HC Deb 04 November 1912 vol 43 cc878-996

(1) The Irish House of Commons shall consist of one hundred and sixty-four members, returned by the constituencies in Ireland named in the First Part of the First Schedule to this Act in accordance with that Schedule, and elected by the same electors and in the same manner as members returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

(2) The Irish House of Commons when summoned shall, unless sooner dissolved, have continuance for five years from the day on which the summons directs the House to meet and no longer.

(3) After three years from the passing of this Act, the Irish Parliament may alter, as respects the Irish House of Commons, the qualification of the electors, the mode of election, the constituencies, and the distribution of the members of the House among the constituencies, provided that in any new distribution the number of the members of the House shall not be altered, and due regard shall be had to the population of the constituencies other than university constituencies.


I propose to call first the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. Astor) and other hon. Members, and following that the one dealing with proportional representation in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. Newman) and other hon. Members, and after that the one in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. Snowden).


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "sixty-four" ["The Irish House of Commons shall consist"], and to insert instead thereof the word "three."

This Amendment has for its intention the reduction of the membership of the proposed House of Commons in Dublin from 164 to 103. A hundred and three seems to be under all the circumstances a reasonable number to suggest, while that which we propose to move out, 164, would appear to rest, so far as one can judge, upon no precedent and to have no special reason. The Act of Union provides that the number of Irish constituencies in this House shall be 103, and although the Act of Union has been modified in some respects, especially in connection with the Church of Ireland, yet that figure still remains as the number at which the representation shall stand in this House, notwithstanding the fact that the number does very largely exceed the correct proportion which is due to the sister island. Then, again, there is another precedent for the number 103, and it is the Bill of 1893. Mr. Gladstone fixed the number of representatives in the House of Commons to sit iii Dublin at the figure we propose in this Amendment, and of course the number at present, as provided under the Act of Union, is 103, so that there are precedents which suggest that 103 is a reasonable number to have, and that that will be much more likely to be the correct number than 164. I should like to ask why 164? It certainly will constitute an overwhelming number when Joint Sessions take place between the Upper and the Lower House. Perhaps that is why it commends itself to the judgment of the present Government, and it is rather borne out by figures which we have under consideration at the present moment—I refer to the precedents which I mentioned a moment ago. In the Bill of 1886 the percentage of the House of Commons in Joint Session was 66 per cent. In 1893 it had already gone up to 69 per cent. Now this Government, not content with going one better, goes about 11 better, and desires to set up two Houses in Dublin which in Joint Session shall allow, for one of the Houses 80½ per cent. That position is altogether without any kind of precedent so far as I know, at any rate within the Empire, and we note with interest how the proportion rose. Evidently, however the Upper House is constituted, this Government is determined that it shall have very little say and very little control and very little life in its operations when it is brought into Joint Session with the Lower House. Because, since the Bill of 1893, the present Government has not been content merely to increase the number in the Lower House, but it has reduced the number in the Upper House, making the discrepancy far more marked than it was before.

Under this Amendment the proportion still retained by the Lower House would constitute 72 per cent. In South Africa, which was the last constituted Union, the percentage of the Lower House is 75 in a Joint Session, and that in a country where the constituencies are of a totally different character from those in Ireland. We have to bear in mind that in South Africa the white population is relatively small—it is rather less than the population in Ireland— and the areas represented are of course in each case very large, and yet South Africa is content to have a Lower House constituted of 121 members. The same conditions obtain in Australia, more or less. The areas of the constituencies are very large, and yet the Lower House is content with a membership of seventy-five, and the population of Australia is a little more than that of Ireland. In a Joint Session the proportion obtained by the Lower House is only 68 per cent. Putting South Africa and Australia together, and taking an average of the two organisations, we come to the exact figure represented by my Amendment. That is to say, the proportion of the two Houses in Australia and South Africa sitting themselves in Joint Session would be exactly 72 per cent. These two great Dominions have sovereign powers. It is not proposed in Ireland to set up such an Executive as obtains there. It is proposed that this Parliament, with the existence of which we on this side of the House absolutely disagree, is merely to be a subordinate Parliament, and yet, when we compare these joint powers in Australia and South Africa and find that they are content with 72 per cent, in Joint Session, surely it is not an unreasonable thing for us to ask that Ireland also should be satisfied with the same per- centage. The 80½ per cent, which the Government desire to set up as the share of the Lower House in Joint Session is a higher proportion than exists in any self-governing Colony in all our Dominions, and indeed in any of the provincial Legislatures which exist at present.

4.0 P.M.

Than 164 Members involves the necessity for redistribution. I will point out one or two considerations with reference to this particular subject. It is quite acknowledged that the inequalities of the various constituencies in Ireland, taken by themselves and apart from this country, are very great. There is no doubt about that. We know that since the Census of 1891, which was the last Census before the Bill of 1S93 was brought in, gives us figures which, compared with the existing figures of the 1911 Census, show that the borough populations in Ireland have gone up some 18½ per cent., while the counties have decreased to the extent of 12 per cent. Therefore there is no doubt that there is plenty of ground for claiming a revision of the constituencies as they at present exist. I wish to point out that as this Bill deals alone with Ireland, the Irish Executive, if it is ever set up—which, of course, we very much doubt—can in three years' time go into the whole question. It could reform the constituencies, and it could incidentally repeal the Corrupt Practices Act, or do anything else it liked in connection with elections. I do not know whether that will happen. If the number, 103, is adopted by the Government—a reasonable figure, giving a reasonable proportion in Joint Session—then if the Irish Executive is not satisfied with the present arrangement, it can have a Redistribution Bill, or a rearrangement of the constituencies as it pleases, after three years from the passing of the Act. The Government come here and propose a Redistribution Bill, which, after all, is embodied in the First. Schedule of this Bill, under the guillotine. I venture to think that such a thing as passing a Redistribution Bill without any sort of inquiry, and without the setting up of a Boundaries Commission to ascertain what the revised constituencies ought to be, and how they ought to be constituted, and not only that, but the slipping of a Redistribution Bill through merely as a sort of adjunct to another Bill, is an unheard-of thing, and I submit that the Government is not justified in taking such an attitude on this question at this or at any other time.

The Irish themselves are not satisfied with your proposal. I have no doubt that the Chief Secretary for Ireland is perfectly well aware that the Irish Trades Council very much object, that the Town Tenants' League strongly object to the present arrangement, and that the Irish themselves do not approve of the proposal in the Bill. Therefore, that is an additional ground for supporting our proposal to substitute 103 for 164. There is one other point. I am quite unaware that a Redistribution Bill has ever been put upon the Statute Book without its being somewhat the result of consultation between the various political parties concerned. Has the Government consulted the Ulster Unionists upon their views as to Redistribution, and, if not, why not? Why should the Government start out with another tyrannical precedent in connection with that point? Surely that, at least, might have been considered by them, and they might have taken their compatriots into some sort of consultation on the subject of this proposed alteration in the constituencies. If at the end of three years the Irish Executive appoint a Boundaries Commission, they will obtain the report of that Commission and be able to act under the powers given by this Bill with due forethought. In that way they would really obtain what they have not got at present, namely, a proposal which would meet with the approval even of Irish Members below the Gangway.

I apologise to the Committee for bringing before them what must be under the best circumstances a very dry subject. Yet we feel strongly about this. We think our figure rests upon, at any rate, some kind of precedent, and perhaps the best precedent to be obtained is to be found in existing circumstances. We think under these circumstances the Government will be well advised to accept our Amendment. Surely it is always claimed, even by this Government, that the Second Chamber shall constitute a protection and safeguard for the minority, but, by packing this Lower House to the extent they propose, after having reduced the number for the Senate which was proposed in the Bill of 1893, they have done away almost entirely with any measure of safeguard for 1he Ulster Members sitting in Dublin, if they ever take their seats— which I very much doubt—will not have any degree of protection or any amount of safeguard worth speaking of. I would point out, in conclusion, this consideration which ought to appeal to the Prime Minister inasmuch as he brought it before the House. He objected to our proposal to increase the number in the Senate on the ground that, by increasing the number we should reduce the character and stamp of the representatives who will sit in the Upper House, and he argued that, by keeping the number down to forty we should then be in a position to have that number from the pick of the country taking their seats in the Upper House. His feeling will be further forwarded if the Government accept this Amendment, because by reducing the number from 164 to 103 the Irish people could then concentrate on the best 103 men in the constituencies, and no undue intellectual strain would be brought upon the resources of Ireland.


There is really no occasion for the hon. Baronet to apologise for bringing this question before the Committee, because, of course, it is a very important question. I take it really to be what is the best and most suitable number for the representatives in the Lower House in a country like Ireland? Assuming that we all desire to see—and we on this side of the House do desire to see—a representative Chamber in Ireland, the question is, of how many members should it be composed? I do not think on this occasion it is necessary to go into the question as to the relativity of the numbers between the Upper and the Lower Houses, because only the other day we discussed an Amendment to increase the Senate in order that their number and that their proportion might be large. Hon. Members opposite, having failed in that legitimate proposal, now seek to decrease the number of the Lower House in order to bring about the same result. That is really the same argument all over again. What we really are most interested in, and what we have to consider is, how many people ought you to have in the representative Chamber, the House of Commons, in Ireland. Should you have 103 as suggested by the hon. Baronet, or should you have as we propose 164 or 162, if the pledge which I have given is fulfilled establishing the extra-territorial position of Trinity College? Then, of course, the two members proposed for that College in the Irish Parliament would go, and the number would be reduced to 162. Of course, there is no magic in 162 or 164. The question really is, what size of House do you require? I do not think you can really in this matter compare Ireland and South Africa. I confess that my knowledge of South Africa is very limited indeed. I am now speaking of the size of the Chamber, and nobody has ever said that because the Chamber in South Africa is of one size, therefore the Chamber in Ireland should be the same size. I never heard anybody inside or outside this House use any such ridiculous argument as that.


Did not the Prime Minister use that argument last week?


I did not so understand him in the least. Hon. Gentlemen opposite brought forward with an air of great authority and wisdom certain figures relative to Constitutions in other parts of the Empire, and said that because the Senate was of such and such size in certain Colonies the Irish one should be so and so. The Prime Minister said that the argument was by no means overwhelming, and that there were Senates of different sizes in different parts of the Empire. I should have thought common sense would have required that in dealing with Ireland, with its thirty-two counties, and its boroughs, large and small, we should consider the character of the people and the nature of the questions to be dealt with, while as to the size of the House, anybody would wish it to have a proper number of members if it is to have any authority at all. We might consider these matters with the knowledge we already possess without bounding about all over the world to find precedents. I think I myself am better qualified to consider what is the best number for the Irish House of Commons than I am to consider how it might be in Australia or South Africa. I think 103 is decidedly too small a number.




That is my next observation. I cannot say all things at once. Really, the anxiety of hon. Gentlemen opposite to take words out of one's mouth is becoming a positive disease. I think 103 is too small a number. The precedent of the Act of Union is all right enough as regards 103 in a Chamber of 700 members, but it is a very different thing if 103 are sitting alone. They fit in remarkably well here with other Gentlemen from other parts of the Kingdom, but I think 103 is far too small to do justice to the variety of interests and the several questions which will come before them in an institution like the Irish House of Commons. Taking the number at 162, the borough members will only be thirty-four and the county members will be 128. Take a mental survey of Ireland, run over Ireland in your mind, and consider the books that have been written about it, the accounts that have been written as to the agricultural interests, and the work that is going on there in the congested districts and elsewhere, when you think of all those things, with harbours, fisheries, technical education, and the like problems, differing very much in different parts of the country, requiring very different sets of considerations and very different modes of argument, you will realise that, above everything else, every point of view of every interest, urban and rural, should be properly represented, in a popular Chamber, with all the incidents which apply to such a Chamber—I hope that the Irish House of Commons will not reproduce all the features of this House, though there are some distinctive features which I presume it would wish to continue to present—and for the purposes which I have, described, the larger, within reasonable limits, the number of Irishmen found acting together, the greater likelihood there will be of representing different points of view and different interests, and to have a small academic body, a council, or anything of the kind, would not serve the purpose of the case.

Therefore, I do not think that thirty-four borough members and 128 county members at all too many. Indeed, I would wish for some reasons that there could have been a larger body in order to secure an audience interested in debate, discussions, differences of opinion, and the like, all of which go to make the really popular assembly. I do not think the precedent, either of 1886 or that of 1803, fixing the number at 103, in any way conclusive as precluding this House from considering the broad questions, whether it would be better to have a small body of men to represent all the interests of Ireland, or whether on the whole a larger body than 103 is not an advantage. The Government are clearly of opinion—and I hold that opinion quite as strongly as any of them— that the House of Commons in Ireland should be a body capable of representing the boroughs and counties in considerable number; and we came to the conclusion that 164, including the two Members for Trinity College, was a reasonable number. With regard to the number of the Senate, of course that is a different question, which was argued by the Prime Minister on the grounds of the proportion between the Senate and the Lower House. I will not repeat what he said beyond reminding the Committee that he repudiated the notion that the Senate should be a formidable obstacle to legislation. He said with much force that he did not desire a formidable obstacle, and that it was not the conception and intention of any of those who were concerned in the preparation of this measure that the Senate should be a body which would have a formidable power of obstructing or interfering with the desires of the representatives of the people, but that it should be able to secure revision, consideration, and some delay, and we thought this secured by the number proposed. Therefore I do not argue the question on the basis of the relativity of the number of the Senate, but on its merits, and I think the Committee, which is well acquainted with affairs in popular Chambers and in Houses like this, will agree that the number, 162, is very much preferable to 103, and that we should adhere to the number proposed in the Bill.

Colonel YATE

What is the average number of electors for the 164 members?


I do not carry those figures in my head, but I can let the hon. Member know.


The question which was put by my hon. Friend behind me is quite immaterial. It does not matter what number of people are represented in any particular constituency, nor, indeed, does the right hon. Gentleman contend that these figures have been come to with any idea as to whether a certain proportion of electors should be represented or not. The whole of this matter, now that we are entering upon this Clause and are to dispose of Clause 9 up to Clause 13, with an enormous number of constitutional questions between to-night and to-morrow night, really reduces the whole of these proceedings to such a farce that I think that the question of how many members are to be in the House of Commons in Ireland is really a very small part of the farce we are engaged in. I think that the right hon. Gentleman himself feels that it is a farce, because he said, "Surely this is a matter which ought to be decided upon principles of common sense." The right hon. Gentleman is very fond of referring to common sense, but he never sets up what is the particular standard of common sense. It may be his standard, and it may be mine, and he does not lay down anything for the guidance of this House, but I notice that when he talks of common sense, common sense seems to vary according to the particular Bills that are brought in and the particular circumstances. It was a matter of common sense in 1886 that the number of members should be 204; anything fewer would have been opposed to common sense. In 1893, when the second Bill was brought in and the position of parties in this House was somewhat different, 103 was the standard of common sense, so that really when the right hon. Gentleman proceeds to base his arguments upon any number, in reply to my hon. Friend who moved his Amendment, he gives no answer at all. He does not even tell us what way they brought about this particular division. He does not tell us how many electors they thought should be represented by each member. All he asks us is to assume that the present Government are the embodiment of common sense, and that he is the spokesman therefor. We must take it without further argument that that is the proper way to settle the constitution of the great Irish House of Commons which is to be brought into existence under this Bill.

As regards the constitution of the Irish House of Commons, anybody who will look at the figures for one moment will see that it is an absolutely hopeless assembly that you are setting up in Ireland. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that there should be thirty-four borough members and 128 county members. Anybody who knows anything about Ireland knows that the county members will, as regards two-thirds of the voters, be elected by holders of farms of a valuation of from £5 to £10, and that the vast bulk of the other electorate will be merely labourers, and you are setting up 134 of these members in Ireland to override the whole of the industries of the North of Ireland and the whole of the boroughs, to whom you only give thirty-four members. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that that is a fact which is giving the greatest possible dissatisfaction in Ireland. I have here quotations from trades councils which are not Unionist bodies. For instance, at the Trades Council of Clonmel on 27th May, 1912, the president said, dealing with this question of representation:— We must express strong disappointment at the tact that in the proposed measure large urban centres have been ignored, and instead of giving representations to towns such as Clonmel, Tralee, Wexford. Drogheda, Dundalk, Sligo, Portadown, Lurgan, and Ballymena, it has been suggested that important towns like Galway, Newry, and Kilkenny, should be deprived of representation. This is a proposal to which we strongly object, and we must insist upon its amendment, and that the urban areas must at the outset get due representation. A resolution was passed:— We protest against the arrangement contained in the Government of Ireland Bill whereby the constituencies are so arranged that workers in the towns are practically left without representation; that we request an arrangement of representation so that the towns shall be left independent of the rural districts as otherwise they shall be at the mercy of the farming class, and that in all cases where borough members were returned before the redistribution of seats, such borough representation shall be restored so as to enable the workers in such constituencies to be properly represented by members of their own class. The right hon. Gentleman gives no answer to all this. All he says is, "We are on the principles of common sense." I think it is the very opposite, because there is no common sense in it. When my hon. Friend moved the Amendment he asked, "Why do you make a difference here compared with what was done in the new Constitution of South Africa?" And the right hon. Gentleman says, "What have we got to do with South Africa?" I will tell him what the Government seem to have to do with South Africa. Whenever they think it suits their arguments to refer to it, they refer to it, and, whenever it is convenient for them, they put up the right hon. Gentleman, who says, "I know nothing whatever about South Africa, and I do not care." That is the whole of the way in which the Bill has been conducted from beginning to end. They do not care. They know that they will get their Resolution to-morrow night. They have to get it under this gag Resolution, and therefore when my hon. Friend goes on and says that if you reduce the numbers of the House of Commons you will thereby be setting up a better adjustment between them and the Senate, so as to create something of a safeguard, the right hon. Gentleman says that that is only trying to do in another way what you tried to do when we had the Senate under discussion. He says, "We told you when we had the Senate under discussion that we did not mean it to be a safeguard. Why are you trying again to get a safeguard? There, again, you have this question coming up of trying to make an adjustment of the relations between the two Houses which would create something like a safeguard." We are referred back to something else which has gone before, or something else which is to come after, and in the end we are not to have any safeguards at all.

In point of fact, about the only result of these Debates is, as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have made perfectly clear, that, so far as the Bill is now concerned, they disavow, in this House at all events, every atom of safeguard that was intended to be in the Bill according to the Prime Minister. It does not seem to matter very much what the number is to be, whether you put in a thousand or a hundred or anything else—it is all farce. It is not based on argument. It is not based on any reasoning. Admittedly it is not based on any precedent. All this is being done as regards the country which, above all others, requires the greatest possible care in the selection of constituencies, having regard to the position and status of the voters in Ireland. I do not know whether it will be news to the right hon. Gentleman that there are certain places in Ireland which have a mass of illiterate electors who cannot even mark the paper, or at all events at elections say that they cannot do so, so that it has to be done for them by somebody else in the booth. Still, in face of the particular position of Ireland and in face of all the interests that we represent and in face of the previous Bills, the only answer we get from the Chief Secretary is that we must trust to his common sense. Well, we do not. We think that the whole of this thing is simply a mockery, and so far as this particular Amendment is concerned, although it may not be a very important one in itself, we certainly will support it as a protest against the action of the Government.


As an Irish Unionist Member of Parliament I desire at once to say that we take only an academic interest in this proposal, because our opposition is to the whole measure. We had during the discussion on the Second Reading, from an hon. Member sitting below the Gangway, an earnest of his desire for fair play when he said, "We will gladly consent to these portions of Ireland which object to this measure having double representation." That offer was not responded to by the Government, though I think it may have been considered in the interval; it might have had some movement in the direction announced by the Chief Secretary when he addressed the Committee. We have nothing in that direction; we have no suggestion that the Government even now realise that under this proposal the Unionists of Ireland are receiving no advantage beyond what they are entitled to by their numbers. I cannot say that we are disappointed. It is in keeping with all the other proposals in this Bill as regards safeguards for the minority. We have much assertion of a desire to meet our reasonable objections, but when it comes to incorporating them, or anything to give effect to them in the Bill, the desire does not receive fulfilment. The Chief Secretary, when he was asked why this particular number had been inserted in the Bill, said, "I was just coming to that." I listened with the closest possible interest to the rest of his speech, and I must say that even now I do not think he has told the House why this particular number has been decided upon.

We must draw our own conclusions, and we are under the impression that this increased number put into the Bill is not for the reason given to the House this afternoon by the Chief Secretary, namely, a desire to protect the interests under this new Parliament of the minority, but rather that the Senate proposed to be constituted shall never have any effectual influence when it meets together with the Lower House. The Chief Secretary referred to the need for making this body larger in order that different interests might be represented, and he referred to harbours, fisheries, and other interests; but what we are specially anxious to see in the Bill is that the industries which are concentrated in the North-East of Ireland shall receive effective representation. Under this particular provision, however, there is no attempt to treat them even with the consideration to which their numbers entitle them.


Ulster really gets according to her population increased representation.


I do not think the Chief Secretary will allege that the North-East part of Ireland has received any additional member beyond what it is entitled to. There may be some small fraction of a division, but it is entirely misleading the House to say that we have received any special consideration in this matter.


I thought you said less.


Whatever additional representation Ulster is getting under the Bill it is entitled to, according to increased population relative to the other parts of Ireland. We regard this matter as being in keeping with all the other suggested safeguards put before us. We realise that the Government has no serious intention of meeting our expressed wishes as regards giving more effective safeguard for the loyalists in Ireland, and, for these reasons, I shall certainly go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.

Sir J. D. REES

The reply of the Chief Secretary recalls to my mind an answer given to a question put at a cricket match, "Why is a ball called a 'yorker'?" and the answer was, "I do not see what else you can call it." The right hon. Gentleman is asked why 164 members is decided upon. He answers, "Why not?" That is all. Surely that is not a sufficient answer to give to the Committee when we are setting up for what has been hitherto an integral part of the United Kingdom a new Constitution. It occurs to me to mention, for I have not heard it referred to so far, that if 164 is a suitable number for the Lower House of the Irish Parliament, representing 4,000,000, the United Kingdom should have at least 1,640 Members in this House—our numbers should be increased by about another 1,000. The Chief Secretary shakes his head, but I submit there is some argument in my observation, whereas I could not discern any in the answer which he gave to the Amendment. On what ground is it that Ireland is to have a relatively higher representation? Is it because of the more complex character of her civilisation, the large number of her industries, the different classes and nationalities comprised within her narrow limits? If not, what is the reason for giving to Ireland relatively ten times the representation given to Great Britain, which we had supposed to be rather more advanced and certainly a more industrial and otherwise complex island? The Government themselves give an answer to the question in the negative, because, if you regard their Schedule, you see that it is a purely agrarian representation. Looking down their Schedule, I only see that Belfast and Dublin are granted representation, and I suppose we must be grateful for the inclusion of Belfast. Various towns disappear from representation altogether.


Londonderry and Cork are represented.

Sir J. D. REES

Kilkenny loses its representation. If, in Great Britain, the Welsh towns of Llanfyllin, Llanidloes, and Machynlleth were deprived of their representation the Welsh would rise in their wrath to protest against their being wiped out.


No, no.

Sir J. D. REES

In point of fact, the Government Schedule tends in every way to stereotype purely agricultural representation. An altogether insufficient answer has been given to the criticisms of my hon. Friends in regard la the number provided. It is a commonplace that until Home Rule was linked with the agrarian agitation it made no way in the country, and now that it is being separated from agrarian agitation it is dying away so fast that if there was not a corrupt understanding for bringing forward this Bill at the present moment. Nationalist Members of the House would despair of carrying on their policy. Yet at a time like this, and these being the circumstances—which nobody, even those in close connection with Ireland, will deny —at a time when the Constitution is being framed for the Lower House and the Schedule is proposed, the Government are providing for a redistribution which tends in every way to accentuate and increase agricultural predominance in Ireland, and encourages and increases the disparity with regard to industries. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary calmly proposes that the representations of these rural districts shall be ten times that which obtains in regard to the complex, mixed, industrial, and agricultural constituencies of Great Britain. I submit there has been no answer to this Amendment, for which I shall vote without the slightest hesitation.


The Chief Secretary made very light of the argument as to the relative proportions of the Senate and House of Commons which was raised by the mover of the Amendment. He said, "Why, we discussed all that on Thursday; do not let us discuss it over again." I would remind the right hon. Gentleman, when he referred to our case on Thursday, that we never got an answer to the statement, which is true, on point of fact, and on which I challenge contradiction, that the Government cannot quote a single instance of any of the countries to which we are accustomed to refer in regard to the provisions of this Bill, countries either within the British Empire or belonging to any foreign power, in which the proportion between the Lower House and the Upper is similar to that proposed under this Bill. In not a single one of those cases has the Lower House such a predominance over the Upper Chamber. The right hon. Gentleman says the point has been discussed; yes, but it has not been answered. I want to emphasise the second point of my hon. Friend's speech. This really is a redistribution scheme, and it is redistribution achieved by very-remarkable methods. The old procedure was to set up boundary commissions to determine the boundaries of each constituency, but it is not proposed to adopt any method of that kind. They put forward this absurd Schedule, which nobody likes, and against which everybody in Ireland has repeatedly protested, and yet we are never to be allowed under the gag to discuss it at all. That is a sufficiently remarkable procedure in regard to redistribution, but it does not end there. If this proposal is carried as it stands, Ireland is threatened, not with one, but with two redistribution Bills. At the end of three years the Irish Parliament may—and I do not know but what they will very probably —proceed with another redistribution Bill. The only instruction given to them is that in framing the Bill they are to have some regard to the population of the different constituencies.

They may redistribute the whole of the representation of Ireland on an entirely new basis after three years. There is another argument which perhaps has escaped the eagle eye of the right hon. Gentleman. He said, "What argument can you give for reducing 164 to 103?" One reason which may occur to the hon. and learned Member for Waterford or the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who I understand is possibly going to be the new Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer, is that if you are going to pay members of Parliament in Ireland—and I assume they are going to be paid—it is quite a valid argument for having a smaller House in regard to numbers. If there were 103 members, clearly it would be a saving of the payment to sixty-one members, and even if you only pay the members of the Irish House of Commons half the salary paid to Members of this House, there is a clear saving to the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer of £12,000 a year. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that this argument is worthy of consideration, if only from the purely financial point of view. Why are 164 the proper number for a subordinate Parliament like this? This is part of a federal scheme, and is this going to be the basis for the Parliaments of England, Scotland, and Wales? Do hon. Gentlemen opposite really suppose that this is the first step in the federal scheme? [An HON. MEMBEH: "Yes."] I envy him his confidence. I think we shall see the Constitution for the other countries about the same time as we see the fulfilment of the Preamble of the Parliament Act and not before. I may add I have not the slightest expectation that this Parliament will see either. I do ask the Chief Secretary, if indeed it is intended to proceed within the lifetime of the present Parliament with the rest of the federal scheme, are we to take it that 164 is an ideal number for the membership, of subordinate Parliaments?


By population.


The population of Scotland is, roughly speaking, the same as Ireland, and are we to understand that the Parliament of Scotland is to consist, of 164 Members, and, if so, what: about England? On that basis the Parliament for England would consist of about a thousand Members, which shows the absurdity of the whole thing. I do not think the Chief Secretary has answered the question why 164 Members has been selected, and why you put in this Bill a Redistribution Bill instead of proceeding in the ordinary way by Boundary Commissioners. He has not either answered the question how a Senate of forty with the House of Commons of 162 is any adequate protection to the minority.


I rise for the sake of once more recording my protest against the sham to which we have been treated throughout this entire Committee's Debate. The sham on the part of the Government and hon. Members below the Gangway was that they would provide for the loyal minority in Ireland any reasonable safeguard. I wish to emphasise the point for this reason, that I think I am; qualified to speak, because I know as much about my native country as most men of this House. I have lived in it and' carried on an active professional life there for forty years. I can tell this Committee that, whether their fears were well founded or not, at no time in the history of this question was there ever more widespread alarm and apprehension amongst the loyal minority than what prevails to-day. It was in consequence of the conviction and knowledge of that fact that we have been told on platforms and in this House on every occasion that this Bill was framed with the view to providing every safeguard that the ingenuity of the Government could suggest, and also of adding to it any further or every reasonable safeguard that the Unionist minority could suggest. I speak, and speak without the slightest fear of contradiction, that all that is humbug and sham, because when you come to test it by any one of the serious provisions of this Bill you find that in every respect it contains less in the nature of safeguards and guarantees than did either the Bill of 1886 or the Bill of 1893. Up to the present time, although Ave have got through some of the more vital Clauses of this Bill, all out efforts in Committee have failed even to put this Bill as regards safeguards in anything like the strong position as the Bill of 1886 and the Bill of 1893. Why we even failed to restore to this Bill the provision that was in the Bill of 1893 which secured to every cittizen in Ireland that elementary security which has been the common law of this land since Magna Charta, namely, that no subject shall be interfered with either in life, person or property except by ordinary process of law. That which, as I say, is an elementary part of our Constitution in this country since Magna Charta, and which was in the Bill of 1893, we have failed to persuade His Majesty's Government to restore to this Bill.

When we come to deal with the Constitution of the Lower House what position do we find ourselves in, having regard I mean to those professions of the desire to provide us with every reasonable safeguard and security? We find that the Government have deliberately reduced the number of the Second Chamber and enlarged the number of the First Chamber, and the consequence of that is that any security, real or pretended, that existed in the fact of a Second Chamber has been entirely nullified, because the numbers of that Second Chamber, in contrast with those of the Lower House, render it purely ornamental and absolutely powerless as a check of any kind; because in the event of a dispute the two Houses have to vote conjointly and, having regard to the proportion, the numbers of the Second Chamber would be absolutely swamped and always swamped. Provisions of that kind in the Bill show how sham and hollow are the professions on the part of the Government that they put every reasonable safeguard in this Bill, and that they are anxious to yield further to any reasonable suggestion that comes from our side. I have only risen for the purpose of emphasising that in every respect in so far as any material safeguard is concerned this Bill, even to-day, after all our discussions, is infinitely weaker in the matter of reasonable safeguards than where the proposals of the Government themselves as formulated in 1886 and in 1893.


I do not think the right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secretary, has given any reason why this number of 164 should be adopted. I suggest two reasons which may have been the dominating reasons that have influenced the Government in arriving at that particular number. If I meant this to be a working body to look after local affairs, and to be, in fact, a body somewhat analogous to, but a little more glorified than the London County Council, I should make it a small, compact, working body, so that there should be no temptation to the members of it to attend to business other than their own local affairs. If, on the contrary, I wanted to make it a Parliament, with the right to rove over all kinds of questions, and to do that which in specifically allowed in the Bill, and which the new House of Commons can do, and that is by resolution, then I would adopt the larger number. I think that must be the real reason why the Government adopted the number of 164 instead of 103. They are going to make it, not a working body, not a glorified county council, not an institution for the purpose of dealing with the ordinary local affairs of Ireland, but they mean definitely and distinctly to make it a Parliament with power to do all this Parliament has power to do, and to pass resolutions and discuss all kinds of questions, Imperial as well as purely local. That, I think, is one reason and from the point of view of the Chief Secretary a reasonable one, why he should wish the larger number. I think the second reason that probably occurred to his mind is this: "We have reduced the Imperial Parliament to the position of a single Chamber We have practically reduced Great Britain to a single Chamber, and we have destroyed the Upper one altogether." [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I am saying what I think must be in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and I am trying to find out what his reasons are, because he has not told them to us as he simply said why not? I think he probably said, "We really have got rid of the House of Lords for all effective purposes, and we will do for Ireland what we have done for Great Britain. We dare not come forward and say we will institute Single-Chamber Government nakedly in Ireland. We must do that by means of subterfuge," or, as an hon. Friend suggests, "by a trick we will give what will really amount in effect to Single-Chamber Government and we will make a ridiculously small Senate nominated in the first instance with no real power and authority in the country, and we will make a huge House of Commons which will absolutely swamp it and which will really effectively give Single-Chamber Government in Ireland." I venture to suggest that those are the two reasons, not unsubstantial reasons, and I think not illogical reasons, which probably have affected the right hon. Gentleman and his Government. There has been only one speech from the other side, but if the right hon. Gentleman speaks again or any other person will we be told why this number of 164 is more reasonable than 103. I hope they will be able to deal with the suggestions that have been made, and if they are able to disprove them I shall be glad for the honour of the Government, but I do not think they will. I do venture to suggest that they have by means of this trick attempted to impose what is virtually Single-Chamber Government on Ireland for all time.

5.0 P.M.


I wish to present what I believe is a new point though some of my hon. Friends have referred to it indirectly and inferentially. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee for a moment to the experience of our Oversea Dominions in regard to their Chambers, and to our own historical knowledge of their experience. I personally would not object in the least to this 164 members in the Irish House of Commons if their duties and responsibilities were such as to warrant so large a number. What is the position if, as the Government say, the Irish House of Commons is to be a provincial Assembly? Then its composition should be upon the basis of a provincial Assembly. Were the Irish House of Commons to have the power and authority of the Federal Government of Canada or of the Government of Australia or of New Zealand or Newfoundland there would be some reason in putting forward 164 members, but the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have not given one single reason for so large a number, nor have they given a single reason for this proportion between the rural and the urban members, although hon. Friends of mine have clearly pointed out, and particularly my right hon. Friend on the Front Bench, that there is a disproportion and that there is a lack either of understanding on the part of the Government or the intention to give undue advantage to the agricultural population. Let us look at the duties of this new House of Commons. Were it like the Government of Newfoundland it would have control of such things as defence, finance, relations with foreign countries, as our Oversea Dominions have now, naturalisation, trade, navigation. Every one of those things that belong to all autonomous independent Governments within our Empire is denied to the Irish House of Commons. Had they the objects to control I should say that 164 was not an unreasonable number. But the right hon. Gentleman may say that there are provinces in the Oversea Dominions where you have nearly as large a number in the provincial Legislatures. That is perfectly true; but why is it so? Because those provincial Legislatures were not manufactured; they existed, and they yielded up powers over these very matters which I have mentioned, but it was not thought wise to alter their composition. In every case except one the number of members of the provincial Legislatures is smaller than the number proposed for the Irish House of Commons. The responsibilities of a country like New Zealand, Newfoundland, Australia, Canada, or South Africa are immensely greater than the responsibilities which the Government say they are giving to the Irish House of Commons. It seems to me, as it must to every person who studies the subject from the standpoint of reason and logic, that the Government have decided on this number because they want to satisfy a certain spirit of so-called nationality. I say "so-called nationality" because the larger nationality of the United Kingdom is the nationality which we recognise here as that which is dominating and should dominate within these islands. We say that since this House of Commons, which deals with trade, navigation, treaties, defence, and a vast series of questions concerning the whole of these islands and all the countries of the world besides, has less than 700 members, it is an absurdity to give to Ireland 164, or almost one quarter of the number given to the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The arguments I have put forward are the very arguments which have been used and considered whenever a Constitution has been granted in the British Empire; and if the right hon. Gentleman still thinks that our experience in the Empire is a thing to draw upon in giving a Constitution to Ireland, we ought to have some better answer than has yet been given with regard to the number of members proposed for the Irish House of Commons. As the proposal stands the House of Commons will be so all-powerful that the action of the Senate will be futile. You are, in effect, establishing Single-Chamber Government in a country where, above all places, it ought not to be established; where safeguards are admittedly absolutely necessary; and where the composition of the House of Commons ought to be above suspicion. It is there that you are giving a House of Commons so disproportionate and composed in a haphazard way, unless, indeed, it is subtly devised to produce a political effect, and which it is established will be held up to ridicule, as well as to merciless criticism, by those who base their arguments upon experience, common sense, and reason.


I think the Government are absolutely justified in adhering to the number proposed in the Bill. The Government propose 164 members, and, to my mind, the Opposition ought to show some definite reason why that number should not be accepted. It has been argued that the number is disproportionate and does not sufficiently allow for an industrial representation. I fail to see in the Schedule any large industrial area not represented. As far as I can see there is no industrial area which has not an industrial representation; and I very much doubt whether any of these smaller collections of boroughs, which are really, in effect, country boroughs with country interests, need be or should be represented as boroughs and industrial aggregates of population. The only other argument of assumed validity which has been put forward is that under this Bill there will be, in effect, Single-Chamber Government. Anything further from Single-Chamber Government I have never seen. In order to have Double - Chamber Government it is not necessary to make the opinion of the minority prevail. If hon. Members mean by safeguards that the opinion of the minority in Ireland should prevail over that of the majority, I think they are asking a great deal too much. While we are talking about safeguards, it is well to remember what has been confessed over and over again from the benches opposite, that no amount of safeguards and no advances on the part of the Government will be accepted by the Opposition or the Ulster members. That was explicitly stated in the last Debate by the hon. Member for East Down. What, then, is the use of attempting to meet the Opposition in this matter? On the question whether it is Single-Chamber Government or not, let us consider what it is intended to do. It is not intended to make the opinion of the minority prevail, but that if there is any doubt in the Commons and any unanimity in the Senate, the measure under discussion should be stayed or delayed. That end will be secured under the present Bill. What would happen if a proportionate Senate were established in this country?


The hon. Member is now going back to a previous discussion.


I was only trying to meet the argument that the system proposed in Ireland will amount to Single-Chamber Government. I will confine myself strictly to the Irish Legislature. With a House of Commons with 164 members, if there is any doubt as to the desires of the people of Ireland, that Legislature can be frustrated or delayed in its work by any unanimity amongst the forty-two senators in the other House. Many people are apt to imagine that in the new House of Commons there will be majorities such as we have here. That cannot be so. A majority of 100 in this House would represent a majority of something like twenty-five in the Irish House of Commons. That would be a very substantial majority. No doubt majorities will often run very low. Under the new conditions that will arise, with the new divisions of political opinion, majorities will be much below what we are accustomed to, and in that case any substantial unanimity of opinion in the Second Chamber would have the effect in a Joint Session of delaying the measure under discussion. For these reasons I cannot see any validity in the Single-Chamber Govern-

ment argument, and to my mind the number of 164 is amply justified.

Question put, "That the word 'sixty-four' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 241; Noes, 149.

Division No. 289.] AYES. [5.10 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Goldstone, Frank Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz
Acland, Francis Dyke Greig, Colonel J. W. Money, L. G. Chiozza
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Griffith, Ellis Jones Mooney, John J.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Morgan, George Hay
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Hackett, John Morrell, Philip
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Hancock, John George Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Muidoon, John
Barnes, G. N. Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Munro, R.
Barran, Sir John (Hawick) Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Nannetti, Joseph P.
Beale, Sir William Phipson Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Neilson, Francis
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) Nicholson, Sir Charles (Doncaster)
Beck, Arthur Cecil Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire. N.E.) Nolan, Joseph
Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Norton, Captain Cecil W.
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Havelock-Allen, Sir Henry O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Boland, John Pius Hayden, John Patrick O'Brien, William (Cork)
Booth, Frederick Handel Hazleton, Richard O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Bowerman, C. W. Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Donnell, Thomas
Brady, P. J. Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) O'Dowd, John
Brunner, John F. L. Henry, Sir Charles O'Grady, James
Bryce, J. Annan Higham, John Sharp O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Hinds, John O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Burke, E. Haviland- Hodge, John O'Malley, William
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Holmes, Daniel Turner O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Holt, Richard Durning O'Shaughnessy, P. L.
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Howard, Hon. Geoffrey O'Shee, James John
Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood) Hudson, Walter O'Sullivan, Timothy
Chancellor, H. G. Hughes, Spencer Leigh Outhwaite, R. L.
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rulus Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Clough, William Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh) Parker, James (Halifax)
Clynes, J. R. Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Sw'nsea) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham
Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Pointer, Joseph
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) Power, Patrick Joseph
Cotton, William Francis Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Jowett, Frederick William Pringle, William M. R.
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Joyce, Michael Radford, G. H.
Crean, Eugene Keating, M. Raphael, Sir Herbert H.
Crooks, William Kellaway, Frederick George Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Crumley, Patrick Kelly, Edward Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Cullinan, J. Kennedy, Vincent Paul Reddy, Michael
Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Kilbride, Denis Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Davies, E. William (Eifion) King, Joseph Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth) Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone)
Davies, M. Vaughan. (Cardigan) Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Delany, William Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Lewis, John Herbert Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Dickinson, W. H. Logan, John William Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Dillon, John Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robertson, Sidney
Donelan, Captain A. Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Roch, Walter F.
Doris, William Lundon, Thomas Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Duffy, William J. Lyell, Charles Henry Roche, John (Galway, E.)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Lynch, Arthur Alfred Rowlands, James
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) McGhee, Richard Scanlan, Thomas
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.
Esslemont, George Birnie Macpherson, James Ian Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Falconer, J. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles M'Callum, Sir John M. Sheehy, David
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson M'Curdy, C. A. Sherwell, Arthur James
Ffrench, Peter McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Field, William M'Micking, Major Gilbert Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clltheroe)
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Manfield, Harry Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Fitzgibbon, John Mason, David M. (Coventry) Snowden, Philip
Flavin, Michael Joseph Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Soames, Arthur Wellesley
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Meagher, Michael Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Gilhooly, James Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Ginnell, L. Menzies, Sir Walter Sutherland, J. E.
Gladstone, W. G. C. Molloy, M. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Molteno, Percy Alport Tennant, Harold John
Thomas, J. H. Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan) Wilson, Hon, G. G. (Hull, W.)
Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Thorne, William (West Ham) Watt, Henry A. Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)
Toulmin, Sir George Webb, H. Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Trevelyan, Charles Philips Wedgwood, Josiah C. Young, William (Perth, East)
Verney, Sir Harry White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Walsh, J. (Cork, South) White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.,)
Walters, Sir John Tudor White, Patrick (Meath, North) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Walton, Sir Joseph Whitehouse, John Howard Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Fell, Arthur M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)
Amery, L. C. M. S. Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Archer-Shee, Major Martin Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)
Ashley, W. W. Fletcher, John Samuel Mount, William Arthur
Astor, Waldorl Forster, Henry William Newman, John R. P.
Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J. Gardner, Ernest Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Baird, J. L. Gastrell, Major W. H. Nield, Herbert
Balcarres, Lord Gibbs, G. A. O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)
Baldwin, Stanley Gilmour, Captain J. Orde-Powlett, Hon. G. W. A.
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London) Glazebrook, Cant. Philip K. Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Goldman, C. S. Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester) Goldsmith, Frank Peel, Capt. R. F.
Barnston, Harry Gordon, John (Londonderry, South) Perkins, Walter F.
Barrie, H. T. Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Pole-Carew, Sir R.
Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.) Guinness, Hon.W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds) Qullter, Sir William Eley C.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Haddock, George Bahr Rees, Sir J. D.
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Remnant, James Farquharson
Bonn, I. H. (Greenwich) Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Ronaldshay, Earl of
Bird, A. Harris, Henry Percy Salter, Arthur Clavell
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Boyton, J. Helmsley, Viscount Sassoon, Sir Philip
Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hewins, William Albert Samuel Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hill, Sir Clement Spear, Sir John Ward
Burn, Col. C. R. Hoare, S. J. G. Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.) Hohler, G. F. Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Stewart, Gershom
Cassel, Felix Horns, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford) Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Cator, John Horner, A. L. Talbot, Lord E.
Cautley, H. S. Houston, Robert Paterson Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.) Ingteby, Holcombe Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Jessel, Captain H. M. Touche, George Alexander
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Kebty-Fletcher, J. R. Valentia, Viscount
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.) Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Keswick, Henry Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Larmor, Sir J. Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)
Courthope, George Loyd Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End) Wolmer, Viscount
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Lee, Arthur H. Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Ripon)
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Worthington-Evans, L.
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Cralk, Sir Henry Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee Yate, Col. C. E.
Croft, H. P. Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) Younger, Sir George
Denniss, E. R. B. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (St. Geo.,Han.S.)
Eyres-Monsell, B. M. Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Faber, George D. (Clapham) MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Evelyn Cecil and Mr. Joynson-Hicks.
Falle, Bertram Godfray Mackinder, Halford J.

I beg to move, after the word "elected" ["and elected by the same electors"], to insert the words "according to the principle of proportional representation."

On Thursday the Government adopted the Amendment of the Proportional Representation Society. I spoke to the Amendment of the Chief Secretary instead of my own, and told the Committee that those who were watching the question of proportional representation outside and inside the House, attached little or no importance to the Government Amendment touching the Irish Senate. So far as what is to be the exact constitution of that small body of forty, is a matter of indifference. We thought it better, fairer, and more just to the minority that we should have fifteen elected representatives on that Senate rather than forty nominated. I went on to point out—and I desire to point out again to-day—that we are anxious to press forward our Amendment for proportional representation in connection with the election of the Irish House of Commons. My friends outside were so anxious on account of this Amendment, and so afraid that it might not or could not be debated to-day, that you, Sir, would perhaps rule a second discussion out of order that they actually wanted me to withdraw Thursday's Amendment, and let the matter go by default, in order that we might make sure of being able to raise a debate upon the question of proportional representation in connection with the Irish House of Commons. It was, however, agreed that our Amendment should be proceeded with, the result, as we know, being that the Government accepted it. I just say this to show how unimportant we regard the other day and the small victory we then gained, and how important we regard the proceedings to-day.

We have already had a good many speeches in the Debate on Clauses in this Bill that purport to protect each class, by no means only Protestants, but whom I may describe as belonging to the non-Nationalist class. We have had a long Debate on Clause 7, which I may describe as an emasculated Poyning's Act up-to-date. During that Debate we had a great many statements made from the Front Bench and a great many protestations made by hon. Members below the Gangway as to the protect ion to be given to the minority. I listened to those speeches, and, like the Carpenter (to the Walrus), I said nothing but the butter is too thick." I remembered the honey on the bread and butter and the cake that was offered to us Unionists when the Local Government Bill of 1898 was proposed. I remember what we were promised, and I remember exactly what happened; therefore I do not attach any weight at all to the protestations and the speeches made, particularly on Clause 7.


We never promised anything at that time, and we have never broken our word.


At any rate, this afternoon we are coming to hand-grips with the real question of safeguards; and I say that, so far as the Nationalists south of the Boyne are concerned, there are only two possible safeguards that can be provided. First of all, there is one obvious safeguard, the safeguard of Poynings' Act as enacted in the year 1495. This Act said—

"That the King in Council shall first of all approve of any measure which the Irish Parliament would wish to propose,. …"

which, of course, means that any Act has to be submitted to the King before it finally became law. Poynings' Act was an absolute safeguard. What is the only other alternative that you can give to the non-Nationalist minority? The right to defend themselves at the ballot box by giving their vote full value on an up-to-date system. That is the only other safeguard you can possibly give to the non-Nationalist minority. Supposing—it is almost unthinkable—that the Government had determined before cramming this Bill down our throats to leave the matter to a conference of all the Irish parties, not non-Nationalists, but of Nationalists, Conservatives, Labour, All-for-Irelanders, Sein Feiners, and even Fenians. What is the first thing that that, convention would have discussed in connection with this Home Rule Bill? It would have been the question of safeguards for the minority. That would have been the first, the most thorny, and the most difficult question. That, I say, would have been the first question this imaginary convention of all Ireland would have taken in hand. I say that without the smallest hesitation; and the safeguards which they, after debate, would have put forward for the minority would doubtless have been some system of proportional representation. No other safeguard could have been adopted which would have been acceptable to any big body of Irishmen sitting round a table.

I recollect the Prime Minister, on either the Second or Third Reading of the Bill, speaking of the consistent and insistent demand of Nationalist Ireland for Home Rule, and that how for more than a generation—with the exception of one freak election in the town of Galway—no Unionist Member had been returned except in North-East Ulster. Since 1898 no Unionist in the three provinces of Ireland has had practically any share in the local government or ordinary county work. I wonder, when the Prime Minister said what he did, if he ever thought that for overy thirty years the non-Nationalist party has been unrepresented in this House, with the obvious results that, of course, all ideas of civic and Parliamentary life have been crushed out of them. What does this Bill offer to this minority? It offers nothing at all. Take two big towns such as Dublin and Cork, and let us see what this Schedule offers. It merely means that the Unionist minority will lose one or two seats in North-East Ulster under this particular Schedule, and that south of the Boyne non-Nationalists will, under this Bill, be absolutely unrepresented. This Schedule is drawn upon comparatively simple lines; the present Parliamentary divisions are absolutely and slavishly adhered to; there is a sort of group system, and under this system you are to have the block vote. Let me give a couple of examples of what I mean by the block system and the grouped vote, and show how absolutely unfairly it will work out in the case of the non-Nationalist minority. The small county of Fermanagh is grouped with Monaghan. At the present moment Fermanagh returns one Unionist and one Nationalist; Monaghan returns two Nationalists. What is going to happen under the block vote? It is perfectly obvious that one Conservative will be knocked out, and that Fermanagh, grouped with Monaghan, will return not one Conservative and three Nationalists, but four Nationalists, and the minority in the North will lose one seat.

Take the better and bigger examples—Dublin County, North and South. Under this Schedule North County Dublin will return three members to the Irish House of Commons. South County Dublin will equally return three members to the Irish House of Commons. I ask the Committee to turn back to what happened in 1895, the last year of a contested election in North County Dublin. The Nationalist got 4,520 votes; the Unionist 2,280. In South County Dublin, at that same election, the Unionist got 4,901 votes; the Nationalist 2,962. That gave a total Nationalist vote for those two Divisions of 7,482, and a total Unionist vote of 7,181. Under the block system what is going to happen? At the present moment those two divisions of the county Dublin return six Nationalist Members to this House, and yet there is only a disparity of 301 votes as shown by the 1895 election. We say that that is absolutely unjust. Take another example, further south. Under this Bill Cork City will return four members. At the present moment it returns two. In 1885, in an almost historic election, our candidate secured about 2,000 votes. He fought against no less a personage than the late Mr. Parnell.

A few months ago that gentleman told me that until the day before he stood he had never been on a platform in his life to make a speech, and that since then he made very few speeches indeed, yet he secured nearly 2,000 votes. It is perfectly obvious that under proportional representation we should get one out of the four. I could prolong this by going through the whole list. Under this extraordinary schedule we shall not get any representation. We shall be gerrymandered out of one or two seats in the North, and we shall be absolutely unrepresented in the three Southern provinces. Except in special particular circumstances, I should refrain from alluding to what transpired at the deputation the Prime Minister received on 28th July on behalf of the Irish Proportional Representation Society. I was on that deputation, and I think it almost unfair to quote what a Minister says to a private deputation unless he gives leave to do so. These deputations are semiprivate, and to publish in a paper or speak upon a platform about what happened on matters more or less confidential is not, I think, quite fair. I should not have alluded, therefore, to this if the Prime Minister himself had not referred to it.

The Prime Minister alluded to that deputation as being a very remarkable one, and I must say, if ever a man received a deputation very patiently, the Prime Minister did so on that occasion. No less than thirteen of us fired off speeches at him; he listened very patiently, and gave a very sympathetic answer. If he were in his place now, I should ask him what did he imagine it was that this great deputation came to see him about. They came to see him about proportional representation, but for what? For the Senate or the House of Commons? Of course it was for the House of Commons. It was not at the back of any of our minds that we came about the Senate. One of the chief speakers was Mr. Campbell, ex-President of the Trades Union Congress, and now President of the Belfast Trades Union representing 15,000 workers Did Mr. Campbell care what happened about the Senate or any Second Chamber? I am sure he is as strong a Single-Chamber man as the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). He wanted proportional representation for the House of Commons, and if he was told it was not for that but merely for the Senate, I am certain he would not have wasted his lime in coming. I could go on with other speeches made on that occasion. Another member of the deputation was a professor of Trinity College, Dublin, and he said what he came for was in connection with proportional representation for the House of Commons and not for the Senate.

A similar Amendment to that which I am moving now was moved to the 1893 Bill by Mr. Parker Smith, who was Member for a Division of Scotland, and in the debate which ensued, the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Gladstone, got up and resisted Mr. Parker Smith's Amendment, or new Clause, as it was, on the ground that it was brought in almost purposely to overload and help to wreck a measure which was already overloaded, and that it had no authority behind it. If Mr. Gladstone were alive to-day, he could not say that the Amendment I am proposing is brought forward to wreck and kill the Bill. Of course, in 1893, Mr. Parker Smith had not got the authority behind him which I have at the present moment. He had not got an organised society with more than 2,000 members in Ireland, consisting of all the leading men in Ireland, nor had he a Proportional Representation Society in this House behind him with two or three secretaries and active propaganda work being conducted from both sides of this House. He put forward his Amendment, however, and with the exception of the then Member for West Belfast, he received the unanimous vote of the Unionist party in North-East Ulster. The present Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture in Ireland spoke enthusiastically on that occasion in favour of proportional representation in the Irish House of Commons. The reason he gave was, that in no other way could the Unionist minority get a fair chance of representation. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman will go into the Division Lobby in the course of the next few hours in favour of my Amendment. I have advantages in favour of my Amendment which Mr. Parker Smith had not. I have an organised body of public opinion behind me to press forward this Amendment upon the Committee.

I should like to give the Committee the names of some of the gentlemen in Ireland who support this scheme. They are: Mr. J. B. Gunning Moore, D.L., President Tyrone Unionist Association; Right hon. Jonathan Hogg; the Earl of Meath; Sir John Nutting; Viscount Powerscourt; Lord Dunleath, President of a Unionist Club; Mr. Gerald Guinness, D.L.; Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson Clark; Mr. Charles Jacob, J.P.; Mr. Joseph Todhunter Pim, Governor Bank of Ireland; the Earl of Roden; the Protestant Bishops of Derry and Meath; the Provost, Vice- Provost, and majority of the Fellows of Trinity College, and over 200 out of 1,000 Protestant Episcopalian clergymen in different parts of Ireland. A few months ago in the town of Mallow, county Cork, we held a Unionist meeting—I am sorry to say I was not able to be there myself—but at that meeting there were addresses very strongly against the Home Rule Bill, yet there were several speeches by members of the Irish Proportional Representation Society in favour of the scheme of my Amendment. I mention these matters merely to show the Committee that we draw support from all sides; we have Nationalists and Orangemen in our body. I am making a demand to-day which is voiced in all parts of Ireland, and a demand which, I think the hon. Member for Cork City described the other day as reasonable, and which we describe as moderate. I recollect that, the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) said that the Nationalist party were open to a deal upon this matter. Now, where there is a question of justice it is not a matter of a deal; we are simply asking for justice, and therefore we are not open to a deal. I could quote many speeches from Members of the Nationalist party professing to be in favour of justice for Unionists. We have the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) saying:— What we want is that, the Irish Parliament shall represent every element in this country. We want, every class represented; we want every group represented; we want equal justice. We ask for equal justice, but in asking for justice we ask for it without any deal. Let no one imagine that if we are granted this we shall abate one jot or tittle of our resistance to the Home Rule Bill. It will not make the Bill better, but it will give a small measure to those who have not got justice. If hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway are so very anxious that every class and creed should be represented in this Irish Parliament, then why on earth do they not give us this very small measure of justice? Why do they not give us a chance of having the views of the Protestant community represented? This Amendment would take from the Unionists in these three Southern provinces one of their great grievances, and it is with that object in view that I now move it.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)

The hon. Member has made a most interesting speech from his point of view as an advocate of proportional representation, but I think every word that fell from him could equally have been used as an argument in favour of proportional representation in this House. He has argued on the merits of proportional representation, and expressed views he has urged outside this House on more than one occasion. The difficulty we feel in following his line of argument is that we have to discuss here whether proportional representation should be adopted not only in Ireland, but for the House of Commons here. That is a very large question, and one which I should have thought ought not to be dealt with, and could not be dealt with satisfactorily, in a debate of this kind. The reference to proportional representation for the Irish Parliament means that we are asked here to adopt for a Parliament in respect of which we have prescribed and are prescribing for a period of years what is to be the qualification of the electorate, the mode of election, the constituencies for which members are to sit, and we take care that the numbers shall be maintained as prescribed in this Bill. The Parliament, which is elected for five years, will continue for that period, but after the lapse of three years the Irish Parliament is entitled to deal with those questions and decide them for itself, according to the views of the Irish people as manifested by the representatives of the Irish Parliament.

According to this Bill, our view is that they shall then decide, if so minded, to adopt proportional representation. It may be that they would like to do it after a lapse of three years in advance of what is done in this country. That is a course which is open to them, and which they are free to adopt, but it must be determined by them, and not by this Parliament for the Irish Parliament only. Therefore it would not be possible for the Government to accept the Amendment which has been proposed. The right hon. Gentleman opposite asked, "Why did you do it in the Senate?" I thought it was made perfectly plain in the Debates on representation in the Senate, because the Prime Minister stated emphatically, and, I think, quite fairly, that while he was willing to accept this principle for the Senate, he was not prepared to accept it for the Irish House of Commons. The Prime Minister pointed out, and it was also pointed out by my hon. Friend the Solicitor-General, that the Royal Commission appointed to examine into this question, and which reported upon it very recently, came to the conclusion that this system was not one which should be adopted for the House of Commons; nevertheless that Commission pointed out certain reasons why it might be adopted in the Senate. That point was gone into at some length in the recent Debates. The references were given to the House during the course of those Debates, and it was made manifest that, according to the view of the Royal Commission, which inquired into this subject very exhaustively, the conclusion they came to was that although it might possibly be adopted for the Senate in some countries, it could not be adopted, and should not be adopted, for the House of Commons. The whole question which we are now discussing is one which confines itself entirely to the question whether we are in this Debate, and as a consequence of this Amendment, to give effect to proportional representation simply and solely to the Irish House of Commons. It has always been the practice when we have been granting Constitutions, and when we have been creating subordinate Parliaments, to give the right to the Constitution to be created to alter the qualification of the electors and the mode of election, and I think I am right in saying we have done this in every Parliament which we have created. That is the consistent line we are now following up. It is the view we have already debated and followed in every case, and it is the view we think ought to be adopted here.

The conclusion we have come to with regard to Ireland is the same we came to with regard to Dominions to which we have have given a Parliament, for we have always left them to decide these questions for themselves, leaving them free, and we refuse to fetter the Irish Parliament in regard to a matter which we have declined to fetter other subordinate Parliaments. So far we have refrained from adopting proportional representation in this country, and we ought not to press it upon the Irish Parliament. That is the view we ask the Committee to adopt, and I think that is the only sensible view which can be adopted when you are creating a new Parliament. When you recollect that we have had no experience of any kind in regard to this principle, when you realise that in such an old Parliament as this we have not adopted it, then I say it would be a very serious thing if we were to come to the conclusion that it should be adopted for the Irish House of Commons.

I know very well we shall hear about the Senate, but I must point out that in that case we were considering the question of nomination as a means by which the Senate was to be chosen. We determined that the nomination was not to be by the Irish Executive, and that consequently some other method had to be resorted to. We also came to the con-elusion that it would not do to have exactly the same franchise and area with regard to the House of Commons as we had in regard to the Senate, because otherwise you would get merely a reflex in the Senate of what you had in the House of Commons, and therefore we resorted to that course as the best means of giving effect to our desire, and getting rid of the policy of nomination which hitherto has been put forward by the Government in the Bill. My submission is that there is no analogy. What was urged most emphatically by the Prime Minister was that that was not in any way to be taken as governing the decision or judgment of the Government in the matter of the House of Commons. I think that was a perfectly logical view, and to that we must adhere.


The right hon. and learned Gentleman began his remarks by criticising my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment for having dealt with it on its merits. That is not of such frequent occurrence in this House as to require any special attack. I may be mistaken, but I think the Attorney-General was drawing by anticipation a contrast between the method in which my hon. Friend introduced the Amendment and the way in which he proposed to deal with it. The first speech dealt with this Amendment on its merits, but the other speech did not quite deserve that appellation. Although the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not deal with the Amendment on its merits, he gave to the Committee some reasons to induce hon. Members to reject it. The first was that we could not possibly start it in Ireland without creating a precedent for this House. I know the Attorney-General does not like any references to the Irish Senate, because many of the speeches have deprecated the constitution of the Senate, but the point is whether we are or whether we are not, in dealing with the Irish Senate, doing something which would bind us when that distant day arrives when the pledge of honour is redeemed and a new Second Chamber is established in this country. If that does not represent the Government method of dealing with Second Chambers in this country, I do not see why we are more bound by the precedent we propose to set up in regard to Ireland. If the Irish Second Chamber is not to be a precedent for the British Second Chamber, is the Irish First Chamber to be a precedent for the British First Chamber? I have seen no answer to that argument.

We have been told that it would be peculiarly improper for us to start this plan in Ireland because the Irish Parliament would have an opportunity in three years' time of modifying the constitution of their Chamber, and we ought to leave it to them to adopt or reject minority representation if they like, and that we should not force it upon them before that time arrives. The argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman appears to point to precisely the opposite conclusion to that which he has drawn. Why is it that my hon. Friend regards the principle of proportional representation as being peculiarly applicable to Ireland? It is because not only are there Irish Divisions very deep and very strong, but there are great tracts of Ireland where the minority, however important they may be from their education and often the amount of their contribution to public funds, really have no chance of making their weight felt in the smallest degree in the Assembly which is to be brought together in Dublin. Those are very special circumstances. I confess if that were the case in Britain, even those who look with the greatest distrust upon proportional representation might think it worth while to consider their position. Why, it is the very peculiarity of the position of Ireland which makes it a specially favourable opportunity upon which to try this experiment of proportional representation.

6.0 P.M.

If this was to be imposed upon Ireland for all time, however ill the experiment might fare, then I can understand a state of timid disposition might shrink from the experiment. Let me observe that the great thing is when the Irish Parliament at the end of three years is put in the position of revising the Constitution you are now giving it, they should revise it with all the best elements from the North, from the South, from the East, and from the West, represented in its body. The constitution of parties in Ireland being what we know it is, and the majority in three provinces being scattered and without minority representation absolutely powerless, surely in the first three years when you create your Parliament, and when the opportunity of revision comes, the revising body should be as free as possible from all the warping influences of the overwhelming party majority which must prevail and which has always prevailed in the South and West. I should think the very best service the British Parliament could do for the Irish Parliament was to see that the first Parliament elected, the Parliament which is to have the power of revising its Constitution, if it pleases, before it comes to an end, should be elected under circumstances which would eliminate as far as possible the evils which we all have to admit are incident to every representative Assembly from whatever part of the world it may be drawn. Therefore when the hon. and learned Gentleman uses the word "fetter" as he did, I deny it is fettering the Irish Parliament; I say it is enabling the Irish Parliament to reconstitute its own Constitution under circumstances much more favourable than will exist if the Bill is carried in its present shape. Upon the broader question of whether or not you ought to have your First Chamber as a general constitutional rule elected by minority representation I do not think most of us would be in a hurry to lay down some abstract dogma true of all places, of all countries, and of all times. The Solicitor-General, in a very interesting speech made on Thursday last, defended minority representation in the Irish Second Chamber. He based his argument in favour of giving minority representation there, while withholding it from the Lower House, upon an argument which he did not himself specifically accept, but which apparently he regarded with favour.

The argument is this: It is a very dangerous thing if you want representative Assemblies to work that they should too accurately represent the population which elects them. That is a dangerous experiment which may be fairly and safely tried with a Second Chamber, provided that Second Chamber has very limited powers and is very small in its relative numbers; but, if you are going to try so dangerous an experiment as the accurate representation of public opinion in the representative Chamber, every man of Statesmanlike breadth of view would hesitate often before he gave an assent to a doctrine so utterly subversive of true democratic principles. There may be some force in that rather singular argument, not much speculative force, but some theoretical force. I do not suppose the history of my opinion upon this question is very interesting to the Committee, but I remember when I was a young man I was greatly bitten with Mr. Hare's scheme. I am talking of forty years ago. I afterwards was impressed by what I may call the democratic argument, which I have quoted from the Solicitor-General. I did not see how you were to work the British Constitution except on the two-party system. It seemed to me the two-party system might work with some difficulty under proportional representation. I still think there are greater advantages in the two-party system, and I still think there are difficulties in working an Assembly on the two-party system if you have proportional representation. We have given up the two-party system, and I do not imagine there is the least chance of it establishing itself in the Irish House of Commons.

The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary talked to-day about the appropriateness of the Constitution which the Government are establishing for Ireland in view of the Irish character, and he thought a House of Commons of 164 was more suited to the Irish character than a House of 103. I do not follow the connection myself, but I do think we may say, certainly without disparagement of the brilliancy of the Irish character, that probably the division of parties will be into smaller fractions. Therefore you will not have the two-party system. If you are not to have the two-party system, if you are not to have the manifest advantages which do follow from that system, if you are going to have all the disadvantages which quite obviously follow from the log-rolling system which is apt to be the substitute for the two-party system—if your assembly is going to be divided into fractions, one fraction of which says to another fraction. "I will do what I think wrong for you if you will do something which you think wrong for me"—if that is to be the method in which parties are going to work out in the new Irish Parliament, then I frankly say the evil of proportional representation is not so serious an evil as the log-rolling method which will inevitably result, not from the constitution of Irish human nature, of which the Chief Secretary seems to know so much, but of all human nature in general, and from your Assembly being divided into a lot of independent fractions, each with their own leader and their own ambitions, and each desirous of getting out of all the others all it can extract from them by a judicious use of its Parliamentary vote. Under these circumstances, I confess the arguments which converted me into a strong opponent of anything which would weaken the two-party system lose no small part of their strength when I see in other Assemblies besides the Irish Parliament the two-party system, at all events temporarily, completely break down, and when even those who prophesy the best things for the Irish Parliament, namely, the authors of it, tell me they expect to see that Assembly broken up into a large number of wholly independent, or relatively independent, sections. On this broad ground, I shall certainly vote for my hon. Friend's Amendment. It seems to me, if it does nothing else, it gives the new Irish Parliament the best chance of settling on the best terms its own Constitution for itself, and, if there were no other argument in favour of it, I should follow my hon. Friend into the Lobby.


I own I was surprised by the speech of the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for the City of London. I regarded him as one of the staunchest supporters in this House of the two-party system, and I have in my recollection some stout encounters between himself and the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) in reference to this question. I always thought the trend of the right hon. Gentleman's mind was that the great party system, with all its faults, was, after all, the best suited—


"Hear, hear"—the two-party system.


The best suited method of carrying on the government of a country like this. I cannot altogether accept the opinion which has been expressed by some Gentlemen who have taken part in this Debate, including the right hon. Gentleman, that we can regard this question purely from the Irish point of view. I do not think we can discuss it purely from the Irish point of view. If proportional representation is adopted for the Irish House of Commons, one result must inevitably be to prejudge to a certain extent, the question of proportional representation for this Parliament as well as the Irish Parliament. Therefore I feel myself entitled to discuss proportional representation, not from the English or the Irish point of view, but simply on its own merits. I own this proposal comes under very distinguished auspices, and to me it makes a special appeal from the fact that it has at its back so distin- guished and able a politician as Lord Courtney. Having given the matter all the consideration I can, I remain of the opinion I have always held, that proportional representation is not the best system of getting good government or good politics. I will tell the House my reasons for that, and I will state them with perfect candour. The right hon. Gentleman has made some allusions to the group system. I do not like the group system any more than he does, though I cannot quite accept his description which I think in his mind, according to the language he used, was meant to apply to the composition of the present House of Commons. His psychology of the present House of Commons is that one group says to another group, "we will help you to do a thing we consider wrong if you will help us to do a thing which you consider wrong." Surely another and more, charitable and truer explanation is that men, divided though they be into groups, one representing Ireland, another Liberals, and another Labour, may have great principles they hold in common, and great purposes they hold in common, and the real basis of their understanding be that each will help the other to do what they all think right.

I will apply the test to the present situation. Does anybody say that any Member on the Labour Benches is not in favour of Home Rule? Does anybody say any Member on the Liberal Benches is not in favour of Home Rule1? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] If hon. Members begin with the hypothesis that everybody who differs from them politically is necessarily a liar and a hypocrite, then of course I have nothing further to say. Docs anybody suggest that any Member on the Labour Benches is not in favour of Disestablishment; or on the Liberal Benches; or on the Irish Benches? Why, we carried it in our own country and will help Wales to carry it. Does anybody suggest that any Member of any of these three groups is not in favour of the reform of the Franchise? Therefore, the position is what I have described it, and not what the right hon. Gentleman has described it. We are three great parties all united in common principles, helping each other to carry these principles into realisation. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about education?"] When education comes up, we will discuss that question. I am dealing now with the three questions immediately before the House. The group system, as I understand it, does not exist in this House to-day. There is a great difference between parties and groups. Groups may exist within the bosom of the same party, but parties have separate and independent opinions. The Labour party, for instance, has the right to separate representation. Suppose we have proportional representation in this country. We constantly hear in this House discussion as to what is the exact nature of the mandate given by the country to Parliament. We hear right hon. and hon. Gentlemen declaring that recent by-elections have declared against Home Rule, although we know that the elections were not fought on the question of Home Rule. But suppose you had proportional representation in this country. Would you ever by any possibility get a clear and naked verdict on the policy of the country?—


On a point of Order. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to discuss the question of proportional representation in England on the Motion now before the House?


It is a question of degree. I cannot rule it too narrowly.


Does not everybody, who has ever gone through a contested election, know that there are always certain groups of individuals who consider some fad of their own, entirely unconnected with the particular political controversy—who consider some fad of their own, some social fad it may be—to be much more important, as appealing to them, and much more grave than that central political issue of the times. There are constituencies in England where you get large groups of voters known either as vaccinators or anti-vaccmationists and they put that question far above the political issue of the times. There are some people who have sincere opinions on the question of vivisection. I ask is there any man who has ever gone through a contested election who has not found it necessary to receive deputations from group after group discussing every single question in the world, wages and dockyards, vaccination, vivisection, and so on. I can see a future House of Commons with proportional representation where you will have an anti-vaccinationist group, a vivisection group, and all sorts of other groups, and in that way I believe you will deal a deadly blow at what I consider to be the fundamentally sound basis of a democratic constitution and that is party government—two great parties fighting one another.

What kind of Ministry would you get in the House of Commons otherwise? The one Ministry I always want to be saved from is the weak Ministry. Everybody knows that a Government has some other work to do besides keeping harmony. Take the case of the present Ministry. They are face to face with a revolution in the East of Europe and with the terrible responsibilities therein involved. What would be the position of any Government, face to face with a position of that character, if, before coming to a decision, it had to consult the anti-vaccinationist, the anti-vivisectionist, and the proportionist, and the proportional representation group? If it had to consult all those who possess fads which take so large a part in our elections, what would be its position. Another objection I think to the proportional system is this. I know that the advocates of proportional representation have figured a House of Commons in which, although there may be these groups and cliques, there will also be a large body of moderate, rational, high - minded, judicial opinion which would overweigh the views of the rabid partisans, so that in the result the country will get the benefit of the wisdom and intelligence of the general body. I hope that the House will not consider me paradoxical or cynical when I say that I do not think that that is the kind of experience we should obtain when parties are divided into groups. You do not find these judicial, impartial, high-minded individuals keeping the balance in such a case, but you do find the time-server, the trimmer, and the worshipper of the jumping cat taking that position; therefore in my opinion proportional representation in any country would be deadly to what I consider, on the whole, a great party system, which is the best vehicle for carrying out the will of the people and strengthening and inspiring the Government. The hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Newman) has put forward a proposal of a most genuine character, and no doubt with the best intentions. He alluded to certain observations of mine in the course of previous Debates with regard to the attitude of his Friend and himself. But I would like to put one question to the hon. Member and his Friends. Do they say if proportional representation is conceded, they will accept this Bill? Do they say that when this Bill is passed into law, as it assuredly will be, they will endeavour to help the Irish Parliament and the Irish Government to create a new, better, and more prosperous Ireland than at present exists? We hear not a word of that. Their attitude is one of stubborn stupidity and irreconcilability with regard to this queston. When they come forward with a definite proposition and a definite promise that they are willing to make peace with their countrymen should this Bill be passed then will be the time for them to speak.

With regard to Ireland, I am, personally, very anxious for the minority to get fair play. But I take a fundamental objection to the statements which have been made with regard to majorities and minorities in Ireland. The majority of to-day may not and will not, in my opinion, be the majority three or four years hence. There is no conviction which I hold more profoundly with regard to the future of Ireland under self-government than this, that there will be an entire regrouping of the parties—a regrouping which will be not of a sectarian but of a social and economic character. If there were Home Rule tomorrow many of us might find ourselves in a minority in that Parliament, differing widely, as we do, on various questions. We have in our party moderate men and extreme men in regard to all social reforms, and those who fear a Home Rule Parliament will be stereotyping existing conditions by accepting this Amendment. Before the Irish Parliament is many years in existence you will have great measures of social reform proposed in Ireland, costing much money to the taxpayers, and when that time comes do you suppose, be it a question of better wages, or better labour conditions, or better housing—do you suppose that the Orange working men of Belfast will not be standing side by side with the Nationalist working men of Dublin in the fight on behalf of their class for the improvement of their conditions in these respects. Suppose it is a question of a great housing reform, which is badly wanted in Ireland, and especially in Belfast, Dublin, and Cork, even in the town of Waterford, represented by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. John Redmond), as well as in my own Constituency, Galway. Do you suppose when such a great measure of housing reform comes, to be proposed to the Irish Parliament you will not have a regrouping of parties, not on sectarian lines, but on economic and social lines? So far as proportional representation is concerned, I believe it would be a bad system for Ireland as well as for England, and as long as hon. Members above the Gangway on this side of the House take up their present irreconcilable attitude to Home Rule and to an Irish Parliament one is bound to offer unmitigated hostility to this Amendment.


The hon. Gentleman has made, as he always does, a very interesting speech, and although he told us he would deal mainly with the merits of the proposal, he dealt chiefly with other things which are more interesting to us than the merits of the proposal. The first part of his speech was taken up in explaining the constant and inevitable defeats of Government candidates at by-elections. He told us that those defeats had nothing to do with Home Rule. It is a natural attitude for him to take up from his own point of view. But another moral is to be drawn, and that is, if they do not care enough for a revolutionary change like this, I should say that was a sufficient condemnation of the Government which carries it out in spite of them. Then the hon. Gentleman went on to make a remark which, under existing circumstances, seemed to me very unkind to one of the groups in the House at the present moment. He said that if there was one thing he disliked more than anything else it was a weak Government. That was very ungrateful on his part, especially when one comes to think of the conditions under which we are discussing this Bill at the present moment. It is the weakness of the Government which has enabled the hon. Member to make the speech he has just delivered. The hon. Gentleman waxed eloquent about the virtues of the party system, and suggested that the members of one group might say, "If I do something wrong will you support me, and if you do something wrong I will support you." In the hon. Member's view for all large purposes these groups will act together for things they all think right. The hon. Member applied that to Home Rule, and, pointing to the Labour Members, he asked, "Are they not in favour of Home Rule?" He asked, too, "Are not the Liberal Members in favour of Home Rule?" On that there may be a difference of opinion j there is no means of proving it. There is a means of proving this: that, however fond Liberals were of it, they never moved a finger to get it until they were dependent upon hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. The contention of my right hon. Friend can be proved. While the hon. Member was speaking he was met with "The Budget." He ignored that. He said, "When we come to education we will deal with that"; he did not hear about the Budget. He was wise. In this case we do not need to go in any uncertainty, for we have the words of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) that it was a case of buying and selling. I think he said that in this House, but he certainly said it, because I have quoted it before and I remember it now. He said:— We are prepared to pay the price, but we will not pay the price for nothing. That is the virtuous arrangement by which all these parties go for everything which all of them want. As regards the question of proportional representation, the merits of which the hon. Member said he was going to discuss, but which the Attorney-General thought it was a waste of time to discuss, let me say at the outset that I do not think this is an appropriate occasion upon which to discuss it, for the reason that it is certainly a question which is a very broad one, and upon which there is a great deal to be said on both sides. Your ruling, Mr. Whitley, shows clearly that if it is to be discussed properly we are entitled to discuss the effect of it all round, in England as well as in Scotland. We are discussing this under a Closure which is ridiculous even for the Bill we are considering. What seems to me to be the curious position into which the Government have got is this: they let us discuss the Bill academically, so that we may have the opportunity of stating our views, as if we were a debating society, on questions like proportional representation and another question to which we shall come in a few minutes, the question of woman suffrage, although, as a matter of fact, to take the last, I do not think anyone will question that Lord Loreburn was right when he said that to attempt to put it into actual operation without an election would be an outrage greater than any this Government has hitherto attempted.

I do not think there is much ground for considering it on its merits, but we can consider it from this point of view. The Attorney-General deprecated any reference to the Senate. He thought it had nothing to do with it. He was wise. It is true, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that the Prime Minister told us that he was in favour of it for the Senate, whilst against it for the House of Commons in Ireland. That is a curious position from every point of view, but from his point of view it it especially curious. The Senate was a safeguard, and, as I pointed out at the end of last week, from the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman the safeguard under proportional representation is less than it was under the system of nomination which he originally set up. He therefore gives as a safeguard a smaller protection than he professed to give when the Bill was introduced. On what possible ground, under the conditions in which this new Constitution is to be worked, can you say that you are going to-give it to the Senate and not to the other House? What is the position? Whatever usefulness the Senate has is dependent upon its voting jointly with the Lower House. They are both the same body; they are both under the same influences. The Senate has no independent power except as regards the Lower House, and if, therefore, as the right hon. Gentleman said, owing to the peculiar conditions of Ireland, it is right that the Senate should have proportional representation because, as he told us, there are large numbers of people in the South and West who otherwise would not be represented—surely it is equally right to have it for the joint body of which the Senate only forms a part? Like my right hon. Friend, I think that apart from the general merits of proportional representation it would be right to vote for it in the case of the Irish House of Commons. I take that view, but, of course, it is not a party question, and I do not in the least ask my hon. Friends behind me to give a vote in this way because I am going to give it. It is naturally a question which may be considered by them to commit them to the same view with regard to England. I do not think so myself. I do not think that it commits us any more in that way than what the Prime Minister has done commits him in regard to the House of Lords, if ever there is one in this country, and certainly there will never be one set up by him.

I will tell the Committee why I am in favour of proportional representation for Ireland, apart altogether from the general question. You start, I think, on the assumption that if you have representative government it is not undemocratic that the different views in the country should be represented as nearly as possible in proportion to the number of people who hold those views. That seems a reasonable assumption to start from. What are the objections to it in any country? The objection to it in Great Britain, which was dwelt upon by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), has a great deal of force in it, and that is, if you have them represented precisely in proportion to their numbers, the Government of the day, perhaps, will not be strong enough to carry out the Government's policy. I think it is true that that is an argument against it. Another argument I have heard used against; it is that if you start proportional representation, you do one of two things: You either make it that only rich men—I have heard this stated, although I do not think it is true, and I believe it can be guarded against—or men that are specially well known will be chosen, or the other thing will happen, that the caucus will get complete possession of it, and will have more authority than it has at the present time. So far as England is concerned, that last argument certainly does not apply, for we all admit that no man who does not connect himself with one party or another can get a seat in the House of Commons to-day. What is the position of Ireland? In reality, if you had a House of Commons to-day, whatever may happen about the future, it would be started on the lines of Unionists and Nationalists. No one questions that; it is quite clear that by any arrangement of proportional representation or anything else the Nationalist party will be so overwhelming that the fear of not having a working majority will not apply to Ireland.

Look at the other argument. The last speaker held out hopes to us about groups of anti-vaccinationists and all the rest. He treated us to the old story that once you have Home Rule the leopard will change his spots, and that present differences will disappear. It is all very well to make prophecies of that kind, but there is no instance in history where anything of the kind has happened. I say that when right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen base their whole case for Home Rule on that assumption, they are basing it on an assumption which they can give us no ground for believing will turn out to be well founded. Suppose they are right. The only ground upon which hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite tell us that the minority in Ireland in Ulster and elsewhere should accept this Parliament is that after it is set up the Nationalists will be divided. That is quite probable, but there is something else which follows. They may be divided amongst themselves, but united the moment they come into opposition with those who hold different views on sectarian questions. Suppose it is true. It is a very frail reed to rest your weight upon. Suppose there is a chance of it, would any Scotchman or any Englishman, who is content with the present position and with his present rights and liberties give them up on the chance that the whole trend of Irish politics will be altered, and that by some curious re-grouping of parties they will be able to hold their own in an Irish Parliament? Nobody believes that for a moment. Let us assume that they are right, and that something of that kind is going to happen. On that assumption, in the peculiar conditions of Ireland, the very thing the hon. Member deprecates is what we ought to welcome. The one thing he professes to believe will not happen; the one thing which he pretends to wish will not happen, is sectarian difference. Obviously if you have grouping on any other ground there will be less chance of the sharp division on sectarian lines, and for that particular reason in Ireland proportional representation ought to be adopted in regard to the House of Commons as well as in regard to the Senate.

Do not let hon. Gentlemen be under any mistake. The hon. Member said when we asked for this or that, "Will you tell us that you accept Home Rule if we give it to you?" That is a very mild suggestion to make. Why, we detest the whole thing. We believe it is absolutely unnecessary, especially as this Government is never tired of telling us that they will give any concession the minority can reasonably demand. Are they going to take up the position that, however reasonable it is, they will not give it unless we withdraw our opposition to Home Rule? That is the meaning of the speech of the hon. Member. I say at once that, though I will vote for this Amendment, I do not attach any great value to it. Whatever arrangements you make, the people who are Unionists—loyalists now—I use that word, although the other night when I used it it was protested against—[An HON MEMBER: "It is an insult"]—the hon. Gentleman who nods his head so vehemently should remember that when the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had a meeting at Dublin one of the insults to the Nationalist party was the Union Jack—I am therefore using a title of distinction which I think legitimate, but I do not wish to press it—I say that under existing conditions, in whatever way you constitute the House of Commons in Ireland, the people who are in a minority now will be in a permanent minority, and nothing you can do can prevent this. You will be driving them out of a Constitution with which they are satisfied, and forcing their allegiance to a Constitution which they do not want.


I was fortunate in obtaining from you, Sir, the ruling you have just given, and which I only invited with a view to seeing the exact scope of the Debate. The hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) said he was going to deal with both the English and the Irish point of view, and I waited with great attention for that portion of the speech which dealt with it from the Irish point of view. I think it was a case of a pennyworth of bread to an intolerable deal of sack, because, as far as I could make out, he defended the right hon. Gentleman's position, that this matter should be regarded by the House of Commons solely from the point of view to which he devoted three-fourths, or perhaps four-fifths, of his speech. I wish to address myself to this question solely from the Trish point of view. If I had to address myself from the English point of view, very many different considerations would arise from those presented by the hon. Gentleman. This is the first occasion on which I shall give a vote against the Government in reference to this Bill.

I differ from the right hon. Gentleman Mr. Bonar Law in thinking this is not an important and valuable Amendment. I conceive that it is a most important and a most valuable Amendment, and I desire to see it put into operation whether it pleases or displeases the section who have hitherto been in opposition to the Bill. I do not take the view that we should scan these Amendments from the point of view of bargaining, and say to the Gentlemen from the North of Ireland, "If you will accept the Bill we shall give you certain things. Not that we consider them desirable, or worthy, but we give them to you as a matter of bargaining." That is the system which the hon. Member says should never be practised in this House. At present we are all supporting a Government whose action with regard to the cattle disease in Ireland is to us detestable and repugnant, causing the loss of millions of money. But at the same time the loss of those millions of money is to me a smaller matter than would be the loss of Home Rule, and it is a perfectly legitimate thing for the Members of the party. I care not who or what they are, to say to a great Government, "We shall subordinate our interests in minor matters for the sake of getting advantages upon major matters," but I do not conceive that because we take up that position we are driven to the plight which I understand the hon. Member to take up, say, on the Eastern Question, to which he alluded, that if the Government was suddenly to interfere with the Christian peoples in the East, we should have to remain tongue-tied in this House. Nothing of the kind, and I should deprecate this, I will not call it log-rolling system, but steam-roller system, in overturning things to which I understand the hon. Member has for the moment consecrated his existence.

With regard to the larger question of the application of this proposal to Ireland, the view I take is this. Once you have proposed it for the Senate, you have given away your whole case, so far as principle is concerned. I was amazed when the Government accepted it for the Senate. It cannot do anybody any good in Ireland with regard to the Senate. It is an absurdity as regards the Senate. It will not give to Gentlemen above the Gangway one single seat, and it will impose upon the senators the impossible task of canvassing by provinces, which no one but a duke could afford. That is done in the interests of democracy. It would take three months to canvass the county of Cork alone properly, and then you throw in Clare, Tipperary, Waterford, and Kerry as a sort of bonne-bouche, and you say, "Canvass these also in the name of democracy." A more absurd system was never suggested and never thought of. If ever there was a case to which proportional representation was unsuited, it was the case of the Irish Senate, and it may be a satisfaction to hon. Gentlemen opposite to know that, much as some hon. Gentlemen opposite dislike what they are pleased to call clerical power, they have absolutely put the Senate in the South of Ireland, in my opinion, into the hands of probably as safe a body of men, namely, the Irish bishops, as they could entrust it to.

I come to the question as applied to the Lower House. I take the county with which for the moment I am connected, thanks to the action of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) in spending about £10,000 to turn me out of the seat which I represented for twenty years. I take the City of Cork. It is, under this Bill, to have four Members, and if the Bill passes in its present form, the Conservatives of Cork—we may call them, roughly, the Protestants of Cork—who number about 30,000 persons will not return a single member. Is not that a gross absurdity? I ask myself, as a Cork man, why should not my fellow countrymen of a different persuasion from myself have the right to select their man to sit in Dublin as well as the Catholics should have the right to return me. What you have done is this. You propose that all over the three Southern provinces the Catholic majority shall pass with that steam-roller which the hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) delights in, and that so far as their action is concerned, they need not return one single Conservative or Protestant. That is an appalling situation. You say, on the other hand, "But in three years' time you can have a system of proportional representation." But it is now that you want it. I have no special love for any sort of fads, I hope. We all remember when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) said to Lord Courtney, one of the fairest and best Chairmen that ever sat in this House, without any suggestion to the contrary as regards this present incumbent of the Chair, "You would have to go round our villages explaining this with a blackboard." From that time to the present I have not given a great deal of attention to proportional representation; but now, when I am obliged to consider the matter in the light of the conditions of my own country, when you are establishing a Parliament for the first time, as to which a great many Protestants have strong objections, am I to do nothing? Have I no conscience that I shall say to them, "True, we can have no bargain with you, but, at all events, we can do something to invite and promote your confidence." I am not going to haggle with my Protestant fellow countrymen and say, "Surrender to me your principles and come and join our party and we will give you fair play." I will give you fair play anyhow.

What is the objection? If you had not proposed this for the Senate, all the objections of the hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) would be crawling all over the place. But you have established it for the Senate. You have taken the least suitable venue for the operation of what is now deemed to be a fad, and having thrown it down our throats, where we did not want it, you refuse it where it will be of some use. I would beseech the Government, as we are told it is not dependent upon the hon. Member and his Friends, to look at this not from an English but from an Irish point of view. England can take care of itself. Something can be said for a system which gives you strong Ministries such as the present, capable of dealing with the Eastern question and seeing that the Bulgarians are not oppressed and wronged. There is a great deal to be said for a strong Government, of that kind, but when we are dealing with the case of a small country like Ireland, with powers so limited as this Bill affords, that is the case for the application of the principle of proportional representation. I was appalled to hear just now that the Irish Parliament is going to propose great schemes of reform involving huge sums of taxation. Not if I know it. It is a new vista to open up. One Budget is enough for my lifetime. The view I take of that Assembly is this. It will be a humdrum Assembly. It will be a parochial Assembly. You call it a Parliament for the purposes of the moment, but it will be a Parliament in no sense. It will be a body looking after the daily lives and the daily wants of humble and poor people, and looking after them in a poor and humble way. In other words it will give us a native board of directors. It will enable us to shepherd our own little wants and when we know as we do, that the Protestants of Ireland represent in taxation and in numbers at least one-fourth of the entire population, any system which gives them less than one-fourth of the representation is a mockery and a snare.

7.0 P.M.


This Amendment has been on the Order Paper for a very long time, but I cannot say that except during the last few days our efforts have met with any general reception. On Thursday proportional representation was accepted for the Senate m Ireland, and to-day the movement seems to have made some most distinguished recruits. I was delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) declare himself at last in favour of proportional representation for Ireland. The present Leader of the Opposition has, I understand, given his support to the movement in which I and some of my friends are interested. We have now no less an influential Member of the House than the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. T. M. Healy) bearing testimony in the most powerful speech made in support of the movement in favour of the application of the principle to the House of Commons in Ireland. We, who have been working in this cause for a very long time, have, I think, reason to congratulate ourselves on this: that so far as this Debate has gone to-day, there has not been urged against proportional representation a single argument worth adducing in the Committee. Perhaps I should make an exception in favour of one argument that has found favour on both of the Front Benches in this House. It was originally advanced by the Solicitor-General on Thursday last. I have made a careful study of the Solicitor-General's speech, and so far as I can discover the only reason he had against proportional representation — and you may be quite sure that he would have been able to discover them if there had been others—was that under proportional representation you cannot be sure that the Government of the day will have an adequate majority. I think I am right in saying that the Leader of the Opposition lent his approval to that argument this afternoon, although it had previously been demolished by the ex-Leader of the Opposition. Have we come to this, in this so-called democratic country, that a Government can never hold office, or run the business of the State, unless it can depend upon a majority it certainly ought not to have? In my judgment, if the party system—and I believe in the party system to a large extent—is going to continue, it must continue in spite of fair representation in the constituencies. If it cannot stand that test, it can no longer stand the test of a democratic community.

I was glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition demolish an argument which was used with great force by the hon. and gallant Member for Honiton (Major Morrison-Bell) the other day. One of the most general arguments used against proportional representation is that it would increase the power of the caucus. I believe that is based upon a complete fallacy. I believe that under proportional representation the power of the caucus, instead of being stronger than it is at present, would be weaker. The Leader of the Opposition asked: Can anyone say that the power of the caucus is not almost omnipotent in the country at the present moment? The right hon. Gentleman pointed to the fact that it is almost impossible for a man, I will not say of original views, but views independent of party, to achieve a seat in this House. We can all remember the case of a Member of this House—I think one of the most brilliant that came into Parliament in 1906, Mr. Harold Cox—who happens to be a Unionist Free Trader, and who cannot be brought into the House for any party whatever. It is quite obvious to anyone who has studied proportional representation that Mr. Harold Cox would have a better chance of getting a seat under that system than he has at the present moment. My hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) spoke of the fads and the faddists who would find their way to this House. When I look round this House when full I can find a few faddists amongst us including those who, like myself, are in favour of proportional representation. As a matter of fact, the faddist in the constituencies has much more power at present than he would have under proportional representation. It is well known that a small group of people—I will not classify them in anyway—are capable of exercising, especially over inexperienced candidates, an infinitely greater influence than their voting strength warrants; and I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division that even if one or two cranks and faddists got into the House of Commons they would not be able to form themselves into powerful groups which would affect the stability of the Government. Is it conceivable that this movement in favour of proportional representation, backed as it is in some quarters, would ever succeed in getting a Member into this House devoted to proportional representation and nothing else? The thing is absolutely inconceivable, and besides it is not as if we were arguing a question of which there had been hitherto no experience. If we take countries in which proportional representation has been tried for a considerable period, we find that none of those great difficulties and disadvantages have made their appearance.

After these general observations, I would like to come to the situation in which we find ourselves. I should like to say to my right hon. Friends that I for one, as a supporter of this movement, am exceedingly grateful to them for having advanced so far with us. I do not wish. to seem unreasonable, but I think they will find it necessary to go further along the road. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Crawshay - Williams referred to the fact that we are now creating a new Parliament. There are considerable constitutional difficulties involved in the operation. The hon. Member for Leicester referred to the difficulty that would arise when an elected Senate would come into conflict with an elected House of Commons. These constitutional difficulties are by no means to be underrated. But how shall we find ourselves in Ireland if this Amendment is not accepted? We shall find an elected Senate which more fairly represents the people of Ireland than the elected House of Commons. Anybody who has studied to any extent constitutional history will see that this Senate will assert its prerogatives from one year to another, and eventually come into acute collision with the House of Commons in Ireland, and it will be able to say what no Upper House in the United Kingdom has been able to say, that it is more firmly established on the popular suffrage than the House of Commons itself. I do not want to put my right hon. Friends on the horns of a dilemma. I am grateful to them for what they have done, but I am as sure as I am addressing this Committee that this great constitutional difficulty will arise in Ireland in a very short time, and it is for this reason very largely I urge my right hon. Friends to go a little further, and apply to the Commons House in Ireland the principle of proportional representation.

As the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. T. M. Healy) said, it is in the early days in Ireland that we want to allay suspicion so far as we can. I quite agree that perhaps in a few years proportional representation may not be necessary in Ireland. I agree with those who say that existing political boundaries would disappear in Ireland after a few years of Home Rule Government. I think that is so, but we have to deal at the moment with a considerable minority of people in Ireland who do not think so, and who are not prepared, and should not be asked, to take any unreasonable risks. I venture to say that now is the time to apply proportional representation to the Irish House of Commons if it is ever to be applied. I do not think it is quite fair to leave it to the Irish House of Commons in three years' time when the new Parliament will have many grave and difficult problems in front of it. I venture to think it would be a matter of incredible difficulty for the Irish House of Commons to reconstitute itself on the principle of proportional representation within any reasonable period. I am quite convinced when we are speaking of safeguards for the minority in Ireland—I myself believe that some of the safeguards under the Bill are good and useful—that we could offer them no more valid and reassuring safeguard than proportional representation so as to give adequate representation to the minority in Ireland.


The hon. Member (Mr. C. Harmsworth) has told the Committee that so far there have been no arguments, or very few arguments, brought against the scheme of proportional representation?




Yes, to-day, I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I shall therefore endeavour to supply that deficiency. I find myself much nearer in sympathy with the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) than with the hon. Member opposite on this subject. Let me give some of the objections to proportional representation as a principle. This particular scheme, I admit, has been a long time before this country. Whether we agree with it or not, we will all, I think, readily offer our congratulations to Lord Courtney, Lord Avebury, and others, who have fought for this principle for the last thirty or forty years. Now they see it adopted, light-heartedly I think as at a moment's notice, in respect to the Irish Parliament for the Irish Senate, although very few Members of the Cabinet could explain what the scheme is, and I shall be pardoned for saying that there is hardly anybody in this House who understands it. Since I have been in the House this afternoon two hon. Members who are in favour of proportional representation informed me that they did not know that under this system there would be multi-member constituencies. Let me put before the Committee as plainly as I can what proportional representation is and what are my objections to it, and why I think that the Committee has adopted it far too quickly for the Senate and should not accept it for the Irish House of Commons. The original scheme, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London has remarked, was Mr. Hare's scheme of proportional representation. His idea was that you should make England one constituency. If you did you would then get proportional representation in its purest form. You would get the exact number of votes for everybody, and you would get the exact representation. That was the original scheme, but it was at once pointed out that that would be a practically impossible scheme, because nobody could cover the whole of England, and therefore you must divide up the country. In so far as you are dividing up the scheme it is a departure from Mr. Hare's scheme, and so you get less and less proportional representation. In fact, if you bring it down to five or seven members, it is really hardly worth while doing it at all.

The very essence is that you should have enormous constituencies in which you would get all the various thoughts and ideas represented, and that has proved to be impracticable; so the Proportional Representation Society have brought in a scheme in which they divide up the country, as they have done now, into provinces, which is, of course, a better way then if you put in one or two counties. I say at once that proportional representation such as had been advocated so long by the gentleman to whom I referred, Lord Courtney and the others, would be very excellent, and would be the very thing if every elector in this county were keenly interested in it and understood it. In practical fact you would have nothing of the sort. You have rather a politically indifferent electorate. You have by all sorts of efforts to urge them to come to the poll at all, and so far from improving the situation by putting this complicated bit of machinery into their hands, you simply make them more indifferent than they were before, because they do not understand it. They do not see a clear-cut issue. They do not see the men they are going to vote for, as they do now. They see a list of names hardly one of which they ever heard of before. How can you say that that is going to improve the House of Commons? It has been proved to be true that proportional representation has knocked the interest out of elections. I must apologise for again bringing before the Committee a quotation which I used the other night, but I think I am entitled to do so, because the only newspaper in which I saw myself reported on Thursday last said that I spoke in favour of proportional representation. It was true that it was dinner hour, and that will excuse a lot. The quotation to which I refer is from a book published recently on South America by a gentleman (Mr. Bryce) who was well known in this House. He wrote about an election which was proceeding when he was travelling in that country about a year ago. I quote it because he could not have known when he wrote this that it was going to be quoted, and therefore it is absolutely an impartial witness of the fact that this system knocks out a great deal of the interest which is taken in elections. The election was proceeding in Chili. People say that you cannot count Chili; they always say you cannot count Johannesburg. There are only one or two instances where this system has been tried, and the results have been different in every case. I am going to quote two of them which substantiate my argument that this system knocks the interest out of elections. Mr. Bryce says that Chili has been an enterprising and up-to-date place to have this machinery:— I saw an election proceeding in Santiago. The result was foreknown because there had been an arrangement between Liberal sections which ensured the victory of the candidates they had agreed upon, so there seemed little excitement. I should think very little indeed. The whole election had been fixed up before it began. My argument is that putting this very complicated machinery into the hands of a not very interested electorate simply allows the political agent and the caucus to manipulate the election almost any way they like. I may refer also to the result it. Portugal, in regard to which the Blue Book of the Royal Commission says that this system has failed to give satisfaction, and an early return to the single membership is anticipated. Those two instances prove what is taking place. May I put a simile before the House which will, I think, include all my objections and answer, I hope, in anticipation, some of the objections which may be urged on the other side? I said the other day, and it has been taken as an admission, that this system is absolutely accurate. That is true. Once you have got the votes into the urn you can then count them exactly accurately as they are put there. Of course, my objection is what happens before those votes get there. The simile I am going to put before the Committee is this: Take the case of a large railway station—say, Water- l00. The passengers come hurrying up to "Waterloo and get taken to their destination, just as in a General Election the electors come hurrying up to the poll. It does not matter to the passengers how they get taken to their destination. I take Waterloo because every Member realises that you start from a different platform every time you go there. You never know which line you are going out on. You do not know how you will get to your destination, and you really do not know what will happen. Hut my point is this: It does not matter. There are people there who are paid to put you right; there are indicator-boards, porters, inspectors, all waiting to put you right, and how you are to get out of the station really does not matter at all.

The same argument applies to proportional representation. Nobody understands it—or, at least, I do not think that there are 5 per cent, of the Members in this House who understand what it means. But that does not matter. There are people paid to do it. You would not have to worry. Once you had marked the paper, the rest would be all done for you by people who understand it or who are paid for doing it; so that it does not matter no more than it matters how you get out of Waterloo Station. What does matter is the indicator-board men, the porters men, the inspectors men—that is in the railway station. How will it be in election times in the constituencies? There would be election agents, the poster, the newspaper, all the electoral machinery, which would not be concentrated in one railway station as in the case of Waterloo, but in every polling booth. Whom are the electors who come up to the polling booth going to vote for? They are going to vote for a list of gentlemen probably not two of whom are known to them, men of whose political qualifications they know nothing. Hon. Members in this House were asked to take part in an election the other day, but we had a very extraordinary constituency. We found Mr. Asquith, Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. F. E. Smith, and Sir Edward Carson in this constituency. You do not get that in real life. That is all too unreal. I want to bring the case back to an actual definite case in a Division. You do not get these great big men, or you do not get enough of them. You get a series of names which are not known. Take the instance I put the other day in this House, and I ask any hon. Member to do it for himself. In an election you may have thirty names. Suppose the advocates of proportional repre- sentation the other day, instead of sending us that list, were to take the names of Members in this House to pick out, say, thirty names from the Parliamentary Companion—any thirty would do: I picked out thirty on page 35, but in that list there is hardly a man—and hon. Members should try this for themselves—who could put those thirty men in their right order. If you had not the letters indicating Liberal, Unionist, Labour, or Nationalist against their names you would not know who a lot of them were.

That sounds an incredible state of things, but if hon. Members try it for themselves they will find that it is the absolute truth. If you had not these letters against the names you would hardly be able to put a great many of these men in political order. You do not know their political value. Very likely you would not know their political complexion, because some of them do not often come here; but I am talking about a list made up of Members of this House which consists of 670 Members, all of whom are supposed to be in daily communication with other Members of this House, and you would have a difficulty in placing those men. I think that the difficulty electors would have in a constituency would be very much greater. They would not know the names. They are interested in getting their own bread and butter for five years, and then for a fortnight before the election they are asked to vote, and they are presented with a list possibly of forty men. Under this system there are to be ten seats in every constituency. You might have ten Conservatives, ten Liberals, ten Labour men, and ten Independent. Why not? The whole point of this is that every group is to be represented. You may have forty or fifty men. I venture to say that hon. Members must have election agents representing their claims at practically every polling booth, and that the men who do not go out against them will get left behind. It is natural. It is perfectly true, and I admit it, that the larger men in this list would get the votes, but beyond all argument we should have to do as everybody else has to do, and make ourselves known. You will have to take in ten Conservatives. By the proportional representation system four of them would be elected and six must be left out. Who are to be the six? If I were one it would not be I if I could help it. I want to be one of the four, and everyone of those ten would be competing for those four places and we would be doing what we are doing now, going round the towns and villages. Candidates would be having their committees and their agents, and they would have to do it unless it is seriously put forward by hon. Members who support this thing that the electors would vote for people whose names even if they did not know and whom they had never seen.

Yon must make yourself known, because electors would rather vote for a man they know than for a person whom they have never seen, and therefore it arouses competition. You would drive everybody under this system to go out and work for votes. If he does not do that he will never get in. That is not going to improve the constitution of this House. It is not going to be easy for the electors, and it is not going to be easy for the candidate, and I say that simply because you will have to have an increased political organisation in every constituency. Every Member will have to have it and he will have to spend much more money. It will double and treble the power of money at election times, because we know very well that it has been brought forward by the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt) that Norfolk is to be one constituency.

How are you going to get about the whole of Norfolk in a month? You could not do it without a motor car. Why it is the moneyed men who will have the best chance under this system, and that is why I say it is going to increase the cost, of elections and going to make the caucus far stronger than it was, and I do not believe that it is really going to improve the complexion of this House or any other. The House has very quickly, and without much forethought, adopted this principle of proportional representation for the Senate, but I would urge hon. Members to pause before they apply it to the election of members of the House of Commons in Ireland. I cannot believe that it is really going to improve that House, and I think that the proposal would do very much to increase the power of money and of election machinery. For that reason, if the opportunity is afforded, I shall vote against the Amendment.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down made a charming and delightful speech a few days ago, to which I listened with the utmost pleasure. He has, in other words, but still to the same effect, made another delightful speech about it to-day, and, indeed, he is such a master of the subject, that I believe he could go on making charming speeches every day about it. I do not think he would complain if he knew as much of reporters as I do, that they described him as being in favour of proportional representation, because I confess, listening as I did to him with great interest, during the first part of his speech, I was thoroughly persuaded that he was. He unrolled his mind to us in so delightful a manner that I was fascinated by his discourse, and he told us that he was himself fascinated with the principle of proportional representation. If he was fascinated with the principle he must not complain if the reporter went away and said he was a supporter of that principle. The hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke of proportional representation as giving a reflex of every shade and every emotion of the electorate; he dwelt on its mathematical precision, and he said it was the mathematical precision that so fascinated him, because it enabled an exact reflex to be obtained of the opinions of the constituency.

But the hon. and gallant Gentleman swept all that aside, and said that the objection possibly most fatal to proportional representation was that it was complicated, and nobody could understand it. But, as I explained to-day, you do not understand it but you do it. How comes it about that the people get proper voting by this system? The elector goes up to the urn and records his vote; then somebody comes along and does something which there is never any need to explain to the electors, and it all comes out right. The hon. and gallant Member told us that he travelled all the way to the city of Truro, where there was an election on this system in progress, in order to become a sorter, and, on his becoming a sorter, the whole thing was revealed to him, namely, that the people came and voted and the sorter saw that it came out all right. That was the first part of the hon. Gentleman's story, and he was enamoured of the thing; he looked at the nymph, at its beautiful form and flowing garments, and was enamoured of it— The nympholepsy of some fond despair. Then suddenly he turned round and proceeded to buffet his mistress. He said this system was mathematically precise and the only possible mode of obtaining the opinion of the country, yet he pro- ceeded, not only to turn her out of doors, but to turn the key and keep her out. How did he do that? He did that by setting before the Committee, as he has done to-day, the real reason why he is not enamoured ultimately of this scheme, namely, that he is satisfied, first of all, that it destroys all interest in the election; secondly, that it puts enormous power into the hands of the caucus; and the third reason was—


The power of money.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman said it would destroy all interest in elections. Some people ask why should there be a factitious interest in elections if the people do not care for them? The hon. Member suggested that the only way to get up an interest in an election was to have two people stripped to the waist fighting, or exciting local interest by going about and shaking hands with everybody. He said the elector would not vote for a person unless he knew him, or unless he was brought in some way in contact with him; that the interest of an election was maintained by a personal encounter between well-known people in a locality, and that lack of interest would cause people to abstain from going to the urn, and they would not vote because they were not interested. I see the force of that argument; at the same time I can quite understand people saying that in their view you ought not to attempt to use sinister—I do not use that word in a bad sense, but in the classical sense—influences. Why should people go to the poll if their interest is not genuinely excited? Some years ago I went into a chop-house, and, on seeing the most famous tragedian of the day deluging his chop with oceans of Worcester sauce, I was taken aback. It struck me as a reckless procedure, and asked him what he did it for. He replied, "I am endeavouring to impart a wholly factitious interest to this chop." If you attempted to excite interest in an election, you would introduce a wholly factitious interest. Why should you endeavour to excite that interest by shaking hands with the elector, by asking for his wife who is dead, and by inquiring about the children? I am bound to say that part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's case does not appeal so strongly to me.

In regard to the further point, the hon. Member has very grave grounds for some of the objections. Everybody knows that under this system of proportional repre- sentation a list of names is submitted for, I suppose, six or seven seats, and the hon. Member urged that, without a factitious interest being created, the wretched elector would not care to decide which to pick out from the names of perhaps thirty-candidates. But I cannot conceive how by any possibility you could carry on an election otherwise. You must have a list, and either side must impress upon the people that they must stick to the list, and stick to it absolutely, literally, if they wish to avoid catastrophe. I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the system of proportional representation has been cut down. Hare's original idea of the system, which I admired in my salad days—I had always a passionate desire to get rid of constituencies, but the Imperial Chamber never could see the desirableness or justice of the view that a body of men in such a Chamber are not to represent purely local interests—involved representation of the whole country, and a Member was not to be tied by the pretended or real local interests of the place which happened to send him to Parliament. That scheme being out of the question, we come down to five or six members, thus cutting down Hare's real scheme of proportional representation very severely indeed.

I think the hon. Member did well in calling attention to this, and the real reason why I rose is to thank the hon. Member for being perhaps the only Member to call the attention of the Committee with some degree of closeness and accuracy to what it is they are to vote upon; the more he does that the more he will convince the people how wise the Government is in saying that this great question of proportional representation, with its obligations and its difficulties, which we have not tested for ourselves, and which we are in no way likely to test for ourselves, ought not to be forced on the Irish people. I do not wish to say anything about illiteracy in Ireland, because that might give offence, and I am very glad to think that under educational processes it is rapidly disappearing; still the fact does remain that there are more illiterate electors in Ireland than in any other part of the country. Illiteracy is a term about which I should not like to dogmatise, because there are a good many people who can neither read nor write who are still as shrewd as many occupants of these benches. I can only say that in the case of a man who could not read and write, if a complicated system like this were put before him, involving his putting down 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 in figures against a long list of names, picking out particular persons, you would impose upon him a burden altogether outside the general action of the franchise.


The same elector will have to do it for the Senate.


That is quite true, but he will have to wait five years, five very critical and responsible years in the history of the country. After that it will have to be seen how far he is able to vote for eleven, fourteen, or some other number of members on a list. I think he will have very great difficulty in doing it. I should have been very well content myself if the system of nomination had found greater favour than it did, but at all events it is satisfactory that we shall have nomination for five years instead of being reduced to two years or four years. I-thank the hon. Gentleman opposite for having placed before us as clearly as he did the difficulties that lie in the way of this system, and the conclusion which he arrived at was one which I arrived at myself, that it would be an unfair and unwise thing to impose on the Irish people at the present moment. I quite agree with the argument of the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour), when he said we ought not to wait three years or five years, but that we ought to get the very best system we can of election now, so that when you have got a House of Commons which will really represent the different sections, you would leave to that House of Commons the task of saying what its electoral system was to be in future. Excellent! And if I really thought you were going to get under this system of proportional representation in the next two or three years, a really fine representation of all shades of feeling and opinion in Ireland, then I should feel the full force of that argument, but I am perfectly persuaded you would do nothing of the kind. It would take long years of education of the Irish electorate or of any electorate before they were able to manipulate so complicated machinery as this. Therefore I do think, whether we were right or wrong in the case of the Senate, that it would be most undesirable and unfair to impose on the Irish people, who, of all people, are least qualified, and least fit for it, and least desire it, this very difficult system. Therefore I take the view come to by the Attorney-General, that, apart from the merits or demerits of this highly complicated system, it ought to be gone into far more than it has been by the hon. Member, and it ought not to be accepted in any shape or way as being a binding arrangement on the Irish Parliament.


The opponents of this scheme have so far simply based themselves on general grounds. I quite recognise that general grounds may have considerable weight, but in this particular ease they seem rather to cancel themselves out. We have been told by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) that this is going to encourage the group system, and we have-been told by my hon. Friend here that it is going to encourage the caucus system. Both cannot be true. I think in a matter of this kind we are much better advised in considering a special case than in basing ourselves only on general arguments. I want to put before the House the special case, not of Ulster, but of the other three provinces in Ireland, which without some system of proportional representation, will probably have absolutely no voice in the Irish House of Commons whatever. That, I think, is the answer to the objection of the learned Attorney-General. He says if you accept proportional representation for the House of Commons in Ireland you must have the same in England. England is in an absolutely different position. Nowhere in the United Kingdom, except in Ireland, can you find one continuous tract of country inhabited by nearly three millions of people and returning only representatives of one political party. Proportional representation is not needed for Ulster. Ulster can look after itself, and in any case, whether they have proportional representation or not, the loyalists in Ulster are certain of a fair representation.

The learned Attorney-General objected that proportional representation would probably give you a House of Commons which was merely a reflection of the Senate which you are choosing by this means. There is an easy obvious way out of that by not having the same constituency; and in fact this particular Amendment proposes different constituencies. For the Senate you are to have huge, and, as I think, unwieldy constituencies consisting of provinces, whereas for the Irish House of Commons it is suggested in this Amendment that you should have from three members upwards. The hon. Member for Honiton (Major Morrison-Bell) in his interesting speech dealt with the case of Chili, and said that in Chili there was no interest in political representation, because under proportional representation it was all cut and dried beforehand, and everybody knew who was going to be elected. I think that that is very much what happens in Ireland at the present day. No one who is acquainted with the three provinces outside Ulster can pretend that there is any excitement in political elections, they are generally cut and dried beforehand on the orders of the representatives of the Nationalist caucus, so that we shall not be any worse off than we are at present. The hon. Member made out it would be very difficult for any elector to mark his paper correctly. I do not see why the elector should not, have a list of eight or ten members, and why he should not copy that list. We do it in the case of the Metropolitan borough councils where we sometimes have eight or ten names, and where there is no difficulty in following the results. As a matter of fact, in Ireland the actual working may be very different. If you had large enough constituencies in which it would be possible for non-Nationalists to have any chance of election, you would not have ten non-Nationalists competing with each other, but you would have one man put forward as the representative so that the minority would only have to mark one name on the paper. The objection of the hon. Member on the ground of expense can surely be met by amending the Corrupt Practices Act, and by laying down stringent regulations to limit the amount to be spent.

I want to accentuate the point that the rest of Ireland is in an absolutely different position from Ulster. Ulster will not have Home Rule; Ulster is going to stand out, but if this Bill becomes law, the other three provinces must come under the Dublin Parliament. At the present time there is not a single representative outside Ulster and university seats, who speaks for the minority in Ireland, and I think it would be disastrous if this new Parliament were set up without a single representative of any opinion except Nationalist. We have been told that there would be new cleavages in Irish politics; that has been stated by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division, and also the other day by the Chief Secretary; but that new cleavage must take some time to show itself. Are the minority during those years to have no-chance of representation at all, and when you get the new cleavage, is the minority under that new system to have no chance of representation, because apparently it is to be town and country. Are the people who agree with the country point of view in the towns to have no representation at all, and are the people who are interested in industry in the country also to have no representation? The obvious way is to try this experiment in Ireland where the party cleavage is absolutely different from what we find anywhere else in the United Kingdom. In Ireland we must consider this question apart from Ulster, because in the other three provinces we shall probably get absolutely different grievances from those which may trouble the population in the North. Boycotting and intimidation is obviously impossible where you have a large and united political population as you have in the North; but in the West, of Ireland there will be undoubted grievances which certainly should be voiced in the House of Commons. The Attorney-General wants to leave Ireland free to settle this problem for herself. There is nothing inconsistent with that view, for in accepting proportional representation for the moment, you need not commit Ireland to keep it, but at the birth of this new organism it surely is Statesmanlike to let all opinions be heard, and after five years or preferably after ten years to allow the new Parliament to settle its own constitution and, if it likes, to give up proportional representation. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) stated in Dublin he was willing to discuss sympathetically any proposal fur a system of representation in our Parliament which would carry out the idea of toleration and full representation so long as it is consistent with honest democratic principles. I think if the Nationalists really want to show they are honest in their professed desire to conciliate moderate opinion in Ireland, it would be a very good opportunity for the hon. and learned Member for Waterford to accept this Amendment. If he will express his willingness to accept it, the Government, the Prime Minister has said quite clearly, will accept his advice. It is quite obvious it is easier now to carry a system of proportional representation in Ireland than it ever will be again. We know in this House what a natural sluggishness shows itself on all sides on the question of redistribution. Hon. Members who sit for seats where they have comfortable majorities at pre- sent, naturally do not like to exchange a comparative certainty for a great uncertainty under a redistribution scheme, and no doubt it would only be human in the Nationalist party once they have got their seats and are acquainted with the constituents to be rather loth to change the system, and take a plunge which might result in an absolutely unexpected state of affairs for their party. If you begin from the beginning you will not inflict this grievance, and you will not have to get over this very natural difficulty in changing any system. If the Government now refuse to listen to this claim for proportional representation in the Irish Parliament, then that shows they are deliberately changing the Bill only to the detriment of the Protestant and Unionist minority. It has been clearly shown by every organ of moderate opinion in Ireland that this is the one safeguard that they would value; it has been admitted by the "Daily News" that proportional representation is against the interests of the minority in the case of the Senate, and would only be for their interests in the case of the popular Chamber. The "Daily News" of last Thursday, in a leading article, says:— We think the Unionists would lose in the case of the Senate and gain in the case of the House of Commons…If proportional representation were applied to the election of the House of Commons. Protestants would, we think, benefit substantially. They would retain their present slight superiority in Ulster, and would secure some measure of representation in the other provinces where at present they are wholly non-represented. 8.0 P.M.

In view of those statements of opinion, I think it is quite clear that the Government, far from trying to conciliate the minority, are doing all they can to increase their fears and make their position worse. Look at what the position is. Outside Ulster and University representation there will be 103 seats. On the present basis, if those seats go the same way as they did at the last General Election, the Unionists will not have one single representative of the 103. It is impossible, of course, to arrive exactly at what one might expect by proportional representation, as so many seats are uncontested, and there is no means of getting at the actual figures. I have taken the basis which was used the other day—namely, the religious cleavage as roughly indicative of political differences. In the three provinces you have two and a half millions of Roman Catholics, and you have got one-fourth of a million who are not, so that instead of the Catholics holding 103 seats and the non - Catholics holding no seats, the Catholics ought only to hold, say, a little over ninety seats, and the Protestants ought to hold from ten to a dozen seats. I must say that the present scheme as shown in the Amendment to the Schedule which has been put down by the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Newman) is not satisfactory from the point of view of the Protestant minority, because, as we all know, under this system of proportional representation, where a small number have to be elected, the minority to obtain any representation must obtain a very large fraction of the total poll cast. If, as is proposed in this Amendment, the constituency is to be so small as to return only three members, to secure election a minority must amount to one-fourth of the total number of votes cast. The only way really to ensure the representation of a minority is to have much larger constituencies, and perhaps to group them so as to return as many as twelve members. The Government have realised this fact, because in their Amendment applying proportional representation to the Senate they have explained in a Whip's official memorandum that unless a considerable number were to be elected in each constituency there would be no scope for proportional representation. I have gone through the Schedule on the basis of Protestants and Roman Catholics, and I find that owing to these small constituencies the Protestants would have a chance of securing election in only two constituencies, namely, Dublin City (South) and the Southern Division of County Dublin. If, however, you accepted a different grouping and had larger constituencies, the minority might have a fair and just representation. I urge this claim, not from any party point of view, but because I think it is only in this way that you can give reasonable confidence to the moderate minority in Ireland and prevent Ireland being torn by distrust and party feeling during the first years of its separate constitutional existence, if that ever comes. It cannot be right to stifle the views of any party at a moment when Ireland obviously has need of all the wisdom and ability which she can command in shaping her new course. By ensuring minority representation the Govern1 men would at least do something to make less bitter the sense of injustice caused by the passing of the Home Rule Bill and to prevent the discontent of a quarter of a million people absolutely disfranchised in the three provinces outside Ulster from corroding the foundations of the new Constitution.


Unlike the Chief Secretary and my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Major Morrison-Bell), I have never been fascinated by a mathematically exact representative system. I have no desire to see every conceivable shade of opinion represented in this House or in the Irish House of Commons. There is today in our problems here, and likely to be to a still greater extent in Irish problems, a real practical grievance of the non-representation of important minorities, which in this country is to some extent, though inadequately, balanced by the non-representation of corresponding minorities. In Ireland, however, it would not be balanced at all. Whatever be the case in this country, it seems to me that the case in Ireland is overwhelmingly strong. Hon. Members opposite are always saying that they look forward to a change in Irish politics, in which not only new issues but new men will come to the front. If that is to be the case at all, this proposal gives the best chance of bringing them to the front. It is curious how little is known in this House of what we are discussing, and nobody could have given a better example than did the hon. Member for Honiton himself, who brought forward as an instance of the defects of proportional representation the condition of things in Chili, as described by a, distinguished late Member of this House. As a matter of fact, I took the precaution to go to the Library, and, as I surmised, the electoral system of Chili is not proportional representation or the transferable vote, but what is known as the direct cumulative vote—a system which lends itself to the party ticket and mechanical arrangement beforehand, and by which you put down your name to five or six or more candidates, as the party Whip may prescribe.

The system of giving a man only a single vote, but enabling him to transfer that vote to a second or third choice, is entirely different. It cannot be machine run to anything like the same extent as either the cumulative vote or the single vote, which we have at present. Nor do I believe that in any constituency of moderate size it would lead to a lessening of interest. There would always be a certain number of people well known in the constituency for their political and public work, and the ordinary voter would be perfectly capable of saying which out of half a dozen men he preferred, and, failing him, his second or third choice. So far from the interest being diminished, as far as it is a rational and political interest, it would become intensified. Candidates would no longer have the opportunity of shaking everybody by the hand; they would have to address themselves to arguments, and I believe it is to the good of politics in this country that arguments rather than fortuitous and adventitious sources of interest should prevail. After all, the arguments brought against this reform are such as could have been, and I believe were, brought against the introduction of the ballot and other electoral reforms. The things against which some of those reforms were aimed did stimulate public interest, but they were certainly not for the public good. As regards the really serious argument of my hon. Friend that this system will increase the power of money, while that is an argument to which every consideration should be given, it may be suggested on the other hand that it will no longer be possible for persons to be canvassed to any great extent or bribed or treated. Candidates will tend to rely more on public speaking and on the general strength of the case of the party whom they represent.

I do not believe that the introduction of this system will in the main modify or do away with the party system. People are going to divide on broad principles in the future as in the past, and I think it will be the same in Ireland. This system will take away that wholly irresponsible and vicious power which some fractional minority of cranks may enjoy to-day. In a closely contested election, any fad commanding fifty votes puts itself up to auction, and one or the other side buys it and is committed to it. Under a proportional system any candidate who commits himself to a fad of that kind, so far from gaining, will probably lose through people who, while agreeing with him in general politics, will put him as second or third choice because of that fad. The real value of the system is not that it will get faddists or cranks into Parliament, but that persons of independent character will get elected, and, what is more important, when they have done good work in Parliament and in their constituencies, they will continue to be elected. They will enjoy greater personal independence when face to face with the caucus and the Whips. There will also be less danger of a party hanging together for fear of the result of an election to its individual members. In any five or six-membered constituency the most responsible and most able members will know that, even though their party may be weakened and fail to be returned, they themselves are not so likely to be defeated. The danger of a party hanging to office because of the fear that a certain number will lose their seats with the emoluments attached to them will be to a largo extent diminished, and the system will largely increase the independence of the best members both as against their constituents and as against the power of the party Whip.

Mr. MacCAW

I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the cynical manner in which the Government are showing their disregard of Unionists interests in Ireland by their treatment of this proposal. It will be within the recollection of the Committee that last Thursday, when Clause 8 was under discussion we were treated to the extraordinary spectacle of the Government suddenly withdrawing the proposal contained in the Bill —which presumably had been well considered before it was embodied in the Clause—for the establishment of a nominated Senate, and substituting in its place a Senate elected by the system of proportional representation. The whole Committee was taken by surprise at the abrupt change of opinion on the part of the Government. The main reason given for the change was that it would in all probability secure for the Unionist minority a larger share of representation in the Senate than they would have secured if the members had been selected by nomination as originally proposed. In other words, it was put forward as a great concession to Unionist opinion, and as a considerable extension of those numerous safeguards, which were alleged to appear on every page of this Bill, for the protection of the minority, which, if this Bill ever passes into law, will be placed in subjection to the men with whom they have been at the greatest variance for many generations past. The Prime Minister laid very great stress on this point. He went further and told us that the Senate, in the composition of which he was so desirous that Unionist opinion should be adequately represented, was not to have any real power whatso- ever, that it might delay, but could not direct, any legislation of any kind.

That is the position at which we have arrived so far as the Senate is concerned. But when we come to the proposal to extend to the election of members of the Irish House of Commons the same principle of fair representation which has already been applied to the Irish Senate, what do we find? We see the Government meet it with uncompromising opposition. Their loudly expressed desire for representation of the Unionist minority has vanished. They are quite content to see the Unionists under a disability. The Prime Minister has said, and said very truly, that all the real power in the Government of Ireland will rest in the hands of the Irish House of Commons. Yet that is the very body in which the Government declines to take any step to secure that Unionist opinion shall be able to find adequate expression. The greatest parade is made of concessions which the Government have granted to ensure representation of the minority in the Chamber which possesses no control over legislation whatsoever, whilst at the same time the minority is left at an overwhelming disadvantage in the other Chamber entrusted to rule over the destinies of the country. Could there be a more forcible example of the hollowness and sham which characterises all these so-called safeguards with which the Government are trying to cover and to satisfy the consciences of hon. Members opposite in support of their endeavour to obtain through them the passage of this Bill.

The worst of the matter is that, judging from their action, it is apparently the intention of the Government that these much-vaunted concessions shall be of no value or account whatsoever. Why should the Government go back upon the principle which they themselves laid down only last week, and decline to establish some mode of election for the all-powerful Irish House of Commons, which they have declared to be essential to secure that the Irish minority shall be properly represented in the Irish Senate? The fact is that the Government are simply mocking the loyalists in Ireland when they tell them that their interests have been adequately considered and protected in the framing of this Bill, and the Irish loyalists know it. Ever since the Bill was first introduced into this House, the Unionists in Ireland have recognised with bitterness the spirit with which it is pervaded from beginning to end, and how it violates all laws of justice and equity, so far as they personally are concerned. They have felt, and this feeling has been intensified day by day as the Debate on this Bill has proceeded, that they will be driven to rely on themselves for the adequate protection of their rights and liberties, which are being so unjustly assailed. This is a responsibility which they are perfectly willing to face should it ever be thrust upon them, and should all other methods of resistance prove of no avail; but it is a position they would adopt with the greatest reluctance, and nothing short of realising the utter hopelessness of their case, under any other conditions, would ever drive them to such an extreme course.

The Prime Minister the other day declared himself to be a credulous optimist with regard to the scheme which he has brought forward. I can assure him that there are more than a million of people in Ireland who view it with the profoundest pessimism and despair; and nothing has contributed to this feeling more than the cynical attitude of resistance which he and his Government are constantly assuming, when any proposals, however small, such as the one we are now discussing, are brought forward for the preservation of the rights of that minority, whose welfare, by virtue of the position which he occupies, has been entrusted to his especial care, and whose claims and privileges he is both in duty and in honour called upon to protect.


The hon. Member who has just spoken is, I presume, a supporter of this Amendment, as indeed I am myself; but I am bound to say that he has gone about in a rather peculiar way to commend the Amendment to the Committee and to the Government. If he had heard, as I did, the scintillating speech with which the Secretary for Ireland delighted the Committee a little while ago, he would have seen that the Government, in the person of the Chief Secretary, are in great good humour at the present moment, and he would rather, I should have thought, applied himself to taking advantage of that good humour in order to persuade them to take one more step, in the matter of this system, along the road which he wishes them to tread. My own object in rising now is to say I am a convinced believer both in the general principle of proportional representation and in its particular application to this Bill. With regard to the general question, I shall not attempt to go into an explanation or an exposition of the system. I quite admit it suffers from being imperfectly understood both outside and inside this House, but I rest myself rather on the comforting assurance which we have just had from no less a person than the Chief Secretary that after all it does not matter in the least whether we understand it or not: someone else understands it, and it is all right.

Therefore, I confine myself more especially to the adaptation of this principle to the measure which is now under discussion. I should like to insist for a moment on a point which I think due attention has not been given in this Debate, and that is that the existing plan of the Government is open to certain grave objections. For one thing, it introduces a system which is, in effect, the system of the block vote. It proposes to set up certain two, three, four, and even five-member constituencies—the latter fact makes my case all the stronger. The block system is above all other systems fatal to minorities, and from that point of view alone I think the plan proposed by the Government is an unfair one and is open to serious objection. It would work adversely not only as between the Catholic and the Protestant vote, but it would work adversely also as between the urban and the rural vote. May I illustrate that by quoting the case of county Down, where, under the Government system, four two-member constituencies are proposed? I am assured on good authority that all these four constituencies will return two Agriculturists for each seat, assuming for the moment that the prevailing distribution of parties continues at the first election. Under a system of proportional representation it is perfectly certain that the small urban centres scattered throughout county Down would be able to place at least one, if not two, representatives in the Irish House of Commons. I say, therefore, that the Government system, as at present proposed, would penalise unfairly the urban minority as against the rural majority. It has to my mind this further objection, that the provisional three years' system, which is at present in the Bill, is going to accentuate and continue just those elements of division and bitterness which are universally deplored at the present time, and which it ought to be our chief interest, if possible, to remove as speedily as possible from the sphere of Irish politics. I take the position that the Government's proposals are open to serious objection. Then as to the alternative proposal which is before us at the present time. This alternative proposal comes with a remarkably strong backing. It is the first proposal of a political character, using the word in its broadest sense, which has come towards the solution of the Irish problem from Ireland backed by a weighty, a serious and an important body of men of all parties, and creeds and classes in that country. That fact alone, I submit, should make this Committee pause before they lightly reject a scheme which is earnestly impressed upon their notice by a body of men so keenly and so earnestly devoted to the good of their country.

The deputation which was sent by this body to the Prime Minister at the end of June got, as we were reminded in these Debates, a sympathetic hearing. There is this further point which I think the Committee should bear in mind, that this deputation was interested not merely in the principle of representation for the Irish Senate, but was asking that that principle should be applied to both Houses of Parliament: and the Prime Minister in his answer said nothing whatever to qualify the general opinion which he expressed in favour of mature and sympathetic consideration of that principle not for one House alone, but for both. May I recall to the attention of the Committee the words the Prime Minister used? He said:— I should welcome in the frankest and fullest way any Amendment— and in the absence of qualification that must be taken to be an Amendment both as regards the Irish House of Commons and the Irish Senate— which would provide a practical means by which all sections of Irish opinion can play their part, and assume their due share in the future conduct of the fortunes of the community in which all alike are interested. I think the deputation can fairly claim that the Prime Minister did hold out provisional hopes that a full field for discussion and consideration would be awarded to this Amendment as applied to the Lower House as much as to the Upper. I listened with great care to the speeches made against this proposal both on its merits and on what I may call tactical grounds. I heard the speech of the Attorney-General, and I think I may say without disrespect to so distinguished a Member of the House that there was really no argument in that speech that was at all worthy of him or the case he put, with the exception of the single argument that we should not as a Committee press any special system upon the Irish people, because it is provided that the Irish people can adopt the same system for themselves in due course. Certain reasons against that were well stated by my hon. Friend on this side, who pointed out for one thing that the Irish House of Commons is likely to be very much preoccupied with a great variety of matters in its early years, and is likely enough for that reason to put aside proposals which do not appeal to them. I should like to add this argument, that human nature being what it is the majority of the Irish House of Commons is only too likely to put aside a proposal which might have in a political sense some inconvenience to them. It is within the experience of all of us that when a party is in power and when it is well seated in the saddle it is not easily influenced to take up proposals which might materially cut down its margin of electoral strength and representation in the House. And I do not think that even in Ireland such considerations would be without weight. I say, therefore, that it is true of this Amendment, as it was true of the Amendment on a former occasion, that in this matter, in my judgment, this Committee and this House cannot divest itself of the responsibility of determining what is the best and fairest system for the good of the Irish Parliament, and of including that system in the present Bill.

But there is a further consideration, and it is this. The Government argument is that it is not fair to the Irish people that this system should be imposed upon them at this stage. Let us see what the Irish people say in this House through their representatives. We have had two speeches this afternoon on the subject. One was from the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). He argued against this Amendment, that is perfectly true; but he argued against it not on the ground that it would be imposing something upon the Irish people which we have no title to impose, he argued against it on general and abstract grounds. He brought forward a broad proposition adverse to proportional representation, but he never took the point that we were not entitled as a House to say what would in our judgment be the best system for the Irish Parliament. We had another speech, that from the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy). He took a line strongly favourable to the Amendment He told us in the most emphatic language that the Irish people do want this thing: and therefore we are entitled to say, so far as the utterances of the Irish Members are concerned, that at any rate we have nothing as yet to indicate that they, speaking for the Irish people, take the view that we must keep our hands off the proper constitution of the Irish House of Commons. Quite the contrary is in fact the case, because the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond), who speaks on behalf of his party, in his speech on Clause 8 on Thursday last, in what seemed to me to be a very impressive and significant declaration, used these words which I will venture to recall to the Committee at the present moment. He took the line that although lie and his party are not, as the Chief Secretary would call it, enamoured or fascinated by these proposals, yet he said:— If there are any men in this House representing the Unionists and Protestants in Ireland who think a system of proportional representation will he a protection … even those of us who may be less enamoured of the principles of proportional representation will gladly agree to this new proposal of the GoTernment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1912, col. 692.] I should like to ask the hon. and learned Member why these words do not equally apply to Clause 9 as to Clause 8, and I would like to ask his colleagues in the party, if he spoke for them when he used these words on Clause 8, why the same sentiments do not apply to Clause 9? And I would like to ask the Chief Secretary whether, if that be the general attitude towards this proposition adopted by the hon. Member for Waterford and his colleagues, that does not absolve the Government from any fear or difficulty they may feel so far as the Irish Members are concerned with regard to the acceptance of this proposal? It seems to me that this proposal, taking it purely on its merits—and I am endeavouring to argue it on its merits—has a great deal to commend it. It commends itself to hon. Members opposite because, I believe, if they take it as a fair proposal, not one conceived in the spirit in which the last speaker tried to represent it, but purely upon its merits, they can find in it a real mitigation of grievances which they have repeatedly urged in this House upon this Bill, something which cannot pretend to conciliate them with regard to their general attitude, something which does not prejudice them in any way in resisting the Bill in its further stages, and finally on its Third Reading, but something to mitigate hostility and to take away a portion of that sense of grievance which many of them feel. I say, further, it is a proposal which may appeal to hon. Members on this side, because it offers them that opportunity of voting for something which is a real safeguard and an extension of that principle to which we are attached on this side of the House, namely, that the more faithful the representation you get of the popular view, the better Government you are likely to have. It is a proposal which commends itself to hon. Members from Ireland on the ground that they may feel perfect security as regards the safeguarding of their proper political interests, and concede at the same time what is regarded as a benefit and a safeguard by Unionist Members from Ireland. And it is finally a proposal which, I venture to think, might commend itself to the Government,, not merely because they have accepted the principle on Clause 8, but because they find it is a proposal which is supported heartily and substantially from many parts of the House, as one of those concessions which we know are dear to the hearts of all Governments, although they do not always find themselves in the happy position of being able to make them. I hope it may not be too late to urge upon the Government the possibility at this stage, or on the Report stage, of this matter being considered in the light of the debate which has now taken place, and fortified by what they have already done, I hope they will consider whether this further proposal cannot safely, wisely, and equitably be embodied in the Bill.

Sir J. D. REES

The hon. Member who has just addressed the House described the hon. Member for Liverpool as the hon. Member for Scotland Yard. He did not err so much as might have appeared, because the hon. Member for Cork certainly put the hon. Member for Liverpool in the dock before he had finished. He made a most powerful plea for the Protestant and Unionist minority in Ireland. He told the Committee that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had driven him out of his own constiteuncy at a cost of £10,000. I do not mean to pursue that argument any further. [HON. MEMBERS r "Hear, hear."] I do not know why hon. Members interrupt. Surely if the hon. Member for Cork was in order in using that argument, I am in order. An hon. Member opposite said that I was always waiting for an opportunity to differ from hon. Members on whose side I sat. I must begin to-night by criticising the Amendment of my hon. Friend which I have risen to support. My hon. Friend has moved to insert the words "according to the principle of proportional representation." I submit that that is wholly insufficient because there are 300 systems of proportional representation. Of these there are two which may be considered as more or less holding the field, and they are the Belgian list system and the transferable vote system. The latter system is of two classes and one of them is the single transferable vote system, and therefore if we eliminate three hundred and one systems we come to the system which my hon. Friend has moved. In the debate on the Irish Senate that is the system which the Government adopted. Having had the advantage of your advice, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, I will abstain from arguing upon any other basis, and I will confine my remarks to my hon. Friend's proposal assuming that it means what it does not say, that is, the single transferable vote system.

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. D. Maclean)

I intended to point out to the hon. Member that on page 34 of the Amendment Paper he will find the Amendment which he and I were looking for to-day. It is an Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Newman).

Sir J. D. REES

I submit as a matter of procedure that each Amendment should be complete and express its meaning in itself, and that a Member is not required to read on through the Paper in order to see if any further Amendments illustrate the meaning which should be contained in the Amendment itself. Having had the advantage of your advice, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, I will proceed with my remarks without dwelling upon that point. As a matter of fact, it is not easy to decide as to which system of proportional representation should be adopted. In point of fact, some are extremely well adapted to Ireland and others are extremely ill adapted to Ireland. It was stated in a Debate in another place, upon the Motion of Lord Lansdowne, when his proposals of reconstituting the House of Lords were under discussion, that the single transferable vote is singularly well adapted for the circumstances of Ireland, which I believe to be the case. I am glad to see, by reference to a subsequent Amendment, that that is what my hon. Friend means, although he did not make his meaning as clear to the House as he might have done, but assuming that that is the intention of my hon. Friend I submit that it is an extremely good system to apply to the Irish House of Commons. As it is in this House there are hon. Members who do not represent a majority of the votes of their own constituency. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am not one of them, because my majority is one of the largest in the House in a straight fight, and hon. Members opposite should obtain a little more information before they indulge in ironical cheers which are as baseless as they are unnecessary.

Hon. Members sit here representing a whole constituency when they have nothing like a majority of the votes. That is a difficulty which will be obviated by this proposal in the Irish House of Commons. There is another consideration which seems to me to point to the advisability of adopting this single transferable vote in regard to Ireland, and I would say in regard to this House as well, and that is it gives a greater chance to an independent candidate to be elected. It is well known where there is a three-cornered contest that the chances of any Member are disproportionately prejudiced by the professors of some fad which is of no interest to the country at large and of no benefit to anybody but themselves. The adoption of this system will render it far more difficult for men to slip into this House under those circumstances. For these reasons I urge that it is desirable to adopt this Amendment in the case of the Irish House of Commons, because it will prevent probably the bitterest and most impractical politicians in the whole constituency influencing the election and prevent them gaining their own ends without regard to the benefits either of the constituency or of the country. There is another consideration which I think will appeal to hon. Members of this House, and which should lead the Government to accept this Amendment, and it is that its adoption would make it more difficult for a man to sedulously nurse a constituency and "water" it for long periods, and finally ride into the House not so much upon a judgment given to a consideration of political problems of the State, but upon a popularity which may be deserved or may be undeserved, but which it is within the power of anybody to obtain by sitting down and sparing no pains or expense to ensure success. These are some of the reasons which make me think it is of the utmost importance this Amendment should be adopted.

The Government seem to me to have no case. They have given the case away by their action in regard to the Senate. The Attorney-General asked, "Why is it argued that because the Government has adopted this system in respect of the Senate it must also adopt it in respect of the House of Commons?" I was amazed to hear that question put. What ground is there for discriminating between the two Houses? If the thing is good for the Upper House, surely it is good for the Lower House. If it is good for the House which the Government desire, and expressly say they wish to have little authority or power, surely it is equally good for the House which it is to have all authority and power, which is to be supreme, and which is to sit in joint Session with the Senate. Imagine the absurd and paradoxical position of a joint Session in which one House is elected by proportional representation, and the other, more than four times as strong, is elected by another system. If Members of both Houses are competent to sit together in joint Session, surely it is beyond argument that they should be elected by the same franchise. Why should they sit and have equal votes in joint Session when they are sent there upon a totally different system proceeding from a fundamentally different basis. It is not a small matter of difference. It is a root and basic difference in the system of election, and I have not heard one of the extremely capable Gentlemen on the Front Treasury Bench, who are never at a loss for an argument, and who would never pass an argument if there was one, explain why what is good for one House should be bad for the other. The Attorney-General is most fertile in argument. There is probably no one in this Kingdom more capable of discovering an argument for defending any conceivable position. If he sat on this side of the House he would find it equally easy to find every argument why hon. Gentlemen here are always right and hon. Gentlemen there always wrong, and now he is never at a loss for an argument to prove to the contrary; but he had not a single argument to give us why what was good for the one House should be bad for the other House.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, in his caustic, sarcastic, and ironical speech, which I hope hon. Gentlemen enjoyed, showed it was peculiarly applicable to the case of the Irish House of Commons. If ever there was a community where you had a minority, numerically large in point of enterprise, talent, originality, wealth, and everything that makes a great community, which justified this proposal, it was Ireland. There never was a case, there could not be, if you searched the round world, of a community which so lent itself to, and, indeed, cried aloud for, the application of the principle of proportional representation, as this very community in respect of which the Government, having allowed its necessity in the case of one House, denies its feasibility in the case of the other. It really seems as if that very fear of the democracy, that fear of the electors, which animates the Government, and which now induces them to bring forward this Bill, and rush it through when the Upper House is suspended, induces them, when making a new Assembly, to give it every opportunity of avoiding a true democratic election, and thus preventing its being a true exponent of democratic opinion. (Cheers.) I am extremely glad to find my words have met in an unexpected quarter with a somewhat unfamiliar approval. I can only hope that as I progress in dealing with this Bill I shall continue to be more fortunate, and shall more often receive that applause which I generally merit!

The House heard a very astounding speech from the hon. Member of the Scotland Division for Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). He said he could not discuss this question solely from an Irish point of view, and he proceeded to discuss it from every point of view except the Irish point of view, which alone justifies one in addressing the Committee. He feared development of the group system. It is one of the merits of the party opposite that they are rather tender towards groups, and are not peculiarly severe in crushing out members and groups who do not altogether adopt the party programme. I can remember, in regard to this very question of Home Rule, that there was a group — I can answer for it, as I was their whip, or secretary — which organised collective opposition to the Government when, for the first time after coming into office it accepted a Resolution in favour of Home Rule. The First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Churchill) made a speech the other day in which he referred to that as a unanimous acceptance of the principle of Home Rule. If he had taken the trouble to refer to that Division, he would have seen there were some 200 abstentions, and thirty of those I know as a fact represented a collective, deliberate, and advised abstention from the acceptance of the principle, while some went further, and voted against the Resolution. I think therefore the hon. Gentleman's objection to the principle of groups is not altogether to be proved. The group system has something to be said in its favour, but very often when there is a group of that sort existing it seems to be the business of the Front Bench to allow it to work in private, but to keep its operations as much as possible out of sight.

The hon. Member contested the theory put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, that under the existing system there was a great deal of log-rolling possible without any proportional representation or any organised system of groups, and that, in point of fact, parties were bought right and left. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division entirely forgot that he and his party had accepted a measure most hateful to Ireland, largely increasing the Whisky Tax—I think they had every reason to object to it—in order to purchase the support of the Liberal Government and to ensure the action which they are now taking in bringing forward this Bill. It is not only in regard to the Budget that this has happened. I can well remember how the Nationalists of this House, being, with very few exceptions, Catholics, joined forces with hon. Gentlemen who are bitterly opposed to religious education in order to purchase support for this Bill. When these matters are taken into consideration, it will be perfectly clear how much lurks behind the seeming but not very clearly apparent unanimity of front which animates hon. Gentlemen while their Government is bringing this Bill. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division—and I was astonished to hear it from him—said that recent elections were not fought on Home Rule. I think that was a very valuable admission, coming from that hon. Gentleman exactly in the teeth of the statements made by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, because their case is that Home Rule was before the electors in the General Election and has been before them in by- elections. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division, when it suits his purpose, speaks what I submit is absolutely correct. He says it has not been the issue at by-elections. But he himself came down to a by-election at Nottingham and did all he could to make Home Rule the chief issue there, and he was assisted by the head of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and one was jostled by Nationalist Members at every corner in the streets of Nottingham during that election in the vain endeavour to get the electors of that intelligent constituency to support that disastrous policy. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division now makes a damning admission that Home Rule was not even an issue at those elections.


The hon. Member is straying very far from the Amendment.

Sir J. D. REES

It was the hon. Member for the Scotland Division who alluded to the matter, and when an hon. Member for the constituency referred to attempts a reply, one would think that he would be allowed to do so for the space of two minutes, a period which I certainly have not exceeded. But I will immediately leave the point.


That is no loss.

9.0 P.M.

Sir J. D. REES

The hon. Member stated that after the passing of this Bill there would be a complete regrouping of Members in Irish politics, and that we should have, so to speak, the lion lying down with the lamb and the Home Ruler, the Unionist and the Sin Fein representative sitting down in the best of harmony. But would it not be better now to take steps in this House to ensure that all these different interests shall be represented in any House that may be set up? The proper way to secure that is to adopt the Amendment now before the House which, if not perfect, would at least ensure that the minority shall be represented. One hon. Gentleman referred to the proportion of anti-Home Rulers to Home Rulers, in regard to the contributions they make to the State, and he pointed out that that proportion was against the Nationalists. I believe that one-third of the Customs Taxes is paid by North-East Ulster. There is a good old proverb that he who pays the piper should at least have a voice in calling the tune. I wish to bring to the notice of the Committee the fact that when an hon. Member, speaking for the Nationalist party said Home Rule was not an issue at the General Election, he stated that which is absolutely contrary to the position of those who have introduced this Bill. The hon. Member for Cork in his speech which was heard with so much gratification on this side of the House—it was far too fair and reasonable a speech to be heard with gratification by hon. Members opposite— look up their position. The hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy), and Lord MacDonnell, are two members of the Home Rule party at the present time who, while they are in favour of Home Rule, are prepared to give a fair measure of representation, and it must be in this case a very large measure of representation, to the anti-Nationalists in Ireland. One is in the House of Commons, and the other is in the House of Lords. I do not understand how it is that a Government which has hitherto had its opinions faithfully reflected by its own organs in the Press can disregard, not only speeches like those delivered by the hon. Member just now, the hon. Member for North-East Cork, but also its friends in the Press. Take the case of the "Irish Times." This organ on the last day of last month said:— There is only one way in which proportional representation can make the Home Rule Bill less unacceptable to any Irish Unionist. The Irish Senate is negligible. The Irish House of Commons will be the real seat of power.… We shall believe, in Mr. Asquith's concession when he tells ns that the Home Rule Hill will he so amended as to provide for the election on the proportional system of the 161 members of that House. That is ten times in proportion to the number of Members allowed in this House to the population of the United Kingdom. Then the "Manchester Guardian," which is BO powerful among the supporters of the hon. Gentlemen opposite—and it is quite impossible to overestimate its influence in some parts of the United Kingdom—remarked:— The chief difficulty with Home Rule is in passing it, not in running it when it is started. Once the coach is started and the fourth horse convinced by experiment that it will not kill him, all will go smoothly. These considerations do not apply to the Irish Senate alone; they apply just as strongly to the Irish House of Commons. Think of pretending to make this concession apply to a Senate of forty members— a beggarly minimum which makes any business transactable in this House of not much use. Is it of much use applying the concession to an Assembly of that character, and refusing it to what the Prime Minister says is to be the Supreme Chamber? The "Daily News" says:— Whatever argument there was for applying proportional representation to the Irish Senate is strengthened in the case of the Irish House of Commons. I should like to know of any argument to the contrary. I have sat out most of the Debate, and have not heard one yet. The "Daily News" says:— We believe that the lines of controversy in Ireland will be economic and social rather than sectarian. I believe that, too. I have only one other quotation from an organ which used to be, as I know, a great authority among hon. Gentlemen opposite, but never with me. The "Daily Chronicle" writes:— Proportional representation is needed to settle the substance, and not the shadow of power. The House of Commons is the substance, and the Senate is the shadow. It is as shadowy at the beginning of its career as the Government have made the House of Lords at the end of its career. It is in regard to the substance that we want concessions, not in regard to the shadow. The Government, having conceded it in the one case, are now declining to give it in the other. There is another organ of great importance, because I always understood that its editor, Mr. Massingham, was the high priest of esoteric Radicalism. In his organ, the "Nation," it is said that— it is only by proportional representation that, any due weight could be secured in the bower House, either for the middle-class commercial element— all important in Ireland, as in every country— or for the artisans and trade unionists. all important in Ireland as in any other country. What position does the Government occupy in this matter. Here you have a country admittedly poor, an agricultural country. The whole scheme of this Bill favours the agricultural interest at the expense of the urban interest. It gives concession in respect to the shadowy and, as it seems to me in the circumstances, absolutely useless and unnecessary Senate, and withholds them from the powerful and supreme House of Commons. Although up to the present time upon this Bill the Front Bench opposite have often occupied an ignominious position, never has their position been more ignominious or more indefensible than when they refuse to accept this Amendment, which for my part I shall support in the Lobby.


In the versatile speech to which we have just listened there was one argument, which has been used before by other hon. Members opposite, which deserves serious attention. That is the argument which is levelled against the Government when it is said that if they have introduced this system for the Senate why should they not introduce it for the House of Commons. The same argument was used by the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy), who said, "What is good for the Senate must be good for the House of Commons," and then, having proceeded to show that in his opinion proportional representation was futile in the case of the Senate, he recommended it in the case of the Irish House of Commons. That argument seemed at first sight rather a specious one. However much I may have opposed the other day the introduction of proportional representation in the case of a Senate, I can recognise that there are certain differences in connection with its introduction in regard to the House of Commons.

I suppose that one of the results of proportional representation will be that a certain number of what are sometimes called "cranks," meaning specialists, will undoubtedly be elected. In the case of the Second Chamber it is not nearly so disadvantageous to have a large number of specialists as it would be in the case of the House of Commons. That is a rather important difference in regard to the introduction of the system of proportional representation in the case of the Senate from the case of the House of Commons. The hon. Member who has just sat down thought he had made a strong point when he said, as I think somebody else said before him, that in the case of a Joint Session it was perfect folly to have two Assemblies sitting together which were not elected on the same franchise. I ask him where in any civilised community is there a case of a joint Session in which both Assemblies are elected on the same franchise? In every case where you have an elected Second Chamber, it is elected on a different franchise than that which elects the First Chamber. It must necessarily be so. If you have two Chambers elected on the same franchise, you really get two duplicates. The argument that because these Assemblies sit in Joint Session therefore they ought to be elected on the same franchise is a fallacious one.

Another point which is the subject of misapprehension is the exact amount of benefit which will accrue to the Ulster and Pro- testant party by the introduction of proportional representation in the case of the House of Commons. Hon. Members opposite when they talk on this subject concentrate themselves simply on the number of Unionists who will be returned in the South of Ireland. They never seem to realise that there is another side to the question, which is that a number of Nationalists would be returned in the North, where under the present Bill you get practically an unbroken Protestant representation. I think there has been some exaggeration as to the increased safeguard accruing from the increased representation which will be secured to Ulster by the adoption of proportional representation in regard to the Irish House of Commons. During the earlier part of the evening we were favoured with two very subtle speeches from the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour). I cannot say that I gathered, after having heard these two speeches—probably they were too subtle for my untrained and simple mind —whether either of the right hon. Gentlemen was really in favour of proportional representation—that is to say, whether he would gladly have acceded to the principle and seen it introduced in the case of our own country. That is the more remarkable because the Leader of the Opposition said it was practically impossible to discuss this subject without going into the real merits of proportional representation itself.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London said, very truly, that the days of the two-party system were over. Everybody recognises that to be true, but because that is so it does not necessarily follow that we have to introduce proportional representation as the only remedy to meet the case. The days of the two-party system are over in many countries. They are over in Queensland, but there they did not adopt proportional representation. Their system of the alternative vote is amply sufficient to deal with the difficulty caused by the absence of two distinct parties in the State. I was very grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for Honiton (Major Morrison-Bell) for pointing out the vital difference between the alternative vote and the system of proportional representation. One applies to multimember constituencies and the other to single-member constituencies. Though they both have a single transferable vote, one is entirely different in principle from the other. The obvious remedy for a two-party system, for the introduction of other parties except the two principal ones in the State, is not to apply a difficult system such as proportional representation, but to introduce what is far better and far simpler, the alternative vote, in favour of which I myself put down an Amendment, which, I fear, will not be reached to-day. Then the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) went on to eulogise the system of proportional representation, because, he said, it provided for the more accurate representation of minorities. In a sense that, is true and in a sense it is not, because in a sense it is not a minority or a group which is represented under proportional representation; it is another aspect of the majority. Really under proportional representation it is very often the minority which is at once wiped out. It is at the bottom of the poll, and consequently, after the surplus votes have been distributed, the member at the bottom of the poll, being the first to go, and very often being a representative of this insignificant minority, is wiped completely out and his vote is distributed to one of the other members on the list. Therefore, in that sense, it is not a representation of the minority, but owing to the single transferable vote it is another aspect, so to speak, of the majority. The only way to get a real minority representation in the United Kingdom would be to take the whole of this land as one constituency, and then see, when you have polled all the votes for all the different factions, how many seats should be distributed between these different factions according to the number of votes they poll. That is nothing like the case of proportional representation, which takes, of course, not the whole Kingdom as a constituency but vitiates its own system by breaking that constituency of the whole Kingdom up into smaller areas. Of course it leads to an entirely and absolutely different result.

To my mind, the same arguments hold good against this proposal as against making the Senate a body elected by proportional representation. I opposed that, and I oppose this more heartily, and I am very glad that this time at least the Government will be on the same side as myself. I, like the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour), was very much attracted by the theoretical side of proportional representation, and I joined the society, but the more I understood about the system the less I thought it was compatible with British character and with the interests of democracy, and I fear I have not passed to the stage to which the right hon. Gentleman has passed, of having come through a period of doubt and being received back into the proportional representation fold. Although this system has technical advantages it is not technically perfect. Of course, it could not be technically perfect unless you took the whole of the Kingdom as a constituency, and there are other minor flaws which it would take too long to explain now, but which are obvious in connection with the proportional transfer of the second surplus votes. When I mention this small fact, it may perhaps come home to some hon. Members what a very difficult system it is, and how very hard it is to explain to moderately educated critics of these islands how to understand it and how to use it. The chief objections which I have, and which I believe its opponents have, to proportional representation may be said to be these: First, I should like to quote evidence from Tasmania, where it is in operation, which seems to me to bear on the special point of Ireland. Tasmania is the one ewe lamb of the proportional representation system. It is the one land where in its absolute essence the system proposed under this Amendment is in force, and even from that land there comes evidence which seems to me to conflict with its adoption in Ireland, because in the report by the Returning Officer and by the statistician the following paragraph occurs:— So far as local politics are concerned, as regards the country districts particularly, there is much to he said in favour of a single member electorate conjoined with the contingent absolute majority vote. That seems to me to be absolutely the case of Ireland. You have country districts where it is more than ever necessary to have a single-member electorate. If you have proportional representation you have these large constituencies, difficult to cover, in which no small village can be certain of having a real representative of its own, who will go to it, and will listen to it. You have a great advantage on the side of plutocracy; you have everything in favour of the man who has a motor, who is able to send out an election address to every individual voter, and to circularize his constituents; and, in fact, the power of money is magnified enormously by proportional representation. Also, to my mind, personality—not personalities—in elections is a really good and important point. After all, I have no faith in the man who simply gets in because he can write a good election address. I have much more faith in the man who goes to his constituents and is known by them, and whom they can treat as a living representative, instead of a mere piece of paper or a mass of opinions. Then, of course, there is the question of running any Government with the sort of majorities you get under proportional representation. In the composite nature of the House the number of people you have taking different views on the great question of the day makes the subject of government a very difficult one indeed. And no one among the advocates of proportional representation has been able to produce a scheme which adequately deals with the question of by-elections. If you are going to have these great constituencies it is perfect folly to compel the whole of a constituency, which returns six or seven, to return one in the case of a by-election. No substitute has been suggested which is satisfactory.

Then, of course, there is the question of incomprehensibility. I know that not many hon. Members could explain this scheme intelligibly to an audience, but I am perfectly certain I could not explain it to an audience so that it would understand it. I could explain it, but I could not explain it so that they could understand it. It may perhaps be said it does not matter if you understand it or not so long as you put down certain numbers as in the order in which the horses will run in a race, or in which you prefer a man to another man. But it does, and it will matter, to a British electorate. They will not be satisfied with a system they do not understand. They will not be satisfied with a system in which they can merely imagine that any juggling goes on with their votes, and proportional representation lends every colour to the suggestion that there is something which a man does not understand going on behind the scenes. It is impossible for the ordinary voter, let alone the illiterate voter, to understand the system. I once met a man who was not at all a fool and he told me he thought he understood proportional representation until he heard one of its most notable advocates explain it. Then he was perfectly certain he would never understand it. If an educated man can speak like that and really think like that it is foolish to insist on placing it before a large electorate, which is not in the same stage of education. Lastly, why should we try this on Ireland when we are not prepared at this moment to take it ourselves? Why should we try it on the dog? Why should we try it on another nation when we ourselves, to say the least of it, have not made up our minds whether we like it in this country? After three years Ireland will be able to decide for herself whether she prefers this system. Leave it till then and let Ireland decide.


The hon. Gentleman has told us that he is against proportional representation because he does not think that a man who can write a good election address ought to be returned to Parliament.


I said a man who could merely write a good election address should not be returned to Parliament.


I thought the majority of hon. Members opposite were returned to Parliament for that very thing because the majority of them carefully left out in their address any reference to Home Rule. On that they were returned to Parliament. The hon. Member also objects to proportional representation because the candidates might have motors, I agree with the hon. Member. I have not got a motor, but the majority of hon. Members on the other side have plenty of motors. The hon. Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond), I am sure, has a motor. This is the first time I have heard in this House that the possession of a motor is a disqualification for a Member of Parliament. The hon. Member went on to say that we ought to try this on another nation. Where is the other nation? I thought hon. Members opposite when they did allude to this matter in their election addresses—it was not often—stated that this was going to be a sort of gas-and-water Home Bule, and that the Imperial Parliament was going to be supreme. Mow the hon. Member lets the cat out of the bag and talks about another nation. I am obliged to him for these admissions. He said proportional representation would admit cranks to Parliament. Are there no cranks in Parliament at present? As far as I know, and especially on the other side, the vast majority of the occupants of these benches are cranks, and if that is the only objection the hon. Member has, I am afraid he has converted me into voting for proportional representation. The hon. Member stated that it did not matter if proportional representation took effect in the Senate, I understood him to say that he was against proportional representation for the Senate.


I did not say that it did not matter in the Senate. On the contrary, I spoke most strongly against it operating in the Senate. What I said was that it seemed to me there were special circumstances in relation to the Senate which did not apply to the House of Commons.


The hon. Member says he spoke strongly against it operating in the Senate. Why did he not vote against it when the question was put from the Chair. The hon. Gentleman could have said "Aye" or "No."


I did say "No." [HON MBMBERS: "They ran away."]


Then I presume that what took place on that particular occasion was this: The Government Whips being on, the hon. Member could not vote against his conscience, and he did not vote at all. That is the only explanation. I do not think the hon. Member has made a very good case against proportional representation. He says he has an Amendment down on the Paper which he is afraid will not be reached. Whose fault is that? It is on account of the guillotine. Who voted for that? The result is that in his opinion his Amendment will not be reached. I hope this will be a lesson to the hon. Member, and that on the next occasion he will not vote for any more guillotine. I myself am in rather a difficult position. I do not understand proportional representation. It is, as far as I can make out, a fad advocated by certain scientific people, who are under the impression that by putting forward something the electors do not understand they are certain to do something which is wrong, and that by doing something which is wrong right will accrue. That, as far as I can make out, will be the result of proportional representation. I am not at all sure that that is the way in which the electors should return Members to this House. I am inclined to think that the simpler the method the better, and that, if it is possible, the electors should be induced to vote on the merits of a question. That is better than putting numbers against a certain number of men, which numbers will eventually be manipulated by certain learned people, who practically will become a caucus, as in the United States. It is possible that I have not been able to grasp the full meaning of proportional representation. If I thought it would give power to the minority to have certain representation in the affairs of the Nation I certainly should be in favour of it, but, as far as I can see at present, I do not quite understand how that will be brought about.

I remember, when Mr. Disraeli brought in the Reform Bill of 1867, there was a certain form of minority representation provided for. The City of London returned four Members to this House, but each elector had only three votes. Consequently, the minority had an opportunity of returning one Member. The city electors were sensible people, and there were so many Conservatives and so few Radicals that by a little manipulation the minority vote disappeared, and the whole four were returned as Conservatives. That rather took away my love of any minority representation. I would like the minority to be represented. The hon. Member opposite seems to think I am not sincere in my remarks. I certainly think the minority should be represented, especially in this instance when the minority have to sit on this side of the House. I am in this difficulty: It is quite possible that the learned people who are in favour of proportional representation may understand it more than I do. As I understand the Front Bench opposite have declared that the Senate shall be elected by proportional representation, I fail to see why the House of Commons should not be elected in the same manner. The hon. Member opposite said there was no instance in the world where a Senate and a First Chamber were elected on the same basis. But proportional representation is not the same basis. The electorate might be different, while each House might have proportional representation. As the learned Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench are in favour of proportional representation for the Senate, I think I shall vote for proportional representation for the House of Commons. After all what are we doing now? We are discussing a Bill which will do certain things in Ireland. I believe the Bill is unworkable. I do not believe it will do any good, and if we are going to try all these experiments, why not begin by trying proportional representation in Ireland? We had an experiment the other day in one of the Committees in this House when certain hon. and right hon. Gentlemen received a certain number of votes. I did not vote because I did not know how to vote. If hon. Members are anxious to make experiments in Ireland, why not have proportional representation? I do not think it will do much harm in this Bill. It may possibly do some little good. Therefore, though as far as I know at present, I do not much believe in proportional representation, yet I shall vote for this Amendment, in order to see whether or not there is not something in the argument put forward by hon. Gentlemen of both parties in favour of this system of election. It can do no harm, because the Hill, if it becomes an Act, will not last very long. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will be occupied in tearing each other's hair and at each other's throats, and the result would be the police would be called in to maintain order, as I remember their being called in here not many years ago, and we shall revert to the present system. We shall still have the pleasure of seeing the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) sitting on the corner bench which he has adorned ever since I have had the honour of being a Member of this House. We shall be sorry to part with him, and therefore look forward to his return when it has been found that this Bill will not work; and if the hon. Member is unseated by proportional representation we shall not care, because we shall look forward to a return to common sense on the part of hon. Members on the other side of the House when the Government Whips are removed, and they can vote according to their conscience; and therefore, in those circumstances, I shall vote for the Amendment.


I rise to make an appeal to my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench to give me some better reason for opposing the Amendment than I have been able to gather up to the present time. This Amendment is moved on what I consider is the most important Clause in the Bill. I am extremely reluctant indeed to lose any opportunity of opposing any Amendment by Gentlemen who are opposed to the general principle of the Bill, but one argument has been put forward from the other side of the House with which I have got a great deal of sympathy, that is that something should be done to give the minority in Ireland proper representation under the Bill. I have waited, expecting that something would be done at each stage of the Bill. Now we have come to about the last Clause in which it can be done, and on this particular Clause an Amendment is' put forward in favour of proportional representation. There has been a great deal of debate on this question of proportional representation, into which I have not been able to dive so deeply as to feel myself in a position to give any serious advice to the House. But in this particular case of Ireland it seems to me that the circumstances are extremely simple so far as proportional representation is concerned. For instance, my right hon. Friends are placed in this difficulty, that they are opposing a system to-day which we cannot help recollecting they accepted on Thursday. That makes it difficult to see why what was good then is bad now. But I wish to submit to the Committee a much broader view of the situation. I want to ask the Committee to look at the alternative presented to the Committee if this or some other Amendment is not adopted. The alternative is the British system which we have imposed on Ireland—the British constituencies, the British electorate—the same thing. The Parliament of Ireland with 162 members is to be chosen from just the same constituencies as the Parliament of 101 members has been chosen from in seven General Elections, and we can see the result of this existing system, which I believe under the proportional representation system is called the block system. But looking to past elections that result "has been to give the minority in Ireland a much less representation than that to which they were fairly entitled.

Look at the Irish constituencies. One-fourth at least of the votes belong to the minority. They have never been able to return one-fourth of the members here. If we calculated accurately we should find that the minority should have been able to return twenty-eight members from Ireland. They have never succeeded in returning more than eighteen. If the same system of votes is continued under this Bill the minority will be in just the same difficulty as they are at present. That is what makes it so difficult to oppose this Amendment to-night. I never thought that there was any serious difficulty that the minority were at a disadvantage in this House. Being an Irish Nationalist I was always delighted to find the Nationalists in this House stronger than perhaps elector-ally they were entitled to be. I want to see a Home Rule Parliament, and to see Irish Nationalism recognised by everyone over there. But I think when you transfer the scene from this House to Dublin then it would be desirable that the minority should be at least fairly represented. I know that I am only pushing an open door as regards hon. Members opposite, because every speech which we have heard has been to the same effect. I think it would be very desirable that we should secure some system of giving to the minority in Ireland fair play. Everyone says it. The Government say it. I would call attention to the repeated speeches which the Leader of the House made on this point. He said bring forward some suggestion so that it may be considered. Even in to-night's Debate my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool repeated practically the same words. He said, "Bring forward some honest proposal of your own and see how we will receive it." I think that that portrays the fooling in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite. It would really strengthen our position under this Bill if some proposal to strengthen the minorities in Ireland could be brought forward and could be adopted by the Government. On that point I would like to call the attention of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division to a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition on last Thursday, when we were discussing this point. It was quite a remarkable statement, to which I do not think sufficient attention has been given. He was speaking of an analogy where the minority representation was greater than it should be strictly, and he used these words:— The smaller population would have precisely the same representation in the Joint Assembly as the larger population bad. Will the hon. gentleman accept this as a safeguard in Ireland? When hon. Members talk of safeguards let them produce one which hits any validity and then we will believe in the sincerity of their protestations of their desire to treat their fellow countrymen favourably. That is what the Leader of the Opposition said here on Thursday night, and I think the opportunity should be taken out of the mouth of Gentlemen who sit on the Front Opposition Bench to say that. I think that some fair liberal proposal should be made here on behalf of the Government or of my hon. Friends who sit below the Gangway opposite to show that they are not at all afraid to represent the minority fairly. This Amendment which is brought forward, though a defective Amendment, is still one the result of which we actually know. I believe in Ireland the two divisions are so clear that we can know exactly what proportional repre- sentation would do. It would give at least one-fourth to the minority. The minority has never got one-fourth here. It would improve their position in the Irish Parliament by something like twelve or thirteen votes. That is a very important thing for the minority to secure. I do not say that the precise scheme proposed by the hon. Member opposite should be adopted, but I want to be strengthened in resisting that Amendment by having some fair and liberal proposal made by the Government that would give effect to their opinions in the same direction.

I should like to give one or two reasons why I think it would pay—if I may use so rough an expression—hon. Gentlemen opposite and Home Rulers generally to consider the Irish minority. There are many precedents. Take the case of Irish representation in this House. Originally, Ireland had not got enough representation, but in the last forty or fifty years she has had about thirty Members more than she is entitled to, and this for the very reason that Ireland is at such a disadvantage that she ought to have full representation in this House. I take it therefore that when we get a Parliament in Dublin, they ought to be generous to the minority in Ireland. I come from the county of Cavan where we have a substantial minority, yet we have never been able to return a single member to represent that minority in the county council, although on our numbers we should be entitled to seven or eight members. The minority in the county of Cavan, as do minorities all over Ireland, win the respect, admiration, and affection of the Catholic population in which they live. They have existed there for 200 or 300 years, but owing to the defects of our elective system they cannot obtain representation. I accept everything that has fallen from Eon. Members below the Gangway opposite, and recognise their perfect sincerity in this matter.

The hon. and learned Member for Water-ford, just as the hon. Member for the Scotland Division said to-night, is anxious to have some proposal made by hon. Members above the Gangway opposite; but there is strength in the position of hon. Members above the Gangway opposite, when they say that the Bill is not their Bill, and that it is not for them to make any suggestion. Up to the present time no reliable suggestion has been made which comes within any distance of affording fair protection to the minority. I made the suggestion myself, which I put upon the Paper, and afterwards withdrew, that some arrangement might be come to by which the minority might elect a certain number of members, though I do not say how many. I think the Leader of the Opposition asked for a great deal too much when he said half and half. I think that the minority might ask for a little further representation than they are numerically entitled to. The Amendment before the House does not ask for more than they are numerically entitled to, but asks for the adoption of some system which would at least admit of their returning as many Members as their numbers will make it possible to send to the Irish House of Parliament. It cuts in two ways. It applies in the South and in the West of Ireland, where at present the minorities are totally unrepresented, and if the system of this House were adopted for the Dublin Parliament they would be totally unrepresented. As with the Protestants in the South and West, so with the Catholics in the four northern counties: they are wiped out by the dominant Protestant majority. That would be at least modified, if not entirely cured, by adopting the principle of the Amendment.

My right hon. Friend says, "Leave it to the Dublin Parliament." How can you do that. You ask that that Parliament shall be elected under the old bad system, under which the minority is not to have a look in. If anything is to be done, and I believe something will be done before this great measure passes through all its stages, it ought to be done, so that the very greatest questions could be considered by a complete representation of the Irish opinion. I spoke of the minorities in the South and West and in the North-East of Ireland; but in the four northern counties, I am tired of hearing the story of the complaint of the Protestant minority. They are not in a minority in those counties, and if they obtain this Amendment it will rather weaken than strengthen them. But as to the other twenty-eight counties, I make a strong appeal to this House- and I hope I have not to ask in vain—that fair play should be given to those minorities. I do not think this Amendment goes far enough, but holding the opinion that I do, I think that in the interests of the Irish Parliament something ought to be done for them, and it is very difficult indeed to resist this Amendment.

The Chief Secretary is constantly making very candid speeches, sometimes on one side, and sometimes on the other. He said to his own constituents the other day, "Of course the Irish Parliament will be Catholic." I do not think the Parliament ought to be Catholic. I think if it is a Catholic Parliament it will be a failure. We have had a Catholic Parliament in Ireland before, and it has been a failure. We have had a Protestant Parliament, and that was a worse failure. It would be the best thing if we have all classes represented, giving the minority a little more than they are strictly entitled to. That is the principle which is always adopted now in Ireland, and it is a principle which has succeeded in respect of various bodies in that country. If anyone seeks to bring the different classes together in connection with any movement or body in Ireland they always give the minority a little more representation upon the committee or board of the district concerned than they are entitled to. The National Board of Education affords a precedent. It consists of Catholics and Protestants. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is a bad example."] It is a bad example from one point of view, I admit, but it has been successful in that it has lasted for sixty or seventy years and has avoided strife. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not always."] It has avoided strife outside, and it manages schools both in Belfast and in the South, which is a great tribute to it. From another point of view, however, its work, like everything else in Ireland under the existing system is done badly. I think there ought to be a substantial working majority, but that there ought to be fairplay and even liberality, as well as justice, to the minority. I put forward that plea because I firmly believe that it would strengthen the institution of Parliament to which all the people will look up with respect.


The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has pictured in his own mind that by some proposal which he himself is unable to adumbrate, he could bring about a Utopian Ireland. That is a consummation devoutly to be desired, but at the same time in another part of his speech he gave us rather a different description of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman says that we are going to get Home Rule under this Bill. It is an Ireland in which, he says, wherever any particular party is dominant, it takes care to wipe out its opponents from every possible share in the Government of their country or county.


I do not think I put it as strongly as that.


What the right hon. Gentleman said was that in two-thirds of Ireland, in the South and West, the minority, with whom I entirely sympathise, were entirely wiped out, and that in the North-East, where the people, with whom I entirely sympathise, are in the minority, were also entirely wiped out. He accepts that as his statement. Our plea is that in a country which he has so correctly described the real way is not to have a dominant party, certainly as regards Parliamentary affairs, but to have an arbiter as a compromise, and that that arbiter should be the Parliament of the United Kingdom. When he went on and made the confession that if this Bill passes as it is you will have a predominantly Irish Catholic Parliament to regulate the interests of the Protestants of the North-East of Ulster, he certainly made a very true statement, and when he went further and told us that this Parliament was certain to be a failure he pronounced absolute condemnation of the Bill. I agree with him that it will be exactly as he described it, and I think that will be a justification for something I am going to say in a few moments. When he tells me, or when he tells us upon this side of the House who are Members for constituencies in Ireland, that we ought to vote for a Bill which will make a predominant Catholic Parliament which is sure to be a failure, I think he must think that all sense has departed from Members in this Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman also told us that he thought this was probably the most important Clause in the Bill There again I am inclined to agree with him, but why did he vote for this very short time being given for the discussion of the most important Clause in this Home Rule Bill?

Just consider what is the time for the most important Clause in a Bill setting up a Constitution in Ireland which is going to eventuate, if it passes, into a predominantly Catholic Parliament which is to be a failure. What is the time we have got now for this Clause? We have got to pass this Clause, the most important of all according to the right hon. Gentleman, and three other Clauses, by to-morrow evening at half-past ten o'clock, this Clause before half-past seven, and the rest of them by half-past ten. Does the right hon. Gentleman know what he has voted for? Having spent upon this, which he considers an important Amendment—and there I do not practically agree with him— the whole, practically, of this afternoon and this evening, we have still to discuss in the time of to-morrow fifteen pages of Amendments, when this one Amendment has taken up the whole of one of the days allotted for these three Clauses. I ask the right hon. Gentleman is not that a public scandal? Does he really think in any free Assembly, legislating for a Constitution for his country as well as mine for all future time, that that is not as gross an abuse of all liberty and of all freedom, and the expression of the tyrannous will of the majority that happens to be in power for the moment, that would legalise and authorise any opposition of any kind which people were willing to face to so gross an act of tyranny?

10.0 P.M.


As the right hon. Gentleman is addressing his observations to me, I do not desire to sit silent. I think the Government have done everything they could to give ample time for the discussion of the Bill.


The answer to the right hon. Gentleman can be judged with the observations which he made in his speech. Let me take one or two from the speech of this right hon. Gentleman who now tells us that we have got plenty of time. Here was one of them. He said look at the condition at the present moment. The Unionist party in Ireland and the minority in this present House are absolutely under-represented and not sufficiently represented. And the right hon. Gentleman says that it is when the minority in Ireland are under-represented that that is the proper time to come in and Closure this House, and tell them they ought to force a Bill upon a minority that, according to himself, is under-represented. He went further. He said that hon. Members below the Gangway were over-represented. He said he was glad of it, and the reason was because he was anxious to pass a Home Rule Bill. What did that mean? It meant that he wants to force this Bill upon Ireland by reason of what he himself admitted was the over-representation of Home Rulers. That was not all. The right hon. Gentleman passed a criticism upon the conduct of the Government in relation to this Bill and this procedure up to now in this House. What did he say? He said up to this not a single safeguard has been put into the Bill, and he says, "This is your last chance, and this is the last Clause upon which you can do it." "But I am quite satisfied," he says, "that there is ample time and ample opportunity." Although we have been now discussing this Bill for twelve days according to the right hon. Gentleman, not one line of safeguard has yet been put into it. Surely if ever there was a speech in condemnation of the whole Bill, in condemnation of the whole policy, in vindication of the whole efforts of the minority from Ireland, it was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman.

The right hon. Gentleman and I say it with respect to him, is a Gentleman who has himself attained the rank of Privy Councillor, and who has been a Member of His Majesty's Government, and when he gets up and tells us that this Bill has been carried under circumstances which I thing amount to circumstances of fraud, and when he tells us that it has been carried, and that this is the last occasion upon which we have the chance of putting in any safeguards, I do ask the right hon. Gentleman again, as I asked him before, does he not now see the scandal to which he himself is a party? The right hon. Gentleman's argument leads to the destruction of this Bill, but notwithstanding that I have no doubt he will go on voting in the same way as he has hitherto done. His anxiety for safeguards is all in speech. His anxiety to reject them is all in votes. That is the way with many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. As far as I am concerned, I again make my protest against great questions in relation to this Bill being discussed under the gag and Closure. The House of Commons really becomes a debating society and nothing more when you have to discuss such questions in this way.


It always has been.


No, it has not; but the hon. Member has helped to make it so. He always protests anywhere except in the Division Lobby. Let us see what we are asked to do under this Closure Resolution. Is it fair that on the consideration of this Bill the Closure should operate in this way? Does anybody doubt that this question of proportional representation ought to be discussed on a Bill of its own, so that every Clause could be submitted to the Committee I Let us be perfectly frank on the matter. How many men are there in the House who could get up and give a clear exposition of what proportional representation is? I should like to see a competitive examination tomorrow. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will you vote for it?"] I will tell you in a moment. The hon. Member is welcome to get up after I have spoken and give us a clear exposition; but I am perfectly sure he knows no more about it than I do. Is it not really ridiculous that such a question should be discussed in this off-hand way? Does any man know whether it is good or bad as regards Ireland? Not one.


It is not our Amendment.


I did not say it was your Amendment. I do not know whether or not the hon. Member is opposing it, but I suppose he will vote with the Front Bench, as he always does. My observations are just as applicable to adopting proportional representation in regard to the Senate, of which the hon. Member who interrupted me was so enamoured the other night, when he went home happier than he had been for a long time, thinking he had done a great service to Ireland, and no doubt to the Irish minority. What I protest against is that the short time given us to discuss the Clauses of this Bill is being occupied by great academic discussions without any reality in the questions at all. I know perfectly well that if there was a Redistribution Bill affecting the Constitution of this country we should have paper after paper giving examples; we should have figures with regard to the minority showing how the proposals would turn out. When hon. Members tell us that this may be a safeguard for the minority in Ireland, on what do they base their statement? On nothing. They have not given us a single figure or example. They go on suggesting that it may be some kind of a safeguard, but they cannot tell us on what, they found their statement. They do not know. It simply comes to this—that as regards Ireland in this Home Rule Bill anything is good enough. Irish Members below the Gangway say, "We will take anything you like to put in the Bill, or leave out anything^ you like to reject, so long as you give us a Home Rule Parliament which will enable us in future to demand as much more as we like." That is the whole meaning of their attitude upon this question. I honestly admit, as far as I am concerned, that I do not know anything about proportional representation. It is true that I received a deputation on the subject sometime ago. I told them that I knew nothing about it, and I asked them to explain it. I daresay they did explain it, but I was not able to understand it. But that is not my fault; it is my limited intelligence. But when you tell me that the agricultural labourers in the South and West of Ireland are to meet to elect the members of the Senate, not in a division but in a province, and have to choose from amongst thirty or forty candidates to whom their first, second, and twenty-fifth votes or whatever it may be, are to be given, and you say that they are going to understand it all, it only means that you are setting up what you think will be a better system, because nobody will understand it, and therefore in some way or another it may do more justice than what goes on at present. The whole thing is ludicrous. Yon would not do it as regards any other country. You treat the whole of the Bill in this House as a ridiculous farce and nothing else.

I desire to say one word as regards the speech of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). I do not wish on any part of this Bill to obtain any votes under a misapprehension as regards my attitude and that of those in Ireland with whom I act. The hon. Gentleman made a very extraordinary statement. He said, "If the minority in Ireland will only come forward and accept the Bill, we will give them great concessions; it will be a different Bill." Was anything more extraordinary ever put forward in the House of Commons? Did anyone ever hear that argument put forward on an English Bill. "If the Opposition will only withdraw their opposition, we will turn the Bill into something entirely different." What an extraordinary suggestion. What does it mean? The hon. Member means this, "Because you are opposing this measure, as you have a right to do, and as, if in your conscience you believe it wrong, you ought to do, because you dare to assert your right in the House of Commons, we are going to inflict a more drastic and tyrannical Bill upon you." That is the whole spirit of hon. Members below the Gangway. It always has been, and it always will be vindictive, and all the gentle talk about what they will do if only we are foolish enough to entrust ourselves to them will result in the end in this: "Once we have got you into our power we will take such course as we think best for us, without any regard or consideration for you whatsoever." Whatever be the result I say plainly to the hon. Member and those who have made these same sort of suggestions from time to time. We want no compromise. We will accept no compromise. It only shows that the hon. Member, I dare say perfectly genuinely in his own mind, as other hon. Members opposite, thinks there is no sincerity with the grievances of the men in Ireland who are opposing this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!" and "That is so!"] You need not be so very emphatic in your condemnation of that statement, because the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture only the other day, having gagged us in this House, went down to the country and boasted that we were not sincere, because in having gagged us we could do nothing. I think a more miserable piece of cowardly criticism I have never read. So far as I am concerned, I at all events will make my position, and the position of those with whom I act in Ireland, perfectly clear. You think that the other day in their demonstrations that they went through a mere performance and a mere farce; you think that it was a mere holiday! It was as sincere and as genuine as anything they have ever done in their lives. I can assure you they are not going back on their solemn obligations on account of any concession in relation to proportional representation. It will not affect them one iota.

Even the terrible threat that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool uttered—that we could expect no amelioration in the Bill, no safeguards in the Bill, no concessions in the Bill, nothing in the Bill in our interests unless we are prepared to give up our present position—leaves us absolutely cold, and without any feeling of desire to meet the hon. Member. No, the issues at stake are too great. They hate your Bill. They loathe your Bill. They know perfectly well that all these fancy safeguards such as proportional representation will really be of no avail, and no protection to them however they may affect your Irish Legislature so long as you are prepared to set up an executive which they know will be hostile to them, and which will be only answerable to that Parliament and not to this Parliament. You may, if you like, go on making these cynical references to us. You may, if you like, go on as you are going at the present day, straining and disgracing the administration of law in Belfast for political purposes. You may do it as much as you like. It has no effect whatsoever upon them. So far as I am concerned shall never ask any man on either side in this House with a view to conciliation, to take any course in the Amendments that may be moved which are hostile to his own side. I would be a hypocrite if I did. We will do our best to wreck this Bill in this House and outside this House, whether you pass proportional representation or anything else. We will do our best to wreck the Bill. We will do our best to wreck it now. If you dare to put it upon the Statute Book we will do our best to wreck it then! It is not by any such suggestions such as are made perfectly in good faith, I have no doubt, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) that you can in any wise mitigate our opposition to the Bill. You have gone on far too long in belittling the views and the ideals of the men with whom I act in Ulster. Hon Members on the Nationalist benches from Ireland, for the last twenty years since this question was first before the House, have had plenty of opportunities of showing that they were prepared to act fairly and in accordance with their ideals as loyal citizens of this United Kingdom. They have taken every opportunity of doing the opposite, and we do not believe in these death-bed repentances which have no meaning, and will be all put away and the old course gone back on the very moment this Bill is thrown out, as I feel certain it will. So far as I am concerned, I do not care whether this Amendment is carried or not. All the guidance I have in the matter is that the Government is opposed to it, and that my leader has spoken in favour of it. That is enough to regulate my vote upon the matter. Whether it passes or does not pass it will not make one scrap of difference in our opposition to the Bill.


I intend to vote for this Amendment, and I think, therefore, I am entitled to say a few words upon it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has made a most vehement attack, and has complained that we have no time to discuss this matter, while he spends an hour discussing everything else but the merits of the proposal in the Amendment.


I was only twenty minutes, not an hour.


If the right hon. and learned Gentleman was present during the earlier hours of the Debate, he would have heard some reasons why this Amendment should be accepted.


So I was.


During a considerable portion of the time there were very few Members present, and there were scarcely five in the House during the dinner hour. I was surprised that the right hon. and learned Gentleman upon this point, which, after all, is of some importance, I imagine, to the minority in Ireland, and has aroused considerable interest on this side of the House, did not have the courtesy to attach some importance to it. Although he received a deputation on 25th May of his fellow-countrymen, including some of the most distinguished of them, he seems not to have been able between that time and this to have grasped a proposition which I venture to say any intelligent person could grasp in three hours. It is ridiculous that Member after Member should get up and tell us that proportional representation is so difficult that no one can understand it. Do they mean to say that the people of Scandinavia and Tasmania are so much more intelligent than those of us in this House, that they are able to carry out a system which we do not understand, and a system which the farmers of Belgium are perfectly capable of working. To say that the people of this country who have voted at elections longer than those of any other country in the world cannot grasp this system is ridiculous. This system of proportional representation is the only system that can give fair representation to the democracy. I confess that I am extremely disappointed that we have had no statement on this question from the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. In the speech he made in Dublin on 9th of January, 1911, he went so far as to say, dealing with this subject:— We are willing to discuss this question. We will give our consideration to any proposal of a system of representation in far Parliament which will carry out our idea of consolidation and full representation so far as it is consistent with honest democratic principles. I think we are entitled to hear from the hon. and learned Member for Waterford a better explanation why he has not seen fit to adopt such a system as that put forward in this Amendment.


He is not allowed.


To the deputation which the Prime Minister received on this question the right hon. Gentleman declared that anybody who had taken the trouble to follow this matter must admit that there has seldom been a question in Ireland which has had such a large, moderate, and level-headed body of opinion in favour of it. The scheme has been worked out in great detail, and I would like to reply to some of the criticisms which have been passed on the details of this scheme. We have been asked why is this scheme applicable to Ireland and not to England? You are going to have a number of large constituencies, and that is one of the difficulties which exist under this Bill. If you are going to have five-member constituencies, with a block member where there is a majority of one party, the minority will get no representation. Surely the system is so simple that I will not insult the Committee by describing it. The Belgians have accepted this scheme for years. We have been told that this system is simply the fad of a few scientific men when, as a matter of fact, every civilised country in the world is studying this question, and most of them are beginning to adopt it in one form or another. Surely it is time that Members of this House began to study it as well. Certainly I intend to vote for this Amendment, and I am very sorry the Government have not taken this opportunity of accepting it. I sincerely hope that before we pass this Bill a change of opinion will come over the House, and we may yet get the only reasonable and fair safeguard for minority opinion in Ireland inserted in this Bill by the adoption of this Amendment in one form or another on the Report stage.


I rise for the simple purpose of putting a question to His Majesty's Government. The Government, I understand, are opposing this Amendment. They have never offered as a reason for their opposition any objections to what they understand to be the principle of this proposal. I am one of those who personally am opposed to the principle of proportional representation, but I have been greatly moved by what fell from my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Carson), and I am disposed by very much of what he has urged to go with him in support of this Amendment, as I believe and hope it will damage His Majesty's Government. I hope that all the more because they have never offered one single word of explanation throughout the whole of their speeches as to the extraordinary attitude which they adopted by applying this principle to the election of the Senate and by refusing the adoption of it in this case. We are placed in this extraordinary position. There are to be two Houses of Parliament in Ireland. Both of them are to be elected One of them is to be elected by proportional representation; the other by a system wholly opposed to it. What is the justification for the distinction? Not one word has the House of Commons been told upon this point. Still less have we been told what proportional representation is to mean in the case of the Irish House of Commons. In the case of the Senate, we know what it is to mean. They are to be elected by regulations made by the Government, regulations which are to have the same effect as if they were embodied in this Act. That is an odious principle, in my opinion. It is an entire and complete departure from all the traditions of the past ever since I have satin the House of Commons prior to the Budget of 1909. Previously, whenever regulations of that nature were made, with one exception, they were made subject to the condition that either House of Parliament was enabled to move an Address to the Throne objecting to them, and if either of those-Addresses was carried, those regulations were made null and void. This Government, for the first time in the history of all Governments, with one single exception, has made that now the rule; they have made it the rule that the whole of the arrangements for proportional representation as regards the Senate are to be fixed by themselves and by nobody else, and there is no means of getting redress except by applying to the Government themselves. Under these circumstances, I shall vote for the proposal of my hon. Friend with all my heart. I want to know how the regulations are to be made in this case. That, perhaps, is not for the Government to answer. They are opposed to it; but I think we might have been favoured with some information by those who are supporters of this proposal as to how effect is to be given to this Amendment if it is carried and passed.


I will not at this late hour take long in explaining some of the reasons why I am in favour of passing this Amendment. I thoroughly agree with what fell from my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University that it is trifling with the feelings of those who are opposed to Home Rule in Ireland to suppose that this Amendment one way or the other will make any material difference to them; it is for them merely a choice between being hanged with a silken cord or a hempen rope. But we have nevertheless to decide on the merits of this Amendment one way or the other, and it certainly seems to me that the arguments decidedly preponderate on the side of the Amendment. I do not think the two-party system would be abolished by proportional representation. If I did think so I would not be in favour of proportional representation. I listened with great attention to the interesting speech of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. He spoke as if it were entirely creditable to the Labour party and the Nonconformist party to vote for a proposition even if they could not agree to it on its merits, but that it would be discreditable for vivisectionists and anti-vaccinationists to do the same thing. I cannot see why they cannot be credited with just the same elevation of principle as is to be attributed to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division, when he voted for single school areas, when he, without any doubt, was zealous in his conviction that denominational schools were a mistake and that his constituents were under a delusion on the subject. I do not believe it would make any difference one way or the other in that respect.

I favour proportional representation as it really makes an Assembly so elected representative. I am not at all blind to the fact that representative institutions have defects. You have in the working of the party system to make sacrifices of sincerity. If you are to have a representative system you should have one that represents. You do not want one that does not represent accurately and precisely the constituency. How astonishing would be the position if this Amendment were rejected. If proportional representation be practicable, how can anyone resist its desirability. You will have two Assemblies, both elected, one of which will be elected and precisely and accurately represent the electors, and the other will be elected and will represent them imperfectly and inaccurately. You set up by elaborate machinery an imperfect representative Assembly, which is always to prevail over a perfect representative Assembly. Can you conceive a more grotesque situation than you thus set up? You are going deliberately to set up two Assemblies, one perfect and the other imperfect, and at the same time to set up machinery by which the imperfect Assembly is always to prevail over the perfect one.

I recognise that this is, as my right hon. Friend said, an academic discussion. Nobody really believes that this Bill is to come into force. The Debate is a convenient but limited opportunity of discussing the fundamentals of politics. The guillotine loses half its odium when it is merely a regulation for determining at what point we pass from the consideration of the abstract merits of a Second Chamber to the abstract merits of electing a person to it. I recognise all that, but we have to act loyally to the hypothesis which we are debating. We are here professing to form a constitution for Ireland, and I do put it to anyone who is gifted with any logical faculty whatever, I put it even to the Liberal party, whatever may be their logical faculty, that it is not common-sense to say we are going to give separate representative Government to Ireland, but we are not going to make it as representative as we can make it. Observe that you cannot deny the practicability of the arrangement, because you have set it up in the Senate, but you are deliberately going to say our Irish House of Commons shall be a bad representative Assembly. Everyone who votes against this Amendment will be voting in favour of the proposition that the Irish House of Commons ought to be not so good a representative Assembly as it can be made, not so good as the Senate we have already set up. Is that an attitude worthy of any rational human being? I presume (hat something has happened behind the scenes. I do not know. We, the Opposition, sit here like spectators at a drama on very nice and comfortable seats. We see what is going on, but we have no share in framing the legislation of the country. We have no real share in determining the judgment of the House. We see all sorts of funny things happen. Actors come before us, and we see that some influence has been at work by which this or that course is taken, and we wonder who has quarrelled with whom. We watch the faces of Ministers. We notice the sort of way the hon. and learned Member for Waterford comes into the House, and the sort of way he goes out of it, and we draw our inferences as to what directions he has given to the Government, and what directions they have given in the obscure hierarchy which regulates the affairs of the Coalition, but we have no share in the matter. All that we can do is to put before the House of Commons, as if it were still, as in theory and courtesy it still is, a free representative and deliberate Assembly, the reasons that guide our votes. In that spirit I venture, with all respect, to submit that those who vote for this Amendment will vote for making the representative Assembly really representative, and those who vote against it will vote for sheer, absolute nonsense.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 162; Noes, 265.

Division No. 290.] AYES. [10.45 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Gibbs, George Abraham Newton, Harry Kottingham
Aitken, Sir William Max Gilhooly, James Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Amery, L. C. M. S. Gilmour, Captain John Nield, Herbert
Bagot, Lieut.-Col. J. Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K. O'Brien, William (Cork)
Baird, John Lawrence Gordon, John (Londonderry, South) Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Paget, Almeric Hugh
Balcarres, Lord Greene, Walter Raymond Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Baldwin, Stanley Gretton, John Pease, Hebert Pike (Darlington)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.) Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Haddock, George Bahr Perkins, Walter Frank
Banner, J. S. Harmood- Hall, Fred (Dulwich) Pole-Carew, Sir R.
Barlow, Montague (Salford, S.) Hamersley, Alfred St. George Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Barnston. Harry Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Barrie, H. T. Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Ronaldshay, Earl of
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) Rutherford, John (Lancs, Darwen)
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Healy, Timothy (Michael (Cork, N.E.) Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Helmsley, Viscount Salter, Arthur Clavell
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Sanders, Robert Arthur
Bird, Alfred Hill, Sir Clement L. Sassoon, Sir Philip
Boyton, J. Hogge, James Myles Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hohler, G. F. Snowden, P.
Burgoyne, Alan Hughes Holt, Richard Durning Spear, Sir John Ward
Burn, Colonel C. R. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.) Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Stewart, Gershom
Campion, W. R. Horner, Andrew Long Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, N.)
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Hume-Williams, Win. Ellis Talbot, Lord Edmund
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Ingleby, Holcombe Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Cassel, Felix John, Edward Thomas Thomas, J. H.
Castlereagh, Viscount Kebty-Fletcher, J. R. Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)
Cautley, H. S. Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Kimber, Sir Henry Thorne, William (West Ham)
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) King, J. Thynne, Lord Alexander
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Larmor, Sir J. Touche, George Alexander
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A (Worc'r.) Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Valentia, Viscount
Chancellor, Henry George Lee, Arthur Hamilton Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Lloyd, G. A. Walsh, J. (Cork, South)
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Ward. A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Clynes, John R. Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Wheler, Granville C. H.
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo.,. Han. S.) Wiles, Thomas
Craik, Sir Henry Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droltwich) Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Creane, Eugene MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Wolmer, Viscount
Croft, Henry Page Macmaster, Donald Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Dickinson. W. H. McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Magnus, Sir Philip Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Malcolm, Ian Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.) Mason, James F. (Windsor) Yate, Col. C. E.
Fell, Arthur Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Younger, Sir George
Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey Mond, Sir Alfred M.
Fleming, Valentine Mount, William Arthur TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Forster, Henry William Neville, Reginald J. N. Newman and Sir J. D. Rees.
Gardner, Ernest Newdegate, F. A.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Burke, E. Haviland
Acland, Francis Dyke Barton, William Burns, Rt. Hon. John
Adamson, William Beauchamp, Sir Edward Byles, Sir William Pollard
Addison, Dr. C. Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George) Carr-Gomm, H. W.
Agnew, Sir George William Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Boland, John Plus Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Booth, Frederick Handel Chapple, Dr. William Allen
Armitage, R. Bowerman, C. W. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Clancy, John Joseph
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Brace, William Clough, William
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Brady, P. J. Collins, G. P. (Greenock)
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Brocklehurst, W. B. Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Brunner, John F. L. Condon, Thomas Joseph
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Bryce, J. Annan Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.
Barnes, George N. Buckmaster, Stanley O. Cotton, William Francis
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Joyce, Michael Pringle, William M. R.
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Keating, Matthew Radford, G. H.
Crooks, William Kelly, Edward Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry
Crumley, Patrick Kennedy, Vincent Paul Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Cullinan, J. Kilbride, Denis Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Lamb, Ernest Henry Reddy, Michael
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
De Forest, Baron Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
Delany, William Levy, Sir Maurice Rendall, Athelstan
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Lewis, John Herbert Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Donelan, Captain A. Logan, John William Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Doris, William Low, Sir F. (Norwich) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Duffy, William J. Lundon, T. Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Lynch, Arthur Alfred Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Robinson, Sidney
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) McGhee, Richard Roch, Walter F.
Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) Maclean, Donald Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Roche, John (Galway, E.)
Essex, Richard Walter MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Roe, Sir Thomas
Esslemont, George Birnie Macpherson, James Ian Rose, Sir Charles Day
Falconer, James MacVeagh, Jeremiah Rowlands, James
Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles M'Callum, Sir John M. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson M'Kean, John Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Ffrench, Peter McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Field, William M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Flennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Manfield, Harry Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)
Fitzgibbon, John Marks, Sir George Croydon Scanlan, Thomas
Flavin, Michael Joseph Marshall, Arthur Harold Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.
Furness, Stephen Martin, J. Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Gelder, Sir W. A. Mason, David M. (Coventry) Sheehy, David
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Gill, A. H. Meagher, Michael Smith, Albert (Lancs, Clitheroe)
Ginnell, Laurence Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Gladstone, W. G. C. Menzies, Sir Walter Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Glanville, H. J. Molloy, Michael Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Goddard. Sir Daniel Ford Molteno, Percy Alport Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark. West)
Goldsmith, Frank Money, L. G. Chiozza Sutherland, John E.
Goldstone, Frank Mooney, John J. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Greig, Colonel James William Morgan, George Hay Taylor, T. C. (Radcliffe)
Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke) Morrell, Philip Tennant, Harold John
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Muldoon, John Toulmin, Sir George
Hackett. J. Munro, R. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Hall, Frederick (Normanton) Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C. Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Hancock, J. G. Nannetti, Joseph P. Verney, Sir Harry
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale) Neilson, Francis Wadsworth, John
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Nolan, Joseph Walton, Sir Joseph
Hardie, J. Keir O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Wardle, George J.
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry O'Donnell, Thomas Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Hayden, John Patrick O'Dowd, John Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Hayward, Evan O'Grady, James Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Hazleton, Richard O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.) Webb, H.
Helme, Sir Norval Watson O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.) Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Henry, Sir Charles O'Malley, William White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Higham, John Sharp O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)
Hinds, John O'Shaughnessy, P. J. White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Hodge, John O'Shee, James John Whitehouse, John Howard
Holmes, Daniel Turner O'Sullivan, Timothy Whyte, A. F.
Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich) Outhwaite, R. L. Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Palmer, Godfrey Mark Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Hudson, Walter Parker, James (Halifax) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Hughes, Spencer Leigh Pearce, William (Limehouse) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus Pease, Robert Joseph A. (Rotherham) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)
Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire) Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Worthington-Evans, L.
Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Pointer, Joseph Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Young. William (Perthshire. E.)
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Power, Patrick Joseph Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow (Tuesday).

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 14th October, proposed the Question, "That the House do now adjourn."

Adjourned accordingly at Two minutes before Eleven o'clock.