§ Resolution [19th November] reported.
§ "That it is expedient, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend the provision for the government of Ireland,—
§ To authorise the payment in each year out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom into the Irish Exchequer or to any body or person in the stead of the Irish Exchequer—
- (a) of a fixed sum based on the cost at the time of the pasing of the said Act of the branches of government to be adminstered thereunder by the Irish Government and, in the case of the future transfer of any other branches of government to the Irish Government, of further sums based on the saving to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom resulting from the transfer; the amount of the said fixed sum and any such further sums to be determined in manner provided by the said Act, with power to make payments on account of those sums pending that determination; and
- (b) of a sum of five hundred thousand pounds, diminishing in each year after the third year of payment by the sum of fifty thousand pounds, until it is reduced to the sum of two hundred thousand pounds; and
- (c) of sums equal to the proceeds of any taxes imposed by the Irish Parliament in pursuance of the powers given by the said Act, the amount of those proceeds to be determined in manner provided by the said Act:
§ And 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 the said 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 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 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 the said Act, and also of any sums for the payment of which out of the Consolidated Fund or out of moneys provided by Parliament provision may be made by the said Act in the event of the failure of the Irish Government to make any such payment."
§ Question proposed, "That the House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
I rise with considerable diffidence to again ask the attention of the House, since I have on two or three occasions been obliged to speak at some length on the subject of Irish finance. I think the Government might well be content to leave the general outline of their scheme to the admirable defence that was made of it yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for the Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Murray Macdonald), by my hon. Friend the Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones,) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough). But there are certain specific questions and arguments by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite which call for some further reply on the Report stage of this Financial Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), who followed me in debate some ten or eleven days ago, raised several points, some of them of comparatively minor importance, and some of them of greater 311 importance. He asked for a specific reply on one particular matter, and as it is a point of minor importance I may perhaps be allowed at once to get it out of the way. He said that some Member of the Government should reply in the debate to one question with respect to the Joint Exchequer Board:—Who is going to pay for 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th November. 1912, col. 1509.]In answer to the right hon. Gentleman I think it is due to him to say that the Prime Minister answered similar questions as long ago as 20th May and 25th June last, which were addressed to him across the floor of the House at Question Time. He pointed out that if additional salaries were necessary, the British Treasury would pay for their representatives and the Irish Treasury would pay for their representatives, and that no doubt arrangements would be made to provide the salary, if any—of course, it is a matter at present quite uncertain whether any salary will be needed—of the Chairman of the Board, and that it might be provided between them.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the question of the Exchequer Board, can he answer the other question I put to him, namely, whom it is the intention of the Government to appoint as Chairman, and whom they intend to be Chairman of the Exchequer Board. I do not mean the individual; I am not asking for the name, but whether they mean it to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain for the time being, or the First Lord of the Treasury for the time being, or do they mean it to be somebody to be chosen from outside the Ministerial world?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The matter has not been yet definitely decided. Indeed, we should be counting our chickens before they were hatched if we were to decide now, and issued an invitation to any individual to be Chairman of the Exchequer Board at once. But certainly, as at present advised, in the minds of those of us who have to do with this matter, it is not contemplated that any member of the British should be Chairman of the Joint Exchequer Board, but that it should be some man of authority and repute who would command confidence in both countries, a man of personal 312 character who has the financial knowledge and the general qualifications for the post. What I am saying now must be understood to be quite provisional and not binding in any way upon the Government. The right hon. Gentleman raised an objection in the course of his speech to one provision of the financial scheme which he thought showed its complicated and unworkable character. He was referring to the provisions which limit to 10 per cent, the additions which may be made by the Irish Parliament to certain Imperial taxes. He said:—Suppose the genius of 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; just as it was by a similar process that the real impracticability of the Bill of 1893 was shown."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 7th November, 1912, cols. 1519–1520.]The right hon. Gentleman, if I may respectfully say so, has chosen a very unfortunate instance if he thought that this shows the impracticability of the Bill, for he has forgotten that the 10 per cent, limitation, on which his case was based, only applies to additions to the Death Duties, to Income Tax, and to Customs Duties, except on beer and spirits. It does not apply at all to any new tax which the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer may impose, and therefore the particular case which he takes to show the impracticability of our scheme shows nothing of the kind, but is only evidence that, owing to some extent to the complicated nature of these proposals, he has not fully appreciated all the limitations and qualifications which are inserted in the Clauses of the Bill and which render impossible the contingency to which he refers. The right hon. Gentleman, dealing with a much larger and more important point, mentioned the case of bounties, and said that, while we pretend that this Bill is based upon the principles of Free Trade, as a matter of fact the Irish Parliament is really empowered to establish a kind of bounty system which would defeat what is the ostensible purpose of the Bill. I ventured to interrupt him in the course of his remarks, as he asked me a question across the floor, and to point out that bounties as ordinarily understood—that is to say, a Grant made to 313 exporters of goods so far as export is concerned—was prohibited by Clause 2 of the Bill, which prevents the Irish Parliament doing anything to affect trade out of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman indignantly protested that such a statement should then be made for the first time on a matter of such great importance.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman has given me no notice that he was going to refer to a speech of mine, which he might have answered yesterday, and which was made ten days ago, and therefore I have not got a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT before me. My recollection is perfectly clear, that the statement at which I expressed surprise at hearing then for the first time was that no bounties could be given by the Irish Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman's first statement was that Clause 2 prohibited bounties. It subsequently appeared that he used the word "bounties" in the sense only of bounties upon exports. I then proceeded to comment that, according to the right hon. Gentleman's reading of the Bill, even if the Irish Parliament could not give a bounty on export, they could give a bounty on production.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
What I was about to say applies equally to that. Although I do not want to quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman about the matter, if he refers to the OFFICIAL REPORT he will see that what I said previously was textually accurate, although I dare say the right hon. Gentleman might have had another point in his mind at the time. I would point out to him that on 24th October I was asked:—Whether the Government of Ireland Bill imposes any limitation on the power of an Irish Parliament to grant bounties either on the production or export of Irish products or manufactures?My reply was:—Bounties on export would affect trade with places out of Ireland and are therefore precluded by Clause 2 (7). As I have stated in reply to previous questions, the Irish Parliament is not prevented from making grants from Irish revenues to particular industries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th October, 1912, col. 2382.]That is what I had said previously, so that the Government have not endeavoured to conceal the matter at all, but have clearly stated, on several occasions, what the powers of the Irish Parliament were. The right hon. Gentleman was not fully justified in the course of the Debate in saying that, "Now a Minister comes bravely forward for the first time to reveal to the House of Commons what are the real 314 powers conferred on the Irish Parliament." It is quite clear under the Bill that the Irish Parliament have no power to set up a system of bounties, such as existed in the case of the sugar trade with foreign countries, in order to stimulate the export trade of one country to the disadvantage of the domestic trade of another country. That is clearly prohibited under the Bill. The power to make a Grant to particular industries, say the tobacco industry or the beet sugar industry or whatever industry may be chosen to be specially favoured, has no relation whatever to the powers dealing with Customs and Excise and the general financial powers contained in this Bill.
Some hon. Members opposite seem to desire the House to believe that because certain limited powers are granted with regard to Customs and Excise that has some relation to this authority to give Grants for the development of particular industries, which may be infant industries or which may be established industries. The two have no connection whatever. If the Irish Parliament had no power whatever to touch any Customs or Excise they would still, unless they were specially prohibited by a particular Clause, be at liberty to give a Grant to persons who did the pioneer work in establishing the industry of the cultivation of tobacco, for example, and every Parliament in the world, if it has any revenues at all and any control over expenditure, no matter what may be the system of finance, has naturally an inherent power, unless specially prohibited from so doing, to use its money, if it so desires, for the encouragement of particular industries. I remember reading, years ago, the Report of the Recess Committee in Ireland, consisting of gentlemen whose work did so much to stimulate the development of Irish industry, in which they gave many illustrations of the manner in which some countries—Luxemburg, I remember, was instanced, and states in Germany and elsewhere—had increased vastly the prosperity of their inhabitants by the development of new industries. I see no reason why you should prohibit the Irish Parliament, if they wished, from setting up special schools for the training of workers for the conduct of particular new industries, or, if they wished, from giving special assistance to particular new industries in order to establish them there. Whether such a policy is wise or not is another matter, but I submit that it ought to be within the 315 competence of the Irish Parliament and the Irish Government, if they so desire, with the approval of the Irish people, to adopt a policy of that character, and, indeed, as a matter of fact, I gravely doubt whether it would be possible to draft any Clause in any Bill which would effectively prevent action of that kind if the Parliament of a country desired to effect it, because the Grants need not be direct. They might be Grants in relief of local rates to people who are starting new industries. They might be Grants to assist and encourage the produce of those industries. They might, in a score of ways which have been adopted on the Continent, give indirect Grants for the encouragement of industries.
But, then, taking hold of this point, hon. Members opposite try to alarm the House and the country by suggesting that the Irish Parliament may work great injury to British trade by using this power, and the Leader of the Opposition gave us a concrete instance. What is to prevent, was said, the Irish Parliament, if they wish, from giving a bounty of a shilling on every pair of boots manufactured in Ireland—not only on boots exported, because that would be ultra vires, but upon all boots manufactured in Ireland, in order to encourage the Irish boot-making industry, with the result that Irish boots would be able to cross the Channel in vast quantities and, by the extent of the bounties, undersell boots in Great Britain, and work injury to our trade? There are two answers to that. In the first place, the Irish Government would have to put its hand in its own pocket to find the shilling to give to the bootmakers, and I am not sure that the Irish Parliament will be so lavishly equipped with financial resources that it will have at its disposal sums that it will be able to distribute with a free hand for this purpose. Secondly, hon Members opposite assume that if this attack on any particular British trade were made by the Irish Parliament in the interests of some Irish trade, we in this House should be required by the Home Rule Act to sit quietly by and see what is going on, and would be powerless, suppose we thought that such an action was inadvisable. I am dealing with what I regard as an utterly impossible case. I am dealing, however, with a theoretical case, a purely hypothetical case, which hon. Members cannot show has the smallest degree of probability in it, but which I must admit has, within the 316 terms of the Act, some possibility in it. I wish to point out that nothing could be easier, if this Parliament so desired, than to adopt such measures as they thought fit to prevent the effect of bounties of that sort. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not against Germany, too?"] Certainly it can, if it so desired. It is purely a matter within the competence of this Parliament, just as the other is within the competence of the Irish Parliament. Further, hon. Members opposite have said that the Irish Parliament might be able under the powers of this Act to create a monopoly. Certainly they cannot do so by any manipulation of the tariff. No alterations of Customs Duties within their power enable them to set up anything in the nature of a monopoly in Ireland, and the only possibility would be if they were to pass a law to make it a misdemeanour punishable by fine or imprisonment for any person to have in his possession articles such as those which they wish to make the subject of a monopoly—matches or whatever it might be—of Irish manufacture. That has nothing to do with the finance of the Bill. No financial power, no power of taxing, no power of varying Customs, has any relation whatever to this particular proposal. It is purely a matter whether or not it will be within the competence of the Irish Parliament to pass a law punishing people who had certain articles in their possession, and of course it would be a matter, if such a law were passed, if it were held to be tyrannous and oppressive, whether sanction should be given to it. But there is no ground on which they can connect in any way this supposed power of creating a monopoly by means of penalising people who possess certain goods not made by the monopolists—there is no ground on which they can show the smallest connection between a law of that kind and any financial or taxing or revenue power conferred upon the Irish Parliament by the Bill.
Then the Leader of the Opposition persists in saying that by some means or other we have given opportunities to the Irish Parliament if they wish to establish a system of Protection. He has stated that in the most specific terms. He said a few nights ago:—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.The right hon. Gentleman has failed to make good that assertion in any particular. The sole evidence which he has 317 been able to advance is a letter from Sir Thomas Pittar, who is a broken reed on which to lean, who is wrong in his facts and completely false in his conclusions. [An HON. MEMBER: "In your opinion."] No, in the opinion of the Board of Customs, whom I have specially consulted on this point.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Is there any written document bearing out what the right hon. Gentleman suggests? If so, as he has quoted from it, I should like to have it laid on the Table of the House.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I have not quoted from any document at all. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, is quite unjustified on this occasion in trying to invoke the Rule of the House which requires a Minister to lay upon the Table any document from which he has quoted. The Government in framing Bills of this character on matters which are purely technical, such as this, as to whether or not drawbacks are excessive or as to the amount allowed for the cost of revenue restrictions and other points of that kind—purely technical detailed matters of that kind—are necessarily advised by the experts, and I think it is perfectly legitimate for a Minister to say that in the drafting of these particular Clauses dealing with subjects of that kind he has acted upon the advice of the Department concerned. If the right hon. Gentleman can show that there is any small loophole through which a protective element could creep in, we shall be very ready to co-operate with him—or we would do it on our own account—to stop that loophole. He has not yet shown that such a loophole exists, and certainly even if it were the case that Sir Thomas Pittar is accurate and that there is some small possibility, in relation to tobacco, of the drawback being less or greater than it ought properly to be, or of the duty upon manufactured tobacco being higher than it ought to be in relation to the duty on raw tobacco, surely that does not justify the Leader of the Opposition in saying—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.If the right hon. Gentleman adheres to that statement, I invite him in the first place to prove it.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The right hon. Gentleman has given no proofs at all. 318 The proof he gave last night was a letter from Sir Thomas Pittar, in which what he said was based on the assumption that the Irish Parliament would have the control of revenue restrictions—would have the management of the bonded system in Ireland, and would be able to differentiate the regulations with respect to tobacco in bond. I interrupted him, as he had obviously been mislead by his informant, to point out that such powers were not vested in the Irish Parliament, that they had no control over these matters, and that all Customs and Excise-restrictions were in the hands of the Imperial Government as a portion of the machinery for the collection of revenue.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
That may be the intention of the Government, but I do not find it in the Bill nor in the Amendment, for this reason: It is a reserved service. So are old age pensions. Does the right hon. Gentleman contend that because old age pensions are a reserved service, therefore it will be done by British officials? In the same way does he now say that the Irish Government will have nothing whatever to do with the appointment or control of any officials in Ireland dealing with Customs or Excise.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It has been clearly stated from the beginning that that is the intention. As it is a reserved service, and as there is nothing in the Bill to transfer it to the Irish Parliament, unquestionably these officers are retained in the hands of the Imperial Parliament, and, until this moment, through all our long debates no one has ever suggested for an instant that the Excise and Customs officers are to be officers of the Irish Government. All our Debates have proceeded on the assumption of the contrary, and, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends have again and again pointed out the inconvenience, as they regard it, of having the Excise officers appointed by the Imperial Parliament, while the police officers would be controlled, after an interval of years, by the Irish Government.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the British Government do not intend to avail themselves in regard to Customs and Excise of the provisions of Clause 40?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
There is no reason to put it in the Bill. We should Lave put it in the Bill if it were otherwise.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not wish to say anything contentious; I merely wish to ask a question. Do I rightly understand the right hon. Gentleman to mean that the drawbacks to be allowed and the revenue restrictions which are to be enforced in Ireland will be settled by the Imperial Government under the Bill?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
If the Irish Government vary a duty, then necessarily the drawback must be varied with it, and there are provisions in the Bill, and in the Amendment standing in my name, which provide that these drawbacks shall vary with the variation of the duty itself.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The Imperial Government will not fix the variation. That must be fixed by the Irish Parliament. At the same time, if it adds 10 per cent, to the Tobacco Duty, it must add 10 per cent, all round. The point is very technical, but if the right hon. Gentleman will read the Amendment of which I have given notice he will find that is provided for.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
My point is in reference to the varying of the allowance. I am not dealing with the duty. As to the allowance for revenue restrictions, I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that that was to be fixed by the Imperial Government, but, as I read the Bill, it will not be fixed by the Imperial Government. I wish to know whether I rightly understood what he said.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
As to that, I would like to refer to the Bill. I think it is in the hands of the Exchequer Board who will decide what is the fair differentiation to allow for revenue restrictions. These are minute and technical points which can be dealt with if there is any fault by drafting Amendments in the Bill. The intention of the Bill is clear and obvious, and that is that there is to be 320 nothing in the nature of Protection. I repeat that the Leader of the Opposition is not justified in saying that a protective system is being deliberately set up and that it must lead to protection on every possible occasion. It is obviously the language of gross exaggeration. Indeed, in the speech to which we listened last night from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham)—it was obviously an unpremeditated speech and he spoke therefore with perhaps even more than his usual candour—he said that although Ireland would almost certainly have demanded power to set up a tariff for her own benefit, we had refused it because we had to placate the Free Trade supporters of our own party. I will leave the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover to reconcile among themselves this obvious contradiction. In a previous speech I invited hon. Members who were raising objections on this side of the House to the proposal for allowing Ireland to get increased revenue by imposing certain Customs Duties to propose an alternative, and the only answer so far given was by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Leith Burghs (Mr. Munro-Ferguson), who said that rather than give this power he would like to see its value to the Irish Parliament assessed and commuted by an additional Grant-in-Aid. I think that is a suggestion which is not in its nature practical. You cannot assess the specific money value at the outset of a power of this character. We do not know whether or not the power will be used, and, if used, we do not know in what direction it will be used. If it were used to make an increase of 10 per cent, on the Tea Duty, that would bring in comparatively little, but an increase not necessarily limited to 10 per cent, on the Beer Duty, Customs and Excise, would bring in a very large amount indeed.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
That is a matter on which the hon. Baronet speaks with very great authority, but it is possible to have different views on that subject. I think it would be argued from Ireland—I am speaking hypothetically, and not selecting that particular duty for any particular reason—that the revenue which might be derived might be exceedingly large, and I am quite certain public opinion in this country would not approve 321 of an increase of the surplus in the hands of the Irish Government being made to a very large extent on the ground that they are being deprived of certain powers in regard to Customs and Excise. The hon. Member for North Westmeath (Mr. Ginnell) suggested that the Joint Exchequer Board should be empowered to assess the sums really due to Ireland for past overtaxation, and that that should be added to the Transferred Sum. I am afraid the powers of the Exchequer Board would not be adequate to make an assessment of that character. The matter is one of such great controversy, and the views which are held upon it are so diametrically opposed, that I am afraid a Board charged merely to deal with facts, and never with questions of policy, as the Joint Exchequer Board is charged, would find it impossible to fulfil that task. It is quite essential for the working of this scheme that the Irish Parliament should have adequate financial resources, and as the money must come from somewhere, and as we are not Tariff Reformers—we have no Aladdin's lamp, by rubbing which vast masses of gold can be produced from nowhere—we submit to the House that the power of increasing these particular duties is really essential.
Let me turn to one or two other fundamental objections which have been made to this scheme by hon. Gentlemen opposite. They say, "Your estimates of the future are visionary. So far from having a deficit of £2,000,000, which after a time will decrease until it vanishes, your deficit in future will increase, and the British taxpayer will be saddled for all time with a loss on the Government of Ireland of probably £3,000,000, possibly £4,000,000, and even £5,000,000 a year." I say, in the first place, that Irish revenue is more likely to increase than to decline. As to that, one can only look at experience. If you take the year 1893–4 and compare it with the year 1908–9—I am taking the last-mentioned year because it was the year before the new taxation proposed by the Budget of 1909—when the rates of taxation were very much the same, you will find that in that period of fifteen years the Irish revenue increased £1,700,000, an average of £110,000 per annum. Last year of course, it was far greater. In that year it was £700,000.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It was reduced after the war taxes, which were imposed between 1901 and 1903. There was some increase of taxation; but, still, if you look at the figures as given at the back of the White Paper which was circulated with the Bill, you will see that there has been a very gradual and steady increase in the revenue of Ireland, and there is every reason for the House to look forward with some confidence to further increases. With regard to the deficit itself, hon. Members opposite say, "Your reserved services cost you so much, but that cost is not fixed. They will vary in future." That is admitted, and the variation, so far as we have been able to estimate it, is shown in a Paper laid on the Table of the House. The Treasury estimate an increase for land purchase purposes of £450,000 in the next ten or fifteen years—that is to say, ten or fifteen years from now the charges will be £450,000 a year more than now. Insurance will increase in the same time by £300,000, and to that hon. Members have added a large sum for the increase in the cost of old age pensions which was estimated to occur by the Primrose Committee. They thought that old age pensions would be likely to increase, but the Treasury are quite convinced that the basis on which they came to that conclusion is erroneous, and that pensions have now reached in Ireland practically their maximum. They also assure us that within the next ten or fifteen years the cost of pensions in Ireland will have declined to the extent of £200,000 a year. That is in the Paper which has been circulated to Members of the House. Hon. Members opposite have never taken into account the fact that the surplus of £500,000 which is placed in the hands of the Irish Government during the first few years is, under the terms of the Bill, to be reduced to £200,000, so that there is a saving there in the deficit of £300,000. If you take the increases on the one hand and the decreases on the other, it would appear that the net increase in the cost of the reserved services will be about £250,000, spread over a period of ten or fifteen years.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I think the right hon. Gentleman has left out of account the possible increase in the cost of the collection of taxes.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
That is a very trivial amount. The cost, is £300,000, and any increase is really not worth taking into account in comparison with the large 323 figures with which we have to deal; I will come later to what the cost of these services would be supposing this Bill were rejected and hon. Members got their way. There is one other point, however. It has been stated over and over again that the cost to the British taxpayer will be a very hard one. He will be paying, it is alleged, £2,000,000 a year, apart from possible increases the British taxpayer will be paying out of his own pocket to hon. Members below the Gangway as it is put this large sum of money and the British Parliament will have no control over their action. I think I have not unfairly stated what has been said again and again. It will be in the recollection of the House that the hon. Baronet, the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), stated, in so many words, that we will be giving £2,000,000 a year for Irish services over which this Bill gives us no control. Now what are the facts? Hon. Members speak as if the Irish paid no taxes at all, and would pay no taxes under Home Rule. Ireland pays £9,000,000 a year. The sum which will be at the disposal of the new Irish Government will be £6,000,000 a year, out of the £9,000,000, so that every sixpence which the Irish Exchequer will handle will be Irish money.
§ Mr. H. SAMUEL
I will come to that I am speaking about services under the control of the Irish Government. That is the allegation, that we are giving £2,000,000 out of our own pockets to the Irish Exchequer, and that we shall have no control over the way they use that money. My answer is that it is Irish money over which they will have control, paid for out of the pockets of the Irish taxpayers, and that the British taxpayer pays not one single sixpence of it. Now with regard to reserved services. We have to bear the cost of the Royal Irish Constabulary, old age pensions, insurance, labour exchanges, land purchase, and the cost of collecting Irish taxes. These items come to about £5,000,000, which will be paid for out of the British Exchequer. But towards that £5,000,000 the Irish taxpayer is contributing more than half. It is said that the British taxpayer will be paying for ever for the Royal Irish Constabulary for example, and for Irish old age pensions, and for Irish land purchase. It is not so. Hon. Members, if they like to pick out one of the reserve services costing £2,000,000, 324 may say that the British taxpayer is paying for that, but they are not entitled to pick out each one in turn and say that the British taxpayer is paying for it. Out of the total cost of £5,000,000 for the reserved services the Irish taxpayer out of his own pocket pays £3,000,000, and the British taxpayer is left with a burden of £2,000,000, which is the deficit which will exist when the Bill comes into operation. And this is not a perpetual charge. Hon. Members opposite say that the British taxpayer under the scheme of this Bill is left for ever—those words have been used again and again—with a burden for Ireland of £2,000,000 per year. That is not so. The effect of the Bill is precisely the opposite. Hon. Members say, and say quite truly, that it is inconsistent with Home Rule for the British taxpayer to be left with this burden of £2,000,000 when Ireland has her own Parliament. I quite agree. We have always agreed and we have provided that all the increase in Irish revenue which has been proceeding for years past shall in the future go year by year towards meeting this burden, so that the British taxpayer shall not have the burden for ever of paying even the £2,000,000 for the cost of old age pensions or whatever it may be.
Lastly, I would draw once more the attention of the House to a point of immense importance, the alternative which right hon. Gentlemen opposite are offering in Ireland and offer in their speeches here. I have here a book—it is unusual to quote current political literature, but this book is a book of peculiar authority. It is called "Against Home Rule: The Case for the Union." And it contains articles by no fewer than seven right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Front Opposition Bench. It has a preface by the Leader of the Opposition and an introduction by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College; and it bears all the marks of almost pontifical authority, as representing the views of the Opposition with regard to this matter. If hon. Members will take the trouble to look through this book they will find from the first page to the last promises of lavish expenditure with both hands of British money for Irish purposes. The right hon Gentleman who writes the introduction indicates that a Grant will be made from Imperial funds of £2,000,000 for Irish railways, together with a guaranteed loan of £8,000,000. The hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson), who is an officer of the Committee, I believe, which issues 325 this book, offers in his contribution, with the approval of the Leader of the Opposition, who gives his blessing to all the proposals in the book, an increased expenditure on Irish education of £300,000 a year. Another article contemplates a very large but not defined expenditure for the improvement of the Irish Poor Law, and the chief financial adviser of hon. Members opposite who has been quoted by them in this Debate, who has written specially on Irish finance, Mr. A. W. Samuels, K.C., ends an article by saying:—Ireland has her needs. Having regard to her present recurrent poverty let her be supplied not grudgingly or of necessity, but by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a cheerful giver.Even that is not at all, for while Ireland is to be the recipient of a great stream of gold from the Imperial Exchequer under these proposals, the taxation now levied upon Ireland, according to the hon. Member for South Birmingham (Mr. Amery) is to be greatly reduced, for he says—Incidentally the establishment of a protective tariff for the United Kingdom will be lowering the excessive duties upon tea and tobacco which weigh so heavily upon Ireland, increasing still further—these are the important words—the local excess of Government expenditure over revenue.Of course, we all know, and they know well in Ireland, that these things are only promises, and with the experience of old age pensions they will not attach undue importance to them, but when hon. Members come to this House and denounce this Bill, forsooth, because we propose to leave with the British taxpayer for a limited number of years a burden which he is already bearing, I think that the House and the country should devote some attention to the policy of increased expenditure and reduced revenue which is the view of the Opposition of the future financial relations between Ireland and Great Britain. Let it be remembered in addition that, so long as the present system goes on in Ireland as it is, no one has any interest in making economies, and all parties in the country are always ready to sink their differences in order to secure more money from the Imperial Treasury. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have an answer to all this. They say, "It really does not matter so long as there is no Home Rule. If only we are allowed to govern the majority of the Irish people against their will, we are quite willing to pay for the privilege of doing so." They say, "Why should we regard Ireland as a separate entity? Irish finance ought no more to be a separate entity from 326 British finance than the finance of Devonshire or Oxfordshire or any county or borough in England." But more than twenty years ago, in 1890, a Conservative Government, of which Mr. Goschen was Chancellor of the Exchequer, moved for a Select Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the equity of the financial relations between England, Scotland, and Ireland in regard to the resources and populations of each of the three Kingdoms, and the one substantial result of that Committee, set up by a Conservative Government, is that ever since, year after year, we have had before Parliament the Treasury Paper showing, with as much accuracy as circumstances allow, all the revenue and all the expenditure of Ireland as a separate entity from that of the United Kingdom.
After all, is the British taxpayer really likely to regard these lavish Grants which are promised in the future as being of no importance so long as Ireland remains united to the rest of the country by the same constitutional arrangements as now? If the British taxpayer finds that his Income Tax is sent up by a penny, or his Tea Duty is sent up by 2d. in order to bring into the Imperial Exchequer two or three million pounds for the benefit of Irish local purposes, is he so foolish as not to understand what he is being asked to do? Will he quietly and meekly accept the situation and say, "Raise my Income Tax, raise my Tea Duty, let all the money go to the Irish people, and none of it to me. It does not matter at all so long as we have a Unionist Government in power, and so long as Home Rule is rejected?" The case is not met by pretending that a deficit on Irish finance does not exist, when all the world knows that it does exist. It is not met by calling it by some other name. A deficit by any other name would cost as much, and I think when the matter is fully understood, and when the two alternative proposals of this Bill and this book are made clear to the electorate, they will have little doubt as to which to choose.
§ Mr. LONG
I agree entirely with the concluding remark of the right hon. Gentleman. When the country is given an opportunity of deciding between the policy of the Government and the policy of the Opposition in regard, either to this or to any other question, I have no fear of that decision. Although the Postmaster-General in his speech is very confident, those with whom he acts 327 do not appear to be equally confident, because when they had a chance the other day of testing the value of the statement which he has just made, they took very good care to avoid giving the country any chance of expressing its opinion. The history of this Financial Resolution is really extraordinary. I am not going back now to the history of the last week. I am only going back to the history of yesterday. The Postmaster-General is the Minister in charge of this Resolution. He moved it yesterday when we were going into Committee, when it had only been in the possession of hon. Members for a few hours, in a speech which lasted about five minutes. He did not think it necessary then to deal with the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire, which was made a fortnight ago, and when it was made it was followed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said there was nothing in it to reply to. A fortnight later the Postmaster-General thinks it necessary, to-day, to devote nearly the first half of his speech to replying to the right hon. Gentleman, and then to do what I do not think has over been done before. At all events, I cannot charge my memory with any precedent for the case of a Government introducing a Financial Resolution of the greatest importance, which by their own speeches they admit as being of the gravest character, upon proposals for which they are responsible, and who, when they have to withdraw their Resolution as it is destroyed, then under pressure of time they produce a fresh one, which is only in the possession of the House for a very few hours before it has to be debated on.
The Minister in charge of that Resolution moves it before it is debated in Committee, and makes a speech for a few minutes, and reserves for the Report stage next, day his full speech, full of all details and technicalities which it is only possible to conceive he was not willing to produce at the earlier stages of the Resolution, when his statements and allegations would have been tested, as they only can be tested, by the inquiries which we are able to make after seeing them and being able to submit them to those experts holding different views, upon whose authority the right hon. Gentleman based the whole of his answer to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, and whose authority he was unable to produce, 328 only telling us, in answer to the Leader of the Opposition, that it was usual for Ministers to rely upon the opinions of experts. The Debate of yesterday did not bring all this information to the knowledge of the Postmaster-General. The right hon. Gentleman told us in the speech he has just concluded that these contentions on the part of the Opposition, which he was answering, have been made constantly since this Bill was first introduced. Still I think we are entitled to say that it is straining the customs and practices of this House for a Minister to make his statement to-day on Report when he knows perfectly well that by the ordinary efflux of time it cannot be subjected to the examination to which it ought to be subjected, instead of making it, as he ought to have made it yesterday, when he first submitted his Motion to the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by telling us that it was not necessary to make a speech at all. He told us at a quarter to four o'clock that it was not necessary to make a speech, and he said that he would be quite prepared to leave the defence of the Bill to the speeches that have been made by hon. Members opposite, amongst others by the hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Murray Macdonald). Yet one of his own supporters, referring to that and other speeches yesterday, said that they had left his mind a complete blank; that they did not convey any impression at all so far as he and his friends were concerned, and that they did not deal in any way with the difficulties with which we are now confronted.
That was the defence on which the Postmaster-General told us he was prepared to rely, and yet he made the statement he delivered to-day in defence of his own scheme, a statement which, if he had intended to produce it at all, he ought to have given to the House yesterday. But we are not ungrateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having at last made his speech, even though we think, as we do think, it extremely unfair that it should be made to-day instead of yesterday. We are not ungrateful to him, because, after all, he made several statements which are of the utmost value, importance, and interest to us. Amongst other things, he was very indignant about the suggestion that Ireland, or the Irish Parliament, will do certain things. He said, "Before the Irish Parliament can exercise those financial powers in order to do things that you think will be unfair to you in other parts of the country, do you realise that it will 329 have to put its hand into its own pocket before it can find the money for the purpose." I was rather surprised that it did not occur to the Postmaster-General that, after making that statement, he was opening up an argument which has been addressed to the Government frequently from this side of the House, and which they have not tried to meet. The right hon. Gentleman says the Government of Ireland would have to put their hands into their own pockets. Did it occur to him that when this Government is established, this Government which he and his Friends are seeking to set up in Ireland, that they might put their hands, not strictly speaking into their own pockets, but into the pockets of Ulster in order to help industries in other parts of Ireland?
Does the right hon. Gentleman think that that would be an enterprise so distasteful to the kind of Government that he and his Friends are trying to bring into existence? Does he think it would be a deterrent to the Nationalist Government at Dublin to tax the North of Ireland in order to help the South and West of Ireland? Because if he entertains any such belief all I can say is that he is relying on a very broken reed. The right hon. Gentleman went on foaming to ask what we should be doing here, should we be sitting quiet and silent under that kind of action. The right hon. Gentleman forgot his own Bill. He says that the protection, the safeguard is to be found in our right of interference here. What is the value of that safeguard to us when it is proposed that there shall be forty-two Irish Members sitting in this House, determined to assist their own friends in Ireland by demanding front this Parliament what they want, and seeing that they get it. The suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that this is not likely to happen because Ireland will have to put her hand into her own pocket is a suggestion which is valueless to those who are able to predict with accuracy what would be the history of this new Irish Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman, dealing with the allegation that the responsibility and liability of this country towards Ireland was unlimited and would continue for ever, said that, on the contrary, provisions were made in the Bill by which there is to be a limitation and by which changes may be made. But upon what do they depend? They depend upon the fact that the revenue is to be maintained or increased.
330 The right hon. Gentleman never dealt with that, or never contemplated the situation which clearly may arise, namely, suppose the revenue decreases. The right hon. Gentleman passed that by. On that point there was a very interesting reference in to-day's paper, in a description of our proceedings in this House, to the attitude taken up by the Opposition. It said, "So far as the Irish Nationalist Members are concerned they were taking comparatively speaking no interest in this particular Debate, because they fully accepted the situation, believing that it will be extremely unlikely for some time to come that they will have an opportunity of reducing taxation." I should think that is very well founded. I think that those who are best able to judge of what the situation will be know perfectly well that this additional safeguard which the Postmaster-General finds in the Bill is in reality of no use at all, because in all human probability there will not only be the case of reducing taxation, but there will be such a continuance of pressure by the needs of Ireland that the liability of this country will go on for an unlimited period. The right hon. Gentleman, in making references to the book from which he quoted, made a statement which surprised me very much. He said, comparing the two policies, that of the Government and that of the Opposition, that the Irish people were not likely to attach importance to our alternative, because, to use his own words, it consisted only of promises.
The right hon. Gentleman has taken a very active and prominent part in these debates, and the least he might have done would have been to take the trouble to learn something of the actual history of Ireland during the last fifteen or twenty years. A very cursory study would have told him the great central fact, admitted times out of number by Nationalists as well as by Unionist speakers, that during the last twenty years the promises, which the right hon. Gentleman described in such contemptuous terms, of the Unionist party have been translated into performance, and that the result has been a material progress in Ireland such as she has not known in any other part of her history. Yet in the face of this fact the right hon. Gentleman chooses to use this rather offensive language as applied to the policy of the Opposition, knowing, as he does, that this material prosperity in Ireland has been due, during all these 331 years, to the wise expenditure of money by this House, on the initiative of a Unionist Government. If there is any conclusion that Irishmen can draw from the experience of the past it is that our promises have been kept, and that great good has resulted. The right hon. Gentleman went on to dwell upon the argument which I think appeals to all who hear it more and more. Members opposite cannot understand why we charge them, on the one hand, with laying on this country a very heavy and, as we maintain, a practically unlimited obligation in regard to Irish expenditure, and, on the other hand, that we are willing that the present deficit should be allowed to go on, while we are prepared to make promises involving increased expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman and his Friends must see that there is all the difference in the world between what they propose and what we as a party are willing to do, so long as the Union between Great Britain and Ireland is maintained in its present position, so long as the relations of this House are maintained as they are now, and so long as control is retained in this House over the expenditure in Ireland as it is now.
In this change which is proposed we believe you are taking a step that will practically result in the setting up of an independent Parliament in Ireland, and, while you are undoubtedly removing the control of this House, you are calling upon the Members for England, Scotland, and Wales to find the money necessary to meet the Irish expenditure, and to remove from this House any control over the expenditure of that money. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are pledged to Home Rule, and they are always telling us they are ardent advocates of Home Rule, though it is true that they are a little bit uncomfortable when asked why, if they are such ardent advocates of Home Rule, they did not carry Home Rule when they had a larger majority than they have now. They pass that by, but surely they must recognise and must admit frankly that there is all the difference in the world between the proposal we put forward and their proposal, that this country shall bear those burdens in perpetuity, a burden practically unlimited in the future, while losing control over the money which is to be spent.
The Postmaster-General dealt also with the charge brought on this side of the 332 House that the Government are establishing, by the form of financial control which is being given to Ireland, something which will be in the direction of Protection. The right hon. Gentleman invoked to his aid the opinion of the Board of Customs, and he cast derision on my hon. Friend's argument and upon the statement of Sir Thomas Pittar. The right hon. Gentleman has been a Member of the Government long enough to know that he is not going to dispose of attacks of this kind by simply quoting one man against another. Surely he knows that Sir Thomas Pittar is not the only authority whom we can quote, and the Government are certainly running risk of not adhering to what has hitherto been believed to be their sacred policy of Free Trade by simply quoting, as the right hon. Gentleman did, the Board of Customs—a quotation which obviously, if carried further, does not dispose of the charge which has been made, not merely by the Unionist, party, but by others. The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well that it has been made in many letters and articles which have appeared in newspapers and in the speeches of those who are not what are called party politicians. Simply to charge us with making that statement and brushing it aside, as the right hon. Gentleman did to-day, does not dispose of it, and I believe it to be a fact perfectly well known to those who are not simply Unionist advocates, as the right hon. Gentleman described them. The right hon. Gentleman sought to deal with some of the criticisms which my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire made in his speech yesterday. I listened with the utmost attention to the right hon. Gentleman's reply. I have done my best, as I believe others have done their best, to master the various proposals of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman is a very lucid speaker and a very able Member of the Government, and if his speeches do not succeed in convincing his opponents, it is not for lack of ability upon his own part, but it is unquestionably due to some other cause. What is the cause? I venture to say that there is not a man opposite, with the exception perhaps of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough), who is a past master of the art of examining the financial proposals of any Government, and who has written and spoken freely on this subject, but otherwise I believe, with very 333 few exceptions, if any, beyond the right hon. Gentleman, there is nobody in this House who does not realise that the mastering of these financial proposals in this Bill is a task of immense magnitude and difficulty. I believe there are very few hon. Gentlemen who have mastered them or who are prepared to defend them. We have heard in these Debates a great deal about the Constitutions of our Dominions Overseas. We have had constant references made by the Government, and only yesterday, I think, the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to what had taken place in Canada and in South Africa. Other Members of the Government also are constantly doing that. Why do they refer to those cases? They have not followed the precedent of any one of those cases, either in Canada or in South Africa, not even in the smallest degree. They have departed from them, I believe, in every detail of the Bill. Why do they refer to South Africa and Canada in regard to these financial proposals? They have got a precedent, they told us, when they were discussing this Bill, before they brought it in, and in its earlier stages, and they told us that they were taking the precedent of provincial Governments or minor Governments in our great federated Oversea Dominions. They have done nothing of the kind.
The cause of the trouble and the reason of the difficulty is not want of ability on the part of the Ministers to explain the proposals in the Bill, but it is because they themselves have departed from all precedents and examples which have been set up by previous cases; they have made confusion of all those various precedents, and they are asking Parliament to establish a financial system for Ireland so confused and so complicated that I, for one, think that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Chamberlain) was absolutely justified when he said that to offer this as a real financial settlement is an insult to Ireland, and will result only in irritation and in confusion. The Postmaster-General, or the Attorney-General, told us yesterday, that if you are going to grant Home Rule, starting with that premiss that you are in favour of Home Rule, what else can you do than that which you are doing here? You are giving, as the right hon. Gentleman said, certain Customs powers to Ireland, but we are told if you look to a Sub-section or to some Clause, that you will find a limitation. We are told to 334 look at the Clause which gives the Parliament, and then go ahead to Clause 26, or Clause 40, or some other Clause, and that we will find there a particular limitation. It is true we are giving to Ireland the revenue which arises from the Post Office, but we are told if we look to another Section we will find there is a limitation imposed on the Ministers of the future. Then what has been our answer? Our answer yesterday and to-day, and in previous Debates, has been that those limitations in the Bill are limitations which, in practice, will not be workable, and when we offer that argument hon. Gentlemen opposite gladly suggest that we are imputing to Irishmen some double dose of original sin, as the late Mr. Gladstone called it in 1886. We are doing nothing of the kind; we are not imputing to Irishmen any double dose of original sin. On the contrary, we are treating Irishmen of the future, when this Parliament is created, as practical men very well able to look after their own affairs, and determined to look after them.
What will be their position? I would ask the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a moment. At the present time he and his colleagues, particularly the Chief Secretary, know perfectly well that there has been during the last two months a state of very strained feeling between Ireland and the people in the rest of Great Britain upon a particular question, and that there has been great bitterness as to the regulations instituted by the Board of Agriculture as to the importation of cattle, and that this question has involved on the people of Ireland immense financial loss. I say, without any hesitation, that if that state of affairs arose, as it might easily arise in Ireland under a Home Rule Parliament, any Irish Government would laugh to scorn all your limitations, and your Sub-sections, and safeguards; they would say, "You have given us certain powers; you try to impose limitations, but we are going to ignore your limitations and to act as we think best."
§ Mr. LONG
The right hon. Gentleman always speaks and professes to know Ireland very well. He knows very well indeed that they could ignore those limitations, and it is not a question of what they do or what they can do, but what this Parliament can do. The real difficulty arises when it comes to the question of asserting 335 the paramountcy of the central or Dominion Parliament over the subordinate Parliament. We know that in every case that has ever occurred in the great Dominions the difficulty rests with the Dominion or central Parliament to assert their power. The right hon. Gentleman says what would they do? There is one very simple thing they could do; they could at once deal with the instalments under the Land Acts. What is going to happen then? The moment I answer the right hon. Gentleman's question, he says that is of no importance; that is not likely to occur.
§ Mr. LONG
It is not necessary in order to carry on their quarrel with this House, and to get increased powers, that they should commit some illegal act; they have only to bring about a conflict and to demand that they are given certain powers to do this or do that, and you have got to deal with the question in this House with your hands shackled by the presence of forty-two Irish Members, who will be against the rest of the United Kingdom. I say that those limitations could not be enforced and could not be carried out, and that they are not worth the paper they are written on. I say, if you wanted to give this Irish Parliament a financial system likely to work, you ought to have done what I believe would have been the wise thing, to have trusted them. I agree with my right hon. Friend, that this is not trusting the Irish Parliament; it is imposing checks upon them; it is putting them to a very large extent in leading strings; it is giving them something which in Ireland you say means a great deal, but which in England, or in the English Parliament, you say means very little because it is subject to all these limitations. The difficulties are not inherent in the power of the Ministry to explain, but the difficulties are to be found in the system, which is confused, halting, and unsatisfactory, and a system which is based upon no precedent, and for which no precedent can be found. It is a system which I am convinced will break down when it is put into practice. It is for those reasons we are opposed to it. It is because the Government, instead of defending the scheme and making it clear that there is some justification for it and some precedent for it, adhere to their views, and because, as I said at the beginning, they do not treat this House fairly, when putting proposals of this grave 336 character before it, that we offer to it to-day, and shall continue to offer to it, the most strenuous opposition of which we are capable.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I approach this question from a different point of view from that of hon. Members opposite, and particularly from the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman. I approach this question as a strong, convinced, and lifelong Home Ruler, and as one who is anxious and desirous of seeing this Bill become law. While I say that, there are some matters in the financial proposals of the Bill with which I do not find myself in agreement, and it is with the view to drawing attention to those points that I desire on this occasion to address the House. I believe that the difficulties of Ireland ought to be, and can be, dealt with In-giving her full control of her own purely local affairs. This is not at all a new question in English history. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has been in Canada. If he consulted people there on the subject he would have known that Canada had some experience on this subject. At one time we deliberately prevented Canada from paying her own way in order that we should pay a share of her obligation, so that we might control her policy. I am glad to say that that policy was found to be very expensive, and very troublesome, and very disastrous, and was abandoned. Almost every self-governing Colony to-day was at one time in the position of Ireland. We retained the control of those countries and paid for the defences in order to retain the governing power. That always meant misgovernment, with resulting evil to the Colonies and to the Empire at large. The right hon. Gentleman within the last few minutes put forward exactly the same policy as the policy which we ought to maintain in our relations with Ireland. If we are to do that, then we learn nothing from history, and we simply go on with blunder after blunder until matters get worse. We should employ a similar remedy to that which has met with such conspicuous success in every one of our self-governing Colonies.
With that view, I wish Ireland to have full control over her own purely Irish local affairs, but I do not want to have powers which are unnecessary for that purpose and which I believe if conferred upon her would lead to embarrassments between us and Ireland. I refer, of course, to the question of the control of Customs and 337 Excise. It is quite true that partial control must end in full control if you once start on that course. In the Government proposals there are two periods apparently contemplated. One is the period in which Ireland does not pay her way. That, I presume, is a temporary condition of things, or at least we should hope so. But, then, what about the permanent condition? Nothing has been said about that. What is to result when Ireland does pay her own way? I have got no explanation whatever of what, in the opinion of those responsible for this Bill, is to take place when that occurs. That seems to me to be the more important of the two periods. It is a very remarkable thing that no federation in the Empire has given to any of its units this power over Customs and Excise. There must be some very dominating fact in the situation which prevents them doing so when fiscal autonomy is one of the most important powers of our self-governing Colonies, and yet they are ready to abandon that because of its vital necessity in bringing about a harmonious state of things in the commonwealth which they have agreed to join. In every other case throughout the Empire where a federation has been formed, the central authority has the control of Customs and Excise. How is the departure from that principle defended in this case? We have to-day complete fiscal union. If in every other case where a federation has been formed we have complete fiscal union, why do the Government propose to break it up in the case of Ireland? What are the reasons? I listened to the Postmaster-General again to-day with the hope that he would give some justification for this great departure. But he confined himself to the purely dogmatic statement, without explanation, that the power over Customs and Excise is essential to the success of the scheme.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I shall have to refer to what the right hon. Gentleman said, because in his statement then he appeared equally unable to justify it. He said that the existence of the Irish deficit differentiated this case from all others. Because Ireland could not pay her way, the case was different. The right hon. Gentleman has not made his researches sufficiently complete. In the case of the Union of South Africa there were deficits not only in one Colony, but in two Colonies; therefore, historically, the right hon. Gentleman is incorrect.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
Yes. In the Cape and in the Transvaal there were deficits in the year before they entered the Union. Therefore they have not found it impossible to overcome the difficulty there. My hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Murray Macdonald) also referred to this question. There were many of his facts with which I agreed, but there were a great many of his conclusions which he deduced from those facts with which I could not agree at all. He told us that it was only natural and proper and right for the central authority to retain the control of Customs. He said:—These duties ought to be unquestionably, in their general character at any rate, common to the three countries of the United Kingdom, ft would then have been natural, when the Government was attempting to determine the lines of its financial provisions, that it should have reserved to this Parliament exclusive control over Customs and Excise, while giving to the Irish Parliament such powers over other portions of our tax system as would have enabled the Irish Parliament to obtain the revenues required to meet its expenditure; but that distribution of power, which, as I have said, would have been the natural distribution, and which is the distribution of power which has actually been made by every other federation in the world, was made impossible in the case of Ireland because of the fact to which I have referred, that the expenditure on Irish services for which the Irish Parliament was to be made responsible by the Bill was actually in excess of all the revenues derived from Irish sources."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 19th November, 1912, col. 128.]I ask the hon. Gentleman why? How does he come to that conclusion? He gives no reason. It is a purely dogmatic statement, and I differ entirely. I draw exactly the opposite conclusion from the fact. If Ireland is unable to pay her way, and we have to assist her, surely we ought to retain control of Customs and Excise until Ireland is in a position to meet her own expenditure. It is said by the same hon. Member that the present expenditure in Ireland is in excess of the requirements of the country. I entirely agree. What, again, is the deduction which he makes? He says that if that be so, money ought to be saved, and therefore the Irish Parliament ought to have the power of reducing Irish taxation in accordance with her savings. Again, if Ireland is receiving a subsidy from this country to make revenue and expenditure equalise, surely she has no right to ask for a reduction in taxation. If any reduction in taxation is made in that period, it surely ought to be for the benefit of the United Kingdom, and not for the benefit of Ireland. I cannot agree with the hon. Member that that is a reason for removing the control of Customs and Excise from this country. It would be rather 339 a reason for retaining it here. From possible economies there is a large fund which Ireland may use for the necessary development of the country. It is said that Ireland must have money for its development. That is an argument which the Postmaster-General has used to justify the granting of this power over Customs and Excise. In answer to that, I say that Ireland at present costs far too much to govern. If a proper system of government is instituted economies could be made. These economies, by the provisions in the Bill, may be used for Irish purposes; therefore Ireland would not be under the necessity of imposing fresh taxation.
Hon. Members who support the present proposal are in this difficulty. They say, on the one hand, that Ireland has not enough money, and, on the other hand, that she has too much money; therefore she must have both the power of increasing and the power of diminishing taxation. The two arguments cancel each other. What do hon. Members contemplate in regard to this matter? Do they contemplate that there will be a permanent deficiency in Ireland, and that we shall always have to make a contribution to make up that deficiency? Or do they contemplate that Ireland, having a new scheme of government in accordance with her views, and therefore not hostile to her feelings, will introduce a more economical system which will tend to make revenue and expenditure balance, and that eventually by these economies she will be able to obviate the necessity of coming to us with demands upon the Imperial Exchequer? Surely the latter ought to be the position. If it is the position, there is at present no need whatever to give Ireland any power over Customs and Excise. If hon. Members will look at this scheme, I suggest that a very small alteration is necessary. There is no necessity in the scheme as it stands for any control over Customs and Excise. If it was suggested that Ireland should have power over Customs and Excise in order by some clever manipulation to bring about an equalisation between expenditure and revenue, there might be something to be said for it, but no one has suggested that. All that is suggested in favour of this power is that at some future time Ireland may need more money. The Postmaster-General himself has told us to-day that he does not think the power would be used for a very long time. Then why give it? 340 Why give a power which may tend to embarrass the relations between the two countries it if it is not necessary in order to make revenue and expenditure balance? We are told that there is to be a revision when Ireland pays her way. Why not leave it until that time arrives? Why embarrass existing relations by the grant of this power which will give rise to friction? My great desire is to see a complete and lasting settlement between this country and Ireland, and we should not put a power which may renew friction and difficulty in any of the arrangements we are now proposing for putting an end to the old difficulty. In my view, the establishment of Customs frontiers and Custom Houses in Ireland is an unmixed evil. I am not quite sure what the view of the Opposition is on that point. It was, however, stated very explicitly by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. Long) last night, outside the House, that he thought that the establishment of Custom Houses in Ireland was the worst feature of a very bad Bill. So that we know at any rate his view. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he knew a great deal about the Canadian view upon this subject. I wondered when he made that statement whether he had consulted Canada as to whether she was prepared to give up her Custom House.
§ Mr. W. LONG
I do not think that I used the phrase "Canadian opinion." What I did say was that I had done my best to obtain the opinion of a great many Canadian people. I did not venture to speak on behalf of Canadian opinion.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I did not intend in any way to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman. I thought that if he had really ascertained Canadian opinion he would not have found that it agreed that Canada. Ireland, and England were on entirely the same footing with regard to Custom Houses. It has always been the Canadian and the Colonial demand that they shall not be treated as Ireland is treated by this country, because they have no representation in this Parliament. Therefore, to bring our problems into their political sphere did not appear to me to be assisting the cause of Imperial solidity in Canada, and I regretted that the right hon. Gentleman appeared to take that course.
§ Mr. W. LONG
I am not responsible for that. The hon. Gentleman's own Friends long ago went to Canada and discussed their side of the question whether or not 341 certain changes should be made. He must not charge me with the responsibility for merely taking care that my side of the case was heard as well as his.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I was not aware that others had attempted to do so. A friend of the right hon. Gentleman, Lord Milner, took a different view, and refused to discuss the problems of this country in the Colonies. I think that if he had put it to the Canadians whether it was conducive to Imperial solidity for us to go there and discuss our problems with them, and for them to come here and interfere with our disputes at home, he might have found a different answer.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
However that may be, the right hon. Gentleman objects at any rate to a Custom House in Ireland. I thought, however, that hon. Members opposite rather liked the idea because they thought that Ireland was the mainstay of their Tariff Reform policy, and that this would give her an opportunity of putting it into effect. Therefore, while in their destructive criticism of the Bill they objected to everything, I was under the impression that in their secret hearts they rather liked this feature of it. The hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs admitted that Customs barriers were costly and a hindrance to trade, but he said that the dominating needs of Ireland compelled Members to agree to them.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
The right hon. Gentleman says "Hear, hear." I had the pleasure of listening yesterday to a most impassioned speech made by the right hon. Gentleman in favour of Custom Houses, but it did not convince me one iota. The right hon. Gentleman's argument was that it is absolutely essential to have a Custom House, and, in order that that Custom House may be effective, to put on duties.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he had endeavoured by every means to get at the trade of Ireland, and it had been impossible to do so, but that now they were to have Customs Duties in Ireland we should have a Custom House and would know where the goods came from.
§ Mr. LOUGH
My hon. Friend entirely misunderstood my argument. I took the case of Great Britain, a Free Trade country, where there are no duties, and pointed out how essential a Custom House was to the conduct of its commerce. I said that you could have no commerce without a Custom House. It is as essential to the trade of a country as a rudder is to a ship.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
Then I have mistaken the term "Custom House." I certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Custom Houses were to collect the duties.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
If they collect the duties they must find out where goods come from and the value of the goods. It certainly occurred to me that the right hon. Gentleman was going very far. He is like the Chinaman who burnt down his house in order to taste roast sucking pig. After that fires took place in various places, for there were others who also wanted roast sucking pig. He is going to put on Customs in order to get Custom Houses. I do not agree. I account Custom Houses an evil, and I want to get rid of them wherever I can. Why, if they are not essential for Ireland, establish them? We are far too closely associated with Ireland not to take an interest in what goes on there. All our history goes to show that we have always taken a very keen interest in Ireland, and in what is manufactured and produced in Ireland. It must be expected that in the future we shall have a similar interest in what goes on in Ireland. Let us suppose that Ireland has this power given to her of revising the Customs Duties, and she takes off the Sugar Tax or seriously reduces the Tobacco Duty, we shall have manufactures taking place in Ireland, with cheaper raw material than in this country. That, I maintain, will give rise to friction.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I accept the explanation. The Royal Commission which went into the financial relations with Ireland point out this risk. They say:—Care must be taken that trade between the two countries is not endangered.I notice in their proposal they do not tell us how that danger is to be obviated. In my view, friction must inevitably result. We have seen friction in South Africa over the Customs Duties, and we know that in the past one of the most frequent and fertile causes of war has been the promulgation of tariffs between two countries. It is a source of great friction. Colony after Colony of our own has given up a very much-prized fiscal autonomy for the commonalty. Then why should not Ireland remain as she is? She did not ask for this, to her credit be it said. Why force this change upon her?
§ Mr. MOLTENO
If we look up the Home Rule scheme of 1886 it provided for Ireland retaining her present system. The 1893 scheme provided similarly for the retention in our hands of the Customs and Excise. So did the Bill of 1893 as amended. Now the Postmaster-General challenges those who take this view to propose an alternative scheme. I maintain that if the units of every other federation have been able to find a scheme to finance themselves, it must be possible to find a scheme for Ireland without giving her this power. It is contended that the withholding of this power would interfere with self-government. Is that so? Does the right hon. Gentleman contend that New South Wales and Victoria are not self-governing because they share one system? The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to forget that if the Customs are raised in Ireland, that the Irish Parliament in dealing with them will be dealing with its own revenue. There is no reason why they should not deal with that revenue with as much attention and desire for economy as in any other matter. They would be as responsible really for that revenue as for 344 any other expenditure. Again, the state of Ireland, it is said, may need more money. In my view Ireland is in a more fortunate position than any unit that has ever entered into a federation, because under the scheme—and this I do not object to—Ireland is to receive the cost—and the very inflated cost—of her present Government. She is guaranteed that for the future. She has already received far more than Scotland. She receives £418,000 in the present year in connection with agriculture and fisheries, and £185,000 from the Development Grant. Scottish mouths would water if they had that sum for agriculture in Scotland. She has already been provided with her land system. She has already very much provided for her development under the arrangements in the Bill, without calling in the power to vary other Customs or Excise. How great these sums are will be realised when we look at the position of Ireland. In 1880 the total expenditure was £4,000,000. In 1890 it was £5,000,000. It had gone up £1,000,000 in a decade. That increase doubled in the next decade, being £2,000,000 more—that is £7,000,000. In 1910 it had risen to £10,700,000, or an increase since 1900 of £3,700,000; again nearly double the increase of the previous decade.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
So that in 1900 the expenditure of Ireland was 100 per cent, more than it was twenty years previously. In 1912–13 it is £12,324,000, which is no less than three times more than what it was in the year 1880. So that Ireland has been provided with enormous sums without the financial provisions of this Bill, and in my view it is unnecessary to supplement these powers by giving her power to vary the Customs and Excise. If the analogy of all the other federations in the Empire, or in the world, are of any value, we shall have to come back to the position of Ireland giving up her Customs and Excise to the central authority. If that be so, why compel her to manipulate and tamper with the Customs and Excise—if it is a fact that we shall have to bring her back to the same position in which she is to-day?
§ Mr. AMERY
The hon. Member who has just sat down has, I think, presented a very strong case against the Customs proposals made in this Resolution. I think he might have made his case even stronger 345 than he has made it. He gave us the analogy of the great federations in our Dominions. He referred to the case of Australia. He might have added that if any Australian statesman had thought it conceivable that you could have a federation in which one member was free to vary the fiscal Clauses you would have had federation in Australia fifteen or twenty years before you did get it. New South Wales would have been ready to come in had it not been for her fiscal prejudices. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the more interesting case of the South African Colonies which came into the South African Union with a deficit. He might also have added that it was the very fact that there was a deficit which caused the combined peoples of South Africa to be precisely a Union and not a Federation. He pointed out, very rightly, that the limits which are now proposed to be set upon the fiscal system of Ireland are not permanent limits. They can be revised at a later stage. He might have pointed out that Clause 26 only suggests one direction in which they shall be revised, namely, in the direction of extending the powers of the Irish Government in regard to the raising of taxation. He pointed out, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Falkirk Burghs pointed out, that anything in the nature of a Customs barrier, whether protective or not, would, at any rate, be inconvenient and costly, a real hindrance to trade between the two parts, and that therefore it would weaken the natural intercourse of trade, business, and personal relations which go to build up the unity of any country.
The hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs, the Postmaster-General, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer all with one voice maintain that in these provisions there is no Protection, and no loophole for Protection. They are ready, if any loophole can be shown to them, to stop it up at once. I venture to say, so far from there being no loophole, or a mere loophole, there are gaps so wide that it would be utterly impossible to stop them up without getting rid of the whole of the present financial framework of the Bill. Several of my hon. and right hon. Friends have pointed out that Irish revenue could be applied to bounties on production. The Irish Government have a right to give, said the right hon. Gentleman, special assistance in one way or another, and nothing can stop them. He allowed it to be a fact that public money could be applied to support- 346 ing Irish industries in preference to industries in other parts of the United Kingdom. But he pointed out two limitations to that power. One was a very curious-limitation. It was that we in this coutnry could retaliate: we could begin a tariff war against Ireland. The other was-that Ireland will not have a surplus available to go in for a lavish policy of bounties. If you do not give this power of varying the Customs and Excise, then I admit that the power of granting bounties would be a limited power, depending entirely upon the surplus—possibly a very narrow surplus—at the disposal of the Irish Government, though I, for my part, would welcome any measure to encourage Irish industries. But the moment you give the Irish Government power to raise duties on Customs and Excise together you automatically provide her with the very revenue, which she can then give back to the Irish producer, but not the British importer, and so bring about preference.
Take the case of tobacco. The Irish Government has simply to put a shilling extra on the Customs and a shilling extra on the Excise, and it can devote the whole proceeds of those two shillings to bounties of one kind or another to the Irish producer. I remember at an earlier stage that the right hon. Gentleman suggested, in answer to a question of mine, that, after all, some court or other would decide that was against the principles or intentions of this Bill. It is utterly impossible that you can do that. After all where are you to make a beginning. The Irish Government is entitled to give prizes for tobacco growing, to give prizes for so much leaf and so on, and to take good care that the standard of prize given is such that every grower in Ireland will avail himself of it. In this way they can give premiums to practically every article that is on our Customs and Excise list. The right hon. Gentleman said that the powers of giving bounties had no relation whatever in any sense or kind to the financial powers of the Resolution. I maintain, on the contrary, if it were not for those powers in the Resolution, these powers of bountying might not mean much. It is because you give to Ireland the power to vary the Customs and Excise, coupling with it the power of giving a bounty on production, or a premium on, or awards to production, that it does in effect give them the power to put on a tariff as high as ever they like. The right hon. Gentleman similarly 347 answered the arguments that several of my friends have brought forward about monopoly. There was, he said, absolutely no connection between the financial framework of this Bill and monopoly, that monopoly is entirely independent and has no relation to these financial provisions. Again, if he would only consider the matter, I think I could show him that this financial power does alter the whole position of the Irish Government.
If you had no power to vary Customs and Excise the Irish Government could go into the tobacco monopoly as a speculative undertaking in which they might be likely to lose money or to make money, and even if it kept the tobacco of the British manufacturer out of the country it would not be likely to compete in this market against the British producer. But if the Irish Government could alter or get rid of Customs and Excise supposing the Irish Government started tobacco manufacture, and as a preliminary step got rid of Customs and Excise upon tobacco, it could then buy whatever tobacco it wanted at prices fixed by itself as an administrative and executive act, and could offer Irish growers of tobacco at whatever price in its view was sufficient to encourage tobacco growing in Ireland. It could buy tobacco from any State with which it wanted special friendly relations, and it could take good care that no tobacco from this country could get into Ireland at all. And it could do all this without any sacrifice of revenue, because it would make as profit what would otherwise be got on Customs and Excise, and that principle could be extended to almost every industry. It might even wish to declare the whole of the distilling industry Government monopoly, and leave the working of it to Irish distillers and brewers at a royalty of so much a bottle, and exact a heavier royalty from any distilled goods coming in from outside. There is yet a further power which this Bill does not mention. The powers of variation and raising are confined to Customs, but there is no limit as to the Excise you may put upon any article which pays Excise Duty. There is no definition in the Bill which will prevent the Irish Government from putting Excise on the sale of woollen goods. There is a provision to prevent them putting it on the manufacture, but there is nothing to prevent them putting it on the sale, or to prevent the Irish Government from differentiating between the Excise which 348 is put on Irish woollen goods and English made woollen goods sold in Irish shops.
So far, I have gone on the assumption that the present fiscal system is to continue in this country. But after all hon. Members must realise that the misadventure of last week is not the only misadventure that may happen to them, and that a time is bound to come, and that very soon, in which there will be a change in the fiscal system of this country; and even if it is not a change in the direction of a protective system, it may be a change in the direction of a system of putting a number of duties upon goods without any corresponding Excise. The moment you do that you give the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer a whole new field to range over. The Chancellor of the Exchequer last night taunted us on this side with being afraid of the provisions in this Bill because we thought they would stand in the way of fiscal changes in this country. I appeal to hon. Members opposite to just consider the situation. The moment you establish this financial system in Ireland it will be to the interest of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell every one of his forty-two emissaries in this Parliament to fight for some fiscal system which will cover the largest possible range of dutiable goods. It will not matter to him whether the particular form of fiscal system is suitable to Ireland or not. They can always knock it about as much as they like; when the duties are too high they can lower them, and when they are too low they can raise them up. But the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will have none of that opportunity of raising revenue until we in this country abandon the present fiscal system and introduce a new one, although as far as that is concerned we are not afraid this Bill will prevent a measure of Tariff Reform being carried out in this country.
We now come to a curious point about this measure. According to Clause 15 (d), the Irish Government are not entitled to impose a Customs Duty on goods exceeding the Excise without imposing a corresponding Excise Duty, but surely you may have in this country a Customs Duty without Excise. No one can pretend that the lowering or raising of Customs Duty causes the Customs to exceed the Excise if there never was an Excise before. It seems to be perfectly obvious, in spite of the answer given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. Member for Hereford some time ago, that the moment you introduce a fiscal system where there is no 349 Excise corresponding tariff, you at once put it into the power of the Irish Government without any bounty to establish Protection against this country, and to completely alter, change, and modify the fiscal system of the United Kingdom. It can make high duties low duties, or can make low duties so high as to become prohibitive. Hon. Members may think that the 10 per cent, limit provision meets that. It does not. It limits the amount of the yield the Irish revenue is entitled to, but everyone knows you have only to screw up the duties high enough to get rid of the yield altogether, and that raises another question. The moment you give to the Irish Government the power to set up an entirely different system to the system in this country, that moment you give them power to conduct commercial treaties. What on earth can prevent the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer meeting the German Consul-General in Dublin or the American Consul-General at his club and telling him lie might be prepared to lower heavy British duties on motor cars and cotton and such goods as are of interest to the British manufacturer, but of which there is no manufacture in Ireland. Of course he could do that, and nothing could prevent the German manufacturer then suggesting that Germany might be able to make arrangements with regard to store cattle and other things that would put Ireland in a better position. The moment you give Ireland the power to vary Customs and Excise Duties you give her power to enter into direct negotiations with foreign countries and to upset the preferential system between Great Britain and her Dominions, as well as to set up direct barriers between this country and Ireland, the direct consequence of which would be a tariff war between the two islands, and the eventual result of which would be in the coming century what it was two centuries ago, ruin to Ireland and considerable damage to the United Kingdom as a whole.
What are the arguments advanced for this extraordinary provision. The hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs said this was an opportunity for making economies. The right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General said directly opposite. If there is one cry that Irishmen have made from the time of the Financial Relations Commission onwards, it is that the British system, with its very heavy indirect duties upon commodities like tea, tobacco and spirits, already taxes Ireland too high and up to a limit more than the Irish consumer 350 can stand. If you did want to give Ireland power to extend her revenue and you are not prepared to endorse the proposal of the Primrose Committee, and were afraid of something in the nature of protection, you might have at least given Ireland the power of imposing any Customs Duty she likes on any article, provided there was always a corresponding Excise Duty, and you would have given a certain latitude to the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not think anybody in this House on any side, or in any quarter of it can really in his heart of hearts defend this provision about the Customs. Speaking, at any rate, for those who sit upon this side of the House, we maintain that the whole principle the right hon. Gentleman has set up in this Resolution is radically and inherently unsound and unworkable. What is that principle? It is the principle that the revenue system of the United Kingdom as a whole should remain untouched, collected by the same officers, that it should remain substantially the same, but that within that unitary system of finance, there is to be an enclave by which Ireland by some addition or substraction can modify her financial situation to suit her own needs.
What is the system as described by the right hon. Gentleman? A system under which neither Chancellor of the Exchequer shall interfere with the other or influence his financial arrangements by dislocating or swinging them. That is the principle: but the moment you look into the working of that principle you will find whatever way it works it is bound to produce injustice, friction and confusion. Take two opposite hypotheses. Take the hypothesis of economy! If the Irish Government makes economies it is entitled to them, if they are economies in the ordinary sense upon Irish administration; but they may also include illegitimate economies, namely, economies in departments where money is spent by the United Kingdom taxpayer for certain United Kingdom purposes, and the Irish Government will be empowered to get rid of these purposes—say take old age pensions—and to devote that money not to reducing the deficit on Irish expenditure, but to any purposes of their own. I need not labour that point. But what is the situation if we in this House make economies—economies upon some British service. Let us suppose we think the Government in this country has become too costly, and that we must make certain sacrifices and reduce the postal service; 351 reducing the pay of the postman, or the facilities given to the public. That loss and sacrifice would fall entirely upon the people of Great Britain, and the fruit and reward of that sacrifice in the shape of reduced taxation, under this scheme, will go to the Irish taxpayer as well as to the English. But economy is a much less probable hypothesis. The more probable is not of curtailed but of increased expenditure. If we increase taxation the Irish and English taxpayer will have to pay it.
If there is war expenditure, do lion. Gentlemen opposite think that the Irish will not cry out against it. Supposing we go to war in defence of the Lancashire cotton trade or some such purely British interest, and if that war is opposed, and almost successfully opposed, with the forty-two Irish Members in this House voting in the minority, will not everyone say that Ireland was not fairly represented, and that if she had been the war would never have happened, and therefore that Ireland need not pay the money. That is not the only case. Supposing the expendiutre goes up for domestic purposes; supposing it is increased expenditure for education in this country; the Irish taxpayer who cannot afford an expensive system of education in Ireland has got to be taxed for our more expensive system in this country. If we have to make increased postal facilities, then the Irish taxpayer will have to pay for greater postal facilities in Great Britain, and that is perfectly absurd. If we add to our old age pensions we may impose burdens of hundreds of thousands of pounds upon Ireland at the time when the Irish Government may be compelled to cut its expenses down. That is the scheme, if it works out as it has been represented to us. Last night we had an entirely different scheme brought forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which would distinguish between Imperial and British local purposes, when, as an expenditure for purely British purposes it would be a gross injustice to impose a tax or levy a Duty on Ireland. How do we distinguish as to what is a purely British purpose? Take one or two cases. I have already given the case of a war for a purely British industry. Take the case of heavy expenditure on steamship subsidies, wireless telegraphy, and other things, the main benefits of which come to English and not to Irish industries. Supposing in this country we do, what I sincerely hope we shall do soon, that is institute State- 352 aided land purchase on a large scale. Is that to be considered a purely British domestic interest, and is no account to be taken of the fact that the English taxpayer has contributed largely to carrying out State-aided land purchase in Ireland? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us if under the new financial proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer a Stateaided land purchase system of England and Wales is to be considered as a British domestic interest? Will the right hon. Gentleman give me some reply?
§ Mr. AMERY
Does the right lion. Gentleman still propose the scheme as he outlined, namely, that the revenue of the United Kingdom was always to be the same, or does he accept the version of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that whenever expenditure is made for a British domestic purpose in some way or other the tax shall not be extended to Ireland in the same way?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
That is a matter entirely under the control of the Imperial Parliament. There is nothing in the Bill which deals with that matter. If the hon. Member asks my personal opinion, I should say that if the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to give an additional amount in old age pensions to the people of Great Britain alone, while Ireland had control of her own old age pensions, and Ireland was to get no benefit from that expenditure, it would be grossly unjust to tax the Irish people for that purpose. If a tax were proposed to cover the whole of the United Kingdom, its equivalent would have to be granted to Ireland in some other form.
§ Mr. AMERY
I think that disposes of the right hon. Gentleman's argument about wiping away the deficit. How are you specifying what particular taxes go to a particular object? We had a Budget not long ago, and it was placarded on every 353 wall as being for the Navy and old age pensions. How could you assign specific taxes to those purposes? Are you proceeding upon that hypothetical basis to frame an estimate of what would be Ireland's share of Imperial taxation if taxation were uniform, and then let oil some particular tax fixed by this Parliament? The right hon. Gentleman says that I am dealing with nebulous hypotheses, but these proposals leave over difficulties that will occur to become matters of discussion between this Parliament and an independent Parliament sitting in Dublin. Let me raise another small point. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are very small points."] The right hon. Gentleman admits that Imperial expenditure should fall upon Ireland in proportion as well as upon this country, but that domestic expenditure shall not. We are in this position in the case of war expenditure. Part of that war expenditure is covered by common taxes and part by loan. It will, on the one hand, at once become the interest of this Parliament to put as little war expenditure as possible upon loan, and, on the other hand, if by any device it can put any scheme for British domestic social purposes on a loan business, by so doing we should make Ireland contribute substantially, in spite of the profession that you are only making Ireland pay Imperially. What does it come to if once you begin to interfere with the unitary system of this country? In the future no new Imperial taxes are going to be imposed upon Ireland, and that involves another corollary that when you remit Imperial taxes in this country you will still levy them on Ireland. The result would be that you would have two different fiscal systems, and the Irish fiscal system will have round its neck the millstone of a defunct system which this country would long ago have abandoned. What reason is there in that event for having the collection of revenue administered by Imperial officers? What point is there in maintaining Imperial control and Imperial expenditure in a unitary system which has no longer any connection with the revenue system of Great Britain? The whole thing is absolutely absurd and ridiculous in its main principle, and it is absurd and ridiculous enough in all its details. You have to establish, with regard to land, a dual ownership in the field of taxation. You enable two different Governments with different interests to vary the same taxes.
354 The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to what my right hon. Friend said, spoke of new duties, not being subject to the 10 per cent. increase. Suppose the Irish tax is up to the limit of its probable yield, and the British Exchequer proposes the same tax. Which tax is to have priority? In such circumstances the Irish tax would yield nothing whatever. I think this question of priority deserves some consideration, because it makes an immense amount of difference. Is the United Kingdom Exchequer always to have priority? Take the Tea Duty. If the Irish Government imposes an additional halfpenny on the fivepenny duty, it may get £60,000 or £70,000 a year; but if the British Exchequer put on another fivepence for war or other exigencies, the yield of the Irish halfpenny would not be more than £30,000 or £40,000. Are we to look forward to a situation in which the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer and the English Chancellor of the Exchequer will put down blocking Motions to cover the entire field of taxation? Supposing here we were able to reduce the Tea Duty by threepence, the Irish Government would not be in a position to put that duty back. Imagine this state of things applying not only to Ireland, but to four, or perhaps a dozen, Parliaments all over the United Kingdom! We are told that all this is necessary because there is an Irish deficit, and that that makes a system of federal finance impossible. If the deficit is to be considered a permanent thing, then, of course, it makes federal finance impossible. But nobody admits that the deficit is going to be permanent, even if we admit, for statistical purposes, that there may be a temporary deficit. We consider that our policy of productive expenditure is going to get rid of that deficit, and if the right hon. Gentleman had treated the quotation he made fairly, he would also have pointed out that I made it clear that that was a temporarily increasing deficit which would be remedied when a system much more suited to Irish industries was instituted. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not consider this a permanent deficit. Do they believe that under Home Rule the revenues will increase, and that there will be considerable savings? With regard to those wonderful savings, so far, neither the Irish County Councils, nor any hon. Member of this House has been able to point them out. But supposing that is so, and supposing you can get rid of the deficit, would it not have been better to have set 355 up a federal system of finance which would be applicable to every other unit of your federal constitution, and for the time being give to Ireland a direct subvention from common funds, scaling down that subvention by so much a year in the same way as you are doing the £500,000 granted to Ireland in order that Ireland should be able to wipe out her deficit within a reasonable time. I think that is a practical proposition if you really mean federalism; that would involve, first of all, making quite clear what the taxpayer of this country will have to pay, and for how many years he will have to pay it. You would also make it clear to the Irish people that they would really have to get rid of the deficit within a given number of years. Hon. Members opposite want a scheme so framed that they can in the same breath tell the British taxpayer that he is going to "cut his loss," and at the same time make it clear to hon. Members from Ireland that there is no immediate prospect of Ireland being forced to do without a subsidy within any measurable time. That is what has been explained to us as maintaining the unitary revenue system of the United Kingdom with certain minute variations: what the right hon. Gentleman calls the centimes additionels which has been held out to the Irish as giving them in substance great powers of fiscal freedom, leading up sooner or later, as soon as they pay their way, to complete fiscal independence.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
The hon. Member who has just spoken has made a speech full of many points, and although some of them were ingenious, they struck me as being rather small and minute. I find it a little difficult to follow his argument. I have carefully followed the last point which he was making, and I should like for a moment to deal with it. I understand the difficulty was this. Suppose the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer increases, say, the Tea Duty and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer at the same time, or perhaps a little time afterwards, increases it also, it may be that, with this heavy increase of taxation on tea, the yield of the duty may fall off. The hon. Member will see I have not had time to go carefully into the matter, but my impression is that the interests of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer are protected by the Bill. I quite follow the hon. Member's argument that under those circum- 356 stances the final result may be that the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer may be left with little or nothing at all. Dealing with that argument off-hand, it seems to me it is a possible difficulty which the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to face, but it is not a difficulty peculiar to Irish Chancellors of Exchequer, and it is not difficulty which is specially created by the Bill. Every Chancellor of the Exchequer have to face the fact that if he increases taxation in some directions when the limit of productiveness is already nearly reached, he may be disappointed in the yield. It seems to me the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will simply need to take ordinary precautions, and will have to refrain from increasing taxation in those directions where one of the normal increases in either the British or Irish taxation might leave him with a very disappointing deficit. That is the only point I watched carefully, but it seemed to me to be rather like a good many of the hon. Member's points—they had some substance in them, but they were not very serious when they were carefully examined.
I should like to say a few words with regard to the speech delivered earlier in the day by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfriesshire (Mr. Molteno). He objects altogether to the system by which the Irish Parliament is to have any voice in the control of Customs and Excise. He spoke of the Irish Parliament having a revenue from the economies it would effect. I am convinced Ireland will eventually effect economies in her administration, but those economies cannot be secure at the beginning of a new Parliament. The vested interests of the existing officials are protected in the Bill. Lord MacDonnell, in the letter which has been quoted in these Debates, has pointed out that one of the results of the decrease in the Irish Establishment may be a temporary increase in its cost. If the Irish Parliament is to secure those reforms which it desires, it must have some possibility of obtaining additional revenue from somewhere. If my hon. Friend's proposals were carried out and it was cut off completely from all indirect taxation, it would be left with only £2,750,000 of direct taxation with which to deal. Of that sum £1,500,000 comes from the Income Tax, the main rate of which, by the Amendment the Postmaster-General has upon the Paper, cannot be altered by the Irish Parliament. It would be left with a little over £1,000,000, and of that almost £1,000,000 comes from 357 the single item of Death Duties, from which no great increase could be expected. If, therefore, these proposals were carried out, we should place the Irish Parliament in an impossible dilemma. We should be establishing a Parliament which would never have a fair chance, because it would he crippled from the very day of its birth.
My hon. Friend the Member for the Monmouth Boroughs, in the very closely reasoned speech he made the other day, evidently saw the difficulty with which I have been dealing, because, although he advocated that the Irish Parliament should have no power over Customs and Excise at all, he actually directed the whole of his argument to their power of reduction. His argument was that, if the Irish consumer got his tobacco, tea, and sugar cheaper than the British consumer, there would be jealousy and discontent in this country. I am bound to say I do not think the question of any limitation being imposed on the power of reduction is by any means as serious as would be any limitation upon the power to increase, but I must also express my opinion that it would be a mistake to give way even to that extent. If you were to limit the power of reduction you would be denying one of the main financial arguments for Home Rule. One of the chief financial arguments is that Ireland is compelled to live up to a scale of expenditure which is beyond her requirements and beyond her resources. The Royal Commission on Financial Relations points that out as a central evil, the Primrose Committee points it out, every Member who has spoken on the subject from below the Gangway opposite has insisted on it, and it has always, I thought, been cheered on these benches. I thought we on these benches accepted that argument. The hon. Member says if Ireland in future—I do not say immediately, but any time in the future—is able to reduce this excessive expenditure he is not to give any of the advantage to the payers of indirect taxation, who are mainly the poorer classes, but the whole of the benefit must go to the payers of Income Tax, Death Duties, and direct taxes, who are mainly the well-to-do. I am bound to say I think it would be a blot upon the Rill if we were to perpetuate in these Financial Clauses one of the main financial evils which it is the purpose of Home Rule to remove.
My right hon. Friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. Lough) made a speech yesterday to which in the Debate this 358 afternoon I do not think full justice has been done. I understood his point, addressed more particularly to Members on this side of the House, was that, even though this Parliament retained full control over Customs and Excise, we should still need those Custom Houses and that Customs inspection about which certain Members on this side of the House complain. It is essential, if you are going to pass a Home Rule Bill at all, to ascertain the true revenue of Ireland. Take one case. By Clause 26 the Exchequer Board is to decide when the deficiency has been wiped out and the period of revision of these financial arrangements is reached. It can only decide when the deficiency has been wiped out by knowing what is Ireland's true revenue. In order to ascertain that true revenue it must make an estimate of the value of the goods passing between the two countries, and for that purpose Custom Houses and inspection would be necessary. Therefore, I wish to point out to Members on this side of the House that Custom Houses and Customs inspection are essential to this Bill, quite apart from the question of whether we retain control of Customs and Excise or not, unless in addition to giving up Irish control of Customs and Excise they are also going to give up the whole of the financial structure of the Bill as well.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bonar Law) the other day made what appeared to me to be a most important pronouncement as to the future policy of his party. I am sorry he is not here, because I should have liked to have had a further indication of what exactly was in his mind. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) can explain. At present I am merely asking for information in order to have this matter cleared up. I understood the Leader of the Opposition said his party proposed, if this Bill were passed, and if they eventually came into office, to have some sort of tariff system against Ireland, not so strong as against foreign countries, but still a tariff system against Ireland. He then went on to say they also proposed to have a tariff system against the Colonies, and all they suggested was that Ireland should be treated as a Colony. That was his statement. This Bill puts Ireland into the position of a Colony which gives us Free Trade, and I want to know whether it would be the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite to impose tariffs against a Colony 359 which gives us Free Trade? The position becomes still more curious when I refer to a statement which the Leader of the Opposition made yesterday. Interrupting my hon. Friend the Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones) he made this statement:—If France and Germany were willing to have Free Trade with us, I would have it with them tomorrow."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th November, 1912, col. 222.]The right hon. Gentleman then is proposing that he will mete out to Ireland treatment which we know well enough he would be ashamed to suggest for any Colony, and treatment which he distinctly says he would not mete out to France or Germany. This is not justice; this is mere political vindictiveness. There is one other argument which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has used. He continually says his party would be willing to pay to Ireland its present deficiency and to pay it even larger sums so long as the present system was continued and so long as Ireland remained a partner within the British Constitution. Even if this Bill is passed, Ireland will still be a partner within the United Kingdom. She will be a partner who is rightly contented, instead of a partner who is rightly dissatisfied. The argument which has been used, that, of course, it is a system of Government of a federal character rather than a system of Government of a unitary character, and therefore the country is to be outside the pale of the Constitution, seems to me impossible to be justified. In conclusion, I wish to say a few words with regard to the various statements which have been made about the Exchequer Board. Hon Gentlemen, in speech after speech, tell us the work of this Exchequer Board will be impossible. I should pay more respect to those predictions if I had not heard exactly similar predictions before during the passage of the Insurance Act. The work of the Insurance Commissioners was going to be impossible and the whole of the administration was going to break down. The wish is father to the thought. The task of the Exchequer Board, as a matter of fact, will be infinitely easier than the task which has been imposed upon the Insurance Commissioners. I admit that it will be a complicated one, and that it will involve difficult calculations, but that fact disposes of any fear that there will be great public agitation about it. The criticism of the Exchequer Board will depend upon intricate financial and statistical estimates, and those are 360 not the material out of which public explosions can be made. Hon. Members opposite have a very strange view of the Irish people. But the Irish people must know very well that on the Exchequer Board there is room for reasonable difference of opinion. They must know that this House has provided a tribunal which has been accepted by the leaders of the Irish majority, and they will know too that this House is providing them with a subsidy of £2,000,000 every year. Hon. Members suggest that the Irish people, being aware of these facts, will still receive every decision of the Exchequer Board with distrust and suspicion. All we can say is that if that were our opinion of the Irish nation, this Bill would never have been introduced.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down seemed to travel in his speech far beyond the Resolution in the consideration of which we are engaged, in order to discuss what might be the action of Tariff Reformers in relation to future Irish finance. At the end of his speech, however, he came closer to the immediate realities in front of him, and defended the scheme of the Exchequer Board against certain adverse criticisms passed upon it on this side of the House. He thinks little of those criticisms because, in his judgment, the critics have already discredited themselves by saying that the work of another Commission, one of great complexity, has been done well in spite of the dark prophecies made about it. He is referring of course to the National Insurance Commission, and he suggests that, when Home Rule is in actual operation, it will be found that the labours of this Joint Board will work as smoothly as the labours of the Insurance Commissioners. Very modest praise that! But I must say that the prospects of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland and of the Joint Board itself are gloomy indeed if their labours do not prove easier and more satisfactory in their accomplishment than the labours of the present Insurance Commissioners. I really am surprised to hear that there are any hon. Gentlemen who think there are no administrative difficulties of a serious kind in the way of the Insurance Commissioners. I do not follow these things with very great closeness, but, unless public rumour is altogether astray, difficulties seem to be increasing around that unhappy body rather than diminishing as time goes on.
361 My criticism on the Joint Board is not the criticism to which the hon. Gentleman replied. I think they will have a very difficult task, and they will be subject from one side or the other to attacks which will not only diminish their popularity, but will seriously impair their usefulness. Still I am quite ready, if only for the sake of argument, to waive aside that view. I have another which I will suggest to the hon. Gentleman is well worthy of his attention and that of the Government. They are setting up a Board which is to be completely independent, as I understand, both of the Irish Government, by which it is to be controlled in certain respects and which it will control in other respects, and of the British Government, whom it will not control, but whose financial policy it may, nevertheless, interfere with. Hon. Members opposite have always taken the view—it is one with which I have considerable sympathy—that we in this country should not put our Constitution under the control of the Law Courts. That is done sometimes in federal States, and it may have to be done in this country when the federal schemes of the Government develop a little more, if they are destined to develop at all. But I venture to suggest that the Government are really putting certain important financial matters entirely within the grip of this body, which is altogether independent of it. The most difficult questions which this body will have to deal with and decide are those connected with manufactures in bond and the subject of drawbacks, and these and allied subjects really are question of Empirical administration as much as of economic theory and calculation. According to their decision it may turn out that a particular duty is protective or non-protective, or that a particular manufacture is protected, and this will arise from an arrangement of drawbacks on a scale different in Ireland from that obtaining in the United Kingdom. At present the whole question of these regulations depends on a single central authority controlling manufactures in Ireland, in Scotland and in England, and controlling them alike upon principles which are fair. Suppose the Irish Government are anxious, as I dare say they will be, and rightly so, to stimulate some branch of manufacture in a trade using raw material which is subject, both in Great Britain and Ireland, to heavy Import Duties. The amount of drawback will 362 have to be calculated, and on the calculation of that drawback will depend entirely and absolutely whether the duty has an indirect but most effective protective result or whether it has no protective result at all.
I am not talking about Tariff Reform or of the future. I am talking of the present. I suppose the hon. Member knows that there are at this moment highly taxed materials which come into this country as raw material which are turned into goods on which Excise is paid and on which drawback also is paid on the export of the manufactured article. That is the supposition on which I am arguing to-day. Now observe. If a manufacture of that kind is started in Ireland it will rest with this Joint Board, and not with the British Government, nor, as I understand, with the Irish Government, but with this Board alone, to settle precisely what is the amount of drawback that corresponds in Ireland to the difficulties of manufacturing that article in Ireland. Or will that Board only consider what is the cost of manufacturing in England? That is a question I should like to get an answer to. Suppose it is a question of tobacco or cocoa. Suppose the Irish Government want to stimulate the industry of tobacco or cocoa manufacture in Ireland. Is the drawback to be settled by this irresponsible Commission, this Commission which owes no account of its doings to any man, either in this country or in Ireland—is it to depend on their view of what the cost of the infant manufacture in Ireland is, or are they to take account of what is the actual cost of the manufacture in this country as well, when they are settling the amount of the drawback? I am quite conscious that I speak with no minute knowledge on this subject. I may have made some technical error, but with regard to the broad statement of principle I think I am right. The Board will have to settle the amount of the drawback. If it settles it wrongly or in a manner favourable to the Irish manufacturer, you have your system of Protection set up straightway. It may be Protection on a great scale, and it may be against the English or Scottish manufacturer, but there will be no appeal against the decision of this Commission.
More than that, I think there are no principles laid down upon which they are 363 to act. I quite agree there are cases in which this House may safely give authority to public officials not responsible to the Government and not even responsible to the House. That has been done in the person of the Controller and Auditor-General. He cannot be turned out of his office by the Government. He cannot be criticised by the Government. His salary is not on the Estimates. He cannot be dealt with by this House alone any more than a judge of the Supreme Court can be so dealt with. But then the Controller and Auditor-General has not to decide questions of policy; he has only to consider whether certain technicalities with regard to finance have been duly carried out before he allows any money to issue from the Exchequer. There is no room for difference of opinion, and there is no room for making a right judgment or a wrong judgment. His course is perfectly plain. He has even less a judicial capacity, and he has less interpreting duties than are cast upon judges. But this Board you are setting up is a Board which is to decide most delicate questions of fiscal policy. It will not merely have to interpret the letter of the law, it will not merely have to deal with the law as a judge deals with the law, applying acknowledged principles to this case or to that case. I really do not know, in fact, upon what principles the Board is going to decide these questions of drawback in Ireland. I do not know, for instance, whether the members will be expected to take account of the amount of the drawbacks levied in England, or whether they are merely expected to look at the Irish manufacture, which is very likely carrying out its manufacturing operations under great difficulty in its earlier years, and, therefore, able, at all events will an appearance of equity, to show that the drawback, adequate for the English or the Scottish manufacturers, is not adequate for the Irish manufacture. If they take that view what will they be doing? They will be protecting an infant industry. Is that the policy of the Government? If it is the policy of the Government is it Free Trade? I hope I have made my difficulty clear, and that some Member of the Government will tell me exactly how they look at the judicial, administrative, and almost political duties they throw upon this Board, and how they reconcile them with either the independence of a British Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the independence of an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer.
364 As I am on this question of the manufacture of articles in bond, or articles in manufacture, which are under constant Government supervision with a view to protecting them, may I ask the House whether they thoroughly realise what has come out quite clearly in the course of these Debates. It seems now—I confess I did not realise it, although I heard the speech of the Postmaster-General—that every manufactory in Ireland already in existence, every brewery, every distillery, and every manufactory which is subsequently put up for manufacturing tobacco, or whatever it may be, every one of these is to be, as it were, outside the purview of the Irish Government and of the Irish officials altogether. They are to be independent manufacturing islands in the middle of Ireland, into which no Irish officials may go as of right, and in regard to which the Irish Government will have nothing whatever to do, and which will carry on their manufactories subject to a body appointed by, and entirely belonging to the Government of the United Kingdom. That certainly is a very surprising position m which to place a Government which is intended to govern all the domestic affairs of the country which elects it. They will not be able, as I understand it, to say or do anything in regard to the already large, and possibly growing number of manufacturing establishments in which the revenue has any concern whatever. I do not really know whether the Government have always contemplated that, or whether if they contemplate it, they contemplate it with serenity. It appears to me to be one branch of this administration of taxation which will end in endless difficulty, it is all of a piece with that other provision, that the whole collection of taxation in Ireland for British purposes and for Irish purposes is to be entirely carried out by British officials.
We had a long speech from the Postmaster-General to-day. There was an important speech which, unfortunately, I could not hear, but which I read, made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday. They had ample opportunities of meeting every criticism that had been offered; opportunities, I may say, of making speeches themselves, and of answering the speeches of others, which they never would have had if the original closure Resolution on this Bill had been in operation. How is it that with all these unexpected opportunities they have never yet dealt with a point urged by my right hon. Friend near me, that while the whole 365 revenue derived from new taxes which are within the competence of the Irish Government is to go to the Irish Government, the whole cost of collecting those taxes is to fall upon the British Government? That is not a small matter. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, when he found himself unable to answer the arguments of my hon. Friend who preceded him in debate, said that the points were insignificant. This is really not an insignificant point, as everybody knows who has had any experience of the reasons why a Chancellor of the Exchequer accepts some taxes and rejects others. There cannot be a more familiar experience, and there is not a more familiar experience, than that of a Chancellor of the Exchequer, considering a tax, saying, "This tax is in essence a fair tax; it is in essence a tax that will not unduly oppress any section of the population, but it is a tax which will hardly be worth the cost of collection because of the trouble and the irritation connected with it." No more familiar argument, and no more conclusive argument, weighs with the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he receives one of these plausible financial projects which are always being laid before him by the innumerable horde of irresponsible advisers who fill his letter-box when the day of the Budget is approaching. But how happy, compared with the lot of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, will be the lot of his Irish colleague. He will be able to say, "Although this is a very expensive tax to collect, I shall not have to pay the cost of collecting it. The tax-gatherers will not be loved by those from whom they collect the tax, but the tax-gatherers are not my servants; they are the servants of my colleague the Gentleman over the water. They belong to the alien Government there, and they are properly occupied in doing all the dirty work for us."
The Government are most anxious for what I may call the education of the Irish Government they are bringing into existence. They are always telling us what an immense advantage it is that they will be able to reap the advantage themselves of any economies they may introduce into administration. It is in order to give them that education that some of the strangest financial proposals I have seen are introduced into this Bill. In fact, we shall go on, under this Bill, paying for services even though the services are no longer carried out in Ireland. The only 366 justification for that is that the Irish Government should have every inducement to practise economy and all the rewards which the practise of economy ought to bring to those who practise it. Can you give a worse education to the Irish financial authorities, to the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Irish Government, and to the Irish majority that supports them, than to say that it does not matter what the tax costs to collect for them, as the only question they have to consider and determine is what a tax collected at somebody else's expense is going to bring in to them. I Will anybody say that that is a technical or frivolous difficulty or objection? It is neither one nor the other. It has been urged not by insignificant and irresponsible Members of this House; it has been urged upon the attention of the Government by my right hon. Friend near me, and up to the present the Government have not taken the opportunity of answering it, for the Postmaster-General spoke for an hour this afternoon, and I had the privilege of listening to him, yet all through that hour, while he was attempting to survey the whole subject of finance, and although he strayed once or twice into a general platform speech in favour of Home Rule, never once did he refer to an argument that I should have thought from the very nature of the case must have appealed to the Government as an argument eminently worthy of an answer. Yet no answer was forthcoming.
There is only one other argument which I wish to bring especially before the notice of the Government. It is an argument urged by my hon. Friend who spoke last from this side of the House, and it was certainly urged by him with very great ability. He said that an existing tax at a certain rate brings in so much per penny of that tax. You can take the Tea Duty at 5d., but any tax will do. It brings in for every penny of taxation a certain amount of revenue. The Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer has a right to increase that tax in order to increase his revenue. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer has also a right to increase that tax with a view to obtaining revenue from Ireland for Imperial purposes. It is evident, however, that if the tax in these exclusive interests, Irish and British respectively, is raised, its elasticity, as the phrase goes, may diminish, and the additional taxation partly put on by Ireland and partly put on by Great Britain, will yield much less in proportion to the amount. How are you going to divide that between the two 367 Governments? Is it to be first come first served? If the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer puts on a penny, will he get what that penny gave when it was first put on, although the amount that penny gives is steadily diminished by the fact that a British Chancellor of the Exchequer has put on 3d. in addition? Is the Joint Board going to settle it.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL indicated assent.
On what principle? After all, the Insurance Commissioners to whom the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken referred, may be able to carry out their duties, but in their case general principles are laid down. I do not know what general principles are laid down here. Is it in the Bill? None of my right hon. Friends near me, with whom I have discussed this matter, have been able to point to any Clause which determines that. But it is vital. It is vital to the future policy of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer. It may have some not unimportant effect upon the policy of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I should like to know on what principle the Board are to deal with this dilemma and difficulty. I do not know whether I have made the matter clear to the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That being so, I will not repeat it, but I hope the Government will enable us to deal with it. These are questions which I think the House will admit do not belong to the generalities of the subject, but go to the most important details with which the House ought at this stage of the Bill to be largely concerned. Let me, following the example of the Postmaster-General, add one general appeal to the Government on their financial operations. Their whole ground for asking us to continue to pay Ireland more than the Irish revenue justifies, after Home Rule is established, is that we have forced upon her a scale of expenditure for which her poverty unfits her. I think that argument was used by many speakers. It was certainly used by, among others, the last speaker. I do not think the Government are quite consistent in this matter. Surely if they think that the scale of expenditure is too great the proper thing is to alter that scale. Speaking purely as a British taxpayer, it is a very unlucky thing, is it not, that Home Rule was not given to Ireland before the Insurance Act and before old age pensions were given.
§ 7.0. P. M.
I really thought if there was a man in this House who had, I will not say, a controlling voice, but a very powerful voice, in selecting the order of merit of Government measures, it was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and now he is apparently quite ready to admit that he was altogether wrong in the order in which he and his colleagues did bring forward the business, and if they had brought forward Home Rule in time we should have escaped this permanent charge which is going to fall on the unhappy taxpayers of England and Scotland, not for anything which they I receive, but for something which the Irish receive, and which, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his friends, Ireland ought not to receive. That is a most lamentable confession, I think, to-have been wrung, as it evidently was wrung, from the very heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But though we cannot get that right, surely we might have arranged that when the present holders of these unnecessary offices in Ireland—apparently while we have been suffering until the last four years from too few public officials, Ireland has been suffering from too many—as these officials become pensioned or finish their term of service, the expenditure should sink to what is suited to the requirements of the country. If you think that all these elaborate, financial precautions, all this tribute which Ireland is going to extract from Great Britain, is due to the fact that Great Britain has forced upon Ireland too costly a form of government, see that your old age pensions come to an end, and see that your insurance comes to an end. Let Ireland live, like any other part of the Empire which as an independent Parliament, on its own resources. I understand, though I do not say I agree with those who say, as the Government says, "we have compelled Ireland to have this costly system, you cannot cut it adrift, leave it with all these charges, and give it nothing to help it over the earlier years. But see that these charges are to come to an end—these charges which ought never to have been imposed, which a reluctant Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he brought in insurance and old age pensions before he brought in a Home Rule Bill, unfortunately felt himself bound to impose upon a reluctant people. See that these charges come to an end within a reasonable time, and when they have come to an end stop 369 the tribute. That is a reasonable policy. It is one founded upon the argument advanced by the Government themselves in all their speeches, and I never can understand why it is, having laid down with such emphasis the premises from which this conclusion may be drawn, that the Government, when they are faced with the conclusion, always refuse to accept it. I admit that that criticism, though less general than some of the comments of the Postmaster-General this afternoon, is wider in its scope than the particular difficulties I have laid before the House, and it is on those particular difficulties that I would respectfully request that the Government should now- enlighten us.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir John Simon)
The right hon. Gentleman has raised several difficulties which, he says, call for some treatment on this side of the House, and though I think some of those criticisms are bound to arise again, and to be considered in a more detailed form when we come to the actual Clauses to which they are particularly and especially germane, certainly I make no complaint that the right hon. Gentleman should ask that this should be dealt with now rather than be treated as matters which arise upon particular Clauses and particular Clauses only. I will do my best to deal with the points as far as I have been able to follow them, and the right hon. Gentleman, I think, will sec, at any rate, whether I make a good and sufficient answer or not, that I am endeavouring to address myself to the particular topic which he has brought to the attention of the House. First of all, lie thought he saw some grave and particular difficulty in connection with the calculation of the drawback in Ireland, and the re-export from Ireland in the event of the financial scheme of this Rill becoming law, and he seemed to think that the fixing of the amount of that drawback which, by an Amendment in the name of the Government, is, in case of doubt, a matter for the Joint Exchequer Board, would be a very difficult and a very unusual task, and, indeed, would involve a consideration of the claims of an infant industry on the one hand and a well-established and long-established business on the other. I may have misunderstood him, but I did my best to follow him, and the answer I have to make is that really the fixing of the amount of the drawback on re-export has not in this country, and I do not see how it can have in any country, anything in the world to do with whether the industry which has, 370 in the first place, imported the raw material and then re-exported in a more manufactured state is an infant industry or not.
Let me put an ordinary case such as exists in this country and, I presume, in most countries at present. You have imported into this country sugar. The sugar pays a Custom Duty as it comes in. It is worked into this or that article of manufacture, and these articles of manufacture—biscuits or soda water or whatever they may be—when they go out are entitled to claim, under a well under-understood rule and one common to both schools of economists, a drawback the economic justification for which would appear to be that it is the importer who' pays the duty when the stuff came in. But never mind about that. Let the House observe—I am endeavouring to deal with the right hon. Gentleman's real point and not to ride off in a partisan sense—that the amount of that rebate or drawback may or may not be an easy thing to calculate, but it has nothing in the world to do with the question as to whether the industry is an industry which is old established or newly established, whether it is an infant or whether it is a grandfather. The question which has got to be considered is this. Here is an article which is being exported in a manufactured' state. How much of the tax on the raw materials is represented by that article when it goes out? It is quite true that you have not only got, in all cases, to analyse the manufactured article and find out precisely how much there is in the manufactured article itself, because you have to allow for waste. I think the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), who was once Chancellor of the Exchequer, will not soon forget questions connected with waste in connection with one article of the kind. No one of course knows the principle which is endeavoured to be applied better than he, but it is really a mistake to suppose that the amount of the rebate or drawback has anything to do with this other question. It has nothing to do with whether the manufacture is profitable or reasonable. What it has to do with is this and nothing but this. It has to do with the question how much of the raw materials which have paid duty on coming in is represented by the manufactured article as it goes out. Lot me apply that to the Irish case. If the language of the Bill, together with the Amendment to which I referred, are put 371 together it will be found that while the Irish Parliament has the powers, which are criticised by hon. Gentlemen opposite, to vary certain taxes they are not at liberty to vary those taxes, in the language of the Clause, so as to produce—
"any variation of Customs or Excise Duties the effect of which will be to cause the Customs Duties on an article of a class produced, prepared, or manufactured in Ireland, to exceed the Excise Duty by more than an amount reasonably sufficient to cover any expenses due to revenue restrictions."
Nor are they at liberty to do it so as to—
"exceed the Excise Duty by more than an amount reasonably sufficient to cover any expenses due to revenue restrictions or any variation of Customs or Excise drawbacks or allowances which would cause the amount of drawback or allowance payable in respect of any article to be more than reasonably sufficient in the opinion of the Joint Exchequer Board to cover the duty paid thereon, and any expenses due to revenue restrictions."
It is unfortunately the case that if you impose a revenue restriction you undoubtedly do pro tanto interfere with trade. You do thereby involve an additional expense to the importer, and consequently, when you calculate your rebate, whatever is the authority that has got to calculate it, yon calculate it by saying, "Here is this article being re-exported. How much of the raw material that has paid duty when it came in is in that article, and how much of the raw material that paid duty when it came in is wasted in making that article, and what is the further compensation that a man is entitled to in view of the fact that business tends to be restricted by a system of tariffs?" I do not shrink from the criticism—a fair criticism—that whatever may be the arguments in favour of our proposals in this Bill they do, like all tariff restrictions, tend pro tanto to interfere with the free and economic carrying on of business. But really the actual problem which "has to be solved when you try to find out what is the amount of the drawback or rebate is, as it appears to me, precisely the same problem whether you are dealing with a drawback or a rebate in the port of Bristol or in the port of London, or whether you are dealing with it in the city of Dublin or the city of Belfast. It may well be that there are oases where it is difficult to do in the indi- 372 vidual case precise arithmetical justice. That is what the Joint Exchequer Board is for. In the same way, if you take our Imperial Customs in the Port of London, or any other great port, while the principles which are to be applied are laid down in an Act of Parliament, the application of those principles is, in practice, left to the Board of Customs, and the difference between the two cases is merely this, that, so far as this subordinate Parliament is concerned, we take care to stipulate that in any modification of Customs or Excise Duty which they see fit to make, those powers of modification shall not take such a form as, in the opinion of the Joint Exchequer Board in case of doubt, really have the effect of giving a protective flavour to what professes to be nothing more than returning the duty which has been paid when the raw material was imported.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I do not give any such undertaking as that, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not expect me to do so. The question he raises is one which it is quite fair to consider. I think I have made it plain that, at any rate in our view, the question whether it is an infant industry or an established industry really no more enters into the problem in Ireland than in the case of London or the other great towns of this country. That is the first point which the right hon. Gentleman raised. Then the right hon. Gentleman put this point. He says, and says quite truly—it is a criticism which has been heard before—"You provide in your Bill that so far as the cost of the cot-lection of these taxes in Ireland is concerned, that is to fall upon the back of the Imperial Parliament and the Imperial taxpayer. On the other hand, you give the subordinate Parliament in Ireland the opportunity, if it thinks fit within certain limits, of imposing taxes which are Irish taxes, and not therefore precisely the same as the taxes in this country." No doubt the best instance, from the right hon. Gentleman's point of view is the case—it is a possible case—of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer being so ingenious that he thinks of a new tax which has never commended itself to any financial authority before. [An HON. MEMBER: "The single tax."] Well, I do not know about the single tax. I think I understand the right hon. Gentleman's criticism, and I 373 want to deal with it fairly. He says, "That is all very fine, but as long as you have got a Chancellor of the Exchequer who has got to pay out of the produce of the tax the cost of collecting the tax, there you have some security—not in all cases a complete security—that the tax which will be selected is one which is in itself profitable, not only in gross proceeds, but in net result. Is it true that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the expense of collecting thrown on the Imperial authority, while he gets the whole produce falling into his own Exchequer through the Transferred Sum of the Irish taxes, he will select a tax which can be collected at a moderate cost?" That argument is one which the right hon. Gentleman and others have urged. He is mistaken if he supposes that it is a criticism that has not been receiving attention.
The question will arise in a concrete form when we come to the cost of collection. But let me say this about it now. First of all the right hon. Gentleman says very truly that taxes of this sort which produce very little money, but nevertheless involve so elaborate a machinery that they cost a good deal to collect, are irritating taxes. Irritating to whom? Irritating, I suppose, to the Irish taxpayer. The Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer might give, this consolation to the taxpayer: "It is quite true that the machinery under which you are suffering is very elaborate and involves a great, deal of cost, but never mind that. The printing and distribution of the tax papers and the ultimate grinding out of the money by the machinery is not going to be paid for by you." But in so far as the taxpayer fears the imposition of an irritating tax, the irritation is exactly the same, and that is the thing which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has got to be wary of. If indeed the unpopularity of the tax does not depend entirely or mainly on the fact that it costs a great deal to collect it depends on the fact that it is irritating to the person who has to pay. The right hon. Gentleman says that all taxes are irritating. There is no fallacy so great as to suppose that people should regard a tax as in itself a good thing. Let it be borne in mind also that, as we conceive our scheme, we are really offering to the Irish Government the temptation, perfectly legitimate, and as we think the beneficial temptation, which gives the only practical prospect of coming to an end of the situation in which Ireland stands financially. We do say we are giving them a real inducement to 374 hasten that time, and it is obvious that if the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer goes in for one of the taxes which costs a tremendous amount to collect, the cost of collection is certainly one of the elements that comes into the question whether or not the Irish balance-sheet shows a deficit. If when we come to the Clause it appears that this matter should be reconsidered, we shall not consider criticism of this sort in any way disastrous to the foundation and principle of our financial scheme, and if on examination it is found that some Amendment is wanted, it is obviously a matter that should be dealt with in the Clause itself.
The right hon. Gentleman made a third point. He said, "What are you going to do if the Imperial Duty, say on tea, is 5d. in the pound, and then on the top of that, the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks fit to exercise his power to increase the Duty by adding a Duty of his own. Supposing the Tea Duty is 5½d. instead of 5d.—it could only be that because of the limitation of 10 per cent.—the right hon. Gentleman says it would be a logical fallacy to suppose that the 5½d. is going to produce increased revenue proportionate to the amount of revenue derived with the duty at 5d. It is quite true that a penny on tea produces so much, but it only produces so much assuming that there are not too many pennies on tea altogether." We all agree that that is a point to be considered. I do not agree when it is said that this raises an insuperable difficulty as to the present structure of the Bill. Let me put a hypothetical case. Here is an Imperial Duty of 5d. upon tea. Assume that as long as the total Duty stands at 5d. it produces a revenue in Ireland of £100,000 for every penny. I do not think my hypothesis is very wide of the mark. If each penny produces £100,000, the 5d. Duty will give a total of £500,000, but it must not be supposed that if you increase the Duty by a halfpenny, you are going to increase the revenue in the same proportion. The question is, what is the produce of the Irish tax? I conceive that the way the sub-division would be made is this: The first problem is, what would be the amount of revenue from a Duty of 5d. on tea if that was the only Duty on tea? Secondly, is there any produce over and above, with a Duty of 5½d.? If so, that is the produce of the Trish tax of a halfpenny. I do not wish to say anything further than what is found in the Bill. 375 If it is not in the Bill it might be considered. I have endeavoured to show that that also is a matter which, as we conceive, is really capable of a practical solution. I should have thought that was the way the Joint Exchequer Board would have proceeded.
The right hon. Gentleman has perfectly fairly stated my point. But he has omitted the hypothesis that strengthens the difficulty, which is that I assume, and I fear it will be the case, that the British Government has to add to the original 5d. as well as the Irish Government. I do not know how you are going to arrange for apportioning the results of the double addition. Is it a case of first come, first served?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I am sorry to hear that in the right hon. Gentleman's view it is more probable than not that in the near future those who control the policy of this country will find it necessary to increase the tea duty. I would answer that by saying I quite agree that makes the problem more complicated to solve. But does it alter the problem? I should have thought that the problem remained exactly the same; the only difference being, as in the instance which the right hon. Gentleman has given, that the difficulty of working it is greater. First of all, assume that the Imperial Tea Duty has to be dealt with, you have to ascertain what the tax produces. I conceive that the gentleman at the Treasury would ascertain that, and, having done that, that gives you the part of the total which must not be regarded as the product of the Irish tax. I come now to what I think is the last point made by the right hon. Gentleman. I will deal with it on a rather wider and more general line. If one tries to get away from detail, important as it is here, and really considers the financial scheme as a whole—and, after all, that is, I suppose, the object of discussion on the Resolution—you find that we are exposed to two serious and reiterated criticisms of principle. I would like to do my best to indicate the sort of answer I would wish to give. One criticism was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. We are sometimes told that our scheme means a permanent and perpetual subsidy paid by the British Exchequer to Ireland. I think I rightly reproduce the expression used by the Leader of the Opposition some days ago when he said in criticism of the principle of the Bill that it means a perpetual 376 subsidy paid by the British people to Ireland. We on our side very willingly join issue on that question. We say, on the other hand, that it is the continuance of the existing situation which threatens to make a perpetual and, indeed, an increasing subsidy necessary.
The hon. Gentleman who made an interesting speech this afternoon, one of the hon. Members for Birmingham (Mr. Amery), has himself taken part in explaining on what an immense variety of subjects large sums of money are going to be spent under the Unionist policy on Ireland. But all that means not that there is going to be, if the present Unionist principles of governing Ireland continue, any reduction or diminution of the deficit, but that the deficit is likely to become larger and larger and more certain to occur. If you take Ireland fifty years ago and Ireland of to-day, this is the contrast which you will find. Fifty years ago Ireland had a bigger population than she has to-day, and she had therefore, so far as these things vary with the number of population, more needs. At any rate, she had more people who needed. Though she had a larger population fifty years ago than she has to-day, she had a smaller revenue. She produced less money than she produces to-day out of taxes, yet fifty years ago Ireland, with a larger population than to-day, and producing a smaller revenue than to-day, had a revenue which was abundantly sufficient to pay for the whole of her expenditure. Fifty years have passed. I am not going to try to decide who was to blame, but what do we find? The Irish population has shrunk. The number of Irish people whose needs have to be satisfied is smaller than fifty years ago. The produce of Irish taxes has risen, not altogether under one Government, but certainly under this Government as well as others. And so to-day we find that, with a smaller number of people whose needs have to be met, and a larger sum of money extracted from them by taxes, they no longer raise revenue which is sufficient to pay for Irish expenditure. Under those circumstances it really does not lie in the mouths of hon. Gentlemen who desire to continue the present state of things to say that our scheme is a scheme which involves a perpetual subsidy being paid by British taxpayers to Ireland. The exact contrary is the fact.
We commend it to this House and to the country, because we think it contains these-two merits amongst others. First of all, 377 we have set some limit to the subsidy which this country pays to Ireland. We do that by the way we define our Transferred Sum; and, secondly, we revive in our financial scheme a prospect, and I think the only practicable prospect, of bringing forward a day when the existing deficit in Ireland may be diminished and may be got rid of. We do that because, for the first time, we make it to the interest of the Irish people, whether Members of Parliament or private persons, to see that there is economy practised in their own country. For the first time we make it to the interest of the Irish people to economise, because if they economise they get the benefits of their economy, and we make it a disadvantage to them to be unreasonably extravagant, because, if they are, they will have to pay for their unreasonable extravagance. Therefore, the criticism that the financial scheme of our Bill really means to set up a perpetual subsidy paid by this country to Ireland is a criticism which breaks down, if the essential conditions of this problem and the essential nature of our proposal are fairly considered. The only other criticism with which I wish to deal is this. It was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, I think yesterday, and also by him in the interesting speech made in the first Committee, that as long as the existing Government of Ireland continued as it is it is irrelevant, and I think he said something worse than irrelevant, for people to call attention to what they regard as the Irish deficit. He said some ten days ago that as long as the Act of Union continued unimpaired the question whether it happened to be Ireland or Caithness, or Orkney and Shetland, does not matter a bit; that, after all, we are taxing individuals, and that, so long as our taxes are equal as between individuals, we have discharged our duty under the Act of Union.
Merely as a matter of historical fact I respectfully suggest that that statement, is quite devoid of foundation. It is not true that the Act of Union treats Ireland for fiscal purposes like an English or Scotch county. On the contrary, after the Act of Union was carried, and I think for the next seventeen years or thereabouts, there was actually a separate and independent Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer, who introduced his own Budget and proposed his own taxes, and who more than once did the thing which we are now told is very dangerous—that is to say, absolutely wanted 378 to increase taxes in Ireland when we wanted to reduce them in this country—and right down to the year 1858 there was a substantial amount of taxation in Ireland which was quite different from the taxation in this country, and so far from it being true that we discharge our duty under the Act of Union merely by seeing that the taxes are the same for Irishmen and Englishmen, that is not what the Act of Union provides. For more than half the time which has elapsed since then the taxes have been, in fact, substantially different, and the Act of Union itself, this very document which is referred to by the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) for his assurance that it does not matter whether there is a deficit or not as long as Irishmen and Englishmen are taxed to the same amounts on the same articles, actually stipulated that we were for all time to give to the Irish people such abatements and reductions as would really produce a fiscal equality between the two countries. Is there any such provision for Caithness or Orkney and Shetland? It simply is not true that the Act of Union created a fiscal union between the two countries. But, of course, the argument which I know the right hon. Gentleman puts as defending his position, and which is one which I think the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has put forward in this House, is this: We tax individuals; we do not tax people according to whether they live in Ireland or England. We tax a man, a taxpayer, and as long as our fates of taxes are the same no injustice is done to one portion of the community as against the other.
But are we all quite so sure about that? One hundred years ago it was probably true to say that the Irish community and the English community were so far analogous that no substantial injustice was done by imposing substantially similar taxes upon both nations. You had in each country a community which was predominantly agricultural, and industries which were thriving but which, nevertheleses, had not yet reached a point of overwhelming importance. For good or evil, since that time the conditions have changed, but they have changed in the contrary sense in the two countries. To-day it would be absurd to say that England is a predominantly agricultural, country, with small industries, and it would be absurd to say that Ireland is like England in the character of her people's employment and in the general level of wealth and 379 prosperity, and, of course, as soon as that state of things is found to exist, it by no means follows that you do substantial justice between one country and the other by laying this flattering unction to your souls, that after all you are only taxing individuals. Let us suppose that it was possible to raise the whole revenue of this country by an Excise Tax on whisky, and let us suppose that all the whisky was drunk in Ireland; does anybody mean to say that we should be able to contend that that is quite fair because we do not tax Irishmen qua Irishmen, but we tax people who drink whisky? The answer is that your system of taxation can only be fair as long as you really arrange that you are in fact putting a substantially corresponding burden upon the two countries. Given one community which is poor, and another community which is rich, the taxes which you impose in one community may be in point of denomination the same as the taxes which you impose on the other community, but it by no means follows that you in fact are treating the two communities fairly.
Our proposition therefore is this: We do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire when he says that people ought to be ashamed to talk about an Irish deficit. I rather agree that some of us have some reason to be ashamed because it exists, but we have no reason to be ashamed of calling attention to it. It exists in Ireland because this country—I take no part in abusing its good intentions—but this country, a rich country, with a high standard of living, has so conducted the finances of Ireland, that whether it was inevitable or not, or whether it was well intended or not, the deficit is there today. It is no good saying that we ought to be ashamed of this deficit. We ought to be ashamed that we do not recognise the fact and try to put it right; and it is because this Bill and the financial scheme of this Bill gives, it seems to me, the opportunity and the only practicable opportunity of readjusting that balance sheet that we consider we are justified in commending it to the House and to the country. An hon. Friend of mine behind mc (Mr. Lees Smith) made a reference this afternoon which was entirely germane to the general subject of debate, and indeed, followed from what has been said by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Amery). 380 The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bonar Law) did not happen to be here at the moment, and we all recognise that he was not in a position to deal with this matter then and there. What my hon. Friend said was this: He drew attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has recently more than once been making declarations to the effect that if Ireland remains within the boundaries of the United Kingdom then Ireland is going to get the same good treatment from this House as England and Scotland and Wales are going to get; but that supposing Ireland was to receive and to adopt a system of Home Rule, the right hon. Gentleman says that the policy of his party is that Ireland should then be relegated to an inferior position. As I follow him he says that in that event it would be quite legitimate, and it is his intention to put some duty upon Irish products coming into this country, though, of course, I quite understand that the duties would be small and that the duties on foreign products coming into this country would be larger.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
What I said had no reference whatever to Tariff Reform. It had reference to such things as further measures of social reform. As regards Tariff Reform the position is perfectly plain, and no one can misunderstand it. If we have complete fiscal unity with Ireland, there will be no duties. If there is not complete fiscal unity, then we may make arrangements similar to those with our Colonies.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The right hon. Gentleman sees that I am not trying to make a small debating point. I am rather trying to understand a passage which I particularly had in mind in one of the right hon. Gentleman's speeches dealing with the Financial Resolution before the Home Rule Committee. On the 17th October, 1912, he said:—We do mean, so long as Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, to pay no attention to the fact that at particular times particular services in Ireland do not pay, but to look at it from this point of view, that Ireland is part of our estate, that we are bound to develop that estate in the best way we can, and to treat it with precisely the same generosity that we would treat any county in England or Scotland if it were in the same position as Ireland.I think that a man who manages an estate is entitled to see whether a part of the estate pays or not. He went on to say:—That is the real point of difference between us and the Gentlemen opposite. So long as Ireland is a part in every respect as Middlesex is of the United Kingdom we will treat her in the same way. The moment Ireland chooses to set herself up as a practically independent Kingdom or Colony that moment, not in any 381 spirit of revenge because against our will they have gone in for Home Rule, but simply on the principle that our first duty is to our own people, we will put them first, and money will be spent on Ireland afterwards. The Colonies are our own people. We intend to treat the Colonies better than we treat, any foreign country, but we do not intend to treat them as we treat ourselves."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th October, 1912, cols. 1571 and 1571, Vol. XLII]
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The reference to Tariff Reform was caused by some interruption when I was speaking, and the very words show that they referred to matters of social reform. As regards tariff I said yesterday that we would give Free Trade even to a foreign country if they would give it to us. The question of setting up a preferential tariff against Ireland if she treats us as a Free Trade country never could have entered into our minds.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I do not want to quote at this stage more than will enable me to understand. I confess to being a little puzzled, because when I read the introduction to this well known book against Home Rule, which bears the signature of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson), I find this:—I think it would be desirable to point out that in dairy produce, in poultry, in barley, oats, hops, tobacco, sugar, meat, vegetables and fruit, in all of which Ireland is specially interested, all their products would have free entry into the protected market of Great Britain. Canada and Australia would have us much preference over foreign competitors as Home Rule Ireland; but it is only under the Union that Ireland can expect complete freedom of access to our market.What I want to know is, whether the Unionist policy for Ireland is that if Ireland remains within the United Kingdom, there is to be a tax on such things as imported barley, tobacco, the raw materials of Guinness and Gallagher; but if, on the other hand, Ireland does not remain within the United Kingdom, and becomes a Colony, she is going to be treated in the way the Colonies are going to be treated; that is to say, by a small duty on Colonial products combined with a larger duty on foreign products. If that is so, what becomes of the old version that we were going to accept the Colonial offer. Instead of the Unionist policy for Ireland or elsewhere being to make the foreigner pay, it must be to make the Colonials pay.
§ Mr. DUKE
The hon. and learned Gentleman has already spent some time in dealing with the questions of principle which arise upon the Fiscal Resolution now before the House. I cannot help thinking that when one gets those glimpses into the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman which are afforded by his consideration of these questions of 382 principle, one is driven to conclude that the subject-matter before the House is a device unworthy of the defence of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He brings to the question a mind very highly endowed; he has great sympathy with the principles which underly our Government in this country, great appreciation of the difficulties which arise from the past relations of Ireland with this country, and an absolute knowledge of the benefits which may arise in any country from free, representative, and responsible institutions. But the hon. and learned Gentleman gave the go-by entirely to the fact which governs our consideration, on this side of the House, of this Resolution, that it offers an absolute negative to every principle by which English statesmen in the past have been, accustomed to deal with great constitutional difficulties. The hon. and learned Gentleman is dealing with a Financial Resolution which does not even provide an Irish revenue in any constitutional sense; he is dealing with a pensionary Parliament; he is dealing with an Administration which has to administer a colossal annuity; and, in that state of things, the hon. and learned Gentleman plays with this great question, which puzzles English minds and patriotic minds.
I want to say a word about the particular matters to which the Solicitor-General has referred, but I preface it by this, that in all the Constitutions which this House has produced for countries upon which it has bestowed Constitutions there never has been one so directly contrary to the principles which govern our constitutional life and our conception of Government as that which is proposed for acceptance, and the epitome of which is found in this Fiscal Resolution. This Fiscal Resolution, when it is examined, exhibits all the vices of its origin. It pretends to give Ireland the control of its financial affairs and the responsibility which arises from that control. There are principles which have been laid down, and which one would have thought a Liberal Government, or anyone else, would have recognised, and which are summed up by the statement of Lord Farrer in the Report of the Royal Commission on the subject. In laying down the guiding principle which has been established for years in these questions of fiscal administration, Lord Farrar said:—The expenditure of public funds cannot be wisely and economically controlled unless those who have the disposal of the public money, are made responsible for raising it as well as spending it.383 The people who are to have control of the gigantic annuity in Ireland have none of the restraints which arise from the difficulty of adjusting taxation to the requirements of the community, and they have none of the inducements to thrift which arise from popular control over their expenditure. They start by being endowed with a sum which is colossal, having regard to the population of Ireland and the conditions of Irish life, and which is being provided partly by the machinery of these Clauses. They have nothing to say as to the unpopularity of raising the money, and even the unpopularity of employing the tax collector is spared. They start with an endowment which is very much like that which is made to the hopeful son of the family sent out to set up an establishment of his own in the belief or expectation that he may by that means learn economy. The income is provided, and there is no care as to the mode of raising it, while, with regard to the expenditure, they have no responsibility in applying the income to any of the purposes to which in ordinary circumstances it is desired to apply it.
What would be the position of the Parliament of Ireland with regard to this annuity? The people have no control over the amount of it—no control even if it be ten, eleven, or twelve millions, and the business of the Irish Parliament will be to spend that number of millions. So far as economy is concerned, the only economy which will receive attention under such a scheme as has been set up here is the economy of paring down expenditure. The Parliament of the United Kingdom for two or three generations, certainly the last two generations, have adopted the policy of encouraging and developing the progress of Ireland by generous expenditure. That policy is to be swept away and replaced by a new plan. Under this plan there is no responsibility for the burden, and there is no inducement for thrift though these are the features of any rational or constitutional system of finance. If His Majesty's Government had any true desire, or, at any rate, if they had seen their way to establish in Ireland a Parliament which would have the responsibility of its position, both with regard to thrift and with regard to outlay, they would have proposed a Parliament with means of raising revenue, and would have put on that Parliament the duty of dealing with the specific needs of the community. There would then have 384 been some slight inducement, at any rate, on the part of the Parliament of Ireland to adjust means to expenditure and to combine economy with efficiency. The system which is introduced in this Resolution runs counter to all the principles which have governed finance in this House during the whole time that our financial system has grown up.
That is the position of Ireland, with regard to the amount of income and with regard to the immediate inducements to economical expenditure—the inducement of cheeseparing only, and not of thrift. With regard to this country, it is just as deplorable. This country is bound to provide year in and year out the annuity for the administration of Ireland. It has no voice in the expenditure, and it has no control over the beneficial consequences which flow from wisely adjusted expenditure. Responsibility and power are entirely divorced, and it is in that state of things, under the travesty of constitutional government in which His Majesty's Government are indulging, that they receive the enthusiastic and eloquent support of the Solicitor-General. Take the case of the Irish Parliament when the Home Rule Bill is passed, if it passes, and they attempt to introduce for the good government of Ireland those checks, those restraints, those inducements to efficiency, and those inducements to economy which have grown up under our political system. Every vestige of the means of applying those beneficent agencies to Ireland is denied to the Irish Parliament and denied to Ireland. I suppose Members of His Majesty's Government have considered what the state of things will be when the Parliament is in existence, and when it is desired to put pressure upon any Irish administration, either for the purposes of thrift or for the purposes of efficiency. How will you apply your pressure? You have a Government which is endowed with an annuity, and how are you going to restrict, the supply or to control the expenditure of that money? You will have a gigantic Consolidated Fund already voted to the Crown in this House, but not to be applied upon the responsibility of any Minister of the Crown responsible to this House, but to be applied by an irresponsible Minister of the Crown sitting in another place, which is in Dublin, who will be free from the control of this assembly, and, so far as I can see, so far as the provisions of this legislation go, will be equally free from the control of the 385 Legislature sitting in Dublin. What are to be the means, if these matters are to be dealt with from the high political standpoint to which the Solicitor-General rose towards the close of his remarks, of making the power of the purse beneficial in the future life of the Irish people? You have cut away from them all the restraint which arises from bearing the burdens you create, and you have relieved them also of all the inducements to economy, and of all the inducements to efficiency which result from our old combination referred to by Lord Farrer of putting the raising of money for public purposes in the hands of those who bear the unpopularity of raising money for needless purposes, and who get the credit if the money is raised for beneficial purposes. What strikes me as the most odious characteristic of these proposals before the House is that with the pretence of putting Ireland under Parliamentary Government you are putting Ireland under a form of Government such as no community within the British Empire has known up to the present time, and which seems to be fraught not with every possibility of good, but with every possibility of evil, because you offer a direct negative to every principle which experience dictates for the wise administration of public affairs.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General referred to some of the particular matters. He said "you" have placed Ireland in this position, and really it did seem to me that that was rather a cynical observation. One looks at the statistics, and one sees that in the year 1906, when Gentlemen opposite came into power, the burden of taxation upon the people of Ireland was 35s. 6d. per head, and now, in the year 1911–12, after six years of this Administration, it is 55s. 6d. per head. They turn to the House of Commons and they say, you have imposed this extraordinary burden upon the people of Ireland. It is not that this House for public purposes has imposed the most troublesome of those burdens; but right lion. Gentlemen opposite, for party purposes, have aggravated the old burdens, They were warned from this side of the House by Irish Members with regard to some of their schemes of social amelioration that those schemes are entirely un-adapted to Irish needs. The criticism from this side of the House was absolutely frank and candid. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had complete knowledge, and with the knowledge of the mode in which the revenue of Ireland, what is called the real 386 revenue, the hypothetical revenue, had ceased to be sufficient, or came towards ceasing to be sufficient, for the growing expenditure of Ireland, enormous new burdens, which amount to over twice as much as the present deficit, were piled up by this Administration. That was done, no doubt, with the knowledge that you could not have a better platform argument for driving through a scheme of Home Rule, which was detestable to the majority of people of this country, than if you were to be able to say the state of things is such that you are going to conduct Irish affairs upon a perpetual system of deficit, and do you not think you had better cut your losses? That is the state of things which right hon. Gentlemen opposite have produced, and a purist in political economy like the Solicitor-General is heard not merely to vindicate and defend, but to wax enthusiastic over it, and to extol it as a triumphant achievement.
I take a different view of it. I regard the course of His Majesty's Government during the years that it was enhancing the burdens borne in respect of Ireland, and, when it was applying legislation to Ireland which it knew to be costlier than Ireland could bear, when it kept Home Rule in reserve, I regard those methods and that period of time as one of the least satisfactory periods of the many unsatisfactory periods in the history of this administration. At any rate, they do not afford to this Government the opportunity for coming to this House and saying, "You have created the present state of things." The present state of things, unfortunately, exists. Instead of being able, as either of the previous Home Rule Bills would have enabled this House reasonably to do, to ask for a contribution on the part of Ireland, either now or in some early future, towards the general burden of the Empire of four, or three, or two millions, or some such sum as that, His Majesty's Government, having produced a state of deficit, propose to stereotype it, and to call upon their fellow-countrymen to congratulate themselves that they are in the hands of an Administration which, if it has known how to create a gigantic deficit, has anyway enabled them to cut their losses. For my own part, I agree absolutely with the criticisms which have been offered from this side upon the suggestion that there is in any political sense a deficit which England is entitled at the present time to contribute to Ireland. Hon. Members from Ireland deny that this is a real 387 deficit. They treat it as having arisen from the application of curious arithmetical processes to the revenue of Ireland. However that may be, hon. Members on this side have pointed out over and over again the impropriety and the want of sense of proportion of the argument which would lead to the conclusion that you are to examine the individual taxpayer, or the local aggregate of taxpayers, and to measure their relation to the general community by the extent to which they are able to bear the burden which is involved by the liability the community incurs on their behalf.
The argument of the deficit is a fallacious argument, but, taken at its strongest and with its utmost weight, it is an argument against and not in favour of this Bill. Its validity is destroyed by the means which His Majesty's Government has chosen to take during the past five or six years to destroy the excess of income over expenditure which existed when the Government of the Unionist party went out of office in 1905, and replacing it by a deficit which they assure the House is likely to increase and to increase permanently. No man who has considered the position of Ireland has any apprehension at all that Ireland is in danger of becoming a bankrupt community. I do not believe that there is a man sitting on the Front Bench opposite who has the slightest real fear that Ireland is retrograding at the present time, or that the present discrepancy between public revenue and public expenditure in Ireland is anything more than a transitory phenomenon, lion, and right hon. Gentlemen opposite know quite as well as we on this side of the House that the prosperity of Ireland has very greatly increased, that the prosperity of Ireland is greatly increasing, and that it must necessarily increase by reason of the reproductive expenditure in which this country has embarked vast sums of money. The cry of the deficit is a mere political device to represent Ireland as at the present time in a declining and decaying condition in which it threatens to become a permanent charge upon the Exchequer of the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Gentleman (the Solicitor-General) has adopted that device, but I do not think there is any Member of either party who has considered these matters in the House or in the country who believes there is real substance in that argument. It is used for platform purposes, and it 388 serves its platform purposes in enabling gentlemen to say in moments of advocacy that this is a good bargain to get rid of the difficulties of Ireland.
The difficulties of Ireland were in the way of being removed by ameliorative legislation which this House has applied and the fruits of which have only begun to be seen. The true mode of getting rid of those difficulties is not to involve Ireland in this system of finance for example—to say nothing of the other proposals of the Bill—an unheard of and fantastic scheme contrary to every constitutional principle, such as that which is embodied in this Clause, but it is to-pursue with regard to Ireland the same-ameliorative methods which have done so-much to restore prosperity to Ireland during the last twenty or thirty years, and which would certainly seem to me to be the most effective mode of rendering Ireland, as she has been in the past times, ant equal member of the community forming the United Kingdom. One deplores that in a measure of this kind, so full, as many of us think, of danger and trouble for the future of this country, that probably the worst and the most discreditable feature, from the political point of view and from the constitutional point of view, should be these financial proposals, which do not find a precedent in anything ever heretofore done either by this Parliament, or by any Parliament which it has brought into existence, but which are the mere outcome of the political difficulty of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which will be a standing reproach to the Legislature by which they are brought into force until such time as when, after years of friction, these fantastic schemes are swept out of the way, and something like a rational' scheme is introduced to govern the financial relations of Ireland and this, country. The proceedings on this Bill arouse-the antagonism of many Members on this side of the House because we know that the Bill is introduced in conscious diregard of the will of the majority of the people of this country; but that a Bill so introduced should contain features of this kind, and that they should be defended, as alone-they are capable of being defended in this House, increases the exasperation which most of us feel on this side of the House at the existence of this Bill, and at the mode in which it is pressed forward, and at the features of it which threaten so much mischief in the future relations between England and Ireland.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General made a very able and very ingenious defence of the Government's scheme. I was glad to hear from him that the Government were giving consideration to a point that has been alluded to by several speakers, namely, the possibility of an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer imposing a new tax which might produce a comparatively small sum to the Irish revenue, but which might, nevertheless, incur very large expenditure on the part of the Imperial Government in the collection of that tax. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think that the imposition of a tax of this kind was very unlikely owing to the irritation that it would probably produce to the people who had to pay it. Hut his own Government have been responsible for the imposition of a variety of small taxes, namely, the Land Taxes, which have been extremely irritating to people and have produced a remarkably small amount of revenue, while at the same time costing a very large sum indeed to collect. Therefore, if it is possible under a Government which has to pay for the collection of the taxes it imposes, this sort of thing is doubly possible under a system where one Government imposes the tax and another has to pay the cost of collection. The hon. and learned Gentleman was careful not to pay any attention at all to the remarks made on his own side of the House about the powers of the Irish Parliament over Customs and Excise. In the political notes of the "Times" to-day it is said that the Government will withdraw the power to reduce taxation. I do not know whether that is the case, but I have observed on previous occasions that information of a very important kind has appeared in the public Press before it has been announced in this House.
If, as a result of this Debate, the power of reducing Imperial taxation is to be withdrawn from the Irish Parliament, I maintain that that information ought to have been given in this House first of all. As the Government have not made any statement of that kind, I presume that the proposals under the Bill are to continue. If that is so, it is very extraordinary that people like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, and even the Foreign Secretary himself, who before this Bill was introduced, made very strong speeches about Ireland having no power over Customs and Excise, should continue to sit beside their colleagues and 390 tamely submit to the proposals in this Bill. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, speaking at the National Liberal Club in January last, said:—He argued in favour of Ireland sending representatives to the Imperial Parliament to deal with National affairs, but if they were going to give Ireland complete control of her Customs they could have no federal state whatever. He favoured autonomy in Ireland in all matters except Customs and Excise, but in those there should be unity.Again, the same Minister at Tyneside, on 15th January, 1912, said:—His notion of Home Rule had always been Federal Home Rule all round. That meant that Ireland and all the component countries in the Kingdom must remain within the operation of the common Customs Duties.There are other statements in speeches of Ministers, responsible and irresponsible, proving the contention that the country had no idea before the Bill was introduced that the Irish people were to have power over Customs and Excise. I hope that before the Report stage of the Bill the Government will pay some attention to the representations which have been made on their own side as well as on this side of the House. We have been told that this Bill is the beginning of a federal system of government for England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. If that is so, we must take the proposals in this Bill as a model of the future financial powers to be given to Wales and Scotland. All I can say is that this system of finance is entirely opposite to that of any federal system in any part of the world. Think of the extraordinary situation which would arise if a federal system were set up in the United Kingdom under the conditions of this Bill! We should have, in the first place, a large sum devoted to Scotland and Wales for the carrying on of the transferred services. I suppose that, as in the case of Ireland, poor old England would be saddled with the cost of expensive services, such as old age pensions and National Insurance, and the English taxpayers would be mulcted to the tune of £2,000,000 or £1,000,000 a year to meet the ordinary deficit on the general Scottish and Welsh expenditure. That is a pleasant prospect for the English people. In addition, they would probably realise that no contribution whatsoever would be made by the Scottish and Welsh people towards the general Imperial expenditure of this country. They presumably would not pay a single penny towards the upkeep of the Army, the Navy, the Diplomatic, and other Imperial services.
391 Besides that, we should have an extraordinary system of Customs barriers scattered about the United Kingdom. Presumably Customs barriers would be erected not only between England and Ireland, but between England and Scotland, and between England and Wales. We should probably enjoy the privilege of finding the price of a glass of beer or of whisky varying in Wales as compared with England, in Scotland as compared with Wales, and in Ireland as compared with all three. The unfortunate traveller between Cardiff and London every time he undertook the journey would have his pockets searched and his bag turned out to see that they did not contain a pound of tobacco or a bottle of whisky. The traveller by the night mail to Scotland, in the third-class sleeping car which is so dear to hon. Members below the Gangway, would probably not much appreciate being disturbed in the middle of his slumbers by Custom House officials desiring to examine the contents of his pockets and his bag when he crosses the border-line between Scotland and England. Take, again, the case of the hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond). What would be his position as a comparatively wealthy man? When he is resident in Wales, cultivating the ancient language of that country, he would probably find his Super-tax, instead of being 6d., as in England, was increased to 9d. or 1s. When he went to his deer forest in Scotland he would probably find the rate of his Super-tax totally different from the rate in England and Wales. Similarly that portion of his estate—when any member of his family is unfortunately deceased—which is situated in Wales, in Scotland, or in England, will presumably be taxed under the varying scale of Death Duties which may prove themselves as most favourable to the three Governments.
All these points which I have ventured to put before the House are perfectly possible under this wonderful system of federated government, and in consonance with the arguments founded upon this wonderful Home Rule Bill for Ireland. When we also realise that in sending parcels by parcels post between the respective parts of these federated Governments, the parcel will have to be opened by a Post Office official, or have to have a declaration as to its exact value, I think that gives the finishing touch to the prospect of the unfortunate citizen under this federal system 392 of government. If only this is realised it is absolutely impossible for even this House of Commons, under conditions of this kind, to grant a federal system of government. I hope therefore that, as this Bill professes to go further, we shall not hear any more of that really ridiculous cant, namely, that the Bill is the foundation of a system of federal government for the rest of the United Kingdom. It is perfectly obvious that it is no more a foundation, and in no more sense could it be a foundation for a federal system of government for these islands, than it is at all likely to prove a real working measure.
As regards the amount of harmony likely to exist between the Irish and the British Government when this Bill is passed into law, let me say that one of the chief reasons for friction will be the decisions, whether they are in favour of the Irish party or against them, to be brought about by this Joint Exchequer Board. Think of the wonderful duties that this Exchequer Board has to carry out! In the first place, the Board has got to estimate the cost of the services that are to be transferred to the Irish Government. It will be a very surprising thing if the decision of this Board on that particular point meets with the complete approval of the Irish Members. They have also to decide what are the quota of the proceeds of the Irish taxes imposed by the Irish Department. They have also to decide whether any proposed Irish tax is the same as an Imperial tax. It will be a very odd thing if the Irish gift of facility of speech is not exercised in this House to some considerable extent to argue against the decisions of the Board. Then really what is the most crucial point is: that the Board will have to decide what is the loss to the Imperial revenue, and therefore what is the Transferred Sum in the case of reduction or of dealing with an Imperial tax in Ireland. That point alone will be a source of continual friction between the representatives of the Irish Parliament and the representatives of the English people in this House.
We are led to believe that under this wonderful system of finance the deficit now arising in the expenditure of Ireland is likely to be materially reduced. The Postmaster-General this afternoon told us that he was confident that in future there would be an increase in the Irish revenue. He was rash enough to prephesy that the undoubted increase in the cost of the reserve services would be counteracted in future by this normal increase in the Irish 393 revenue. That is a rather bold statement for the right hon. Gentleman to make when the Government's own Committee, the Primrose Committee, have estimated that the increased cost of old age pensions alone in Ireland would probably amount to £300,000 before many years have passed. The right hon. Gentleman told us, on behalf of the Treasury, that in their opinion there is far from likely to be an increased expenditure; most probably there will be within a few years a diminution of expenditure to the extent of £200,000. I do not place much reliance on Treasury estimates as produced by this Government. We have had some very striking examples of their gross inaccuracy already in connection with the cost of old age pensions, which now I think is very nearly double what it was said the scheme would be when first introduced by the Government. Take the cost of the Insurance Act, Already, before the Act has got into force, we have been informed that the estimate of increased cost upon the unfortunate taxpayer will be at least £1,500,000 in order to try and satisfy the doctors. All we can gather from the papers suggest that the doctors are not by any means satisfied with this increased sum. Therefore before twelve months are past we shall probably find that the total cost of the administration of the National Insurance Act will be at least £2,000,000, if not more, greater than the original estimate of the Treasury. I must confess, therefore, that I place no reliance at all in the financial estimates that His Majesty's Government give with regard to the probable diminution of expenditure in Ireland as a result of this Bill.
In respect to the collection of the taxes the right hon. Gentleman said, I think, that there was no likelihood of that cost increasing to any considerable extent. All I can say to that is that in 1907–8 the cost of the collection of taxes in Ireland was £242,000. In 1910–11 it was £298,000. This latter is the sum which is put by the Government as the probable cost of the collection in future. I cannot conceive how they base their estimate of the cost of the collection of the Irish taxes in future on the same figure as now, because we have been told repeatedly on both sides of the House, and particularly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington, that one of the first results of Home Rule will be the erection of Custom Houses all around Ireland. It is 394 ridiculous to say that it can impose Customs barriers all round the country without materially increasing the cost of the collection of the taxes. In addition to that, we have the temptation given to the Irish Parliament to raise new taxes, the proceeds of which will go to the Irish people while the cost of the collection will be included in the expenditure on the reserve services. It is therefore perfectly absurd to say that the cost of collection will be anything like what it is now, and will not be materially increased. To my mind the whole system of the finance of this Bill is quite unworkable. I believe it is bound to end in continued friction between the respective Governments of Ireland and Great Britain. So far from being a final solution of the Irish question, I believe it can only have one end, and that is to enormously increase the demand for the complete separation of Ireland altogether from the United Kingdom. I must confess that if Ireland is to have any sort of control over her Customs and Excise, the best thing really to do is to give her an absolute control, and to allow her to raise whatever money she needs on the Customs and Excise; to make her run her own show and to take herself entirely away from the United Kingdom. That, I believe, to be the only possible solution of the present situation. I do not believe that any halfway-house system is possible between the Union and Home Rule and complete separation. The Government have embarked upon this scheme of finance, which seems to me to be totally unworkable. For the reasons T have given, I and a good many other people say this system is absolutely unworkable. Therefore the only possible way out of the difficulty is to drop the Bill and keep Ireland in her present condition.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
As one of the unfortunates who will, if this Bill is allowed to stand as it is, be whipped with the whips of the Imperial Chancellor of Exchequer and scourged with the scorpions of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think a great deal of this Debate appears to be very unreal and of no importance. I do not much care about the drawbacks on Irish tobacco or the superman and his tax of 1½d. on the price of tea as between the United Kingdom and Ireland. All that leaves me very cold. Nor do I pay much attention to the speeches made by hon. Gentlemen opposite tearing the financial propositions in this Bill to shreds. All I 395 know is that when I arrive on the Kingstown Pier at seven o'clock in the morning very sick, as I usually am, I shall have to go through a Custom House, and that is the one thing that appals me. I want to know do hon. Members on the benches opposite approve of these financial propositions, and if they approve of them, will they tell me how we are going to run Ireland under them as a prosperous concern. That is what I want to know. I am not the only person who wants to know it. The silence of hon. Members on the Nationalist benches has given rise to a great deal of resentment and astonishment in Ireland. I do not want to quote much from newspapers, but I must quote one passage from an independent Nationalist paper published in the county Cork, as I think there is a good deal underlying the remarks of that journal. It says:—History will record with amazement that in the Debate which so far as the present Bill can do it, decides the future state of Ireland, only one out of the eighty-four Irish Nationalist representatives was heard, while more than twenty English, Scotch and Welsh Members have taken part in the Debate.The one Member referred to was the senior Member for Cork City (Mr. William O'Brien). I was glad, however, to find that yesterday at least one official Nationalist Member was unmuzzled, namely, the hon. Member for the North County Dublin (Mr. Clancy) and gave us his views. It was quite time he did so. The hon. Gentleman, I think, in his speech rather belittled himself. He was put up as the party spokesman on the occasion of the Second Reading, and from what I have heard of the hon. Gentleman's reputation in Ireland I would imagine he was one of the three special financiers in Irish affairs, and that he was something of a superman on Irish finance. I am sorry he did not let himself go a little more in his speech. He was content to tell us that Nationalists approve of this Bill and of its financial proposals. He said, "We had a Nationalist Convention, and at that convention there were no criticisms of the Bill, but that there was a great deal of enthusiasm for the Bill." That may be true, but I remember reading that at that convention the Reverend Canon Ryan, of Tipperary, told his audience that if they had criticisms to offer they had better put them in their pockets and not bring them cut, and I remember a gentleman who is a party in himself, the Member for North Westmeath, made remarks to the effect that it was almost impossible for a Nationalist Member with safety, to 396 criticise this Bill, because if he did, he was in danger of having adverse criticism made against him, that he was a bad Nationalist, and as he put it himself, he found himself in the hollow of a cleft stick. However, we have had from the hon. Member for North Dublin a vague, pontifical blessing, a "laying of hands" upon the Bill. He said the proposals were not altogether ideal, but they are good enough, though they might be better. The hon. Member for Westmeath was more outspoken. He said, "We want an Irish Government with means enough to carry out the work essential to the growth of the country," and he told us that "People were saying in Ireland Home Rule is a great thing if we get all the money we want, but are we getting it?"
I am prepared to admit that if certain things had happened before this Bill was introduced, or if certain things had happened up to now that will not happen, this vague "laying of hands," and pontifical blessing, would be quite enough for the occasion. Supposing there had been a real Irish Convention of all classes and creeds composed of Unionists, All-for-Irelanders, official Nationalists; and suppose a scheme was hammered out and accepted by the whole of Ireland, finance and otherwise, I admit Irish Members would not be called upon to interfere, and they might sit hero and watch Members of the Front Opposition Bench, and Members of the Treasury Bench, chipping one another, but they would not be called upon to speak. Or supposing North-East Ulster determined to stand out altogether from the orbit of the Bill, and that in the provinces south of the Boyne all classes and creeds acknowledged that certain proposals were satisfactory. Irish Members would not be called upon to speak, and a vague blessing of the Bill would be enough; or, again, taking a third and more reasonable supposition. Suppose the Nationalist opinion was unanimous that these financial proposals could not be accepted, and that they agreed with the 400,000 non-Nationalists in the provinces south of the Boyne upon this matter, then, in that case, the Nationalists could sit still and simply vote and not come forward and explain the details of the measure. Ulster absolutely refuses to touch this Bill or to have anything to do with its financial proposals or other proposals. Non-Nationalist Ireland south of the Boyne is absolutely at one in thinking that the financial proposals of the 397 Bill are unjust and unworkable, and Nationalists themselves are rent in twain over the financial proposals.
The great county of Cork, far the most powerful county in Ireland and about as large as Yorkshire, will not have the financial proposals at any price. Only the other day in Cork City there was a vast open-air meeting, addressed by the hon. Member for that city and four or five Members of Parliament, and attended by thirty or forty thousand people, and at that meeting the financial proposals were torn up and chucked into the river Lee. Therefore, Nationalist Ireland is not united in regard to this proposal. I had hoped that some hon. Member would get up on the Nationalist Benches and explain the provisions of this Bill, but it was left to the Postmaster-General to explain the Bill to those sitting on the benches behind him and to those sitting on the Nationalist Benches as well. As a matter of fact, these proposals are impossible. We know there are three able financiers in the Irish party; we have heard one, and we may hear the others. These hon. Gentlemen have had every opportunity. They have been able to consult the Postmaster-General and the Government draughtsmen. In fact, they have been to breakfast, luncheon, and tea in Downing Street, and they know everything that is worth knowing about the finance of this Bill. They are the watchdogs, and they have got to come forward and defend their position. I will give a short extract from a speech made by the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. William O'Brien) at a great mass meeting on Friday last. He said:—I undertake to prove to you here to-night that all this trouble about Sir Frederick Banbury's Amendment and of the collapse of the Government plans are due wholly and solely to the Redmondites' own botchery and incapacity and downright treason to the cause of Ireland.The quotation goes on:The result was a financial Bill which is rotten to the core and which robs Ireland of any real control over her own taxation, which cuts down her representation in Westminster by sixty members and her representation in this House to forty-two, and which leaves the Irish Parliament, if it ever assembles, no money to do anything except to pay the hire of an army of Molly Maguire place hunters and corrupt politicians.…From this day forth we repudiate till responsibility whatever for the finance of this Bill. (Loud cheers.)Surely it is due to these 500,000 Nationalists that hon. Members below the Gangway should make some explanation in regard to what is looked upon by their fellow Nationalists as something like an act of treason. Ulster can defend itself, but under our absurd electoral system the very class that will be called upon to pay 398 the extra taxation in the near future, that great class which will be called upon to pay the piper, have not a single representative in this House. The other day the Committee, while discussing Clause 9, decided that in the new Irish House of Commons that class should not be represented any more. Everybody knows that, under the finance of this Bill, even the Transferred Sum is going to be a tight fit and there are going to be large deductions made. We have it from hon. Members below the Gangway that there are going to be vast schemes of social reform financed by Irish taxes, and large sums are required for education, drainage, and afforestation. What people like myself are beginning to ask is, Where is all the money to come from? England is not going to give it to us, because we are told she is going to "cut her loss." The Postmaster-General has suggested one or two methods by which extra money can be raised. There is a Super-tax up and the Income Tax down. He says there is the centimes additionels for Customs and Excise—in other words, that means an extra tax on sugar, tobacco, and tea. I suggest to the Postmaster-General that the centimes additionels will not equip and build Irish schoolhouses. You will not drain the River Bann with that system, and you have to find the money outside this Transferred Sum, and the question is how are you going to find the money? Of course, the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will be like other Chancellors of Exchequer; he will not want to tax those who support his own policy, and he will not tax the members of the United Irish League or the Ancient Order of Hibernians, but he will tax those who do not belong to those organisations. Undoubtedly those are the men the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to tax. First of all, there is the tax which has been written about in Ireland in many of the papers, and which is a proposal definitely put forward by leading Irish speakers, and that is a graduated tax on land. It is to be a tax to compel a landlord who has got his own demesne to sell his land. I have a quotation here putting the matter more plainly than I can do. The speech I will quote from was made by the head organiser of the United Irish League, and this is what he said:—The coming Trish Parliament would get rid of the graziers. They would have the power of putting as big taxes as they liked on every ranch in the country, and then some of their friends would feel the shoe pinching, for if they did not give up the lands, they would give money in the stead of taxes. It was more than one hundred to one the Irish Parliament would but heavy taxes on every ranch in Ireland.399 That is pretty explicit. Not many landlords remain in Ireland. A great many have sold their demesnes and cleared out altogether. I have kept my own, and others have done the same thing; but it would not take much to induce us to clear out. The graziers will probably be cleared out, and they will invest their capital in the Argentine or Rhodesia; but that sort of thing will not carry on the Irish Parliament. Where is the money to come from? The Report of the Committee on Irish Finance says:—We learned from the Commissioner of ruination that the tenant has an interest in his tend outside the rent or purchase annuity, and that for his interest outside that charge he can obtain a sum varying from five to forty times the assessed annual value.That is a commonplace in Ireland. A farm was sold just outside my own demesne, consisting of twenty-five acres, and paying a judicial rent of £17 10s. a year, and the buildings were wretched and were not worth more than £l 00. Now what was the tenant right of that farm sold for? It fetched £500 plus the costs. Curiously enough, within a year that farm was sold over again and it realised just about the same price. That is a great source from which an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer might, and will, have to draw money. He will have to tax the tenant right of every farm sold in Ireland. I do not suppose that the ordinary Irish farmer cares much about the landlords or the graziers, but he is beginning to fear the trouble that may come to him in future years. I know that there is an uneasy feeling amongst 500,000 Irish farmers that the financial proposals of the Home Rule Bill are going to work them a great injury, because they know that the extra taxation required cannot be raised by duties on manufactured articles by a Super-tax or by any other existing tax, but it will have to be raised from Ireland in the way I have described. The average Irish farmer believes in his heart of hearts that the finance of this Bill is rotten to the core, and if there was any chance of the Irish farmers being polled in the next few months there would be some very astonishing results in Irish elections. Not only is this Bill, as we have been told, unfair to Nationalists, but it is detrimental, unjust and unfair to the non-Nationalists who will be called upon to pay in the three Southern provinces of Ireland, and therefore I shall go into the Lobby and vote against these financial proposals.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
With some of the observations which the hon. Member opposite has just made I am rather in agreement, but I think he has gone over a considerable number of topics which do not quite come within the purview of the Bill, and which I think he will find turn out to be entirely unfounded. Perhaps he will excuse me for not going too much into detail. I wish to say that I agree with one remark he made with regard to Members on this side who have been criticising the Customs provisions of this Bill. I have taken special note myself, and I think it ought to be put on record, as a protest, that the particular group of Scotch Members who have been criticising the Customs provisions of the Bill have not been present to hear a single speech on the Government side in answer to their own views. I watched them on the Committee stage before and I have watched them on the Committee stage and Report stage this time, and I think it is only right that protest should be made on behalf of the Government. The hon. Member who preceded him (Mr. Hicks Beach) and the hon. Member for South Birmingham (Mr. Amery) earlier in the day made certain criticisms based on the assumption that this finance is the foundation of what they keep calling a federal scheme, and a federal scheme they presuppose means the adoption of this financial scheme in its detail as well as in its principle. I think hon. Members begin with a fundamental fallacy. Personally, I do not consider we should begin with the idea of any general all-round Home Rule as a federal scheme in the sense in which federation is understood as the synthetic bringing together of detached units. We should begin rather with an idea of devolution.
We are simply devolving certain duties and reserving others, and in the case of Wales, for which I speak more particularly, there would be a devolution that would be different. There are certain things which probably the Welsh people as well as the English people would not think it wise to devolve, but which might be devolved in the ease of Ireland or in the case of Scotland. Speaking on the spur of the moment and without consideration, I should say it might probably turn out the Welsh people would not want the judiciary devolved to them. You have a separate judicial system in Scotland and a separate judicial system in Ireland, but we have not such a separate system in 401 Wales, and it might transpire that the judiciary might not need to be devolved. Therefore, the items devolved necessarily determine the items of finance and the relationship financial and otherwise, which exists between the different countries; and the rather humorous and lengthy speech of the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Hicks Beach) as to a person travelling to Cardiff with intoxicants in his pocket being disturbed—I doubt if he was a Welshman returning to Wales whether that would ever happen—and as to the difficulties of my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond) in discovering a certain Supertax in Wales and a different one in Scotland and a different one in England, is all beside the question. I do not see that hon. Members carry their case very far when they argue on a basis of that kind. I admit if our idea was the synthetic federal idea, beginning with units and federating with them, the criticism might have some application; but as the thing would be totally different in essence as well as in detail, I do not think it applies at all. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long) made a rather remarkable speech. I think I may say without any offence at all we had in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman following upon the remarkably lucid and eloquent speech of the Postmaster-General a concrete and very good illustration of the fundamental difference between that side and this on the question of finance. You had in the speech of the Postmaster-General strict, pure finance, explained in the way that modern economists deal with social political problems, and in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division you had the old traditional, historical way of dealing with them. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman began with the argument that there had been in the past traditional religious sectarian difference and more or less bitterness between Ulster and the rest of Ireland, and that the fundamental weakness of this scheme was that you would enable the rest of the Irish people to put their hands into the pockets of the people of Ulster in order to help industries in other parts of Ireland outside Ulster. The right hon. Gentleman was asked how in the world they could do it, but he did not venture to explain. If any hon. Member opposite is inclined to adopt the argument, I would invite him to tell us how in 402 the world the Irish Nationalists or the Irish from the rest of Ireland could do it. What could they tax? If they increase the Income Tax the increase per head of the population in agricultural Ireland would be as great as that of the comparatively poor industrial population in Belfast and the North of Ireland. They would not, therefore, get it out of the Income Tax. They certainly would not get it out of the land of the populous districts of Ireland according to the last hon. Gentleman, and I do not know how much they would get it out of a Super-tax. If they tried to get out of tea, it is an article of common consumption, and it would press most hardly in the rural districts, and if they tried to get it out of sugar it would be the same.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
How is that going to affect Ulster differentially from the rest of Ireland? The point of the right hon. Genetleman was that these terrible people in the rest of Ireland were going to discover some method of squeezing out of the people of Ulster money they would use for the building up of industries elsewhere in Ireland; and, again, I press hon. Members to point out how in the world it could happen or how it could be done. I do not know what they would do unless they proceeded to tax dummy rifles, brass bands, and banners. They might possibly get a revenue in that way in Ulster they would not get elsewhere. There was another interesting portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, in which he laid down with tremendous heat and emphasis the fact that the Unionist party had kept every promise they had ever made to Ireland. He said they had made promises and had kept them all. Did they keep their promise to give old age pensions? If so, it is great news to me. I thought it was rather well known they promised them to Ireland as well as to England for about twenty-three years. I do not know that the record of their promises is very great-The only thing the Unionist party did, and we do not wish to deprive them of the credit of it, was to set up the land purchase-scheme. What about education? The Unionist party was in power for practically twenty years previous to 1906, but the children in Ireland still carry peat upon their backs to their schools to get a little fire and' a little heat. Why did not we hear about all these promises in that wonderful book 403 put forward this afternoon, and why did not we see that £300,000 a year for education put down during the time hon. Members were getting back to power here by making these particular promises?
I wish to put a point of substance of my own to the Government. It is one I think of some interest, and at any rate I should like some kind of explanation. It may equally interest hon. Members opposite. It is with regard to the financial arrangements of the Bill. I do not put it in the nature of captious criticism. I know a matter of this kind is exceedingly complicated, and, after endeavouring to get at the meaning of these Financial Clauses, the more I study them the more I marvel at the wonderful success with which the Government has solved a very intricate and difficult problem. My remarks are purely by way of making certain that this Bill shall go up to the House of Lords quite watertight, so that, in the case of further developments on federal lines, we shall not be faced with the failure or disaster of the Irish scheme. The finance, as I understand it, is all right for times of peace—for ordinary times. But I think there is heed to make some slight provision in the Bill, for exceptional occasions, such as war or periods of unemployment. Assume for a moment that we are at war, and have been for some years, with a Great Power. It is necessary, for three years in succession, to put on a considerable increase of taxation—to add to the Income Tax, which is usually considered to be the War Tax. As the provisions of the Bill stand now this would happen. The paying of this huge tax for the special purposes of the war for three years in succession would give ground for a claim by the Irish people, certified by the Exchequer Board, to apply for a revision of the finances of the country. I do not think the Government can intend that. They may say that it will be open to Parliament to refuse it, and to declare that it was abnormal expenditure and ought therefore not to be taken into consideration. But I think, in setting up your finances, it would be very much better if words could be devised and put in to make it perfectly clear that it is a normal increase of taxation, and not an abnormal increase of an Imperil character like this, in an emergency such as war, that entitles the putting forward of a claim for revision.
Let me put it in another way. Supposing this country had a very bad period of unem- 404 ployment. Let us assume that there has been war going on on the Continent in which we were not engaged as belligerents but through which, as neutrals, we suffered considerably, as our industries did during the Napoleonic period. Suppose there was an exceptional period of unemployment and the Government found it necessary to raise £5,000,000. Let us assume that the Government proceeded to raise it by Income Tax. In that case it might happen that Ireland, being mainly rural and agricultural, would not have that tremendous unemployment that may exist here owing to our manufactures—cotton, iron, steel, and coal—being held up. Is it perfectly clear, as the Bill now stands, that, in a case of that kind, when you put 2d. or more on the Income Tax, you are not going to levy it in Ireland? Personally, I think you would be bound to do so, on the speeches made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the financial representative of the Government in the course of this Debate. The intention of the Government, I take it, with regard to Income Tax, is always to endeavour to keep it uniform. I understand there is an Amendment clown with the object of securing that the Income Tax shall be uniform, because, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out, great difficulty might arise if there were different rates of Income Tax in this country and in Ireland. I take it in that case he would make the Income Tax level over Ireland as well as England. Then I suppose the Government would say we should proceed as we do at present. If Ireland does not need that money for the specific object for which we need it, we can give her the money as an equivalent, the same as now. If we raise money by general taxation now for any purposes limited to England and Wales, we always make it over by the system of equivalents. But there is nothing in the Bill to meet that point, and I think it would be much better for Ireland, if it is intended to continue this system of equivalent in connection with general Imperial taxes, to put it into the Bill.
There is one other point of detail upon which I am not clear. Of course there may be nothing in it. It is with regard to the drafting of Clause 14. First of all, the Clause begins by saying that there shall be separate Consolidated Funds, and that certain things shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom. Then it proceeds in Sub-section 405 (3) to say that any charge on the Consolidated Fund for these services shall cease. It may be a matter of drafting, but it appears to me, as they stand, that the two things are mutually destructive and contradictory. Of course, the Government will say it is intended to refer to different things, but I do not think that is clear in the drafting. I wanted to put these points to the Posmaster-General in the hope that by the time we come to the Clause they will have been considered. I will now go back to what I said before, that, in view of the intricacies that inevitably arise in a case like this, I believe that the Government scheme is really most remarkable in its watertight character.
I will finish up by referring to the last argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division when hammering away at the old thing. We have heard over and over again that Ireland should not be given this subsidy, as it is called, if she is going away from us, and if she is going to endeavour to solve her own difficulties in her own way. Incidentally I may remark that everybody hopes she will succeed in solving them better than we have done. But it is suggested that when she is going away like that she should go without a subsidy; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour), in his speech, emphasised that point, and said: "Let Ireland pay her own Income Tax, and not expect us to keep this deficit going." In the practice of life and in all kinds of professions and trades there are two classes of people dealing with situations of this character. It is a common thing in every-day life, in almost every profession and in almost every trade, for a young man connected with a firm to wish to set up in a partnership of his own. It is always within the power of the seniors of the firm to treat that young man in a niggardly way, to harass and hamper him, and to send him out without any help at all. But there are honourable exceptions. There are cases in every profession and in every trade where charitableness is shown and a young man going out on his own is helped by his seniors in many ways. The difference between us on this side and hon. Members on the other side of the House is that we are going to let Ireland start in a partnership of her own, and we are going to do it handsomely and charitably, and not in the mean and niggardly spirit suggested by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The hon. Member who last spoke challenged us to say how it would be possible for the Irish Parliament to impose differential taxation upon political opponents. That special point of view does not appeal to me. I am not specially concerned with Ulster or with the Irish minority. My objections are based on broad Imperial grounds. I would have the hon. Member remember that there is a triple division in Ireland; there is the racial division, the religious division, and the division between country and town, and, to a very great extent, although they are cross divisions, they do very largely coincide. Any tax which predominantly affects the urban population would be a tax which predominantly hit the Irish minority. It is easy to conceive such a tax as an Inhabited House Duty, with abatements for rural districts. Other taxes of a like nature might be imposed. When you give power to tax you may trust the ingenuity of the majority to use it in the way that suits best the interests of that majority, just as we know it has been, and may still be, the practice of the majority here. I do not want to dwell very largely upon that point. I should like to say how very much interested I was in one or two remarks made by the Postmaster-General earlier in this Debate. He contemplates that it will be quite possible to adopt measures of fiscal retaliation against an Irish Parliament. Therefore he adopts this position, that although he will not take such measures against any other Parliament in the world, he is quite ready to take them, if it is necessary, in the case of the Irish Parliament.
I want to say a word about the deficit. Hon. Members have played with that question. Even the Solicitor-General spoke of it as if it were a matter of which this country should be ashamed. I see no ground for shame at all. If the deficit has been caused by, perhaps, unwise generosity, that may be a matter for the future, but there is nothing whatever to be ashamed of in the past. The deficit has only arisen since 1908. Up to that time there was, in spite of increased expenditure, a substantial surplus, but owing to the very lavish, I will not say wrongful, expenditure that has been made during the last few years, no doubt this nominal book deficit has arisen. If you were to make a ring round many other parts of the United Kingdom, you would perhaps find an even greater proportion of deficit. But I am not concerned with the deficit, for there is no real difficulty about it. We ought to 407 look upon it as if Imperial expenditure were wise, and you must not look so much to immediate results. If you want to develop your scarcely developed assets, the expenditure of money out of the common purse is well made for that purpose. As up to four years ago a surplus still existed in Ireland in spite of increased expenditure, so, under good government and a firm and impartial Imperial Government, we do hope, and believe, that even the lavish expenditure of the last few years may bring about fruit in time, and that a balance may be found from the wise application of Imperial money to those parts of the United Kingdom which for the moment are materially, and I say only materially, bankrupt. There is another point of view. The right hon. Gentleman and I entered our first Parliament together. He will remember the education controversy. What was the cry of every hon. Member at that time? They said, "No expenditure of public money without public control." Of course I dispute their relevancy in that matter, because I say there was public control, but, at any rate, that was their cry. In this case, surely, we have a right to say. "No expenditure of Imperial money without Imperial control." If Imperial money is spent and freely lavished on any part of the United Kingdom, it ought to be a principle of sound finance that Imperial control follows from it. Therefore, we say we have an ample answer to all these taunts about the deficit. We are not ashamed of the deficit; we believe it will extinguish itself, but we say we have the right to follow our money, in whatever part of the United Kingdom it is to be spent.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Does the hon. Member suggest that the money to be spent by the Trish Government is not Irish money?
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Yes, I do say it will not be Irish money, to a great extent, because yon are not cutting your loss, but stereotyping your loss. I want to take for a moment another point. I am not very much concerned with the minutæ of the question as to whether the Bill allows of practical direct Protection or not. They are very nice and rather small points in the main, and I do not care whether Sir Thomas Pittar or the right hon. Gentleman's present advisers be in the right about them. I maintain that whether the Bill admits of practical direct Protection or not, it does admit of indirect Protection 408 to an almost unlimited extent. Let me say a word or two upon the question of bounties. The right hon. Gentleman says, they are prohibited by Sub-section (7) of Clause 2. That Sub-section provides that the Irish Parliament shall not make laws affecting trade with any place out of Ireland, except so far as trade may be affected by the exercise of the powers of taxation given to the Irish Parliament. I understand the right hon. Gentleman says, that those words would prohibit bounties on export. First of all, the reservation is not quite clear on that point, because when you talk about the powers of taxation given to the Irish Parliament there is also the power of remitting taxation. I do not believe that anybody reading those worlds, which were never discussed, here, would say that they prohibit bounties on export. I should say that taking these words alone I should very much doubt whether the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council would say that those words in themselves were sufficient. Those words all hang on the question of the powers as to lawmaking. It is all subject to the words in Clause 2:—
"The Irish Parliament shall have power to make laws…with the following limitations, namely.…that they shall not have power to make laws in respect of the following matters in particular."
And in Sub-section (7) it is provided they are not to make laws affecting trade with any place out of Ireland. But bounties on exports may be given without any such law at all. Suppose the Irish Government were to set up a Development Commission on the model of the Development Commission here, and were to vote them every year, or, perhaps, by one Act, sums to be expended in fostering Irish trade at their discretion, and the Development Commissioners, in virtue of their rights, were, under that name or any other, to arrange with certain industries that they should have assistance in proportion to the amount of goods that they were to send out of Ireland. That would not be a law relating to trade out of Ireland; it would be a law setting up the Development Commission, and putting them in certain funds. The application of those funds would be in the hands of the Commissioners, and if they chose by bounty or some other title to make Grants of that description, you will have a full-grown system of bounties, in complete evasion of what the Postmaster-General says is the purpose of the Bill. 409 The matter does not rest there. If you turn to Clauses 15 and 17, you have there no check whatever against a system of Protection. Sub-section (3) of Clause 17 says that if the proceeds of an Irish Supertax—I am not talking of the Income Tax, but of an extra tax—exceed one-tenth of the proceeds of the same tax as an Imperial tax, then the excess is to be counted as an Imperial tax. The question here is of the proceeds and not of the rate—a very important distinction. You might, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, so arrange that you would have a tax of a very high amount which would not increase the proceeds. All taxes have a certain point of greatest productiveness, wherever it is to be found, and the Irish Parliament under the third Sub-section of Clause 17 might screw up their extra tax to a point at which its productiveness would not be increased over the extra tenth, perhaps to the point of prohibition and of actual diminution in the yield. Therefore, that by itself is no safeguard against protected duties. Of course the Postmaster-General will refer me back to paragraph (d) of Clause 15 about countervailing Excise. I submit that countervailing Excise can be knocked all to pieces in a dozen different ways. By Clause 17, Sub-section (2), you could increase the Customs Duty, to the point almost of prohibition; at any rate you could absolutely evade the safeguard in that Clause, and then under general powers you could knock the countervailing Excise out altogether. One way in which it might be done is by freeing a particular industry from local taxation. Another is by the plain method of giving bounties on production and not on export, which it is admitted is possible. Or again, you might grant a rebate of special taxation affecting that particular industry. You would have the Customs Duty you can get under Clause 17, and the effect of the countervailing Excise completely neutralised by grants or reliefs or exemptions in one form or another and thereby you can establish, under these Clauses taken together, a most complete system of Protection.
I think it is necessary to say a word about the effect of the reserved services under Sub-section (4) of Clause 17. That Sub-section provides that when any reserved service is transferred to the Government of Ireland the Transferred Sum shall be increased by such sum as may be determined by the Joint Exchequer Board 410 to represent the equivalent of any saving to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, and in determining that equivalent regard shall be had to the prospect of any increase or decrease in the cost of that service which may be expected to arise from causes not being matters of administration. These reserved services for some years, it is true, will be under the Imperial Government, but it will be the interest of the Irish Government not to do anything which may diminish the cost of those services in the meantime. Take the case of the constabulary. It will be the interest of the Irish Government to make out a case, and the same will apply to old age pensions, that owing to the needs of the country the Grant which shall accompany the transfer of that service shall not in any way be diminished. So far from having an incentive to economy, it will be to their interest all along to prove that in connection with these services there is likely to be an increase, and they will do everything in their power to make out a case that that increase will be needed when the transfer takes place and when they have got the service transferred and the price paid for the transfer, perhaps based on an increase in the service, it will then be in their power to switch off a great part of the revenue they have obtained from the Treasury of the United Kingdom and apply it to some entirely different purpose, so that we shall be paying money over for one purpose without any guarantee that it may not be immediately diverted to another, which perhaps we should not approve.
I do not want to allude at length to operations under Clause 26, but it is just questions of the kind that arise under that Clause which have caused the greatest difficulties in some foreign countries. I do not want to allude to one, the mention of which always makes the Postmaster-General smile; but take Austria-Hungary alone. There is the question of the "Ausgleich" that comes up there at recurrent intervals which is always a cause of the greatest embarrassment to both Governments. It may be tided over for the time, but it always arises again. That and the military question are two standing permanent causes of weakness which deprive the Austro-Hungarian Empire of an enormous degree of its strength throughout Europe, and yet it is just a question like this that you are putting into this Bill. I think it is pretty well admitted that there is no possible basis for a federal system in finance under this Bill. Could 411 you have four Exchequer Boards, and if you did, would you have to have a super-Board to control the operations of those four, and are you to have cross entries between the different parts of the United Kingdom? In ascertaining true revenue you only have to ascertain it as between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, but if you had four countries with separate Parliaments you would have to have cross entries between each of them. You would have to know how much Irish whisky was consumed in Wales. You would have entries as between Ireland and Wales, as between Scotland and Wales, as between Ireland and Scotland and the rest. It is really unthinkable that you could build up a federal system on the lines of this Bill. If so, it ought to be frankly, as it has been tacitly, admitted that neither in finance nor in any other part of the structure of this Bill have you the smallest foundation for the federal system that is vaunted from your platforms. Is it in human nature that any of these countries will be content with lesser powers than you have given them in the first instance? If that be so, why do you not say at once that from historical reasons perhaps, or from your own necessities, you mean to treat Ireland separately, differentially and preferentially? Then we should know where we are. Let us have no more of this cant of federalism. The one weakness that you find in many great Powers arises from financial difficulties owing to federalism. The great weakness of Germany arises from their federal system in finance. Quite lately when they were in the throes of a financial crisis they could only raise the money by special and very invidious taxation because of the separate rights and powers possessed by the different States of that Empire. What has been a necessity for them you are deliberately creating for us, and of all the points of view from which you may regard this Bill I regard it first and foremost as a source, mainly through finance, of Imperial weakness which when the hour of our danger comes may be only too fatal to our prosperity.
§ Mr. GODFREY COLLINS
I have listened closely to the whole of the criticism and to all the financial debate, and I think I am correct when I state that the critics on the other side have failed to place their finger on one vital spot in the financial scheme which is fatal to that scheme. Hon. Members on this side have undoubtedly taken exception to the powers 412 given to Ireland in connection with the Custom House, but undoubtedly the criticism from that side has been that when the Bill becomes law it will stop the free spending of British money in Ireland. Fear has been raised that Ireland will lag behind in the race. The free spending of money in commercial enterprises, especially by those who have not had the responsibility of raising the money, often brings commercial enterprises to ruin. It saps the spirit of caution, care, and good management which is vital to success. So also the pouring of British money into Ireland will not make for the continued and ultimate prosperity of Ireland. It can only come through the Irish people developing the spirit of self-reliance which comes from giving them internal control over their own matters. I have intense admiration for the financial machinery of the Home Rule Bill, and I would like to pay my respects to the ingenuity shown by the Postmaster-General. It seems to me that I can describe the financial machinery under three heads. It is first of all politically one; secondly, economically sound; and, thirdly, financially safe. The machinery is like a modern smooth-running machine which will do its work with ease and simplicity. The changes in the future are foreseen and allowed for until the time when Ireland will be able to pay a contribution to the Imperial Exchequer. Any attempt to solve that problem now would, in my opinion, be bad, not only for Great Britain but for Ireland as well. It would be bad for Ireland to saddle the new Irish Parliament not only with the high cost of financing the transferred services, but to share with us the heavy Imperial expenditure at the moment. It would also be bad for Great Britain, because this country would have to take into consideration the fact of the heavy deficit incurred in financing purely Irish services at the present moment.
Strong objection has been taken on this side of the House especially to the restricted freedom given to Ireland in connection with the Customs and Excise. In my opinion, if Ireland is to work out her own economic salvation, two factors are necessary to success—namely, first, that the Irish Parliament must develop a keen sense of responsibility, and, secondly, the rewards of economical administration must be conveyed by reduced taxation to the people of Ireland. In other words, responsibility and economy can only be developed to their full extent by granting to Ireland some measure of control over Customs and 413 Excise. It has been argued times without number that the taxing powers given to Ireland are incompatible with the federal plan. There is no cut-and-dried scheme which is in working order in other parts of the world which can be applied to the problems before this House. The problems this House is dealing with are different in a marked degree from the problems which have faced other federal States in the past, and it has been frequently shown that- Customs and Excise are the only methods by which revenue can be raised in Ireland. The financial powers conceded to Ireland, speaking as a Scotch Member, do not prejudice or prejudge the question in any degree so far as Scotland is concerned. Each must be examined strictly on its own merits. To give legislative power to Ireland without conferring fiscal power is to my mind of little value.
Broadly speaking, the controversies which engage this House are centred around finance. Both sides of the House, broadly speaking, are agreed as to the Army and Navy question, and as to the questions of old age pensions, national insurance, and education, but acute differences occur when the question arises as to who will shoulder the burden. Finance and land are known to be the dividing line between parties, not only in this country, but in every civilised State in the world. The land question is a reserved service, and so finance will be the one great dividing line between the great political parties in Ireland when the Government of Ireland Bill becomes law. If this be so, to give Ireland legislative power without some measure of financial power would be incompatible with sound policy. The Irish people, unless they are to have control over Customs and Excise, will have no local control or power over finance. The Irish representatives in future would have less inducement to economy, and, what is even of more importance, if they are anxious to pass some measure of social reform, they will not have the power to raise the necessary revenue, and the only way they could do that would be to press this House to raise Imperial taxes so that Ireland may have a further sum of money to finance a scheme of social reform. I have endeavoured to show, for these several reasons, that the scheme is politically wise.
May I try to show that the scheme is economically sound? During the last ten years this House has been very willing to help Ireland financially, but British methods of finance tend to demoralise Ireland. Under the Bill Ireland will face 414 her own financial responsibilty, and pay her way in the future. She has been taunted that she requires a subsidy to start her government. Why! it cost Great Britain £15,000,000, or a yearly burden for all time of £450,000, to blot out one bad law—the law regarding land tenure in Ireland. That sum went to one class of the community in Ireland—an absentee class. If Great Britain is willing, as I have shown she is, to pay that sum to blot out one bad law, how much more should she be willing to-blot out the bad alien administration that has existed for centuries? The placing of the burden of the transferred services upon the Irish people is economically sound. Lord MacDonnell, in a letter to-the Press the other day, took exception to-the Transferred Sum being a fixed sum. He expressed fears that the new Irish Parliament would be short of money, and he-pleaded that the Transferred Sum should be increased yearly, as the taxes in Ireland were more profitable. I have, in reply to-a question to the Postmaster-General, had supplied to me figures showing the cost of the transferred services during the last ten years. The transferred services during that period have not increased largely in cost except under two heads. The two services which have increased have been public education and the Congested Districts Board. No one on this side wants to see the transferred services starved in any way, but cannot we reasonably anticipate a decrease in the cost of the other transferred services, to pay for the increasing cost of the education and other services?
The Imperial Exchequer shoulders the burden of old age pensions, land purchase, and national insurance. Is it an unreasonable thing to ask Ireland to face the burden, if any, in the increased cost of the transferred services? As the Transferred Sum is not to be reduced through lower taxation, are we not entitled to ask Ireland to hand over the surplus, if any, through the growing produce of the present taxation, towards the Imperial Exchequer? In other words, Ireland cannot ask for the increase without sharing the loss. She cannot have it both ways, and it seems to me that the present arrangement is eminently fair to Ireland and to Great Britain as well. As Ireland increases in prosperity, she will be paying a growing sum towards Imperial expenditure. Her position to-day is in marked contrast to the position of our self-governing Colonies, who are to-day with us 415 sharing the common burden of Empire as a result of self-government; and this Bill is not worth fighting for unless it tends to make Ireland a self-supporting country, to share with us the burden of Imperial expenditure. Hon. Members opposite are solicitous for the British taxpayer. Every argument and objection which they advance against us strikes back with greater force against them if the present system continues, for even if Ireland does not pay anything towards the Imperial Exchequer in the future she will pay her own way. My last point is that the scheme is financially safe. I believe that the failure to realise this is the principal objection which people in England and other parts of the country have against the Home Rule Bill. Many of my Friends have told me that they are afraid as to the financial position of Ireland in the future. I shall endeavour, by strict and close analysis of the experience gained in Ireland during the last ten years, to show that this House should have no fear as to the financial future of Ireland.
The Leader of the Opposition has frequently criticised the Financial Clauses, and his argument is that when the Irish Parliament is set up the Irish peasants, through their representatives, will force taxation upon the shoulders of the people of Ulster; that, in other words, they will refuse to pay their fair share of taxation, and will ask the manufacturing districts in the north to pay more than they should pay. If this is the character of the Irish peasant, as conceived by hon. Members opposite, they had no justification in pledging Imperial credit to the extent of £100,000,000 for land purchase. This money was advanced to the people on the value of the land and on their common sense and common honesty. What has happened since 1903 to make the party opposite think that the Irish people today are either rogues or fools? During the last nine years experience in Ireland has pointed to exactly the opposite conclusion. During that time £4,000,000 has been repaid by 160,000 peasant proprietors, and only £28,000 have remained unpaid. Ask any business man the world over, whether he could show such a strict payment of money by any body of men in the world, and he will tell you that there is no body of men in the world who pay their debts more faithfully than these Irish peasants have done during the last nine years.
416 The Leader of the Opposition in his speech in the Albert Hall, described the Government as a Government of gamblers and adventurers. We might reply that if we are gamblers, we gamble in good company. He also stated in this House on the 7th November, that now we are gambling on the continuance of good government in Ireland. This Bill can be a gamble only if the people in Ireland are either rogues or fools. If they are, I say that hon. Members opposite had no justification for pledging the Imperial Exchequer to the extent of £100,000,000 for land purchase. The policy of the party opposite, which is dependent upon the common sense and honesty of the Irish people when brought in by themselves is wise and statesmanlike, but the very same policy depending upon the common sense and honesty of the Irish people when brought in by this side of the House, is a gamble in the very worst sense of the word. From the experience of the last nine years there is no justification whatever for the wild and extreme statements made by the Leader of the Opposition, either in this House or elsewhere. The Leader of the Opposition told us of his alternative policy in connection with the Home Rule Bill. He offers British gold with one hand and threats with the other, and his appeal is to the worst passion in human nature, the passion of human greed. In this connection there is the quotation from the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) in 1885, which we can now turn to our own advantage:—Is Ulster's patriotism a plant of such sickly growth that it has to be watered with British gold.I have endeavoured to establish three propositions: The scheme is politically wise, economically sound, and financially safe, but after having studied for some time the financial position in Ireland, I go so far as to say that it is the business of statesmen in this House not to wait for Ireland to press this claim of Home Rule upon this House, but rather that this House should press the claim for Home Rule upon the attention of the Irish people.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I regret very much that I cannot appear before the House as being in any way an expert on financial matters. I take it from the hon. Member who has just addressed us that he must be so, because he said that this is the most financially sound scheme that could possibly be designed. In fact, he almost led 417 me to believe from the panegyrics which he pronounced upon it, that he was quite satisfied that the Postmaster-General and all his colleagues in relation to this scheme had shown an omniscience that made them worthy of even higher positions than those which they occupy in this House. He paid a tribute—to which, I think, we all willingly accede—to the Postmaster-General for his ingenuity. So far as the ingenuity is concerned, its effect upon me is that it is an ingenuity which seemed to cast the whole of this mystery of finance between my country and Great Britain into a greater mystery than I had ever known it before. But, after all, the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I am sure, if I say that I am not in the least led away by the prophetic pronouncements and the cock-sureness of either himself, the Postmaster-General, or the Solicitor-General in relation to all the benefits that are going to accrue to Ireland from the finance of this Home Rule Bill. I always notice that so far as Ireland is concerned the Government never allow an Irishman on that bench to speak. They have distinguished Irishmen in the Government, and up to the present moment neither of them has got up to bear out those great prophecies. They always prefer to leave the matter to somebody who can talk of an ideal rather than a real Ireland. The Solicitor-General and Postmaster-General got up and told us that really Ireland' is a place that we do not understand at all: that it is a kind of place in which, above all things, you want complicated and intricate finance, and the very simplicity of its being connected with the United Kingdom and with a richer partner is the one thing in the past which has been entirely to the detriment of Ireland. I do not believe a word of it, and I will tell you why.
I listened to all those arguments, all those prophecies, and all this same cock-sureness, when the Bill of 1893 was before the House of Commons. We were going to have a millennium in Ireland—there was to be so much gold in Ireland that really it would be a place which would compare favourably with Klondike or some other place where people could dig up gold with a spade. We heard all that twenty years ago. What has happened? There is not a man who has studied the finance of the Home Rule Bill of 1893 who would now confess that if the finance of the Bill of 1893 had been applied to Ireland, Ireland instead of progressing, as is admitted by everyone, beyond other countries, would 418 long since have been in a state of bankruptcy, from which this country could not have been relieved of its obligation to a country connected with it so nearly as is Ireland. That is not all. In the old discussions upon the finance of Home Rule we were always told that the one complaint against England was that it paid too little out of the National Exchequer to Ireland. I remember speeches, hour after hour in this House, on the monstrous injustice of the amount that England paid back out of the National Exchequer towards Ireland. What is the complaint now? That England pays too much to her and you can never satisfy her. I certainly was surprised when I heard hon. Members from my own country below the Gangway cheering the sentiment of the Solicitor-General this afternoon when he complained that Ireland was getting too much, and when he actually put forward as a proposition that Ireland, though paying the same taxes, was not entitled to the same treatment as was given to the other parts of the United Kingdom.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir J. SIMON
That was not my proposition at all. My proposition, be it right or wrong, is that it by no means follows, as I think had been urged by the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), that because the rate of taxation was the same for the two communities that the two communities are necessarily bearing the same burdens.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I think it does. I think it comes exactly to the same thing; but, at all events, I do not want to quarrel with the hon. and learned Gentleman now. But I will put this to him: Does he deny that, so long as Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, and Ireland is paying the same taxes, she is entitled to exactly the same treatment as any other part of the United Kingdom? I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman that question.
§ Sir J. SIMON
And I answer by saying that the circumstance that the same taxes exacted from the communities by no means proves that Irishmen have been overtaxed.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I do not think that is an answer to my question. My question is a very simple one, and the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to give me an 419 answer, because it is the basis of a great deal of the argument on this subject. My simple question is this, and for twenty years in this House I have never heard it disputed before, nor do I believe it has been disputed for sixty years, that so long as Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, so long as Ireland pays the same taxes as are levied in this country, is she not entitled to the same treatment as England is? If the hon. and learned Gentleman denies that, I would like him to refer to any authority on finance from the time Mr. Gladstone put the Income Tax on Ireland down to the present time which would show that there ever was or ought to be, with regard to the Common Exchequer, a differentiation between the different parts of the United Kingdom.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Both the Commission of 1896 and the Primrose Committee agreed in saying that apart, altogether from any question of political readjustment, or the granting of Home Rule, they were satisfied that on purely financial grounds there ought to be a readjustment between England and Ireland.
§ Sir E. CARSON
On what ground? Not on the ground that Ireland is getting too much, but on the ground that Ireland was getting too little.
§ Sir J. SIMON dissented.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Yes; Ireland as a taxable entity was overtaxed. That was their case, so long as they paid the same taxes and were taxed in the same way, and by the same method. I am surprised lion. Members below the Gangway cheered the hon. and learned Gentleman, who is the first to say that Ireland was receiving too much, or would in future receive too much from the United Kingdom. [An HON. MEMBER: "He never said anything of the sort."] I join issue with the hon. and learned Gentleman over that. I say there is no foundation for it, and I say further that the one great advantage of a United Kingdom is that you have one simple system of taxation for the whole country and that you do not discriminate because there happens to be in any part of that United Kingdom an aggregation of less wealthy people, you do not discriminate against them and single them out from the rest of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, and say, "You are not to get this or you are not 420 to get that, because you happen to be there together a number of poorer people who have not contributed as large sums to the revenue as other people in the more wealthy parts of the United Kingdom." I would like to know how far that argument is to go as regards this Home Rule Bill. If it is shown that certain comities in Ulster pay their full share to the Imperial Exchequer and have no deficit, are you going to break up Ireland into two taxable entities, and are you going to say separate treatment ought to be given to Ulster because they are the wealthier part and ought to be segregated from the poorer part. No, the argument will not hold good for a moment.
I would advise the hon. and learned Gentleman when he is studying this question the next time a Home Rule Bill is brought forward in this House, to go over to Clare and Galway, where he will be very welcome I have no doubt, if he gets an introduction from hon. Members below the Gangway, and let him institute a series of lectures and let him put out as his placards a full statement of what he is going to do: "The Member for Walthamstow (Sir J. Simon) (as I cannot mention his name) will to-night deliver a lecture to the United Irish League and the Ancient Order of Hibernians to explain to them how improper it is that the Exchequer of the United Kingdom should pay such large sums of money to Ireland or should go on paying them in future." The whole of this question as regards the over-contribution from England to Ireland is an absolute matter of hypocrisy so far as Ireland is concerned. You are saying all this, and you know it, for the purpose of trying to persuade the English elector, and you dare not go and say it throughout Ireland. You dare not go and explain it to them in Ireland. Recollect, if this Bill passes, Ireland will be poorer in future than she would have been if she had remained an integral part of the United Kingdom. So far as the expenditure upon Ireland is concerned, I do not think there is anybody who will deny that the money spent in Ireland during the last twenty years has been productive of of the greatest possible benefit to that country. My own grief in the matter as regards the finances of this Bill is that you are going to stop all that, and that you are avowing you are going to stop it, and openly saying you are going to stop it. In the few observations which I intend to make what I intend to ask is this simple question, and 421 I think I have a right to do so as it is a view which I do not think has been put before. I want to put the view of the Unionists in Ireland who loathe Home Rule and detest it, and to whom the granting of Home Rule is not a concession to so-called national sentiment, but a concession to something that they loathe and detest. I know hon. Members below the Gangway say, "We are willing to accept this or any other financial arrangement because you satisfy our sentiment." And I think they also know that under the provisions of this Bill when it comes to the point they will be able to sell their forty-two votes in this House to the best advantage to get anything they have not got under this Bill. That is their position. They are quite satisfied, or they profess to be
When hon. Members below the Gangway come forward and say that their great desire is to save the British taxpayer in future, I am bound to say I do not believe them, but I admit that they get a concession and I can very well understand that men holding a national demand, as it is called, or national aspirations, may be quite willing financially to sell their country for the purpose of the gratification of a sentiment, or, as I think some of them have said, they prefer to go in rags to satisfy their sentiment. They get that much under the Bill anyway. What I want to ask is this: What do the Unionists get who hate sentiment and have to take the finance of this Bill as well? What I want in the few moments at my disposal, is to compare what we have at present and what we are going to get, and when I have compared them I will put this question to the House: Is there anyone here who has followed this finance, and has taken the trouble to understand the position of Ireland under the Union, and the position that it will have when this Home Rule, passes, who will be able to tell me or those who think with me, and who loathe this concession to sentiment, that they will be in any way as regards finance in anything but an inferior position under this Home Rule Bill. If that is all you have to offer to the people of the North of Ireland, who after all are the only people in Ireland who have created industries—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!" and an HON. MEMBER: "What about Guinness?"]—the only people in Ireland, then I should like to ask what is the position of those men who are not only to have every one of their sentiments outraged, but who are going to be kicked out of a position of 422 which they are proud, and who are going to be told, "You must not only go out under those circumstances, but be put in a position which will make you financially poorer than you are at present." What have we got at the present moment? We have the same right as the people have in this country to share in the general prosperity of the United Kingdom. The Solicitor-General may say that we have not the technical right; but we have it as a matter of fact. Nobody can deny that we have it, and nobody can deny that that is what we are asked to give up. What is your answer? It is: "We must cut our losses." The very answer that you give shows that you intend to take something away from us. What is that something? If we were allowed to go on as citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever prosperity or social reform there is in the future for this country would have to be shared by the people in Ireland. That is what we are asked to give up. What we are told is: "Cut yourselves off from the richer partner; go and flourish on your own poor resources, and be happier than you are at present." It is no use the Solicitor-General shaking his head; that is the meaning of cutting the loss.
§ Sir J. SIMON
That is not my answer at all. My answer is this: Is it the position of the Unionist party that Home Rule means that the British taxpayer is going to pay too much or too little?
§ Sir E. CARSON
That is not the meaning when the Solicitor-General says. "Cut the loss." He knows it is not, and I hope he will not interrupt me unless he answers my question. What are we going to get, from the Unionist point of view, if we give all that up? Certainly nothing financially. And we are not going to share in the satisfaction of a sentiment. Can anybody point out a single advantage that we are going to get by being cut off from this country? I have asked that question over and over again, but have never yet got an answer. [An HON. MEMBER: "And never will."] I will tell you what we are going to get. We shall get these various services paid for mainly out of Irish money, except to the extent of £2,000,000. [A laugh.] I do not know what that laugh is for. We are going to have a stereotyped sum calculated at a particular date. I suppose that those who laugh have never taken the trouble to read the Report of the Commissioners of Education in Ireland. They are only anxious to get rid of us and 423 to cut the loss. They have never read the careful calculation in that Report of the automatic increases which must necessarily accrue from year to year if elementary education, all too poor as it is, is to be kept in any kind of efficient condition. The Commissioners ask how this automatic expenditure is to be met under the finance of the Bill and with a stereotyped sum. What do you care? All you want is to grant Home Rule, because you have to, and you know it. What next do we get? We are no longer to share in the general prosperity of this country. Perhaps you think that in Ireland there are large numbers of millionaires to be taxed? Perhaps you think Ireland is a place which has great resources of iron, coal, and so on. Everybody knows that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to attempt to-morrow, in Ireland, to raise a new tax, he would have nothing on earth to tax except the land—unless he was to be unfair to the industries in the North of Ireland which you are always telling us are not to be unduly taxed. How could he tax the land? There is a mortgage on the land to the last shilling for the purpose of paying the instalments, and to tax it would be to imperil the very security upon which the British taxpayer is relying for the purpose of being paid back.
What else have we to give up? We are giving up, by a special Section of your Act, loans from the Public Works Loan Commissioners, and out of the local loan fund, which have been a great advantage to the farmers in Ireland. At the present time £23,000,000 are outstanding, borrowed for the purpose of improving the farms and holdings of the people in Ireland. We are bound to give that up. We lose all our power of borrowing on Imperial credit. Above all, we submit ourselves, as an equivalent for all that, to the taxation of two partners. I am bound to admit myself, much as I have looked into this Bill, that I did not appreciate, until I heard the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night, that it was the determination, or, at all events, the intention, of this Parliament to go on taxing Ireland for Imperial purposes. I have since looked into the thing, and it is quite clear that it is so. I do not think it is very honestly expressed in the Bill. I doubt very much whether it is very much understood in Ireland. I notice that the White Paper says, "That the Bill makes no specific reference to the powers of the 424 Imperial Parliament to levy taxation in Ireland: the provision in Clause 1 says that the supreme power and authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall remain unaffected, and that that Parliament shall retain the existing power of the Imperial Parliament in this respect."
I do not think that is a very candid way to put it. Where are we? We give up all the benefits we have at the present time for no purpose that I can see—at all events, from the Unionist point of view. We are giving up all these; we are to go on with more taxes; and we are not to get the same benefit in increased prosperity as the rest of the United Kingdom. That we give up, and all the other matters I have stated. In addition to that, we are to be subject to taxes by the Irish Parliament. Is it any wonder that the general council of county councils who met in Ireland say—In our opinion increased taxation is the keynote of the Bill.That is the truth of the matter. There is nothing at all in this Bill for Unionists to look at or to comfort themselves with, assuming that it passes, except that which the council of the county councils say. Do you really think that any such system as that can be a durable system in Ireland? I have taken the trouble to look into, and to try and find out, so far as one could ascertain from the public Press, what is the opinion as regards this taxation in Ireland. I do not know whether hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have taken the trouble to do that. They probably say to themselves it is quite sufficient that Nationalist Members below the Gangway accept the provisions of the Bill. It may be so. They would accept anything so long as they got a Home Rule Bill with such provisions in it as will enable them to be masters in this House, and to get more when they want it. But examine the statements of people who have considered finance in Ireland. The general council of the county councils disapprove of the Bill; they are all Nationalists—the Unionists did not vote. The Primrose Committee disapproves of the Bill; so much do they disapprove of it that you would not even let us see the evidence given before them. The All-for-Ireland League disapproves of the Bill, and have called it falsehood and fraud from beginning to end. I have looked into the statements of every expert that I could find—men like Professor Oldham, Mr. Erskine Childers, who has taken a 425 great interest in this Home Rule Bill, and has written some very clever things about it, Professor Kettle, who was a Member of this House—and there is not a single one of those who does not declare that the finance of the Bill is unsound, and that it would not be possible to run Ireland except with fiscal autonomy; and I agree with them. I have said over and over again, in this House and outside this House, that you never can run Ireland, or any other country, unless you leave them to choose their own way for raising their own taxation. Every one of those men disapproves of it. Why then do you persist in it? I find one gentleman at a conference a short time ago said:—The power of fixing Irish taxes must belong either to the British or the Irish Parliament, but it cannot belong to both.I believe he was perfectly accurate. But what is it you are setting up? You are setting up a fiscal system which has not the approval of anyone in Ireland. Hon. Members below the Gangway cannot pledge Ireland; they cannot pledge the people who will have to pay the taxes in the future; they cannot pledge people who tell you that the system you are setting up is impossible, and that another system, that of fiscal autonomy, is the only possible one. If they did pledge them, or try to pledge them, why even in practice it would bring down itself, because it is an impossible system. The sole reason why you bring in your scheme in its present form is because you want to try and give these people who raise this point something, and at the same time you want to try and carry out the pledges or statements made during elections, whether by-elections, or in some cases at the General Election, as regards the question of finance. The Secretary of State for War said, over and over again, that they never could concede this question of Customs. So did the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. So did the right hon. Gentleman who is at present Minister for Agriculture say. So did the Scottish Solicitor-General say in the late by-election at which he was so unfortunate. When he was put the question as regards the keeping of the Customs, "Are you going to hand over the Customs and Excise of Ireland to the Irish Members?" his answer was:—Sir Edward Carson said Mr. Gladstone had never made that proposal, neither had Mr. Asquith, nor, so far as he could make out, had anyone made the suggestion except Sir Edward Carson. He found there was a leaflet issued by the Nationalist party which contained the following statement regarding an Irish Parliament; 'A Home Rule Parliament will not be able to tax 426 British goods. That was official statement of the Nationalist party.'He was quite wrong, because it was the official statement of the Home Rule Council. Then the Scottish Solicitor-General was asked: "Are you going to give the same form of government as the Colonies?" and his answer was:—What were they going to do with Ireland? They were going to put it in exactly the same position as, for instance, British Columbia was to Canada.Your provision as to Customs in this Resolution does not, of course, part with the whole of the Customs. It only gives a sop, but you might as well give them the whole if what you are giving is going to set up a Customs barrier between the two countries. You might as well let them tax themselves in their own way, but you cannot do it because you could not get your own Members to follow you in such a policy. But you like to pretend in Ireland that you have satisfied the Irish experts, and you like to pretend in England that you have satisfied those who would not agree to give over the Customs and Excise. As regards these provisions, to my mind, to give up what we have got—I am talking now purely in reference to finance—without any consolation of any kind whatsoever, would seem to me, on the part of those who are the real business community in Ireland to be an act of simple madness and an act which must leave the most disastrous consequences to Ireland. I know it may be said—I think this was the purport of the remark some time ago by the Solicitor-General—are you arguing whether we are giving too much or too little? What I am arguing is that from our point of view you are putting us in an inferior and a worse position than we are at the present moment, and before you put us in a worse position you must give us some reason for it, and tell us of some counterbalancing advantage we are getting. You have never been able to tell us of a single advantage one way or the other. The reason you are putting us in a worse position is because you are not separating the two countries. It may be that you cannot give us more without separation. That is probably true. What does that mean? It means that we must either bear with this fantastic system of finance with all its intricacies between the two countries, and without a single counterbalancing advantage, or we must have separation. That is what it comes to. The examination of these provisions brings you round to the same conclusion that the examination of all the other provisions of 427 this Bill does, and that is there is no halfway house. It failed for that reason in 1886, and it failed again in 1893. These questions were insoluble by Mr. Gladstone, and, I believe, though I do not want to draw invidious comparisons, they are equally insoluble by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, or whoever is responsible for these provisions.
§ Sir W. BYLES
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not need to be reminded we passed Mr. Gladstone's Bill in 1893 through this House.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Because I know he is a little sore that he lost his seat over this question. I will pay him this compliment, that I have no doubt if he were Chancellor of the Exchequer he would solve the whole tiling at once. What is the result from the Unionist point of view? While you are hampering your own financial system—I do not think anybody can deny it—by the provisions of this Bill, and while you are hampering the Irish financial system, because, by preventing them from raising taxes in the way they think most suited to their own country, you are certainly hampering them, what is the benefit that results from it all to a Unionist in Ireland? None whatever. You will not have peace between the two countries because every line of this Bill has stamped across it the word "friction." If there is one thing which has stood forth more than anything else in these Debates it is that you are setting up one of the most com- 428 plicated systems of finance that has ever been provided in this or any other country. What is to come out of it for Ireland? The Solicitor-General is greatly pleased at the cutting of the loss. He is perfectly pleased at finding out that Ireland is no longer to get as much as she has had in the past. He is perfectly pleased at all this. What does all that come to? It comes to this, that the effort that has been made for twenty years to raise the standard in Ireland is to be now given up, and the Solicitor-General is satisfied because he cuts the loss. That may be very good argument; I doubt very much if it is statesmanship. It is not certainly what the Irish people have been led in their ignorance to believe is to be the result of this Home Rule Bill, and anybody who has conversed with the Irish people or had correspondence with them knows it is almost tragic to realise the hopes and expectations they have of the great pecuniary benefits that are going to result to them and the great economic progress that will ensue when this Bill passes. But the whole of that is now a myth and a dream. We are told by the Postmaster-General that at the very best with difficulty Ireland will be able to frame its Budget, and this is the great result of twenty years' agitation! There was a speech made by the junior Member for the City of Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) which is well worthy the attention of the House as showing the expectations that there are in Ireland under this Bill. Yet as one who has listened to this Debate and to the easy way in which the friends of Ireland opposite think of stopping the present policy towards which has brought her in the last twenty years into the condition she now is may well pause before they give out that they are no longer prepared to allow the money of the common exchequer to be advanced for the progress of Ireland. Hear what the hon. and learned Member said:—I do not believe an increase of taxation is practicable (that is, under the Bill). For my part, I have not the slightest ambition to be a member of the first Irish Ministry. I think they will have a most unpleasant time of it, because the whole course of our proceedings in Ireland have necessarily taken the form of magnifying to the people the great and good things which will follow after we have got Home Rule. We are Home Rulers, and we are bound to tell our people what is good for Ireland. Naturally we have created exaggerated explanations on the part of our people, and if we were to tell them that the great blessing which will result to Ireland will be that we shall have the power to tax ourselves as much as we like, it would create somewhat a revulsion of feeling. The average Irishman, as the result of a long course of oratory of a flamboyant character, has begun to believe that Home Rule will create a sort of Heaven.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
I have listened, as it was my duty to do, to the greater part of this Debate, and to almost all the speeches, and in many cases I was a large part of the audience. The notes I took and the attention I paid to all these speeches have been entirely useless for the purpose of replying to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, because while they with one accord made out that under the financial proposals of this Bill the unfortunate taxpayer of Great Britain is for ever to pay a perpetual subsidy to the Irish Government, while his industry and his wages are to be taxed in order to provide for this luxurious race that perpetual subsidy, and they on the other hand are to retain the privilege of sending some forty-two Members to this House—after all that has been rung into my head and my mind throughout the whole of this evening, then up jumps the hon. and learned Gentleman and makes a speech, a very powerful speech, which I only hope he will repeat verbatim the next time he addresses an English audience—it may be during a contested election—in order that they may fully grasp, as I am sure his one anxiety is that they should, the real inwardness of this iniquitous measure to his country, impoverishing it, and reducing it from the present place which it occupies, thanks apparently to Unionist generosity, and to all these Unionist gifts of land purchase and settlement of the agrarian question which have dropped from the auspicious blue of Tory generosity, but with no thanks whatsoever or reward for years of labour to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, many of whom, thanks to the energy of the right hon. Gentleman, know what it is to be inside a prison. I should be very glad indeed to think that the right hon. Gentleman was going to deliver the speech he has made to-day all over the country.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I was just going to say that, thanks to his excellent elocution and to his powers of clear exposition, we shall be able to circulate his speech, his admirable speech, as a complete and convincing answer to all those persons, of whom I confess I have come across a good many, who maintain that the really serious objection to our financial proposals is that they impose a perpetual contribution upon this country. [Interruption.] It is very often the case in party conflict 430 that each party is perfectly content with its own case. Therefore I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman, on thinking it over, will consider that he really ought not to leave the circulation of his excellent speech entirely to us, but that he ought to take every opportunity, when addressing an English audience, to deliver it all again, with his usual charm and with his knowledge of the Irish nation. [Interruption.] I can assure hon. Members opposite that if they do not wish to hear me, nothing will give me greater pleasure than to sit down.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I know that the right hon. Gentleman always, at all events, appears to listen, which is the most anybody has a right to expect. Listening as I have done now to I suppose the worst that can be said against our financial proposals—for we have had a duplicated debate, I am happy to say, in which the most distinguished, and, I must say, the most experienced of Home Rule orators, debaters and financial authorities have taken a part—I must say that until the right hon. Gentleman rose with his broad brush—for he always deals with these matters with a broad brush, and I like him none the worse for it—until he rose I confess that the criticism I was disposed to make on all the speeches I had heard was that, however great their cumulative effect might be—and I am not denying the effect of my opponents' oratory—the points taken one by one were individually somewhat small, and although good points enough, they did not strike me as besetting the case with greater difficulty than everybody beforehand knew must beset any such question. The points were made. We, of course, in our party ignorance, think the Postmaster-General and the Solicitor-General dealt very satisfactorily with those points. But do not imagine that I am going to put that case before you as one worthy of your acceptance. It is very difficult to put Home Rule into a Bill, and it is almost childishly easy—I often envy right hon. Gentlemen opposite the easiness of their task—to criticise it. Suppose we had thought it proper or becoming to criticise the Australian Constitution; it was open, like the human frame and everything else, to just animadversion. If the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) had chosen 431 to set their wits to work they would have had no difficulty whatsoever in pointing out many points in which that Constitution was open to criticism, and after all, it has not worked so long as to justify people in saying that it will not even yet be found to contain many weak points. The objections to the Australian scheme were, in my judgment, far greater and more serious than the objections to this measure, with the exception it may be of what is called the Ulster difficulty. I have no hesitation in expressing my opinion that the Australian Constitution, although we passed it, so far as I remember, without an Amendment or an alteration, like all new Constitutions must be open to very great criticism. I think we may congratulate ourselves upon the result of the searching criticism—I do not say the futile criticism; nothing of the kind—to which this financial Resolution of ours, which embodies the whole financial provisions of this Bill, has been subjected. I confess I breathed rather more freely than I have done for some time when it successfully emerged from that ordeal.
The right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members have asked, "Why did you not at once secure to the Irish people complete fiscal autonomy? There is authority for that. The Primrose Report went, at all events, a very considerable way, if not the whole way in that direction. Why did you not do it?" We are called lunatics now. We should have been called maniacs if we had done anything of the sort. They know perfectly well that in making that observation they are making an observation which, if we had adopted that course, would not in any way have curtailed their opposition or calmed the passion of their indignation, whilst on the other hand we should undoubtedly have been exposed to a great deal of hostile criticism on the part of the people of England, Scotland, and other parts of the United Kingdom, who would have felt that that was a course of action perhaps leading to separation, although I am far from saying that I am persuaded that way. Undoubtedly that argument would have been used with a full sense of conviction by tens of thousands of persons in other parts of the Kingdom, and we could not have obtained the hearty support we have received for this measure of Home Rule, which, I think, is generally admitted to be the most popular of all Liberal measures. [HON. 432 MEMBERS: "No."] I am glad to think that we have more popular measures before the country, and that Home Rule does not enjoy the place of honour which perhaps my intimate connection with it led me to give to it.
However that may be, I say in regard to the financial proposals that they are governed by three outstanding considerations. The first of these is the impossibility, in our opinion, of fiscal autonomy; secondly, the existence of a deficit; and, thirdly, the necessity of an Irish revenue. The moment you admit that you consider yourselves conditioned by these three sets of circumstances, I think some such proposal as ours—I do not say identical, but essentially the same in character and substance—becomes inevitable. These, at all events, are considerations which pressed themselves upon us who were concerned in the preparation of this measure. Fiscal autonomy is a matter which apparently the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) has very much at heart. I always say that if you scratch the right hon. Gentleman deep enough you will find him a Nationalist. When I listen to him I am sometimes carried away by the force of his Nationalistic sentiments, and I only wish that he would unite with the great majority of his fellow-countrymen and present his case before us, as indeed he has done on the financial side with extreme force and depth of conviction to-day. But unfortunately in this world we have to proceed upon the materials which are at our disposal and on the facts of the case. I therefore still maintain that these proposals of ours which are embodied in this Resolution do deserve—I do not say in full—the encomiums which they have received on all sides. I am impressed—that is my weakness—with the difficulties there are in any case of this sort. You cannot get over these in any form of federation, or in any other scheme you chose. If you start with these difficulties they will beset your path. But can they be conquered? The right hon. Gentleman asserted that the thing was insoluble because it never was solved. If he will excuse me saying so, it is a stick-in-the mud proposition. I am not myself prepared to admit that all things are insoluble until they have been solved. The mere fact that, as right hon. Gentlemen are fond of reminding us, we have had this problem of Home Rule before this House in 1886 and 1893, and that now we are having it again 433 in 1912, does not convey to me the same lesson as they draw from it, that the thing is insoluble. I regard it, on the other hand, as a thing which proves the vitality of the demand, and the necessity of this House, or some other House, this party or some other party, solving this question on the lines which have been approved and affirmed by thirty, forty, fifty years of effort. It is all very well for right hon. Gentleman to affirm that Ireland does not want Home Rule. If so, then the sooner representative government is sent packing about its business the better. Why should we go through the farce of having elections? [An HON. MEMBER: "We do not."] Why, we have had two General Elections in one year. Is not that enough? Are hon. Members opposite so fond of platform oratory, are they so enamoured of electioneering and all that is involved in it that they cannot wait even a decent interval of time before they seek to force themselves upon the notice of a country that is by no means desirous of seeing them again? I am fully satisfied myself with the result of this Debate.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I can assure right hon. Gentlemen that I have listened to their arguments, and that there are none of them who do not admit of an answer and a satisfactory answer, and no argument has been passed against the form or substance of this Resolution which has any other shape but this. "Home Rule is absolutely impossible. Whatever your scheme was we would not have it. Any arguments that you employ are futile from this circumstance that you are arguing about a thing which can never happen." I agree with you in thinking, if you do, that if Home Rule is impossible and if it can never happen, then it is idle to discuss Financial Resolutions or any scheme whatsoever for determining the question. If you wish to represent that as your sole issue, and you come here and say Home Rule is a delusion, and that you are prepared to legislate and administer Ireland on that footing for all time, why then I agree that it is perhaps idle to waste further words with you. But at the same time, most of you have—I agree with great fairness and candour—debated this Financial Resolution on the assumption that Home Rule was going to pass, that it is a tenable theory, that it is a practicable 434 proposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Well, you argued it on that footing, those of you who have condescended to do it at all, and I say judged in that light, and by that estimate, those of us who support this Resolution have every reason to be satisfied with the result.
The Chief Secretary began his speech with the statement that he was not prepared to meet the argument of the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson). I am delighted myself that he was not prepared, for otherwise the House would have lost some of those Birrellisms with which he decorated his speech. He showed his humour by congratulating himself that this Financial Resolution had withstood the ordeal of Parliamentary debate, forgetting altogether the accident that happened on Monday week. He told us that Home Rule was the most popular of all the Liberal measures. What a certificate of character he has given to the other Liberal measures brought forward by this Government! He told us that this Home Rule finance was not insoluble, and he suggested to my right hon. Friend that he was mistaken in saying that it was insoluble because it had not been solved to date, forgetting that every one of the three attempts which have already been made to solve the financial problem would have utterly failed had they succeeded in being put into operation at the time they were proposed. The right hon. Gentleman also seemed to think that there was some inconsistency in the arguments which have been addressed to this House. He said that he was expecting that he would have to reply to the argument that in future the United Kingdom is to be saddled with a perpetual subsidy to Ireland, and he suggested that there was something inconsistent in that argument with the other argument that this Bill, in fact, would impoverish Ireland and reduce it from the position which it at present holds. I submit, that there is nothing inconsistent in them. Let me see what is suggested as being inconsistent. Is it suggested that there is no subsidy to Ireland under this Bill? It cannot be suggested that there is no subsidy, though there may be some question whether that subsidy is a perpetual subsidy or not, or whether the Government does not agree with the Primrose Committee as to the amount of the subsidy. I myself believe that the subsidy is more than the Govern- 435 ment puts it at. I myself think that the subsidy is something like three millions a year, and whether it is perpetual or not, I believe it will last for a very long time.
How is that inconsistent with the other argument that, from the Irish point of view, this is a thoroughly bad Bill, as reducing Ireland to a state of poverty, and cutting it off from the resources which have been so useful to it in the past. Let us for a moment consider what the position of the United Kingdom is. The United Kingdom is in this position: Following the analogy of the development of an estate, the United Kingdom is advancing to Ireland large sums of capital, just in the same way as any business man, who has a branch of his business at present not perhaps paying, but which he believes to be full of promise for the future, lays out large capital sums for the development of that business. That is exactly what the United Kingdom has been doing towards Ireland. Its credit has developed the land purchase system, has developed light railways, harbours, and fisheries, and all those things which probably will in a very short time, as a commercial business, prove profit-bearing to the State. Yet, just at that very moment, when the capital expenditure has been greatest, we are cutting off our right to recover our revenue from Ireland in the larger and greater prosperity which we believe our capital expenditure will bring to that country. That is in my view making the subsidy which we are now giving to Ireland inclined to be, and probably actually, a permanent subsidy. From the Irish point of view Ireland is to be cut off from all that beneficial process of expenditure which the United Kingdom has been pursuing, and which it is not denied on either side of the House, has been beneficial to Ireland; and she is to be thrown entirely upon her own resources. Can anyone say that that is beneficial to Ireland, can anyone say that, from the development point of view, Ireland's industries and Ireland's nationality are going to be bettered when the devlopment of Ireland is thrown on her own resources, rather than being assisted by the wealthier partner, which hitherto has put its credit at her disposal. So, it seems to me, there is no inconsistency in the arguments which have been addressed to the House. From the English point of view, a perpetual 436 subsidy is tied round England's neck without the opportunity for England to benefit by the large capital expenditure that has been made by England on Ireland's behalf. From Ireland's point of view she is divorced from those financial resources which have been so useful to her in the past. I think I have met the point that there was inconsistency in our argument, as was suggested by the Solicitor-General this afternoon.
I would point out the duplicity, if I may say so, of voice with which the Solicitor-General himself spoke. He said to England: "England, this Bill is good for you because it will enable you to cut your loss." And to Ireland: "This country (the United Kingdom) has caused your deficit, and," to use his exact words, "We ought to be ashamed if we did not put it right." He claimed that this Bill was going to put it right. There is a deficit, it is admitted, and the Solicitor-General argues that it is the duty of the Liberal party to put the position right. There are two ways of putting it right. First, one ought to inquire what is the cause of the deficit. The Primrose Committee definitely say what is the cause of the deficit. They say the deficit is due to the Irish having old age pensions on the English scale; and the Primrose Committee made a suggestion for meeting that position and "putting the deficit right," to use the Solicitor-General's phrase. The Primrose Committee suggested that the United Kingdom should bear the expense of all existing old age pensions, and that the expense of all new old age pensions should be borne by Irish finances, and that gradually, as the existing old age pensioners died off, the cost of those old age pensions should be saved to England, the new old age pensions being paid for by the Irish. In that way, in the course of some eight or ten years. The deficit of two millions, or whatever it is admitted to be, will be wiped off automatically by the English Exchequer being relieved of the pension charge. That is one way they can do it if the Liberal Government feels obliged to feel ashamed if they do not put right the deficit. But they have chosen a totally different way, one which ties round the necks of the English, Scottish, and Welsh people, the cost of these pensions for ever, even though the Irish people themselves in the future reduce or abandon them altogether. Therefore it is amply justifiable to say that a perpetual subsidy is to be paid by the United 437 Kingdom to Ireland. The Solicitor-General said that the great feature which recommended the Financial Resolution to him was that under it we made it to the interest of the Irish people to economise in order that the time might be advanced when the deficit would be wiped out, the account balanced, and they would make a contribution for Imperial purposes. It is surely a poor compliment to the Irish people to suppose that all this time they have been conspiring to spend more money than was necessary, simply because they had to pay only a portion of it, Great Britain having to pay the balance.
Even assuming the Irish people have been so abandoned in the past, what difference does this Bill make? Does it, in fact, induce the Irish people to economise? If so, when? Where are the economies to be made? Are they to be in the reserved services? If so, the Irish will not benefit in any way so long as we are paying the cost of those services. Indeed, there is some inducement in the opposite direction, because the more expensive they can make those services whilst we are paying for them the larger sum they will get when they themselves take them over. If the Irish Parliament can economise, what is to be done with the savings? Are the Irish people to receive them in any way? Certainly, not for many years. First of all, there is the deficit, which I put at £3,000,000, to be wiped out; and when that has been done there is the possible Imperial contribution which we are told they are so anxious to make. Assuming they pay 3 per cent. of the Imperial expenditure their contribution will amount to something like £3,500,000 a year. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] An enthusiastic hon. Member cheers wildly. I am delighted that he should think that even such a remote prospect is worthy of a cheer at the present moment. Should that be realised, there will be some six and a-half millions of economies to be effected before the Irish can receive a single penny of these economies for themselves. The Solicitor-General's argument was that the best part of the Bill was that it would enable the Irish to receive the benefit of these economies. But before they receive a farthing they have got, at a very moderate computation, to make economies of six and a-half millions a year. Is that reversionary interest in a balance, after paying six and a-half millions, likely to prove any inducement whatever of an effective nature?
438 One other point I should like to put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Last night he made, in the course of his speech, a very illuminating observation, which certainly seemed to us to throw new light upon the Bill. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to enlarge upon it. He told us that the Imperial Parliament would be able in future to levy taxes upon Ireland. I am not suggesting that that is new, but I would like something later. He said that it would be justifiable to put on, or increase a tax, for Imperial, though not for local purposes. He told us that a tax would be justifiable as a war tax or for social improvement—which had gave to Ireland or the United Kingdom pensions, for instance. One of the hon. Members for Birmingham put a question this afternoon to the Postmaster-General, but it was not replied to. If the Chancellor will allow me I will put it to him. First, I would like to know whether a tax which had for its object the raising of money to grant small holdings to those now resident in England, Scotland, or Wales would be considered as for an Imperial or local object? If indeed what is the practice in Ireland was applied to England, Scotland, and Wales? Does the right hon. Gentleman regard land purchase or housing as Imperial or local? Let me put what appears to be a dilemma, not for the purpose of catching the right hon. Gentleman, that is not easy, but with a sincere desire to get an answer. I ask: If it is fair to tax the English, the Welsh, and the Scottish for the purpose of finding money for land purchase in Ireland and for tenants' housing in Ireland? Is it not as fair to tax the Irish for a similar purpose for the English, Welsh, and Scottish? Are these Imperial or local purposes? It would be of extreme utility if the Chancellor would answer that question, as it would enable us to judge more readily the sort of taxes that the Imperial Parliament might consider themselves justified in imposing upon Ireland, the sort of resistence that the Irish would be likely to give to a tax or impost collected by the Imperial tax collectors. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will not say the point is not of some importance.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
Of course the Imperial Parliament will have to consider each case upon its merits. Parliament will consider each case and deal with it.
It was because I knew each case must be considered upon its merits that I did not deal with it at large. I dealt with it in a particular case, and it was on a particular question that I asked for an answer. If the best answer that can be given is an answer postponing the matter to a different time, it is no answer at all, because no one can say that the English claim for land ownership has less merit than the Irish claim for land ownership. The Chief Secretary for Ireland has made the admission that land purchase is more important even than Home Rule, and if it is so important to Ireland to have land purchase, surely it is important to England to know whether their land purchase is to
§ be paid for out of their own pockets solely, or whether they, having contributed to Irish land purchase, should have some contribution from Ireland towards English land purchase. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman will not answer the question, the House must draw its own conclusion.
§ Mr. BIGLAND —
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 319; Noes, 194.443
|Division No. 315.]||AYES.||[11.25 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Crumley, Patrick||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Cullinan, John||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Adamson, William||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Dawes, J. A.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||De Forest, Baron||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Delany, William||Hayward, Evan|
|Armitage, Robert||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hazleton, Richard|
|Arnold, Sydney||Devlin, Joseph||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Dickinson, W. H.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Dillon, John||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Donelan, Captain A.||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Doris, W.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Duffy, William J.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hinds, John|
|Barnes, G. N.||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Hodge, John|
|Barton, William||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Hogge, James Myles|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Bentham, G. J.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Black, Arthur W.||Essex, Richard Walter||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Boland, John Pius||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Falconer, J.||John, Edward Thomas|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Farrell, James Patrick||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Brace, William||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Field, William||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Fitzgibbon, John||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Jowett, F. W.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||France, G. A.||Joyce, Michael|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Keating, Matthew|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Gill, Alfred Henry||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Ginnell, Laurence||Kelly, Edward|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Glanville, Harold James||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Kilbride, Denis|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Goldstone, Frank||King, J.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Clough, William||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Clynes, John R.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Leach, Charles|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hackett, J.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hancock, John George||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Lundon, T.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Lyell, C. H.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hardie, J. Keir||Lynch, A. A.|
|Crooks, William||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|McGhee, Richard||O'Shee, James John||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Maclean, Donald||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr T. J.||Outhwaite, R. L.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Parker, James (Halifax)||Snowden, Philip|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|McKean, John||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Pointer, Joseph||Sutherland, John E.|
|M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Sutton, John E.|
|Manfield, Harry||Power, Patrick Joseph||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Martin, Joseph||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Pringle, William M. R.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Meagher, Michael||Radford, G. H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Wadsworth, John|
|Millar, James Duncan||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Molloy, M.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Reddy, M.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Money, L. G. Chlozza||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Morgan, George Hay||Rendall, Athelstan||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Morrell, Philip||Richards, Thomas||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Morison, Hector||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Muldoon, John||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Webb, H.|
|Munro, Robert||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Robinson, Sidney||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Nellson, Francis||Roche, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir T. P.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Roe, Sir Thomas||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Rowlands, James||Williamson, Sir A.|
|O'Connor, J. (Kildare, N.)||Rowntree, Arnold||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worce., N.)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Winfrey, Richard|
|O'Dowd, John||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Ogden, Fred||Scanlan, Thomas||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|O'Grady, James||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Yexall, Sir James Henry|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|O'Malley, William||Sheehy, David||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Burn, Col. C. R.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Butcher, John George||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin, Univ.)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Fleming, Valentine|
|Baird, J. L.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Cassel, Felix||Forster, Henry William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cautley, H. S.||Gibbs, George Abraham|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cave, George||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Goldman, Charles Sydney|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Woc'r.)||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Barnston, Harry||Chambers, James||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Goulding, E. A.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Greene, Walter Raymond|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Clyde, James Avon||Gretton, John|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)|
|Bigiand, Alfred||Craik, Sir Henry||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)|
|Bird, Alfred||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Boscawen. Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Denniss, E. R. B.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Doughty, Sir George||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Boyton, James||Duke, Henry Edward||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Fell, Arthur||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Moore, William||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Hohler, G. F.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Swift, Rigby|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Newdegate, F. A.||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Newman, John R. P.||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Horner, Andrew Long||Nicholson, William G. G. (Petersfield)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Hume-Williams, W. E.||Nield, Herbert||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Parkes, Ebenezer||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Peel, Captain R. F.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Peto, Basil Edward||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Kerry, Earl of||Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pullock, Ernest Murray||Valentia, Viscount|
|Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Randles, Sir John S.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Rawlinson, Sir John Frederick Peel||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rees, Sir J. D.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rolleston, Sir John||Winterton, Earl|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. S.)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Sanders, Robert A.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Sanderson, Lancelot||Yate, Col. C E.|
|Macmaster, Donald||Sassoon, Sir Philip||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|M'Neill, Ronald (Kent. St. Augustine's)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Malcolm, Ian||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Major|
|Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Spear, Sir John Ward||Gastrell and Mr. Mount.|
|Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Stanier, Beville|
§ Question put accordingly, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."444
§ The House divided: Ayes, 317; Noes, 195.447
|Division No. 316.]||AYES.||[11.40 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Adamson, William||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Chancellor, H. G.||Esslemont, George Birnie.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Falconer, J.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Clancy, John Joseph||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Clough, William||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson|
|Armitage, Robert||Clynes, John R.||Ffrench, Peter|
|Arnold, Sydney||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Field, William|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cotton, William Francis||France, G. A.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Gill, Alfred Henry|
|Barnes, George N.||Crooks, William||Ginnell, Laurence|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Crumley, Patrick||Glanville, Harold James|
|Barton, William||Cullinan, John||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Greig, Col. J. W.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Black, Arthur W.||Dawes, J. A.||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Boland, John Pius||De Forest, Baron||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Delany, William||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Brace, William||Devlin, Joseph||Hackett, John|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Dickinson, W. H.||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hancock, John George|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Doris, W.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Duffy, William J.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Harmsworth R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Harvey, A. G. C (Rochdale)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Meagher, Michael||Robinson, Sidney|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Menzies, Sir Walter||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Millar, James Duncan||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Hayward, Evan||Molloy, Michael||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Hazleton, Richard||Molteno, Percy Alport||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Rowlands, James|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Mooney, John J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Henry; Sir Charles||Morgan, George Hay||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Herbert, Col, Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Morrell, Philip||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Morison, Hector||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Hinds, John||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Muldoon, John||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Hodge, John||Munro, Robert||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Sheehy, David|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Needham, Christopher||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Neilson, Francis||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Nolan, Joseph||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|John, Edward Thomas||Nuttall, Harry||Snowden, Philip|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Connor, John (Kildare)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Doherty, Philip||Sutherland, John E.|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Sutton, John E.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Dowd, John||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Ogden, Fred||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Grady, James||Tennant, Harold John|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Thomas, James Henry|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Malley, William||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wadsworth, John|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Shee, James John||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|King, J.||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Outhwaite, R. L.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Parker, James (Halifax)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wardle, G. J.|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Leach, Charles||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pointer, Joseph||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Power, Patrick Joseph||Webb, H.|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Lundon, Thomas||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Pringle, William M. R.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Radford, G. H.||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|McGhee, Richard||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wiles, Thomas|
|Maclean, Donald||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Reddy, M.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Kean, John||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Winfrey, Richard|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rendall, Athelstan||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Richards, Thomas||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Manfield, Harry||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Martin, Joseph||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Barnston, Harry||Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Barrie, H. T.||Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Boyton, James|
|Astor, Waldorf||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Bridgeman, William Clive|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Burdett-Coutts, William|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Burn, Colonel C. R.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Butcher, John George|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Beresford, Lord Charles||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin, Univ.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Bigland, Alfred||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Cassel, Felix||Hoare, S. J. G.||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rawlinson, John Frederick Pee[...]|
|Cave, George||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)[...]|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Horner, Andrew Long||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Chambers, James||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hunt, Rowland||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Ingleby, Hoicombe||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Sanders, Robert|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Kerry, Earl of||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Larmor, Sir J.||Stanier, Beville|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Lewisham, Viscount||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Doughty, Sir George||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Swift, Rigby|
|Fell, Arthur||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Edgbaston)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (St. Geo., Han. S.)||Terrell, George (Wilts., N. W.)|
|FitzRoy, Hon. Edward A.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Fleming, Valentine||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Mackinder, Halford J.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, M.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Macmaster, Donald||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Malcolm, Ian||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Gilmour, Captain J.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Valentia, Viscount|
|Goldman, Charles Sydney||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Moore, William||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, [...]Mid)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Mount, William Arthur||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Gretton, John||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.)||Newdegate, F. A.||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Newman, John R. P.||Winterton, Earl|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Nield, Herbert||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Peel, Capt. R. F.||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Peto, Basil Edward||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hills, John Waller||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Hewins and Mr. Bird.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ The Orders for the remaining Government business were read, and postponed.
§ Adjourned accordingly at Ten minutes before Twelve of the clock.