HC Deb 27 November 1912 vol 44 cc1307-9

I desire to draw the attention of the House to a statement which the Leader of the Opposition attributed to me as having been used by me in a speech in this House. He led up to the quotation, last night, in the following words:— The whole sum and substance of what the Government are doing in this matter is that they are determined not to allow any preference for the United Kingdom, as a whole, against foreign countries, but they are doing, and they are ready to do, what Members from Ireland have claimed that, if ever they had the power, they would do, namely, to set up a system of Protection against England and Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I can read a quotation, even in the short time left, from a speech. It is by the hon. Member, who, I think, is the son of the Leader of the Irish party. Speaking in this House, he said— and then the Leader of the Opposition proceeded to quote, I read from the OFFICIAL REPORT:— What we want is Protection, I have never made such a statement either inside or outside this House and not against the tariffs of Germany and the United States, but against this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1912, col. 1104.] I did not find very great difficulty in verifying the right hon. Gentleman's quotation, because I have only had the honour of making one speech already up to this in this House. What I did say upon that occasion was in discussing the relative alternative proposals put forward by the Liberal and the Conservative parties for the solution of the Irish problem—I am quoting from the Official Report:— What are the remedies offered? The Ulster Unionists say in chorus with the party with which they choose to join in this British House of Commons, 'give us Tariff Reform'; but I say that the only way in which the people of Ireland would consider Tariff Reform, if ever they did consider it, would be in connection with tariffs not against Germany, or the United States, or Australia, but against this country. And then I proceeded to say— What is the solution of the Ulster Nationalists and of the party to which I have the honour to belong? The solution is the one accepted and endorsed by the Prime Minister himself to-night, the granting of a full measure of self-government to Ireland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th February, 1911, Vol. XXI., col. 1143.] I do not presume for one moment to say that my statements upon Protection or upon Tariff Reform are of very great importance to the people of this country. I am yet a young man and a young Member of this House, but what I do desire is that in common justice to a Member of this House the Leader of the Opposition should not misrepresent and misquote me.


As hon. Gentlemen who were present last night know, I had only two minutes in which to make a speech on an important subject. I happened to have in my pocket two quotations—the one which the hon. Gentleman has read, and another from another Nationalist Member, which I had intended to use the previous day—but had forgotten, and which I thought useful in that Debate. I had not time—anyone who was present knows that—to read the whole quotation, though I had it before me and have it now, and will show it to the hon. Gentleman if he wishes. What I did do was to summarise, and I am sure anyone who was present will recollect, in my own words what I thought was the first part of his speech. What I said was: "What they want is Protection." Then I looked at the quotation and read the exact words—I am perfectly sure of this—in the end of the quotation, which were:— in connection with tariffs not against Germany or the United States, but against this country. That is exactly what I read. I admit that my reading of it does give a different version from what the whole question gives, because the words, which I would have read if I had had time— if ever they dirt consider it do put a different interpretation on it, and I therefore admit the hon. Gentleman has the right to raise the question.