facilitate the passing of the Bill into law, I should be well content to support the Amendment myself, because, although I do not attach so much importance as hon. Members opposite appear to do to the threats of armed rebellion in Ireland, some Members on this side of the House possibly unduly minimise them. I do not think it would be too great a price for us to pay to consent to the temporary—because I believe it would be purely temporary—exclusion of the four counties from the provisions of the Bill. We could thereby ensure the putting into force of this great and long-controverted measure without any danger of armed resistance on the part of any section of the people of Ireland. I had expected—and I do not think I was alone in that expectation—the Government itself to have made some proposal of this sort, and I based that expectation mainly upon the remarkable speech which many of us heard with great interest some weeks ago from the First Lord of the Admiralty. I think he indicated some intention on the part of the Government, for he 805 certainly spoke as a leading Member of the Government, to hold out an olive-branch of this sort to hon. Gentlemen representing Ulster, and I regret that the Government has not done so. But my difficulty is to know whether the settlement proposed in this Amendment would really be satisfactory to the party opposite, and particularly to hon. Gentlemen representing the four counties. I have listened very attentively to the Debate, and shall listen to the rest of it, and if I can be assured on that point I propose to cast my vote in support of the Amendment.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The hon. Gentleman says we want to hear Ulster. What we want to hear are the Nationalists of Ulster. He said there had been a striking silence on the part of Ulster. There has been a still more striking silence on the part of the leaders of the Nationlist party. They are only vocal when they interrupt. The hon. Gentleman wants to know not only the answer which Ulster would give to his question, "Would this be a final settlement?" but he wants to know the answer that the great majority of the Irish Members would give. Would it, from their point of view, be a final settlement if the Amendment were carried, or if a still larger Amendment were carried embracing the whole of Ulster? I understand the Prime Minister thought he put us on the horns of a dilemma as to how we should vote on the Amendment. I do not think there is much difficulty. I admit if I had the power to exclude anybody in Ireland from the jurisdiction of the Irish Parliament, it would be rather the scattered elements of Protestant and Unionist opinion all over the South and West than the compact and strong body of opinion in the North of Ireland. But at the same time I know that if this Amendment is carried it kills the Bill. That is why I am going to vote for it. If it is carried, why stop at these four counties? Why not include the rest of Ulster? We at least know the province of Ulster. If these four counties were excluded you would exclude from the Irish Parliament something like twenty-four representatives. That would weaken the protection, no doubt, of the Protestant and Unionist minority in the rest of Ireland. If the Amendment were carried, another Amendment would be carried enlarging this Amendment to include the whole of Ulster. If that Amendment were carried and if this House were to exclude the whole of Ulster, would the Bill then be acceptable 806 to the Nationalists? Are we to have an answer to-night on an important question like this?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Now we have the view of this organiser of the United Irish League, and of other Nationalist organisations in Ireland. I asked, "Do you know anything about Ulster?" and the hon. Member replied, "Ask Mr. Moore." We do ask the representatives of Ulster who are here. That is exactly what we are doing. Hon. Members from Ulster do represent Ulster. The hon. Member does not represent Ulster. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who sold the steamboats?"] There will be enough accommodation on the boats to take hon. Members back to Ireland. After all, this is a serious question. This is the first Amendment which has been moved by any supporter of the Government. It is the first Amendment which has found support from hon. Gentlemen opposite, and therefore it is worth while giving it consideration. If Ulster is excluded from this Bill, will it be a final settlement of the Irish question? Many a man in this House, and many a voter in this country, is going to support this Bill because they believe it will be a final settlement of this eternal question. They would not vote for it on any other consideration. I think we shall hear to-night before the Debate closes that if the Amendment is carried, and an Amendment to exclude Ulster is carried, this Bill never could be carried. But if the Bill was carried with this Amendment it never could be a final settlement of the Irish question. Look at the dilemma in which the hon. Member is placed. I have no doubt as to his motive in moving this Amendment. He has to justify himself to his constituents. I do not think the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) has any more intimate knowledge of the hon. Member's motive than I have.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
The Liberal Association in the hon. Gentleman's constituency voted against him.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
At all events, the hon. Member for the St. Austell Division will contradict me if I am wrong. He has assured his constituents that he will do everything he can to protect the Protestants in Ireland, and this is his way of showing his method of protecting them. I tell the hon. Member that if his Amendment is carried, he will do the very best thing to protect the Protestants in 807 Ireland, because he will absolutely shatter any hope of the passage of this Bill. From any point of view you look at the matter, it must have that effect. Financially the whole Bill will have to be recast if the Amendment is carried. The Prime Minister says we ought not to vote for this Amendment. Yes, we shall vote for it. We want to kill the Bill, and we shall kill it most effectually by voting for this Amendment. How is Ireland to be financed under the Bill? There is to be transferred a sum equal to the sum of money expended on Ireland during a recent period. If the Amendment is carried, you would have to except all the sums expended on these four counties. Take the new powers granted to Ireland. The Irish Parliament is to have power to levy extra taxes. If the Amendment is carried the Irish Parliament would then only have power to levy taxes in that part of Ireland included in the Bill, and not in the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry. Further it is to have power to impose Customs Duties, but it would not have power to do so in those counties. [An HON. MEMBER: "It would in Londonderry."] Yes, but not in Londonderry county. The financial chaos would then be more hopeless than it is at present. Take the case of the police. In six years' time, if that Clause of the Bill be passed, the Irish Executive is to have control of the police, but Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry would all have their own police. The Dublin police might be ordered to march into these counties to meet their police. What a splendid country for a fighting man to live in! If this Amendment be carried, almost every Clause of the Bill will have to be recast. [Cheers.] Hon. Members agree with me in that. Why are we going to vote for the Amendment? It is because we know that by voting for it we will break up the Bill.
What is the real difficulty in which the Government find themselves, and in which the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Cowan) finds himself. Many a Member on the Government side of the House does in his heart believe that the Protestant minority are likely to be oppressed by the majority in Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They do, and they tell you so. They believe in their hearts and consciences that Ulster men will be oppressed, and that, being in a hopeless minority, their liberties and privileges will suffer. Holding these views, hon. Gentlemen 808 opposite support an Amendment of this character because they want to do all that lies in their power to protect the minority. If that is their object, they ought to have measured all that up on the Second Reading of the Bill. That is when they ought to have given proof of their sincere interest in the minority. That was the time when they could have effectively prevented this measure from being oppressive. You cannot exempt Ulster or any part of Ulster from this Bill so long as you frame the Bill with the intention of making Ireland a nation. You might have proposed an enlarged measure of local government which might have had some support on this side of the House from Members of the party to which I belong. I speak only for myself. I thought we might have proceeded on the lines of giving more extended county administration, but it is perfectly hopeless under this measure to adopt the position of making a separate nation. Once cast your lines on the principle of making Ireland a separate nation, and there is no hope that under this Bill you can exempt Ulster or any other portion of Ireland. Therefore, so far from having any difficulty in voting for the Amendment, I rejoice that I have the opportunity of voting for it. Believing that it is not possible to advance on the lines of making Ireland a nation or federating the Empire in this way, I shall vote for this Amendment, because I believe that in so doing I take one step to defeat the Bill which I believe means disaster not only to Ireland but to the rest of the United Kingdom.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment will not be very grateful to the hon. Member who has just sat down for the support which he has extended to it. I think that Ulster's protests are so genuine and her claims so just that any proposals put forward for consideration should have our earnest thought. I think that the Ulster problem is our pons asinorum I think that the Government of a people capable of governing themselves can only be justified by the consent of that people. Ireland's complaint has always been, not that she, being Catholic, is being governed by a Protestant Government, but that she is governed without her consent. It is a genuine protest. It is a protest that has always been considered as valid among nations. But you are going to perpetuate that very evil if this Bill passes, because you are going to govern Ulster without her consent. Ireland has 809 been a thorn in Britain's side. If this Bill passes Ulster will be a thorn in Ireland's side. Therefore we are justified in considering any project for giving Ulster special treatment; and if we can get over that difficulty all the arguments against Home Rule for Ireland fall to the ground. We have been for many years granting self-government to our Dominions, but we have been giving it upon their own unanimous request.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
Natal came in. We have never had an instance in which there have been two sections of the people, one demanding self-government and the other rejecting it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No," and "Canada."] It is not true of Canada. Here we have an instance in which a large compact section of the community—a million in number—of different antecedents, different religion, and different commercial connections; a wealthy section, differing from the rest of the community which is poor, and therefore dreading that their riches may be taken advantage of; a geographically isolated community, and a people as distinct from the others in antecedents and history, and conditions as from any other section of the United Kingdom. Therefore I say if she makes a demand, a genuine demand for special treatment and consideration, we ought to give it our earnest support. Now we are told that this Bill is only an initial step towards a general scheme of devolution, and that several Home Rule Bills are to come before us in succession. If that is so, Ulster could get special treatment in quite a different way, for if provision were made by which Protestant Ulster, after Home Rule were granted to Ireland and Scotland, could have a Boundary Commission set up so that she would be separated from the rest of Ireland and by a referendum of her people could determine to send her representatives to Edinburgh instead of to Dublin, it would provide a way of escape. I am anxious that Ulster should not be governed against her consent. I am anxious that the present state of affairs should not continue; and that if, after Home Rule is granted Ulster's fears are realised, and that she still thinks that she is going to be unduly taxed, or going to be persecuted because of her religion, she should have some way of escape. I am not in favour of this Amendment. I am opposing it on the 810 ground that it is not the best solution of the difficulty. For if Home Rule is granted to Ireland with Ulster included in the Bill, and provision is made for her subsequent escape on a referendum of her people in order that she may be governed from Edinburgh when Home Rule is granted to Scotland and if both countries agree, then I maintain that Ulster has no reason whatever to complain. She need not take advantage of that provision unless she likes. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Scotland?"] Scotland may not consent. I feel satisfied that unless the Ulster difficulty is settled Home Rule for Ireland is impossible. I am opposing this Amendment because I am looking forward to a better solution.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
The solution which I mentioned. A federal system, under which we will grant Home Rule for Scotland, England, and Wales with an option to Ulster. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] It would be hurried up if Ulster were being persecuted, and we would get Home Rule for Scotland and the other Kingdoms much sooner. There is no difficulty whatever in dividing up your territory and in adjusting your boundaries. It has been accomplished in other countries, and the only objection here is the objection of a narrow strip of water between Belfast and Glasgow. The separate treatment which Ulster should have should be the option to separate after Home Rule is granted to Ireland and to Scotland, and provision should be made in the Bill for that separate treatment, so that Ulster should be enabled to send her representatives to Edinburgh.
I should not have intervened to-night, but have reserved myself for Thursday, only unfortunately I have to be away fulfilling an engagement then, and I have therefore intervened before my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University, who will take part in this Debate, and deal with this question from the Ulster point of view. I propose to deal with it simply as an ordinary Member of the Unionist party, looking at it from the Unionist point of view. I understand that the Prime Minister, in a speech made earlier in the evening, at a moment when the House was necessarily empty and I was not present, said that the objection to this Amendment was that if it was carried the Protestant minority in parts of Ireland outside of Ulster would be left 811 without the protection which Ulster would give. I do not think that I am misrepresenting the Prime Minister in what I gathered was his argument. That argument is one of those which I propose to meet. So far as I am concerned, never shall it be said that I, at all events, was ready to weaken their position or to desert the minority in the rest of Ireland. My own view, as the House knows, of this Bill is that every Irishman, whatever his religion may be, and to whatever section of the population he may belong, should certainly desire to relieve every Irishman who thinks as I think to-day, and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway know as well as I do there are scattered through other provinces in Ireland a minority, in some cases important, in some numerically unimportant, who cherish, dislike, and fear this Bill, and who are assured that its consequences will be evil to the Empire and evil to Ireland as any other Member of the Unionist party. If I thought by voting for this Amendment, as I mean to do, I am doing anything of which they have the smallest right to complain, I should certainly hesitate to do it. Their position is quite different from that of the North-East of Ireland. In Ulster there is a homogeneous, relatively homogeneous, population, in which the majority are entirely of one way of thinking. I do not say that there is not a minority, but the great majority are of the one way of thinking. Those we can protect, those we can withdraw, from the effects of this Bill by accepting the Amendment now before the Committee.
Nothing can relieve Unionists in the rest of Ireland except the defeat of the measure as a whole. We are not dealing, and we cannot deal in Committee, with the measure as a whole. We are precluded from the very nature of the stage in which we are engaged and at which we have arrived from attempting to defeat the Bill as a whole. We attempted to do so on the First Reading and on the Second Reading, and we shall attempt it on the Third Reading. In the meanwhile our duty and our only duty is to make the Bill as little intolerable as it can be made, and to relieve as large a portion of the population as we can relieve in Ireland from the burdens which, in our opinion, would inevitably be thrown upon them. Therefore, the Prime Minister had no right whatever to suggest that this was desertion of the Unionists in other parts of Ireland out- 812 side Ulster. What was the argument of the Prime Minister, and what does it come to? It comes to this, that the protection of Ulster, as the Bill is, is to hand over the minority to the rest of Ireland, to the repressive action of the Parliament which it is proposed to create. Now we know what the value of the safeguards is, with out the organised forces of Ulster, at any rate under the so-called provisions of this Bill, for protecting the minority in Ireland, are, in the opinion of the Prime Minister himself, of the most dubious character.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The right hon. Gentleman was not here when I spoke. I said the exact contrary. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] My argument was based on the assumption of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that the loyalist minority in every part of Ireland would be handed over to the persecution of the rest. That was the assumption, and I said I believed it to be entirely unfounded.
The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in saying I was not present when he addressed the Committee, but it appears that his argument was argumentum ad hominem, and had nothing whatever to do with the merits of the case. His argument was an argument against the Amendment, and it was an argument which was not intended to persuade the great body of the House that anything at all would be gained either for the minority outside Ulster or in Ulster itself by accepting the Amendment now before the House. That leaves us rather at sea as to what is the real argument for rejecting the hon. Member's Amendment. Is it not a very remarkable fact that so far no Irishman from—
From the West and South of Ireland have explained exactly what their position is as to this Amendment. I have always understood that the Irish view of Home Rule was that British legislation, and legislation in this House, was unsuited to Ireland; that the laws passed in this House for Ireland had been deleterious in their effect, and that if you look at the history of Ireland from the time of the Union down to the end, at all events, of the nineteenth century, the whole course of Irish history proves how unfitted this House was to deal with Irish problems, and over and over again, almost ad nauseam, we have had the great and 813 unhappy relations between landlord and tenant, all the agrarian and social difficulties which we know too well—we have had them trotted out in this House and on the platform as conclusive proof that this House was not really competent to deal with Irish questions, and that Irish questions must consequently be handed over to an Irish Parliament. That is really the sum and substance of the great body of argument from the time of Mr. Butt downwards, and of all the eminent men, Gladstone, Parnell, and the whole succession of Home Rulers that have addressed this House. The reason I appeal to the Irish Members below the Gangway to make their statement on this subject to the House, is that I want to know how far they think those arguments really apply to Ulster. Ulster does not think that this House is incapable of legislating for Ireland. Ulster looks back on the course of legislation in the last 100 years, and finds no cause of complaint or quarrel with representatives of all parts of the United Kingdom dealing with Irish questions as they think fit, but after this long experience they welcome it and adhere to it.
Neither I suppose will any hon. Gentleman below the Gangway assert that whatever the effects on the rest of Ireland British legislation may have inflicted—on Munster, Connaught, and Leinster—none of them will pretend that the economic condition of Ulster has been other than satisfactory, does otherwise than reflect credit both on their own enterprise and industry, and also upon the laws under which they have lived and flourished for all those years. Then, it seems, according to the Nationalist critics below the Gangway, that Home Rule is to be accepted because this House is incapable of legislating, not for Ireland but for the other three provinces of Ireland; or, to be more accurate, that part of Ireland which is outside the north-east corner. They say we are incapable of legislating for them, and on what grounds do they come down and say they are capable of legislating for Ulster? They say that we have not got that sympathetic insight into Irish needs and Irish feelings. And I quite admit—I do not wish to put the claims of this Parliament too high—we may have failed in both those great problems of the past, but we have not failed as regards Ulster.
They come down, and promise to succeed as regards Ulster. What claims have 814 they to take up that position that they are capable of understanding Ulster? If we, not through want of good will, but through want of ready appreciation of their point of view, have, it may be often and it may be seldom, failed to deal with Irish problems as Irishmen would wish them dealt with, what claim have they to say that they are able to do for Ulster what we have failed to do for them? We have done it for Ulster. Ulster is content, Ulster is wealthy, Ulster is prosperous. You claim for yourselves that knowledge of and sympathy with the North-East of Ireland which you assert we lack in your case, and if you do make that claim, which, as it seems to me, is a most extravagant claim, surely you ought to get up in this House and justify it to Ulster and justify it to those who have hitherto legislated for Ulster. The Prime Minister, in one of the speeches made at an earlier stage on the proceedings on this Bill, really rested his case in the main upon the reiteration of Irish demands time after time during the last thirty or forty years since Mr. Butt, and Mr. Parnell, and Mr. Gladstone introduced the modern phase of this question. That persistence and that continued demand is, I agree, a fact which it is impossible to forget, impossible to ignore, impossible to overrate, and which we have to take into account, and which I personally have always taken into account in trying to form a judgment upon this perennial controversy. Has the Prime Minister ever thought of Ulster's persistence? Is it only the persistence of Leinster and Munster and Connaught which is to be taken into account when you are dealing with the reconstitution of these Kingdoms? The determination of Ulster has not been merely persistent; it has been growing. I am one of the few Members of this House who remember all three Home Rule Bills. In 1886 Ulster expressed quite clearly its dislike of the measure. The dislike of 1886 had grown to detestation by 1893, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, unless all the information that reaches me upon this subject is utterly erroneous, the detestation of 1893 has grown into incalculable loathing.
Ulster has had this question before it all these years. The most industrially advanced and the wealthiest part of the whole community in Ireland has given its attention, irrespective of class, to this problem ever since Mr. Gladstone in 1886 brought in the first Home Rule Bill. Every consideration and every reconsideration 815 has increased the horror with which it views this proposal. Is the Prime Minister's argument to be wiped out when you deal with the North-East corner of Ireland? Are the wishes of the people there to be ignored? I do not know whether many Members now present heard the speech delivered earlier in the evening by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. He pointed out in a manner which I believe to be unanswerable, and which at any rate so far has not been answered, that every single argument yet brought forward in favour of Home Rule for Ireland can be used with redoubled force when you are dealing, not with the relation of Ireland to Great Britain, but with the relation of Ulster to the rest of Ireland. Until you answer that argument, until somebody gets up and tries to answer it—because no one has yet tried to do so—do you think that this House ought to come to a decision adverse to a million of your fellow subjects, not the least worthy of your consideration, who appeal to you and ask that they shall not be extruded from the system in which you have for more than a century included them and of which they regard themselves as an integral part?
As my last argument on this occasion, I may point out that the fact that you call this the beginning of a federal measure takes away the last possible argument against the adoption of some plan of this kind. If this was in the minds of the authors of the Bill simply and solely an attempt to give to a nation its own self government, quite irrespective of the rest of the United Kingdom, I should not agree with them, but I should think they were not in the absolutely illogical position which surely they are in now. But that is not the argument with which they come down to the House. They come down and say that the United Kingdom should be a federal system on the American, or the Canadian, or the Australian type— not on the South African type, but, at all events, one of the other patterns of federal government, of which no doubt there are plenty of examples. If that is the way you are going to cut up the United Kingdom, I say that you are driven by irresistible logic to make your divisions fit in with the wishes and desires of the population. If it were a fact that the Unionist minority in Ireland were scattered evenly over the whole of the country, I agree that the federal argument 816 would not come in. But it is not scattered equally over the whole of the country. On the contrary, Ulster has a far better claim to separate treatment than Wales. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Why? because, amongst other reasons, there is no suggestion under the existing system, or if Wales were under a federal system made part of England, that Wales would be part of a country from which it feels perfectly alien, and which has dealt with it under a system which, from the religious or any other point of view, is really unfitted for that country. I do not at all desire to minimise the importance of Welsh nationality, but Wales has never as a unit felt oppressed, in any deep sense, by its immemorial conjunction with England. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh."] I suppose that is some Welsh Member who is expressing dissent. Let me assure him that, personally, I am one who greatly values these subordinate and local patriotisms so long as they are compatible with higher unity.
But I repeat that if we are to look at the fundamentals of the situation, the feelings of the population, their passions, their prejudices, their history, that Ulster has a better title to separate treatment even than Wales. Do not you think we ought now to hear at least the beginning of an argument on your own principles for not accepting this Amendment? We have ventured to show to you to the best of our ability that by every principle that you have laid down this Amendment should be accepted. Not one individual, be he Member of the Government Bench, be he supporter of the Government on that side of the House, be he Nationalist, has got up to explain why it is that on certain principles he is a Home Ruler, and that on the same principles he insists that this reluctant and most illused portion of Ireland should be compelled to submit to the new Constitution which you mean to drive through this House by your majority—irrespective of the feelings of the people of this country—and whom you apparently gladly make the victims—this loyal minority—I mean loyal to every tradition of the British Empire—you sacrifice them on the altar of a cause, when by all these vogues, by every one of these admitted principles, you ought to exempt them from the oppressive scheme that you mean to cram down their throats. I cannot believe that any Member who is going to vote against this Amendment thinks in his 817 heart that his constituents agree with him. I do not believe there is a single man who would go round the country whatever the complexion of his own feelings might be, and explain exactly the feelings of Ulster, the history of Ulster, and the broad argument on which he proposed to rest the beginning of your new federal Empire. In so far as we are to have federalism, in so far as we are to give up the unity of the United Kingdom, let us, at all events, carry out federalism logically and justly, and let us give that provincial self-government to a community which, above all others, has shown by its enterprise, by its power of dealing with modern conditions, and by its fine qualities of citizenship, is deserving the honour and the privilege which you propose to give to all Ireland, and which by giving to all Ireland and excluding Ulster you deprive Ulster of in the most complete fashion that can be imagined.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir John Simon),
who rose amid cries of "Russell, Russell": The right hon. Gentleman has addressed to the Committee an argument and was cheered in his request that that argument should be given an answer. I am sure that such argument as I can put forward in reply should be put forward in conditions that are considered fair. I want to deal at once with what I consider to be the central position presented by the right hon. Gentleman. He put this case. He asked, "How do you justify the proposal by which you treat Ireland as an entity suitable for a separate Legislature and a separate Executive, and, at the same time, why is it that you do not admit that this principle of sub-division goes further?" and he submitted, as he contended, that the arguments which we urge in order to justify the separate treatment of Ireland are arguments, if we are consistent, which ought to justify the separate treatment of Ulster. I note in passing what is, I think, not without its significance, that when the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends say Ulster they mean the four counties included in the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I have listened to the argument, which certainly has been most closely reasoned, and I failed to detect throughout the whole of it the slightest distinction which the right hon. Gentleman wished to draw between the case of these four counties to which he and his Friends are prepared to give separate treatment and the nine 818 counties which compose the province of Ulster.
Let me meet at once, as I think can be met, the main contention the right hon. Gentleman put forward. He says here you are contending upon your own principles that Ireland as a whole should be treated separately in respect of Legislature and Executive, and he says surely that argument upon your own assumption ought to suffice to segregate Ulster, greater or smaller. Let me submit to the right hon. Gentleman what, at any rate, is intended as an argument and an argument that carries conviction to us. What is the fact recognised by our Statute Book and by the daily conduct of legislation in the, House? It is this, that though we up to this moment have a single Parliament dealing with the different parts of the United Kingdom, we do in fact for a great part of our time in every Session assume for the nonce the character of a Home Rule Parliament for some portion of the United Kingdom. There is not a Session that passes but we put on our Statute Book Statutes which apply to Scotland and do not apply to the rest of the United Kingdom; Statutes which apply to England and do not apply to the rest of the United Kingdom; Statutes which apply to Ireland or to Wales and do not apply to the rest of the United Kingdom—
§ Sir J. SIMON
I assure the Noble Lord I am not embarrassed by his interruption, but allow me to put my point. When we do that, and every time we do it we admit in point of fact that Ireland is an entity which from the public legislation point of view has got constantly to be dealt with. We do that so constantly and in matters so important that we conceive we are justified in saying that the daily practice of this Imperial House of Commons is in itself a justification for recognising that Ireland requires separate treatment in legislation. Now I put this point, and the right hon. Gentleman will see that I am dealing with the argument he put. Although that must be admitted by any man who studies our Statute Book fairly, can anybody suggest it is our practice, and that we do find it necessary to pass Statutes which apply to Ulster and which do not apply to the rest of Ireland? Can anybody suggest that we find it necessary to put upon the 819 Statute Book public Acts of Parliament which apply to these four selected counties? It is not so in fact. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Wales?"] I agree that Wales does show, as Ireland shows, a case for separate legislative treatment. I do not dispute, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has much too clear a conception of logic to wish me to dispute, that there may not be cases when dealing with smaller areas, but the extent to which we deal with these separate portions by separate legislation, and concede in our daily practice that we are not legislating for the whole of the United Kingdom, but for Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, that fact alone is enough to show that although this Parliament has hitherto proclaimed that it will not have this separation of legislatures this separation of legislation is accepted. But legislation is not the whole work of Government. There is the Executive. Is there any Unionist in this House who contends that the administration of Ireland should be a portion of the administration of Great Britain? [An HON. MEMBER: "Certainly."] Does anybody suggest that the English Home Secretary is to be responsible for the internal affairs of Ireland? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO" and "Try again."] I am sure if I try again I shall have a patient hearing from hon. Gentlemen opposite. That fact must be palpable to any man who considers the circumstances. It is not suggested by any hon. Gentleman opposite who has been Chief Secretary for Ireland that in practice and in fact the administration of Ireland is the administration of a country which for that purpose is merely part of the United Kingdom. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wales."] Well, Ireland is the case we are dealing with now; I am putting what I conceive to be a serious argument. In point of fact, every Unionist in this House every Session that he sits here admits day by day and week by week that the work of legislation in Ireland and the work of administration in Ireland must in fact be separate from a great part of the legislation and administration of the United Kingdom. Who suggests, except, indeed, the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir E. Carson), that there should be a separate administration for a certain part of Ulster? Who has ever in our experience thought that the natural and proper sub-division of areas is to deal with Ulster as a separate area for the purposes of legislation and administration? Nobody has ever suggested it. It 820 does not, in fact, correspond to the experience we have all had in this matter. That is the first answer, and it deserves to be considered an answer, to what the right hon. Gentleman has been putting.
If the hon. and learned Gentleman challenges me as to whether I would have a separate Executive for Ulster, of course, as I do not like the federal system I would not; but, if we are to have the federal system, then I would.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I quite appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman, in supporting the Amendment, is merely supporting it because he thinks it is a wrecking Amendment. The argument I was endeavouring to put, under certain difficulties, does not depend the least in the world on the opinions, or the preferences, or the choice of a given right hon. Gentleman opposite. It depends upon the known facts and experience of the British House of Commons. I would point out that by our experience in the past we do recognise that Ireland is an entity for legislation and administration, and we do not recognise that Ulster or any part of Ulster is. Now let me come to another way in which this argument is put, and which finds great favour with hon. Gentlemen opposite. They are very fond of talking of the two nations. The island of Ireland is said to consist of two nations, one of which is to be provided for in this Amendment, and the other of which is to be left behind. I entirely dispute that classification has the slightest correspondence to facts, and I put this as a very simple and convenient test. If, indeed, Ireland does consist of those two nations, one of which is found within this area and the other of which is outside of it, to which of those two nations does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) belong? I am not desiring to make a merely trifling point. It represents in the view of some of us—and we are as serious about this as hon. Gentlemen opposite—a real truth.
§ Sir J. SIMON
It represents in our view and in the view of many Members of the House of Commons a real fact, namely, that we see far more resemblance between different Irishmen in this House than they appear to see among themselves. I think if we scratched the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. T. M. Healy) and 821 got a little below his skin we should see there are great points of resemblance between him and the right hon. and learned Gentleman who sits immediately opposite me (Sir E. Carson). We think Irishmen look on these problems in a very different way to ourselves. The right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the time when he proposes to take part in this Debate. I am sure I express the opinion of everybody when I say that, while we were all interested in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, the most interesting point in this Debate is to be found in connection with the people who have not spoken. I can quite understand a certain hesitation on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite to speak, for we have been told that Home Rule is a thing which may shipwreck the position of the loyalists in Ireland; they feel a little hesitation in taking to their boats when they are leaving the most defenceless part of their body behind them.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I may point out to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London was listened to with great patience. He asked for a reply to certain questions, and I hope he will be listened to with equal patience.
§ Sir J. SIMON
There is no intention of insulting. I was only replying to an observation from the right hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ Sir J. SIMON
What I was stating was that there is an assumption on the part of the Unionists in Ireland that Home Rule is going to make loyalism shipwreck. That is not our view. There was a great and, no doubt, a most striking demonstration in Belfast, and in the course of it the right hon. and learned Gentleman indicated a possible plan by which Ulster might take her cause into her own hands. What happened? Immediately afterwards the right hon. Gentleman went to another demonstration in Dublin. I am sure I would never think of insinuating that the people at the Dublin meeting came from Belfast. I prefer to assume that the people at that meeting were Unionists of Dublin and from the South and West of Ireland, and the right hon. and learned 822 Gentleman assured them that there was not the least idea of abandoning them; they need not fear that Ulster would take any step to completely separate herself from the rest of Ireland.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman said that. I do not think he is in the habit of contradicting himself in that regard. He has often said so. But that has nothing to do with my particular point. My particular point is that he assured the Unionists of Dublin, and of the south and west—and I think they will read with interest this Debate— that, whatever happened, Ulster would never think of deserting them. Now that is all over, the Ulster Unionist Members propose to vote for an Amendment which, if it has any effect at all, is going to take away the four counties where they are strongest, and leave the rest inside. Let me just point out, if I may, the way in which the Ulster claim presents itself to the mind of an English Liberal. Putting aside for the moment accusations of evil motive or accusations of stupidity, this is how it presents itself to the minds of men such as myself. They appeal to us to have regard to the arguments they put forward because they say that Protestantism is in danger, and because they say their liberty is in danger.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Do they really suppose that English Liberals and English Nonconformists are likely to turn a deaf ear to a claim of that sort? [Interruption.] I hope they do not think that English Liberals and English Nonconformists are likely to turn a deaf ear to them?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I will do my best to avoid putting it into interrogative form. I say they make that appeal to us, and we are entitled to say, on our side, if an argument is presented to us in the name of liberty and Protestantism, which must appeal to our very hearts, that the difficulty in which we find ourselves is this. 823 These Gentlemen, it is quite true, have extremely strong feelings. They sometimes use extremely strong language. But what we require is strong arguments. I find myself in this difficulty. I find, all over the world, that an increase of local responsibility, an increase of individual responsibility, has not been ill for those causes which Protestantism has promoted. I find that wherever that solution has been tried that result has followed. An hon. Gentleman sitting behind me said, not very accurately, that in the past where local government had been granted, it had been granted where the demand had been unanimous. Had he never heard of the loyalists of Canada? It was in spite of those protests—
§ Sir J. SIMON
Has he never heard, does he not recollect how in the case of self-government being granted to the Transvaal there were those who called themselves loyalists who refused the benefit? The real truth is that there is no case in which there has been a privileged minority who have not been content with equal rights, and who have not, very naturally from their point of view, believed and insisted that the change which was about to be made—
§ Sir J. SIMON
I submit to the Committee and to some of my hon. Friends on this side who have shown some friendly interest in this Amendment, that it is perfectly plain at this moment that it is proposed to be supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite, not because they believe in it—
On a point of Order. Has any Member of the House a right to impute motives to other Members?
§ Sir J. SIMON
There are many on that side who for reasons best known to themselves—and they know quite well that I am making no imputation of motives against them—propose to vote for the Amendment, not because they believe in it, not because they think it makes the Bill better, but because it destroys the Bill, 824 and that being so, I ask hon. Gentlemen on this side who are sincere in their desire to see the policy of Home Rule carried out, to think twice before they join in a plan which is being exploited by hon. Gentlemen opposite in order that they may defeat the Bill. I ask them am I not right in my impression that the Order Paper some days ago contained substantially this Amendment down in the name of a Member of the Opposition, and I ask whether I am not right in my inference that it was not an accident that it was withdrawn from the Order Paper? If that is the case, I call on those who sincerely desire to apply the principle of self-government to Ireland to see that it is not defeated.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday next (13th instant).
§ Adjourned at Three minutes after Eleven o'clock