The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel) rose to move,
That it is expedient for the purpose of any Act of the present Session to amend the provision for the Government of Ireland (a) to authorise the payment in each year out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of any sums for the payment of which into the Irish Exchequer, or to any body or person in the stead of the Irish Exchequer, provision may be made under that Act; and (b) to authorise such Customs Duties to be charged on articles brought into Great Britain from Ireland or into Ireland from Great Britain, and such alterations of drawbacks or allowances to be made in respect of those articles, as may be provided for by that Act, in cases where any Customs or Excise Duty levied in Great Britain is levied at a different rate from that at which the duty is levied in Ireland, or where any Customs or Excise Duty is levied in Great Britain and not levied in Ireland, or levied in Ireland and not levied in Great Britain; and (c) to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund or out of moneys provided by Parliament of any salaries, pensions, superannuation allowances, gratuities, or compensation, for the payment of which to or on behalf of any judges or existing Irish officers, or officers or constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary or of the Dublin Metro-
politan Police force, provision may be made in pursuance of that Act.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Before the right hon. Gentleman responds to your call, Sir, I wish to ask you for a ruling on two points of Order. I have to apologise to you for having made no previous communication to you on the subject, owing to pressure of work under present circumstances; but I believe that the first point is already familiar to you, and therefore you will be prepared to deal with it at once. The second point is one which I think it is desirable should be raised at this stage, but if you desire to look up the authorities, the subject could be raised upon a later stage of our proceedings. The first point directly relates to the proceedings of to-day. The Resolution of which the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General has given notice relates to three perfectly distinct subjects. He proposes, in the first place, to authorise any provisions of an Act of Parliament for paying out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, according to the Government of Ireland Bill, what is known as the Transferred Sum. He proposes in the third section of the Resolution to authorise the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of certain charges which may be placed thereon for existing officers. There is a certain connection between these two sums, as they are both payments out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom. But between them is another Clause which authorises the levying of Customs and Excise Duties in Ireland.
The first point on which I wish for your ruling, Sir, is whether there is any precedent for combining in a single Resolution, and putting it to the House as a single proposition, subject matter so different as that embodied in this Resolution; whether, in fact, there is any precedent that a question can be put from the Chair which combines in a single proposition the issue of money out of the Consolidated Fund and the levying of new Customs and Excise Duties. I think I have said enough to make that point clear. The second point refers to the bearing of the Resolution upon the Bill. I desire to ask your ruling, Sir, as to whether the Resolution covers the provisions of the Bill. I have already stated what is contained in the Resolution, but in the Bill, in addition to the powers to levy Customs and Excise, the power is purported to be conferred 1483 upon the Irish Parliament to levy other taxes not mentioned in this Resolution; as, for instance, the new direct taxes, or certain additions to existing direct taxes.
I submit to you, Sir, that this House is precluded from levying such taxes until it is authorised to do so by the Committee in Ways and Means, and assented to by the House on Report. That is our universal procedure clearly laid down in Standing Orders, and in works like Sir Erskine May's historic book on Parliamentary Procedure and the powers of the House of Commons. If that be so, I submit that it follows that if we have the power to impose those taxes ourselves without preliminary Resolution m Ways and Means, we cannot have any power to authorise somebody else to impose them; in other words, that the power which this House can transfer to any delegated authority is only the power which this House itself possesses, and that until there has been a Resolution authorising the levying of these additional direct taxes in the year—new or additional direct taxes—this House having no power itself to levy them—it can have no power to devolve authority on another Parliament. These are the two points on which, with renewed apology to you. Sir, for not having given you notice of them properly beforehand, and with an expression of my regret that my attention was so much occupied by other matters that I had not had it brought carefully to myself until this morning, I now ask your ruling, only repeating that, while I think it is necessary to have at this stage your ruling on the first point, if it be any convenience to you, the further point could be raised when we come to the questions in the Bill instead of raising it now.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
On the same point of Order, Sir. May I ask, before you give your ruling, whether, on the Redistribution Resolution in 1905, Mr. Speaker ruled that it was a subject which could be separated into as many, I think, as seventeen different Resolutions; and whether it is not the fact that, as you have this in Committee of the Whole House, there is not a difference in the circumstances in which that Resolution was moved and the circumstances under which this is moved?
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I will deal with the second point of the right hon. Gentleman first. The point he submitted, I understand, is this: that certain provisions in? 1484 the Bill, which have not been reached yet, are not covered by the Resolution which is on the Paper, and is about to be proposed. The proper time to raise that point will be when we reach any such proposal as the right hon. Gentleman has referred to. If the point is taken then, I shall, of course, be prepared to deal with it. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for having mentioned this at this stage. With regard to the first point of the Resolution dealing with three separate items, and the suggestion that that ought to be put before the Committee, not in one but in three separate Resolutions, I had anticipated that it was probable that question would be raised. I have, therefore, searched the precedents for the last twenty years, I think, and I find that the precedents are in favour of a Money Resolution drawn as one Resolution and covering the whole of the financial proposals of a particular Bill. It is true that in certain cases there have been two or more Financial Resolutions affecting a single Bill, but in those cases it was because of Amendments which could not be received without a further Resolution passed on a subsequent date. But, with regard to the point as it arises now, the precedents are wholly in favour of a single Resolution being put from the Chair. In reply to the point raised by the hon. Member for Sheffield, that very point was raised in 1909 on a Resolution which came before my predecessor in Committee, and the answer he then gave was exactly the one I shall give now, namely, that the precedent to which it refers was not analogous to the present proceedings. That was the proposal of a series of questions included in one Resolution in the Whole House, and not in Committee. In Committee, Amendments are reserved—that is to say, the question is put, if possible, in such a way as to allow any subsequent Amendments to be moved, and in that way separate decisions on separate points can be taken. Further, I would just point out this point, that a Resolution of this kind is not of any enacting effect. It is to empower the Committee to consider the proposals in the Clauses of the Bill. I notice that there is an Amendment on the Paper which proposes to omit the middle paragraph of this Resolution, and, of course, if it is desired, I shall take that Amendment in order that the Committee may give a separate decision upon that part of the Money Resolution.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I have to thank you, Sir, for the ruling which you have given. I have to ask you with regard to the point which you have reserved to bear in mind a possibility. The question may arise on a Clause at a moment when the guillotine has fallen, and when, as I conceive, it would not be possible to put the point of Order to you. May I ask, having that possibility in view, that the opportunity to rule on those different Clauses concerned does not occur beforehand, if you should take the view that the view which I have submitted to you is the correct one, would you yourself refuse from the Chair to put a Clause for which a Resolution in Committee was necessary and which Resolution had not been passed?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes, I think I would consider it to be my duty to do so. It is the duty of the Chairman, if he comes across a Clause for which no preliminary Resolution has been passed by the House, to inform the Committee that the Clause cannot be proceeded with.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I beg to move the Resolution on which the financial Clauses of this Bill are based. I do so without going into any matters of detail, which will more properly arise on the Clauses themselves. I would venture to take, and I believe it is the general desire of the Committee that I should do so, a general survey of the financial policy which is embodied in those Clauses. The Committee will now be asked during a period of seven Parliamentary days to address itself to the finances of the Home Rule Bill, and I will not deny that during those days we will have to deal with a number of technical points, and with several somewhat complicated provisions. I have already fully admitted, and, indeed, it is obvious to everyone who reads the Bill, that the Financial Clauses are of an elaborate character, but I am to some extent consoled for the complexity of those Clauses by the opinion of one who is perhaps the greatest, or certainly among the greatest, of living authorities on public finance—I mean Lord Welby, whose opinions I am sure will be received with respect in all quarters of this House. Writing upon the financial provisions of this Bill he said:—They appear complicated, but they will be found less so in practice. The machinery of financial administration in a great State is necessarily complicated, and a radical change in that machinery involves a multitude of changes in detail for which the reforming Act must provide. The Customs and Excise Clauses appear 1486 complicated, but they are for the most part machinery Clauses common to Revenue Acts. Much as I should like greater simplicity, a study of their measure leads me to the conclusion that its provisions are in the main wise.The Bill could be very simple on its financial side if we were not faced by the existence of the present deficit on the Irish Account. I would especially impress on the minds of the Committee in approaching this problem of Irish finance that that must be taken as the dominant fact, and it is this fact that there is now in existence a deficit in the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland, a deficit in the Irish account, which causes many of the complexities of the Bill and which presents a problem which is unprecedented among those which have confronted the framers of Constitutions in previous times. The Irish revenue at the present time is £11,000,000, rather under £11,000,000, and the expenditure is nearly £12,500,000, and it is the problem which arises from that fact to which the Government has had specially to address itself. I am well aware that the hon. Member for Cork City and some of his Friends present the argument that the deficit only exists owing to the fact that we take as Irish revenue, not the revenue which is collected in Ireland, but what is termed by the Treasury, the true revenue of Ireland—that is to say, after adjustments are made in respect of revenue which is collected in Ireland, but which really belongs to Great Britain and vice versa. The hon. Member in his very interesting speech on, I think, the First Reading of the Bill, based himself on the high authority of Mr. Gladstone, who in 1886 took as Irish revenue Irish collected revenue, and the hon. Member for Cork said that the authority of Mr. Gladstone was good enough for him, and that if we had followed that precedent we should have found there was no deficit on the Irish account at all, but, on the contrary, that there is at the present time an appreciable surplus. May I point out to him, and to his Friends who take the same view, that while Mr. Gladstone in 1886 did as a matter of fact take Irish collected revenue as the basis of his finance, at the same time he required from Ireland a contribution to Imperial purposes of somewhere about £4,000,000—from the Irish revenue to Imperial purposes, purposes common to the whole of the United Kingdom. That far more than counterbalanced the difference of £2,000,000 which then existed between Irish collected and true revenue. May I point out further—
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
At that time the local government charges of Ireland were nearly half what they are now.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
That does not alter the fact. Irish revenue also was very much less then than it is now. There was a surplus of Irish revenue at that time. Mr. Gladstone required Ireland to pay a contribution of £4,000,000, when he allowed to the credit of Ireland the collected revenue. It would not have made any difference if he took the true revenue, which would have been £2,000,000 less, and required a contribution from Ireland of £2,000,000 instead of £4,000,000. Let me point out, further, that after the lapse of some years, and when time had been given for closer consideration of this problem, Mr. Gladstone when he introduced his second Home Rule Bill did not then take the collected revenue, but proceeded on the basis of true revenue after the necessary adjustments had been made. The hon. Member surely would not say when one of his constituents in Cork buys a pound of tea on which there is a duty of 5d., that the citizen of Cork was paying no tax because the Tea Duty had been collected, for example, in London, Southampton, or at Liverpool, when the tea had arrived in this country. The revenue on tea consumed in Ireland, although it is collected in England, must be regarded as Irish revenue. There can be no doubt of that.
No one would dispute that in such a case as that the consumer really does pay the tax, and that the revenue was derived and is revenue of the country in which the consumer lives; and rice versâ, if a tax is collected in Dublin on Irish spirits or Irish beer and those spirits and beer are consumed in England, Scotland, or Wales, that revenue, according to every sound financial principle, must be held to belong to Great Britain and not Ireland. The revenue belongs to the country where a commodity is consumed and where the real burden of the duty actually falls. Further, if we had taken the collected revenue and not the adjusted revenue as the basis of our finance, the distillers of Ireland could at any time have completely upset the adjustment of accounts between the two countries by transferring their spirits in bond from Ireland to England, and paying the duty here, as they could not be refused to be allowed to do so. The duty having been paid here, would become duty collected in Great Britain, would become British revenue not Irish revenue, 1488 and the whole system of finance would be thereby upset. Indeed, you would place it in the hand of Irish distillers and brewers to withdraw from the Irish Parliament no less than £2,000,000 of revenue by changing the place where the revenue is collected and so bankrupt the Irish State. Therefore, we cannot accept his doctrine that there is in fact no Irish deficit. We must proceed on the fact that the true revenue of Ireland is now rather under £11,000,000, while the expenditure upon Irish local purposes is nearly £12,500,000, and this state of things of course is new since 1893.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
For 1912–13. The figures are those in the White Paper that has been circulated to the House in connection with this Bill. No comparison therefore can profitably be drawn between the finance scheme of this Bill and the finance schemes of the previous Home Rule Bills, because the promoters of those Bills were never faced by the problem how to deal with an Irish deficit, although, indeed, in the Debates of 1893 it was clearly foreseen that the inevitable result of refusing Home Rule for Ireland at that time must be a constant growth in expenditure in Ireland which would in course of time eat up the then existing surplus of £2,000,000. Sir William Harcourt, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking on this subject, said that the system on which England and Great Britain had previously proceeded, the system of what he termed aeleemosynary coercion, which was the most expensivd system of government in the world, a rod in one han and the British purse in the other,would inevitably result in the continuous growth of our expenditure in Ireland. Looking through the Debates of previous years one finds them strewn with false prophecies, but in this matter, reading the Debates of 1893, one finds that the present state of things was very clearly foreseen as the result of the rejection of the Home Rule Bill of 1893. For example, the hon. Member opposite who represented then, as he represents now, North County Dublin (Mr. Clancy), and who took then, as he takes now, the closest interest in these matters, said, and the words are interesting:He would invite the attention of hon. Members to this—he ventured to prophesy that in ten years from the present day (14th July, 1893), if Home Rule were not granted, there would not be a penny of surplus for Ireland.1489 Strangely enough, it was just ten years from that time when the increase of Irish expenditure had eaten up the surplus, though there had been a growth of revenue which postponed the present state of things for five years, and in fifteen years from the time the hon. Member was speaking the whole of the Irish surplus of £2,000,000 had disappeared, and we now find ourselves with a deficit of a million and a half. We can say now, in 1912, with equal, if not greater certainty, that if this Bill fails to become law, and if the present system of unified finance continues, in ton or twenty years' time our deficit, which is a million and a half, borne by the British taxpayer, will be enormously increased. We know that, not merely from the trend of events, but from the explicit declarations of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who in one breath ask for the rejection of this Bill in order, as they say, to save the British taxpayer's pocket, and in the next declare that if the Bill is rejected they will themselves spend much larger sums of the British taxpayers' money upon Irish local purposes. Hitherto no attempt has been made to make the credit and debit sides of the Irish account balance. Irish expenditure has had no relation whatever to Irish revenue. The two have run on completely independent lines. In our view, it is high time that this should be altered. Sound principles of finance surely require that in the government of Ireland some regard should be had to the resources and taxable capacity of Ireland.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The view of the Government is that Ireland does not stand in the same position as any particular district in England. Has any poor district in England a Lord Lieutenant or a Chief Secretary, or a series of Government Departments of its own? Has any poor district in England a complete code of legislation dealing with the land question, education, local government, the Church, find a score of other questions, such as Ireland has? The two are not comparable. It is in our view, and I venture to say in the view of the Irish people also, right that Ireland herself, in her own interest, should be allowed to depend for her own internal government on her own resources, not supported by subsidies from outside. In our opinion it is inconsistent 1490 with the very idea of Home Rule that this burden of £1,500,000 a year for Irish local purposes should continue to rest for all time on the British taxpayers after Ireland herself has been given a measure of self-government. The financial scheme of the Bill therefore proceeds with the object in view of liquidating this deficit, but it is surely quite obvious that the burden of finding that £1,500,000 cannot possibly be thrown immediately upon the Irish people themselves. It would involve that in the first year they would have to add 15 per cent. to their taxes, while we on this, side would get a relief of I per cent. on ours. Such a course would be not only ungenerous, but. obviously unjust. Nor can the deficit be liquidated by requiring the Irish Exchequer to bear year by year a gradually increasing charge in order ultimately to reach the sum of £1,500,000. Such a proposal has been made within the last few days by Lord MacDonnell, whose views on any matter of this kind naturally carry weight. Lord MacDonnells plan is that Ireland should receive whatever revenue is raised from taxes in Ireland; that Great Britain should continue to bear the burden of the deficit of £1,500,000, and that Ireland should pay a contribution towards the Army and Navy and other common purposes, beginning at a low sum and gradually increasing year by year.
A plan such as that might possibly have attractions for some persons, but I venture to say it would not be found practicable in operation. In the first place, if Ireland were given simply whatever revenue happened to arise from the Imperial and other taxes which were being levied in Ireland, what would be the position of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer, supposing this Parliament in some year decided to reduce throughout the United Kingdom one of the taxes, say the Tea Duty or the Sugar Duty? At once the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer's revenue would be diminished by a large amount. He might have borrowed money, knowing that he had an adequate surplus to provide the interest and Sinking Fund of the loan. He might have looked forward to his accounts balancing by means of the revenue at his disposal. Suddenly the Parliament here at Westminster repeals or reduces some tax throughout the United Kingdom, without the Irish Chancellor or the Irish Government having power to intervene, and away goes his surplus. Therefore, it appears to me that 1491 a scheme based upon a principle such as that is not one which ought to commend itself to this Committee. Secondly, I do not think it is right, for reasons I have already given, that Great Britain should bear in perpetuity the burden of this deficit after Ireland has Home Rule. Thirdly, it seems to me, on the other hand, unjust to Ireland that she should be required, as Lord MacDonnell proposes, to pay year by year an increasing sum for Imperial purposes regardless of whether her revenue is increasing or not. Supposing in some particular year her revenue was diminishing; nevertheless she would be called upon automatically to pay year by year an increasing sum, ultimately rising perhaps to a considerable amount, whether there were resources in the hands of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer or not. I think, therefore, it is necessary to provide some means for liquidating the present deficit. If it cannot be thown immediately on the shoulders of the Irish taxpayer, and if it cannot be met by fixing in the Bill an automatic contribution from Ireland, there is only one other source from which the money can come, and that is the normal increments of revenue which come from taxation in Ireland, owing to the growth of prosperity or of population. It is from that source the Bill proposes that the means shall be found to balance the Irish account.
Therefore, as the Committee is aware, it is proposed in the Bill that all future normal increments of revenue which arise on the taxation imposed by the Imperial Parliament—the present taxes, roughly speaking—shall come into the Imperial Exchequer, instead of going, as they would normally, to the Irish Exchequer, until the day comes when these increments amount to £1,500,000, or whatever the deficit may be, and the accounts of the two countries are made to balance. At the same time, the Bill does not propose to denude the Irish Exchequer of resources. There are, of course, increasing expenditures in Ireland for education and other purposes, which must be met. We propose, as the Committee is aware, to pay into the Irish Exchequer, year by year, a sum over and above the present cost of the administration of the Irish services transferred to the Irish Parliament. That sum is subject to reduction during the first few years, but it will average, over a period of eight years, £400,000 a year, and afterwards it 1492 will be a fixed sum of £200,000 a year. Lord MacDonnell again criticises this provision. He says that any Government must necessarily have a cash balance at its disposal, and that in his view a sum of £200,000 a year is not too much to provide the cash balance needed. No doubt the Irish Government will need to have a cash balance at its disposal, but the sum of £200,000 a year is surely a very excessive amount to be devoted to such a purpose. It could not conceivably be needed. If the cash balance at the end of the first year was £200,000, at the end of the second year £400,000, at the end of the fifth year it would be £1,000,000, and so forth. I think that Lord MacDonnell, in making this suggestion in his letter to the "Times," has not sufficiently distinguished between an annual amount of £200,000 and a sum of £200,000 once and for all for use as a cash balance at the beginning. This annual sum of £200,000, which would be at the disposal of the Irish Parliament, is not a large amount in itself compared with our revenues here. It is about a farthing in the £ of the Imperial revenue. But, in proportion to the sums with which the Irish Parliament will be dealing, it is a considerable amount. On the Imperial basis it would be equivalent to a sum here of about £3,500,000—that is, if we multiply it by the necesary multiplier to bring the figure up to the Imperial scale. Therefore the permanent surplus which we are placing at the disposal of the Irish Parliament is equivalent to this Parliament having a surplus year by year of £3,500,000, which is by no means an inconsiderable sum.
Further, we look forward to the time when Ireland will be able to effect considerable economies in her administration. We have undoubtedly led her to live beyond her means. When she has control over her own internal administration there is little doubt that her government will be conducted on a less extravagant scale. But in this regard no sudden change is possible. All existing interests have been most carefully protected. It is only in the years to come that the Irish Parliament and the Irish Government will be able to effect any considerable economies, particularly in view of the fact that the police, which is the most costly of the Irish internal services, and the one in regard to which there is most hope of effecting economies, will not pass to the control of the Irish Government for six years. Thereforeitisnecessary—and 1493 this is the point I would press strongly upon the attention of the Committee—that the Irish Parliament should have placed in its hands financial powers adequate to enable it to make the system work. We are taking from Ireland all her normal increments of revenue; we are leaving her with her normal increments of expenditure. We are giving her, it is true, a certain surplus; we also hope that in time to come she will be able to effect economies. But undoubtedly Ireland ought not to be asked to assume the obligations of self-government unless she also has power, if her people approve, to raise additional revenues by means of taxation. What is likely to occur in respect, of its finances when an Irish Parliament is created? You will have there, no doubt, many members reflecting the opinion of the agricultural population of Ireland; and if the characteristics which prevail in the peasant populations throughout the world are to be found also in Ireland, as undoubtedly they will be, we shall find that the influence of the agricultural members there will always be on the side of frugality, almost of rigid economy. There is no one who so carefully considers the shillings and the pence as the peasant, and so far as the Irish agricultural population has influence in the Irish Parliament we shall find a rigid spirit of economy.
Also, if experience throughout the world can be taken as a guide, we shall find in Ireland, when once a Parliament is set up and is in being, after all these long generations of struggle, a great wave of national enthusiasm for Ireland and for the development of Ireland. The Irish Renaissance, as it has been called, which is now, and has for some years, been proceeding, and which has already evidenced itself very remarkably in the drama, in poetry, in scholarship, as well as in industry, will continue, and with increased force, once the Irish people find themselves in possession of their own Government and in control of their own destinies. It is more than likely that when this state of things exists the Irish people will be willing, will be very ready, to make financial sacrifices in order to place their Parliament and Government in the possession of adequate resources to develop the neglected districts and industries of the country, and to promote in all ways the improvement of its resources. Therefore I think it is quite essential that the Irish people and Parliament should not find themselves blocked at the outset by too 1494 close a restriction upon their financial powers inserted in the Bill which is the foundation of their Constitution.
That brings me to what is perhaps the most controversial part of this Resolution, the powers it is proposed to give to the Irish Parliament in respect of the Customs and Excise. This matter, I know, has aroused considerable interest not only on the part of hon. Members on the opposite side, but on this side of the House too. First, it is necessary to remind the Committee of what the proposals are not; for there is reason to think that there has been considerable misapprehension on this ground. There are some who speak of the proposals of the Bill in regard to Customs and Excise as though we were providing for complete fiscal autonomy for Ireland, for placing the Irish Parliament and Government in the same position with regard to the Customs and Excise as is, for example, Canada, or Australia, or any other of the Dominions or Colonies. Powerful arguments, indeed, may be advanced in support of such a scheme. So powerful are they that Sir Henry Primrose's Committee of financial experts, consisting of men belonging not only to one party, recommended that complete fiscal autonomy should be granted, and that Ireland should have complete control over her own Customs, subject to the qualification that no taxes were to be imposed upon British goods. These arguments are very cogently stated in an able book by Mr. Erskine Childers, which no doubt many Members of the Committee have read. For reasons which have been stated on the First and Second Readings, and which it is not necessary to repeat, that is not the plan adopted by the Government. Our proposals are not in the least in the nature of a measure of complete fiscal autonomy.
In the first place, the Irish Parliament will not have power to vary the Customs Duties in any way for the purpose of protecting Irish industries. That may be right or it may be wrong; but the fact is that the Bill does not allow the Irish Parliament to raise any protective duty of any kind or description. That is provided for in Clause 15, Sub-section (1), paragraph (d) and in Clause 16, Sub-sections (2) and (3). In these the matter is perfectly clearly provided. If any hon. Member thinks it is not provided with sufficient clearness, we shall be very ready to consider any drafting Amendment which he may think necessary in order to fulfil what is the clear purpose of the Bill. Secondly, 1495 the Bill does not allow the Irish Parliament to impose any duty upon any article which is not already in the Customs tariff of the United Kingdom. They cannot go outside our Customs tariff and impose duties upon corn, linen goods or any article of any kind which is not at the time subject to a Customs Duty under an Act of the Imperial Parliament. That is provided for in Clause 15, Sub-section (1), paragraph (a). Thirdly, the Irish Parliament is not allowed to effect any differentiation in the duties. They may not, for example, take the Tea Duty and say, "We will impose an addition to Chinese tea and not an addition to Ceylon tea," and so embark on questions of so-called Tariff Reform, and establish for themselves any measure of Imperial preference. [An HON. MEMBER: "What Section prevents that?"] The purpose and principle of the Bill certainly is that the Irish Parliament is not to be allowed to effect any differentiation of any kind.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am giving the Sections one by one. This is intended to be effected by Clause 15, Sub-section (1), which provides thatthe Irish Parliament may vary an Imperial tax,which was considered to mean that it could not take part of a tax, and vary that without varying the whole tax. But since some doubt has been raised as to whether the wording of the Bill adequately fulfils its purpose, in order to make any further doubt impossible, I have on the Paper an Amendment which is to follow Clause 15, Sub-section (1) paragraph (b), and make the matter clear beyond any possibility of doubt. Again, in order to protect some sources of Imperial revenue which may be needed by the Imperial Chancellor, of the Exchequer, the Irish Parliament is not to be allowed to raise duties, except on beer and spirits, to the extent of more than 10 per cent. on the proceeds of the tax. I have dealt with this matter before, and I shall again do so when TJC come to the Clause. They may reduce Customs Duties, but they will do so at their own cost. Every shilling less of revenue by any reduction of duties by the Irish Parliament, will mean that the Transferred Sum will be reduced by a corresponding amount. It will be the Irish Exchequer in every case and never the Imperial Exchequer which will be 1496 affected by the reduction of the duty. Lastly, these duties are to be collected by Imperial officers, and not by Irish officers. Limited as these powers are, I know that in many quarters they give rise to some objection. It is said in the first place—and quite truly—that in no other federation of the world is there power in one portion of the federation to alter or reduce Customs. Customs Duties are uniform throughout the area of each federation. That is so. But in no federation in the world, so far as I am aware, have we had this position that one province, after taking account of its revenue from Customs and Excise and direct taxation, involves the central Exchequer in a large annual loss. This differentiates the case which we are now dealing with from all precedents, and it is because this fact does exist that it is found necessary to make this exceptional provision with regard to Customs and Excise which is embodied in the Bill. Such a state of things, of course, happily does not exist in Scotland. If and when we come to deal with the establishment of local self-government in Scotland—
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I will say "when." When we deal with the question for Scotland we shall not be faced by the existence of a deficit of this character, and the financial relations between Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole need not be based upon the principles contained in the present Bill. This, I think. is clearly recognised by the Scottish Members themselves. I hold in my hands a copy of a report by a committee of Scottish Liberal Members of Parliament on the Irish Home Rule Bill. The committee was appointed by the whole body of Scottish Liberal Members. The report, I I think, has been distributed. This report includes the following sentences—and I may add that the report was drawn up a few weeks ago, and since our Bill was introduced; any hon. Member can get a copy of it by applying to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Falkirk Burghs—the report, too, I think has been published.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The report says:—If the example of other countries in which general legislative and administrative powers are distributed between a central and local Legislature could have 1497 been followed in the case of Ireland, that country would have been given powers to impose and collect direct taxes, while powers to' impose and collect Customs Duties and such Excise Duties as correspond to them would have been reserved exclusively to the Imperial Parliament. That is, on grounds of general policy, the natural distribution of taxing powers between a central and local Legislature—I quite agree. The report continues:—But as the present expenditure of Ireland cannot be met out of her revenues derived from all sources such a distribution of taxing powers is in her case clearly impossible. But the case of Scotland is different.It is then pointed out that in Scotland, according to the figures given, which I have not checked, but which I am quite ready to accept as correct, that £7,500,000 is derived from direct taxation alone, whilst the whole cost of local administration in Scotland, including what are now reserved as well as what are transferred services under this Bill, is £5,750,000. So that Scotland is in the fortunate position of having a surplus if she takes her direct taxes on the one side and if she takes her local expenditure on the other.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
In the case of England, will the direct taxes raised in England be reserved to England?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am merely pointing that in Scotland as in England, but not as in Ireland, there is a surplus on the local taxes, even of direct taxes, if you put on the debit side the whole of the local expenditure. Therefore a measure is necessitated in the case of Ireland alone by the fact that this deficit does exist, and that in order to meet it we take into the Imperial Exchequer the normal increase of the Irish reveue. It is that fact which differentiates the case of Ireland from any other cases which may be put. I would ask hon. Members who have some doubts as to the wisdom of conferring upon the Irish Government powers to vary the Customs and Excise—the Customs especially—to consider what sources of taxation would be left if they were to be excluded altogether from any power of varying the Customs. In the first place, the Customs revenue itself amounts to over £3,000,000 out of a total revenue of nearly £11,000,000. In the second place, if they are prohibited from increasing any Customs Duties it is quite clear they will not be able to increase any Excise Duties except such duties as liquor licences and other very small duties yielding an inconsiderable revenue—liquor licences bring in only £300,000 a year in Ireland, and with recent changes it is unlikely that they can be very largely increased. But it will be obvious that the 1498 Irish Parliament could not raise their Beer or Spirit Duties in Ireland if they were not allowed to levy a Customs Duty on beer and spirits coming into Ireland from outside.
Would it be possible, for example, for an Irish Parliament, to put an additional duty on whisky distilled in Ireland, if they were not empowered to impose an equivalent Customs Duty on whisky admitted from Scotland. If they were not, enormous quantities would come in from Scotland to undersell the Irish whisky. That might be very advisable from the point of view of the Scottish producers, but the whole Irish whisky trade would be destroyed by the act of their own Parliament, and such a thing obviously, therefore, is not possible. Therefore, if there is no power to vary Customs, there would be no power to vary the chief duties under the head of Excise. Customs bring in £3,300,000, and Excise £3,200,000. There is left the Income Tax. With reference to Income Tax, the Bill proposes to empower the Irish Parliament to add to the rate of Income Tax not more than 10 per cent. in order that the sources of Imperial revenue should not be eaten into by the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer. But this is a power which, in effect, is not likely to be put into operation so far as the main rate of Income Tax is concerned, and I would venture to quote what I said upon this point when I first spoke of the financial proposals of the Bill on the First Heading. I then said:—I do not think it probable that the Irish Parliamen is likely to exercise its powers of making a 10 per cent addition to such portion of the Income Tax as is collected at the source. That would involve very great difficulties of collection, which I need not enter into.I think it must be obvious to hon. Members that if the Irish Parliament levied 1s. 3d. while 1s. 2d. was the ordinary rate, it would involve the greatest possible difficulty of collection. You cannot expect the banks and the railway companies to collect a rate of 1s. 3d. in the pound from Irishmen and 1s. 2d. from Englishmen. And I went on to say:—The difficulties and annoyance to the taxpayer would be so great that I cannot conceive an Irish Parliament will propose such a tax. But it might add to the Income Tax, and possibly will so far as it is levied by virtue of individual declaration—that is to say, to such portion of the Income Tax as is affected by abatements on the one band or by Super-tax additions on the other."—[OFFICIAL RBPORT, 10th April, 1912, col. 71, Vol. XXXVII.]Therefore, it is in any case in the highest degree improbable that the Irish Parliament would vary the main rate of 1499 Income Tax. We did not put any restriction into the Bill because the Bill was already sufficiently complicated, and we did not wish to add to its complexity; but on further consideration we thought it advisable to make it clear, because even the latitude theoretically allowed to the Irish Parliament might give rise to difficulties and a number of Amendments might be moved while the Clauses were passing through this House, and it was thought desirable to include in the Bill a specific provision that the Irish Parliament should not vary the main rate of Income Tax and that has been done by the Amendment which stands in my name. The revenue from alterations in Super-tax or what might be got by altering abatements would be exceedingly small. There remains the Post Office from which, of course, the Irish Parliament will not be likely to get any increase of revenue. Stamps bring in £347,000 only, and about one-third of the Stamp Duties are unalterable by the Irish Parliament; they must be uniform throughout the United Kingdom. They are empowered to add 10 per cent. to the Death Duties and that would bring in about £90,000; but it is very undesirable to throw the Irish Parliament back upon that as their chief reserve. The only other source of revenue is "Miscellaneous," the total of which only brings in £100,000; so that hon. Members who consider this matter in a sympathetic spirit and wish to give the Irish Parliament adequate financial powers, will see that if they cannot raise anything from the Post Office and very little from Stamp Duties, or miscellaneous duties, and practically nothing from Income Tax, if you deprive them of Customs and Excise you deprive them of all power.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It may be said that they would be at liberty to levy new taxes, and that is provided for in the Bill, provided that these taxes are not of the same nature as Imperial taxes; because all the time you have to be exceedingly careful since Imperial revenue would be derived from Ireland, not to give the Irish Parliament such powers as would unduly trench upon the sources of Imperial taxes. You give them leave to levy Inhabited House Duty, but I am told by the Treasury that if that tax was levied 1500 in Ireland at the present rate it would only bring in £40,000 a year. They would therefore be thrown back upon such small taxes as an ingenious Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer could devise, on bicycles, advertisements, or dog licences, or whatever small sources of revenue might be found. But these little taxes cause much irritation and bring in very little money, and would not be really adequate sources to place alone in the hands of the Irish Parliament. Ireland has not got any State lands like the provinces of Canada, from which considerable revenues might be derived. She has no mines like the Transvaal, which could be taxed for purposes of local revenue. She has no forests and mines like the States of Germany, and from which in Prussia alone £20,000,000 a year is derived. Ireland has none of these resources, and if you rigidly say that she shall not be empowered to vary to any extent Customs and Excise, and if it is clear that all other sources of expected revenue are not adequate to meet the demands that may be made upon Irish taxes, then it is the view of the Government that you should give to the Irish Parliament some power of securing for itself adequate revenue for Irish local purposes.
Of course, the Opposition are fully entitled to limit themselves to destructive criticism. I do not complain in the least; that is their right. It is their right to attack each proposal in the Bill of which they disapprove without suggesting any alternative. Their business is to show the inconvenience and faulty character of the Bill, drawing the conclusion that it ought not to pass. But my hon. Friends behind me who are sympathetic to the Bill and who are Home Rulers and wish to see an Irish Parliament established, and wish to see it provided with adequate financial resources, should suggest if they object to our proposals some sufficient alternative. An obligation rests upon them to do that. Now with respect to the power to reduce taxes. The Leader of the Opposition has on more than one occasion suggested that this would lead to extraordinary competition between the Chancellor of the Exchequer here and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland, who will be careful to watch one another's movements, and the one will wait to see what the other is going to do in the way of reducing taxation before deciding what his own policy should be. I have never been able to understand that position. It must, of course, be my own fault that I have not followed the right hon. 1501 Gentleman, but I have never been able to see how that case could arise. Supposing the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer has money in hand from some source—from an adjustment of taxation or making economies, and supposing he wishes to reduce the Tea Duty by 2d., and supposing the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer has also money in hand, and may be willing to reduce the Tea Duty by 2d. throughout the United Kingdom, why should not both do so? In that case the fortunate Irish taxpayer would get a reduction of 4d.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Pardon me for interrupting, but it is with a view of getting information. I must have misunderstood the terms of the Bill. As I understand it, if the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer takes off 2d. on tea the money received from Imperial resources by him will be reduced. If, on the other hand, the duty is taken off by the English Chancellor of the Exchequer to the same amount Ireland will lose nothing, but will receive the same amount from the British Imperial Exchequer, and if that is so, it must be obvious that it is in the interests of the Irish Exchequer to wait until the British Chancellor has taken it off.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I do not see in the least why it should be a question of waiting. If the Irish Chancellor has a surplus and wants to dispose of it, the fact whether the English Chancellor is taking 2d. off or not does not affect his Budget in any way, and if this exceedingly novel combination of circumstances, which are very improbable, were to occur, the fortunate Irish taxpayer would be able to get a reduction of 4d. on his Tea Duty, 2d. of which he would share with the taxpayer of the United Kingdom as due to the Imperial Parliament, and the other 2d. which he would get at the cost of his own revenue. I do not think that the thing is the least likely to occur, but if the Irish Chancellor wished to reduce the Tea Duty he can do so on his own account, no matter what the Imperial Chancellor wished to do.
The purpose of the Bill is to secure to the Irish Parliament the right to the benefit of their own economies, and I think that is a sound principle. If Ireland is able to make economies which we have failed to make, and which could not be got under the present system of government, then the Irish people, I submit, are entitled to the benefit of these economies, either in the form of reduction of taxation upon the poorer classes or in the form of greater 1502 benefits in other directions, in the form of money spent upon education or for other purposes which they may wish. I think that should be allowed. An Amendment may be necessary also to enable the Irish Government to inform the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer that they would accept a Transferred Sum reduced by the amount of their own economies in order to make earlier the date when the deficit will be ended and the readjustment of the financial relations between the two countries will take place. These are the reasons for those provisions of the Bill. When that date comes when the deficit is filled up, when the accounts on the debit and the credit side balance, then the whole matter is subject to the review of the Imperial Parliament. It is not possible to say in advance to what extent these financial relations will be reviewed and what scheme will be substituted for the present scheme, because we do not know what taxes may then be in existence, what loans may have been contracted, and what security may be necessary. We do not know what services may still be reserved" to the control of the Imperial Government; we do not know also what other financial arrangements may have been made as a consequence of the establishment of self-government for Scotland which might affect the revision of the Irish financial relations. It is with very much reluctance we have to leave these matters over for an interval of years, but I think the Committee will see it is not possible to legislate in matters of this kind at a distance of perhaps ten or twenty years, and to provide in detail for circumstances that have yet to come into existence. Then the position will be clearer; then measures which may now be necessary may be found to be no longer required. The situation then will be far easier. The financial relations of the two countries, which at the present time are governed by the existence of the deficit, will be profoundly altered, and we shall be able, in the words of the Bill, to secure a proper contribution from Irish revenues towards the common expenditure of the United Kingdom. I beg to move the Resolution which stands, in my name. It is intended that the Clauses which rest upon it will secure the provision for the Irish Government of an adequate revenue, and what I suggest is equally essential, sufficient financial powers in the future, without unduly trenching on the sources of Imperial revenue. They are 1503 intended to liquidate in the course of time the present loss which falls upon the Imperial Exchequer, and they are intended to secure to the Irish people the benefit of those economies which they may succeed in making where we have failed. I submit that these are objects which should command the support both of the Irish people and the Imperial Parliament.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman, in a speech which was none too long, but which has nevertheless taken one-eighth of the time we are allowed for discussion here said, and said truly, that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if he took a general survey of the financial proposals of the Bill. I entirely agree with him, but as I shall have occasion to point out, oven in the hour which the right hon. Gentleman allotted to himself, he was unable to deal, or did not deal, with some of the most important provisions which are contained in the very extraordinary clauses which are founded upon the Resolution we are now considering. It is difficult in the case of the Home Rule Bill to pick out one Clause or set of Clauses rather than another, as being of greater or more vital interest to the country; but without saying that the financial Clauses are the most important, I do undertake to say that they contain within them, proposals which ought to occupy the serious attention of this House. I doubt very much whether the House really understands them at the present time, and I am convinced that the country would not sanction them if the people understood what it is the Government are proposing to do. The senior Member for the City of London observed last night that we were then debating what was to be the army of observation which was to be placed in a conquered country. To-day we are beginning to debate the indemnity which the conquered country is to pay to their conquerors.
I think we have some reason at the outset to complain of the way in which the Government have treated us. They appointed a Committee whose report they have published, and to which they habitually refer as a non-party Committee, to develop a scheme of finance for Ireland on the assumption that Home Rule was to be granted. We know that Committee took a great deal of evidence, and have we not aright to 1504 complain that the Government have suppressed that evidence, and, in spite of applications made from this side of the House they have absolutely refused to publish it. I know no precedent for their action, and I would like the Government, if they have a precedent, to state what it is. This is not an ordinary Committee of the Cabinet which, like all the proceedings of the Cabinet, are secret. It is not like a few advisers collected privately to give them information on a particular point, but it is a Committee whose appointment is known to the House, and whose names are known; it is set to take evidence, and then that evidence is concealed. I know of no precedent for that except where it can be said that the interests of the country are at stake, and that it would be contrary to public welfare to make the evidence public. The only people to whom it would be inconvenient are Ministers opposite. It is inconvenient to them, but it is not for the convenience of the public that we are refused admission to this evidence. We have all the more reason to call for the evidence because the Government, having appointed the Committee and asked for its advice, have rejected every one of its recommendations.
The Postmaster-General said that our business with this Bill is critical, and that it is not our business to frame an alternative scheme less absurd than that which the Government have proposed. I will make the right hon. Gentleman this admission: If you are to have Home Rule, which I do not desire at all, at least I think it is desirable to try some scheme which offers some hope that it may be a settlement of the controversy between us. I do not know that the Primrose Committee scheme would altogether satisfy that condition, but between the scheme proposed by the Primrose Committee and the scheme adopted by the Government there cannot be a moment's doubt. This scheme will multiply cases for friction, and it makes certain quarrels between the two Parliaments, the two nations, and the two Administrations. The only form of settlement it provides is one which, whilst infringing profoundly on the power and authority of this House, will not be considered satisfactory by either party when the verdict goes against them. This is not the first essay of the Government in federal finance. We have been discussing a federal Constitution, and now we come to federal finance. I think that here, as elsewhere, the Government is beginning at the wrong 1505 end. As the Debate proceeds the probability that any form of Home Rule remotely resembling that which is now preposed to confer on Ireland will ever be extended to any other part of the United Kingdom diminishes day by day. I notice that the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Mr. Pirie) has come into the House. I regretted his absence when the Postmaster-General was explaining that when Home Rule was granted to Scotland they would not demand the privileges which are now afforded to Ireland. What was the proper course for a Government to take under these circumstances? They say that it is impossible to proceed with the federal Constitution of the whole of the United Kingdom at once; but I do not agree with them. If a federal Constitution for the United Kingdom is desirable, which I think it is not, I see no reason why you should not produce a federal Constitution for the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I have never regretted more than I do now that the hon. Member does not sit on the bench opposite, because we should then be really discussing the federal system for the United Kingdom. If you must begin, surely it would have been the wiser course to have begun with what is called the predominant partner, and consider what powers you could entrust and what revenues you could leave to England, and then to extend those powers, or similar powers, to Scotland and Ireland. On the contrary, the Government, for reasons which are known to all of us, and which are not unconnected with Parliamentary and electoral exigencies, have chosen Ireland to begin with. They say that the position of Ireland is wholly unlike any other portion of the United Kingdom, and without having in their minds the ghost of an idea what a federal scheme for the United Kingdom ought to be, they proceed to invent a scheme to meet the special necessities of Ireland which they themselves admit, and admit in an ever-increasing degree as the discussion goes on, is wholly inapplicable and not capable of any further extension. I will take this case on the plea that this is the first step in a scheme of federal 1506 finance, which is always a difficult and complicated matter. No Government is the stronger for having its finance subject to the disability of a federal Constitution, and Governments only submit to that necessity because it is a necessity. Now, without any necessity, we are invited to take these difficulties upon ourselves. I really think the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to be here when we are discussing the finance of this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "He has been here" and "Bring him in."] I do not want the right hon. Gentleman brought in to hear me, but as the guardian of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom and in a special degree, if there is to be a severance, of Great Britain, his presence in these Debates is desirable. The right hon. Gentleman is accustomed to make a very complacent boast of the financial and monetary position of this scheme as compared with Germany. I do not think all he has said on this subject has been very well founded, and I am not certain that it has always been in the best of taste when speaking of the arrangements of a friendly nation. But if there be difficulties, as there are, special for Germany which we have not been subject to, why is it? It is because they are under a federal system of finance, and the whole difference in the position of the right hon. Gentleman and his German opposite is that the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with a unified system of finance with no federal restrictions, whilst the German Minister of Finance is hampered and controlled by a federal Constitution and by federal finance.
Observe one thing further. Observe how profoundly it is separatist finance. Every speaker on that side of the House who attempts to justify the financial attitude of the Government—and there are very few of them unless they happen to be Members of the Government—is driven throughout to adopt an entirely separatist attitude and to consider Ireland and the United Kingdom as two rival bodies, having nothing in common, except a purse, as to out of which the question is who shall get the largest share. I differ and dissent altogether from the attitude adopted by the right hon. Gentleman to-day and by the Prime Minister yesterday on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman to-day said the dominant fact of the present position is the existence of a deficit caused by the excess of expenditure on Irish purposes over Irish revenue. That is not the dominant fact so long as we remain a 1507 United Kingdom. It is no more the dominant fact in treating of Ireland than it is the dominant fact in treating of Caithness. We tax individuals, and as long as our taxes are equal as between individuals, whether those individuals be Irishmen, Englishmen, or Scotchmen, we have discharged our duty under the Act of Union, and have committed no injustice as between one part of the country and another part. Just as there is no injustice in levying equal taxes from individuals similarly situated in different geographical parts of the United Kingdom, so there is no injustice and nothing which Englishmen ought to resent—they ought to be ashamed to criticise it—in using the common resources of all those people, in a larger measure, for those who have most need than for those who have the least requirement.
It is only when you try to set up Home Rule that these separatist questions arise at all. It is only then you set Ireland against the United Kingdom, and have to examine exactly what Ireland gives and what she takes, and see on which side the balance remains. Henceforth, if this Bill or anything like it passes, no expenditure will ever be incurred by the Imperial Parliament in Ireland without there will be nice calculations as to how much of it Ireland is going to contribute and what she gives in return for what she receives. I fancy future Chancellors of the Exchequer, whom the present Chancellor of the Exchequer can no more bind than the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) can bind the future Irish Parliament, will think twice before they make great additions to the burdens of English and Scotch taxpayers, already heavily taxed, for the common purposes of the defence of the three Kingdoms, without taking care there is some greater approximation than exists at present in the contributions received from Ireland for these common purposes. I am afraid I shall have to make some demand on the patience of the Committee. I will try to be as brief as I can whilst making some attempt to do justice to this question. What is the first result of this federal or separatist finance? I suppose the Postmaster-General wished the House of Commons to believe the first result would be that the Irish Parliament would manage Irish finance and co-relatively the British Parliament would manage British and Imperial finance. The result will be totally 1508 different. The Irish Parliament cannot manage Irish finance, the British Parliament cannot manage British finance, and neither the Irish Parliament nor the British Parliament can manage Imperial finance. The real power will lie with that new body, of which the Postmaster-General did not think it worth while to say one word, which is created under this Bill and called the Exchequer Board.
The Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be master in his own house and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be master in his own house. They will be both subject to the control of the Exchequer Board. I do not know what that Board is to be. There are to be two representatives appointed by the Irish Parliament and two representatives appointed by the British Parliament, and there is to be a chairman appointed by His Majesty, on the advice, of course, of the First Lord of the British Treasury. How satisfactory and how impartial that tribunal will appear to the successors of the hon. and learned Gentleman below the Gangway when by a vote of three to two it gives a decision in favour of the Imperial Exchequer and against the Irish Exchequer! Do you think that in any proposal of that kind there are the seeds of future peace? Do you think that is a settlement of the Irish grievance against the British Treasury which is so constantly spoken of? I see the hon. and learned Member for one of the Divisions of county Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) sitting in his place. I have sat in this House for many years, and I have listened to his speeches, seldom with agreement, but, at any rate, with the feeling that I get a better insight into the Irish question from those speeches than perhaps one derives from any other source. I ask hon. Members to recall his denunciations of the British Treasury on every occasion, perfectly impartial, no matter what Government is in power.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman has suffered under it and I have suffered under it. They are very bitter and very searching. Is he willing, if we get this Bill through, and would his successors be satisfied, to entrust to a majority provided by the British Treasury the settlement of all these important questions? And what are the questions? I called the attention of the House to this matter on the Second 1509 Reading of the Bill, and I make no apology for calling attention to the nature of these questions again. Let me ask one question in connection with the Board which is to decide these matters? Who is going to pay that Board? Who is going to provide and pay their staff? I think that is a question which we might fairly have answered by a Minister before this Debate closes. I do not know whether it is proposed that the whole of this expenditure is to fall upon the British Exchequer, as so much of the expenditure does under this Bill. I do not know whether it is proposed that the British representative appointed by His Majesty is to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the time being, or whether the Government have in mind that they are going to take some outsider and make him Grand Minister of Finance for the United Kingdom of England and Scotland and for the separate Kingdom of Ireland, and put him in a position to decide wherever the casting vote is needed what shall be the financial arrangements and what shall be the contribution of either one party or the other. Now we come to the questions which are referred to this Exchequer Board. They must determine the cost of the services transferred at the time of the passing of this Act; that is to say, they will fix the amount which we are to pay annually as the Transferred Sum to the Irish Parliament.
They must determine the proceeds of Irish taxes levied by the Irish Parliament, and they must decide whether any proposed Irish tax is substantially the same as any Imperial tax. Could you have a more difficult proposition: Are two taxes substantially the same? Is Super-tax substantially the same as Income Tax? You may argue either way with equally good reasons. Is a Mineral Rights Duty, collected as the present Mineral Rights Duty is on the revenue received by the owner of the land, substantially the same thing as a double Income Tax on his rents? It is not merely substantially, but my hon. Friends will say it is exactly the same. But does the Chancellor of the Exchequer say so? Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer admit he has, in fact, levied a double Income Tax on a particular class of the community? In future it is not for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say whether he shall or shall not; these questions are to be decided by a Joint Exchequer Board. They must estimate the losses to the Imperial revenue arising from the reduction or discotinuance of an Im- 1510 perial tax in Ireland and fix the amount by which in consequence the Transferred Sum is to be reduced. They must decide whether the 10 per cent. allowance on the yield from additional taxes has been exceeded and by how much, and for all the guidance they get from the Bill they might as well be without it altogether. I have read the Bill carefully, and I have drawn my own conclusions. I put them to the Postmaster-General on the Second Reading. He explained they were not his conclusions, but he has never made it clear that the Bill provides for anything except what I have stated. They must decide the increase of the Transferred Sum to accompany any transferred reserved service. They may manage any Irish debt if they like, and they must make an estimate of the true revenue, the very thing which the Primrose Committee says that to do correctly passes the wit of man.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Have you not at the present time Customs Returns as to the trade between Ireland and the United Kingdom? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Go and look in your own Department and find them. Go and ask the Board of Trade.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Finally, they must report when for three successive years the Irish revenue has exceeded the expenditure on Irish services, and they must then apparently summon a kind of National Convention or Parliament for the United Kingdom which will consider what Ireland under those circumstances ought to contribute to our common expenditure.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
It is only on the initiation of the Exchequer Board that it can be summoned.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
They merely have to state the facts; how much money is received, and how much money is spent. They have not to summon Parliament at all.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman is really rather quibbling over a form of words. It depends wholly upon the decision of the Exchequer Board whether that Parliament 1511 is summoned in that form to consider that question or not. It is their duty to say the word if certain events arise, and, unless they say it, Parliament cannot consider, according to the intentions of this Bill, any contributions from the Irish Parliament. I will only say, in passing, that the Post-master-General, in dealing with the other financial provisions of the Bill, has repeatedly laid stress on the fact that, unless you give the Irish a direct interest in economy, they will never effect it. I have heard Ministers describe this Bill as a treaty of peace with Ireland. I have heard them defend it as a compromise accepted by hon. Members who sit below the Gangway, and, therefore, binding on the Irish party. If that be so, if it is a treaty or bargain struck between the two parties, if it is binding not only on the men who assent to it but also upon their successors, how can you assist Ireland twenty years hence when the deficit is wiped out and when the circumstances which the Government foresee are likely to arise? They will tell you you have no right to vary the term of the original agreement unless you give representation to both parties.
I do not think that this is a hopeful proposal. The functions entrusted to the Exchequer Board will produce a dislocation of our financial system. If the powers of this House and of the Irish House are going to be restricted by a body which is not properly a Parliamentary body at all, it is certain to cause the greatest friction and grave discontent in the working of this Act between the two Parliaments of the two countries. May I point to one or two questions which will arise. In the first place, suppose the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the position which the right hon. Gentleman fills, should a few years hence find that the requirements in connection with the Navy, the Insurance Act, and old age pensions need a very much larger revenue. I am not going to criticise these schemes, they have been decided on their merits. But if he should be called upon to find more money, he will take it from the wealthier classes by means of direct taxation, and his whole calculation could be upset by the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer, who might remit one of the taxes proposed. Consequently he will have incurred some unpopularity by coupling direct taxation with heavy indirect taxation. I do not propose to discus, the Budget. My point is that the Chancellor 1512 of the Exchequer in order to meet the new burdens will have to impose fresh taxes, so that the Exchequer here will lose nothing. Yes, but my argument is that in this case the Chancellor of the Exchequer loses everything, and that which he thinks is a fair scheme, as he proposes it, is rendered unfair by the action of another Chancellor of the Exchequer in another place. I hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington say, "That is the beauty of it." Let me take another aspect. The Irish Parliament is to have the Customs Duties. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken devoted a large portion of his speech to defending the provision affecting the Customs and Excise. He evidently felt he had a critical audience on his own side. I believe the only Home Ruler and financial authority who can be quoted in favour of the Government's financial proposals is Lord Welby, who, however, fully approved of the financial proposals in the Bill of 1886, and also in the first and second forms of those proposals in the Bill of 1893. Is there a man to-day who will defend any of those three proposals? I think I heard that hon. Member say that circumstances have changed. If any one of these schemes had passed Ireland would have been bankrupt long ago. It is highly probable that ten years hence the present scheme will appear in exactly the same light as its predecessors. What was the argument addressed to his supporters by the Postmaster-General? He said it would break every precedent for any Constitution in the world, if you give a partial control of Customs and Excise to a subordinate Legislature. He went on to say that Ireland stood in a different position to any other country in which federation has been undertaken. That may be a reason for not undertaking any federation at all. The Postmaster-General stands in a difficult position. If Ireland had a deficit on its present revenue is it to have greater powers than any local Legislature or any federal State in the world. When the Irish Constitution is established as a model, is Scotland going to be content with anything less? If Ireland can raise a 10 per cent. duty on English goods, why may not England raise a 10 per cent. duty on Irish goods? Powers given to Ireland will have to be given to Scotland. If this control is to be given to Ireland because she is poor, why not give it to Scotland because she is rich? Surely the country which is rich and prosperous has the best experience in 1513 managing its own affairs, and if any distinction is to be drawn in these matters, that country ought to have the larger powers.
Is this federal system of finance going to facilitate the achievement of the object of hon. Members opposite who desire the abolition of the Tea Duty? The Postmaster-General said he could not conceive any difficulty arising in connection with the Tea Duty. I suppose there is not an hon. Member opposite who has not repeatedly expressed on public platforms an earnest desire to see the speedy abolition of the Tea Duty—most of them are indeed, pledged to support it. These pledges are not always carried into effect. What will be the position if the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer takes the Tea Duty off I Ireland will lose the whole of the produce of the Tea Duty in Ireland, and the Deferred Sum will be diminished by that amount. If the British Chancellor of the Exchequer takes the duty off, so much less money is collected in Ireland, but the Transferred Sum remains the same, and the whole loss has to be made good by the British taxpayer. Is a British Chancellor of the Exchequer likely, under those circumstances, to take off the duty. It will be said that we are to pay to keep the Irish Parliament in existence. Our contribution amounts to £2,000,000 a year, apart from the fact that she contributes nothing to any of our common expenses. If you reduce the taxation it will have the result of adding another half-million to the deficit which already exists on the Irish Budget. If I want to give relief to Ireland I will try and find some way in which that relief can be given, so that Ireland shall get the full benefit. But I would not transfer from Irish to British shoulders a portion of a very slight burden and leave Ireland to increase the very heavy burden already placed on her shoulders.
We are obliged to speculate as to what the future has in store. The Postmaster-General indulges in rather confident predictions. I am not quite so confident as he, and I differ from him in his expectations in many cases. I take these illustrations not as things certain to happen, but as things that may happen. The Postmaster-General says, "The Irish must get increased revenue for their Irish purposes, and it is for that reason that we give them Customs; because, unless we give them Customs, they have not sufficient resources at their disposal." Suppose the Irish Government, wishing to embark on great 1514 schemes of improvement of the kind of which the Postmaster-General talks, finds itself thereby in need of additional revenue and puts an additional 10 per cent. on the Tea Duty. It will not be very popular. I am perfectly confident that the Irish Parliament will not in any circumstances be popular with its constituents. I put aside what I may describe without offence as the sentimental argument in favour of Home Rule—the invocation of the National spirit—not as a thing which is negligible, nor which does not command respect. What is the history of the Home Rule movement? The strength of the Home Rule movement was coincident with the linking of the National movement with proposals for material benefit, and what has made the Irish active Home Rulers, and what has kept them Home Rulers, is the idea that under an Irish Parliament material benefits will be showered upon them which they cannot obtain from the Imperial Parliament. These material benefits cost money. The people of Ireland will not get the development they expect, and will not see the measures of social reform that have been held out or promised to them, unless they raise new taxes. None of the taxes they will raise will be popular. No taxes ever are. They are no more popular in Ireland than elsewhere. I remember a distinguished gentleman who had to visit South Africa recently on a financial mission telling me he had been much impressed by one gentleman who said to him:—You sir, are a stranger to this country. You must understand that the genius of our people is against taxes.I think it is just possible that the genius of the Irish people will be against taxes, but if they will not pay for these reforms they will not be able to have them. If they want them they must pay for them. Suppose that, in order to do so, they raised the Tea Duty. Take the opposite alternative to that I was discussing just now, say they raise a portion of the money they require by an addition to the Tea Duty and an addition to the Tobacco Duty. Then comes the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is not going to scrutinise too closely the advantage Ireland gets by the remission of Irish taxation, and who, having regard to the surplus he possesses and to the needs of his own people, decides to abolish the Tea Duty and, we will say, to halve the Tobacco Duty. What becomes of the Irish taxes? The moment the British Tea Duty is withdrawn the Irish Tea Duty is illegal and cannot be levied. 1515 The moment the British Tobacco Taxis reduced the Irish additional tax exceeds the limits provided by this Bill.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I admit I had overlooked that provision. It destroys my argument in so far as it related to the Tobacco Tax, and that portion of my argument may be considered as not delivered. But it does not touch my argument in relation to the Tea Duty. If you take off the British Tea Duty the Irish Tea Duty is illegal. Can you conceive any arrangement more calculated to embarrass both parties?
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The Postmaster-General says it is a very small amount, but Ireland, as the hon. and learned Member for Waterford has said, is a very poor country, and you are dealing with the humble affairs of poor men. The Postmaster-General himself, when it suited his argument, also pointed that out. He said, in answering Lord MacDonnell, that £200,000 may seem a very small sum, but £200,000 in proportion to an Irish Budget is as £3,500,000 in proportion to one of our Budgets. Supposing they lose £40,000. What is that in proportion to an English Budget? It is as if we lost £750,000 on it. You must bear in mind, as the Postmaster-General rightly said, that sums which in a Budget of the United Kingdom, as it now exists, are very small sums, will be very important sums in a Budget in Ireland, and that a reduction of the Tea Duty, which we might well afford, will upset the Budget calculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and transform what he intended to be a surplus into a deficit.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
If it is reduced and the Irish have previously added a full 10 per cent. additional, they may continue to do so under the provision I had overlooked, and which the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, but if the tax is abolished, then all my argument holds good, and the Irish tax levied for Irish purposes by the Irish Parliament automatically falls to the ground. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by interrupting and saying that it would have to be abolished altogether? I thought that was the policy of his party, and that they had all pledged themselves to it, and I believe the right hon. Gentleman himself has done that. Now, when we are getting to business, he speaks of it as a thing you cannot contemplate. I suppose the pledge was for platform consumption, and that the Government have not the slightest intention of carrying it out. Let me take another question which does arise under this very intricate system. The Postmaster-General says, "We have provided that the Irish are not to protect Irish industries." But if they are to have a. Home Rule Parliament, why they are not to protect Irish industries I do not know. That they will permanently accept a Parliament on these conditions I do not believe. I doubt whether hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, who may hope to sit in an Irish Parliament, would pledge themselves never to reopen that question. If they were willing to do so, I must be permitted to say that their pledge would not be the slightest guarantee to this Government. Although they might personally be bound, it is certain as anything can be that that desire for protection which Mr. Parnell instilled into the Irish—a ground naturally receptive for it—will survive; this Bill, will grow with the exercise of Parliamentary powers under this Bill, and will become a formidable demand to be pressed perpetually on Ministers in this House by the Irish garrison which would be sent here for that purpose. Have the Government provided that they shall not give practical protection to Irish industries? I do not think so. It is quite true they say they have provided partly by a Clause and partly by an Amendment, which I understand has been put down to make the Clause clear, and which I hope does make it clear to anybody who has tried to read it—at any rate I understand the Government, contention is that the Irish Parliament cannot put on a protective Customs Duty. [HON. MEMBERS: 1517 "Hear, hear."] But can they not give a bounty to an Irish industry? As I read the Bill they have absolute power to grant a bounty as and when they please.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
In Clause 2, which provides they shall not have power to make laws in respect of trade with any place out of Ireland.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Did the House ever listen to such an explanation. I believe the Clause referred to was guillotined before it was discussed. Now, at this stage, the right hon. Gentleman bravely tells us, for the first time, that under Clause 2 the provision which would prevent the Irish Parliament from granting bounties, and the provision which prevents the Irish Parliament from continuing to grant to tobacco growers in Ireland the bounty which is now paid out of the Imperial Exchequer, is a provision which says that they shall not interfere with trade outside Ireland. I call the attention of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and particularly that of the hon. Member for East Clare (Mr. W. Redmond), to the fact that the Government's expressed intention is to prevent their granting any bounty to tobacco or anything else in Ireland; and I call the Government's attention to the fact that the provision in the Bill singularly fails to carry that out.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
We are speaking of quite different things. A bounty is a Grant which is given for the purposes of export.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Certainly it is, in the ordinary use of the term. A bounty is a Grant which is given to persons who export goods to foreign countries. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] That is certainly the sense in which I understood the right hon. Gentleman to use it. The Irish Parliament will not be able to give that, because Clause 2 provides that they must not interfere with trade in any place out of Ireland. The Grant to an industry within 1518 Ireland, such as a Grant for the improvement of Irish cultivation, or the improvement of agriculture, or anything of that kind, has nothing whatever to do with either Customs or Excise. No matter what your system of finance was, if Customs and Excise were excluded absolutely from their purview, nothing could prevent the Government of any Colony or any subordinate Legislature under any federation giving from its finances Grants for technical education in any industry, or, if you like, Grants for the encouragement of that industry. That has been made clear again and again in answer to questions.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He misunderstood what I said, and gave me an answer which was not a reply to what I was saying. I was misled by that. Look at the situation. The hon. Member for East Clare may be perfectly happy about the tobacco bounty. That bounty may be continued. I suppose it will be continued at our expense. But if that bounty be continued, and, as the right hon. Gentleman says, they may give a bounty anywhere else in Ireland on the production or manufacture of anything, what the Bill forbids them to do is to give it on the export of the article. Assuming I am an Irish manufacturer wanting to sell my goods in competition with an English or Scotch manufacturer, what does it matter to me whether my bounty is paid to me on the whole produce of my factory in the place where the goods are made, or whether it is paid to me at a higher rate on that portion of it which is exported at the port from which it goes? What the right hon. Gentleman has now succeeded in showing is that the statement with which I started is true, that whilst you may not give, under this Bill, protection to Irish industries by Customs Duties, you may give it by bounty. He has taken us one step further, and has shown that the provision which he cited from Clause 2 about interference with foreign trade is not worth the paper on which it is written, for it would be perfectly easy for the Irish Government to get round it and defeat it. That brings me to another point. I listened to-day to the explanation the right hon. Gentleman gave of the Amendment which he had put down in regard to Customs and Excise. I am not quite certain that I entirely followed it. I tinder-stood him to say that the Irish Parliament might vary the Tea Duty, but they must 1519 vary it on all tea—they could not give a preference to the tea of one country over the tea of another. We have always had one rate of duty on tea, but we have always had different rates of duty on wine. They are not arranged according to the countries from which the wine has come, but according to the alcoholic strength of the wine. Does the right hon. Gentleman say that either the Bill as it stands or the provision which he has put down would prevent the Irish Parliament from varying one part of the alcoholic scale of the wine? I do not think he would.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
In that ease I doubt whether the Amendment affects its intentions, and it is only one more illustration of how certain it is that, under the system which you have adopted for the discussion of this Bill and under the suppression of debate, your Bill will go through unworkable and imperfect from curable defects, let alone the incurable defects which are inherent in the system which you are trying to establish. I want to put two other cases. Suppose in the first place, the right hon. Gentleman said, "We are looking to be recouped for the amount which we are now out of pocket from the growing produce of existing Imperial taxes in Ireland. But the Irish Parliament has power to remit any one of those taxes. If it finds that its taxes are growing faster than its own sources of revenue, or if it has need of more money, its obvious course is to remit the Imperial tax which shows a great power of expansion, and carefully avoid a smaller tax which might bring it under the censure of the Exchequer Board—to get at the same substance under another tax and to anticipate the increase of revenue which would otherwise have gone to the Imperial Treasury.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
They can. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy) would have no difficulty in driving a coach and four through an Act of Parliament like this and defeating the intentions of a Government which is so credulously optimistic. Now take the other alternative. Suppose the genius of 1520 an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer finds a new and remunerative tax. May not that example be very tempting to the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer? He may say to himself, "My Irish colleague has had a brilliant idea; it is succeeding extraordinarily well in Ireland; it would succeed equally well throughout the three Kingdoms, and it just fits my necessity and will bring in the revenue I want. I will make it an Imperial tax." What becomes of the Irish Budget? They can then only have 10 per cent. on the sum which the English Chancellor levies, instead of having the whole of the tax which they have found and provided for their necessities. It is by an examination of the questions which may arise, and many of which will arise under the Bill, that the real impracticability of the Bill is shown -T just as it was by a similar process that the real impracticability of the Bill of 1893 was shown.
Take another grievance which appertains to the English taxpayer only. The British Government is made the collector of all the taxes in Ireland, Imperial and Irish. How that will endear us to the Irish people! What an olive branch it will be when, in order to heal the strife of centuries, in order to allay the jealousies which unhappy historic feuds have caused, we retire from Ireland for every beneficent purpose, no longer seeking to promote their development by assisting their own efforts or by initiating efforts of our own, and when we appear to them solely in the guise of the tax collector. What a happy prospect for the future relations of the two people. But we are not only to collect all the taxes; we are to pay for them all. Let me suppose that instead of a British Chancellor of Exchequer following the brilliant example of some Irish Chancellor of Exchequer, some Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer were to follow the brilliant example of the right hon. Gentleman and contrive a scheme of Irish taxation which cost £1,000,000 and yielded £20,000. A little time ago the Committee would have had no patience if I had made a suggestion of that kind. They would have thought it an extravagant hypothesis. We now know that it has actually happened, and what has happened once may happen again. The Irish Chancellor gets his £20,000 net and the British taxpayer pays £1,000,000 for its collection. Let us hope and pray for our own sake that whatever may be the fortunes of Ireland in the future, if she has a Home Rule Parliament constructed on 1521 these lines she may never have a Lloyd George for a Chancellor of Exchequer.
What has been the argument I have tried to enforce upon the House by the different examples I have given? It is that when you approach the finance of this Bill you find that there, as in the Constitutional Clauses, this is not a settlement. It is not a healing of old feuds, but an opening up of new ones, not the removing of old causes of friction, but the putting of fresh sand in the machine. It is making certain of constant friction between the Exchequers of the two countries, between the Parliaments of the two countries, and between the people of the two countries. It starts Ireland with a Budget that no Irishman will admit to be adequate. It takes from him all the normal increase of the existing taxes; it hampers, limits and confines him at every turn as to the new taxes which he may impose, and while it does work from the Irish point of view, it has, I think, almost every objection that any scheme could have. It is not the less objectionable from the British point of view; it hampers the British Exchequer equally; it makes it equally subservient to a third and irresponsible body; it may prevent the Chancellor of Exchequer, with a great majority in this House, carrying out schemes of taxation which they may desire, and in times of stress and strain, when unity of action is most important and when complete control of the financial resources of the country is most necessary, then is the moment when friction will become greatest, when ill-feeling will be most hotly developed and when it is certain instead of that hearty co-operation which the Government expect in future from the Irish Members who will attend this House, they will come here with a mission from their country to extort from our necessities greater freedom for their own development, and to check and thwart the Chancellor in any attempt he may make, under any conditions whatever, to extract from Ireland a single penny towards the cost of our common defence.
§ Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
It would have been very amusing if it were not so serious a matter for Ireland to listen to the right hon. Gentleman seriously affecting to see some terrific financial loss accruing to that conquered country, England, in the financial provisions of this Bill. To us Irishmen such an idea is simply grotesque, but to some extent I am afraid the Government are themselves at fault. It is with 1522 the utmost reluctance that we take up anything, even approaching be a combative attitude, towards any portion of this Bill, because we are sensible that whatever else may be said of this Bill it is a most remarkable vote of confidence in the Irish people on the part of the Prime Minister and the majority of the House, We certainly will do our utmost to be worthy of that confidence so far as the people of Ireland are concerned; but in common fairness to Ireland we cannot conceal from you our very great objection to almost every part of the financial scheme of this proposal. Even the able speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herbert Samuel) this afternoon has not shaken my belief that unless we consent to turn that scheme into a mere transitory and experimental scheme it will land you and land us in inevitable friction, no matter how hard we may and will strive to avoid it. Some allowance should be made to private Irish Members dealing with this tremendously difficult problem, contending, as we are, almost alone in this House, not only against the whole expert ingenuity of the Treasury, who alone has access to the books upon all these matters, but, as we also have to do, against the Postmaster-General, of whose financial ability we have had striking examples this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General has quite truly stated that the allegation on which he and the other authors of this Bill claim that they are extending generous treatment to-Ireland—and it is also the allegation which the Opposition have naturally fastened upon to make out some enormous financial yearly loss to England—is that there is a deficit of £1,500,000 in the government of Ireland, and that England, out of her bounty, is making us a present of that deficit under the proposals of this Bill. I regret to say that that is the fallacy which underlies the whole of this Bill.
That deficit is, in our view, a fiction arising principally from the quite recently invented device of the Treasury bookkeepers who represent the revenue of Ireland, not as the money actually collected in Ireland, but as a sort of—what shall I say—artificial residuum after they have deducted from the collected revenue of Ireland a sum of £1,750,000. The Postmaster-General, no doubt, referred to the deductions, but he omitted to mention that more than 75 per cent. of these deductions are upon one article, namely, spirits— that is to say, practically speaking, a burden of £1,500,000,at the expense of 1523 one of the few manufactures we have in our country. If you discard that bookkeeping trick, the whole of this supposed loss in the government of Ireland immediately disappears, because the collected revenue of Ireland exceeds at this moment by £2,000,000 a year even your present extravagant Imperial expenditure in Ireland. I have the figures here. The total collected revenue of Ireland for the year 1910–11 is £13,519,000, and the total expenditure for the same year is £11,344,000. The case is even stronger, because, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington (Mr. Lough) reminded you in his brave and eloquent plea for Ireland last night, this so-called deficit has only been in existence for two years after a whole century of vast Imperial contributions from Ireland to this country, and even all the ingenuity of the Treasury has only succeeded in totting up a deficit of about £850,000 for the present year. But from our Irish standpoint the case is infinitely stronger even than that, because, when you draw up your Imperial balance sheet you retain to yourselves £3,000,000 of what you call the true revenue of Ireland, in other words, £5,000,000 of what we call the right revenue of Ireland.
Then you take credit to yourselves as against Ireland for ever so many items. You take credit for at least three enormous sums which are in their nature as essentially Imperial as anything could possibly be. One of them is, as well as I can remember, £700,000 a year, which was the Imperial price, the Imperial ransom, to the landlords for the surrender of the old Grand Jury system under the Local Government Act. Another item is the charge under the Land Purchase Acts, amounting to £761,000 for the great Imperial service of putting an end to an agrarian revolution. Then there is a sum of £1,400,000 for the Royal Irish Constabulary, which we heard hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway all through the Debates last week describe, and truly describe, as your Imperial standing Army in Ireland—a force undoubtedly as purely a part of your Imperial service as are the Grenadier Guards. I say nothing for the moment about the Old Age Pensions Act except this: that although undoubtedly it is a wonderful windfall and a wonderful charity for our old people, I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deny that that Act was passed with purely 1524 British designs, and wholly regardless of the consequences to Ireland. I can state with authority and knowledge that the representatives of Ireland were never in any way consulted as to the application of that Bill to Ireland, and that they never even heard of the terms of it until they were disclosed in this House, and yet for that Act you have already recovered £1,500,000 from Ireland on the Budget. Even if we admit, as a rough and ready compromise, that half of those huge sums I have mentioned might be thrown upon Ireland, what would the result be? The result would be that instead of the government of Ireland costing you anything, this bogus deficit would absolutely disappear, and would be replaced by a sum of over £3,000,000 a year, which we hold Ireland is paying at the present moment to you, and which we hold is really Ireland's Imperial contribution.
In a matter of that kind we ought to deal with it on broad and honest principles as between nation and nation, and as between two independent financial units. Well, the broad fact is that the taxes and the other revenue collected in Ireland at the present moment exceed by more than £2,000,000 the whole of the huge sum of even your present Imperial expenditure, and if, as I have just argued should be done, you deducted another £1,000,000 for charges which are purely Imperial charges, the result would be that you would put Ireland on the right side of the account by at least £3,000,000, and instead of her being represented, as was done in this House last night by the hon. and learned Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel), as a pauper and as a bankrupt petitioning for alms to the English nation—
§ Mr. CASSEL
I do not think I used the word bankrupt. What I said was that under the scheme of the Bill Ireland would be receiving a subsidy of £2,000,000.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
I did not for a moment mean to impute that the hon. and learned Gentleman meant to misrepresent the case. I did share, I must say, the feeling of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington, who showed a not unnatural indignation when he said how galling, how offensive almost beyond words, it is to Irish feeling to know, as we do know, that our own taxation, which was acknowledged by the Royal Commission in 1896 to be £2,750,000 a year too great, has now been increased by £3,000,000 since 1525 the present Government came into power seven years ago, and yet we are expected to prostrate ourselves in gratitude to our Treasury masters because under the fiction of cutting losses which do not exist you kindly hand us back £2,000,000 out of the £5,000,000 you take from us. Let me remind the Committee that if there is a mistake in finance in this Bill, Ireland will have no remedy if the mistake is against Ireland, whereas if the mistake in finance should be against England you have the remedy in your own hands—this is my answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire—in additional taxation, because when this Bill is passed your Chancellor of the Exchequer will still not only be master of the Joint Exchequer Board, but he will have complete power to clap £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 of fresh taxation on Ireland any year he pleases, and we will have only an attenuated representation of thirty or forty Irishmen in this House even to make a protest. As to the argument which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) used in his speech last night in reference to these forty-two men, I should like to say that if the financial aspects of this Bill were in this Parliament and now settled in a fair and rational manner, I cannot even imagine any reason for which those forty-two men would come into this House otherwise than as loyal and as faithful friends and comrades to join you in the common interests of the Empire. For us, at all events, the past would remain the past.
But the very first step you have to take in order to have—I hope no one will be off ended when I say it—honest dealings between the two countries would be to recognise the collected revenue of Ireland as the genuine revenue of Ireland, and then by all means to make the deductions, to which the Postmaster-General referred, in favour of England as regards tea and sugar and matters of that kind. The Postmaster-General reminded us that under the present bonding system the collected revenue of Ireland must be to a very considerable degree depleted by the payment in England of duties upon Irish manufactures. Yes, but we make no disguise that we claim that the concession to Ireland of all duties upon Irish manufactures is just one of those exemptions and abatements which are stipulated for and promised in the Act of Union, and, further than that, that it will be an exceedingly cheap price for our surrender of 1526 our fiscal independence. If that broad principle was once recognised, I do not think that the Postmaster-General will pretend that there will be any very great difficulty about making Customs regulations that would provide against what would in that event be a fraud to defeat the intentions of Parliament. Let us begin, at all events, by having a clean, honest balance-sheet between the two countries, a balance-sheet that can be checked and controlled by Ireland, and not a balance-sheet that can be doctored by the Treasury clerks in a manner that, practically speaking, every Commission, English or Irish, which has ever inquired into the matter has acknowledged to be largely rough guesswork, if nothing worse. Because we claim nothing here in my belief in which, practically speaking, every authority, English or Irish, that ever looked closely into the matter has not acknowledged that we are right, and that this Treasury huckstering is as unjust as it is shabby and unstatesmanlike. Therefore our first proposition is that, either as to the collection or as to our own control of our own taxation, the financial proposals of the Government are in direct-opposition to every authority that public opinion of the Irish people have any respect for.
He did quote, indeed, as an authority upon this matter one very eminent friend of Ireland (Lord Welby), but he will not deny that his present proposals are in opposition to Mr. Gladstone, in opposition to the Royal Commission of 1896, in opposition to his own secret Cabinet Committee, and in opposition to some of the most eminent thinkers of the Liberal party, men like Mr. Erskine Childers, Mr. Roden Buxton, and others. I will not mention Irish authorities like the General Council of the Irish County Councils, but the fact stands that up to the present moment not a single representative body in all Ireland has approved of the finances of this Bill. I do not think that even one of the Gentlemen who sit behind me, and who, to put it mildly, will not be accused of merciless criticism of the Government, has up to the present said a good word for it. Yet it is those arrangements which are condemned by every authority on the Liberal side, except Lord Welby, and which are universally condemned by the people who are chiefly concerned, which we are asked to accept as the final irrevocable charter of the financial relations between the two countries. I should have 1527 thought the Postmaster-General would be a bit struck by the repudiations from all sides, including his own, of the basis on which the fate of the Parliament which you are setting up in Ireland will have to depend above every other consideration. If the Irish people are to be asked to submit, as they are asked under this Bill, and as I for one submit, to a painful and cruel surrender of our old Nationalist aspirations for legislative independence, and even for fiscal independence, it must be, at all events, with something approaching to certainty that the Irish Parliament, in addition to all its other ties, will not end ignominiously in bankruptcy.
I do hope that even the Postmaster-General will so far bend his intellectual pride, as Mr. Gladstone did before, and pay some deference to the opinion of persons like myself, who have not the slightest pretension to soar with him into the realms of high finance, but, at all events, have had a long and practical life's experience of what the Irish people can or cannot stand in the way of financial strain. The Postmaster-General reminded me that though Mr. Gladstone, in his Bill of 1886, totally ignored this new-fangled distinction between true revenue and collected revenue, he was driven, in the Bill of 1893, to abandon that position and to accept the so-called true revenue. The Postmaster-General has forgotten to mention that the first thing that Mr. Gladstone discovered in reference to this so-called true revenue was that it was a false revenue to the extent of £360,000 a year. His reliance upon the Treasury clerks actually placed him in the humiliating position of being obliged in Committee to tear up his whole balance sheet. The Postmaster-General may tell me that these two things can now more accurately and with more certainty be discriminated, but I have, in answer, simply to refer him to the Report of his own secret Cabinet Committee, because although they did not include the collected revenue among their recommendations, it was for the exceedingly good reason that they recommended an infinitely vaster concession to Ireland, the concession of fiscal independence, and a power of imposing and levying all their own taxation in Ireland. But they did also report that those Treasury figures are still just as unreliable as ever. I do not want to bore the Committee with ex-tracts, but I do not think that the Postmaster-General will deny that the Com- 1528 mittee reported that the materials for anything like an exact classification of the Irish revenue are still admittedly imperfect; that with one or two exceptions there are no official records which make it possible to trace with anything like precision the final incidence of the sums collected; and that, in point of fact, many of those figures are simply rough guesses and inferences from inquiries made from private traders and from carrying companies.
But the Committee examined Sir George Murray and a long list of the most eminent men of the Customs and Inland Revenue Departments, and it was upon the strength of the evidence that they gave that the Committee found that it was impossible to verify or control this bogus distinction between true and collected revenue in Ireland. It cannot be forgotten, as the Member for East Worcestershire reminded us, that you have not published the evidence that was given before that secret Committee, notwithstanding the fact that over 300 Members of this House desire it. At all events* yon have not only Mr. Gladstone twenty-five years ago, but you have your own Cabinet Committee to-day discarding and discrediting this bogus distinction between true and collected revenue, upon which unhappily the whole finance of this Bill has been founded. We do not pretend, even if the Postmaster-General agrees to strike out. the first paragraph in Clause 14, that that would dispose of our objections. The financial proposals. I am sorry to say, are bad from top to bottom. You have rejected the advice both of the Childers' Commission and of the Secret Cabinet Committee who-advised you to give fiscal independence boldly and squarely to the Irish Parliament, and you have stripped us of any real control over more than five-sixths of our own taxation, because as to those provisions on which both the Postmaster-General and the right hon. Gentleman has just spoken, those provisions for fiddling with the taxes of the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer and playing with separate Customs, in my humble opinion those proposals will produce no practical result whatever except the practical result they have produced already of furnishing the right hon. Gentleman and others on the Front Opposition Bench with a cry as to the hybrid compromise of half-Colonial Home Rule and half-provincial devolution which has been already raised. The real 1529 power of control over taxation remains absolutely in this House and with your own Chancellor of the Exchequer, and under this Bill we shall be deprived of very nearly two-thirds of the representatives in this House which the Act of Union at all events would have given us to have some voice in the fixation of our own taxes.
Very much the same thing has happened in regard to the Post Office. You have taken that service as a great national service, and you are simply putting on us a debt of £250,000 a year, and the only thing you give us is the payment of thousands of officers. That is substantially what the Post Office gives to Ireland, or rather to the group of gentlemen who will have the management of these things. I feel bound to confess in regard to all these financial economies which you are building upon in your financial proposals that I do not believe in them. Those economies were perfectly possible in Mr. Parnell's time, and under Mr. Parnell's strong hand. They are now impossible in Ireland. You have yourselves made them impossible, because you have not only doubled our taxation within the last five or six years, but you have doubled at the same time the number of officials in the Land Commission, in the Congested Districts Board, in the Department of Agriculture, and with reference to old age pensions, and, of course, the National Insurance Act. Instead of doing anything to relieve us from the horde of officials who are swallowing up the greater part of your expenditure in Ireland, you have, I am sorry to say, only fixed the yoke of the bureaucracy more firmly than ever upon Ireland.
I have looked into this thing with every desire to find some happy way for Ireland out of this financial mess, and literally— I can only offer my own humble judgment —I cannot sec anything that is practically certain in the Finance Bill except ample supplies for the salaries of innumerable armies of officials and place hunters, present and prospective, who are at the present moment the plague of Ireland, a plague as grievous to Ireland as the old plague of the land grabber; and, I am sorry to say, this plague of place hunters leads to a good deal of the opposition to this Bill. I do not for a moment deny that the Irish Government, which had the moral courage to face unpopularity in the teeth of a band of place hunters who are now an organised and formidable body— and I am sure that they would become 1530 equally formidable if another Government came into power — would have a magnificent harvest of economies to reap if these almost useless Castle jobs were ruthlessly cut down. In fact, unpopularity with the army of place hunters would be one of the noblest distinctions of Irish statesmen who undertook such a task. I do not see much spirit of that kind in those who for some years, at all events, will be masters. Situated as we are here, we cannot attempt to deal with every detail of this financial question. It would take a month to do it adequately.
As the Postmaster-General appeals to any critical friends behind him to suggest some constructive scheme on their part, I would humbly suggest to him that, in the first place, he should honestly recognise the collective revenue of Ireland as the genuine revenue of Ireland; that he should next consider how monstrously unfair it is to charge against Ireland these huge Imperial charges, very many of them merely for the corruption of Ireland; and then, if the Government will not give us the power of making a Budget for ourselves, that at least they will raise the million a year, their so-called vanishing Budget— the much-abused Irish Council Bill gave us over £600,000 in reference to a very few services—and leave some margin to the Irish Parliament to do some work that is a little more useful to the country than expenditures upon sinecures and places. Give to the Irish Parliament some means of doing what my hon. Friend who sits behind me rightly called a humble work, but none the less a noble work, to which this present Bill will apply—work such as the improvement of national education, which Dr. Starkie described as lagging behind the education of the Ottoman Empire—if there is still an Ottoman Empire— work such as the nationalisation of railways, or, at all events, subsidising of them, as they have done in Canada, in order to have cheap carriage of agricultural goods to your English markets; or such work for social reform as would do for the working classes in the Irish cities and towns what has already to some extent been done for the agricultural population in the country.
I do not like to indulge in any personal criticism of Irishmen at a time like this if it can be avoided, but I hope I may be allowed, without offence, to say that I heard the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), the other night, to my alarm foreshadow some vast 1531 scheme of social reform to be paid for by equally vast schemes of extra taxation of the Irish people. I hardly think he would have taken so philosophic a view of the future if he had not made up his mind not to be one of the Irish taxpayers. However, I come back to the question, that if you are going to make a real bargain with Ireland, you must not go about examining with a microscope every bawbee you are proposing to concede. At all events, I do claim that there is a fairly strong body of opinion on the Opposition side of the House which agrees to some extent with us. One of the reasons why I am so passionately earnest for a settlement by consent is that this question of finance, the most terrible difficulty no doubt of this Bill, is, or ought to be, the least contentious of all questions between the great British parties in this country. I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long), and indeed I think to some extent he has been reechoed by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), again and again say that hard as he would fight against the establishment of Home Rule, if an Irish Parliament there was to be, the Unionist party had every bit as strong an interest as the Liberals in seeing that at all events the Irish Parliament should not start under a terrible financial grievance, or in a state of financial penury.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington (Mr. Lough) told you with perfect truth last night that if you want to put the Union upon a better footing, you cannot ignore the treatment that Ireland has received since the Act of Union. You cannot forget that instead of giving us the exemptions and the abatements for which the Act of Union stipulated, you have increased the taxation of Ireland ten times over since Grattan's Parliament. You cannot forget that in a single year Mr. Gladstone increased taxation in Ireland by more than 50 per cent., and he did that in a year when we had not any deficit to provide for. Above all, you cannot forget, in discussing this Bill, that Mr. Gladstone's successors, the present-Government, have within the last five years increased that over-taxation by at least £3,000,000 a year in reference to legislation as to which Ireland was not consulted. This question ought to be dealt with, not as a matter of huckstering, but as a great national and Imperial occasion for an act of justice, of magnanimity, and of honesty. 1532 Let me remind you of this very important point, that your business and commerce stand to win cent, per cent, by the prosperity of Ireland. I have an extract, with which I will not trouble the House, from the Childers Report of the Royal Commission of 1886, which in the most eloquent and forcible terms brings that fact forward, and reminds you that when you talk about Imperial preference with this or that Colony, it is a matter of comparative insignificance compared with your trade with a country whose volume of trade now exceeds £150,000,000 a year. Actually within the past ten years, since the passing of the Purchase Act of 1903, your English trade with Ireland has increased by £25,000,000 a year.
If we had an Irish Parliament developing the resources of the country in unity and peace, your trade would grow by many a million more, and the time would come when you would actually be ashamed of ever having harassed and huckstered, instead of making a great and generous and just bargain with Ireland. I know of no Imperial preference which would be more salutary to you and the Empire than the form of preference which would be the basis of this measure. In my belief, as a mere matter of business, a very moderate percentage of commission on your increased trade with Ireland would not only repay yourselves, but would enable the Irish Parliament to begin life with buoyancy and confidence in its own future. Let me say once more, and I say it with very deep regret, that in my opinion the financial scheme of the Government will not stand. The acceptance of the basis we suggest would not be everything, but it would be a good beginning, and I really see no other way of escaping trouble for yourselves and for us unless you will at all events increase your so-called subsidy to a tolerable figure for a short term, say of five years, and then make it quite clear that the whole arrangement will have to be reconsidered and revised by the practical experience of those five years. We are quite open to any temporary arrangement for so great and so untried an experiment, but I should be only misleading the Committee if I pretended to believe that the financial arrangements of this Bill as they at present stand can be cither a permanent or a workable or a final arrangement.
§ Sir PHILIP SASSOON
I should like to claim the indulgence of the House, 1533 although I can claim a privilege which is not shared by all the Members of the House, and that is that not one of my former speeches can be brought up against me. I am sure the House will excuse me if I do not follow the intensely interesting and absorbing speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. Ever since the days of Mr. Burke, one of the first principles of our Constitution has been that there shall be no taxation without representation. It was that principle which led Mr. Gladstone to retain the Irish representation at Westminster in his Bill of 1893 although he had spoken against it in most unmeasured terms in his Bill of 1886. This Bill violates that principle in the spirit and in the letter. It provides for what is in effect a special grant of £2,000,000 per year out of the pockets of the British taxpayer, and it does not give the British taxpayer any opportunity of saying whether he will or no, nor does it give him any say in how it is to be spent after it had been granted. It might be used for objects directly antagonistic to British interests, and the British taxpayer would be helpless. So far as the Bill affects Great Britain financially it is a Bill to provide a tribute of £2,000,000 per year to the Government of Ireland and of £400 per year to forty-two Irish collectors of tribute. But I do not wish to imply that the financial proposals of this Bill are really satisfactory from the purely Irish point of view. It is the peculiarity of this extraordinary measure that it is equally unsatisfactory to all those who are affected by it. Ireland is to be given a Parliament with power to impose taxes, but its power is confined within narrow limits, which it will be its constant endeavour to break. What is given with the one hand is taken away with the other. The "Colonial analogy" has played a great part, and will continue to play a great part, in the campaign in favour of this Bill. It has played no part at all in the drafting of it. The grant of full fiscal autonomy to Ireland would be a proceeding fraught with serious danger to the fiscal policy of Great Britain, but it would possess the recommendation of logic, which is absent from this Bill. It is the only proceeding which would satisfy the demands of the active Nationalist minority. The "Kerry Weekly Reporter" of 13th January, 1912, is plain enough on that point. It declared that the Irishwant no restricted powers or interference by English Ministers in the management of Irish affairs in a Home Rule Parliament. The control of the Customs and Excise must be given us, and if this control is refused, 1534 then the Liberal Government should spare themselves the trouble of going through the farce of passing a Bill which-would satisfy no section in Ireland.An English Radical paper, the "Liverpool Daily Post," puts the matter equally clearly—There is no concealment of the object with which many of the Nationalists are asking that the Irish Customs and Excise should be transferred to the Irish Parliament. The bulk of the party are Protectionists.The right hon. Gentleman may have been able to make his peace with the Nationalist leaders of the time. I am sure he cannot believe it is a peace that will last. Such powers with regard to Customs and Excise Duties as are found in these Clauses are purely trivial or nugatory. On the other hand, Irishmen recognise to the full value of Protection as a means of building up the prosperity of their country. The only way in which Ireland can be self-supporting is if it can have the power of levying Customs Duties, repudiating old age pensions, and levying special taxes in Ulster. She has no other means of adding appreciably to her revenue. Yet the financial clauses are specially drafted to prevent the independent imposition of Customs Duties by the Irish Parliament. Even where they are given the restricted power to increase the existing Imperial duty they are strictly limited as to the amount which they are graciously permitted to obtain. As some compensation, doubtless, for being deprived of the power to levy such duties as the Irish Government may consider that the needs of the country demand, they are given the whole machinery of levying Customs. A complete system of Customs barriers is to be erected between Great Britain and Ireland, with all the concomitant inconvenience and expense. Yet an intricate and scarcely intelligible arrangement of countervailing duties and drawbacks ensures that, apart from any small revenue obtained under the 10 per cent, provision, the result of all this useless complication shall be absolutely nil. These financial clauses are the most involved and contradictory part of an inconsequent and incoherent Bill. The explanation doubtless is that they are an attempt to satisfy the Irish demand for fiscal autonomy without alienating British opinion beyond recall by an open advocacy of separation. We have it on authority that fiscal autonomy would mean the disintegration of the Kingdom and that the Government could not hope to carry a Bill on fiscal autonomy grounds. The result of the compromise is that while in Great Britain taxation does. 1535 not carry representation, in Ireland representation is not allowed to carry taxation.
In order to introduce some order into the financial confusion created by the Bill a Joint Exchequer Board is to be established as a sort of perpetual board of arbitration to settle disputes between the two Treasuries, and to endeavour, so far as it may, to reduce the friction inseparable from a system which permits two authorities to impose indiscriminately conflicting taxes over the same area of taxation while only one authority is charged with the duty of collection. This composite authority, for which I believe there is no precedent, is in itself for practical purposes a taxing body. It is given power to determine what are the proceeds of an Irish tax, and what fixed or varying sum represents the cost of a transferred service, and in this latter duty has the power to take into consideration the probable increase or decrease in the cost of that service. It has also the power to adjust the proceeds of Irish taxes collected in Great Britain, or of British taxes collected in Ireland. Each of those duties involves a decision upon the amount of taxation which the taxpayers of Ireland or Great Britain are TO be called upon to bear. Finally, it has the power to determine any matter in connection with Irish revenue or expenditure. The Joint-Exchequer Board is a constitutional innovation of a novel and startling kind. It encroaches seriously upon the jealously guarded privileges of this House in regard to matters of finance, and it acts as an additional restriction upon the authority of the Parliament which this Bill would establish in Dublin. Mr. Gladstone once said that he would rather bestow a new Constitution on Ireland than destroy the old Constitution of Great Britain. This Bill would fail utterly to establish a workable Constitution in Ireland, but as far as the destruction of the Constitution of Great Britain is concerned, its success will be complete.
§ Mr. LEWIS HASLAM
I desire to give some reasons why I object to some of the provisions underlying the Resolution which is now before the Committee. Before I proceed to do so, may I be allowed to congratulate the hon. Member who has just addressed us so very lucidly on this most difficult problem. I object to some of the principles m this Resolution because they embody loss of control by this Parliament 1536 of the United Kingdom over Customs and Excise Duties. I believe those provisions, if carried out to the full, really uproot all ideas of a true federal system extended to different parts of the United Kingdom. As the Members of the Committee are all aware, in Canada, Australia and South Africa, and in the United States, the centralisation of Customs and Excise is universal. The principle has been fought for in our own Possessions. I would ask, What is the purpose of forty-two Members coming to sit in this House as representatives of Ireland when on fiscal policy, so far as Imperial taxes are concerned, their vote might be opposed entirely by the Irish Parliament and rendered nugatory? It is essential that the control, the sole control, over Imperial taxes, so far as Customs and Excise are concerned, should be retained in the hands of this Parliament. Another objection to the Irish Parliament having control over Customs and Excise Duties I can see very well is, that there will be great inducement on the part of Irish traders to agitate for a reduction of duties so as to help their trade interests. It will lead the way to tariffs, and to lobbying in the Irish House. Members know that we have sufficient trouble in that direction in our own constituencies and in this House. Why should Ave extend those troubles to Ireland? This differentiation will lead to infinite cost and complication as between the two Exchequers. I have put down an Amendment on Clause 15, and if I have an opportunity to move it I shall be able to go more fully into these particulars. There may be some reason for allowing the Irish Parliament to increase the duties by not more than 10 per cent., as proposed in the Bill, but I believe I am right in saying that a great majority of Members on this side of the House are not in favour of allowing the Irish Parliament to reduce Customs and Excise Duties. I know as a positive fact that seventy or eighty Liberal Members have already stated that they would prefer that that power should be omitted from the Bill. I cannot publish the names, as they have only told some of us that they would prefer that such an alteration should be made. I would call the attention of the Committee to an extract from the Australian Year-Book of last year, in regard to the relations between Commonwealth and State finance:—The principal alteration in State finance brought about by federation has been that the State has transferred to the Commonwealth the large revenue received 1537 by the Customs and Postal Departments and has been relieved from the expenditure connected with those Departments.That is to say, in Australia they have been setting up the very system which we here are asked to abolish. It is urged as a reason for allowing the Irish Parliament to reduce Customs and Excise Duties that the incidence of those taxes on the people of Ireland is different from their incidence on the inhabitants of Great Britain. I submit, however, that the effect on poor people is the same in both countries; so that that objection is really not a very valid one. I think that when there are in this House Members from all parts of the United Kingdom, the Imperial taxes should represent the common sense of the House as a whole. The difference in taxation between England and Ireland is surely very much less than is the case between such States as, say, New York and Florida; yet there they have the same system of taxation. I object to the power to alter Customs and Excise Duties, because it would affect traders in England and Ireland differently. Supposing the Tobacco Duties were reduced by one-half in Ireland. The tobacco manufacturer in Ireland would be able to supply his goods to the Irish people at a very much lower rate than the tobacco manufacturer in England would be able to supply the same goods to the English people. That would cause great discontent on this side of the water. British traders would have a grievance, and they would urge us to reduce taxation when perhaps it was impracticable to do so. The Committee would be well advised to take out of the Bill altogether the power of decreasing or abolishing Customs and Excise Duties. The majority of Members on this side would be willing to agree if the varying power were limited to the 10 per cent, power of increase proposed in the Bill. I have made these remarks in the most friendly spirit towards Ireland and the Irish party. I long to see the Irish people managing their own local affairs, but I also desire that they shall manage those affairs untrammelled by considerations of Imperial finance, in regard to which they will in future, as to-day, have a voice in this House.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
We have had two or three very striking speeches to-day, but none more striking than that delivered by the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. W. O'Brien), who told us what I think we all had reason to suspect, that this Bill, so 1538 far as its financial provisions are concerned, is absolutely impossible from the point of view of any successful Chancellor of the Exchequer in an Irish Home Rule Parliament. It is unsatisfactory to Ireland, it is unsatisfactory to England, it is unsatisfactory to Scotland. The Committee may depend upon it that the hon. Member for Cork City, although ho may have a very small following in this House, will be supported in his views as to the financial provisions of this Bill by the large majority of his fellow countrymen, Home Rulers though they be. For my part, if I were a Home Ruler, I would take much the same view as the hon. Member has done. I should say that under Home Rule on a financial basis such as that proposed in this Bill it would be impossible to carry out any of those reforms and social developments which I as a Home Ruler had so long promised throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. The scheme means chronic dissatisfaction in Ireland if the Bill ever passes, and it is only for the sake of argument that I assume it will pass. It means chronic appeals to this House to alter the Bill entirely, and it means chronic appeals by the forty-two Members in this House, who will all join together for that purpose, to give to Ireland more than is given by this Bill. It means inevitable friction between the two Parliaments. It means a tragic disappointment to Ireland and a disappointing delusion to the electors of Great Britain.
What hope did the Postmaster-General hold out? He said, "You will see this deficit gradually disappear. It is quite true that we have to shoulder a certain deficit in Ireland." I am inclined to agree with Lord MacDonnell that that is not a very correct description of the present state of things. There is really no deficit as long as there is one British Exchequer, and as long as our taxes are imposed by one hand, equally on all taxpayers, whether in England, in Scotland, or in Ireland. Under these circumstances it is not true to say that Irishmen do not, as taxpayers, contribute anything towards Imperial services, the National Debt, the Army, or the Navy. Our taxes are not earmarked for one purpose or another. Therefore, so long as there is one Exchequer, I think Lord MacDonnell is correct. But directly there are two Exchequers, directly the revenues of Ireland are divided, one portion going to pay for one set of services and another for another, there is not only the simple deficit of which 1539 the Postmaster-General spoke, amounting to £1,500,000 or £2,000,000, but there will be a compound deficit, always going on against Ireland—the interest on the deficit and the deficit increasing year by year, and the larger deficit, to which you will add some £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 every year, in regard to Irishmen not contributing anything towards the Army, the Navy, or Imperial services, such as the National Debt. The Committee will observe that the Postmaster-General, when holding out the hope to the British taxpayers that the deficit of £1,500,000 or £2,000,000 will be wiped out, gave no figures whatever. It is simply a statement made, I think, with great audacity. We have to look to a former speech of the right hon. Gentleman for any substantial argument or figure to show that this deficit will ever be wiped out. What was the supposition he made? He said in a former speech: "I see a growing revenue in Ireland of £200,000 a year." I do not know where he got that figure.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It is a purely hypothetical figure. But will the right hon. Gentleman quote what I actually said?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Then let the right hon. Gentleman quote what he did say. I was putting those words into his mouth.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
But I will not put them into his mouth unless they are accurate. I think the right hon. Gentleman stated that in some ten years time, because there would be an increase in the growth of Imperial revenue in Ireland of £200,000 a year, the deficit of £2,000,000 would be wiped out.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I gave it as an illustration. I said that if there was an increase of £200,000 a year the deficit would be wiped out in ten years. If there was a smaller increase, it would take a longer time; if there was a larger increase, it would take a shorter time.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
At the very beginning of his speech he said:—The whole of our object is that Ireland should liquidate this debt which she owes to Great Britain. Ireland mast be self-supporting. Ireland can only liquidate this debt by means of normal increments.1540 The right hon. Gentleman now runs away from that, and says, "I conjecture," "I suppose," "I think it is just possible that there may be an increment of £200,000 a year." He tells the Committee that he has no method of calculating that amount, and that it is pure guess-work. That is the slipshod finance to which we are treated in Committee on this Bill. But there have been some figures given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in answer to a question, which certainly do not show the probability of £200,000 being the normal increment of Irish revenue. In answer to one of the Members for Cork the right hon. Gentleman stated that the increase in the yield of Irish revenue other than on account of new taxes was £364,500 between 1908–9 and 1911–12. That would show an increase of only £76,500 per annum. For my part I do not think there would be an increase at all. There is just as likely to be a decrease, and for many years after the establishment of Home Rule I think it is perfectly certain that there will be a decrease in the actual produce of the Irish revenue. I will deal with that point later on. Meanwhile, I wish to pursue the argument that this proposal will be a great disappointment both to the Irish taxpayer and to the British taxpayer; first, because the deficit is never likely to be wiped off, and secondly, because there is no hope whatever under this system of finance that there will be in our lifetime any contribution by the Irish taxpayer towards Imperial services, such as the Army, the Navy, and the National Debt.
For my part I believe that Clause 26, which sets up some kind of complicated machinery by which the Irish taxpayer may, when an equilibrium is established, and the deficit is wiped off, contribute something towards the Army and the Navy and the Imperial services, is a colossal fraud, and nothing but a colossal fraud designed to hoodwink the democracy of this country. My estimate is that there will not be any increase in the normal growth of the revenues of Ireland, and I have just as much ground for making that estimate as the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General has for speculating that there will be. Let us on the other side of the account look at this: Even supposing that there were sonic slight normal increase in the revenues of Ireland, is it not absolutely certain that the cost of the reserved services must continually increase? Take the White Paper which has been 1541 presented to the House containing a Report of the Committee which sat to investigate this question, and the evidence of which, most unfortunately, we are not able to obtain. What was the conclusion that that Committee came to as regards the reserved services I They came to the conclusion that there would be a very large increase in the cost of these reserved services, old age pensions, and so on. They seemed to estimate that they would cost another £600,000.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I have the Report here. If hon. Members will turn to it they w ill find it very distinctly stated there that for many years to come there will be a very large increase in the amount of money that is required to be found for old age pensions in Ireland. [HON. MEMBKBS: "NO, no!"]
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Here is the Primrose Report. Was the Committee "wrong when they said that in giving the Irish Government, a working balance, and a margin for immediately accruing charges in respect of old age pensions, loan charges to the Imperial Exchequer, and the taking over of the liability for all the old age pensions the estimated amount was about £3,000,000? There is another passage in the Primrose Report in which it is stated that there will be a large increase for many years to come in the amount that is to be found for old age pensions. That is so. For land purchase, again, the additional sum put down is £450,000; for health insurance the additional sum is £400,000; collection of taxes, £100,000 additional; and for Labour Exchanges, £50,000. That is a sum of another million, quite apart from any charges for old age pensions. When we come to consider the question of the Royal Irish Constabulary and matters of that kind it is inevitable that there must be a very large increase in the cost of these reserved services. Therefore, whatever little increase there may be in the normal Irish revenue, there will be, on the other hand, growing up against that normal increase a very large additional sum of money, which is a set-off against that, and which undoubtedly will have this ultimate result, that it will take 1542 many years—in fact, I do not think it will be in the lifetime of anyone on the Front Benches opposite—before this additional sum is wiped out, or that we can hope to get any contribution of any sort under Clause 26.
There are other matters which one might well criticise. They have been very ably criticised by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcester. About the worst thing in the finance of this Bill is giving control of the Customs and Excise to the Irish Parliament. For the life of me I cannot understand how the Prime Minister, who is always in this House telling us that this is only the beginning of a federal system, ever allowed his name to appear on the back of a Bill which gives one portion of these countries which are about to federate control of the Customs and Excise—a power which is not given, as the Postmaster-General himself admits, to any single federated State anywhere in the world. The Postmaster-General said, "Oh, well, we are not giving them full power; we are not giving them fiscal autonomy: they will not be able to impose Customs Duties on any article on which there is not a Customs Duty already." Does the Postmaster-General think that this country is satisfied with its present fiscal system? Does he feel quite certain that there is never going to be any change in the fiscal system of this country? Does he think it is quite impossible to contemplate a time when a great many articles may be subject to Customs Duties in this country—if only for revenue purposes? I have for many years of my life advocated Revenue Duties on many articles besides those which are subject to Customs Duties at the present time. I believe the trend of opinion in this country will swing us to the time when we shall see in the Schedule of Customs Duties as many articles almost as are now found in the Schedule of the Port of London Authority, an Authority which was authorised by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. In their Schedule are 2,200 articles. On these 2,000 odd articles Port Duties have to be paid. I have never been able to see where the great difference is between levying the charges on these 2,000 articls for municipal purposes and duties on the same articles for Imperial revenue.
I look forward to the time, and I think that time is not very far distant, when we shall also have Customs Duties on manufactured goods. Then in what position shall we stand as regards Ireland? Ireland 1543 in that case will be able to impose an additional 10 per cent., not on a few articles such as are now subject to Customs Duties, but on something like 2,200 articles which enter the port of Belfast and other ports in Ireland. This is perhaps not the occasion to go deeply into the effect of Customs and Excise Duties, but I am confident that if ever we have the opportunity to discuss Customs and Excise Duties as they are allowed to be imposed in this Bill, we shall be able to show that in the Bill, even as now drawn, powers are given to the Irish Parliament which will enable them to differentiate as between Irish manufactured goods and Scottish and English manufactured goods; which will enable them to use these additional Customs Duties for the sake of protecting their own industry. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire was fallen foul of by the Postmaster-General because he said that under the Bill it was possible for the Irish Parliament to give bounties for Customs purposes to Irish manufactured goods going abroad. I am not at all sure that my right hon. Friend is not perfectly right. The Postmaster-General replied: "No, they cannot do anything of the kind. If you look at Clause 2, Sub-section (7), you will find that the Irish Parliament is not allowed to deal with any matters concerning trade in any place out of Ireland." Just go on and read these words:—Except so far as trade may be affected by the exercise of the powers of taxation given to the Irish Parliament.We were not allowed to discuss this as the guillotine fell. We had no opportunity of discussing it.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I had an Amendment down which raised the whole question, but I was not able to raise it.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Perhaps the Postmaster-General, or whoever replies on behalf of the Government will say whether I am right or not. In the Bill at present the wording is that the Government of Ireland will not be able to deal with any matters whatever outside Ireland. I thought there was an exception in that case so far as trade may be affected by 1544 the powers of taxation given to the Irish Parliament.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
If to give a bounty is not a power of taxation, I do not know what it is! I should have thought it came within the meaning of these words—and I still think so. I still think that this should be made very clear. Even if it were not so, they can use these Customs and Excise Duties and matters of that kind for the purposes of protection. I am quite certain when we come to discuss these Customs in detail it will be found that they can be used, and most certainly it will be found hereafter when our Customs in this country are very largely extended that it will be possible for these duties to be used to the detriment of British trade and for the promotion of Irish trade. The right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General gave rather a curious instance to the Committee. He said we must give to the Irish Parliament this power over the Customs. If we did not give them this power over the Customs and Excise, he said, how were they going to raise the money that will be necessary to carry out the various forms of industrial development in Ireland. He went on to give this instance: If we allow them to impose Excise Duties, we must allow them to impose Customs Duties, because they may wish to tax Irish whisky, and if they wish to tax Irish whisky they must be allowed to tax Scotch whisky. Thus the right hon. Gentleman himself contemplates that they will have power under these Customs Duties to put extra duties on Scotch whisky coming into the country. I do not see any words compelling them to put a similar Excise Duty on Irish whisky.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I shall be very glad to have them pointed out. Many of the words in the Bill appear to me to be very inconclusive as to what they do mean. If the right hon. Gentleman tells me he is quite certain in regard to the point, I will not pursue the argument any further. I will accept what he says. But we were certainly led to believe in Committee that one of the things the Irish Parliament certainly would do would be to add extra duties to Scottish or English whisky going into Ireland. I believe when we come to 1545 discuss these Clauses in detail we shall find that by innumerable clever methods these Customs and Excise Duties will be used for the purpose which I have indicated—that is, for encouraging Irish trade and giving a natural preference, as a country would desire to do, to its own trade in preference to the trade of other people. We are told that, after all, they must have the Customs and Excise Duties, because it is only in that way that they will be able to find the money which they need. For my part—and I say it boldly—if I were obliged to set up a measure of Home Rule in Ireland, I would far rather give a larger subsidy, I would far rather turn my £500,000 a year into a million, than I would give this power over to the Customs and Excise. And I would be all the more reluctant to give these powers if we were ever contemplating setting up a federal system. I do not believe if we set up this federal system and give to Ireland the power over her Excise, that we shall ever satisfy Scotland without similar powers, and speaking as a Member for an English constituency who has paid some little attention to finance, I am perfectly certain that from the trade point of view if Ireland has control over Customs and Excise, and if other tariffs are set up, if only for revenue purposes, England will demand control of her Customs and Excise. I believe the Government are opening up difficulties they little realise, and if they are sincere about setting up a federal system they are putting the greatest obstacle in the way of that federation by giving Ireland control over her Customs and Excise even to the limited extent under this Bill.
There is one other matter to which I would allude. In addition to Ireland having this power over her Customs and Excise, given simply because by no other means can she raise sufficient money to carry out social and industrial development, she will have the power to raise money by loans. There, again, I think that part of the Bill will require the most critical examination, and when we have examined that portion of the Bill we shall come to the conclusion that this particular method of raising loans is most detrimental to the credit of Ireland and Great Britain, and will lead to endless friction between the two forces. Supposing Ireland does want a loan, that loan would have been raised on the little money that they have from the transferred services. Who would be the consenting parties to the raising of it? It could only be raised as I understand by the consent 1546 of the Joint Exchequer Board. How would that Board be composed? It would be composed of two Members representing Ireland, and three representing Great Britain. Supposing the loan is refused. Then at once there will arise a great outcry in Ireland that we are refusing her a loan by which she could accomplish some great and beneficent work for herself. At once the floor of this House will ring with denunciations of the British Exchequer and the British representatives on this Joint Board because we are preventing Ireland from doing what Canada can do, what Australia can do, and what South Africa can do, from raising money by means of loans by which she may develop her own resources and do some practical good amongst her own people. If, on the other hand, the representatives by three to two on this Board consent to the loan, they may issue the loan and make themselves responsible for the loan, and the British Exchequer must be involved in that case. There may be a deficit hereafter on that loan, there may be great difficulty in meeting the interest and instalments, and Great Britain will have to come forward and meet that deficit, because she could not possibly afford that the credit of Ireland should suffer by any deficit upon a loan of that kind. From beginning to end the whole of this Bill is fraught with matters of embittered controversy between the two Parliaments, and, so far from removing from the floor of this House Irish grievances, if we ever pass this Bill and set up this fantastic, complicated, financial scheme, we are simply inviting Irishmen to come to the floor of this House and occupy the time of this House with grievances accentuated by every single line in the provisions of this Bill.
§ Mr. JONATHAN SAMUEL
The analogy which the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down drew with regard to river dues surprised me, coming from a man of such wide municipal experience. He drew a comparison between river dues and tariffs which may be set up in Ireland. Everyone knows that river dues are really put on for the purposes of the upkeep of the river. They are not applied to rates or taxes, and the money derived from these river dues is spent upon the upkeep and improvement of the river, otherwise the river could not be maintained. I desire to call attention to two items of expenditure which are charged against Ireland. I am sorry the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. W. O'Brien) did not develop the ideas he 1547 expressed and concentrate himself upon these two points. Some time ago I delivered a speech to my own Constituents, and I drew attention to the fact that in my opinion there are two items in this White Paper which has been issued which are charged against Ireland as expenditure, and which are causing the alleged deficit, but which really should not be charged to Ireland. They should, in my opinion, be Imperial charges, for the money is really spent for Imperial purposes. No man more than the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, as I very well remember, fought more strongly against one of these charges. I refer to the charge in this list of expenses of no less than £730,000 a year on account of the passing of the Irish Local Government Act of 1898. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will remember quite well that under that Act there were certain conditions in that Act which relieved the Irish landlords with regard to the poor rate; and, in the second place, half of the rates of the tenants which cost this country since then something like £730,000 a year, amounting in fact to over £9,000,000.
It is well known that it would have been quite impossible for the Local Government Act of 1898 to have passed through the two Houses of Parliament unless that condition was put in. While we hear from the other side a great deal about bargains between the present Government and the present Irish party, a speech was delivered in this House on 12th July, 1898, upon a Motion moved by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer to omit Clause 42 which would destroy the power of paying three hundred and some odd thousand pounds a year to the Irish landlords for abolishing their right to half the poor rate, by the present Member for East Mayo (Mr. John Dillon) who was then Leader of the Irish party; and in that speech the hon. Member said the Irish party had come to an arrangement with the Government of the day twelve months before this period, and the price they had to pay for the passing of the Irish Local Government Act in 1898 was the price then set out in Clause 42; that is to say, it cost this nation or Ireland, £730,000 a year. I hold if that is so, if Ireland has this large expenditure imposed upon her, as a condition for the passing of the Irish Local Government Act, it should be an Imperial charge, and not a charge against Ireland. As a matter of fact, a speech was delivered 1548 at the same time by one of the most upright men that ever sat in this House, the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson, in which he said:—This is the first occasion we have sent a Bill to the House of Lords, which we consider just and necessary, with a bribery clause tacked on to it.We all know the reason why this large sum of money was voted for Irish landlords. It was because the Government could not get their Bill through the House of Lords in any other way. I say, if that is so, this should be an Imperial charge and not a local charge against Ireland. How is this money being spent? I heard the Leader of the Opposition the other night speaking about this country assisting the poor people in Ireland, and how the poor people would suffer if this Bill became law. The fact is, under the Local Government Act of 1898, the Marquess of Downshire receives annually £2,288 in payment of this poor rate, which he and his forbears paid for hundreds of years before. The Earl of Fitzwilliam receives £1,192, the Marquess of Lansdowne £788 per annum, and Lord Londonderry £930; and this was a condition precedent to the passing of the Local Government Act. That Act was passed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) was a prominent Member of that Government. The right hon. Gentleman who last spoke (Mr. Hayes Fisher) wras a Member of that Government. These hon. Gentlemen passed this Act which made this charge upon Ireland. It was repudiated by the Irish Nationalist Members, who said they could only get the Bill through by accepting this price, and I contend this is a charge that should be borne by the United Kingdom rather than a charge made against Ireland.
The other point I should like to raise is one with regard to land purchase. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, I believe, stated when he introduced his land purchase scheme two years ago, that the loss on flotation for purchase was £616,000. The figure in this present Return is put at £761,000, and the Return goes on to say that it will increase during the next fifteen years to a charge upon Ireland of an additional £450,000. I contend this should be an Imperial charge. It is not a charge that should be levied against Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester said if the Irish Home Rule Bill of 1886 had been passed into law Ireland would have become a bankrupt 1549 nation. That was his contention a short time ago. Let us examine that. In the Irish Home Rule Bill of 1886 there was a surplus of between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 per annum, and Mr. Gladstone also had a scheme of land purchase at the same time as he introduced his Home Rule Bill. That was based upon sound finance, and he proposed to raise £50,000,000. He limited the purchase price to twenty years, and charged 4 per cent, for forty-nine years. That scheme would have paid its way, but the Tory party at that time denounced the scheme. They said it would never pay; in fact the right lion. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who had left his party, stated in this House that it was because of the introduction of that scheme that he resigned his position in the Government, and in a speech in Birmingham a short time afterwards the right hon. Gentleman said that in regard to the scheme of Mr. Gladstone's for Irish land purchase dealing with the vast sum of £250,000,000, there was not a single business man in this country who would lend £1 upon its security. If Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule scheme had been carried out as well as this land purchase scheme, Ireland would not have been charged to-day with this deficit of £1,500,000, because that measure would have given Ireland the power in 1886 to have a Parliament of her own, and she would have brought in a local government scheme for aiding her own county councils. She would not have been compelled, as we were compelled in 1898, when that Bill passed this House to buy out the Irish landlords at £700,000 a year. The loss on the land purchase scheme of 1903 is due to another fact. That scheme was never before the country, and no power was given to the Government to bring in such a scheme of land purchase. Anyone who reads the Debates of that period would see that there was an agreement with the Irishmen that the Irish landlords were to obtain whatever number of years' purchase the tenants paid, and I believe it has averaged something like twenty-seven years. They were also to obtain 12 per cent. bonus on the top of that purchase.
Those are the circumstances which have led to the large deficit in that scheme. As the Chief Secretary pointed out some time ago in this House, in addition to the fact that we had to raise this bonus of 12 per cent., we had also to be responsible for the excess stock which represented £12 out of 1550 every£100 issued. The interest on these two items is causing the serious charge which is now being charged against the Irish people, and I contend that the Irish people are not responsible, because they have not obtained the benefits derived under these two schemes for buying out the Irish landlords and paying this large bonus of 12 per cent. I contend that this charge should be an Imperial one, and ought not to be charged against the Irish people. I think the Government would be wise to reconsider their position, and if they cannot debit Great Britain with the whole of this amount, they ought at least to charge Ireland one-half of the cost of these two schemes, and thereby mitigate the severity of this large deficit. It is upon these grounds that I should like to impress upon the Government that it is unfair, in my opinion, to charge Ireland with this large deficit, and when hon. Members on the other side talk as they do about the Irish poor people who are going to suffer because of this Irish Home Rule Bill, because these Grants are not going to be given them, all I can say is that anyone acquainted with the history of this matter for the last twenty-six years knows full well that it is not the poor people, apart from the old age pensions, that have obtained these Grants, but it is the landlord class in Ireland who have exacted these conditions. I am glad to know that we are coming to the end of these Grants to Ireland in this sense that when this measure is passed through both Houses of Parliament, or when it becomes law, then Ireland ought to be able to work out her own salvation without these doles to the landlords which have been given in the past, and which have been a serious and continuous drain upon Ireland, and one from which she is suffering now, and will suffer for many years to come.
§ Mr. HORNER
I have listened to the special pleading of the Postmaster-General in defence of the wonderful Clauses in this wonderful Bill. So far as I can follow the right hon. Gentleman's arguments, they divide themselves into two parts—one is based upon sentiment and the other upon self-interest. Upon both points there is the utmost diversity of opinion in Ireland. I will dismiss the question of sentiment in one sentence. The Nationalist sentiment of "Ireland a nation" had its passionate counterpart in "Ireland and the Union." But the Bill was also based, as its authors prophetically alleged, upon the sure and certain prospect of increased prosperity 1551 that was to follow its introduction into Ireland. What grounds are there to justify such a view? It is admitted that Ireland, judged by any test of well-being, by exports or imports, by railway traffic, deposits in the bank, or any other test, is advancing upon the road to prosperity. This prosperity has been marvellously accelerated since the rejection of Home Rule in 1893, and this is due largely to two causes, namely, land purchase and better education, which has led to improved business methods, and these are due entirely to Imperial money and Imperial credit. This is a commonplace known to everyone connected with Ireland. If Home Rule had been granted in 1892, we know perfectly well that this revolution could never have occurred. Why interfere with this state of things? Would any sane statesman interfere with it if he were a free agent? Let any unbiassed person outside the House look at the position of affairs as they now are in Ireland and then examine the main outlines of the complicated financial machinery proposed by this Bill. Here I come to what I consider the fundamentl fallacy underlying the arguments of the Postmaster-General in regard to the incidence of taxation. On the consolidation of the Irish and British Exchequers in 1817 the Irish National Debt, amounting to well on for £130,000,000, was merged into the Debt of Great Britain, and all taxes were then and have since been levied indiscriminately upon the individuals of the three kingdoms and paid into a common fund. The necessities of all classes in any portion of the United Kingdom have been met out of that common fund.
The idea of differentiating between one portion and another arose in 1888, when a fresh Estimate was made by the Treasury officials for the purposes of local loans, but this had no sanction by Parliament. It is the merest fallacy to speak of Ireland as a separate unit for the purposes of taxation. So far as Imperial taxation is concerned, it would be just as logical to strike a parallel between contributions and receipts from Middlesex to and from the Imperial Exchequer as from Ireland. The present arrangement has worked well. Those best entitled to speak for Ireland on this subject, financiers engaged in commerce, trade, and industry, beg you to let well alone. Nay, they go further and assure you that if you interfere in this way you will set back Irish prosperity and ruin 1552 many of her industries. Their view is a simple one. Irishmen now share the common rights of free citizens in having the advantages of Imperial credit and Grants for all public purposes. You now wish to change all this and establish Ireland as a separate financial unit. And why? Because she has not been paying her way. The Bill is founded upon the policy, "Cut your loss." I understand the Chief Secretary is the father of that phrase, as he is the father of so many other good phrases, but I suggest that it is a mean, contemptible way for a rich nation to deal with this question. The Financial Relations Commission found that Ireland had enormously overpaid to the extent of £300,000,000 during ninety years. I am not criticising the accuracy or the inaccuracy of that Report, but I will suppose that it is true. All Nationalists and Radicals, with the exception of the hon. Member for Cork, are now strangely silent on this matter, since it appears that Ireland is getting back a bit of her own, and because of that "Cut your loss" is accepted by them. If the Radical party are honest with regard to this Report, they would gladly welcome the chance of paying back the alleged stolen treasure. If the Nationalist party are honest in saying that Ireland has been robbed of £300,000,000, why do they not wring retribution from a reluctant but friendly Government?
The Government appointed a Committee of experts to consider this question, but no single leading recommendation of that Committee has been adopted, and their recommendations run counter to all well-founded Nationalist opinion, and this seems to be nobody's child. The real burden of Ireland under Home Rule will be about £6,000,000 a year. This is made up in this way. The deficit of £1,500,000, the grant of £500,000 to which must be added a reasonable sum, which Ireland would not be asked to pay, as her fair contribution towards the Army, Navy, and Imperial expenses, together with her fair share of her own National Debt. That is not all. By this Bill you are establishing two things. First of all, you are establishing a Joint Exchequer Board, with extraordinary dangerous and unheard-of powers. Secondly, you are establishing a system of collection of taxes which must inevitably lead to trouble from the very beginning. You pretend to trust Ireland, but you do not trust her to collect your own taxes. Let me illustrate 1553 what is likely to happen by two examples which might be multiplied. Take the question of land purchase. You have invested in Ireland something like from £130,000,000 to £150,000,000. Supposing there is a strike against the rate of annuities for the repayment of this vast sum. I can assure hon. Members that would be a most popular strike in Ireland. The majority in the Irish Parliament would be representatives of Irish farmers, and, of course, they would back the farmers. The Irish Executive therefore would be unfriendly to the British Exchequer, and the Irish Executive could completely paralyse every attempt made to collect the annuities. How could judgments be enforced for the sale of the lands when nobody would dare to buy? What then would become of the free working of the financial Clauses of this Bill, or of the security for your £150,000,000? This is no visionary matter. The "no-rent" manifesto and the "Plan of Campaign" were not yet forgotten, and it would be very hard to collect these instalments under the present system, because this winter farmers will be very hard put to it owing to the cattle plague.
Take the question of old age pensions. That is a reserved service which may be taken over by the Irish Parliament. Supposing it is taken over at £3,000,000 a year—that is the estimate of the Government Committee—and supposing they reduce or discontinue old age pensions, as has been suggested over and over again by Nationalist leaders, what happens? The Imperial Exchequer must continue to hand over this £3,000,000 a year to the Irish Parliament, but the British Parliament will have no control over it any more than over any other sum handed over to pay for a Transferred Service. The British Parliament must find these vast sums for Irishmen to spend as they choose. I can hardly understand any Radical or Labour Member justifying such a scheme, for, if it is unjust and dangerous from a British taxpayer's point of view, it is far more so from an Irish point of view. We Irishmen are to have a fixed sum doled out by a British Treasury to meet all the requirements of the Transferred Services, and out of this sum Ireland must pay her way. The Postmaster-General gave us figures to prove it will be impossible for Ireland to pay her way out of this sum. He says, "Retrench, reform, and be happy." That is the Radical doctrine now preached but not practised at Westminster. I do not 1554 want to advance any argument on the lines of that I am going to give from a Nationalist authority. The report, a very important report, of the Irish County Council's General Council on the financial proposals in this Bill was issued in April last, and from the Irish point of view it is the only Nationalist body in Ireland which speaks with any authority on this subject. I give the following passage from that report:—In our view increased taxation is the key note of the financial provisions of the Bill. The Bill provides for giving to Ireland a fixed sum in lieu of her collected revenue just sufficient to cover present expenditure, plus the cost of establishing the Irish Government, and mortgages the natural increases of revenue for the extinction of the assumed deficit, leaving Ireland to provide for an increased expenditure, first by economics to be effected, and secondly by increased taxation. Let us first examine the question of possible economies. The control and administration of Irish services is nearly evenly divided in their financial aspect as between the Irish Parliament and the Imperial Government, The expenditure falling within the control of the Irish Parliament amounts to £5,462,000 as set forth in detail in the 'Outline of the financial provisions' issued simultaneously with the Bill, the main items of which are as follows: Local taxation. Education, Department of Agriculture, Congested Districts Board, Local Government Board, Public Works including railways, Law and Justice, Prisons, Reformatories, Industrial Schools, Police, Consolidated Fund, etc.Under which of the above heads are any beyond mere trifling economies possible? We are unable to suggest any effective economies in their regard. We are thus thrown back upon the possibilities of revenue from increased taxation.That is to say, Irishmen will be subject to a double set of taxes, namely, first, the taxes imposed by the Imperial Parliament; and, secondly, those taxes which the Irish Government must impose if, as the Postmaster-General says, they are to carry out the ever-growing requirements of social and local legislation. Every Irishman who has a stake in the country must contemplate such a future with the profoundest distrust. I will also read a sentence from the report of a body which, perhaps, has not much weight with hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, but still it is a body composed of every political party and creed. In their reply, dated 7th August, to the Prime Minister's request for particulars as to the effect which, from their point of view, the Home Rule measure would have on the industrial and commercial prosperity of Ireland, they say, and these are weighty words:—Commercial confidence and business credit cannot co-exist with a distrusted public Exchequer. The transfer of public money collected in Ireland to improve the transferred services is admittedly barely sufficient for that purpose. Consequently, the Irish' Government will have no security to offer for its Consols; it will only be able to borrow, if at all, at disproportionately high rates of interest. The disastrous 1555 effects of such a state of things upon the commercial credit of Ireland is only too evident.Surely these men must be given credit for knowing something about their own business, especially if we turn to their records since 1892. In their last report I find this set out:—The amount collected by the Customs Department and Inland Revenue in Belfast alone in 1892 together amount to about £3,250,000. The total receipts from the same sources in 1911, last year, was close upon £5,000,000.That is including duty on British spirits.
§ Mr. HORNER
Seeing that the Government were deaf to their appeals and blind to the obvious dangers of their needless and wanton legislation, sober business men like these had warned them in the most solemn manner, and they meant it, that they would have nothing to do with the Government which this Bill sought to establish in Ireland.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) said there was no man who would defend the finance of this Bill. I believe there are on this side of the House dozens of men who will defend the finance of this Bill. I, for one, believe that this measure has been conceived on the highest plane, and that its financial clauses are most ingenious and calculated to bring about the end which the framers have in view. In fact, the whole framework of this Bill might be likened to the launching of a ship. The props are gradually withdrawn, and the ship is eventually set free on the waters of the ocean, to start on a triumphant career with favouring winds. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester spoke as if the federal system was more acceptable to a larger number. I do not see anything incompatible in the finances of this Bill with the federal system. Irishmen still live in Ireland and Scotchmen still live in Scotland. The idea of this Bill is to provide for Ireland a measure in accordance with Irish ideas. I hope later on we shall have a measure for Scotland in accordance with Scottish ideas. But surely a system of 1556 finance drawn up in accordance with Irish ideas is not incompatible with a federal system. The federal system, of which this measure is intended to form the first step, does not depend on a cast-iron system made applicable to all parts. Take the cases of America and Australia. You have mixed races living in those countries. There is no particular race living only in one section, as we find in Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales. Therefore the argument of a federal system which is applicable to Australia, and which is drawn up for a community more or less mixed and spread over a large continent does not apply to this problem. We have to draw up our measure, not as a cast-iron system applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom, but to suit it to the needs of Ireland more particularly.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to speak of the great advantages of having a Parliament which would apply its laws to the whole United Kingdom. Let me give one example of the injustice of that particular form of legislation or system. Take, for example, the Post Office. The trade of this country has been going forward by leaps and bounds, and the expenses of the Post Office has naturally expanded, in order to meet the demands made by the country for increased facilities. The increased expenditure which we have incurred in providing increased facilities for the needs of England has been extended automatically to Ireland. But there we find a declining population, and, in spite of that, the expenditure on the Post Office has increased 75 per cent. during ten years so that with a decreased demand for facilities in Ireland you have an increasing expenditure. I think the right hon. Member will agree that that is unjust and financially unsound. The expenditure on the Irish Post Office should be consonant with the demand for facilities by the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Exchequer Board. He asked who was to pay for it, and he suggested that there was no Home Ruler who would defend the financial proposals of that Board. To my mind it is immaterial who pays for this Exchequer Board, because Ireland will still remain a part of the United Kingdom. It will still send forty-two Members to this House. This Bill is only a machinery therefore for decentralising certain services in Ireland. Irishmen will still be British subjects, and the good government of Ireland will be an advantage to the whole community. The 1557 right hon. Gentleman also made a great deal of what is termed the absurdity of the relations between the Irish Exchequer and the British Treasury. He maintained that while you have eliminated the power of decreasing your Customs duties, still Ireland is to be able to engage to a considerable extent in a system of bounties, which might affect the export trade to Ireland. But you cannot delegate certain powers to a people without giving them other powers which they may use or misuse. It seems extraordinary when the country has arrived at the decision that the time has come to delegate certain powers to Ireland we should assume that Irishmen are a lot of fools and are incapable of governing the country. Is it suggested they will vote for a large Development Fund to be handed round for various interests in Ireland. If they do that they will do it at the expense of the Irish taxpayers. Is it suggested that there are no people in Ireland who can intelligently criticise the proposals put by them.
§ Mr. D. MASON
Such an interruption as that is too childish to take notice of. The hon. Member does an injustice to his own countrymen and himself. Surely if he is elected to the Irish Parliament, he will exercise the same intelligence as he does here. I submit there need be no fear of these powers being abused. You must trust the Irish people. It sounds very fine for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire to come down here and raise imaginary bogies. I congratulate him on the masterly way in which he pointed out the various possibilities in this Bill—possibilities which his lurid imagination conjures up. But we have to deal with things as they are. We have to trust Irishmen. Does the hon. Member who has interrupted me suggest that you can give this system of Home Rule without granting these powers? You cannot do it.
§ Mr. D. MASON
That, I submit, is quite another way of discussing this problem. That was not, however, the criticism advanced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire. He was seriously endeavouring to criticise this Bill, and he mentioned these various 1558 weaknesses and errors in trying to convey to this House and the country the idea that this legislative Assembly could be reduced to a farce. I believe, on the contrary, that unless you do make it a generous and liberal measure that it would certainly be of no use to bring forward the measure at all. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the creation of this system of dovetailing, in what has been called a hybrid Bill, containing neither federalism nor Home Rule, was to his mind most indefensible. I submit, on the contrary, that its principal advantage is the ingenuity of the financial proposals whereby you gradually hand over to Ireland, as she increases in strength and develops, the full powers which you do not grant to her to begin with. If you were to give a full system of self-government as was advocated, I think, by the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. William O'Brien), who complained of not having full autonomy, and full this, that, and the other thing, then there would be some ground of complaint that you were suddenly granting a full measure of government to Ireland for which she might not be ready. The ingenuity of the proposals of this measure, and the fact that it is a gradual launching of the scheme, constitutes its principal recommendation. To my mind, it recommends itself to the people of this country because of the cautious character of the scheme, particularly as in regard to the financial proposals any economies effected by Ireland will go to benefit Ireland and will encourage her to emerge into a greater field of usefulness and freedom. The fact that there is to be a combination of both Irish and English officials upon this Exchequer Board is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Under the present system Great Britain has attempted to govern Ireland entirely in accordance with British ideas, and, as a result, Ireland has held herself separate and aloof, sullen and discontented, and withdrawn from participation in anything connected with the British Government.
§ Mr. D. MASON
Ulster may not have done it, but I do not know of any distinguished Ulster man who has rendered any great service to the Crown.
§ Mr. D. MASON
I am sorry to have been drawn into controversy with hon. Members opposite, but I think I am right in saying that four-fifths of the people of Ireland have kept themselves aloof from participation in anything connected with the British Government. Under this particular measure Ireland will join and cooperate with Great Britain. That I think is a great gain. I do not wish to offend Irishmen, or to say anything derogatory to Ulster, or any part of Ireland, for I know that Ireland has produced many brilliant men. I think that now we shall have the services of those brilliant men. We shall be able to join with them on this Exchequer Board, and in the various other services which will be jointly handled by English and Irish officials. That ought to lead not to friction or distrust, but to an increased acquaintance, and a consolidation of the two countries, rather than, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire said that it will be the means of pouring sand into the machinery of government. On the contrary, I believe it will act as a lubricant and bring oil to the troubled waters, and will increase and consolidate the good government of both countries.
I do not propose to follow the last speaker, as he seemed to me to be confining his attention to generalities and not getting down to the actualities of the finance of this Bill. The only time he got near actuality was when he said that he conceived that Ireland was not ready to take over the whole of her financial obligations in regard to the government of Ireland and praised the scheme because it was a gradual shifting of the burden from the British taxpayer on to the Irish taxpayer. That statement, among others, I propose to attempt to controvert. The Postmaster-General said this afternoon, what is indeed the fact, that the dominant feature in the finance of the Home Rule 1560 Bill was that there was a deficit existing now in the amount of revenue from Ireland, and it was because of that deficit, among other things, that it was necessary to depart from all federal plans and to give to the Irish Parliament the management of Customs and Excise. I protest, as other speakers from these benches have protested, against considering Ireland separately from the United Kingdom. I do not admit that there is any deficit whatever in the Irish contribution to the taxation of the United Kingdom. Each person resident in Ireland, in the same way as each person resident in Scotland and England, bears his share of the taxation of the United Kingdom according to his ability to pay that taxation. So long as we are a United Kingdom I deny that it is right or just to consider the separate total contributions—even if we could ascertain them—of the two countries as countries. What we have to consider is the contribution of the individuals forming those parts of the nation as individuals. It is true that when that argument was advanced earlier in the day the Postmaster-General interrupted and said that Ireland was not to be considered as if she were a county of England, and that it was just in her case to inquire what her total contribution was, although it would be absurd to inquire what was the contribution of East Anglia to the taxation of the United Kingdom. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] The right hon. Gentleman has some support, even among the thin number of hon. Members opposite who think it worth while to be present during this Debate.
The right hon. Gentleman said it was good because in Ireland there are a large number of boards, each charged with various services for Ireland. For some inscrutable reason he thought that if you have a multiplicity of boards you were entitled to consider what was the contribution of the country as a country. That, if anything, might be an argument in favour of some amalgamation of the boards, or even of county councils. At the best it is an argument in favour of the Irish Councils Bill, but it is certainly no argument in favour of the Home Rule Bill, which is what we have to consider. I therefore propose to confine myself to a consideration of the financial plan in the actual Bill. If Home 1561 Rule is to be granted I should like to discuss the question of deficiency.
First, how does that deficiency arise? The Postmaster-General has told us. He gave it as a sort of excuse for Ireland that we in Great Britain, the richer partner, had led Ireland to live beyond her means—that was his expression—to the extent of about £1,500,000. It seems curious that we should be punished because we, as the United Kingdom, have contributed, if you like, to Ireland something more than Ireland was, according to the Postmaster-General, entitled to receive from us, and we regard this Home Rule Bill as a punishment to us in England, Scotland, and Wales, and the reason given for that punishment being inflicted is that we have led Ireland to live beyond her means. That amounts to this, that Ireland has not, on the showing of the Postmaster-General, contributed her full quota to the joint expenses of the partnership, and we, the richer partner, are now to be punished because we, out of our surplus, have given Ireland something which she not only never protested against, but has been glad to receive and which she voted for. Let us trace that for a moment. What is it that Ireland has had which has caused her to live beyond her means and has caused punishment to be meted out to us? It is put at £1,500,000. It is a curious thing that it balances one item of expenditure in Ireland to which some objection has been taken. It is recognised that on old age pensions in Ireland something like £2,600,000 is being spent. That is the sum which is being spent in Ireland in exactly the same proportion as similar amounts are being spent in England, Scotland, and Wales, and that is said by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) to be an extravagant expenditure and an expenditure which, if Ireland had her way, she would never have expended upon herself. Speaking, I think in 1909, he said:—They got £2,500,000, and that, for Ireland, under the circumstances, was nothing short of extravagance. Did they imagine that if the Irish Parliament existed, and they had £2,500,000 to spend fur the benefit of the country, they would have spent the whole on old age pensions? Nothing of the kind. £2,500,000 a year could be far better spent. Some of it will have to go on old age pensions, but the greater part of £2,500,000 could be spent far better for the development of Ireland in other ways.The hon. and learned Gentleman was not alone in that opinion, because the Chief Secretary agreed with him. He echoed the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Speaking on 18th November, 1911, the Chief Secretary said:—Everybody in Ireland would bear witness that old age pensions had been an extraordinary blessing 1562 They were extravagant, perhaps, economically. Three shillings a week is the proper sum if the coat had been cut according to the cloth.Now we have both the lion, and learned Gentleman and the Chief Secretary agreeing that these pensions are extravagant, and, curiously enough, they agree almost as to the amount by which they exceed the amount which ought to have been given to Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the greater part of them could have been saved. The Chief Secretary said that two shillings out of five shillings—two-fifths—could have been saved. Curiously enough that corresponds very nearly with the deficit which at present is, according to the Postmaster-General, the dominant factor in the finance of this Bill. We have this from the Postmaster-General, that the dominant factor is the deficit, and because of the deficit these extraordinary inept financial Clauses have to be introduced into the Bill, and we have from the hon. and learned Gentleman, and supported by the Chief Secretary, the fact that that deficit could be wiped out, and, indeed, would be wiped out, if the Irish had their way, by a reduction of old age pensions. The whole of this scheme, according to the Postmaster-General, is based upon the dominant factor that a deficit exists. There is an alternative method of dealing with the deficit, but instead of that the Government propose a plan of dealing with finance in Ireland because of this deficit—a plan which is contrary to every precedent, and which is contrary to all the federal systems which exist throughout the Empire. I can, perhaps, hardly expect that the Government or the hon. and learned Gentleman or the Chief Secretary would really deal with this deficit by reducing old age pensions. They are not in the least likely to make the Homo Rule Bill more popular by doing that. Indeed, if the choice were given to the Irish people, whether they would save the reduction in pensions or would have a Home Rule Bill, I have not any doubt myself that they would prefer to have their old age pensions, and they would let Home Rule go.
But as the deficit is the dominant feature it is well to examine what it consists of, and whether it is likely to be a deficit of the amount of £1,500,000 which the Postmaster-General has told us it now is. That is the more important because the plan of the finance has been stated in this House, and certainly in the country, as a plan which would enable the United Kingdom to out the loss and free itself from the 1563 expenditure which it now has to make on Ireland. It has been assumed, on very slight evidence as it seems to me, that this £1,500,000 of deficit will be gradually met by the natural increases of revenue arising from existing taxation. If it were merely a matter of £1,500,000 on his assumption of an increased productivity of taxes at the rate of £200,000 a year, you could possibly, if you were sufficiently sanguine, put a date at which the revenue and the expenditure so far as the United Kingdom is concerned, might balance, but the deficit of £1,500,000 is by no means likely to remain at that figure. For the reserved services alone, it is safe to say that the deficit will be increased by at least £1,000,000 a year, I believe more, so that when we are considering the case of deficit, we ought not to treat the deficit as £1,500,000, but as £2,500,000 at least. I do not know whether anyone denies that. If it is denied, I will give the heads on which it will increase. There seems to be some doubt as to whether the figure is accurate. I will give the Members of the Committee the figures which justify me, I think, in saying that the deficit will be increased from £1,500,000 to at least £2,500,000. The Committee—what I call the secret Committee—appointed by the Government reported that old age pensions alone would cost £3,000,000. The amount which is estimated in the White Paper Report on the financial provisions of the Rill is not £3,000,000, but £2,664,000. There is an increase, therefore, on old age pensions alone which we have got to face in the near future of £336,000, but it is fair to say that in the same White Paper it is also estimated that after that increase has taken place there, will be a gradual decrease to £200,000. For the purpose of my calculation I will take the balance figure, and nothing could be fairer than that. For a considerable number of years it will be higher than the balance. If I take the balance figure, it is £136,000 as the increase on old age pensions. Land purchase gives an increase of £450,000, and for health insurance and unemployed insurance we have the actuaries' figures which show that the increase will be at least £350,000. I think it will be more, but again I will take the lowest figure. The other item is tax collection. The Committee will remember that the collection of taxes is one of the reserved services, and that in future the United Kingdom has not only to pay the cost of the present collection of taxes, but has to 1564 pay the cost on any future taxes which may be imposed either by the Imperial Parliament or by the Irish Parliament. The natural increase in the cost of the collection of taxation is already considerable. In 1902–3 the cost was £224,000, and for the year 1912–13 the cost is £298,000 a year, showing an increase of £74,000 during that period of ten years with no special additional taxation having been imposed.
§ 9.0 P.M.
If the hon. Member would do me the justice to follow me, he would know that I was giving the cost in Ireland for the collection of taxes which has in future to be paid by the United Kingdom. I was pointing out that the natural increase in the last ten years has been £74,000, and I say that in future, seeing that we have got the collection not only of Imperial taxes, but also of taxes levied by the Irish Parliament— for the Irish Parliament gets the gross receipts—it is not in the least degree an exaggeration to expect that the cost will be increased by £100,000. That is only £26,000 more than the natural increase in the last ten years. If these figures are totalled the Committee will see that they amount to £1,036,000, so that what we have got to consider is not a deficit of £1,500,000, but a deficit of £2,500,000, and, in addition to that, we have to consider the free gift or alimony which the Imperial Parliament is granting to Ireland. That, starts at £500,000, and for eight years averages £400,000, being afterwards reduced to £200,000. We have to consider a total deficit of £2,500,000, plus the alimony of £400,000 for the next eight years. The Postmaster-General told us that it was inconsistent with Homo Rule that the deficit should rest on the United Kingdom. I think these were his exact words. He made a similar observation in his exceedingly interesting speech on the First Reading of the Bill. He told us that his scheme was that the United Kingdom should receive the normal increases of revenue towards the repayment of that deficit. He apparently, in order to justify the provisions of this Bill, examined other provisions which were suggested. He examined Lord Mac-Donnell's scheme, and said that the plan of a definite sum being charged to Ireland annually for the purpose of paying the deficit had been rejected by the Government. 1565 because the sum was under that scheme to be paid independent of the revenue to be derived from Ireland. I think I am stating that objection to the scheme correctly.
Let the Committee examine that for a moment and see what it amounts to. If the Postmaster-General really thought that there was going to be an increase in revenue which would go towards the repayment of this deficit, why not have an annual sum fixed? The real reason why he rejected the scheme for an annual sum was that he did not believe in any increase of revenue. The statement is good enough for the people of England, but it is not good enough for the people of Ireland. Ireland is not convinced that there will be an increase in revenue, and therefore Ireland was not going to agree to pay an annual fixed sum. The result is that the people of the United Kingdom have to pay, with the possibility of increased revenue, but Ireland is not going to pledge herself to pay any annual sum rising in proportion to the increase in revenue, as proposed by Lord MacDonnell. This expression of the Postmaster-General is like a great many of his expressions, merely a pious expression, and is, I believe, intended to lull to false security the people of this country. If it had any basis in fact, why did not the Postmaster-General go on to point out a single item of taxation which he expected to increase automatically in the way he was describing? He did not give us one item out of all the taxes at present existing which he could put his finger on as an item which would certainly do something in future to contribute to the fund which is required for the reduction of this large deficit.
The hon. Member says there may be economies. I propose to deal with economies, and, if I do not, I hope he will remind me. Besides increased revenue there is another way of meeting a deficiency, which is done by a man in his private capacity who wishes to balance his income and expenditure. If he cannot get a greater income ho must reduce his expenditure. The reduced expenditure, of course, is one of the economies which the hon. Member suggests might help. Will he tell me one economy in the reserved services which is going to reduce the deficit under which we are suffering now. I will give way to the hon. Member if he can think even of one.
§ Mr. D. MASON
I gave one example, the excess of expenditure on the Post Office which, during the last ten years, has increased something like 75 per cent, in Ireland.
Who gets the benefit of the economy that may be made in the Post Office? Does a single penny come in reduction of the deficit which the United Kingdom is shouldering. Any economy made goes to Ireland. It does not go to the United Kingdom at all. That is an extraordinary part of the scheme of finance. Any economy goes to Ireland; all the additional expense goes to the United Kingdom, and any economy that can be made does not reduce by one farthing the deficit of something like £3,000,000 which is to be hung round our necks. Of course, there might be an economy, I follow the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and the Chief Secretary in saying, if the amount of the old age pensions is reduced; but, again, that does not come in the reduction of the deficit. Does any hon. Member imagine, during the time when the United Kingdom are paying for the cost of the Post Office and the Local Government Board, which are transferred services, that the cost of old age pensions in Ireland is going to be reduced?
If would have been extremely interesting if the right hon. Gentleman had developed that argument during his speech, for he studiously avoided pointing out a single item of reduced expenditure which affected the reserved services and the liability which they imposed upon the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It is on the White Paper. The Treasury estimate that within the next few years old age pensions will decline by £200,000.
If the right hon. Gentleman had been listening to my remarks he would have noticed that I gave credit for that amount in dealing with old age pensions. But even now the right hon. Gentleman has not made a complete statement. He has not told the Committee that before the cost is reduced by £200,000 it would be increased by £336,000. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. He has thrown over the Secret Committee's Report more than once. If he will refer to that Report he 1567 will find that it estimates that the cost of old age pensions will be up to £3,000,000 a year before it is reduced by the £200,000 to which the right hon. Gentleman refers.
The Secret Committee is wrong, because the Government does not like its report. The hon. Member opposite says that this deficiency of £3,000,000 can be reduced by economies. At present the only economies which are apparent are economies which will not come to the credit of the United Kingdom, but, if they are realised, will go to the credit of Ireland alone, and will not in any way affect the deficit, which is the fundamental consideration according to the Postmaster-General, in the finances of this scheme. As the Postmaster-General has said, the dominant factor in the finance of this scheme is the existence of this deficit, which is being hung round our necks permanently or almost permanently, for the day when the account is to balance seems to me so much postponed that, so far as we are concerned, we can almost, if not quite, disregard it. The right hon. Gentleman says that the only method of meeting local expenditure in future is out of Customs and Excise, and he defends this departure from all precedent by the fact that there were no other taxes available in Ireland which were likely to raise sufficient revenue to enable the Home Rule Parliament to continue its Government. He said that any advantage that might be got from the power to alter the Income Tax was exceedingly small; that, as regards the Post Office, there was to be no increased revenue, that there was no power to vary stamps, that as regards Death Duties even a 10 per cent, increase would raise only £90,000, and as regards miscellaneous income of about £100,000, there was very little increase. And then when he came to new taxes, which are to be limited in their nature and are not to be of the same nature as Imperial taxes, the only suggestions that he made for new taxation was a tax on bicycles and a tax on advertisements. After going through the whole list, the Customs and Excise appear to be the only chance of revenue for the Irish Government.
That is a form of taxation which is a direct harm to us. That is the experience of every federal Government which has 1568 attempted to look after the units making up the federation. Such schemes of taxation have been rejected by every federal Government for the simple reason that it is known that where Customs and Excise barriers are set up there is likely to be a wider and wider separation between the units constituting the Federation and the Government. It is an obstacle which you are setting up by separate Customs and Excise in the way of a general revision of our tariff as a United Kingdom, and not only an obstacle to ourselves, and an obstacle in the way of Imperial preference and what I believe to be the line in our path of unity of the Empire. And it seems to me peculiarly hard that this generosity, if you call it so—I call it our sense of fairness in the past—to each of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom should now be the excuse for making the United Kingdom suffer in the way I have outlined, and suffer, in addition, by having hung round our necks the food taxes which at present exist. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire pointed out how the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Imperial Parliament will be handicapped by the financial provisions of this Bill. Under this present scheme the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot take twopence in the pound off the Tea Duties without at the same time making a present to Ireland of £224,000 a year. Will hon. Members go on platforms and say that they arc in favour of taking twopence off the Tea Duties, knowing that by the financial provisions of this Bill they are putting a financial barrier to the extent of £221,000 a year against the reduction of the Tea Duties of the United Kingdom? That cannot be recovered by the United Kingdom in any way from Ireland, and therefore Ireland's deficit is increased to the extent of £224,000, which means that there is a barrier in the way of our reducing the tea tax even by 2d. in the £, which represents £224,000 per annum. The Government appointed a strong committee on the subject, and that committee reported that if Home Rule be granted the Home Rule Parliament must be given full liberty in finance, and must be given full and separate powers of taxation, and, from all the thought that I personally have been able to give to the question, I have come to the same conclusion. There is no halfway house in finance; it is either partnership or separation. The more one considers the financial Clauses of this Bill 1569 the more one is certain whatever these expedients are they are merely temporary expedients, and separation is bound to result before a logical financial position can be arrived at.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I have listened to most of this Debate, and I must say that I am very gratified, after hearing the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and two or three other speeches on the finance of this Bill, to find that there has been no real effective criticism of that finance. There have been two contradictory attacks upon it, perfectly conflicting, mutually destructive. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork deplores our parsimony, and not merely our parsimony and our niggardliness, but what he conceives to be our gross unfairness to Ireland. Why? He thinks we were giving too little. I am not sure that I followed him correctly, but I think his idea was that we were giving too little by something like £3,000,000. At any rate, his general criticism was that we were robbing Ireland of something like £3,000,000 by very clever and ingenious methods. I think that is a very fair and accurate summary of the speech of the hon. Member for Cork. On the other hand, the speeches of those who attacked the finance of the Bill ran on other lines, and not on the ground of our niggardliness or parsimoniousness, or of our robbing Ireland to endow Great Britain, but that we are plundering the British taxpayer in order to pamper and feed up the Irish taxpayer, not with miserable bawbees, which the hon. Member for Cork referred to, but millions, at least two millions, a growing two millions, while the hon. Member has just shown infinite possibilities to the Irish taxpayer.
I think we should have done better to allow these two conflicting schools of criticism to destroy each other like conflicting microbes in the body. [An HON. MEMBER: "They sometimes destroy the body."] But that is how the body is going to be saved; I think it is one of the fundamental discoveries of the last few years. The hon. Member for Cork and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire—I will not say that they are conflicting microbes—have really between them given a complete defence of the Bill. I come first of all to the point of the hon. Member for Cork, that we have 1570 been too niggardly. I tried to follow his figures which, if he will allow me to say so, were fearful and wonderful, as his figures always are; it is his gift of imagination which distinguishes his writings as well as his speeches, finding its climax when he gets into the realms of finance. What did the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork say? He said, "Here you are—as a matter of fact you have not given a true account of what Ireland is paying at the present moment. Ireland is really paying £1,700,000 more than your accounts show. Where is the deficiency?" Inasmuch as we are not claiming that deficiency there is no harm to Ireland. There we are actually finding the money. The Irish constabulary is to be considered Imperial; and he says, "You have no right to take credit for old age pensions, you have no right to take credit for money spent on land purchase, it is all Imperial." Does the hon. Gentleman think that there is to be no constabulary in Ireland under Home Rule? In this country the localities pay for their police. I have no doubt that the constabulary in Ireland can be very usefully reduced, and, at the end of the term, at any rate, when you come to adjust the items of expenditure, Ireland will benefit to that extent. Why is the Irish constabulary not be regarded in any sense as a local expense, as if no police would be needed at all in Ireland under Home Rule.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
I did not say that. I quite admit that as a rough and ready compromise it might be a fair thing to charge Ireland with half the cost of this force, although you yourselves admit it is a purely Imperial matter.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
At any rate I have knocked off something like £500,000 or £600,000 from the £3,000,000. Then as to old age pensions, and land purchase, the hon. Member rather suggested that somehow or other this went to a horde of officials.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Gentleman not merely said it, but he repeated it; he was so pleased with the usual compliment of cheers from his Friends above the Gangway.
§ Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
I do not speak in this House to receive applause from either side of it. I think the right hon. 1571 Gentleman might have understood by this time that old-fashioned Irish Nationalists like myself are sent into this House not to be good English party men, either Liberal or Unionists, but to be Irish Nationalists first of all. I have spent now thirty years in this House, trying to teach that lesson, and I venture to tell the right hon. Gentleman until he and his Friends have learnt it, they will not get forwarder either for themselves or for Ireland.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have learned a great deal during the last three or four years of the attitude of the hon. Gentleman towards the efforts made by the Liberal Government to confer benefits upon Ireland. I am going to say one or two words about that now. The hon. Gentleman, knowing that two and a-half millions were given to old people in Ireland, instead of taking it with gratitude as they do—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The old people, who receive it with deep gratitude, saving them from abject poverty and misery, thousands and scores of thousands of them. The present Government gave two and a-half millions to redeem them from wretchedness and despair, and he has nothing better than a taunt for us on hordes of officials. That is what I have learned from the attitude of the hon. Gentleman towards what this Government has been doing for Ireland, and I think it was very ungenerous of him. He talked of officials who have been created for increasing land purchase. He is the last man in this House who should do so. One of his complaints is that the process is not rapid enough. There is only one way of increasing it, and that is by increasing the hordes of officials. You cannot do it without having men. Does he mean to say it can be done without examining titles and without examining values? Are we just to fling the money without the slightest scrutiny? If you are, then I can understand. Does he suggest that?
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
No. What I suggest is that you should complete land purchase instead of killing it as you have done.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that; but you cannot increase the pace without doubling the horde of officials. He is the last man in this House who ought to get up and taunt the Government with increasing 1572 hordes of officials in connection with land purchase. These are the two he chose. It was not magnanimous, it was shabby. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman, even if you accept the whole of his figures, and that is an extraordinary admission for anyone to make, must admit that there is no contribution towards the Army and the Navy, towards running the Empire at all, not a penny. He says take off old age pensions and other things and that there will be then £3,000,000, but there will not be a penny left for running the Empire. That is a great admission of the hon. Gentleman and yet he complains of the finances, which at the present moment do not give a penny towards running the Empire, although I hope that in the future Ireland will be in a position to take her share of responsibility for the Empire, and I feel confident it will be her pride one day to do so. I come again to the Unionist criticism, which is of a different character, and that is that you are giving £2,000,000 to Ireland out of British taxation, with the exception of the surplus which I am coming to. We are giving nothing which, we are not giving at present. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down talked as if we were finding £2,000,000, and as if, should this Bill be passed to-morrow, there would be an extra £2,000,000 which I, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, should have to find by means of taxing the British, taxpayer in order to finance Home Rule. With the exception of the surplus to which I will refer there is not a single penny which is found. Suppose the Home Rule Bill were thrown out next week and that there were an end to it, will the Imperial Treasury be £2,000,000 better off? If not it is not fair, it is not honest, to go down to the British elector and say they are finding £2,000,000 in order to finance Home Rule. Quite the reverse.
Everybody knows that if the Home Rule Bill were thrown out the expenditure would go on and the expenditure would increase at an accelerated pace, because that is the promise which has been made. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin has said so. He said, "My alternative to Home Rule is increased favours from the Imperial Parliament." You are not going to get this for nothing, you are going to kill Home Rule by kindness, kindness to Ireland at the expense of the British taxpayer. That is the alternative, the inevitable alternative. It has been the alternative that has been marked out by every 1573 Unionist statesman in the past. It is the only way you can do it. Everybody knows it. Anybody who has been Chancellor of the Exchequer even for twenty-four hours knows perfectly well what it means. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has been Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am Chancellor of the Exchequer, and every Chancellor of the Exchequer knows that you are constantly getting new demands from Ireland, not merely the sort of demand which you get from other parts of the United Kingdom, but demands which are peculiar to Ireland, because of its peculiar poverty, especially in districts. Take education. The burden of education in this country is shared between the ratepayer and the taxpayer. That is not the case in Ireland. You get demands even for money towards fuel for the schools. That is an extraordinary thing, but you know perfectly well that you cannot rate those districts. The only way they have fires now is by children bringing peat in their turn in order to get some sort of warmth in their schools. That is a thing you cannot imagine happening with regard to any district in the United Kingdom. If Home Rule goes it is not a saving of £2,000,000 to the British taxpayer; it is increasing his burden. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and I will accept correction if I am wrong, when he made a speech on the subject, did promise more generous terms. Ho was right. It is the only alternative to Home Rule. But if that is the case, what is the good of going down to British platforms and saying, "Here is £2,000,000 he is giving away to Ireland"? It is a good bargain for the British taxpayer. [HON. MKMBEHS: "No, no."]
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and learned Gentleman says it is too good a bargain for the British taxpayer. I agree it is a good bargain, but, as a very famous diplomatist once said, the only good bargain is a bargain which is good for both parties, and that is equally true here. This is a good bargain for the British taxpayer, and it is an equally good bargain for the Irish taxpayer. Why? It is so for a reason which I have heard the hon. and learned Gentleman describe in this House in very eloquent terms. He said, You are compelling Ireland to live up to the standard of Great Britain—why even in old age pensions; I quote that as an example—and you have got the 1574 British standard for everything. I hope that Ireland will so develop in the future that the Irish standard and the British standard will be level.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That strengthens my argument. You arc forcing upon Ireland at the present moment a standard of expenditure which she cannot afford; because if you have in Great Britain a system of officials, of pensions, of insurance, or whatever it is, you cannot have a lower standard for Ireland. Every Irishman, whatever his views might be, if a lower standard were proposed, would be forced to get up and criticise it, and say, "I cannot accept that." He would naturally want the same for Ireland that was given to other parts of the United Kingdom. That is a thoroughly bad system from the financial point of view. That is all I say. A Bill of this kind which allows Ireland to manage her own affairs, to have her own standard according to its own means and its own ideas, is a better system for Ireland and a cheaper one for the British taxpayer.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am glad to have the hon. and learned Member's assent to the proposition which he himself laid down.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I quite agree that this a better system than the existing system. I am very grateful to the Government for having brought it in, but I say that it is not fair to Ireland.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is what I pointed out—that there are two contradictory views, a fact which shows that on the whole the Government have taken the right and middle course. There are these constant demands coming from Ireland, and they will increase. When the Home Rule Bill of 1886 was brought in, there was a surplus of £2,000,000 of true revenue, or of £3,600,000 on the basis that the hon. Member for Cork would prefer. I do not care which he takes. Taking the present basis, there was a surplus of £2,000,000, which went towards Imperial expenditure. That has gone, and we are face to face with a deficiency. That shows that the present system is an extravagant and ruinous one for Ireland and a costly one for Great Britain. So much for that point of criticism. I now come to another kind of criticism, with regard to the method by 1575 which we propose to enable the Irish Parliament to finance itself. I agree that it is a very difficult problem. It is not a new problem by any means. Anybody who has taken the trouble to go into the question of local expenditure knows that, in a smaller way, that is the problem you are confronted with there. In every country throughout the world it is a problem that has to be faced. In very federal country you have, first of all, Imperial taxation, then you have State taxation, and finally you have the municipal expenditure. It is always very difficult to know how you are to allow those different authorities to finance their expenditure. Of course, it is difficult. I do not pretend that it is a simple matter which you can settle dogmatically. All I say is that we have discovered the best method of dealing with this particular case. Let me give my reasons for saying that.
As my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General has already pointed out in the powerful statement with which he opened the Debate, under this arrangement there is no protective tariff possible against Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) said that Ireland would not accept a scheme which did not protect Irish industry. Why not? In every federal country in the world the States do accept such a scheme. As a matter of fact, the tendency is all in favour of giving up the power of individual States to protect themselves against the other States. In Germany the States had the power to set up tariffs against the rest of the Empire. They have given it up, and I never heard of any complaint. Bavaria has given it up; Saxony has given it up; Prussia has surrendered the power. Take the United States of America. There is no power in one State to set up a tariff against the rest; but I never heard that it was a matter of complaint. The same thing applies now to Australia. The States there had the power to levy tariffs against each other, but they have abandoned it. Why on earth should it be assumed that Ireland would not accept what every other State in a federal community throughout the world has accepted? I would ask my hon. Friends who are doubtful as to the expediency of giving Ireland the power to raise any Customs Duty within the very strict limits of this Bill, what other method they would 1576 suggest by which they could raise revenue. [An HON. MEMBER: "Land."] That would be one expedient. I notice that the hon. Gentleman opposite is a single taxer. I am not. Therefore I want to find some alternative method while not ruling that out. I cannot imagine what possible injury that power can do to Great Britain. A good deal has been said about tea and tobacco. Take another commodity. Supposing it were beer. Supposing the Irish Parliament said, "We will increase our Beer Duties." I cannot imagine what possible injury that would inflict upon the industries of Great Britain except in regard to the quantity of beer that might be imported. I should have thought it was a perfectly fair method of raising revenue. I am not suggesting it, but I am sure it is a method which has been discovered by previous Governments. Why should that be an injustice to Great Britain?
It is said, "If you do that, you are allowing Ireland something that you could not possibly allow Scotland and Wales." Do hon. Members imagine that uniformity is essential to a federal scheme? [An HON. MEMBER: "It is in regard to Customs."] I will come to that presently. Take the case of Germany. There is not the same power vested in one State as in another. There is a vast difference between the powers of Bavaria and the powers of Saxony and the powers of Würtemburg. There is a great difference even in the powers of taxation. After all, there is this difference between Scotland and Wales and Ireland. It is not necessary to set up a new Customs barrier in Ireland, because you have got your Customs watching your ports for goods which are imported from abroad, and if you set up a Customs in Scotland you have to set up a Customs barrier between Scotland and England. That is not necessary in Ireland. Therefore, for practical reasons, there is a vast difference between giving Customs power to Ireland and giving it to Scotland, or Wales, or England. For that very reason it is quite unnecessary to increase the pay of your Customs House officers at all. I come to other criticisms which have been levelled against us. My hon. Friend behind me, the Member for Monmouth Boroughs, said he was opposed to this because he objected to the power of decrease. I cannot imagine what possible harm it would do Great Britain if Ireland, by means of economies, can see her way to decrease the Customs duty 1577 upon, say, either tea, sugar, or tobacco, or any other commodity. If she does it she does it at her own expense entirely.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If Ireland wastes money, then Ireland cannot afford to reduce. The tendency of expenditure, not merely in Ireland, but throughout the United Kingdom, and in every other country in the world, is going up. But let us assume that the Irish people have effected economies. We want to offer them some inducement to effect economies. This would be one. Suppose they were able to effect economies, that would put them in a position to reduce the Tea Duty in Ireland. If they do it they do it at their own expense. It would not be at the expense of Great Britain.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The Noble Lord really must understand that it comes out of the Transferred Sum. Now that he understands that he will support us. The criticism of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Mr. Worthington-Evans), was of a different character. He said it would be an inducement for the Imperial Chancellor not to reduce taxation. What an extraordinary doctrine! He suggests that the Chancellor will not reduce the Tea Duty in Great Britain for Fear it will have the effect of reducing the burden on Ireland by £200,000. What an idea he has got of the relations of Great Britain and Ireland. Of course he is labouring under a delusion in common with the rest of his colleagues, that after this Ireland will be treated as a sort of foreign country. On the contrary, I think the relations between Great Britain and Ireland will be warmer and more cordial. That the Imperial Parliament will feel such animosity and such hatred to Ireland, that rather than reduce by a trifle its burdens, it prefers imposing a duty on the food of the people in its own country, is—
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. My point was this: that supposing the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to reduce the Tea Duty here by 2d., it would cost him an additional £224,000 loss of revenue to this country.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
What the right hon. Gentleman says now and what he said then are not exactly the same.
There is a very real difference, that now at the present moment before Home Rule we get the whole savings—if there are savings—if there is an increase of revenue it comes to the United Kingdom. In the future part of it will not come.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Member has not read the Bill. On the contrary, we get the whole of the increment in the future. There will be absolutely no difference. If the hon. Member had applied his mind as thoroughly to this Bill as he did to another Bill I am perfectly certain he would have been incapable of making that obvious blunder. We will not lose a penny more except the normal increase then, and that we lose even though no Home Rule Bill at all is passed. There is no difference. Why on earth, merely in order to spite Ireland, we should say I would rather not benefit every house in the United Kingdom than allow these Irishmen to get a penny piece, I cannot see. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) said that we would have muddle and discord—discord at a time when it is important that there should be co-operation and good feeling; in an hour, say, of national peril; in the case of war. You might imagine from the right hon. Gentleman that up to the present all has been harmony, and that whenever a tax is put on in Ireland, say, for the Army and Navy, Ireland said, "Eight 'Dreadnoughts,' pro on, v rite eighteen!" That is not my experience of the Irish Members. The Irish Members will criticise the Bill, but I think they will criticise it in a very different spirit from that suggested. Their attitude naturally up to the present has been one of hostility to any taxation imposed for these purposes. I am not going into the history of the reasons for it. There is the fact.
In future, I believe, the whole of that attitude will change. I believe the whole of the Irish attitude towards Imperial enterprises and Imperial perils will have changed—that there will be as great a readiness in Ireland to have a share in the taxation that is necessary to make ready and equip ourselves in this country against the hour of peril as in any other part of Great Britain. In that confidence we propose this scheme. I agree that if the right 1579 hon. Gentleman is right, and these prophecies are falsified, it will be bad, but I do not think anything worse can happen than has happened in the past. We are trying to amend the very condition of things which the right hon. Gentleman refers to as if they were something in the future. I say that instead of this being in the future it is all in the past. Wherever you give powers of expenditure to any local power you, of course, get a certain amount of overlapping. You get a certain amount of friction and conflict with the Imperial Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman forgets that we have got that conflict between the local authorities and the Imperial Parliament at this moment. Why! an hon. Gentleman from the North of Ireland asked me to receive a deputation about a conflict between the local authorities and the Imperial Parliament. They want more money. They think the Imperial Parliament is treating them shabbily. They are up in arms against it. Commission after Commission has sat and tried to adjust these differences. It is a constant source of conflict only there is no fear of civil war: there is no danger of the destruction of the Empire. It is simply a demand, I will not say by conflicting parties, but by different powers. The local authorities try to get as much as they can out of the Treasury; the Treasury does its level best to hold back and, of course, everybody attacks the Treasury.
The hon. Member for Cork attacked the Treasury; that is one of his favourite diversities, but everybody does that. When demands come upon the Treasury, and the Treasury refuses, they are described as parsimonious, niggardly, and very unpatriotic. On the other hand, if the Treasury gives way it is described as extravagant, and even if the Treasury, having given way in some of these things, makes any effort to raise the money by taxation—well, the language we hear from Birmingham to Cork baffles description, and certainly baffles imitation. That is the only thing that happens. Of course, you will have adjustments to make, and no doubt the Joint Board will have its work cut out to adjust all these differences. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester said, "Yes, but you will have forty-two members in the Imperial Parliament whose business it will be to bring pressure from Ireland." But you have 103 Members now, and I never saw them reluctant, or if I may say so, disunited where 1580 there was any question of bringing pressure to bear upon the Imperial Exchequer. There is no change except that instead of having 103 Members present in the Imperial Parliament, a very formidable body, even if not united, you will have only forty-two. I know this is a complex problem, but I submit to the Committee I have heard no alternative. In this Debate from beginning to end there has been no suggestion of an alternative. There was much to prove that the problem was insoluble. It seems to right hon. Gentlemen opposite that this is the only country in the world that cannot give self-government to its provinces. Of course this country is not incapable of doing what most other great countries in the world have already accomplished. At any rate, I submit that we are placing before Parliament a simple solution of this problem, and I invite the Committee to support it.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman at the beginning of his speech paid a compliment, and I think a not undeserved compliment, to the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. William O'Brien). He praised his imagination, and he said that that imagination reached its climax when the hon. Member dealt with figures. I should like, if I may, to return the compliment to the right hon. Gentleman, and I would suggest that if Home Rule is adopted, following the excellent example set by the party opposite, the hon. Member for Cork City should be Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Irish Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to wax very indignant at the hon. Member for Cork City because he had mentioned the number of officials and because the mention of that subject had been received with cheers not unnaturally on this side of the House. Well, so far as England and Scotland and Wales are concerned we hope, when the Government are good enough to give us the Return they have promised, to deal adequately with that subject, but in the meantime I think the hon. Member for Cork City had some justification for his criticism from the point of view of Ireland. Take the very point about the Irish Land Commission. Since this Government came into office, I am informed, the figures have been given to me, the staff of that body have doubled, and the work is less than it was when the present Government came into office.
1581 The right hon. Gentleman began his speech—I think it was almost the first words he used—by saying that the financial criticism which has been made has been very ineffective. That is easily said, and I will venture, presenting an argument equally strong, to say that if the criticism was as weak as the defence, it was indeed very ineffective. Now what was the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman? He said that all our criticism of this Bill is mutually destructive because of one thing. Some hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway say that Ireland has been robbed, and, on the other hand, we say that under the conditions of this Bill England is treated unfairly by voting a tribute of money over which she has no control. He says these are mutually destructive criticisms, the one microbe destroying the other. The right hon. Gentleman has the advantage because he has the two microbes in his own person. He told us this Bill was very good for England, and he proved that we were giving too little to his own complete satisfaction. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no."] He proved that we were giving far less than we would have to do under any other condition. Does it follow, and I shall endeavour to prove it does follow, that if that be true, then we are making a very bad bargain for Ireland. I consider that both statements may be true, that it may be a bad bargain for England and a bad bargain for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a statement made by myself, that the Unionist party, when the day of hon. Gentlemen opposite is over, will continue the work which we have carried on in Ireland, that we will freely and generously—I do not object to the word—regard Ireland as an estate which we are developing; that we will continue land purchase, and he turned round and said, "You are going to spend immense sums far out of proportion to anything involved in this Bill." I entirely deny that. What is the expenditure 1 We have spent money on land purchase—it was that he referred to, and it is chiefly that we refer to.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If the right hon. Gentleman tells me that that was the only expenditure he contemplated, of course I accept his statement, but that was not what the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University contemplated, and I understood the right hon. Gentleman himself to refer to other items of expenditure.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The only item, as far as I remember, that I specifically 1582 referred to was land purchase, but I did say, and I repeat it now, that we will in any other way that seems reasonable to Ireland, as it would be to a part of England or Wales, spend money provided we have the control of it, provided we believe it will be well spent and will turn out in the long run to be to the benefit of the country for which it is spent and of the United Kingdom as a whole. I deny absolutely that our policy is a bad bargain for England. Take land purchase. So long as there is good government in Ireland that is not a bad investment. Look what is the result of it. Look at the improvements which it has caused in the condition of Ireland. That is not a benefit to Ireland only, for it is a benefit to us as well. The hon. Member for Cork mentioned some figures to-day, and he spoke of an increase of our exports to Ireland in millions. I think he said it was ten millions or twelve millions, and something like half of that amount represents wages, which are paid to people in this country. It is not merely an advantage from that point of view, but it is a very great advantage even to the revenue, because a good part of these wages are spent on commodities on which duty is paid, and we get back the money of which we have control, and which has been spent under our direction. I admit that if under Home Rule she develops to the same extent as she would have developed under the Union—[HON. MEMBEIJS: "Oh, oh!" and interruptions.] I have not a great deal of time, and I would suggest that I should be allowed to proceed. I will take up the interruption from below the Gangway. I do not pay any attention to hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I do pay regard to the views of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. Do they deny that Ireland has improved? [HON. MEMBERS: "Of course we do."] The hon. and learned Member for Waterford in his speech, made within two years, made this statement. He said:—Ireland had developed more rapidly than any other country, and was now the happy and contented home of a prosperous people.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. What I said was that Ireland had improved enormously by comparison with her own miserable past, and not by comparison with any other nation in Europe, and the improvement, such as it was, had been in spite of the Union.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I will accept the hon. and learned Member's recollection of what he said. At all events even that statement proves that since we established land purchase there has been an enormous improvement in Ireland, and in that improvement we as well as Ireland have benefited. I say that, from the British point of view, we are entirely gambling on a continuance of good government in Ireland. If it is as ideal as even right hon. Gentlemen opposite are compelled to prophesy it is going to be then, I do not say we shall suffer, but at any rate it is a gamble. Take the speech of the hon and learned Member for Cork as an illustration of how the gamble is likely to turn out. He told us, with regard to the Post Office this afternoon, that it had been accepted by the Nationalist Members because of the jobs which were contained in it for their followers. Is that what you call good government under Home Rule? I say, prophecy against prophecy, my belief inevitably is that if this Bill is carried out, the condition of Ireland will go back, and instead of improving our position financially, we shall suffer enormously by the proposals of this Bill. Whatever it may be to England, even if there is good government, it must be bad for Ireland. There really is no doubt about that. What is the position? Ireland is admittedly a comparatively poor country. The right hon. Gentleman spoke, for instance, of education and the cost of the schools. I think it is common agreement on all sides of the House that a great many of the services which are now borne by the rates are national services, that they ought to be equalised, and that the poor districts should not pay for these services, which are imposed upon them by the House of Commons, to the extent they do now. Take, for example, the poor districts of West Ham. I think the burden upon a poor district like that is very heavy and ought to be removed. I am sure all parties in the House would like to do it. I think that is agreed. Mow Ireland is in the position of West Ham. When Ireland is in the Union she shares the advantage of being attached to a rich country, but if you pass this Bill she loses those advantages, and inevitably must fall to a lower level than would have been possible if she had continued her connection with this country. I want to say something more about that. One of the Nationalist Members sent me notice that he was going to put a question to 1584 me which Mr. Speaker would not allow. The question was to this effect:—Would you, as representing the Unionist party; guarantee to fulfil the pledge given from that bench that land purchase would be continued after Home Rule?Of course the question could not be put to me, but I may say at once that any pledge of that kind is no obligation on the Government that succeeds this Government. That applies, not only to land purchase, but to every provision of this Bill. You may talk, and people do talk, about the Treaty of Union to which Ireland became a partner with us, but no one can say that there is a treaty here, because the Union embraces a unit which contains three-fourths of the population and provides seven-eights of the revenue, and that unit is against the whole thing. There is not a single Clause, financial or otherwise, which would be considered binding upon me or anyone else in my place who succeeded this Government. I do not wish it to be supposed for a moment that that means we would treat Ireland with spite because we did not get our way. Nothing of the kind. If Home Rule were carried* and we decided that we would not reverse it, we would deal with the case on its merits. We would be willing to be as generous to Ireland as the needs of our own people permit us to be. But does anyone suppose that such financial arrangements as these would permanently continue if Ireland were in the same condition of independence, for all practical purposes, as Canada or South Africa? Does anyone suppose that we would be asked to pay old age pensions in Canada, and does anyone believe that permanently we will be willing to pay old age pensions in Ireland under the conditions of this Bill? I am looking at it, I assure the Committee, as far as I can from the point of view of what would happen after the Bill had been accepted. I do not believe that under those conditions we on these benches would be less generous to Ireland than the party which sits on those benches. I say that, in my belief, if that were to happen the result which I have indicated would inevitably arise, and it would be more likely to arise under a Government from those benches even than under a Government from these benches. I have confirmation of that view. I happened the other day to be reading a paper which has some connection with the Labour party, but the thing is so mixed that I do not know whether it is for them or against them. It is a thing called the "Labour 1585 Leader." The article which I read criticised my right hon. Friend beside me and myself for the pettishness with which we have made the suggestion I have made just now. Yes, but later on in the same article the writer of it said:—Do these stupid Unionists really think that the suggestion that money which has hitherto been given to Ireland will henceforth be given to England, is likely to he unpopular with the working class in the United Kingdom?We know the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) has clearly stated his position. He prefers Home Rule and the national spirit with poverty to prosperity without it. That is all right; but has he made it clear, as he ought to have done, to the people who sent him here that under Home Rule they may get the National spirit, but under it they will inevitably get poverty? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herbert Samuel) went on to say there was no possibility of protection in this arrangement about Customs, a really extraordinary statement to make. I have so little time that I will not develop the argument myself much, but I shall read the view on this subject of Sir Thomas Pittar, who was so long chairman of Customs in this country. The views of Lord Welby were read. In reading this I have at least this advantage, that I do not know to which party Sir Thomas Pittar belongs.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Well, I do not know, but, at all events, he has never given away his right to criticise by accepting every proposal which has ever been made by a Unionist Government. The message came to a friend of my own behind me, but he allows his name to be used in connection with it. This is what he says:—Clause 16 is directly protective of Irish manufacturers at the expense of British manufacturers, it being so drafted that it secures the British market to Irish productions and manufactures, notwithstanding that the Irish Parliament might vary customs or excise duties or regulations so as to give an advantage to Irish manufacturers. Clause 16. sub-section 2, paragraph (a) at once secures the British market to Irish manufacturers of tobacco, although the Irish Government might give Irish manufacturers important advantages over British manufacturers by less burdensome excise regulations.If anybody doubts the truth of that, I can prove it in a moment. We all know that much protection has been given to different trades in this country by the difference allowed for the drawback of what is assumed to be the cost of manufacture. It became so glaring in the case of cocoa that this Government had to remove it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The date is to-day. When the Government are willing to submit to the House evidence which the House has a right to get, then they can with some justice complain. But the evidence should have been given to us. The Prime Minister promised that if it were the general desire of the House, the evidence would be given. What do we find to-day? We find that a majority of the Members of this House actually signed a letter desiring-that it should be given, yet the right hon. Gentleman refused to give it. The right hon. Gentleman paid a compliment to my right hon. Friend behind me on his mental agility in debate. I must say that the Prime Minister himself shows mental agility in giving the English language a meaning which it never had before. I was endeavouring to show how Protection would work. The drawback on tobacco today in England is 1s. That is admittedly a protection. If the Irish Parliament decided that under the peculiar circumstances of Ireland to put it at 1s. 6d., they would at once establish a protective industry in Ireland; they would secure the whole of the Irish tobacco trade, and at the same time they would be able to dump their goods in England and beat the English manufacturers. It is not denied that the power of Protection does exist. The right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General to-day spoke of some wonderful provision in the Clause to prevent bounties, but he had to admit that bounties would be permissible on production, and surely such bounties are the worst form of Protection. What will be the effect suppose the Irish Government gives 1s. on every pair of boots manufactured in Ireland? Not only would they secure the whole of the Irish trade, but they would secure the best part of the English trade.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The Irish Government might think it worth while—and I do not know it would be unwise—to use our 1587 contribution as a means of beating us in our own markets. Protection may be a good or a bad thing for us. I am not going into that now. My views are known. But I think it is doubtful if, even under our present system, it would be good for Ireland. They may think so. But what is the answer of the right hon. Gentleman? It is his usual plan. At one moment, he points to the Colonial analogy; at the next moment he points to the individual State analogy. He says that no State in the American Union wants special tariffs. Yes, but we are not setting up a body comparable to a State in the American Union; we are setting up a body as independent as the Canadian Parliament for all practical purposes, and if they desired Protection they could have it. The Irish people have desired it in the past; they desired it at the time of Gratton's Parliament to such an extent that, if I am not mistaken, they broke into the Assembly and turned out the members because they would not put on protective duties against England, and Mr. Parnell always said he would never accept Home Rule which did not give them that right. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] I have got the words. Let them say what they like, it is perfectly clear that this Free Trade Government is deliberately setting up a system which is protective, and must lead to Protection on every possible occasion.
I have only time to refer to one other matter. Why is this extraordinary arrangement made? The whole experience of the world has shown that a single Custom House is not only a symbol of national unity, but is a necessity of national union. Take, not the latest example, for that is the example of South Africa, but the example of the Australian Commonwealth. When the different States were joined to form the Australian Commonwealth, New South Wales, one of the most important of them, was for Free Trade, and attached great importance to Free Trade, but they realised so completely that union without a common fiscal system was impossible, that they sacrificed their Free Trade principles in order to have the Union of Australia. This Government, which, if it had any convictions—it never has had any convictions—was believed to be in favour of Free Trade, adopts the very reverse process. It sacrifies its Free Trade principles, not to secure unity, but to disintegrate the Empire. What is the pretence? The pretence is that it is the only 1588 way of raising money. That is as insincere as every other argument of the right hon. Gentleman. How could they get this revenue from Customs or Excise? The right hon. Gentleman has found by experience that the Excise Duties have reached the limit at which they do not begin to give greater revenue.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
That is my opinion, and I think I could prove it with extracts from speeches of the right hon. Gentleman. As regards Customs, what does the right hon. Gentleman say. He said, "Why, naturally Ireland will wish to reduce the Tea Duty." If they reduce the Tea Duty to any extent, instead of getting additional revenue, they will get less revenue by this arrangement of the Customs. They cannot get their revenue from that. What is the meaning of it? They know that nobody in this country likes it, but they have had to do it. Why? Because on the one hand there is a great demand in Ireland for control of the Customs, and on the other hand, in Great Britain the idea is detested. The consequence is this: That it enables the people of Ireland to say, "We have got practically the control of the Customs," and it enables the Government to say, "We have control of the Customs."
§ Mr. CROFT
I desire to take this opportunity to say that in my opinion that this Resolution should be gagged in this manner is absolutely unworthy of this House, and it is an insult to the constituencies and in absolute defiance of every principle of Liberalism.
It being Half-past Ten of the clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 14th October, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at this day's sitting.
Question put, "That it is expedient for the purpose of any Act of the present Session to amend the provision for the Government of Ireland (a) to authorise the payment in each year out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of any sums for the payment of which into the Irish Exchequer, or to any body or person in the stead of the Irish Exchequer, provision may be made under that Act; and (b) to authorise such Customs Duties to be charged on articles brought into 1589 Great Britain from Ireland or into Ireland from Great Britain, and such alterations of drawbacks or allowances to be made in respect of those articles, as may be provided for by that Act, in cases where any Customs or Excise Duty levied in Great Britain is levied at a different rate from that at which the duty is levied in Ireland, or where any Customs or Excise Duty is levied in Great Britain and not levied in Ireland, or levied in Ireland and not levied in Great Britain; and (c) to authorise the
§ payment out of the Consolidated Fund or out of moneys provided by Parliament of any salaries, pensions, superannuation allowances, gratuities, or compensation, for the payment of which to or on behalf of any judges or existing Irish officers, or officers or constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary or of the Dublin Metropolitan Police force, provision may be made in pursuance of that Act."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 302; Noes, 181.1593
|Division No. 305.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hudson, Walter|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Adamson, William||Dickinson, W. H.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Dillon, John||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Donelan, Captain A.||John, Edward Thomas|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Doris, W.||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Duffy, William J.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Armitage, R.||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Rushcliffe)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Joyce, Michael|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Keating, Matthew|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Essex, Richard Walter||Kelly, Edward|
|Barnes, G. N.||Falconer, James||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick Burghs)||Farrell, James Patrick||Kilbride, Denis|
|Barton, William||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||King, J.|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Lamb, Ernest Henry|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Ffrench, Peter||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Field, William||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Leach, Charles|
|Boland, John Pius||Gill, Alfred Henry||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Ginnell, L.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Glanville, H. J.||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Brace, William||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lundon, Thomas|
|Brady, P. J.||Goldstone, Frank||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lynch, A. A.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Macdonald, J, M. (Filkirk Burghs)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||McGhee, Richard|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Griffith, Ellis J.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Cawley, H. T, (Lanes., Heywood)||Hackett, J.||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||M'Kean, John|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hancock, J. G.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Rossendale)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Clough, William||Hardie, J. Keir||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Clynes, John R.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Manfield, Harry|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Martin, J.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hayden, John Patrick||Meagher, Michael|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hayward, Evan||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hazleton, Richard||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Millar, James Duncan|
|Crooks, William||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Molloy, M.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Henry, Sir Charles||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Cullinan, J.||Higham, John Sharp||Mond, Sir Alfred M.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hinds, John||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Mooney, John J.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hodge, John||Morgan, George Hay|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Hogge, James Myles||Morrell, Philip|
|De Forest, Baron||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Delany, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Muldoon, John|
|Munro, R.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Needham, Christopher||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Neilson, Francis||Reddy, Michael||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Nolan, Joseph||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Nuttall, Harry||Rendall, Athelstan||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wardie, George J.|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Waring, Walter|
|O'Dowd, John||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|O'Grady, James||Robinson, Sidney||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Watt, Henry A.|
|O'Malley, William||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Webb, H.|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Rowlands, James||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|O'Shee, James John||Rowntree, Arnold||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Bridgeton)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sheehy, David||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Pointer, Joseph||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Winfrey, Richard|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Snowden, Philip||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Radford, George Heynes||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Heimsley, Viscount|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hill, Sir Clement L.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Hills, John Wailer|
|Astor, Waldorf||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hill-Wood, Samuel|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Craik, Sir Henry||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Balcarres, Lord||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Croft, H. P.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Dixon, C. H.||Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Doughty, Sir George||Horner, Andrew Long|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Duke, Henry Edward||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Barnston, H.||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Jackson, Sir John|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Jessel, Captain H. M.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Falle, B. G.||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Fleming, Valentine||Knight, Captain E. A.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Fletcher, John Samuel||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Gardner, Ernest||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Gibbs, G. A.||Lee, Arthur Hamilton|
|Boyton, James||Gilmour, Captain John||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Goldman, C. S.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Greene, Walter Raymond||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Butcher, John George||Gretton, John||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Guinness, Hon. W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Campion, W. R.||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Haddock, George Bahr||Mackinder, H. J.|
|Cassel, Felix||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Macmaster, Donald|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Cave, George||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harris, Henry Percy||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Moore, William||Royds, Edmund||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, N.)|
|Mount, William Arthur||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Touche, George Alexander|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Nield, Herbert||Sanders, Robert A.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Sanderson, Lancelot||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Sassoon, Sir Philip||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Perkins, Walter F.||Spear, Sir John Ward||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Stanier, Beville||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Stanley, Hon, Arthur (Ormskirk)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Pole-Carew, Sir B.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Stewart, Gershom||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Quitter, Sir William Eley C.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Randles, Sir John S.||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Rawlinson, Peel John Frederick||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Rawson, Col. R. H.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Rees, Sir J. D.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)||Mr. Baird and Mr. Barrie.|
|Ronaldshay, Earl of|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next (11th November).
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.