§ (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 anything0020contained in this Act, the supreme power and authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters, and things within His Majesty's Dominions.
§ Postponed proceeding resumed on Amendment proposed [11th June] on consideration of Clause.
§ Which Amendment was in Sub-Section (1), after the word "shall," to insert the words "subject to the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry being excluded from the provisions of this Act."—[Mr. Agar-Robartes.]
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Mr. W. GUINNESS
We believe that without the wealth and industry of the North an Irish Nationalist Government must atrophy and die. We believe that Ulster cannot be brought into this scheme, that the resolute men there will break the bonds which party convenience compels the Government to try to weave upon the limbs of Ireland. Whether Ulster is left out peacefully, or whether she stays out by armed resistance, the indirect results to us, the Unionists outside Ulster, will remain the same. If this Bill passes without the consent of the electors and bankrupted by the extrusion of the only progressive part of Ireland, the time of our bondage 1133 must be limited; both parties to the arrangement must eventually find the Home Rule settlement is unworkable, and they must re-enact that Union under which Ireland has recently made such great advances. For Ulster to refuse this salvation would not be to help her friends, but would be merely taking up an attitude of mock heroics. It is because we know the earnestness of her opposition that we are anxious to obtain this extrusion without civil strife and rebellion. There is one other point in the speech of the Solicitor-General on which I should like to say a word. He asks whether the Irish Unionists really suppose that English Liberals and English Nonconformists would turn a deaf ear to the arguments that Protestantism and liberty would be in danger. How can we fail to do so when we see the statements of eminent Nonconformists in the Press and read their speeches. Dr. Horton has shown quite clearly that political expediency is by a large number of Nonconformists to be preferred to the claims of justice. He has said in a letter to the "Times" that—Nonconformists were compelled by political principle to support this Bill, though they knew only too well what a Catholic Parliament might mean, and though they fully apprehended the reason of their co-religionists' alarm and protest.So real does he consider the danger that, as has been pointed out this evening, he suggests that Irish Protestants should return to England and Scotland and leave Ireland to the Roman Catholics. Would it not be much simpler to leave Ulster out altogether? In the same letter Dr. Horton bases himself on Burke's opinion that—only government with the consent of the governed can be good and righteous government.You can only fulfil this condition in Ulster, you can only get government with the consent of the governed, by leaving out the area where there is a Protestant majority. You can not escape from this result of your own fundamental law. If you really believe, as you profess to believe, that a country cannot prosper under a Government which it mistrusts, Ulster has an unanswerable claim to separate treatment, because, rightly or wrongly, they mistrust the efficiency, the sympathy, and the justice of a Nationalist Parliament far more deeply than any Nationalist in Ireland in recent years has mistrusted the justice of the English Parliament.
One point has been urged by the hon. Gentleman opposite and by other hon. Members, that it is proposed 1134 to govern the four counties to which this Amendment refers against their consent. I merely wish to say this in reply, that if the argument of hon. Members opposite in that respect be pressed to its logical conclusion, then every county in England in which there is a majority of Conservatives who object to being ruled by a Liberal Administration, ought to be entitled, if they so desire, to set up a Parliament of their own.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his speech to-night, did not, in my opinion, receive with very much sympathy the suggestions put forward on behalf of Ulster. What is the demand of Ulster? It is a very simple one. It is to be left as they are. They do not demand a separate Parliament for Ulster. That has been made perfectly clear by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. They do not demand a separate Parliament; but they do ask to be left alone as they are. Who are these people? They are the descendents of a population which was planted 300 years ago in that part of Ireland. That population was partly composed of Scotchmen, partly of Englishmen, put there for a special national purpose—to retain that part of the country for England. They have always been true to us. They are of a different race and of a different religion from most of the rest of Ireland. All they ask is that they should be allowed to remain under the English Parliament and attached to the English Throne. The city of Belfast is the centre of this district. It is a place which at the time of the Union was a comparatively small city. I think the population was then some 12,000. This place has been entirely made by the industry of the population. English money has gone principally to the agricultural districts, and quite rightly so. These industries in Belfast have been built up by the energy and spirit of the people. What they fear is that if a Nationalist Parliament is placed in Dublin their industries and their prosperity will be endangered. That is their fear. I think that fear is a just one, because if there was a Nationalist Parliament they must always be in a minority. Their position in this Parliament is different. They have Gentlemen upon this side of the House who work with Members from the Northern part of Ireland and see their interests are protected, but in a Parliament 1135 in Dublin they would always be in a minority without any protection, and they fear that, having created the greater part of the wealth of Ireland, they will be put under oppressive taxation. I had the pleasure of going to Ireland to that great demonstration in Belfast, and I was very much impressed with what I saw. For three hours a long procession marched in front of us; you could tell by the demeanour of the men who took part in that procession that they were in earnest and meant what they said. I did not see a single drunken person that morning, and I saw no policemen to look after order. There was perfect order maintained, and I and those other Member who went over from this side came to the unanimous conclusion that you cannot force this Bill upon them. You must see to-day you cannot do it. It is the crux of this Bill that the demand of the population of that part of Ireland is to be left as they are. It is a reasonable demand, and is bound to receive attention, and I believe it has and is receiving attention in this country. These are very serious questions. I cannot believe that the Government wish to push a matter of this kind to extremes, yet the ultimate result would be that they would have to coerce the people of Ulster to obey the laws of an Irish Parliament.
Something has been said during the Debate this afternoon about the analogy of our Colonies, and Australia and South Africa were mentioned. What is the position there? In both cases you have a number of separate States with simply one connection, the simple thin thread of the Crown. What has happened? These States voluntarily came to the conclusion that it was to their mutual interest to combine in one union power, and they did, but in order to do that they had to give up their rights as separate States. They gave up their rights of taxation; they gave up their Imperial rights of defence, and in Australia and South Africa each State was left with little more than what we would call in this country county government. In fact, in South Africa they are called provincial councils, and the object of these councils is to administer local affairs and raise local money for purposes of education and matters of that kind, matters of defence, duties, taxes, is common to all from the administration of a united Parliament. That is the position in the Colonies. This Bill gives neither a Colonial constitution nor federation; it is a half-way house. We could never consent 1136 to give a Colonial constitution to Ireland; it is impossible. If we did, Ireland would practically be a separate nation, because the only connection between Ireland and England in that case would be the simple bond of the Crown, as in the Colonies, and we all know that in regard to our Colonies that thread is very fine indeed. If any one of them wanted to sever their connection they could not be resisted by us. That is a position which we can never allow and it is a position which any Government would not dream of allowing.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I think the hon. Gentleman is going rather wide of the Amendment.
§ Mr. S. ROBERTS
I was endeavouring to meet the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, in which he was putting the national demand of Ireland. In the greater part of his speech he was putting forward the demand of Ireland for national independence, and he was pointing out that he could not accept this Amendment, because if it were accepted it would not give what he called national independence. I was trying to meet that argument; I was speaking about the Colonial situation and saying that we could never allow that to take place in Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman said he could not accept this Amendment because it would not enable Ireland to govern itself, but he did not favour us with the arguments which he used on former occasions. I wish he had done so. I was surprised he went so far as he did. The speeches in which he put forward the national demand of Ireland on other occasions are rather interesting. Here is an extract from one of them:—The consummation of all our hopes and aspirations is to drive out English rule sooner or later.If this Bill is going to lead to anything of that kind, of course it must receive a very obstinate resistance. I will not pursue that further, because I quite admit it is perhaps going beyond the scope of this Amendment. I only wish to say that with regard to the demand of these four counties of Ulster, we are bound to stand by the loyalists of Ireland, as Mr. Gladstone used to call them. We shall stand by them because they have always been loyal to us, and because we wish above all things for national safety and national security by continuing Ireland as one nation with England. While we desire that we are willing and anxious to continue the beneficent work which we are doing in Ireland at the 1137 present time. She is treated better than our own population at the present moment. She is costing this country the sum of something like £5,000,000 a year,£l,500,000 is the deficit at the present moment, but in addition to that we ought to have a large contribution from Ireland to Imperial Services. At the present moment we know Ireland is contributing nothing. Her contribution in that respect should at the very least be £3,500,000, therefore it is accurate to say that she is costing us £5,000,000. We are willing to go on making this payment, but we are not willing to continue it if Ireland is to become a separate nation.
§ Mr. RAYMOND GREENE
I have not up to the present occupied a single moment of the time of the House in the discussions upon this question of Home Rule, and I wish to say a few words upon the very important question raised by this Amendment. I have listened to every speech that has been made in this Debate both on Tuesday and this afternoon, and I have heard the arguments in favour of this Amendment repeated again and again. I believe every Unionist Member has a right to state the case against Home Rule and in favour of this Amendment, and that it is his duty to do so. The arguments in favour of this Amendment and the arguments against this Bill have never in my opinion been adequately answered from the other side. I have listened to all the speeches made by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite, and I have given them the greatest possible attention, but I have not heard a single argument which really justifies the action they are now taking in attempting to drive out the Unionists from Ireland from a position which they were invited by this country originally to fill, a position in which they are perfectly content and a position which it is more than unfair and cruel to deprive them of. I listened on Tuesday afternoon to a very interesting speech from the Solicitor-General in reply to a speech that was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London. We all know when the Government have got a particularly bad case, because they invariably send for the Solicitor-General, and they are perfectly right in doing so, because if the Solicitor-General is unable to get them out of their difficulty there is no other man in the House who can possibly do it. I yield to no man in my admiration of the abilities of the Solicitor-general and his courtesy and good temper, which it is impossible to ruffle. I am quite 1138 sure he will forgive me when I say that I never realised how unanswerable were the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London until I heard the Solicitor-General attempting to answer them himself. Until then I never realised how weak is the position of the Government in regard to their treatment of Ulster and the Unionists of Ireland. I never realised the weakness of that case until I heard the Solicitor-General, with all the great skill at his command, endeavouring to defend the position of the Government. The one argument which he addressed to the House was the fact that Ireland is for some purposes treated at the present time as an entity by the present Parliament. The Solicitor-General ignored the very great difference between the circumstances of the case when Ireland is treated as an entity by this House whilst Ireland is governed by the Imperial Parliament, and the position which Ireland would hold treated as an entity when governed by a Parliament of her own, which would be detested and mistrusted by at least a quarter of the people of that country.
I listened to another speech on the same afternoon by the Prime Minister upon this Amendment, and he appeared to derive considerable satisfaction from the suggestion he made that the Unionist Members from Ireland were in this case upon the horns of a dilemma. In that, I think, the Prime Minister was mistaken, because the boot is on the other leg. The Prime Minister and the hon. Members who support him are on the horns of a dilemma in regard to this Amendment, because if they accept it they will be called to account by their taskmasters who sit on the benches below the Gangway, and the Government are aware what that means. On the other hand, the Government oppose this Amendment because they have to face the fact that the feeling of Ulster, being what it is at the present time and being so strong, they will never be able really to put into operation the Bill which is now before the House. The Prime Minister took refuge in dealing with his favourite topic in the safeguards which he believes he has introduced into this Bill. He said that if the hon. Members for Ulster or the Unionist Members on this side, or in any quarter of the House, were to put forward any suggestions for strengthening those safeguards, he would be prepared to consider them. It is easy for the Prime Minister to be generous in regard to that matter, because he knows 1139 perfectly well that it passes the wit of man to devise any safeguards which would make the position of the Unionists of Ireland satisfactory under this Bill. He knows that whatever safeguards you insert when once the Unionists of Ireland have been placed under the domination of their hereditary enemies those safeguards, whatever they may be, are absolutely not worth the paper upon which they are written. I wish to put one question to the Solicitor-General and to the Government. Are they really going blindly forward endeavouring to force this Bill upon the country, shutting their eyes to the admitted difficulty of the question of Ulster, or have they, as has been hinted by some right hon. Gentleman opposite, got up their sleeve some possible scheme which they think may remove, or at any rate to a very great extent remove, the hostility of the Unionists in Ireland? If that is the case, and if they have in mind some scheme in that direction, I appeal to them to produce it at once and so save this House from a great waste of time and a certain amount of acrimonious Debate which will be engendered if the Bill is debated in its present form.
§ Mr. HARWOOD
I feel that I must make some kind of protest against the tone which has animated the speeches of hon. Members opposite. The Leader of the Opposition referred in his speech to the prospect of his party coming into power. If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, I would tell him that no party will ever come into power or ever do any good if they do not show more spirit and faith than that which has marked the speeches to which we have listened. I remember a remark made to a person who was reading the Book of Jeremiah, I presume for the first time, and it was, "Cheer up, things are really not so bad after all." I venture to offer hon. Members opposite the same advice with regard to this question. You cannot solve the Irish question unless you have some hope and faith. We acknowledge it is a difficult problem, we acknowledge it is a complicated problem; but a difficult and complicated problem will never be settled by people who have not got the spirit of faith. I should like to refer to two things which were particularly suggested by the hon. Member for Ulster who preceded the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The first suggestion was that we who are supporting this Bill are supporting it not because we believe in it, but 1140 because we are afraid of the Whips. That is not a fair statement. There are amongst my colleagues on this side of the House quite enough Members whom I know personally to wreck this Bill or any other Bill, whatever may be the cajolery or threats of the Whips, if they did not believe in it. You must dismiss that from your minds as an explanation of affairs. I am speaking as probably one of the oldest Members of this House who has stood up for Home Rule. I find it was in the early seventies that I first sent my mite to Mr. Butt, and I am here chiefly not because I care to be here, but because of my enthusiasm for this cause. That enthusiasm is the enthusiasm of the Englishman. I look at it from an English point of view. Some Members of this House will remember that poem of Wordsworth where he says, how, after returning to scenes he visited in his youth, he found the old zeal and enthusiasm of his youth had not diminished, but had broadened and intensified. It is the feeling of many of us here. It is my own feeling. We are here because we believe by supporting Home Rule we are supporting not only that which is best for Ireland, but that which is best for England and for Great Britain.
The hon. Member from Ulster who spoke just now said he thought we who were supporting this Bill had not given sufficiently serious consideration to the position of Ulster. Let me say our enthusiasm for Home Rule makes it impossible for us to support an Amendment of this kind. We are enthusiastic for that Home Rule which shall fire the national imagination and warm the national zeal, and a Home Rule scheme with a great piece torn out, bleeding, from the rest of Ireland is impossible. It must be all Ireland or nothing. It must be the nation of Ireland or nothing. Not only we but Members opposite are unanimous, I believe, in feeling that if this Amendment were to be carried we throw out Home Rule. It must be as I say, the nationality of Ireland or nothing. Are we then oblivious and indifferent to the claims of Ulster?' Not at all. I assure the hon. Member I know this position of Ulster has given, and is giving, great concern to many of my colleagues on these benches. We are wishful to do what is wise and right, and I think I may say we shall be fearless in doing that once we are convinced of what is the right course. I should like to ask my friends from Ireland, for I have many business connections with the North of 1141 Ireland, and am very familiar with the feeling in that part of the country—and I say here what I have often said privately—are you quite sure that you are not making a great mistake when you seem to assume that the separations between the people of Ireland are going to continue? I do not think they are. We have heard a great deal about the impassable gulf separating Catholics and Protestants. This kind of talk is a little old-fashioned. I venture to think we are moving not in England alone, but in Ireland and the world, on lines which make ail these considerations of little value.
I put before my Friends from Ulster the evidence of history. What ground have they for believing their Roman Catholic fellow subjects will treat them as we have been told again and again from those benches they fear they will treat them? What ground have they for believing they will tax them unjustly, will dominate them unjustly, and that they will really be placed under what will amount to religious tyranny? Is there any reason for believing that is likely? When one comes to ask that question, he can only answer it by appealing to the state of the world elsewhere. What is the condition in the other States of Europe and of the world where there are Protestants and Catholics joining together in carrying on their national history and national affairs? I am not here to plead particularly for the Roman Catholic Church, but I think all these arguments assume an attitude on the part of that Church which is not justified by history, and which is certainly not justified by the present conduct of that Church. I am moderately familiar with Belgium, where you have a fierce separation between Catholic and Protestants, and yet I have never heard the Protestants of Belgium, many of whom I know, complain that they were unjustly treated by their Catholic fellow-subjects. Such injustice can only come from one of two directions. It can only come either from the Catholic Church itself or from the character of the nation with which you have to deal. I say there is no ground for believing it will come from the Catholic Church. I turn again to Germany. I am continually visiting that country, and I talk a good deal with those who take a part in its affairs, and, as Members of this House know, there is a strong feeling between Catholics and Protestants in Germany, but I have never yet heard any Protestant there complain that Catholicism was unjust or oppressive 1142 to his religion. You find the same thing everywhere, and I ask my Friends what evidence there is anywhere to justify their feelings and their opinions. I say none.
There is another thing. I say that, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, it is clear that in no part of Europe at the present moment does it take part in such cruel injustice as is suggested will follow in Ireland. If not the Church, who else is going to do it? It can only come from the people. What is our knowledge of the Irish?. I do not wish to flatter. It would be unworthy, because this is a serious occasion and a serious problem. I would scorn to flatter. I have been in this House with Irishmen for a good many years. I know their country very well, and I would ask: Is there any one who knows Irishmen and the Celtic temperament of Irishmen who does not know that of all the people in the world they would be the least likely to be guilty of cruelty or injustice? [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the boycott?"] That is part of a policy and it succeeds. I am speaking of the ordinary personal characteristics of the Irish race, and I say that those personal characteristics are less likely to belong to people who would join in any kind of oppression such as we have had foreshadowed from the other side. Let my Ulster Friends be assured that we Liberals, who are so sincere about this Bill, have not neglected to weigh with the greatest possible care all that they may say and all the objections that they may urge. I am quite sure, if we believed that the passing of this Bill would result in the Ulster Protestants being placed in the position which we have heard sketched in such dark colours we would resist the Bill. I have spoken frankly with many of my colleagues, and I am certain we would take no part in putting such an honourable race as the men of Ulster in a position of injustice or oppression. It is because we feel quite certain that that will not occur that we urge the passing of this Bill.
Years ago I ventured to say in this House to a Member from Ulster when we were talking this matter over that I was quite certain if Ulster men frankly accepted the position under the Bill and threw in their lot loyally and cordially with the rest of the nation, Ulster would eventually rule Ireland. I believe that that will occur. I do not want to underestimate the power of numbers, but I believe that, in the sense of determining the destinies and moulding the future of Ireland they can take a prominent share 1143 if they will only take up the position that I suggest. The position of Ulster among the people of Ireland themselves is a guarantee for that. I think it is a thousand pities that, instead of the melancholy Jeremiads and those hopeless speeches as to what is going to happen in the future, it would be much better if Ulster would rise to the opportunity which now presents itself. There has been a good deal of talking about Grattan's Parliament. We forget that that was a Parliament exclusively of Protestants. We forget, too, that the privileges and powers of Ireland all this long time have been in the hands of the minority, and that minority naturally shrinks from having to take its place on the broad basis of fair representation. If it will only take that place under this Bill frankly, cordially, and loyally, I believe, and I know that my colleagues on this side have the same feeling, that these miserable prophecies will be absolutely nullified, and that we shall have a united Ireland, Protestant and Catholic, working together there, as they work in other countries, for the common good.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
The hon. Gentleman says that the speeches delivered from these benches have been devoid of cheerfulness. I cannot say that he has added very much to the spirit of cheerfulness. The reason for that is obvious, and it is that he, like everybody else, feels the importance of this Amendment. The Mover, at all events, can have no reason to complain of the way in which his Amendment has been received by the Committee. There has been some criticism upon its exact form, and as to whether other counties ought to have been included besides the four he has mentioned. But that is absolutely a matter of detail. If I may say so, speaking personally, I am exceedingly grateful to him for having moved this Amendment, because it has given us an opportunity of asking the Government once more—How does it propose to force this scheme of Home Rule upon a million and a quarter of people who are determined not to have it? That is the real difficulty. The question was put to the Prime Minister very clearly last Tuesday by the Leader of the Opposition. It is a most material question, and it was based upon a statement made by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to the effect if Ulster reject the solution which we proposed, or made it 1144 impossible, some other solution would have to be found. Now that statement involves the admission, and I do not think anybody will dispute it, that Ulster has power to make this scheme impossible, and does anybody doubt that if it has the power it will make it impossible? If anybody doubts that, it simply means that he is disregarding facts patent to the whole country.
The question put to the Prime Minister was, "What is the Government going to do if Ulster persists in its present determination?" What was the answer we received? We have been used to receiving evasive answers from the Prime Minister. We have heard over and over again "Wait and see." It was not "Wait and see" on this occasion; it was "Oh, that remains to be seen." There was a slight variation in the form of the answer, but it was equally evasive. That answer was not worthy the occasion, and it was not worthy of the Prime Minister. It was nothing less than a mere trifling with the occasion. He went on to say that my right hon. Friend was speaking of the future. It is not a matter for the future. It is a matter for the present, and it is a most pressing question for the present. It amounts to this: If you have one portion of Ireland which is determined that it will not accept this scheme, what is to be done? You must have some other scheme, or else you are absolutely wasting the time of the House of Commons in asking us to discuss this Bill, which can never be put into effect or become practicable. I ask this question once more of the Chief Secretary, and we are entitled to get an answer before this Debate closes. If we do not get an answer, then I submit the, Government is discredited in the opinion of every reasonable man in the country, because this is what the country is thinking about. They are convinced that Ulster is determined. Is not the right hon. Gentleman convinced of that?
§ Mr. SANDERSON
Not to accept this scheme, and, if this scheme is passed not to live under it. Does the right hon. Gentleman want any better evidence?
§ Mr. SANDERSON
Sufficient evidence has been given of it. Great public meetings have been held which cannot be said to have been bogus meetings. They have been honest and genuine, and they have expressed a determination not to accept this scheme. Responsible Members of 1145 Parliament have got up in their places and have said that the Ulster men will not have this scheme. Does he want any better evidence? Will nothing but fighting and bloodshed satisfy the right hon. Gentleman? If he goes on in his present course he will probably get that evidence. At all events, the country is satisfied that the Ulster people are not going to have this scheme, and they have read with interest the statement made by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs that if they will not have this scheme, some other solution must be found. We want to know what the other solution is going to be, and we are entitled to demand an answer before the Debate closes to-night. I wish to refer to the speech made by the Solicitor-General on Tuesday. His chief answer to this point was that hitherto this Parliament has dealt with Ireland as one entity, and therefore it is impossible to deal with a part of Ireland as one entity. I cannot follow the Solicitor-General's logic. If it is possible to deal with Ireland as one entity, I cannot understand why it is impossible to deal with a part of Ireland as one entity. It is no argument to say that hitherto Ireland has always been governed as one entity, and that the people who live in Ireland have been satisfied with that. There is nothing in that. They have been satisfied with it because they have been members of the United Kingdom, and the laws have been passed by the Imperial Parliament, not by Irish Members but by Members for England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Is it any use referring to a precedent of that kind when you are making an absolutely new departure? Home Rule is an absolutely new departure—at all events, there has been nothing like it for the last hundred years.
Is it not legitimate to ask the Government to consider whether, in making this new departure, they will not consider a part of Ireland which is in many respects absolutely separate from the rest of Ireland? The argument of the Solicitor-General does not do him credit. If he had to have recourse to an argument of that kind, it shows how extremely weak the case of the Government must be. Having had some experience of the Solicitor-General's abilities, not only in this House, but in the Courts of Law, I know that if there is one Gentleman who can make bricks without straw it is he; but he has not been able to produce a better answer to the arguments put forward from this side of the Committee. The hon. and 1146 learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) gave us this afternoon certain figures. Of course, I am not able to follow him in those figures. He said he did not wish to put his facts too far. In one respect he was pushing his figures too far—quite unintentionally, I admit. He gave us figures in regard to the election in 1906. Of what value are those figures? I have heard it stated that the reason why Home Rule was not introduced during the 1906 Parliament was that it had not been put before the electors. What is the good of giving figures if they are only applicable to the 1906 election? The point is this: Admittedly you have a million and a quarter people in Ireland who are determined, that they will not have this scheme. Are the Government going to insist upon forcing this scheme of Home Rule upon such a large number of perfectly inoffensive and loyal members of the United Kingdom against their will? I ask once more for an answer to that question.
§ Mr. CRAWSHAY-WILLIAMS
I think the speeches of hon. Members opposite would have possessed more force if they had not been preceded, and, to a large extent, answered by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher). I think we are entitled to complain of a certain amount of disagreement between our opponents on this Amendment. Apparently there are two schools of thought. First the one to which the hon. Member who has just sat down belongs, who support the Amendment, and consider that the separation of Ulster is a practicable plan, which admits of serious consideration from a constructive point of view. To that school also belongs the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Moore), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour). But the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) and the hon. Member (Mr. Hayes Fisher) both declared with very convincing frankness that the Amendment was an utterly impossible one, that it was a wrecking Amendment, and that by no possible means could Ulster be separated from the rest of Ireland without the Home Rule Bill coming to an end. Some hon. Members apparently possess that opinion on the opposite side, and some do not, but I do not think anyone who has listened to the Debate and who has any desire to see a Home Rule Bill go through, will have any doubt as to how he should vote, because, contrasting speeches we have heard, by far the most convincing were those which plainly told 1147 us that votes given for the Amendment were votes given to wreck the Bill. No one has yet attempted to meet the argument of the right hon. Member (Mr. Hayes Fisher) last night. I have heard no one attempt to deal with the practical difficulty of the scheme of separating these counties from the rest of Ireland. Obviously those difficulties are absolutely insurmountable. Therefore, to my mind no Member who desires to see a Home Rule Bill of any kind at some time can consider this Amendment as other than a wrecking Amendment. No doubt it was inspired in good faith and was not intended as a wrecking Amendment, but its practical effect would be to wreck the Bill, and therefore I have no hesitation as to how I shall vote.
Not only that, but the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) defied any Member on this side of the House to go down to his constituents, and while telling them of his Home Rule principles in regard to Ireland, to explain why he did not further apply those principles to Ulster. I shall have the opportunity next week, and I shall do so, and shall take for my text extracts from the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite which are perfectly convincing to my mind. If I am told the Amendment is going to wreck the Bill I will not vote for it, and that is a sufficient explanation to my Constituents for voting against it. That is the chief and foremost quotation that it is necessary to give, and that undoubtedly would be one of the points which I shall make. No practical case has been made out for this Amendment—no case which has gone into the details to be considered in any separation of Ulster—and to my mind no cogent argument has been brought forward to justify such separation. One argument was brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) and it is an argument, which, though it has not been used very often in this Debate, I have often heard used outside this House, and that is that Ulster has as great, if not a greater, claim to separation under a Home Rule Bill as Wales has to have Home Rule of her own. To my mind these cases are not in the least on all fours. No one who has any knowledge of Wales will pretend that the proportion of Nationalists in Wales is anything the same as the proportion of Nationalists in Ulster. If in Wales the proportion of the Nationalists was very nearly half and half, as it is in Ulster, then, indeed, the case 1148 would be somewhat parallel, but it is not so. Still, I think from Wales a rather useful instance may be adduced against the principle of separating Ulster from the rest of Ireland in this Bill, because at the extreme end of South Wales, in Pembroke, there is a small community of English settlers, men who for generations past have maintained their traditions and their race, which is not a Welsh race. If you are to give this separation to Ulster from the rest of Ireland, what valid excuse would there be for excluding this half of a county at the end of Wales? And yet if Home Rule is proposed for Wales those inhabitants of Pembrokeshire will not be so misguided and so unwise as to ask to be separated from the rest of Wales.
But all these arguments seem to be somewhat beside the point. The case was put in a nutshell by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) when he said that we agreed on both sides of the House that this Amendment made the Bill impossible, and he said we have different answers after we have proceeded thus far together. We on this side of the House say "if that is so Ulster must give way and come in"; you on the other side say, "not at all. If that is so, there must be no Home Rule Bill." That was plainly and distinctly stated, and that is the whole point at issue. We all desire on both ides of the House to see Ulster satisfied as far as it is humanly possible to satisfy her, but we also desire to see Home Rule, and if anyone is, I do not like to say to suffer, because I do not believe Ulster will have to suffer as a result of the Bill, but supposing any one is to have to suffer why should it be the majority? Why should it be the people who have been crying out for Home Rule for so long instead of the minority that is firmly refusing to give way and come into a scheme which is to benefit the whole nation at large? To our mind there is no need for sacrifice because, first of all, of the safeguards, and, secondly, of common sense. We all desire peace. We on this side of the House think there is a better prospect of peace than by simply letting things alone. The hon. Member (Mr. Charles Craig), with his history of how things stood to-day, cannot offer a very favourable account of what the results of letting it alone were. Letting it alone can scarcely be said to have succeeded, and we believe there is a better chance of promoting harmony between these discordant elements in Ireland than by continuing to let things alone. We believe that, after the Bill has passed, 1149 in the ordinary course of human events the discordant element will be resolved, and here I think there exists a fundamental fallacy as to the results which will follow Home Rule. It seems to be thought that the course of affairs in Ireland after Home Rule will be very much the same as it is to-day and that the same interests and the same party politics will survive. I myself do not think so. Is it not obvious that the one thing which binds together firmly the whole of the Nationalist party in Ireland to-day is the cause of Home Rule? Is it not obvious that when you remove this binding element you will find a great many matters on which those who are at present in harmony will differ? I do not think it is in the nature of probability or of the Celtic race that it should not be so. When you have got rid of the cause which so sharply separates the Irish people you will find that other interests will develop which will largely divide the Irish people on totally different lines. You will have your urban interests and your agricultural interests, and the whole course of politics will be entirely different from what it is to-day. If I needed any corroboration of that the words of the hon. Member (Mr. C Craig) will supply it, because he said he had no doubt that, if Home Rule were passed, even in Ulster there would be Radicals returned and persons who to-day have no chance of being returned getting into Parliament on a different platform from any that they could stand on to-day. Therefore there is no doubt at all in my mind that with these different interests and with a different course of politics you will find a harmonising of interests which is impossible while the old cause of difference exists.
I thoroughly agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Harwood), who said that in his opinion, after Home Rule had become a fact, Ulster would rule to a large extent the new nation. I think that is very probably true, although I hope it may not be so much true as he expects. If any Ulster interest does survive, if it is a question of Protestantism, the Protestants will have a commanding position, because in Ireland, which will be to a large extent divided on new lines, any compact body, such as the Protestants could be, will have an overwhelmingly preponderating influence. They would hold the balance. In fact, I should not be surprised if the Protestant influence in the Dublin Parliament became what it is said the influence of the Irish party has become in our Parliament here.
§ Mr. CRAWSHAY-WILLIAMS
The noble Lord says that the Ulster representatives will be so strong that they will be able to make the rest of the nation toe the line? What better argument could you have than that which has been put into my mouth? For all these reasons I believe that a great number of those on this side of the House do believe that any separation of Ulster would not be either in the interest of Ulster or of the nation, and for myself I shall vote against the Amendment, firstly, because I desire to see a national settlement of this great question, and, secondly, because I desire to see a Home Rule Bill carried and not a wrecking Amendment passed.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
In his interesting and eloquent speech the hon. Member (Mr. Crawshay-Williams) levelled one or two taunts against this side of the House which were not deserved. Various taunts have been levelled against hon. Members on this side of the House with respect to the policy they are undertaking at the present moment. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) levelled a taunt against us because he said an Amendment had been put on the Order Paper very much in the terms of the Amendment now before the Committee, and that it had disappeared. But surely anyone can see that an Amendment moved from the benches opposite is very much more likely to be accepted than an Amendment moved by any of my hon. Friends on this side. I think there is no doubt about that whatever. I do not know the history of the particular Amendment referred to by the hon. and learned Member, but certainly if we do want an Amendment accepted, we shall have a very much better chance of getting it accepted if it is moved from the benches opposite. The hon. Member (Mr. Crawshay-Williams) has taunted us with an attitude of inconsistency. He seems to think there is something inconsistent in our being imbued with a general desire to destroy the Bill, and also with being perfectly prepared, with the risk before one's eyes that the Bill may pass into law, to accept an Amendment which certainly will purge the Bill of one of its most dangerous aspects. I do not think there is anything inconsistent in that. The 1151 Amendment will not reconcile hon. Members on this side to Home Rule, but I do not say that that is a reason why we should not support it. I say that probably this Bill will be passed into law in some shape or another. It will be backed up by a mechanical majority who will go into the Lobby like a flock of sheep without even a bleat of protest. If the Bill is to be passed into law, the best thing hon. Members on this side of the House could do would be to make it as little dangerous as possible by accepting any Amendments proposed with that object.
The attitude of hon. Members opposite with regard to the Ulster question has changed a good deal in the last few weeks and months. First of all they treated the Ulster question as if it were a matter for jest. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] When it was mentioned in the House they used to try to laugh it away. They used to pretend that the subject could not be taken seriously, but I think they have very much altered their opinion. The great demonstrations at Omagh and Belfast, the temper which was aroused by the professed intention of the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Churchill) to speak in the Ulster Hall, and other things, have shown hon. Members opposite that the Ulster question is not a matter for jocularity. But although the jesting attitude has passed away, its place has now been taken by an attitude which is not any more entitled to respect. The jesting phase has given place to a sort of superior and indulgent tolerance. Hon. Members opposite now seem to think they can appease the Protestants of Ulster by smooth words, and that they can practically coerce her into accepting the Home Rule Bill. Both these attitudes I believe show a Radical misconception of the whole question. I cannot claim to be an Ulster man, or to speak with any authority on this particular question, but I have taken the trouble to visit Ulster, and I have talked independently with a large number of working men, and I fervently believe that the Government, in dealing with this Ulster question, are dealing with a spirit which they do not in the least yet understand. In dealing with North-East Ulster they are dealing with a type like the old Covenanting spirit, and with men as unyielding and as determined as Oliver Cromwell's Ironsides.
The working men of Ulster are not mere windbags. They are not mere political 1152 agitators, or professional politicians. They are sober, hard-working men, who are respected by their fellows. The Members of the Nationalist party are always telling us that Ireland suffered great injustice in days gone by. I do not think that anyone who has read the tale of Ireland during the eighteenth century and part of the nineteenth century would be inclined to deny what they say about it, but personally I cannot see that in order to repair the injustice of the past you have any right to inflict injustice in the present. It was, after all, this country that planted Ulster men in Ulster, and surely it is our duty not to desert them in their hour of need. I think one of the most lamentable spectacles of present-day politics is to see the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture in Ireland (Mr. T. W. Russell) sitting on the Front Bench acquiescing in this Home Rule policy. Of all the defenders of the integrity of the Union no one was more uncompromising, stalwart, or, I would say, more violent than the right hon. Gentleman not so many years ago. Speaking in this House in 1893 in a Debate on the last Home Rule Bill, and referring to the Government of the day, he said:—If they succeeded in what they were doing, they would turn more than a million loyal subjects into men who would hate and despise the name of England, and who would bequeath to their children's children the memory of a great wrong and an infamous betrayal. That was what they were trying to do, and that was what he believed the people of Great Britain, with their big bounding hearts, would prevent them from doing.Again he said:—For the province of Ulster, this was a matter of life or death, and whoever discussed the Bill, or whoever opposed it, the Ulster Unionist Members would fight every line and oppose every Clause. The Prime Minister said the previous night that Ireland had suffered from coercion ever since 1832 with the exception of two years. He begged to say that they who came from Ulster looked upon that Bill as a perpetual degradation and coercion of Ulster.I should like to know what has occurred to alter these burning convictions of the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture. I have not heard him speak on this subject, and think it would be extremely interesting to hear him defend the Home Rule Bill in this House. I do not suppose that there has even been such a political transformation seen in the history of English politics. The right hon. Gentleman has not only turned his coat, but turned every stitch of clothing he has got on. What has happened since 1893 to change his views or to alter, to use his own words, this perpetual degradation to the Protestants of Ulster? In the 1153 Committee stage of the last Home Rule Bill he said:—That province has declared in language perfectly direct and perfectly plain that if such a Legislature was forced upon them they would not pay the taxes which that Legislature imposed, and they had, in language which could not be misunderstood, said that they would resist its authority. They knew and he knew, and many hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches who pretended to be so easy about the matter knew, that if it were sought to force the Bill down the throats of the people of Ulster, they would have to enforce it by British bayonets. He asked the Committee to consider what that really meant. They had scouted the voice of the representative of Ulster, and they must now force this hated Legislature upon them by coercion. What was Great Britain to gain by exchanging one form of coercion for another? That coercion—that is to say, the Gladstone coercion—he held to have been the coercion of crime and the coercion of lawlessness. But what kind of coercion would they have in Ulster? They would not have to coerce crime or lawlessness, but they would have to coerce the majority of a province simply because of their passionate loyalty to the Empire and because of their determination not to be thrust outside its pale.That is exactly what Unionists on these benches are saying to-day. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford once said that he stands where Parnell stood. If one might coin a phrase for the present position of the Unionist party, we stand where Russell stood. The position is precisely the same except that the determination of Ulster to resist this Bill is, I believe, more single-minded and more concentrated than it has ever been before. I do not suppose that the Government want to create rioting in Ulster or that they will want to create a revolution in Ireland. No Government, I imagine, would wish to see an uprising of over a million citizens. But if they refuse this Amendment I think it must be without any doubt because of the pressure brought to bear on them by hon. Members below the Gangway. And I am not at all surprised that the Irish party are opposed to the exclusion of Ulster. The Government have been asked several times during the last few months for Returns showing the contribution of Ulster to the Irish Revenue. They have absolutely refused to give them, and each time that questions were asked on the subject they have ridden off on perfectly frivolous quibbles, and have tried to make out that the calculations were impossible to make.
The same sort of thing happened in Ireland the other day in regard to the Report of the Secret Committee. It was exactly like dragging a tooth from the Government to get them to give the Report. The same thing happened in regard to the evidence given before the Committee, and I imagine that it will require another surgical operation to extract the evidence. Personally, I am not at all surprised that these Returns In regard to Ulster have been refused. 1154 Ulster is far and away the richest portion of Ireland, and will serve the Irish party as a very convenient milch-cow in the future. Without Ulster they might find themselves bankrupt, but put Ulster into the Bill and very likely they will be able to stave off financial disaster by taxing Ulster industries and Ulster property—that is to say, by taxing those people who are politically opposed to them. In fact, political revenge and financial expediency will go hand in hand. This being so, surely it would be better to remove this temptation out of the way of the Irish Parliament. This will still leave the Bill an extremely bad one, but it will remove one of the chief danger points and clear the ground for a consideration of the rest of its provisions. I have not very much hope that the Government will accept this Amendment. I was greatly interested to listen to the speech of the hon. Member for Bolton. I am quite sure that if hon. Members opposite will look at this question in the temperate and conciliatory spirit exhibited by the hon. Member for Bolton they would accept this Amendment and show that they really wanted to pass a Bill for Ireland, not only for the benefit of one particular section, but for the benefit of the people of Ireland at large.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am sure that the House will regret the absence from this Debate, this Debate which so profoundly affects the province of Ulster, of so many of the northern Members. I should have imagined that Belfast, that large and industrial city, that great commercial community, would have had its interests much more efficiently placed in the hands of one of its representatives, if its interests were affected by this proposal, than when placed in the hands of a young and inexperienced Member of Parliament. It is indeed surprising—and I have waited now almost to the end of the two Debates— that we have not had the authoritative voice of Belfast spoken by one of the representatives of that city, and I think it is incumbent on me, as a representative from Belfast, to rise here and protest, as an Ulster man and as a Belfast representative, against the Motion which stands in the name of the hon. Gentleman opposite. Belfast, or a large portion of it, may be opposed to Home Rule, but one thing that Belfast claims is that it is an Irish city, and not a single Member of this House; let him sit either on these benches or the benches opposite, will dare to take his stand on any Ulster platform, or to take part in 1155 any popular demonstration before any meeting of Belfast men, irrespective of politics and religion, and declare that they are not Irishmen and that they ought to dissociate themselves from the country in which they were born. I was somewhat amused and interested by the rather fantastic proposal which was made on the other side of the House the day before yesterday. The hon. Gentleman who, I believe is an honest and genuine Home Ruler, suggested as an alternative to the Ulster Protestants in that province or the people of that portion of the nation mentioned in the proposition before the Committee, that they might prefer to go to the Parliament in Edinburgh rather than to the Parliament in Dublin, when Scotch Home Rule is established. The Protestants of Belfast are Irishmen, and they will not be transferred to Scotland, and you will never make a Scotchman out of an Irishman, even though he is an Ulster Protestant.
He may put out of his mind any hope whatever a proposal of that kind will be, regarded as other than a ludicrous one, and at all events it will receive no support from any section of the Irish people in the city of Belfast. If Ulster, or any portion of Ulster, wants to be cut off from Ireland, why does that proposition not come from an Ulster Member? Why is it left to an English Liberal to bring forward this proposition? It is simply because, whether Home Rule be a good or bad thing for Ireland, Ireland stands by itself, and Ireland will not be broken up into provinces or into sections. You may refuse Home Rule to Ireland, or you may give Home Rule to Ireland, but we want Home Rule given not to a part of Ireland while cutting off another part of Ireland. I cannot understand why any democrat should propose that you ought permanently to establish as a force in a nation a minority. The hon. Member for Aberdeen is a powerful and an insistent claimant for Home Rule for Scotland. Does he want Home Rule for the Scotch Protestants, or does he want Home Rule for all Scotchmen? In Scotland there are six or seven hundred thousand Irish Catholics. Is it his proposal that if these 600,000 or 700,000 Irish Catholics decline to associate themselves with the demand for Scotch Home Rule unless they are cut out of Scotland, they should be handed over to the care of the Dublin Parliament simply because they are different in faith and different in aspiration from the great 1156 nation of which they form part? If I were a Scotchman I would resent as intolerable any such claim on the part of Irish Catholics in Scotland.
Therefore, to tell us in Ireland that because a small proportion of the nation is different in religion—though I venture to say, if you get down to the root of it, it is practically the only difference—that you are to cut them off from their own country, and send them over to be part and parcel of another country which is not theirs. I know of only one reason why the friends or the enemies of Ireland should raise this question of separate treatment for that portion of Ireland which is opposed to Home Rule: It is perfectly true that Ireland is an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. Is it your contention that because Ireland is an overwhelmingly Catholic country that she is not fit to govern herself? Irish Catholics in England and Irish Catholics in Scotland absolutely accept the principle that they must abide by the laws made by the Protestants in England and the Protestants in Scotland. But it is only in Ireland, because it is a Catholic country, that this contention is put forward. I say that that is an insult to the faith to which I belong, and I regard it as an aspersion upon the creed to which we are proud to owe our allegiance, to say that Catholics are inherently and fundamentally unfitted to govern in a Catholic country because a section of it belongs to the Protestant religion.
Why do you not rise up in this House, when you are continually assailing the spirit and religion of the Irish people, and tell us of some instance of where Irish Catholics have utilised their power in a narrow or in a broad degree to persecute those of their Protestant fellow countrymen who live in that country, and who are in a minority in a large portion of the country? Ireland is the only country in the world against which the charge of intolerance cannot be successfully made, and therefore I resent it, first of all, upon the ground of national pride, and, secondly, because I think it is an indefensible indictment of one of the most tolerant peoples on the face of the earth. What is more, this charge of intolerance, strange to say, against Ireland, does not come from Protestants in the South or West of that country, or from the midland counties of Ireland. I know myself that in Ireland there are Protestants scattered here and there who are an infinitesimal section of 1157 the population in over three-fourths of Ireland. Who are those Protestants? They are the most successful commercial men, members of great professions, and they owe their commercial power and greatness to the toleration of and the kindly feeling of their Catholic customers. Once again I offer the challenge to Members to rise up in this House to justify their attacks upon Catholic Ireland—to rise up in this House and read to us a single declaration from any responsible commercial or professional man in the three provinces of Ireland where they claim they have been unfairly treated, or where there is the slightest possibility of their being unfairly treated by their own countrymen under the better conditions and provisions of this Bill.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer read a quotation from the speech of Mr. Beamish in Cork. Mr. Beamish delivered that speech, and why? He delivered it at an angry Home Rule meeting of landlords, agents, and bailiffs, and all the other army that constitute the ascendancy party in the Southern portions of the country; and this gentleman was compelled, even in the heated atmosphere of a Cork Orange meeting, to rise and declare that he had no sympathy whatever with these charges that had been made against Catholic Ireland, and that he did not believe that now or in the future there was the slightest chance of persecution from his Catholic fellow countrymen. But if they cannot produce in writing or in words spoken a single impeachment of the toleration of the Irish Catholic to isolated Protestants living in those three provinces, I will produce one or two quotations from declarations made by responsible Protestants in the Southern parts of Ireland and I will give to any Unionist Member who desires it, not one or two quotations, but sheaves of printed matter containing declarations from Protestant clergymen, from Episcopalian, Methodist and Presbyterian clergymen, whose lives are cast in those great centres of Catholicity in those three provinces, and everyone of them bears generous and impartial testimony to the kindness and goodwill of the mass of the Catholic people among whom they live. There is in Mitchelstown in the county of Cork the Very Rev. Courtney Moore, and I appeal from the parties in the North to this clerical and impartial observer in the South. In a letter he said:—In this parish some time ago the local board or council elected an English lady nurse, who was an English Churchwoman to the chief position in the local union1158 and this comprises one of the most Catholic parts of Ireland. The letter proceeds:—The same authorities elected an engineer who was a member of the English Church, a little later on to the position of district surveyor. Another young man, a member of my congregation, was elected Petty Sessions clerk, though there was a Roman Catholic in the field. A few years ago. a young man from the North came here and started business as a grocer. He is a member also of the English Church, and has done exceedingly well. He is a good obliging man of business, and even, the nuns and Christian Brothers patronise him.Let me say a word for myself. I prefer the testimony of a Protestant minister in the South to the impassioned oratory which has been accustomed to the atmosphere of Portadown in the North. He goes on:—I am not a Home Ruler yet, but I have, without the slightest solicitation on my part, been unanimously elected a member of the County Committee of Technical Instruction, of which the Roman Catholic Bishop is chairman.What do you do for us in the city of Belfast. They were electing a local committee in connection with the National Insurance Act and the Belfast City Council, the dominant party of which is always whining about intolerance in this House and elsewhere, out of fifteen members of that insurance committee, called upon to effectively administer that great Act of social reform, notwithstanding that a fourth of the population of 100,000 people mainly workers were involved; not a single Catholic was elected on that local insurance committee. Let me pass from the clergyman to the business man. Mr. Robert Gibson, one of the leading merchants of the South writes:—I have lived for sixty-seven years in the Catholic districts of Tipperary, Cork, and Limerick. I have never in the least cloaked my real Protestant sentiments. I have been a Freemason for fifty-five years and I have always expressed pleasure and satisfaction at being one. My experience has been that in Ireland the bigotry and intolerance has been always displayed by Protestants rather than by Catholics. Every man who has studied the financial relations question as between Ireland and Great Britain, and the existing system of Government, only does his duty to his country by doing all in his power to keep such a very ill-informed people out of place or power, no matter whether Protestant or Catholic. That is the only form of intolerance that exists amongst southern Irishmen to anything like a marked degree. It is so strong in men's minds at present that if the choice lay between the soundest Roman Catholic Churchman in Ireland who proclaimed himself a Unionist and a Turk who was for righting Irish grievances and giving us Home Rule, I am certain the Turk would obtain (and rightly so) the vast majority of the Catholic votes.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Yes, you cheer him, but it meets your argument. Where, then, does the religious argument come in? You say that Protestants will not be permitted the essential opportunities that they need in free 1159 institutions. We say religion has never had anything to do with keeping Protestants out of positions. Do you elect Liberals to positions in your constituencies, and do you want us to return Unionists in ours, and ours is not an ordinary political view; it is a deep and well-founded national passion, and Home Rule to us is something more than an ordinary political opinion? Mr. Gibson goes on to say:—It is absolutely certain, if the contest lay between a Protestant Nationalist and a Catholic Tory, the Protestant would obtain at least nine out of every ten Catholic votes.10.0 P.M.
The hon. Member for North Armagh, in the course of his speech, declared how badly Protestants were treated since the County Councils Act had been passed, and asked why cannot we produce the names of any men elected to the county council or district council. That is because the greater bulk of them who live in the South do not care to take part in those matters, because they are busy making money from their Catholic customers, but when the distribution of place or emolument comes about take up the statistics and you will find that in places where the Catholics are 95 per cent. of the population you have 26 and 27 and up to 40 per cent. of the paid positions given to Protestants. Here is the opinion of the chairman of one of the Catholic urban councils in Ireland. The chairman of the Carrick-on-Suir Council and ex-chairman of the Tipperary County Council, and an extensive employer of labour in Clonmel, states:—In this town the percentage of Roman Catholics is about 98 per cent., yet I and others who are not Roman Catholics have been elected to public boards during these years by Roman Catholic citizens. In this district Protestants have been elected to posts, carrying considerable salaries, by public boards almost exclusively Catholic. I can recall seven or eight comparatively recent instances of such elections. To the best of my belief, only three non-Catholics sought election in our county council and they were elected.But I am then told, when we meet them on this, their own selected ground, and when we do not leave them a single intelligible reason for the attitude they take up—I am told, "After all you must consider the rich North-East of Ulster and especially the City of Belfast, and are you going to allow," they say, "the wretched and thriftless and unindustrious and unenterprising Celts from the three provinces to dominate the great, rich and progressive province of Ulster and the city of Belfast?" Who has the right to speak for industrial Ulster? None of the Members from Belfast, as I have stated, have risen 1160 on these benches. Has Lord Pirrie the right to speak for industrial Ulster? Surely a man who employs 20,000 men, and who pays £25,000 per week in wages, surely his opinion is worth more even than that of an incompetent Lord, even though he has a seat in the House of Commons!
I would ask the hon. Member whether Lord Pirrie was ever elected to any office, or whether it is not the fact that he never could get the suffrages of the men of Belfast, and the only reason he was made a Peer is because he ratted from the Unionist party?
§ Mr. DEVLIN
That is a very pertinent question, and I am glad it has been asked. I will answer it in two ways. The underlying suggestion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman is that though Lord Pirrie employs 20,000 men, and though he gives the best labour conditions in the three Kingdoms, and though he pays £25,000 per week in wages, yet because he has sympathies with the people they would not allow him to be elected.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must remind the hon. Member that when the Chairman rises, he must be seated. The hon. Member for Belfast is in possession.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
But that is not my answer. The hon. and gallant Member wants to know, would Lord Pirrie be elected to any position in Belfast? He was three times the most brilliant Lord Mayor there ever was in Belfast. During the three years he was in office he built up that city and beautified it; he gave democratic Government; he introduced what some people would almost call a system of progressive socialistic legislation which the old Tories are carrying on to-day. Lady Pirrie was responsible, by her own unaided efforts, for building a great hospital for the city of Belfast at a cost of £100,000, with £50,000 endowment. And how were they rewarded? We hear about intimidation. The moonlighters, the cattle drivers, the men who have been held up here as though they were the only people who exist in the South of Ireland never attacked a lady.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is going somewhat far from the Amendment. He must confine his remarks to the question affecting the four counties raised by the Amendment.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am very glad to say that the occurrences to which I refer were in only one county, and I hope that when Home Rule is carried such transactions will be impossible in any county. I ask who claims to speak for industrial Belfast? Is it Lord Pirrie who thus gives his opinion?It is with the utmost confidence I give expression to my opinion that there is no fear that the impending inauguration of an Irish legislature will have as one of its results the religious persecution of Protestants. In existing circumstances, there is nothing to prevent Irish Catholics from exercising, were they so disposed, a certain amount of persecution of Protestants, where the latter are in a minority. But happily the records of Irish Catholics show that so far from there being any persecution of that character, the greatest generosity has been displayed towards Protestants, in that they have been accorded positions of honour and emolument far beyond the ratio to which they were entitled upon any population basis. On the other hand, I confess with shame that in the past a spirit of religions intolerance has been, and is even now, although in a lesser degree, prevalent amongst a portion of the Unionist population of Ulster. Happily the evidence that this unfortunate spirit is on the wane is indisputable and one is not without hope that the present day laudable tendency to draw a proper line between religion and politics, and the softening influence of a more intimate association with their Catholic fellow countrymen, inducing as it must a feeling of tolerance more in accord with the spirit of the age in which we live, may in time reduce to insignificance the possibility of religious friction and tend to unite in one harmonious body the Protestant inhabitants of Ulster with the rest of their fellow countrymen in a common desire to promote the credit and welfare of their own country.I am told that it is only Lord Pirrie, the head of the greatest shipbuilding industry in the three kingdoms; and that his opinion does not count. The only men who stand for the commercial and industrial community are the lawyer representatives of certain portions of the province of Ulster. There are two great industries in Ulster—linen and shipbuilding. I pass from the shipbuilder to the linen merchant. Mr. Glendinning is one of the largest linen merchants in Belfast, and he has such profound confidence in the future of Ulster and of Ireland under a Home Rule Government that he is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on the extension of his works in Belfast. Here is what he says:—The oft-repeated assertion of leaders of the Unionist party that under Home Rule Protestants will be deprived of their civil and religious rights, liberties and privileges, and will be subjected to all manner of pains and penalties on account of their faith, is controverted by those who reside in Roman Catholic districts, and who are therefore competent to express an opinion. Clergy of all sections of the Protestant Church, Protestant traders. Protestant farmers, artisans and labourers, who have spent their lives in the very heart and centre of Catholic communities, bear willing testimony to the moderation, forbearance and considerate-ness of their Catholic neighbours, and in those districts where Protestants are fewest in number, the relations are of the most cordial character.We have it therefore on the authority, not of itinerant politicians, professional or 1162 otherwise, but of the head of the greatest shipbuilding industry in Ireland and of one of the leaders of the great linen industry, that they are not afraid of Home Rule, of Catholic persecution, or of religious intolerance; but that in their judgment concession to Ireland of self-governing institutions will remove all that rancour and bitterness that has so long corroded every branch of life in Ireland. But anybody to hear Unionist Members speak would imagine that the prosperity of Belfast was entirely due to the religion of the1 majority of its people. That is a rather extraordinary assumption to make. Perhaps the best way of answering it would be to quote from the most authoritative of Tory exponents. Here is what Lord Salisbury had to say in regard to that contention:—What is the reason that a people with so bountiful a soil and such enormous resources as the Irish, lag so far behind the English in the race? Some say it is to be found in the character of the Celtic race. I look to France and see a Celtic race there going forward in the path of prosperity with most rapid strides. Some say it is to be found in the Roman Catholic religion. I look at Belgium and I see there a people second to none in Europe, except the English, for industry, singularly prosperous, considering the small space of country they occupy, having improved to the utmost the natural resources of the country, but distinguished from all the people of Europe by the earnestness and intensity of their Roman Catholic belief. Some say it is because of listening to demagogues.I have as much dislike for demagogues as he had.I look to the North, and I see there a people who listen to demagogues and undoubtedly find material prosperity.It cannot be the demagogues. It cannot be Romanism. It cannot be the Celtic race. What is it then? Lord Salisbury gives the answer. He says:—I am afraid the one thing that has been peculiar to Ireland has been the system of government that has been forced upon her.Belfast has succeeded because she has had a monopoly of the linen trade, which was encouraged and subsidised by successive British and Irish Governments, whilst the manufacturers in other parts of the country were discouraged or suppressed. I have heard the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London, and the ex-Leader of the Opposition, rise in this House and recite for nearly twenty minutes a series of great and growing industries stifled and destroyed by the jealousy of this country towards Ireland. Belfast's prosperity has been due to shipping and ropemaking, and the manufacture of linens and cottons; to her proximity to the great industrial centres and coalfields of England. Above all, 1163 the one thing that has made Belfast great is the one thing that struck at the prosperity of the other parts of Ireland, and that was landlordism—the capacity of the Belfast people to secure cheap land for building purposes and long leases. It was also due to the Ulster custom that gives the Ulster farmers security of tenure, which the Southern farmers never had. It was due to the evictions from Ulster, from the fact that so many farmers were driven from the land and obliged to seek refuge in Belfast, thereby giving the manufacturers an unlimited supply of cheap labour. Finally, it was due to the fact that every post of honour or emolument was given to the city by successive English Governments, and it was due to the development of the Channel and cross-Channel and ocean-going shipping by which Belfast has secured a monopoly, and is able to levy a toll in some shape or form upon the greater portion of the commodities going in or out of the country. Belfast, in fact, has become the clearing-house not only for Ulster, but for the Western, Southern, and Midland counties of Ireland. When we hear from those benches above the Gangway that Belfast pays such a large proportion of the taxes, it is explainable by the fact that the Customs Duties paid by Belfast are by far the largest in comparison with other ports of Ireland. Belfast is dependent for its commercial stability upon the savings of Irish Catholics in the other three parts of Ireland who have been greatly instrumental In supplying the Belfast merchants with the capital by which they carry on their industry.
But Belfast is not all Ireland. Belfast is only one city in Ireland, and the evil hand of mis-government has fallen as deeply on Protestant counties like Fermanagh, Down, and Antrim, as on any portion of the land in Connaught, Leinster, or Munster. There are nine counties in Ulster. Within the last fifty years while the population of Belfast no doubt has increased, the population of these nine counties has diminshed by over a million of people. Can it be pretended that Ulster is prosperous when we find that the diminution of population in that province is greater than the diminution of any of the other provinces in Ireland, and the great diminution does not take place from thriftless and unenterprising Donegal, or Cavan; or Monaghan, but from the great county of Antrim, of which Belfast is the. capital city. If you look 1164 into statistics you will find that emigration is the greatest from those very counties which are incorporated in the Amendment. I do not think that those agriculturists will be grateful to any hon. Member who takes action tending to drive them from the homes of their fathers, and to prevent them from enjoying the advantages of a free Parliament which will apply its fostering care and knowledge to the promotion of their interests! The Ulster Members are not Irish loyalists; they are only English Tories. One could have appreciated to some extent the opposition of hon. Members if they had used the Union, and the power and authority they had for the last twenty-five years, on behalf of their own people. I have heard them tell how they have gone among the people, how they have talked to the people; how they have learned the people's woes and sorrows. When did they begin to take an interest in the people? When the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) the Member for Dublin University was visiting the lanes and alleys and squalid slums in Belfast, did he tell the people that he was one of the first into the Lobby and one of the last out of it against old age pensions? Did he tell them that he leads his organised forces into the Lobbies on every occasion against every measure of social reform which not only affect the great industrial toilers in our large manufacturing cities in England and Scotland, but equally and deeply and profoundly affect the toilers in Belfast? Is there a single Member from Ulster who has ever recorded a vote for any Liberal measure that has been introduced into this House? Or can one of them boast of ever having brought the slightest ray of sunshine into the darkened homes of the toilers of Ireland?
On a point of Order. May I ask your ruling, Mr. Whitley, as to what all this has to do with the Amendment before the Chair?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have had a good deal of difficulty in the course of to-day in reminding various hon. Members of the scope of the Amendment before the Committee. I hope the hon. Member will confine himself strictly to it.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I think it will be perfectly obvious to the Committee what my point is. I do not want the industrialists and toilers in the city of Belfast to be left to the mercies of hon. Members above the Gangway as their 1165 representatives in this House. I want the Committee to understand, and I want the people of Ulster to understand, and especially I want the working classes in Belfast to understand, that if by any possible chance these four counties, including the city of Belfast, were taken out of this scheme of Home Rule for Ireland then, instead of having Irish Nationalists continuing as their representatives to come and fight their battles against their Unionist representatives in this House, they would be left to the tender merices of those men to play the game of the employers and the privileged classes against them. The Unionist Members from Ulster say if Home Rule is passed they will not recognise an Irish Government; they can only speak for themselves. On the day that an Irish General Election is announced in Ireland there will be Liberal and Labour candidates to stand for whatever vacancies may be offered in an Irish Parliament, and they will be returned to Parliament, and Belfast will have sixteen representatives in an Irish Parliament, and Ulster Protestants will have sixty. Does anyone, especially anyone who boasts of the strength and indestructible character of Protestantism, believe that sixty Protestants in a Parliament of 160 Members cannot be a mighty and even a dominant force in the adjustment of every great question? One would imagine to hear them talk that when the Home Rule Bill becomes law one side of the Irish Parliament will consist of my hon. Friends and the other side of a small remnant of Members from Ulster. The thing is unthinkable. There are many of my hon. Friends on these benches who upon economic questions are more in touch with the hon. Members on the Opposition side of this House than they are with me. When we get an Irish Parliament security for a minority will be found neither in your promises nor in your written safeguards, but in the readjustment of parties, in the union of the Protestant workers of the North with the Catholic labourer of the South, in the union of the privileged classes of the North with the farmers and the tillers of the soil in the South. There will be a complete transformation of parties and classes, and you will have the same natural divisions then as you have unnatural divisions now. You are not fomenting religious strife by this Bill, but obliterating it. For one hundred years the Act of Union has gone on year after year and generation after generation, and yet we are told here to-nights that Ireland 1166 is seething with religious bigotry and hatred. Is that what you claim for the Union? [An HON. MEMBER: "Who said that?"] You all said it. I heard an hon. Gentleman here to-night, one of the mildest-mannered men in this House, deliver a most sanguinary speech, in which he told us that Catholics and Protestants were constantly at each other's throats. That has been your whole story on English platforms. The people have been denied the privilege of fighting their economic battles for themselves.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I never saw an English "Molly Maguire" before, but I think I see one now, and I sympathise with the hon. Member, because Tariff Reform is not popular now, and he is getting angry. A taunt of that character does not come well from the hon. Gentleman. What I say is that the moment Home Rule passes you will have one of the most beneficent schemes that was ever conceived by a British statesman to end all those evils of which Unionist Members complain, and which they use as part and parcel of their Unionist propaganda. I am the only Belfast Member who has spoken. I have waited for two days to hear one of the other representatives of Belfast state to this House whether he was prepared to subscribe to the ignoble doctrine that you are now going to desert, according to your own story, the neglected and outcast Protestants in three provinces, in order that you may retain your own privileges in three counties in Ulster. No Member for Belfast has put forward that proposal or attempted to defend it. There will perhaps be riot or some disturbance. I am not so pessimistic as to believe that a great change of this character will take place without those manifestations of feeling which are natural to a great community like the city of Belfast. But I am equally certain that just as when the Disestablishment of the Church Bill became law people forgot the threats they made, and saw no danger come to the Church, but, on the contrary, their own Protestant bishops and clergymen have boasted that the Church in Ireland has grown and flourished since it was was disestablished—[HON. MEMBERS: "Never."] I have read the speeches of the Primate of all Ireland and some of the bishops, and they have boasted repeatedly—[HON. MEMBERS; "NO."] Anybody can say "No."
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is really being led into diverging paths. [HON. MEMBERS: "Led!"] The hon. Member is diverging. I hope I shall not have to appeal to him again.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I accept your ruling. I understood all these things were germane to the consideration of whether four counties in that country to which I belong are to be torn from the general nation. I have stated all I have to say. The only voice from Belfast has been a voice in favour of a united Ireland. I want to make my position clear. No Home Rule Bill will ever be acceptable to those whom I represent in Belfast unless it be Home Rule for a nation and not Home Rule for a province.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has addressed the House in a speech of much vivacity, which I think the most cordial supporters of Home Rule will hardly think affords a very sanguine promise of that spirit of conciliation, in the prospect of which, and in the prospect of which alone, we are asked to see the solution of the many enormous difficulties of detail which have confronted speakers from whichever side they have addressed the House. It is always preferable in these matters to deal with principals, and, therefore, I think we may be consoled for the absence of the Prime Minister by the interposition in the Debate of one who has been described by his own leader, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond), as the real Chief Secretary of Ireland. Enjoying the not unusual advantage of following immediately after, not one of those who pretend to direct the course of the Government in Home Rule, but one of those who really does direct that course, one may speak, I hope, more directly and more usefully than one can under normal conditions, and, when the hon. Gentleman invites the House, as he invited us a moment ago, to look for security in our minority or in the written safeguards, I tell him, speaking I believe on behalf of those who sit behind me, we do not attach the slightest value to any single safeguard contained in this Bill from the first safeguard to the last. The hon. Gentleman devoted the earlier part of his speech to a disquisition upon the extreme improbability that the Protestants of Ireland would ever have reasonable cause to complain of the intolerance of the Catholics of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman is, I understand, the president and 1168 founder of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. We should have welcomed his explanation—if he had given it to us—why this vindicator of the rights of Protestants in Ireland has carefully excluded from membership of the league, which takes so great a part in the industrial life of Ireland, every single Protestant from every branch of the association.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says I am the founder. The league was founded 300 years ago.
§ Mr. SMITH
I can only extend an apology to the House for my ignorance of the history of this important association, and accept the statement of the hon. Gentleman that he is not the founder. But he does not dispute my statement that he is the president of the league and he does not, I understand, dispute my statement that no Protestant is eligible for membership. If that restriction and that exclusion has existed for 300 years, what comfort can we derive from a repentance of three months. For a description of this Hibernian society which has existed for 300years—[An HON. MEMBER: "What has this to do with the four counties?"] I am prepared to take it from one who can speak with intimate knowledge, and that is the Member for Cork (Mr. William O'Brien), who has done far more for Ireland and has made many more sacrifices for many years of his life than many of those who have thought it decent to interrupt. This is what he says of the society, of which the hon. Gentleman—the new conciliator—is president:—The fundamental object of this society is to give preference to its own members first and to Catholics afterwards, as against Protestants. On all occasions, whether it is a question of custom, of office, of public contracts, or the composition of public boards, the 'Molly Maguires,' members of the Hibernian League, are obliged always to support the Catholic as against the Hibernian. If Protestants are to be robbed of their business, if they are to be deprived of public contracts, if they are to be shut out of every office, honour and emolument, what is this but extermination? The domination of such a society makes this country a hell. It would light the flame of war in our midst, and blight every hope of its future prospects.An hon. Gentleman interrupts and says that this is a true description of Orange lodges. If that is your position, see where we stand. It is a description of the Hibernian Society, given by one who speaks with long knowledge of it.
§ Mr. SMITH
I fully expected that. I did not quote the hon. Member as an authority as to the objects and effects of his 1169 political bantling. I quoted somebody else who knew it and was somewhat less prejudiced in its favour than the hon. Gentleman. Are these the prospects with which we approach that conciliation of which we are told? If that description can be given by one who has known the activity and operations of that society for all its political life, and if, as an hon. Member opposite says, it is a description that can equally truly be given of the Orange lodges, where is your conciliation? That is the happy political family that has centuries of freedom, of understanding, and of sympathy in front of them. That is the assembly that is to realise the so-often repeated peroration of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) in this House. It is worth while to see the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. W. Russell) here, because I should really like to elicit from him, who has changed his views on so many questions, whether he has changed them also in his classic answer to the speech made to-night by the real Chief Secretary for Ireland. This is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Tyrone said in the course of the last Home Rule controversy, and I commend this to the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken:—The whole thing means that, if you set up a Parliament on College Green, the wealth, education, property and prosperity of Ulster will be handed over to a Parliament which will be elected by peasants dominated by priests, and they again will be dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. And who is going to do this? The people whose noblest records have been their struggles to free themselves from that very influence. Will you show me a square yard in Europe, a single year in the history of the world, wherein, when that Church had political power, it was not used to crush all free thought and freedom of opinion? Have you ever read that one of the tenets of that Church is that all free thought is a crime? That is what they propose to do with the Irish Protestants. That is what we will never submit to without a struggle.I do not understand that the right hon. Gentleman, in the somewhat extraordinary political somersault he has performed, has recanted everything he has said. Give me leave to tell him that I heard him speak twenty years ago on a platform on which I followed him with profound admiration, that I have never forgotten the lesson he taught that meeting, and we shall never forget it. The hon. Gentleman who preceded me informed an hon. Member from Scotland, who spoke in this Debate, that Irish Members and Irishmen have no intention of going to a Scotch Parliament. For myself, I would say, if I were asked, that I think the proposal that Irish Members should go to a Scotch Parliament as both fantastic and entirely impracticable. 1170 But could there be a circumstance more eloquent of the disquietude with which Scotch people and Scotch Members contemplate these proposals? [An HON MEMBER: "There is no disquietude."] The hon. Gentleman does not represent Scotland. We have had the advantage of listening, in the course of this Debate, to Scotch Members more articulate than the hon. Gentleman. I merely point out that no circumstances, in my humble judgment, could be more eloquent of the disquietude with which Scotch Members and the Scotch people contemplate these proposals than that Scotch Members should actually be found in this House responsible for the proposal, and, in order to escape from this very Parliament, which, according to the hon. Member for Waterford, is going to usher in a new era of prosperity for Ireland, a Scotch Liberal supporter of the Government should be driven to the proposal that Irish Members from Ulster should go to a Scotch Parliament.
§ Mr. EUGENE WASON
Speaking as Chairman of the Scottish Liberal unofficial members, I do not think the hon. Member who spoke was really speaking seriously. As far as Scottish Liberal Members are concerned they are at one with the Government.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire had already put his views-before the House or I would have allowed him to make his explanation. I beg hon. Members not to interrupt on either side of the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. F. E. Smith) has been put to difficulties in the matter of time.
§ Mr. SMITH
As I understand the right hon. Gentleman's intervention I think it hardly forwarded the view which he desired to recommend to the House. He states that the Scotch Member who indicated the views to which I was directing attention was not serious in the expression of those views. I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member will owe his reputation as a humorist entirely to that statement.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
As I do not wish to be accused of being lacking in that property which is sometimes denied to the race to which I belong, perhaps I might be permitted to say that I was perfectly serious when I suggested that should the worst fears of Ulster be realised she should have 1171 a way of escape. I do not believe those fears will be realised, but if they should be' realised after Home Rule is granted to Ireland there should be a way of escape by which Ulster could withdraw and send representatives to Scotland.
§ Mr. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman is in the position of the hen which found herself in the most embarrassing situation of having hatched two ducklings. Surely no sane man ever proposed legislation on the lines indicated by the hon. Member. He says: "I believe on the whole that the fears of Ulster will not be realised, but after all there is always the Scottish Parliament." I pause to notice the sanguine-ness of the hon. Gentleman in supposing the existence of a Scottish Parliament. I may be permitted to point out to the hon. Member that he has failed to notice another alternative by excluding the Parliament already existing in the Isle of Man. But is it not perfectly obvious that the arguments advanced by the Scottish Members correspond to the very real and far less grotesque apprehensions of their own constituents? I ask is there a single Scottish Member who would himself consent, and who could with authority vouch on behalf of his constituents that they would consent to be bound by the decisions of this Irish party that is to be set up in the Scottish Parliament? The hon. Gentleman who preceded me asked a question which admits of an extremely simple answer. He asked, Are the Scottish Catholics to be handed over to the Irish Parliament in the days when federalism is an accomplished fact? Is it proposed that the Scottish Catholics shall withdraw then and be made subject to the Irish Parliament? I reply that there is not such a record of tyranny and oppression in Scotland as there is in Ireland.
§ Mr. SMITH
The hon. Gentleman has asked me a perfectly simple question. I tell him that the records are to be found in many documents with which I am very familiar. One of them consists of the charges made by the Judges to the grand juries. If he wishes to pursue the inquiry more closely, I would refer him to the criminal calendars; and if he wishes a record of a more ecclesiastical character I would refer him to the charges made to their flocks by his own bishops. The hon. Gentleman who preceded me referred to opinions which it is not possible for me to 1172 verify—the opinions of individual Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists. I thought his method of argument was more completely discredited than almost any modern weapon in our Parliamentary arsenal. We are not very much concerned to know the views of individual Members or to appraise individual eccentricities. What we are concerned to know—and it admits neither of doubt nor controversy—is that Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists alike, with a degree of unanimity never equalled in any country, have pronounced by majorities against the grant of Home Rule. As a supreme indication of tolerance the hon. Member was able to cite one case which was indeed deserving of the respectful consideration of the Committee. He pointed out that the Very Rev. Canon Moore had been appointed on the Committee of Technical Instruction. What a reassurance of all our fears! We may point to cattle that are hamstrung, or to the activities of moonlighters, or the circumstances that there are on the local governing boards 700 Nationalists and fifteen Unionists, and we are to console ourselves with the fact that the Very Rev. Canon Moore is on the Committee of Technical Instruction. The hon. Member who preceded me made some observations as to Lord Pirrie—I think it was in a reference, not very polite, to my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University.
§ Mr. SMITH
To some Noble Lord. Let us not fotget that Lord Pirrie is also a Noble Lord, and that by a coincidence his conversion coincided with the public gratification of his own democratic tendency, and when hon. Gentlemen proceed to say that those who are devoted to Nationalist beliefs in Ireland never attacked a lady, I reply to him, yes, but they have shot many women. If it is to be put upon the ground of politeness, I tell the hon. Gentleman that we draw lessons at once more vital and more permanent from the graves of Mrs. O'Mara and others who were done to death without one word of protest from those benches. He talks of the people's woes and the people's sorrows. He did not tell anything of the woes and the sorrows of the families of those who were murdered in pursuance of a campaign which never received one word of discouragement from the Members on these benches—
§ Sir WILLIAM BYLES
rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question foe now put," but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ And it being Eleven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again on Tuesday next, 18th inst.