§ Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Irish Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland with the following limitations, namely, that they shall not have power to make laws except in respect of matters exclusively relating to Ireland or some part thereof, and (without prejudice to that general limitation) that they shall not have power to make laws in respect of the following matters in particular, or any of them, namely:—
- (1) The Crown, or the succession to the Crown, or a Regency; or the Lord Lieutenant except as respects the exercise of his executive power in relation to Irish services as defined for the purposes of this Act; or
- (2) The making of peace or war or matters arising from a state of war; or the regulation of the conduct of any portion of His Majesty's subjects during the existence of hostilities between foreign States with which His Majesty is at peace, in relation to those hostilities; or
- (3) The Navy, the Army, the Territorial Force, or any other naval or military force, or the defence of the realm, or any other naval or military matter; or
- (4) Treaties, or any relations, with foreign States, or relations with other parts of His Majesty's Dominions, or offences connected with any such treaties or relations, or procedure connected with the extradition of criminals under any treaty, or the return of fugitive offenders from or to any part of His Majesty's Dominions; or
- (5) Dignities or titles of honour; or
- (6) Treason, treason felony, alienage, naturalisation, or aliens as such; or
- (7) 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, or by the regulation of importation for the sole purpose of preventing contagious disease); quarantine; or navigation, including merchant shipping (except as respects inland waters and local health or harbour regulations); or
- (8) Lighthouses, buoys, or beacons (except so far as they can consistently with any general Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom be constructed or maintained by a local harbour authority); or
- (9) Coinage: legal tender; or any change in the standard of weights and measures; or
- (10) Trade marks, designs, merchandise marks, copyright, or patent rights; or
- (11) Any of the following matters (in this Act referred to as reserved matters), namely:—
- (a) The general subject-matter of the Acts relating to Land Purchase in Ireland, the Old Age Pensions Acts, 1908 and 1911, the National Insurance Act, 1911, and the Labour Exchanges Act, 1909;
- (b) The collection of taxes:
- (c) The Royal Irish Constabulary and the management and control of that force;
- (d) Post Office Savings Banks, Trustee Savings Banks, and Friendly Societies; and
- (e) Public loans made in Ireland before the passing of this Act:
§ Provided that the limitation on the powers of the Irish Parliament under this Section shall cease as respects any such reserved matter if the corresponding reserved service is transferred to the Irish Government under the provisions of this Act.
§ Any law made in contravention of the limitations imposed by this Section shall, so far as it contravenes those limitations, be void.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think perhaps it will be convenient for the Committee if I state that I propose to take the first two Amendments to-day, those standing in the name of the hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Younger) and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayes Fisher). The first relating to taxation and the second that relating to the Post Office, which has been given notice of by the Noble Lord (the Marquess of Tulli-bardine) and the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Rupert Gwynne). After that I understand the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) wishes to move one relating to Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of Dublin. With regard to the first, I should just make one reservation. The Committee will be aware that a subsequent Clause in the Bill, Clause 15, deals with the question of powers of taxation, and therefore any discussion of detail ought to be reserved until we come to that Clause, but I have not felt justified because of the existence of that Clause in declining an Amendment at this stage which raises the broad question.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I beg to move-after the words "transferred to the Irish Government under the provisions of this Act," to insert the words. "(12) Any laws affecting taxation in Ireland by the Parliament of the United Kingdom."
The Committee has already, by passing so much of Clause 2, excluded from the Irish Parliament the power to make laws respecting the Crown, peace and war, Navy and Army, treaties and matters of first-class Imperial importance, but there is nothing whatever in Clause 2 which deals with a subject quite as important as any of these, and that is the whole subject of the powers of taxation by the Irish Parliament. I am glad you have seen your way to allow this general Debate to take place at this time on the question of what powers of taxation should be allowed for 1457 this first Parliament which we are going to set up as part of the future federal system. I think it is as well that this Committee should indulge in a general discussion as to "what powers should be given to this Irish Parliament, and should put down clearly in the most distinct and positive language at the very outset the limitations which it desires to impose upon the Irish Legislature. You have just reminded us that the actual powers themselves are to be found in Clauses 15 and 16. My Amendment is designed to raise the whole discussion on the question of the limitation of the powers of taxation of an Irish Parliament, and if my Amendment is carried it would necessitate very drastic alterations in Clauses 15 and 16, because under the Amendment the powers of taxation of the Irish Parliament would be confined to the power to raise independent taxes, and the Irish Parliament would be precluded from trenching in any way upon the field of Imperial taxation or exploiting any Imperial taxes for increased sources of revenue, or for any other purpose whatever. We are the more bound, because we are told by the Prime Minister that this is, after all, the beginning of the setting up a federal system, to look most closely and narrowly at the powers which should be given to the first constituent part of that great federal system, the power to tax. If we look at these powers in Clauses 15 and 16 they will be found to be grotesque, fantastical, novel, and unprecedented powers, which, if they were given to the other constituent portions of the federal system, would create perfect chaos and havoc in the whole of our finance, and would lead to endless friction between the constituent parts of the federal system and the federal power so far as finance is concerned. I wish to discuss this subject from the federal point of view in the light of the well-considered dictum laid down in the speech which, I believe, was quite as much written as delivered by the First Lord of the Admiralty when he visited Belfast. He made one or two very notable contributions towards this Home Rule question, and I think his words are always very well worth observing, and sometimes worth quoting. I propose to quote the First Lord of the Admiralty on this question of finance and the power of taxation. He said:—Any plan which we put forward for Irish Home Rule will be an integral part of and will fit consistently into the general scheme of Parliamentary devolution, and would not be out of harmony with the design for the ultimate partition of the Empire.1458 He went on to say that—With respect to finance what we arc concerned with as British Ministers is that the system and character of Irish finance shall be consistent with the fundamental conception of the United Kingdom, and ultimately with that of the United Empire.I thought that was a very emphatic declaration, and I thought it was a declaration full of common sense and sound statesmanship, but when we saw the Bill we very soon discovered how little the First Lord of the Admiralty has to do with the framing of the finance of the Bill, because I cannot imagine any finance in any Bill which is more thoroughly inconsistent with the dicta there laid down by the First Lord of the Admiralty. We must examine this question from the point of view that the finance must be consistent with the finance of the federal system, such a system as we are told we are going to have. Let us look at some of the powers which are given to this Assembly. There is the-power given, first of all, to vary and impose all Imperial taxation—to vary Customs and Excise on beers and spirits. That power is to vary Excise and Customs-Duties absolutely indefinitely. The power to vary Excise Duty, again, is unlimited. The Customs and Excise Duties, other than on beer and spirits, may be varied in many ways or they may be actually discontinued. They may be reduced to any extent, and the only limitation is that they may be increased to yield not more than 10 per cent. I should like to clear up a little point which has caused a good deal of doubt and discussion. What is the-meaning of that increase of 10 per cent.? Does it mean an increase of the yield of 10 per cent, or does it mean an increase limited to 10 per cent, on the unit front which that tax is raised—a very important difference? And if it means, as-I suspect it does, an increase of 10 per cent, in the yield and not of the unit, then this power might be used in a most arbitrary, a most despotic, and a most cruel way, and might inflict untold injury on minorities and individuals in Ireland. That is a point that I hope the Minister who speaks on behalf of the Government will clear up. It is a question very much discussed by those who take an interest in finance here and by the leaders of the industrial community in Ireland.
I think the Government ought to be-frank with us and the country. They ought to say whether they are going to make the same offer to the other Parliaments that are to come after the Irish Parliament— 1459 that is to say, to the English Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Parliament, and possibly also the Lancashire Parliament, the Yorkshire Parliament, and other Parliaments. I think we have enough to deal with as regards England, Scotland, and Wales, but do they intend to offer the same powers of taxation to England, Scotland, and Wales when they have Parliaments of their own? If not, I think they ought to tell England, Scotland, and Wales that they do not intend to give them the same powers over their finance and their financial destinies as they are giving to Ireland under this Bill. I think it is perfectly inconceivable that you can set up a sound system of federal finance if you give in this way these illogical powers, unprecedented powers, to one constituent part of that federal system. There is no example of it anywhere in the world. You may search the British Constitution, and all foreign Constitutions, but you cannot find such a thing is anywhere to be found a.3 the financial powers that are to be given to this Irish Parliament.
No central Parliament has ever parted with the power to raise Customs Duties. It has always preserved that power for itself. It is almost a necessity of its very existence. This is a financial proposal for which there is no example. It is a madcap scheme. No federal Power would ever recognise it. It is a misshapen and deformed bastard, and I should like to know who are the real authors of the scheme. Who devised it, and on what models was it ever furnished? I am going to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, supposing it is necessary to set up some sort of autonomy for the management of local government in Ireland, and to place at the disposal of the Irish Parliament certain sums of money—quite apart from the federal point of view —is it wise and prudent at the very outset to give these powers to the Irish Parliament, which could be used very arbitrarily, or tyrannically, or unfairly, against the Ulster minority or against individuals? Would it not be far better if more money had to be found by the Irish Parliament— I am one of those who think it will have to be found for that Parliament if it is to carry out one-tenth of what is expected of it—would it not have been far better to increase the surplus sum of the Transferred Sum? I think it would. I know, for my part, if I were an Ulster man 1460 engaged in any great commercial undertaking in the North of Ireland that, quite apart from the religious question, and even if I were a Roman Catholic, I would still view with alarm having a Parliament with financial powers of this kind ruling me and ruling my affairs; altering my affairs as they might do for the worse, and possibly ruining me and my industry. If I had a great industry in Belfast, I would scrutinise this Bill not so much from the religious point of view as from the interest of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will have singular powers, and these unfortunate minorities—we all know that the Chief Secretary says, "minorities must suffer "—are likely to be the victims of the Irish Exchequer.
It will be possible for the Irish Exchequer to put on an additional Income Tax to that imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who represents the British Treasury. It will be possible for the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer to impose additional Estate Duties, additional duties on tea, sugar, and tobacco, and articles of that kind, in addition to the duties levied by the Gentleman who presides over our Imperial finance. It will be possible for the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer— and I do not say that it would be an unfair thing to do—to put on an inhabited house duty, a railway passenger duty, and a land duty. All those things he could compel his party to do. The Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will find himself, as the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in this country finds himself, sometimes short of money for the projects he has in hand. All Chancellors of Exchequers want to do certain things. He has great social schemes which want money, and he has to get it from somewhere. That would be the position of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer. My authority on that matter would not be worth much, but let me quote one who will be regarded as a great authority by the present Government. What does Lord MacDonnell say about the finance of the Bill:—The Bill errs in its singularly parsimonious treatment of the financial aspect of the case…The financial position of the new Government would be very straitened and limited. It is well known that Ireland is looking forward to the establishment of a domestic Government with the hope of having those defects in her national equipment remedied which have long clamoured for redress. Her educational system has been starved and is notoriously inefficient; a large system of arterial drainage is urgently required; greater harbour facilities are demanded by her fishing industries; in numerous other ways there is need of 1461 national betterment. The Bill would not enable the Irish Parliament, at all events during the provisional period, to effect these improvements. It will restrict the process of national betterment during the provisional period, while it gives no definite promise of better terms when that period comes to an end. The Bill gives no adequate means, apart from additional taxation, of improving the position of the country on which alone financial progress depends. In this respect it compares unfavourably with the Irish Council Bill of 1907.The Irish Chancellor of Exchequer will find himself without any means of carrying out those very reforms which are expected in Ireland by all those who are promoting this measure of Home Rule except by additional taxation. Well, where can he go to get additional taxation? All Chancellors of Exchequer are in the same position. They cannot carry Budgets unless they can carry their party and the majority with them. The first Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will find himself dependent upon the agricultural votes of the South and West of Ireland, and it is not likely that he will be able to bring forward a Budget which introduces new and additional taxation on those who are his principal supporters. He must look to the North of Ireland. The North of Ireland will be in a permanent minority. If there is a fleece to be shorn, it is her fleece. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer will have a go at the fleece, and the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will have a go at the skin. It must be so. Additional taxation must come from the North. It is the hives of honey in the industrial North that must be ruthlessly attacked and appropriated if the bread of the National party is to be sweetened in the manner it is hoped it will be. Therefore if I were a Member of Parliament for the North-East corner of Ulster I would certainly resist this Bill if only for the fact that it contains these powers which almost invite the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer to put additional taxation upon the constituencies in the North if ever this Bill should become law. There will be an Irish Exchequer as well as a British Exchequer, and, therefore, from the point of view of the protection of minorities alone, I think my Amendment ought to be carried, and that these extraordinary and peculiar powers ought not to be given to the first Parliament, at all events. I would infinitely sooner provide the money by an addition to the surplus of the Transferred Sum than I would place in the hands of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer every possible temptation to do injustice towards that particular portion of Ireland 1462 which is so dreading the incoming of this Parliament in Ireland.
There is a still larger question from another point of view. It may be possible at a not too distant day that some Gentleman occupying the position of the Prime Minister, if not the present holder of that office, may wish to set up Parliaments in England, Scotland, and Wales. From that point of view, I say it is an unwise, imprudent, and unstatesmanlike thing to start your federal financial system on a basis so unsound; on a basis on which you never can rear other structures of the same kind; on a basis which must bring each of the local exchequers into eternal and deadly conflict with the Imperial Exchequer, which is bound to preserve financial control over the large area if the country is to exist as' a sound financial country, and which is bound to obey the general dictates and principles of all successful federal systems which alone can make the country prosperous under a federal system.
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
I desire to support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend in a speech that went a little wider than the terms of the Amendment. I understand that it deals entirely with the power of the Irish Parliament to vary the taxation imposed by this House. That is a perfectly novel proposal. It was not to be found in the Bills of 1886 or 1893. The Scottish Members had the wisdom and common sense not to raise any proposal of the kind in the measure now before the House. They realised that so far from its being a natural adjunct of a federal system, it is about the most impractical proposal that could be submitted to the House, and that a power of this kind, which is most dangerous and which might have a serious effect on the calculations of the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer, in some cases is not a power which ought to be encouraged in a subordinate Parliament. I quite agree that if Clause I sets up a Parliament it is essential that that Parliament should have powers of taxation, but those powers in this particular measure ought to be very clearly defined. The financial position of Ireland is an extremely unsound one, and it is essential as far as possible that we should rake care to limit those powers in every possible way. The power, of course, of taxing with regard to Excise Duty and Customs is limited to a 10 per cent, increase on the Imperial taxation, and I think that my right hon. Friend has very properly 1463 asked for an explanation of how that is going to be calculated. At present it is very obscure. I am glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer present, because he must have a very painful recollection of how even a gentleman with his experience can make a mistake in putting on a duty. I may remind the House of what happened about the Spirit Duty. The whole of the Budget may be absolutely upset in the matter of these duties by the stupid action of an Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
It is producing revenue now.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
It is getting a little better, but the right hon. Gentleman knows well that when he came down in 1909 and imposed the spirit taxes he told the unfortunate publicans that half of the increase in price would go to pay the Licence Duty and the other half would go to pay the Spirit Duty. Everybody knows now that these unfortunate men, not being able to sell the spirits, are in a worse position than they were in before, although they increased the retail price. Supposing we had an extremely fanatical Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland, taking the experience of our own Chancellor of the Exchequer into account, putting another prohibitive duty oh spirits in Ireland, he would wreck the whole Imperial revenue: for spirits in Ireland are one of the most important sources of revenue from that country to the Imperial Exchequer. It is extremely doubtful, as the Bill stands, whether or not the Imperial Exchequer would benefit by an increase of duty. I only mention that to show how dangerous it is to give a power of this kind in any circumstance, and certainly how dangerous it is in connection with articles which provide such a large portion of the Irish revenue to give an unlimited power of taxation. To impose any taxes is an odious thing; it creates discontent and annoyance and very often friction, but if the Irish Government impose local taxation of a novel kind, they have, of course, got to stand the reckoning, whereas if the Imperial taxation be increased by this 10 per cent, proposal, we shall have the odium arising from the increased taxes levied off the people. Surely there would be sufficient difficulty between the two Parliaments arising out of many proposals under this Bill without anything of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman should really give the House sufficient 1464 reason for this very novel and very unusual proposal. I do not understand it; I do not see the necessity for it. The Irish Parliament ought to be perfectly able to get more money if it needs it by imposing taxes which would not in any way interfere either with the British Chancellor of Exchequer or the taxes which may be imposed in Ireland; and we ought to be told what reasons govern this proposal, how it is expected to act and whether revenues in Ireland cannot be raised, as the revenues in Scotland under the Scotch Home Rule Bill would be raised, by taxation of a perfectly independent kind imposed by the Parliament.
Mr. CATHCART WASON
It is with no light heart that I rise to enter my protest against the proposal to give the Irish Parliament even modified control over the Customs imposed by this Bill. I have no hesitation in saying that the course advocated by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lough) and other Members of this House, and elsewhere, to hand over the whole control of Irish Customs to the Irish Parliament would be infinitely less serious and less dangerous than what is proposed now. In times of difficulty I have always striven to ask myself the similar question whether one is not absolutely bound by the unwritten pledges which he has given to his Constituents. I will ask my hon. Friends to put to themselves a few questions with regard to this very important matter. I would ask them to imagine, if these questions had been put to them during the course of the last election, how they would have answered them. I know how I myself would have answered them. The first question is: Will you support the scheme of Home Rule suggested in Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's election address of 1900, indicating a scheme of devolution applicable to all the countries of the United Kingdom respectively?
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
On a point of Order. For the purpose of the regularity of our Debate we should know where we stand. There are two subsequent Clauses under which this question directly arises. I desire to know whether the Debate which is now taking place will have the effect of preventing us from discussing the questions which arise more relevantly on Clauses 14, 15, 16, and so on? What I want to know is whether by a Motion such as that which has been made to prevent all forms of taxation in Ireland, any Debate on these Clauses, which directly deal with the matters which my hon. Friend 1465 is now proceeding to deal with, will interfere with subsequent Debate; that is, whether we may have two Debates, one in the form now raised by the hon. Member for Fulham, or whether, when we come to what we think is the relevant part in discussing this question, we shall be shut out on the ground that the matter has already been covered by the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman?
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I am not sure if the hon. Member was here at the commencement of the Committee?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The view I took was this: That, although this matter will in all probability come up under Clause 16, I did not feel justified in refusing this proposal, which, of course, if carried would mean the elimination of the greater part of Clause 15, and I said, in my opinion, that it would not be right to enter into the details of Clause 15 at this stage.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I understand your ruling to mean that the Amendment covers a wider ground than Clause 15, and if it were approved of by the Committee Clause 15 would have to be cut out; but if the Amendment is negatived by the Committee it will not limit the scope of our discussion or the moving of Amendments to Clauses 15 or 16.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
It is perfectly clear that that part of the Clause which enables the Irish Parliament to impose independent taxation that does not conflict with the powers of taxation in the United Kingdom would still stand if this were carried.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I submit that it is unusual, to say the least, to take an Amendment at this very early stage of the Bill which would have the drastic effect just pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Worcestershire.
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is an Amendment on the question of taxation being imposed by this Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is limited to that. Of 1466 course when we came to Clause 15, if an exactly similar Amendment were offered, and if this Amendment had been negatived, I do not think it could be entered upon.
Mr. CATHCART WASON
It is extremely important for hon. Members on this side to lay their views before the Government before the consideration of Clause 15 comes up. The election address of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was very largely repeated by the Prime Minister in this House on the First Reading of the Bill when he said, that he had really presented the case for Irish Home Rule as the first step, and only the first step towards a larger and more comprehensive policy; and again I asked myself: will you pledge yourself to vote against giving Ireland control over Customs and Excise, while such powers are not given to England, Scotland, or Wales, or will you grant to Ireland the self-government of the various States of the United States, of the provinces of Canada and South Africa, and of the States of Australia; and will you oppose the grant to Ireland the absolute independence of Canada, Australia, and South Africa. I confess if I had been asked those questions at an election, I would have answered every one of them that I was against giving the Irish any control whatever over Customs. As far as I know, the matter was never alluded to by any Minister in an election address. The question of Irish Home Rule was commonly before the electorate, and we gave our pledges on this point. What I want to put specifically before the Government is: If the Irish Parliament did what they are fully entitled to do, and as I think they will do under this Bill, reduce the Customs Duty upon tea, sugar, tobacco, and drink, they will then be in the position never practically to pay a penny towards Imperial services. How can we go back to our constituents and ask them to renew a vote of confidence, which we may have to do, if they say, "Have you voted to let Irishmen have free tea, sugar, tobacco, and drink, while we have got to pay duties on all those things, and we have got to pay our share of the general taxation of the United Kingdom for the upkeep of the Army and Navy, while Ireland has not got to pay nothing?" The people in Scotland are just as deserving and very often as poor as any of the constituents of hon. Members from Ireland. It is on their behalf I speak, and I say most emphatically, on every possible 1467 ground I can conceive, that it is extremely injudicious to put this power in the Bill. I would rather see a very much larger Grant made to Ireland so as to carry out her services and to develop her own resources in her own way than this proposal.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I can assure my hon. Friend opposite that when I rose to a point of Order it was not in the least degree with the object of attempting to shut out the views he has just expressed; on the contrary, the only object I row have is to point out to my hon. Friend how unfitted the present Amendment is as a vehicle of his views. This Amendment, in very crude and naked terms, is to prevent the Irish people from having any power over taxation.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
My Amendment, on the contrary, allows the greater part of the 15th Clause to still stand, giving power to the Irish Parliament to impose new taxation. The hon. and learned Gentleman is, I am quite sure, misinterpreting the effect of the Amendment I have put down.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
Of course, I can only take the words as they appear on the Paper, and give them the best construction which my feeble intellect admits of. As I understand it, the effect of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is that he proposes to exclude the subject by putting at the end of Clause 2 the following words: "Any laws affecting taxation in Ireland by the Parliament of the United Kingdom." I really do not know what is exactly meant by that. I listened very carefully to the speech of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes-Fisher) and to the speech of my hon. Friend above the Gangway, the Member for Ayr, Sir G. Younger, and their arguments, as I construed them, amounted to this, that there was going to be a desperate power put into the hands of this Irish Parliament, to put upon the people of Ulster a new blister; that the Irish peasants in the agricultural district of the South and West of Ireland have to be catered for by the Irish Parliament, and that we have no means of catering for them except out of the rich purse of Ulster. If that be a correct representation of the arguments used, I do think I am right in saying that at all events, whatever the words may be construed to mean, the argument in its support shows that its 1468 meaning is to deprive the Irish Parliament of any power whatever to impose taxation. Therefore, I say, I conceive this Amendment to be crude and unsuitable. I will admit, however, that the words on the Paper might have another meaning. Let us take the Labourers Act, which is one of the matters affected. I do not know, for instance, whether this word "taxation" would include rating.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I do not know whether it does or it does not, but under the Labourers Act there is specific power that you cannot tax beyond a shilling in the pound for the working of that Act. Is it suggested that the Irish Parliament are not to have the power to reduce or increase that sum. Supposing it was necessary to acquire a large amount, is it suggested that a local rate could not be struck under the powers of the Irish Parliament. Let me address to the House the difference between the view of the right hon. Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson), and the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Fulham. Yesterday, according to the right hon. Member for Trinity College, Ireland is to get at the expense of the British taxpayer £2,000,000 a year to play with. My right hon. Friend capitalised that at the sum of £60,000,000 which he dangled before the alarmed eyes of the taxpayers of Great Britain as a boon which this House under this Bill is going to give to the Irish people. If it be true that this Bill is going to confer upon us that sum of £2,000,000 a year, which is so large an amount when capitalised, is it likely that this terrible alarm supposed to exist in Ulster has really any ground to support if? What are the facts? The delusion is constantly presented in this House that Ulster, or the North-East corner of Ulster, is a specially prosperous part of the country, and on that account its fat ribs are likely to be cut in two by us. It is especially that part of the country, it is considered, which might suffer at the hands of this Irish Parliament, which apparently is going to be manned either by monsters or lunatics, on the thesis of hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. Unfortunately, I have not the figures before me, but on the occasion when the last Home Rule Bill of Mr. Gladstone was under discussion, I then had the I figures, and these are the facts, that 1469 Dublin paid a larger Income Tax than Belfast, and that Leinster is richer than Ulster; and, what is more, if you go to any insurance company in the City of London, or go to any large firm supplying goods, they will tell you that Dublin's credit is better than Belfast's credit. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no."] I heard it sworn to not very long ago. And let me add this: Why is it that insurance rates are higher in certain towns of North-East Ulster than they are in any other part of Ireland? Why is it that conspiracies and convictions for always come from prosperous quarter?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. and learned Gentleman is travelling a long way from the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I am very sorry, but we have heard here, with a considerable amount of patience, every kind of slander hurled at the other provinces of Ireland, as if one part of the country was inhabited by angels, such as we see above the Gangway, and the rest of the country inhabited by inferior beings. I do not desire to make any attack upon my hon. Friends above the Gangway, nor upon the people of Ulster, but what I do note with regard to those speeches which were delivered by hon. Members above the Gangway—and I am rather surprised that the hon. Baronet—
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I never mentioned Ulster or any part of Ireland. I confined myself to the Amendment.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
If my hon. Friend had listened he would have seen that I was not going to say what he supposed I was going to say. I was rather surprised at the hon. Baronet, who, in his speech on the Budget, was so full of statistical matter, did not inform the Committee by a single figure or detail of what he was apprehensive. The right hon. Member for Fulham holds a distinguished position in having the care of the finances of this great Metropolitan area, and I expected that his speech, at least, would be garnished with some figures which would be illuminating and enlightening. So far as I am concerned I have listened to these Debates for the purpose of gaining information. I am not so very keenly in love with the finance of this Bill that I do not listen, for the purpose of enlightenment, to the speeches of its critics above the Gangway. But the speeches to-night in 1470 which the Amendment was introduced have been destitute of a single rag of argument except the argument which was summed up by Mr. Gladstone twenty years ago, as ascribing to the Irish people a double dose of original sin. If there is one thing which the Irish people hate it is taxation or additional taxation. In regard to the question of local government, if you look at Mr. Gerald Balfour's Act, you find constant provision embedded in that measure to prevent the Irish authorities from expending money on roads and bridges and matters like that. Their expenditure on roads and bridges Mr. Gerald Balfour was so much afraid of has been practically, nil, and Englishmen coming over to Ireland arrive with whips and scourges to induce the authorities to spend more money, but Mr. Gerald Balfour's Act tied them up in a knot to prevent any expenditure of the kind. Instead of some-general denunciation of the character of the Irish people, instead of the suggestion that they are going to act madly or foolishly and bring themselves and the country into discredit, and the people to-poverty, I should like to hear in this Debate some sound, sensible, and practical argument in support of the Amendment.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
I am convinced that the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Cathcart Wason) are based upon a misunderstanding of the Bill. The question when the Irish deficit will be wiped out depends entirely upon the Imperial taxation imposed in this House, and will be in no way affected by any variations of that taxation which the Irish Parliament may enact. If the Irish Parliament does, as he fears, lower the rate of Imperial taxation, it will make no difference to the sum received by the Imperial Exchequer. The whole loss will be borne by the Irish Exchequer itself. I am convinced my hon. friend, seeing that he has made a mistake, will withdraw the views he has expressed. I should like to say a word or two with regard to the main argument which was urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher), who asserted that the financial conditions of this Bill were incompatible with any federal scheme. He seems to think it is necessary that whatever financial provisions are adopted for Ireland should be identical with those which might eventually be adopted for England, Scotland, or Wales. I think it is true that the financial 1471 conditions for England, Scotland, and Wales would be identical, as their political and economic conditions are so similar that identity of finance would be easy to arrive at. But Ireland is in an entirely different position. Her economic and political conditions are quite apart from anything we see elsewhere in the United Kingdom. She has been an exception all through the century, and she is an exception now. Ireland has been treated as an exception even under the Union. After the Act of Union was passed Ireland for many years had a separate system of taxation, a separate Exchequer, separate Customs and Excise Duties, and those very Customs Houses which hon. Members seem to regard as an extraordinary innovation. Constitutionally the whole position is exceptional.
The supremely important question of representation in this House places Ireland in an exceptional position. The representation of the other parts of the United Kingdom is roughly based upon population, but the representation of Ireland was determined by the Act of Union. In its administration Ireland, with its Lord Lieutenant and its Dublin Castle, stands in a position which is quite separate and distinct, and we must recognise that anything we say in this discussion with regard to Ireland need not be extended under the federal system to the rest of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
If Ireland is treated exceptionally under the Union, why should she not continue to be treated as an exception under a federal scheme. The Postmaster-General, in his Second Reading speech, pointed out that Ireland is separated from this country by the sea, and hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think that that was a humorous observation. But, as a matter of fact, it occurred to me at the time that I had heard speech after speech from the benches opposite based on exactly the same point. There is only one other proposal in British politics for a federal system for countries which are separated by the sea, and that is Imperial federation. The doctrines of Imperial federation, based upon Free Trade within the Empire—based upon the Zollverein have been abandoned, and the doctrine of Imperial federation based upon preferential tariffs has taken its place. The Chairman indicates that my argument 1472 is not in order, but, if I may, I will conclude my point by saying this: Ireland must be treated as an exception, and the main distinction between Ireland and this country is exactly the same distinction as hon. Members opposite have always recognised and acted upon when speaking on Imperial problems.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I have listened to the hon. Member's speech with considerable amusement in view of the satisfaction he, as representing an English constituency, has expressed with regard to the exceptional way in which Ireland is to be treated under this Bill, in comparison with other constituent parts of the future federal system. I, as representing an English constituency, hold that if we are to find £2,000,000 a year for Ireland, we cannot be content that our powers over taxation should be less than the powers of the Irish Parliament. I am glad to see that one Scotch Member opposite, at any rate, has not forgotten that he represents a Scottish constituency, and that in considering a Bill of this description he has to do justice to his constituents. If the Debate goes on long enough I have no doubt that some Liberal Members who represent English constituencies will find their tongues and will enter their protest against this exceptional treatment of Ireland. Not only is Ireland to have £2,000,000 a year sent over by the English and Scotch taxpayers while she sends representatives over here to control our affairs, whereas we are to have no right of control over their affairs, but there is actually a proposal under this federal system that Ireland in this matter of taxation shall be placed in a position of exceptional advantage, as compared with those other countries which find the money out of which Ireland is to have two millions for old age pensions, national insurance, and so on.
I propose now to deal generally with the Amendment which, it seems to me, is really addressed to this, that the financial scheme under the Bill is unsuitable for a federal system, particularly from the point of view of the powers which are given to the Irish Parliament to interfere with the taxation of the Imperial Parliament. If you are going in for a federal system everybody knows that one of the most essential points is that you shall clearly define what the powers of taxation of the central authority are and keep them free from any rights of interference on the part of the separate States. What are the powers of Ireland, under this Bill, of interfering 1473 with the British Parliament, from which it is to receive two millions a year for old age pensions and national insurance? Those powers are three. It is to be able to discontinue or reduce taxation and it may increase taxation. With the last I am not very much concerned. But I am concerned with the suggestion that it shall be in a position to discontinue or reduce Imperial taxation, and I am also concerned with the question of what are the independent taxes which may be imposed by the Irish Parliament. It will take the Exchequer Board a good deal of their time to determine what are and what are not independent taxes. That is one of the points that lies at the root of the whole of this Bill. Let me deal first with this question of discontinuing taxation or reducing it.
One of the first taxes in regard to which very great pressure will be placed upon hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway with a view to securing its discontinuance will be the Budget Tax of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am referring, of course, to the Land Duty. I am confident that considerable pressure will be put on hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to discontinue that duty. Let me assume, for the sake of argument, that the Irish Parliament exercised this power of interference with Imperial taxation and discontinue the Land Value Duty in Ireland. What will be the result? There is to be a deduction from the Transferred Sum of the amount which that duty would have produced if it had remained. I put it to the House that there is no man in heaven or on earth who is capable of estimating the amount. It would have to be estimated not only for this year or next year, but for a period of twenty, thirty, or forty years hence. It will have to be considered what that duty would have produced forty years hence if it were allowed to be imposed all that time. Has anything more ridiculous, more absurd, or more unworkable ever been proposed? I am not here to impute any original sin on the part of the Irish people or upon Members from whatever part of Ireland they may come. But I am here to point out the absurdity of this Bill and on the arrangements for dealing with this financial question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself was wrong by hundreds of thousands of pounds in his estimate of what the Land Duty would produce. He thinks that in future it is going to produce very much more, but I venture to submit that no one can possibly form an estimate 1474 of what the result would be twenty years hence if the duty had not been taken off. But upon that estimate depends the amount which is to be deducted from the Transferred Sum, the amount by which the British Treasury is to be relieved by reason of the abandonment of that duty. I say this raises an absolutely insoluble and impracticable question, and it contains within it the germs of friction between the two countries, because the decisions of the Exchequer Board upon such matters must necessarily give rise to constant friction. It is true that it is to be deducted from the Transferred Sum—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. and learned Member seems to be anticipating the debate on Clause 15. He must keep to the matter of principle now.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I was endeavouring to illustrate the matter of principle. I was dealing with the three powers which the Irish Parliament is given with reference to taxation. I was taking, first, discontinuance and reduction, and in order to explain its effect I had to take a particular instance. I could take hundreds of instances, but I had to take one particular example in the first instance, and I took the Land Duties to show how absolutely absurd and unworkable the proposal is. With regard to discontinuance and reduction, it really cannot work, because the Transferred Sum is also to be the security for Irish loans. If that is so, how are you going to make your deduction from it and thereby reduce the security? I am casting no imputation on the Irish people. All I say is that the proposal is unworkable. Even if you wished to do that you could not, because if the Transferred Sum was already pledged it would be impossible to make a deduction from the security for the payments. I do not wish to suggest that the Irish people or the Irish Parliament will exercise the power in a dishonest manner. I simply say that it is unworkable. With regard to increasing Imperial taxation, I am not so much concerned, because if the Irish Parliament likes to increase taxation for themselves it does not so directly affect English and Scotch taxpayers. But I think the ten per cent. Clause will prove to be absolutely unworkable in practice. The mere increase of the duties in the case of articles of consumption will affect the amount of consumption. [Several HON. MEMBERS; "Hear, hear."] I am glad that hon. 1475 Members opposite agree. If it affects consumption the result of an increase in the tax may really be to diminish the produce of the tax.
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is really an anticipation of the debate on the Clause. The hon. Member is dealing with the particular proposal in Clause 15 in relation to taxation. The only thing that this Amendment is designed to raise, as I understand, is whether or not there should be a total prohibition of interference on the part of the Irish Parliament.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I do not see how I can deal with that question unless I take each of the items in regard to which power of interference is given, and show that the proposal is unworkable and impracticable.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member can only do it in that way, he must do it on the Clause where the particular proposals are set forth.
§ Mr. CASSEL
Then I will put my case quite generally, but I do not see how I can argue the case otherwise.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The course the Debate has taken makes me doubt whether I was right in permitting it. I think I was, on the case represented to me, that it was simply the question whether there should be a total prohibition.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
How is it possible to show whether complete prohibition is desirable or not, except by taking specific illustrations to indicate how it will operate? Would it not be permissible to take specific instances to show that interference with Imperial taxation by the Irish Parliament would work out badly?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
May I make a suggestion? There cannot be any doubt that it is impossible to discuss the abstract merits of the proposal to prevent the Irish Parliament from interfering with Imperial taxation unless you can give illustrations of how it would work. But I think that this is in itself a very important subject upon which there ought to be a full discussion. I am sure my hon. Friends have no wish to take up time unnecessarily; and I think under the circumstances it would be better not to discuss the question now, but to defer it to a later stage. I suggest 1476 therefore that we take the Division, which I understood you to say would not preclude a further discussion.
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
I am afraid it would not be possible to acquiesce in that suggestion. Several statements have been made to which a reply ought to be given, and I must really ask that the Government should be allowed some opportunity to reply.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am much obliged for the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I think that after the course which the Debate has taken, it would be well to proceed in the way suggested. It is through illustrations that the difficulty generally arises. Once we get into illustrations there is no limit to them, and we might as well discuss Clause 15. It would not be consonant with my duty to allow valuable time to be taken up by a premature discussion at this point on Clause 15.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I should have been perfectly willing to adopt the suggestion of my right hon. Friend but for the fact that the Debate is to continue. I will try to keep on absolutely general grounds. I do not for one moment suggest that the Irish Parliament should not have some power of taxation. I will not even go so far as to say that you could prevent it absolutely from having any effect on Imperial taxation. My point is that this particular scheme for dealing with the relations between the Irish Parliament and the Imperial Parliament on matters of taxation is absolutely unworkable, is unprecedented in any federal Constitution, and would be bound to cause friction and trouble between the two countries. I have dealt with two powers; the third is that of independent taxation. The great question that will arise as between the British and the Irish Parliaments will be whether a certain tax is or is not an independent tax. The provision under the Bill is that that point is to be determined by the Exchequer Board. There will be some nice questions to be decided. For instance, would a property tax be an independent tax?
§ Mr. CASSEL
If the Postmaster-General is to be subject to the same limitations that you are imposing upon me, I will content 1477 myself with saying that I am not attempting to deprive the Irish Parliament of all powers of taxation, or even of all powers of affecting in some way Imperial taxation; but my submission is that the scheme is absolutely inadequate and absurd.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
This Debate, if I may respectfully say so, will have served a useful purpose in enabling a preliminary survey to be made of some general aspects of the finance of this Bill before we come to consider the details on later Clauses. But we have, under the Resolution allotting the time of the House, allowed no fewer than six days for the consideration of the Financial Clauses, and, as I have myself on two previous occasions had to trouble the House with somewhat lengthy remarks on this subject, I shall very strictly limit myself to the particular point raised by this Amendment—a point which is of the very greatest importance. Hon. Members who have spoken in criticism of the Bill have urged especially that the Irish Parliament ought to have no power of varying taxation imposed by the Imperial Parliament, and they base their case particularly on the provision with regard to Customs Duties, which they say is unknown in any federation, will not be applicable to Scotland and Wales, and is in itself a vicious principle. Let us see, in the first place, to what extent the Bill does allow the Irish Parliament control over Customs Duties.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
On a point of Order. I specially asked whether this subject could be raised in the discussion, and I understand that it could not.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
My argument is going to be that the power to vary Customs Duties, to which objection is taken, is exceedingly limited, and that there is no general power to vary Customs Duties, as has been frequently represented and as is understood to be the case outside.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Is it not obvious that if you raise the question of the variation of Customs Duties it inevitably follows that we must discuss the possibility of separate Customs Houses between the two countries?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think, under the circumstances, the best plan would be that suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, and that we should deal with the matter on a later Clause.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am afraid public opinion possibly would be influ- 1478 enced by the speeches to which no reply has been allowed. I think I might ask for the same latitude which you allowed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham, in moving his Amendment. But I am entirely in the hands of the Chair.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
On a point of Order. May I ask you, Mr. Whitley, whether it will be in order for us to answer, as we think proper from the point of view of the speeches delivered, the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have always allowed an answer to any points raised by the other side, but now we are travelling from point to point, and from the point in the Bill where it deals with varying existing taxation to taxation imposed by the Imperial Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman claims that it necessarily follows that we should also deal with the question of separate Customs Taxes. There is the dilemma!
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I think the Government must make some reply to the case which has been made. I shall quite sincerely endeavour to keep to the general case of the Customs. Perhaps I may be allowed to state what the important points are, so that the right hon. Gentleman may see that I am not travelling unnecessarily into detail. The first point is that the power of varying the Customs is exceedingly limited; and the second point is that if you do not give the Irish Parliament power to vary the Customs you will not be able to give them the power to have any taxing powers that are worthy of consideration. Both of these points are absolutely germane to this Amendment, and to the narrowest interpretation of it. The power to vary the Customs would not allow the Irish Parliament to put any duty upon anything which is not included in the Imperial Tariff. They may not introduce any new article into their Customs tariff, and tax it. The only power is that of varying actual articles: tea, coffee, tobacco, beer, and spirits, which are in the Imperial Tariff. Secondly, I would say that this power to vary Imperial Customs Duties is so drawn in the Bill—
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
On a point of Order. If the right hon. Gentleman argues that the provision is drawn in the Bill in a certain way will it not be open to us to refer to the provisions of the Bill, to read them out, to analyse them, and to show that the right hon. Gentleman is wrong?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes, I am bound to say that that is so. If we discuss the provisions of Clause 15 on the one side, it follows that it be allowed on the other. I again make the suggestion that we should not have any discussion on Clause 15. I might perhaps suggest to the Committee that the Debate should be continued on the lines on which it opened.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I merely lay down this general proposition: The power to vary Customs is an exceedingly limited one. It does not allow any protection to be established. It does not allow any differentiation, any further differentiation, between different countries. Further, the collection of the Customs Duties is retained in the hands of the Imperial Parliament, as is the collection of all other taxes. If there is no power to vary Customs Duties under this Act, there could not be power to vary the Excise, because it is absurd to suggest that the Irish Parliament cannot vary Excise without Customs—
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Or Customs without Excise. I am not allowed to point out the limitations which are imposed upon the Income Tax. I will, therefore, merely have to say that if you do not allow variation of Customs, Excise, Income Tax, or Death Duties, there is nothing left. That is my point. There is nothing left, and the powers to be conferred upon the Irish Parliament would be so limited as to be derisive. That, in brief, is the real reason. Since one is not allowed to prove one's case, I can merely state it in brief. The reason why these variations are allowed is this: If they were not allowed, the remaining powers that could be conferred upon the Irish Parliament would be so small that it would be utterly impossible for them, if they wished to do so, to raise the revenue that might be required. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham made a suggestion. He said that, instead of this variation of powers he had an alternative which he would prefer. That alternative is to increase the Grant from the Imperial Parliament to the Irish Parliament, to give them money from our taxes, at our cost, for Irish purposes. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, if he follows, will support him in this doctrine: that assuming we have a Home Rule Parliament at all, the right source to which 1480 they should look for any further increase in their revenue is this Parliament. Ireland is still to be allowed to come to the Imperial Exchequer whenever she wishes increased Grants for any local Irish purposes. That is a situation which is not desired by Irishmen. It certainly is not to the interest of the British taxpayer.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that one reason for objecting to our scheme was that it would be impossible to apply it to the other parts of the United Kingdom. I can only repeat what has been-said again and again and again, that the Government do not present this Bill as being applicable in all its details to other portions of the United Kingdom when we come to deal with them.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The resources of Scotland are different from the resources of Ireland, and other sources of taxation may be available that are not available in the case of Ireland. I am very sorry I am not allowed to go into that matter. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have said that our Bill gives unprecedented powers, and that there is nowhere in any country power in the hands of the local assembly or provincial assembly to vary taxes imposed by the Imperial assembly representing the Imperial federation. That is not so. The whole system of local finance in Germany, the whole system of departmental finance in France, is based upon the very principle that Imperial taxes can be taken, that the local authority may have the power to add what are generally called Centimes additionnelsto the Imperial taxes, and to have for themselves the benefit of the yield of that addition.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Hon. Members have said that these powers generally are unprecedented, and of an unheard of kind. I point out that the larger part of them, so far as they relate to Income Tax, are to be found, for instance, in the main principles of the finance system of two great European Powers.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am limited, by the ruling of the Chair, and it is impossible for me to proceed if I am continually interrupted. The reason power of 1481 reduction as given in the case of Ireland is this—I hope, Sir, I am not going beyond your ruling—we thought it would be a wrong thing to say to any Irish Government, "You may make what economies you like. You say your Government is a too extravagant Government now; you may reduce your expenditure; you may conduct your Administration with the utmost carefulness in matters of finance, but whatever you do, no matter how you may succeed in economising on the present expenditure, never shall you reduce the burdens upon your own people." Surely that is an impossible proposition. You must give to the Irish Government some inducement to economise, and the ground of inducement is that they should be able to relieve the burdens upon their own taxpayers. It has been said in the Debate to-day, "Why should they have the right to reduce burdens upon their taxpayers at our cost? Why should they," the Member for Orkney and Shetland said, "be able to claim from their own Parliament lower taxes on tea sugar, or whatever it may be, while the Imperial Government thereby loses?" As my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, in an able speech, has pointed out, it clearly is not realised that in so far as the Irish Parliament reduces Irish taxation to that extent, they reduce Irish revenue, and that therefore a loss accrues from their reducing the Tea or Sugar Duty. That loss is borne, not by the Imperial Exchequer, but by the Irish Exchequer alone. Whatever the reduction in revenue may be from that action of the Irish Parliament, to that extent the transferred sum from the British Exchequer to the Irish Exchequer will be reduced, and therefore the loss will fall upon the Irish Government, and not upon the Imperial Exchequer. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Ayr Burghs raised an objection to the principle. He said that these powers would enable the Irish Parliament to trench upon the revenue of the Imperial Exchequer.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
That is one of the very things we have been at the utmost pains to avoid throughout. If the hon. Gentleman can give me any particular case, and show we have not succeeded in meeting it, we shall be glad to look into it.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The hon. Member's great instance was that the Irish Parliament might double the Spirit or the Whisky Duty, and that then the total yield would be reduced. He has strange ideas as to what is likely to occur in Ireland after the passing of Home Rule. I think that the risk he indicates is one that is very safe to take. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham said that the Irish Parliament would be free to reduce duties on beer and spirits to any extent; that there were no limitations placed upon them. There is one limitation, and a most effective one. To whatever extent they reduce these duties they will lose the revenue. Even supposing they did reduce the revenue, that is their own concern, that is an Irish concern. The Imperial revenue would not be reduced. The matter is a purely domestic one, which I venture to suggest is properly left in the hands of the Irish Parliament. Within the limitations which are necessary upon this Debate it only is possible for me in conclusion—I recognise that my speech has not been so full as I should wish to make it—illustrations are prevented, and that makes it that my case cannot be so completely proved as it would have been had I had a free hand, as will be the case when we come to Clause 15—to declare the view of the Government: that while we have allowed the Irish Parliament adequate powers both of increasing and reducing taxation, we have not allowed them to trench upon the main sources of Imperial taxation; we have reserved full control of Imperial interests to the Imperial Parliament.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have always felt that the House of Commons is a place of infinite variety, but with my experience I really did not expect to see the day when the offer to close the Debate on a particular Amendment, made by the Opposition, should be refused on behalf of the Government, because the right hon. Gentleman was in the position, we have all been in at different times—of having a speech which he wanted to deliver. The speech which the right hon. Gentleman has delivered shows in the most clear way that it really is not possible to discuss this subject by half. What he has said would, in my opinion, justify me in going over the whole ground; because it is quite obvious that the right hon. Gentleman 1483 cannot say, "I am going to state what the position is," without giving to any of us the right to examine any of the Clauses, and to say that his statement is wrong. It does raise the whole question; but I consider that this is one of the most important discussions which we are going to have, and I do not want to have it by halves, and therefore I am not going to enter into this subject now, but I cannot allow some of the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman to pass without criticism. He told us, in answer to the statement of my right hon. Friend, that such a proposal as this is unheard of in any federal system. He introduced again his old friend, well known to all of us, the centime additionnel. Anything more absurd as an analogy as to what is proposed here was never put before the House of Commons in any shape or form. What does it mean? The local authority there, as, indeed, in Germany, has the right, if it chooses, to put in a similar kind of tax to the tax imposed by the Imperial Parliament, but they have no right whatever to lower the tax, and they have no power, in any shape or form, to interfere with the Customs, which is the vital point. The right hon. Gentleman said, "If you agree to the proposal of my right hon. Friend, Ireland would have no power of raising taxation at all." Can anything be more absurd. Has he never heard of the United States of America? Does not each individual State raise revenue? Yet they have no such powers as are proposed in the Bill now before the House of Commons.
The right hon. Gentleman told us also of the great care they had taken so as to prevent any interference on the part of the Irish Exchequer with what was done by the English Exchequer. If that was their object, then whoever was responsible for the framing of this Bill must have been in a very strange state of mind. Why, just look at one of the points made by the right hon. Gentleman himself. He said quite truly, that if the Irish Parliament choose to reduce the duty on tea or tobacco, they would lose by it. That is quite true. But supposing the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer wishes, in the general interests of the United Kingdom, to reduce the duty on tea or tobacco or sugar or anything of that kind—if he reduced it before the Irish Parliament had reduced it—the British Exchequer loses the whole of it, and the Irish Exchequer 1484 does not lose a farthing. Then, as I pointed out in one of the Debates in the early stages of the Bill, inevitably the Irish Exchequer will wait to see if the English Chancellor of the Exchequer does not take it off, and the English Chancellor of the Exchequer will wait and see if the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer does not take it off, so as to avoid losing the money. I am not going further into the matter now. The provision for the Customs is the most absurd of the whole Bill, and I will deal with it when the time comes. A most amusing speech was the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Cork. He told us that "anyone who thinks the Irish Parliament would put on taxation is a lunatic. The Irish hate taxation." We all hate taxation if it applies to ourselves. The Chancellor of the Exchequer discovered the best way to win votes, is to advocate taxation if it is paid by somebody else. I presume the same principle of human nature will apply also to. Ireland. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork said, "Mr. Gerald Balfour took great pains to prevent the Irish from building bridges or roads. Why! wild horses would not make an Irishman build a bridge." Exit what about the hon. and learned Member for Waterford? He wants Home Rule in order that they may build bridges and develop the resources of Ireland. That is not the first point on which those two hon. and learned Gentlemen differ, and I must leave them to fight that out, as well as more important matters on which they differ. As I have said, I really do not want to go into the merits of this subject now, and shall not therefore further take up the time of the Committee with regard to it.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
It appears to me that this Amendment does-raise a point of great importance which can be discussed within the limits of the Chairman's ruling. The Amendment as it stands raises one, and only one question—the question of the power of the Irish. Parliament to vary the rates of taxation imposed by this Parliament. Now, upon that, the first question which naturally rises is, why adopt this principle of variation? There is certainly no example for it so far as I know in any federal system in the world, and there must be some justification for it in view of the application of the federal principle in this Bill to Ireland. The Bill, as a whole, proposes to distribute general legislative powers 1485 between this Parliament and the Irish Parliament. The powers given under the Bill to the Irish Parliament of general legislative powers relate exclusively to interests peculiar to Ireland. In the case of every federation, when they came to the distribution of taxing powers, as distinct from general legislative powers, there was a quite clear and very easily applied principle of distinction. Take the case of the United States of America. The United States up till now has always been able to obtain all the revenue required for what may be called Imperial purposes from indirect taxation, and Congress has never imposed up till now, so far as I know, any direct taxes upon the people of the United States. The power to impose direct taxes has been given to the separate States, and the separate States have obtained under that power revenue sufficient to meet their expenditure just as the United States as a whole has also obtained revenue sufficient to meet its expenditure from indirect taxation. The same is true of the German Empire. The German Empire to-day receives sufficient to meet its Imperial expenditure almost exclusively from indirect taxation, and the power to impose direct taxation has been limited to the separate States.
Look at the conditions in Ireland. You have got there a country which is now expending more than comes from its revenue derived both from direct and indirect sources. It is quite obvious that there can be no distribution of the kind that applies under other federal systems in the case of Ireland in its relations to the United Kingdom. At the present moment we get from Irish revenue about 30 per cent. from direct, and about 70 per cent. from indirect, taxation. Therefore, in this Bill there can be no distribution of taxing power similar to the distribution made under any other federal system. That is why it has been impossible to follow the example of other federations when the Government have to deal with the distribution of taxing powers in relation to Ireland. What then is the alternative? Ireland has a perfectly good claim to have some power to adjust the revenues derived from her own people to her own expenditure. It is impossible to believe that any Parliament could be set up without having the responsibility of adjusting its own revenues to its own expenditure. If we continue from this House to impose upon Ireland simply the same rate of taxation, there is no distribution of taxing 1486 power, and if we impose precisely the same rate of taxation as is imposed upon the people of England and Scotland, without reference at all to Irish needs and demands, it would be unfair to Ireland and to Irishmen.
What other alternative is open to us? It is that, while the Imperial Parliament should remain the sole taxing power for the United Kingdom as a whole, the subordinate Parliament should have power to vary the taxes imposed by the Imperial Parliament, in order that adjustment between expenditure and revenue should be made. That is the principle which lies behind this proposal to give power to vary the rate of taxation, and I think that principle is amply justified by the actual conditions of the case. It has been said that that principle is inconsistent with the application of the federal principle to England and Scotland. I confess I cannot see why. It is quite true that some of the financial details may be different in the case both of England and Scotland from the details of the Irish Bill, but the power to vary in the case of England and Scotland can operate just as fairly as it will operate in the case of Ireland. I believe that, although at the first glance this power given to the Irish Parliament to vary the rates of taxation docs appear to be inconsistent with the principle of federation, it will be found on further examination to be quite consistent with it, and to be applicable to the case of England and Scotland as well.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I rise for the purpose very briefly of giving expression to the considerable anxiety which I feel, an anxiety which I know is shared by many people on this side of the House above and below the Gangway, as to the general fiscal proposals of the Bill. The points which we desire to discuss are not points which can be discussed upon this Amendment, although this Amendment does affect the fiscal provisions of the Bill, but a discussion of this Amendment, and still more a vote upon this Amendment, will, I think, considerably hamper us in the future in the discussion of these points, which are so important and which we desire to discuss with greater freedom. The aspect in which I am specially interested will be raised in a later Amendment, that dealing with Customs and Excise, and I cannot discuss that on the present Amendment any more than by a mere reference to it. The Leader of the Opposition has indicated his 1487 sense of the importance of the issues which may be raised, issues far more important than that raised upon this Amendment, and I desire to make a suggestion to the hon. Member who moved this Amendment, a suggestion which I do not believe will be received unfavourably. I would suggest that instead of having the Division on this Amendment, in view of the course the Debate has taken and the manner in which it has been limited, together with the effect which a Division might have in the future, that this Amendment should be withdrawn altogether. This would meet the convenience of the House, and hon. Members opposite would not be prejudicing their own case. The issue in this Amendment is an extremely narrow one, much narrower than it seems at first sight. It does not cover the whole field of taxation—in fact, it is far from doing that. It only covers a very narrow and limited portion of the field of possible taxation, and that portion which is already the subject of Imperial taxation. If this Amendment were embodied it would still be possible for the Irish Parliament to introduce Customs or Excise taxes on any article which was not subject to any Imperial tax already. [HON. MEMBEHS: "No."]
Even in that limited field it does not cover the field completely. I notice the
§ wording of the Amendment is "any law affecting taxation." It is not the general subject-matter of any law. If the words were intended to prevent the Irish Parliament from dealing with any article which was already the subject of Imperial taxation, the right words to use would be "The general subject of any law affecting taxation." It is not that, but it is the actual and particular tax which happens to be imposed by Imperial taxation. That would still leave it open to the Irish Parliament to impose an additional tax on any article that was the subject of Imperial taxation. Take the tax on sugar. The Irish Parliament will have power under this Amendment to impose a new additional tax on the Imperial tax upon sugar. The only thing which would be forbidden would be to vary the existing tax by reducing it. That, I think, is the whole subject-matter covered by this Amendment, and I would suggest to hon. Members opposite that they would be meeting the convenience of the House, and especially the convenience of a number of hon. Members on this side, who wish to have a full discussion on the general question, and they would not be prejudicing their own case in the slightest degree by withdrawing this Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 178, Noes, 287.1491
|Division No. 255.]||AYES.||[5.52 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cassel, Felix||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gardner, Ernest|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Gibbs, George Abraham|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Chambers, James||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Clyde, J. Avon||Grant, J. A.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Courthope, George Loyd||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Barnston, Harry||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Craik, Sir Henry||Hamersley, Alfred St. George|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Croft, H. P.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Bird, Alfred||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Denniss, E. R. B.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.)||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Dixon, C. H.||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Duke, Henry Edward||Hill, Sir Clement L.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Butcher, John George||Fell, Arthur||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Horner, Andrew Long|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Campion, W. R.||Fleming, Valentine||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Fletcher, John Samuel||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Forster, Henry William||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Kerry, Earl of||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Swift, Rigby|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Protyman, Ernest George||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Quilter, Sir W. E. C.||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Randles, Sir John S.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Valentia, Viscount|
|MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Rees, Sir J. D.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Malcolm, Ian||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Royds, Edmund||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Moore, William||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Mount, William Arthur||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Newman, John R. P.||Spear, Sir John Ward||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Stanier, Beville||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Nield, Herbert||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Norton-Griffiths, J.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Staveley-Hill, Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Hayes Fisher and Sir G. Younger.|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Crumley, Patrick||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cullinan, John||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Adamson, William||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Hon., S.)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Dawes, J. A.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Delany, William||Hinds, John|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Dickinson, W. H.||Hodge, John|
|Armitage, Robert||Doris, William||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Arnold, Sydney||Duffy, William J.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hudson, Walter|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Hughes, S. L.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||John, Edward Thomas|
|Barnes, G. N.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Essex, Richard Walter||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Barton, William||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Falconer, James||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Farrell, James Patrick||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Field, William||Jowett, F. W.|
|Boland, John Pius||Fitzgibbon, John||Joyce, Michael|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Keating, Matthew|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Furness, Stephen||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Kelly, Edward|
|Brace, William||Gill, A. H.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Ginnell, Laurence||Kilbride, Denis|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Gladstone, W. G. C.||King, J.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Glanville, H. J.||Lamb, Ernest Henry|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lansbury, George|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Greig, Col. J. W.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rlnd, Cockerm'th)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Guiney, Patrick||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hackett, John||Lundon, Thomas|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Clough, William||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Lynch, A. A.|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Calthness-shire)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||McGhee, Richard|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hayden, John Patrick||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Crean, Eugene||Hazleton, Richard||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Crooks, William||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon, Reginald||O'Shee, James John||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Snowden, Philip|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Parker, James (Halifax)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Sutton, John E.|
|Martin, Joseph||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Thomas, J. H.|
|Meagher, Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Millar, James Duncan||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Molloy, Michael||Pringle, William M. R.||Waish, J. (Cork, South)|
|Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Radford, G. H.||Waish, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Mooney, John J.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Morgan, George Hay||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Morison, Hector||Reddy, Michael||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Muldoon, John||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Munro, R.||Rendall, Atheistan||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Neilson, Francis||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Webb, H.|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Robinson, Sidney||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Nuttall, Harry||Rowlands, James||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Dowd, John||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.||Winfrey, Richard|
|O'Grady, James||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridqeton)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|O'Malley, William||Sheehy, David||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Simon, Sir John Alisebrook||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
§ 6.0 P.M.
MARQUESS Of TULLIBARDINE
I beg to move, after the word "Act" ["transferred to the Irish Government under the provisions of this Act"] to insert the words, "(12) The administration of the Postal Services."
I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will admit this is certainly one of the most important points we have to discuss in connection with this Bill, and, speaking not for myself, but, I think, for the House generally, I really do think some 300 minutes are not sufficient to discuss it. I mean 300 lucid minutes, because I do not think a measure of this importance ought to be discussed at perhaps three or four in the morning. Under this Bill, the whole control of the postal services, the telegraphs, and the telephones is to pass out of the hands of the Central Government into the hands of the Irish Government I am perfectly well aware these were included in the Bill of 1893, but in 1886 they were expressly reserved, and I would like to put this question to the Postmaster-General: Why were these 1492 provisions reserved in the 1886 Bill? Why were they not to be handed over to the Irish Government then? Is there any difference between then and now, and, if so, what? The only places where I can find there are separate postal systems in somewhat analogous cases are in some of the German States, but there they are separate kingdoms, and I have not yet heard that Ireland is going to be a separate kingdom; at least it has not been openly expressed. I do not, therefore, think the case is really analogous, and, even if it were, I am perfectly content to base my argument on our experience in the British Empire alone. There were six States in Australia and four in South Africa each with a separate postal system. Those who arranged federalism in Australia and in South Africa abolished the separate postal services. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herbert Samuel), who is going to answer, was himself a Member of the Government which dealt with the federalisation of South Africa, and he himself was one of those who signed the South African Act in which the 1493 Post Office was centralised. Yet he is going to get up here to-day and say that is a bad system. He wishes to go back to the old system of disintegrating the postal services. After all, these States themselves have recognised, as this Government itself did before it was actually dealing with this Home Rule question, that central administration is necessary. They themselves gave up the privilege of having even their own stamps, which were the emblems of their own individuality, and they did everything in a spirit of patriotism for the common good.
I asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Harcourt), I think in July last, whether there had been any complaint from Australia or South Africa or Canada as to their postal services being under a central authority, and if there was any intention of putting them back under the control of the various States. I asked this because I obviously thought that what he thought was good for this country he would think was necessary and good for the Colonies, but his answer was: "I have no information on the subject." I gave him time to get a little more acquainted with the affairs of his Department, and I repeated the question. I asked if he had had any complaint yet as to central administration in the Colonies. His answer was a very quaint one. It might have been some use as an advertisement for a hair restorer, but it was not much use for this purpose. He said he never carried complaints in his head. I then asked him if the policy of centralisation was approved by the Cabinet and whether it had been a success. He could not even give me a straight answer. All he said was, "The question was dealt with in the South African Act; I have not yet heard that it had been unsuccessful." I then asked him if he had any intention of putting it back into the hands of the local Governments. He said he was not aware of any such proposal. For a clever man like the Secretary of State fox the Colonies, I think he stands confessed as the Minister most ignorant of his own Department, but we know perfectly well he could not tell us, I will not say the truth, but the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because if he had done so he would have absolutely stultified probably every word the Postmaster-General is going to say to us to-night.
I will repeat the question to the Postmaster-General. I am going to ask him if he thinks it has been an advantage to 1494 the Colonies, speaking from his great experience on the subject as Postmaster-General and not from a political point of view, to have a centralised Post Office, and, if so, why; and, if not, why? It is a very simple question for him to answer. I must say I cannot see that he is leading along the progressive road. He is apparently going to be among the reactionaries and is going to support the policy of putting back the clock in this country, a clock which has been very much advanced under Liberal auspices in the Colonies. Then I would like to ask him if there is any idea of doing anything of the sort in Canada, and if he thinks the Canadian Post Office is a failure on account of its centralisation. So far as I can make out, it seems absurd from the point of view of expense and from the point of view of administration, and, of course, it is not successful from the point of view of control. If there is any reason for the Colonies having centralisation, there is surely six times more reason to have centralisation in this country. The postal systems of Great Britain and Ireland are far more interdependent than the postal systems in those Colonies I have mentioned. We have far more important relations with foreign States, and our postal service certainly serves a far greater commercial interest and is infinitely more essential for the purposes of national defence and, I think, for Imperial administration. I have doubts upon the subject, though some of my Scotch friends whom I see opposite have not, but we are told we are going to get Home Rule by instalments. Scotland may or may not be the first.
MARQUESS Of TULLIBARDINE
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is in favour of a separate postal service in Scotland?
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I think it is a great pity the hon. Member, who, I believe, has backed the Bill for Home Rule for Scotland, did not put these reserve services into that Bill. I think, at all events, he might be consistent, instead of speaking for effect. Then, of course, we understand—the First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Churchill) has told us so, and of course he always speaks the truth—we are going to have several other Home Rule Governments in this country. I suppose we are going to have half a dozen "Brummagem" imitations of my right hon. 1495 Friend. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!" and "Withdraw."] If hon. Members are anxious to get the exact prototypes of him I have no doubt they can find them. Ireland, so far as I can see, gets a great deal of benefit from the connection and is not a loser by the central Post Office. We understand Ireland is going to economise. If she does, she will certainly have to economise in the Post Office, which, at present, I think, is run at something like £250,000 loss. There are only certain ways of economising. One is to cut down salaries and another is to reduce the staff. I should doubt if they would do that. Another way is to spoil the postal service at considerable inconvenience to everybody and not to have nearly such good conditions as at present exist. It is the same exactly with the telegraph service. You will probably have to cut down your staff there if you want to economise. Ireland might have a different system of words and different rates from this country. I would like to ask the Postmaster-General if it would be possible under this Bill for them to have different rates for telegrams from what we have here. In any case, with our big turnover, we are really able to run the postal service cheaper than if we had small post offices scattered over different parts of the country.
The division of the telegraph service would certainly from our point of view be absolutely disastrous. Surely it is very essential to commerce to have uniformity of system. The cable companies have all based their system on central control. They do not have different organisations in every country. It is all centralised under one head, whether it is in America or whether it is here, and that is the reason why the cable service is so good. I have always been told one of the great difficulties those responsible for postal arrangements have is to get what I might call an international system. I think probably the right hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that. Here you are going to split our system right at the heart. At the very centre you are going to begin to have division. And it will make a very great difference with the work of other countries. I think it is bad both from a commercial and from a military point of view. May I quote a very small instance in regard to the latter. We have signalling stations all round the coast, and, from them information can be telegraphed to headquarters and thence be distributed. From the mili- 1496 tary point of view it certainly is convenient and important to have your telegraph arrangements centralised, and to deal with one Government and one head of the Department, which obviously ought to be in the centre of the Empire. I am not going to reflect on the loyalty or disloyalty of Irishmen. I have fought in more than one campaign alongside Irishmen from all parts of Ireland. I do not believe that Ireland will be disloyal to the Empire in a case of emergency, and I think we can well ask hon. Members to make a very small sacrifice and leave the Post Office as it is under the control of this country; to the great advantage of the Empire in general, in case of emergency. If they are not prepared to make such a sacrifice now, how can we expect they will be prepared to make it when the time comes. I think it would be perfect folly on the part of the Government to hand over to the Irish Parliament the control of the telegraphs. I believe that the Marconi stations and the cable terminals are reserved. I take it they come under the heading of Clause 2, which gives the Irish Parliament power to "deal with matters exclusively relating to Ireland or some part thereof." Bearing that in mind, it must be obvious that there is no intention of handing over the cables or terminals to the Irish Government. I would like to point out that these things are not exclusively Irish, and exactly the same argument applies to ordinary telegrams. If you lose control of one link, that is quite sufficient to break the chain. Apparently the Postmaster-General does not mind if the Irish Post Office does go. Possibly he is looking at it from a financial point of view, as it will certainly relieve this country of a burden amounting to a quarter of a million a year.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
That is infinitely worse. We know it is a loss. Why should we be saddled with that deficit for all time? That is a pretty business bargain! If we hand over the control surely we ought not to continue to bear the liability. It is absurd to suggest that this country should hand over this control and at the same time hand over the quid pro quo which will keep them out of debt 1497 in the future. I should recommend the Irish Nationalists to take a leaf out of the book of some of their newly found friends, the British Socialists, because, so far as I can see, in this matter false sentiment has been allowed to over-ride common sense and financial logic. At the federation of Trade Unions in November last, there was a discussion on the question of insurance, and the British Socialists said:—That all the complications following upon the denationalising of the scheme must be endured because national sentiment demands four sets of Commissioners. In the Trade Union movement we have little use for that kind of national sentiment which manifests itself in the creation of divisions between people whose interests are identical, and which proposes to set up anomalies between one country and another.I hope that that may possibly permeate the policy of the Irish party. The question was pretty well summed up by Lord MacDonnell when he said:—The administration of posts and telegraphs in Ireland is intimately associated with the department's administration in Great Britain, and though Ireland has an indefeasible claim to the great bulk of the patronage within her shores…I fail to see in that claim sufficient justification for localising the Irish part of the business, and thereby incurring the risk of dislocating the working of a great Imperial Department.His objection was emphasised by the fact that in Ireland the Department was worked at a loss of a quarter of a million annually, and there would therefore be a tendency on the part of the Irish Government to curtail the expenditure to the detriment of the public convenience. Like Lord MacDonnell, I say this without offence, I like to see my Friends in positions. That is the policy carried out by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but, when I say that I like to see them in positions, I mean in positions for which they are qualified. I think Lord MacDonnell hit the nail on the head when he dealt with this question of patronage and when he said:—In order to play up to Irish demands, which rests not on financial grounds, not on patriotic grounds, not on grounds of common sense…It is a question of what I call false sentiment in this particular case so far as the Liberal party is concerned. I do not blame the Irish Nationalists. Probably I would do just the same if I were one of them. But that does not necessarily mean that I am in sympathy with them. I said, "If I were an Irish Nationalist." Thank heaven, I am not. But so far as the Liberal party is concerned, they seem to think nothing of what is due to the Empire. They do not seem to realise that this is going to upset our commerce, and they do not bear in mind the military point of view. All they think of is the eighty Irish Nationalist Votes.
§ Mr. RUPERT GWYNNE
I rise to second the Amendment. I think that anyone who follows the progress of this Bill will agree that of all the important proposals which have been discussed up to the present there is none on which less light has been thrown or less information given than that in connection with the postal service. It was only after repeated applications that we got any information at all why the Post Office should be transferred to the Irish Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) pressed the Postmaster-General for information on the First Beading of the Bill, and subsequent speakers on this side kept on asking for some reason, but it was not until repeated applications were made that, on the Second Reading, the Postmaster-General told us that the Government were going to include the Post Office, as one of the things to be transferred to the Irish Department. The reason he gave was this, and it was only one reason. He quoted from a Report of a Committee inquiring into the matter, and he said:—The Post Office is different. With a falling population in Ireland and with no very marked enhancement in the general activities of the country, an increase of nearly 74 per cent. in fifteen years in the cost of running the business of the Post Office certainly requires explanation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th May, 1912, col. 271. Vol. XXXVIII.]And later on the right hon. Gentleman-said:—We hold that the experience of the last few years amply confirms the theory that a financial partnership with Great Britain does involve in Ireland a scale of expense that is beyond our requirement and beyond the national resources of the country itself."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th May, 1912, col. 271. Vol. XXXVIII.]If that is the reason why the Government are transferring the Post Office, if it is merely a reason of economy, why do they arrange at the same time that this country should pay to Ireland, in the transferred service, a sum of nearly a quarter of a million, which represents the admitted loss of the Post Office to this country? If they are going to cut down facilities? Ireland, why should we in this country have to continue to pay this, whatever happens? Why should we pay the same sum as we now pay, and for which we get better facilities at the present time? That requires some explanation. When the Postmaster-General said just now, in answer to a question put by my Noble Friend, that Post Office charges could not be altered in the future by the Irish Parliament, I was very surprised.
§ Mr. RUPERT GWYNNE
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of an answer he gave to the hon. Member for North Derry (Mr. Barrie), who asked whether, under the Bill, it was proposed the Irish Parliament should have power to diminish the present postal, telegraphic, or telephonic facilities, or to vary the present charges. The Postmaster-General, said:—The answer is in I lie affirmative, the Irish revenue bearing the cost of any reduction and receiving the proceeds of any increase."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1912, col. 1475, Vol. XXXVII.]Why should we go on paying year after year the sum which it is costing us at the present time and yet give the Irish Parliament power to cut down expenses and to increase rates and to charge us possibly 1s. instead of 6d. for a telegram to Ireland? Why should we pay in that way while the Irish Parliament is to get the whole benefit of the change? Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman of a further question which was asked by the hon. Member for North Derry, and which was as follows:—Whether the proposed Irish Parliament would have power to determine or interfere with existing Post Office contracts and subsidies granted to railway and shipping companies for maintaining through mail services between Ireland and England and between Ireland and Scotland?Mr. H. Samuel: The contracts for the conveyance of mails between Ireland and Great Britain would be a matter of arrangement between the Imperial and the Irish Post Office."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1912, col. 1476, Vol. XXXVII.]So that actually the Irish Parliament can, if it likes, interfere with these subsidies at the present time and reap any benefits that may be gained thereby. If that is going to be the case, there should at least be some provision that the Transferred Sum should be cut down. If the Irish people are satisfied with a meagre service, why should we go on paying for them to have a good one, when we get no benefit out of it. The Postmaster-General, in his speech on the Second Beading, when asked why this federal system was not going to be carried out as outlined by the Prime Minister in laying the Bill before the House, and whether he could give any instance of any other country in the world where there were two Post Offices quoted the cases of Bavaria and Wurtemburg. He did not refer to our Colonies, or point out that there just the opposite system prevailed, and that in South Africa the small post offices had been done away with and 1500 united when the South African Federation took place. The Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not agree when we quote the German States in reference to Tariff Reform. We are told that they do not want things from Germany; but when the right hon. Gentleman takes the precedent of only two German States in regard to the Post Office, we are told we must follow that precedent here.
The question of the Post Office is not a local matter at all. If the Irish people are satisfied with a delivery once a day or once a week, that is their business, but so far as Great Britain and the Empire are concerned, it is essential that postal facilities should be as efficient as possible. I do not think it will be in the interests of this country to see the postal facilities for Ireland cut down. At the best, under this system, dual control will be set up. I imagine that we shall have certain control as regards telegraphic cables going across the Atlantic, but who is to have control of these where the stations are in Ireland? I suppose the Postmaster-General will tell us that it is a matter for arrangement. Does not that mean dual control? Have we not been spending millions during the last few years to do away with dual control so far as land tenure is concerned in Ireland, and are we now to set up dual control in other departments, which will bring about just as much friction? I should like to ask for some further information from the Postmaster-General. Is any allowance going to be made to this country for the present assets of the Post Office in Ireland, or are we to hand it over, lock, stock, and barrel? I see that under Clause 44 there is to be an adjustment of the capital liabilities in the future; but what about the assets at the present time. I suppose we have made very large payments there for telegraph stations, post offices, and so forth. Has that been taken into consideration, for I sec nothing in the Bill to provide for it. I do not know whether we shall get any further information on this subject to-day, or whether the Government are going to meet us in the matter by accepting this Amendment. The only other spokesman from the Front Bench opposite who referred to this important matter on the Second Reading was the Chief Secretary. He did not attempt to defend this handing over of the Post Office. He said:—If it is supposed by this House that handing over the Post Office to the Irish Government is a shocking violation of the true principles of federalism, I daresay that point, like many others, is quite open to consideration.1501 That is surely an invitation from a very important Member of the Government that we should ask them to give way on this point, and to let us retain control of the Post Office in this country. So far as I can see, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London was right when he spoke on the introduction of the Bill, and said that the only reason he could see for transferring the Post Office to the Irish Parliament was in order to give the Irish Parliament a large amount of patronage, so that they might place in every village a postmaster or a postmistress, and have control of the postmen, who might, at any rate, be favourable to Home Rule for Ireland.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I hope there is no truth in the idea that the last speaker adumbrated that there is going to be any weakening on the part of the Government in regard to this important Amendment. I confess I was rather alarmed when I heard the Chief Secretary drop the few words quoted from his Second Reading speech. He was speaking under great difficulties at the time, and, like myself, he always does everything he can to soothe the susceptibilities of the House. I hope that as we discuss this matter fully hon. Gentlemen opposite will see that this is one of the points in which the greatest benefit will arise not merely to Ireland, but also to Great Britain, by leaving the Bill to stand as it is. Hon. Gentlemen opposite make one or two essential mistakes. The first is that the establishment of the Post Office is some great sign of Imperial strength and dignity. It is nothing of the kind. It is a mere business department. The Postmaster-General is a carrier of letters. He has no duties to perform except to forward letters and parcels, and to get telegrams sent and telephone messages transmitted as quickly as he can, and whatever arrangement enables that to be done in the quickest and most economical manner is an arrangement with which the House ought to be satisfied. I remember that when an old friend of mine on the other side of the House, who, unfortunately, was cut off too early—the late Mr. Hanbury—was appointed Postmaster-General when his party came into power in 1895, in my innocence I congratulated him, and he said, "Oh, my dear Lough, don't congratulate me. I am only made Postmaster-General, and I might just as well be made manager of the Army and Navy Stores." That was the view of a well-known and much respected Conservative Member. I am not saying this 1502 to depreciate the great ability my right hon. Friend brings to his work. In order to console him for being immured in a small office like this, which is only a branch of the Treasury, the Prime Minister asks his assistance on a great Imperial question like the Home Rule Bill. If it were not so, my right hon. Friend would say, "It is too dismal a round of duties for me to perform; I want something better." But he recognises the importance of the task he has in hand.
We may put aside the argument that there is any sign of Imperial prestige in connection with the Post Office altogether, and we may look at it from the strictly business point of view. Looking at it in that way, the Post Office represents one of the most astounding illustrations of the extraordinary difference between Ireland and Great Britain. That brings me to the second statement of hon. Members opposite. They constantly speak of these two Islands as if they were one country. They will never realise the strength of the claim for Home Rule until they begin to accept the idea that Great Britain and Ireland are two countries that ought to maintain the greatest friendliness in their relations with one another. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I have always held that view, and have devoted my efforts to improving those relations. They would be best cemented if we recognised that we are two absolutely different countries, with different manners, different customs, and different business requirements in every sphere of life. The hon. Member who has just sat down compared them with Wurtemburg and Bavaria.
§ Mr. RUPERT GWYNNE
What I said was that the Postmaster-General only gave us the example of Wurtemburg and Bavaria, which I thought rather odd.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I am glad the hon. Member thought it rather odd. I hope he will see that all these analogies which are taken from Europe, or South Africa, or places that have a contiguous frontier, do not suit the present case. We have to bear in mind that these two Islands are separated by a stormy and wide sea, and that one island is the island in the world in which the business elements prevail—that is Great Britain—and that the other is an island with a poor agricultural population, whose requirements are entirely different. Look at the business aspect in another respect. Hon. Members have alluded to the financial aspect of the question, but in the partial and rather unfair 1503 way in which bon. Gentlemen opposite always treat this question, they say, "Look at the loss; Ireland is getting £250,000 a year." But look at it from another point of view. That was the sum lost last year. I remember the time when the accounts almost balanced. In the year 1895 we lost only £38,000, and in 1896 the loss was only £14,000, so that in the course of fifteen years the loss has be come seven times as great, and has mounted from £14,000 to £250,000. An hon. Member asked, "Why hand over this large sum; and what return will Great Britain get?" I can answer him quite easily. Great Britain will be preserved from the growing loss of the future, and Great Britain will be no worse off than she is. The first thing a business man says is, "We must not make a greater loss. Let us stop this leakage." It is this mixing up of different points of the same matter that embarrasses hon. Gentlemen opposite. Let me take the point of the advantage of Great Britain. Supposing the loss goes on for the next fifteen years on the same basis as for the last fifteen years. There will be a loss on the Post Office alone of £1,500,000. Hon. Gentlemen opposite treat the whole argument relating to the finance of Ireland in a perfectly unworthy way. They speak as if everything given tinder the Bill were given for the first time, given as a free gift by the Government, whose hearts are bursting with liberality. Practically all that is given under the Bill is given now, and in this particular case, as well as in others I could mention, the great benefit to Great Britain will be that it will prevent bad from becoming worse and stop a great loss.
An hon. Member asked, "What about Ireland?" For all this expenditure Ireland does not get a very suitable internal service. I do not want to be forced to attack my right hon. Friend, with whom I have for many years been on terms of perfect amity, but I say that for the simple reason that the Post Office is in London, in the midst of a business community, whose requirements have to be met, and the Government have met those requirements, and have also applied the same thing to Ireland. The result of that is, that in many small respects a great deal too much money is spent on services which are not remunerative and do not help Ireland, and Ireland is not allowed to prepare for herself services which would be of great help to the country.
1504 I think, for example, that one thing which will take place when the Post Office is transferred, will be an immense extension of cheap telephones suitable to agricultural districts. This House would never carry that out because it would have the most expensive poles and would have a system which would cost a tremendous expenditure. For aught I know to the contrary the Irish may fasten their telephone wires to trees. In the telephone the essential thing is the wire and to spend great sums, as great Imperial Parliaments do, on posts, is great waste. Run your wire where you can do it cheaply. I only take that as one illustration. I believe the wires are carried on trees in many agricultural places. It shows how unfit hon. Gentlemen opposite are to discuss any of these subjects. Let me give another illustration to show how unfairly the country is treated. The hon. Member asked this question: Will there be a payment for the postal establishments? Will hon. Gentlemen note the want of knowledge that question reveals. Has not Ireland contributed as much to building up the establishment as England has? Every bit as much, and she has more than paid, in her contributions to Imperial funds for 100 years, for every bit of the establishment. We should look at the question from a simple business point of view. Then with regard to the Civil Service. Why should not Irishmen be employed to do this Irish work? I believe all the analogies drawn from Great Britain about what people should be paid or how they should be employed, whether men or women, are wrong and in themselves very oppressive to Ireland. Let Ireland tackle the work for herself, and I believe she will do it in a manner which will gain the approval or all her friends. Then the difficulty was raised, of course, of the telegraph stations and the communication between the two countries. These are all points on which there would be conferences between the two countries and everything would be settled agreeably and harmoniously. Let hon. Gentlemen opposite give up the doctrine of the double dose of original sin.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the stations that he mentioned are excised already from the Bill?
§ Mr. LOUGH
I was not absolutely certain. I had forgotten for the moment. If so, it only proves what I say. I appeal to 1505 hon. Gentlemen opposite. This is a dull business question. It is causing great loss to Great Britain, for which no return will be made—a loss which will increase rapidly. It has increased during the past seven years. You cannot stop it. Last year it was about £8,000 or £10,000 more than the year before. Under the Conservative Government it increased just as rapidly as under the Liberal Government. From whichever side of this House you put Gentlemen on that Front Bench it does not matter in these points connected with the finance of Ireland. The expense grows, and the loss to Great Britain grows, and you will never be able to check it as long as you keep the single Government of this House. For this reason I hope that my right hon. Friend, who has brought in a most excellent financial scheme on the whole, and especially on this particular point, will stick to the Clause as it stands.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say he fulfils a rather peculiar function in this House. He is always prepared to carry his argument to its logical conclusion, however ridiculous that may be, and I cannot congratulate him upon his accuracy, because in a little story he told about Mr. Hanbury I fancy he forgot that Mr. Hanbury was not Postmaster-General. He represented the Post Office in this House as Secretary to the Treasury; but that did not make him Postmaster-General.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I only give that as an example of the accuracy of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman addresses to the House. Not only at first sight, but on consideration and on reconsideration, this proposal to separate the Post Offices of England and Ireland seems so preposterous and so much opposed to common sense and common practice that one is driven to seek the reason, I think, in the regions of political negotiation and political intrigue. The right hon. Gentleman used a most unfortunate argument when he said the fact that there was a sea between England and Ireland made this provision necessary. I daresay he is aware that there is an island which is part of the Dominion of Canada. I daresay he is aware that negotiations are now going on between the West Indian Islands, and one of the first things they 1506 will do, if they federate, will be to have the same form of unified postal system. Besides, does he contend that if Newfoundland to-morrow were to be embraced, as she has often been invited, into the Dominion of Canada, there would be a separate Post Office established for Newfoundland? That is the sort of argument that the right hon. Gentleman seriously addresses to the House. I am very sorry for those who have to belittle and minimise the importance of this Bill in this House, and to exaggerate and magnify its importance outside; not only for the benefit of the Irish in Ireland, but for the benefit of the Irish in America. They are always seeking to prove that this Parliament, which we are going to set up is not, to use Sheridan's phrase, to be a national vestry for the parish of Ireland. There is no doubt the Post Office is looked upon as an emblem and a symbol of sovereign power. It will be possible to issue stamps with some strange device or other which will, I daresay, be looked upon as showing that there is a National Government, and that the National Government is exercising national prerogatives; very likely with an Irish inscription of some sort or another and a harp, either crowned or uncrowned, I do not know which. But it gives an opportunity for the exercise of the national fancy. But there is another, and a much more substantial reason. There is no department of State which gives the same opportunity of patronage in the lower ranks of life. All through Ireland the supporters of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will be receiving small places, and they are not likely in Ireland to show different characteristics from those they show in the United States where it is notorious that there is hardly any small job under a city government where the Irish have a say that is not monopolised by Irishmen. I would draw attention to one effect that this provision will have. It is customary under the Post Office to fill up half the posts by those who have served the State, either in the Army or in other ways. Does anyone imagine that under the new system Irish soldiers of the King will have a chance of obtaining places as clerks or postmen?
§ Mr. KEATING
Does the hon. Member know the proportion of Catholics to Protestants in the Irish Army1?
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I am not saying a word against the patriotism of the Irish soldier. Catholics have proved their valour in the service of the Crown 1507 and under the Union Jack all over the globe. How are they received? There is hardly a Member below the Gangway who has not made a speech denouncing those who are recruited into the forces of the Crown in Ireland. They have said that every patriotic Irishman ought to refuse to serve in the Army. The Chief Secretary refuses to believe it, but surely he has had his attention drawn to those speeches. In this House I have often sat during Question Time and heard hon. Gentlemen raise the point whether there is not a great disproportion of ex-soldiers appointed to the postal service in Ireland, and I have a report of the meeting of the Dublin Corporation only three months ago, in which Councillor Kelly proposed a resolution, which was carried, so far as I could see, unanimously, protesting against the practice in the postal and telegraphic service of employing military men to the detriment of the efficient working of the service.
§ Mr. J. WARD
Plenty of resolutions of a similar character have been passed by authorities in this country.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I do not know what "authorities" mean. There may be some spasmodic resolutions of trade unions, but certainly they cannot be compared with the regular campaign waged on the benches opposite against the employment of ex-soldiers in the Civil Service as postmen and auxiliary postmen and to perform other functions. It is quite certain that that will disappear. I should like to ask whether there is anybody who thinks it is doing justice to these men, who have shown such splendid valour in the service of the Crown, to exclude them, as they would be excluded, owing to the known opinion of hon. Gentlemen and the practice of local authorities in Ireland when they have the chance? It is not only a question of opinion; it is a question of fact. Wherever the local authorities have to consider the reception of soldiers in any capacity in Ireland, the same opinions are expressed. That explains a good deal why this provision should have been inserted in the Bill—in the first place, to provide a symbol and manifestation of sovereign power; and, in the second place, to give the opportunity of making appointments on a large scale. I think Burke once said, "Power in Ireland is always jobbish." I am certain this power would be jobbish from beginning to 1508 end. Let me ask what effect this is likely to have upon the postal service in Ireland. There, again, the right hon. Gentleman, who always gives himself away, has told us exactly what will happen. The postal service of Ireland is to be adapted to the needs of the people of the rural districts. He said that in London we could not understand what were the wants of the agricultural districts in Ireland, and that cheap telephones would be impossible. I would ask the Postmaster-General whether he is not establishing a system of cheap telephones for the agricultural community in England—doing the very thing which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington says is impossible. He is doing the very thing in England as they want in Ireland. [An HON. MEMBER: "And Scotland."] Yes, and Scotland, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington said it could only be done if the Post Office were transferred to Irish hands. Why should the agricultural community only be consulted? What about the business communities in the North-East of Ireland? How are they likely to be treated if the prophecy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington is to be realised? It is to be made an agricultural service on a cheap scale. Why is additional money to be spent? The Post-master-General knows perfectly well that in increasing the efficiency of the Irish service to enable them to trade on equal terms with the agricultural community of this country, if it is to be reduced, it will be detrimental to postal efficiency and do away with facilities which the Postmaster-General is giving in order to promote the commercial and industrial interests of Ireland.
It is not that alone. There is the great question of defence, which has hardly been touched upon in this Debate. I do not know, and I do not pretend to know, how far the terminal cable companies, and the Marconi masts of wireless telegraphy, are brought under the Irish Parliament and; the Irish Government for this purpose. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are not,"] My hon. Friend below me says they are not. If it is so, it will introduce great confusion, and it will be a most difficult thing to administer. I have not, so far, had a satisfactory assurance on that point. Several of my hon. Friends who have examined the matter do not think it is clear in the terms of the Clause as it appears in the Bill, but if not, see what a 1509 great risk is being run. In these days everything depends in defence, as well as in commerce, on speedy means of communication. Even if there was no ill-will—and I am not imputing ill-will—if there was lower efficiency we might suffer seriously if we had to postpone our measures of defence in a case of attack, owing to the fact that we were not getting some information we should now get to enable, us to put ourselves in a proper state for either attack or defence.
I should like to touch upon another side of the question. How will Ireland stand in regard to the Postal Union? What modification will have to be put on the arrangements that have been made between the Mother-country and the Dominions? I suppose Ireland will be able, at any rate as soon as the term of years is over, to withdraw from the Postal Union, and any representative of this country will have to signify her decision, whether we wish it or not. So far as the Colonies are concerned, I do not suppose there would be that necessity. As soon as the new service was established I suppose she could notify them, and say she was going to depart from the arrangement we have made. I am not saying that she would do that, but that is one of the risks you run under the provisions of the Bill. You run a certain risk also in business efficiency. That has been declared by the hon. Member for West Islington. There is also great risk to the national safety. From that point of view it is a retrograde and absurd step. The other day, in Germany, it was announced that the principality of Reuss had withdrawn so far from the Postal Union as to have its own stamps. The statement was ridiculed, but I believe it has been suggested that it is at the request of the philatelists that the thing has been done in order that the stamps may become of greater value for that purpose. That is ridiculed in Germany, and yet we are solemnly asked, for the sake of satisfying the national pride and vain glory of the Irish, to take the same step here. It is so ridiculous that it must be a piece of irony on a par with what is said by the First Lord of the Treasury and the Irish Secretary when they answer us in Debate here. It looks like a legislative joke, and I can hardly be led to treat it as a serious part of the Bill; but, if it were, I have no hesitation in saying that it is a most backward step in the cause of civilisation that we could take. It is creating an absurd division when there 1510 is every reason for preserving union, and, as the right hon. Gentleman cannot deny, it is contrary to the system of unitary and federal government all over the world, and especially in our own Dominions.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It is very gratifying to me as head of the Post Office Department to notice the signs of affection which the House has for the work in which we are engaged. It is an affection which on some occasions is not so fully displayed as one would wish; but now hon. Members opposite seem to be exceedingly unwilling, so great is their regard for the Department, that the Post Office should surrender the control of any small portion of its work. The reasons why these proposals are inserted in the Bill are these; In the first place, the Bill itself tries to deal with one of the fundamental problems of the relations between England and Ireland which arises from the fact that in matters of financial control, and matters of expenditure, Ireland receives on the British scale, but pays on the Irish scale. That is the system under which we work. There is no Irish responsibility for Irish expenditure, and whatever expenditure is thought to be necessary for Great Britain, it is automatically extended to Ireland. We appointed before the Bill was introduced a Committee of financial experts by no means belonging to one party, and they supported a financial scheme far more drastic than that included in our Bill. Hon. Members opposite have very freely criticised the Government for first appointing a Committee of that character, and then refusing to take their advice, but on this matter the Post Office are taking their advice. They indicated in the most emphatic terms that the Post Office was a curious instance of the vicious system that now prevails between the two countries. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Rupert Gwynne) read part of the Committee's report, but perhaps I may be excused if I also read what they said:—With a falling population in Ireland and with no very marked enhancement in the general activities of the country, an increase of nearly 74 per cent, in fifteen years in the cost of running the business of the Post Office certainly requires explanation; and from the evidence of the Accountant-General of the Post Office, we gather that it must be attributed in great measure to the fact that enlarged postal facilities, entailing extra expense, and augmentations of pay, both of which were considered to be required in Great Britain, had, under the unified system of administration, to be extended to Ireland, notwithstanding that the circumstances of Ireland taken by themselves would not under either head have justified such large additions to the cost of the establishment there. … On these facts we hold that the experience of the last few years amply confirms 1511 the theory that a financial partnership with Great Britain does lead in Ireland to a scale of expenditure that is beyond the requirements and beyond the natural resources of the country itself; and the matter seems to us of such great and such increasing importance.When Mr. Gladstone introduced the Home Rule Bill of 1893 there was a loss on the working of the Irish Post Office of £50,000 a year. Nineteen years have gone by, and now the loss, instead of being £50,000, is £256,000.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
How much of that was due to debiting us with a very large sum for the purchase of the telegraphs forty years ago?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It is very small indeed, and whatever sum was debited to Ireland for the purchase of the telegraphs in 1870 would also be debited in 1893. The increase has been due to the unified control which now exists. That is the first reason why we desire in this Bill to throw upon the Irish people, acting through their own representatives, the responsibility of regulating this service and the expenditure attaching to it. The second reason is that the great bulk of the work of the Post Office administration is work merely of detail. It is vast, almost overwhelming, but it is work of small detail. It did seem to us absurd, unless there were some strong reasons to the contrary, that after an Irish Parliament had been established and Irish Ministers called into existence, still in this Imperial Parliament the Minister responsible for the Post Office should be called upon to answer Irish Members here on these small points of purely local importance, sometimes of the most trivial character. Let me give two or three illustrations of the kind of questions which the British Postmaster-General is now asked in the British Parliament, and which he is expected to continue to answer after the Home Rule Government has been called into existence:—Mr. O'Shaughnessy asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that for a considerable number of years an evening postal service has existed between Ballysteen sub-post office and Askeaton, county Limerick, a postman leaving the former at 6.20 o'clock p.m., but for the last three months the service has been discontinued with the result that the people between Ballysteen and Askeaton, a large population, the distance between the places being nearly four statute miles, have been inconvenienced thereby. …Captain Craig asked the Postmaster-General whether he received a communication from the inhabitants of the parishes of Killany and Inniskeen, South Monaghan, through the medium of the rector, requesting an evening collection about 6.15 and the erection of a pillar-box on the public road near the railway station. …1512 These are the kind of questions which are now put to the Postmaster-General, and which we think properly belong to local government, and ought to be devolved upon the Irish Parliament. Then, again, naturally any Department of Government does not welcome the restriction of its activities in any direction, but the Post Office work now has become so overwhelming that I venture to say, after three years' experience, that it would not be a bad thing if the Department were relieved of some portion of its duties. We employ a staff of 234,000 people, and it will soon reach 250,000. I think, on the whole, it would be for the efficiency of the headquarters staff if there could be devolution in this direction. These are the main reasons which have led the Government to include this provision in the Bill.
Then it is said that there is no other federation in which there is devolution of this character. That is in the first place incorrect. There is one in Germany which is similar, but there is this difference between the two cases, as my hon. Friend, the Member for West Islington pointed out, that Ireland being an island—it is a point of importance—being separated by the sea, can, to a much greater extent than countries which have contiguous borders, carry on for itself as a self-contained entity a service which in other cases could not be conveniently carried on. That applies to some extent to the question of Customs. It also applies to the question of the Post Office. There is a distinction to be drawn for that reason between this case and the other case that has been mentioned. What are the possible reasons against it? The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Rupert Gwynne) said that his strong reason was that the Irish Government would be likely or be tempted to pay lower subsidies for cross-Channel services, and that the service of the United Kingdom would suffer. Surely the Irish Government is not so foolish as not to recognise that rapidity and efficiency of communication between themselves and their one great commercial market is of supreme importance to Ireland herself. And it is far more probable that they will be continually pressing the British Post Office than that it would be likely that they should act in the opposite direction. The hon. Member also said that if we were giving over control to the Irish Government we ought to call upon them straight away in the very first period of their existence to make good out of 1513 other revenues the loss of a quarter of a million a year which has been the result of British administration.
§ Mr. RUPERT GWYNNE
I said nothing of the sort. I said that if they were going to put down expenditure I did not see why the British taxpayer should pay a subsidy of a quarter of a million.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
This is only a portion of the whole system of finance as to which we say to Ireland, "The effect of our administration of your affairs has been that the business of your country is conducted at a heavy loss, which is increasing year by year, and which, if Home Rule is not granted, will certainly continue to increase to a very considerable extent."
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
In the interests of the British taxpayer we say to the Irish people: "What you are now costing us we will pay to you, all future increase in expenditure you must bear for yourself. If you can make economies, then you may profit by those economies. We take the system of financial relations as it now exists between the two countries; we give you the sum which you are now costing us. We will give you no more from British taxes for Irish local purposes, and if your expenditure continues to increase you must pay the increase." It will be grossly, obviously unfair to say to the Irish Government, "If your expenditure goes up you must bear the cost; but if by your own efforts and sacrifices you are able by your own action and by better administration to redue the expenditure in some direction, you are not to be free to spend that sum in other ways or to reduce Irish taxation. But the money saved must go back to the British Treasury." That is obviously a totally impossible proposition. The other point that was raised is that possibly an Irish Administration might decline to continue the policy of the Imperial administration of using the Post Office as a means of finding employment for ex-soldiers and sailors.
In the first place, as a Home Ruler, I believe in the principle of Home Rule, and I believe also most firmly that when you grant Home Rule to Ireland, as was the case when you granted it to Canada, to Australia, and to South Africa, you will have a wholly different spirit in Ireland in the relations to these questions of Imperial concern. But in any case let me point out 1514 to the House that although the principle is one of great importance, the extent of its application in this particular instance is extremely small. During the last few years the number of ex-soldiers—and I have no reason to think that the figures have ever been higher—who have been provided with employment in the Post Office in Ireland has never reached 100. It has usually been about from sixty to eighty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?" and "Shame."] The reason is because of the number of vacancies. They are given half the number of vacancies for postmen and for porters except where there are local auxiliary postmen who have been working full duty, or whose duties have been amalgamated with established postmen. In such cases very frequently auxiliary postmen get the position; otherwise ex-soldiers get half the vacancies. The number of vacancies for established postmen and porters in Ireland is very small compared with this country. The total for which I find employment every year is about 1,300 in the whole country, and in Ireland it is from about sixty to eighty a year. So that the question is in any case really of not very large importance. I have dealt with those objections from the Opposition Bench, and I ask the Committee to consider what it is that the Bill does actually provide to leave to the Post Office in Ireland, and how much control over postal affairs or over what postal affairs the Irish Government will be given control.
The Bill says, in Clause 2, that the Irish Government can only deal with matters relating exclusively to Ireland, and it says in Clause 2, Sub-section (4), that all treaties or relations with foreign States or relations with other parts of His Majesty's Dominions are excluded from the purview of the Irish Government. Therefore the intention of the Bill is—I will come in a moment to the question whether that intention is adequately carried out—that the Irish Post Office should deal purely with the internal affairs of Ireland, that is to say with the carriage of letters in Ireland from place to place. It would not have anything to say either to the rates charged or the arrangements for the interchange of letters and telegrams or other communications between Ireand and Great Britain or between Ireland and foreign countries. Therefore the Irish Government will have no relation whatever, and this is perfectly clear, to these subjects. The hon. Member who has just spoken, suggested that they 1515 would be able to withdraw from the International Postal Union. They will have no connection whatever with that Union.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I really cannot follow what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. Surely they will have control over a message between England and Ireland. Does he mean to say that if you fix the rate at 6d. in this country and Ireland fixes the rate at Is. between one part of Ireland and another, they will still have to make the rate 6d. between England and Ireland?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Yes; that is the intention. But I admit quite candidly that there may be some doubt in the wording of the Bill whether that is so, and I propose to suggest to the Committee words which will make it quite clear. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen will object to words being inserted which will make that intention absolutely clear. The Act says that no portion of the Postal Savings Bank shall be transferred to the Irish Government until the Irish Government is well established. But after a period of ten years that is one of the services which the Irish Government may, if they think fit, take over, due provision appearing in the Bill with regard to all possible interest of depositors in the bank. Next there is a provision, in Clause 44 (c), enabling the Order in Council, which will be necessary to set the machinery going, to embody regulations for the relations between the two Post Offices, and especially—this is the point that has been raised to-day— to ensure that cable communications across Ireland to places outside the British Islands shall be properly dealt with. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about wireless?"] Wireless does not come within their province at all, in communications to places outside Ireland.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I want to point out the fact that if cables arrive in Ireland, as the intervening link across Ireland is in the hands of the Irish Government, these will therefore be under their control.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The Irish Government will certainly have the duty put upon them of transmitting cablegrams which are handed over to them, if they are handed over to them by a cable company. I think that many of the cable companies have direct wires of their own, 1516 but if the cables should be handed over to the Irish Post Office it would be their duty to transmit them, just as it is the duty of any Continental administration to transmit over their territory telegrams for other places, as part of the system of international telegraph service. One other question has been asked. Could the Irish Government be called upon to pay for any assets handed over to them—buildings, etc.? Those assets have been purchased out of the revenues derived from the whole of the United Kingdom, to which Ireland his contributed, under our unified system, financially according to the proportion which Parliament has called upon her to pay. Clause 39 provides that the buildings will be handed over to them. If there is any debt payable from Ireland to England in any particular case that debt could be collected under that Clause, if it were just to do so. The question was raised by the hon. Member, and by one or two others, as to whether Ireland ought properly to have the right to put her own design upon the stamps. It is in our view a point of exceedingly small importance— [HON. MEMBERS: "NO"]—one way or the other.
Of course, all our Colonies have their own stamps, and no one suggests that the unity of the Empire is destroyed by the fact that there are Canadian stamps, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Australian, and South African stamps, and stamps for all the other British possessions throughout the Empire. But as some little importance is attached to this point by hon. Members opposite and some critics of the Bill outside, and as no importance is attached to it by the Government, nor, I imagine, can any special importance be attached to it by the Irish people, we have no objection whatever to inserting words to secure that the same stamps used in other parts of the United Kingdom shall be used in Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It is remarkable that whenever any attempt is made by the Government to meet the wishes expressed in Debate by the Opposition it is received with derision, a fact which lends force to the statement made by the Prime Minister that the Opposition, in discussing this Bill in the Committee stage, are more eager to do what they can to destroy the Bill than to improve it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am disposed, if it meets the wishes of the Committee, therefore to have that Amendment to Clause 2 in order to make what is the intention of the Bill quite clear, and also to 1517 deal with this small point of the stamps and to insert these words.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
As a separate paragraph in Clause 2; the Chairman will decide where. In the definitions it shall be made clear that postal service includes telegraph and telephone service. The words are, "Any postal service and the rates charged therefor, except with respect to postal communication between one place in Ireland and another such place, and the designs for stamps, whether for postal or revenue purposes." That paragraph should be added to the list of matters which the Irish Parliament is excluded from dealing with; that is, no telegraph or telephone services except with respect to internal postal, telegraph, and telephone services within the coasts of Ireland. One other small point: It is possible that wireless telegraphy may develop very considerably and to some extent take the place of telegraphing with wires, if it is for internal communication, and, in any case, the Irish Government will have the right to erect wireless stations for communicating between the coasts of Ireland and near outlying islands. At the same time there is the risk that if such stations were erected without the control of the British Postmaster-General they might interfere with other stations. Therefore we propose to insert in the Bill a provision that, while the Irish Government have the right to erect such wireless stations for internal communication, it should be necessary for them to do so with the approval of the Postmaster-General of the United Kingdom. Further, it may be desirable to make it clear in the Bill—though I think it is clear already—that all questions relating to landing licences in places which are not purely Irish, but a matter affecting the whole of the United Kingdom, the refusal or granting of landing licences for cables across the Atlantic or in other parts of the world, must be under the purview of the Postmaster-General of the United Kingdom, and not of the Irish Postmaster-General. That is put in the Bill, but if it is desired to make it clear words can be inserted in a later Clause.
The only other point which the Noble Lord who moved this Amendment raised was that in time of war or national stress there might be some difficulty if the Irish Post Office was not working in harmony with the Imperial Post Office. If 1518 you denied to the Irish people the Home Rule for which they ask, you are far mere likely to have lack of enthusiasm in supporting the work of the Imperial authorities in case of international complication than if you make the concession to Irish national feeling, and so make her a loyal part of the Empire. The Noble Lord himself made no suggestion that there would be any disloyalty in such an eventuality. The suggestion has not been made in the House to-day, but it has been made in other quarters. I must say that the Irish representative would be the first to repudiate any such idea. I quite believe, once we have adopted the reasonable policy of reconciliation in Ireland, that we shall find them work in all these matters cordially with the Imperial authorities, just as we now can rely upon any of our great Dominions.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I wonder whether anyone after listening to the right hon. Gentleman understands what the position will be when it is completed by the Amendments which the right hon. Gentleman foreshadows, and, if he is fortunate enough to think he understands them, whether he is satisfied with the result. It was generally understood that subject to certain very narrow restrictions the Government intended the Irish Parliament to have full control over the Irish Post Office. Now it appears it would have nothing of the kind; and yet the proposals the Postmaster-General now announces are quite inconsistent with the reason which he gave in earlier portions of his speech for refusing to insert this proposal in this portion of the Bill. The onus of proof in this case is most distinctly upon the Government. They are going contrary to the universal practice of the world. I say that in spite of the Postmaster-General's renewed references to Germany. They are reversing the march of events which has taken place in the British Dominions Overseas.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
There is no case I know of where a State, not being a sovereign State, has these powers, and that is a point to which I wish to draw attention. They are universally regarded as sovereign powers in every Constitution in the world. Why do you give them to the Irish Parliament? Because you want to fulfil the Nationalist 1519 idea of it; because you want to deck them out with an appearance of sovereign power.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, certainly, but no Crown Colony exercises them except on the advice of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I say that there is no precedent for the proposal made by the Government. Not only is it without example in other Constitutions, but in all recent examples we have made the exact reverse has been done of that which is now being undertaken. My Noble Friend who moved the Amendment drew the attention of the Committee to that at an early stage. The Postmaster-General did not attempt to deal with that argument, but he referred to the Constitution of South Africa. What was the first thing done under the South African Constitution? It was to cut out the four separate Post Office services and combine them into a single service. What happened in the case of Australia? The separate services were merged into a single service the moment they had a single Government for the whole of Australia. But here, having a single service already, you deliberately reverse the proposal and break it into two services, and when other Parliaments are created for the other divisions of the United Kingdom which are now retained under the control of Parliament, there wall be separate Post Offices—
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I cannot pretend to follow all the niceties and divisions of Scottish opinion in this House. A little earlier in the day an hon. Friend of mine on this side of the House asked whether Scotland wished for something that was given for Ireland. The hon. Member opposite certainly would desire it—
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
If Scotland does not wish for it, if Scotland does not require it for the satisfaction of her aspirations or the improvement of her position, what is the necessity for separation? There is no necessity unless you desire to go beyond local government altogether, and 1520 to confer upon the new authority in Ireland powers which elsewhere are always regarded, and always have been regarded, as sovereign powers, and the exercise of which characterises those who have them, as being in a sovereign position. What are the reasons given by the Postmaster-General for taking this very strong and very extraordinary course? As I find by my note, he said that the financial principle of the Bill demands it. That seems less an argument in favour of the proposal than a criticism of the financial principle of the Bill. The financial principle of the Bill is that wherever the Irish service is at the present time run at a loss, those portions of the United Kingdom, which henceforth will have no control over that service, are in perpetuity to pay the loss. Was there ever a madder principle I Of course, if you break up the different portions of the United Kingdom and examine the Post Office expenditure and revenue, you can find those portions of the country where the post office is run at a loss. I think you will find that in the country districts generally there is a loss, and that is because Ireland is largely an agricultural country, and that there are big districts with a small population. In the country districts of Great-Britain there is also a deficit, but as long as we are under one administration the richer portions of the country contribute for a better service to the poorer. They find certain compensation for it in the fact that their correspondence is not confined to that particular part of the country in which they live, or the particular city in which they dwell, but they exchange letters with other places, and it is one of the advantages to us that the rich can help the poor. If the poor demand separation, if they demand that the control shall be put in their hands, what possible obligation is there on us to continue in perpetuity to pay for services which were better and more extensive than they would ever have undertaken themselves? Possibly we will not continue to charge ourselves for ever with the loss, because, while we are running it as one concern, we do not complain of sharing cur advantages with each other.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that if there are increases of the Irish revenue they come to the British Exchequer in order to pay any deficit.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
See the admirable control of the Post Office 1521 by the Irish Parliament. Is that really the intention of the Government, that if they can make the Irish Post Office earn a penny more it would come in relief of the British taxpayer?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Not the Post Office, but the Irish Revenue—the Income Tax, the Death Duties, Customs, Excise. If they yield more ten years hence than they yield now all that increase goes to pay the present deficit of the Irish Government, not the Post Office deficit, but all other deficits.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
It is a little difficult to follow the right hon. Gentleman, because while touching on the Post Office, he goes to the Customs and Excise. I shall try to keep a little nearer to the point than that. I am interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman's statement that if any profit is made in the Post Office it is to come to the British Exchequer.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
If any profit which is made on the Post Office is not to come to the British Exchequer, then what is the pertinence of the right hon. Gentleman's remark?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The right hon. Gentleman said that the effect of our proposals was that the quarter of a million loss which is now incurred by the Irish Post Office we would have to bear for ever. That is what he said, and that is entirely contrary to the Bill, because the Bill says in so far as Irish taxes—I used the word "revenue," which perhaps was not the right word—the yield of Irish taxes grows, in so far the deficit will be automatically decreased until ultimately it is extinguished altogether.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
That is the system which the right hon. Gentleman says is so much better for the British taxpayer than the present one. Why, presumably at the present time the yield of Irish taxes goes into the Imperial Exchequer, so where are we better off? What calculation does the right hon. Gentleman or his Friends make of the growth of Irish taxation in the future? Their argument is, and the right hon. Gentleman repeated it in his short speech, that Ireland is a bad bargain, that you have got this loss, and the most you can hope to do is to get it from her growing taxes, because Ireland is to be so prosperous that the taxes are to grow, and so in a short time this deficit 1522 will be wiped out. This is the first time we have ever had the suggestion seriously that this deficit was going to be wiped out, and I do not believe it. At any rate, you observe that even on the statement of the Minister the only hope of the remaining portion of the United Kingdom ever getting rid of the deficit on this service is in the growth of existing Irish taxes, and that is only a possibility, while we are to-saddle ourselves with this loss for ever while abandoning our control and our responsibility for the administration. The right hon. Gentleman says there is another reason: the comparisons which my hon. Friends make with South Africa or with Australia really have no bearing on this question, because Australia is a continent and South Africa is part of a continent. Ireland is an island. [An HON. MEMBER: "Surrounded by water."] I thought most islands were surrounded by water. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that makes it so much easier to maintain a separate Post Office. I have racked my brains to see what on earth the right hon. Gentleman meant. I could have understood if he were dealing with Customs, if he said "you can have separate Customs easier along a sea frontier than along a land frontier, and you can keep watch more closely over a sea frontier than you can over a land frontier, which can be passed at any point." Does he think letters cross singly from county to county, that one goes along the high road and that the other goes across the fields, and that we will be in the position which an hon. Member described as having to cross the broad and tempestuous ocean, and that, therefore it is necessary to distinguish one postal administration from another? When that kind of reason is given it is difficult to deal seriously with the Bill or the arguments with which it is supported.
Then the right hon. Gentleman says the bulk of the Post Office work is so great that it would be a real advantage to-separate it, and that it would be a real advantage if we could get rid of the questions which are asked in this House. He thought it worth while to read out some of the questions which have been addressed to the Postmaster-General in this House which I believe ought not to be put in this House at all, and sometimes to other Ministers as well, and which are not of sufficient consequence or public interest, and which are hardly worth printing, and that should be settled by private correspondence. But is that really a reason for 1523 establishing, in contravention of the settled principle of every Constitution in the British Empire, a separate Post Office in Ireland under this Home Rule Bill? How far does the right hon. Gentleman press his argument? An hon. Member interrupted me to say that he did not want a separate Post Office for Scotland, but the Postmaster-General will force it upon him lest he is to be asked trivial questions about some place in the Highlands. The right hon. Gentleman is like a weary Titan, which is not his usual rôle. He generally seems to be at the service of any Minister of the Government who finds it convenient to be absent from his place, and he is willing to assume the duties of all the offices. Surely he cannot find the duties of his own-office so heavy that he must needs create a separate Parliament in order to manage them. Lastly, I come to the right hon. Gentleman's first point, and perhaps his most important point. He says the effect of the unified system is disastrous. Separate your two Post Offices, because as long as you have a unified system the administration of the Post Office in Ireland will be extravagant. I do not see why it should be.
I am an ex-Postmaster-General, and was responsible for a brief time for the administration of the Post Office. I am an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in both capacities I cannot help being interested by the unanimity with which every Home Ruler not merely admits but alleges that there is gross extravagance in the present administration of Ireland. I observe it has been suggested that in that case we might economise. Why should we not? If it be the fact, as is now alleged by Home Rulers as the reason for getting control of the Irish Post Office, that we pay too high salaries, then it is the Postmaster-General's business to rectify that at once, and not to leave it to an Irish Parliament. He can set to work with his ordinary business ability. If it is true that our service there is wasteful, and that it is not of a kind which the country requires, again the Postmaster-General can set to work to reduce expenditure. Why should this deficit go on? If we are giving a service to Ireland which the country does not want and which is more costly than she need have, surely the Postmaster-General can take that matter in hand with the aid of a departmental committee and can make. I think more effectively, the savings which he expects the Irish Parliament to effect. What are those savings? 1524 I am interested in the suggestion that they are going to pay lower salaries to their officials. I observe that special care has been taken in the Bill to prevent their doing so for a long term of years. That does not look very happy for the prospects of the country. [An HON. MEMBER made an observation which was inaudible.] I do not say it is a wrong thing to do, but the millennium is postponed for a year or two after that date, but then what more? You find that the telegraph service is run at a loss now, and if you do not wish to carry it on at a loss you would naturally raise your charges to cover the expenses of the service, but you cannot do so. Under the Bill as it is now explained by the Postmaster-General, power to raise the charges will be limited to Irishmen resident in Ireland. They would still be bound to carry our telegrams at our rates.
What are the economies you can make? You can shut up offices; you can discontinue something; you can give one post in twenty-four hours where there are now two; you can give a post every other day where there is one every day now. You can as I say close telegraph or telephone offices. Is that really what anybody wants? Is an economy of that kind really likely to work well for Ireland? Does not everybody want to encourage the industrial and commercial development of Ireland? I was under the impression that even for those purposes there was a constant pressure on the Minister responsible for the Post Office to improve the communication as in the case of fisheries, where it is urged that rapid communication between the fishing grounds or the landing places in Ireland and the markets which they must supply in England would be beneficial. So it must be increasingly for the growth of industry whether agricultural or otherwise. I do not believe in these economies. I do not believe in the growth of Irish revenue which is to compensate us. I do believe that by establishing a separate Post Office you are conceding a sovereign right to what you now call a subordinate Parliament, and I believe that that body when it is so constituted will point to that among other things as marking its position, and will use it to enforce further claims and to assert its own superiority over and to rid itself of any possible control by this House which Ministers profess to observe and which this House affects to believe that it is retaining.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PIRIE
I consider that this is one of the most unbusiness like propositions 1525 and one of the most retrogressive that ever a responsible Government could put forward. Even although they have as was to be expected kept the British stamps and made certain small concessions, those are not enough to make me approve of the scheme as it is put before the House. I venture to prophesy that before this Bill goes through they will have to make another bite at the cherry and do away with this proposition. I do not think the Postmaster-General was fortunate in some of the examples which he gave as to the necessity for supporting such a retrogressive charges. He cited, for instance, questions which were put to him in this House. Surely the questions put in this House are a matter for the individual Member who puts the question. If Members choose to go and make fools of themselves by asking silly questions that is no reason why the Department concerned should be taken away from the control of this House. I regret that a Friend of all of us is no longer with us. He is earning a well deserved rest, but I may ask what would Sir Henniker Heaton say to a proposal of this sort. Were he still as active as he was he would have the whole country agitated from north to south against such an insane proposition. [An HON. MEMBER: "He was a good party man."] If you mean independent of party feeling he was, and I wish there were more like him. I venture to think that the Government is not looking ahead for future development in making such a proposal. I do not wish to bring this matter too seriously before the House, but we have been told that Ireland is separated by the sea, and that is the reason for giving separate administration. I am bold enough to look forward to the time, perhaps five or ten years hence, when all mails will be carried by aerial service. A great progressive institution, as the Post Office should be, cannot look too far ahead, and that is a possibility which ought to be taken into consideration. Take, again, the question of the Post Office as an Imperial service. I place the service of the Post Office on the same footing as the Army-and Navy. The Postmaster-General told us that there were 250,000 employés. That is all the more reason why they should remain under one head. If the Postmaster-General has too much to do, there is no reason why he should not appoint a second Assistant Postmaster-General, or an Assistant Postmaster-General for Ireland and another for 1526 Scotland under a federal system. Let the work be subdivided if necessary, but keep this great Imperial service under one head. The Postmaster-General did not explain why this provision was excluded from one Home Rule Bill and included in another. I wonder why it is included in this Bill. I venture to say that it is included for the same reason that many other provisions are included, namely, the reason of obligation and the absence of statesmanship. Reference has been made to the question of patronage. It is only natural that the Irish party should wish to have the extensive patronage involved in this proposal. There is no reason, however, why we should not look at the question from the highest point of view, and keep the patronage in the hands of a Minister responsible for the whole Department. We in Scotland have too much common sense to want such a change. In the Home Rule All-round Bill we have not proposed such a break-up in the business and commercial activities of the United Kingdom. I was in Dublin the other day, after an absence of some years, and on looking up at the street names I found characters which, if I had not known what they were, I should have taken for Greek or Hebrew. The name of every street was in both ordinary letters and Gaelic. I think it is folly myself, and I say that as a convinced Home Ruler of eighteen years standing. This Bill, with its fantastic propositions, is driving many Home Rulers away from Home Rule. [An HON. MEMBER: "Ask Aberdeen."] I have confidence in Aberdeen.-They have far too much common sense to go to such extremes as this. It is decentralisation run mad. This Bill is full of details of which the country had no conception before the last General Election. If they had had any conception of some of the propositions contained in this Bill, they would never have dreamt of sanctioning a Home Rule Bill on such lines. They are absolutely different in every way from what men who have been Home Rulers for years have ever conceived or desired or will put up with.
§ Mr. AMERY
All of us who heard the Postmaster-General just now studied with interest the slight shifting to the right of the point at which the Government in this Bill try to reconcile two absolutely irreconcilable principles, namely, the principle of a national separate, independent Government in Ireland and the principle of a United Kingdom, with some measure of local self-government devolved on 1527 certain parts. I agree with my right hon. Friend (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) that it is very difficult to understand not only this new change in the Government attitude, but some of its precise consequences. What is the consequence of this new proposal to be upon the financial principle upon which the right hon. Gentleman prides himself so much I Under this new scheme, I gather, the rates for postage from Ireland to the outside world will be fixed, not by the Irish Parliament, but by the Parliament here. These rates may be so fixed, for reasons of national development, as to be far more unremunerative than any we now have. Our telegraphs are run at a loss. Many people think that they ought to be run at a greater loss for the benefit of industry. In the United States newspaper matter is distributed at a far greater loss than that which we ever distribute it. Who knows whether in the future the Government here may not take the American view? If in that case a heavy loss falls on the Irish postal revenue, in consequence of rates fixed by this country, is it not contravening the whole principle of finance which the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to set up? He makes the Irish Government carry out a certain policy which is fixed here, and saddles them with the loss.
I wish to deal with some of the extraordinary, fantastic, and ridiculous arguments advanced by the Postmaster-General for establishing a separate Post Office in Ireland. One of his reasons was that Ireland is an island. Has New Zealand found it necessary to establish two Post Offices? Is the Postmaster-General in Ottawa, who administers the postal affairs of the island of Cape Breton, a thousand miles to the east, and of Vancouver Island, 3,000 miles to the west, troubled with that problem? Has the Danish Government maintained separate Post Offices? Has the Italian Government separate Post Offices for Sicily and Sardinia? Does Japan maintain a score of post offices? There is absolutely no reason in the world why, because Ireland is an island, it should have a separate Post Office. The right hon. Gentleman thinks the work too much for him. Is it too much because of the population of the United Kingdom? I wonder what he thinks of the work of the Postmaster of the United States, or of the Russian Empire, where there is one postal service all the way across Asia, or of Germany, even ex- 1528 cluding Bavaria and Würtemberg. If he talks of area, is the work more difficult in these little islands than across the whole of Australia, where there are immense difficulties owing to distance, and where, as a matter of fact, in the absence of a transcontinental railway, the postal relations between New South Wales or Queensland and Western Australia are carried on on exactly the same footing as if Western Australia were an island 2,000 miles away? It is an absolutely ridiculous proposition. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of the bulk of the work as being matters of small detail and trifling questions. That argument would mean, as my right hon. Friend has shown, separate Post Offices for Scotland, Wales, Lancashire, and the rest.
We are told that this is a business question. But in connection with this poor, dull, business question, the poor, dull, business people of Ireland are not in favour of the change. Their representatives here are not in favour of it. As a business question, does not everyone know that efficiency goes with a single administration? How can you carry on with efficiency many of the tasks which are bound to be carried on across Ireland? I look to the future, and I see not only an aeroplane service, but train-ferries crossing the Channel in every direction, with a Transatlantic mail service going to the West Coast of Ireland, and then being carried across to the United States or Canada. I realise that the establishment of such a system involves difficult and protracted negotiations between Governments and Governments, and between Governments and steamship companies. We have seen a little of the difficult and unsatisfactory character of negotiations where only one Government is concerned. Will it be easier to secure the, inestimable boon to Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Empire, of a vast Imperial service across Ireland, with postal subsidies and so forth, if you have to deal with three Governments instead of two, as will be the case if you have a separate Irish Post Office? Another question of the most vital importance, that of defence, the right hon. Gentleman disposed of with a little what I think can be described only in the word "slosh" about good feeling and so on. It is not a question of good feeling permeating the Irish community. The postal service is of the most intimate and vital importance in connection with military defence, on such questions as mobilisation, 1529 Press censorship, and so on. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that for a long time past anxious, protracted, and businesslike discussions have been going on between representatives of the Post Office here and the Committee of Imperial Defence with regard to there always being somebody at every Post Office to see that mobilisation orders reach the recipients with a minimum of delay, to ensure that important military news is distributed at once, and so forth. What is going to be the position of the Irish Post Office with regard to the Committee of Imperial Defence? Will it be represented continually? Will it be able to make all these innumerable detailed arrangements which are so vital to the safety of this country and of the Empire? The postal service is an important integral part of the military defence of this country, and it is essential—all the more as Ireland is an island—that the whole of the postal and telegraph arrangements shall be in the hands of a single united administration, absolutely apart from any question of the feeling or wishes of the people in any particular district.
I come to another of his reasons. He declared that Ireland should have the responsibility for Irish expenditure. That raises the whole issue. Post Office expenditure is not Irish expenditure. It is the national expenditure of the United Kingdom. The service is a national service, and every citizen of the United Kingdom has as much a right to expect as good service in Ireland as he gets in any other part of the Kingdom. He has as much right, for instance, to expect when he goes into a post office in Ireland that he will be spoken to in English and not in Gaelic as if it were in England. He has a right to expect as decent a service as he gets in this country.
It is one of the national services in every country, and is so regarded. The Post Office is national in every one of our Dominions. It was made national under the South Africa Act, with the consent of the present Government. It is national in every great State, with the one exception of Bavaria and Wurtemberg. The right hon. Gentleman can take no example from those two, which are sovereign States with kings of their own, with British and other foreign Ministers at their capitals. They are States which entered the German Union at the head of victorious armies, one as large and efficient as the whole of the expeditionary force on which the colleague of the right hon. Gentleman prides 1530 himself so much. But even those Post Offices have not the power which till this moment the Government proposed should be given to the Irish Government. As the Bill stood at the beginning of this afternoon it was proposed to give to the new local government which we are going to create in Ireland greater powers than are enjoyed by the sovereign States of Bavaria and Wurtemberg. It shows with what little foresight this Bill was thought out. It is the result not of statesmanship, but of party obligation.
§ Mr. CROFT
I listened with the greatest interest to the Postmaster-General's rebuke to those that sit on these benches, that we were not grateful for all the concessions which the Government have made so far in this Bill. I think that everybody will agree that the Postmaster-General deserves our gratitude for having given ns the great concession which I suppose will now prevail upon several people to vote for the Bill although they would not have done so before. That concession, as we know, is that the King's head is going to be put on the stamps instead of that of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford.
§ Mr. CROFT
I think that the House will agree with those of us on these benches, that we are not ungrateful for that concession, though we do not think it makes any very great difference to the Bill. The right hon Gentleman has told us of the great burdens of the Postmaster-General, of the great difficulty he has in controlling his vast business. But really is the work of the Postmaster-General going to be lightened in any respect whatever by having complications set up with another Post Office in Ireland, with which he will always have to be in contact, and with which possibly he will never be in agreement? When you come to consider and draw a circle around the British Islands and show how near we are together, and then consider the thousands of miles which we find in the Dominions overseas, it really does seem trifling with the time of this House that the right hon. Gentleman should suggest that the Postmaster-General is incapable of fulfilling the duties which Postmaster-Generals in other parts of the world are capable of fulfilling. There is no possible reason, there is no argument, which can carry any weight in this House for this proposal, except that the Government 1531 have their marching orders, and because the Nationalist party desire the patronage of the Post Office in Ireland.
That can be the only possible reason for the proposal. There is no business, economic, or other reason than that. I would suggest that it is a very dangerous policy. Hon. Gentlemen above me desire, they say, to give every safeguard for the minorities in Ireland. Will they deny that it would be a very bad thing for Ireland, supposing the Ulster men were in a very large and ovehwhelming majority, with party feeling running so high that power should be given to the Ulster men to make Civil servants under the Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is altered now."] As to the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman, I admit these difficulties exist. We have been told there are two nations. It is admitted that there are two. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Hon. Gentlemen are very ready to maintain that the whole of the Irish people are unanimous, and I suppose are one nation. If they do admit that, they must also admit then that there is one nation in the British Isles, and that is the British nation—and that is a very good reason for having no Bill of this description. The right hon. Gentleman presses this Bill on what he calls business grounds. When this particular Clause is examined, it will be observed that he is going in an opposite direction to any business; certainly anything that I know. There is no business on the face of the earth, I believe, but where the whole tendency is in the opposite direction. Modern businesses are all in tie direction of concentration and amalgamation. Here we find the right hon. Gentleman taking an opposite course.
He does not believe it is a good thing. He knows it must weaken the Post Office system as a whole. But he is really not to blame. He is not master in his own house. He knows perfectly well that it is a political reason and not a business reason which he is advancing. If his suggestion that it is good business is correct, then it must be equally a good business if Harrod's Stores started branches all over London and adjacent towns with separate directorates and separate managers; or if a bank established branches with separate directorates in different parts of the country. He knows that he is going opposite to the whole policy of modern business men. We are told that 'another reason why these 1532 powers should be given to Ireland is because Ireland is' an island; because the sea is rough between Ireland and England. But the sea is also rough between the Isle of Wight and my Constituency. That, however, is no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should give a separate post office to the Isle of Wight, although the hon. Gentleman who represents that constituency would doubtless like to see many of his supporters be given separate duties, if the right hon. Gentleman extended the principle he is putting forward. The sea makes no difference whatever. We know the case of Prince Edward Island of Canada, and of the North and South islands of New Zealand. In view of these the argument of the Postmaster-General cannot hold water. In connection with this Bill the argument advanced is that it is a beginning of a federal system in the British Islands. If that be the case surely you are making impossible a federal Bill on these lines by giving this separate power to Ireland!
Obviously if the Government mean what they say—that the same kind of local government is to be granted to Scotland and Wales—surely they must recognise that here at once they are up against a difficulty if they give to one of the federal Governments that which cannot be given to Scotland or to Wales, because no Scotchman would ever vote for a representative again if he made such a suggestion in this House. If the Government actually intend to continue the idea of federalism of the British Isles, I think they would be well advised to drop the idea of a separate Post Office out of this Bill, because there can be nothing worse in the future before them if they mean business than to have different postal systems for Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. This particular Clause is undoubtedly not welcomed by any Home Ruler there is in the Dominions. I recently had an opportunity of speaking to a good many Home Rulers in the Dominion of Canada who, directly they discovered this Clause setting up a separate Post Office for Ireland in the Bill, said that was a reason why the Bill should not go any further. I venture to think there is not a single Home Ruler in Canada who would for one moment believe that it is a good thing to have a separate Post Office for Ireland, when it has been found in Canada that the best and only way of running the Post Office in that great Dominion is to have a single central system which runs throughout the length and 1533 breadth of all its provinces. It is only one more proof of the insincerity of what we were led to believe before the election, and of what the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, when he was speaking in Canada, repeatedly said was all that Ireland was asking for, namely, the same provincial government as existed in Quebec or Ontario. It is entirely foreign to the whole principle in the British Empire, upon which the Dominion Governments and provincial Governments have been so successfully built up, to have separate Post Offices.
There is one more point with which I want to deal in this connection, and that is the military point. It is not a satisfactory thing to have your communications in time of war, or your diplomatic communications before war, going through two or three different bodies. It is distinctly contrary to the idea expressed repeatedly at the Colonial and Imperial Conferences. It is also important to realise that the difficulties even before war are sometimes even graver than in the time of war; and that is the reason why it has been repeatedly advanced that it is desirable to have a British all-red cable, for the simple reason that you do not want your diplomatic secrets to go through other countries or Powers. I am very glad to see the new found patriotism of hon. Gentlemen from Ireland who sit behind me. It is very welcome, but we must consider what happened in the past, and I do not believe this country would be wise to hand over bodily its communications to a Government run by these hon. Gentlemen when we remember that these hon. Gentlemen encouraged our country's enemies on a former occasion. However sweet and honeyed their words are now, we would be simply gambling with our military defences if we did not take precautions to see that the postal and cable services of this country are under one central Government, as in every other civilised country in the world. There is no excuse whatever for such a change except that the Government want to have the confidence and support of various people from Ireland.
§ Mr. MOORE
This Amendment deals with the matter which shows clearly the Government's attitude towards Nationalist Members below the Gangway, with whom for present purposes and for three or four years past they have been on such excellent terms. This Amendment is very like the Amendment we had upon the land question. The right hon. and learned Gen- 1534 tleman the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) pointed out the other night that the Government were perfectly willing to hand over the fixing of rents to the new Parliament in Dublin, but that at the same time the Government were very astute in taking measures to prevent them getting control of the Department in which the money was, and retained it under their own control. This postal business is treated in exactly the same way. The postal service, as such, is to be handed over as a mark of confidence by the Government to their confederates below the Gangway, but the Post Office Savings Bank, where the money is, is being retained by the Government. Of course, that is for the period of ten years. But for ten years at any rate with all its desire, the-Parliament in College Green cannot lay a finger upon the deposits in the Savings Bank. That is one of the safeguards. At the same time you have this extraordinary state of affairs, that in every little rural post office throughout Ireland you will have one official, the village postmistress, or some such person, in charge under the control of the Dublin Parliament, to see-letters delivered, and the same person will be an Imperial officer for taking in-deposits and looking after the Savings Bank. Who is going to appoint this official? If there is a vacancy will the Government of Great Britain appoint the official for Savings Bank purposes, and will the Dublin Parliament appoint him for the delivery or the non-delivery of letters? You will appoint in a place that can only afford one official that official to perform two different duties, owning two different allegiances. When you come—and the question was put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington—to look at this as: a business transaction, surely as a business transaction this splitting up of the postal service is absolutely absurd. It means confusion at every stage, and from a business point of view it is the most foolish thing the Government could have done.
I think the Government are perfectly right to retain the Savings Bank branch in its own hands. If the Savings Bank Department was handed over to hon. Members from-Ireland and their friends, there would be a run on the Savings Bank to-morrow; and therefore I think the Government are perfectly right, not to-show their confidence in the way they are always professing when they declare that everything will be right when this Bill 1535 becomes law. I think the Government did the only possible thing in keeping the Savings Bank deposits in their own hands, as they were bound to do, instead of putting them in the hands of political marauders. The Government had no choice, but being forced to keep the deposit branch in their own hands, why set up a dual control which is no control whatever, and have the one officer, with constant friction, in charge of both the Departments. It may be that in the larger cities you will have separate staffs; you will have an Imperial staff appointed by the Government in Westminster, and an Irish staff appointed by the Government in Dublin. I do not think the one roof will cover both these Departments. There will be plenty of trouble about that. I think the friction which will arise, side by side, will be worse than the confusion that will come when you have one officer trying to serve two Governments. For splitting up this into two in what is really the same service there must be a reason. I do not mean a business reason, because I know there is no such reason.
§ Mr. MOORE
I have never heard of that where the two principals were at diametrically cross purposes. I do not know whether the hon. Member opposite has ever had an agent of that sort himself. When part of the business is handed to A and the other part is retained by B, and both are under separate control, it is absurd to call that a partnership. Let us come to the reason for all this. There is every reason from the Imperial or British point of view against cutting this service into two. Nothing but confusion and friction must arise. Take it from the Irish point of view. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) always boasts of his superior finance, and no one is allowed to mention anything in the way of finance, because he is looked upon as the sole authority, and when he opens his mouth no dog dare bark. It does not matter whether it is the hon. Member for Cork, late Louth, or other hon. Members who helped to get him in for Cork, they all join in a pæan of praise for the great skill and knowledge of finance possessed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington, and his words on that subject are gospel. The right hon. Gentleman said it was the best thing that 1536 could happen to his adopted country, England, to get rid of the postal service, because England is losing on it every year, and although we are paying £250.000 for the transferred service it is the best thing an English Member can do, because he is putting the whole loss, anticipated at £1,500,000, upon Ireland. This loss is to be transferred to my fellow countrymen, and there is not a murmur about it, and they are only too delighted to get this money, loss and all. When I find the Postmaster-General is cutting the service in two, and hon. Members below the Gangway are willing to take it with this potential loss staring them in the face, there must be some reason behind it besides mere business. We do not cheerfully take losses of this kind unless we are going to make something out of it. What are they going to make out of it? On this question my Noble Friend kept apologising, and I regret his apologies, and I am not going to apologise to hon. Members. The whole thing is a naked and unashamed transaction. They are taking over this service which is against British interest, which the Government are giving them for their political support, and they are taking it because they are going to pack the Post Office with all the promising young recruits from the the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Gaelic League, and the United Irish League.
§ Mr. MOORE
I never can tell what the hon. Member says, and I believe he is talking Gaelic, or a language of that sort, which up to the present is not legal currency. What I was going to say is that there is an organisation, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which, from, the point of view of politicians—although they are outrage-mongers, intimidators and cattle drivers—is a most estimable institution, and they have got to be paid and must live like other people, and here is a kindly Liberal Government handing over £250,000 a year as an equivalent for the annual loss which it is estimated Ireland will sustain. You simply say to your most promising lieutenant in the Ancient Order of Hibernians, "You are a most excellent man as a rural messenger; we are getting the money from England, and you are going to get a salary for going a rural walk of a couple of hours in the morning and the afternoon and you will get your 15s. or 17s. a week for that, and if that does not stimulate you to the work 1537 of your profession in the Ancient Order of Hibernians nothing else will." There can be no other object; and with a very amenable Postmaster-General this can easily be done. Such a service requires hardly any education, for you only require people to read the addresses, and to know where the recipients live. They are positions which do not require skilled education or an examination, and the password of the Hibernians will be enough to get the job. All the fighting men in that organisation are to be provided for out of the £250,000 which this House is going to hand over. How does that operate? I know post offices in Ireland where, if I was to send a telegram containing an item of political news or giving any of my movements, it would be inside the enemy's camp within two hours.
§ Mr. MOORE
If you introduce a religious question, I have got in my mind only a single Protestant office. Where you get a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians or a Nationalist in charge of a post office there is a wholesale leakage into Nationalist circles of every telegram that goes through. What is going to happen if you staff the whole service with these gentlemen'? My hon. Friend pointed out that it was the desire at present to get rid of pensioners, ex-constabulary men, ex-soldiers, and ex-sailors. Why? Because they are not amenable to the orders of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. They have been brought up under discipline to do their duty, and there is no leakage through them. If you staff the whole service with Ancient Hibernians, do you think that political or religious news or anything which concerns them will not leak out? We know perfectly well it happens now under the British Post Office, because the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) has already stuffed his friends into the Post Office. The independent party who would not ask for anything themselves make a point of getting their nephews, cousins, aunts and everybody else jammed into the Post Office at the present time. That is an open secret to-day. When you have the Post Office handed over to these 1538 people, what security will there be for those who differ with them, those who are in a minority and must, as the Chief Secretary has declared, suffer?
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington (Mr. Lough) talked without contradiction about economies. He said Ireland was a poor thinly-populated agricultural country, and the postal service was really too good for them. I think the Postmaster-General said the same thing. They had the same service as in the thickly-populated parts of England. I do not altogether agree with him, but at the same time there is a fairly good service considering the wants of the country. There is very nearly a household delivery in the rural districts, certainly in the north. All that is to be cut down. That is the economy. Economy, according to the hon. Member for West Islington, is to be arrived at by cutting down the whole of the postal service of Ireland to the requirements of a thinly-scattered, poor, rural country. There was not a word of contradiction, and there is no other way in which they can arrive at economy. The hon. Member for West Islington, with all his knowledge of Ireland, makes the mistake of thinking the whole of Ireland is purely a rural constituency. The main characteristic of the North-East of Ireland is not that of a rural constituency. All throughout an area varying from fifty to one hundred miles round Belfast you have in every town of any size weaving factories and spinning mills and works of some sort, and the requirements of the people are absolutely different from the requirements of a rural constituency. If you begin to practice the economies which the hon. Member prophesied and advised, you will begin to cut down the mercantile industrial part of the country to a mere rural delivery. The small farmer in the West of Ireland would probably be content to get only one letter a week, but you cannot carry on business or commerce on those lines. If you are going to cut your coat according to your cloth in the rural districts, the industrial part of the country will suffer, and while, of course, that is a thing which will please hon. Members below the Gangway, we object to it, and object to it very strongly.
I take it, and I think the Attorney-General will agree, that everything is intended to be within the jurisdiction of the Irish Parliament that is not specially excepted. That was the argument we had 1539 again and again on Clause 2. Therefore, unless you find some exception which will cripple the power of the Irish Parliament in this matter of the postal service, they will be absolute masters of it. I can find nothing in this Bill which will prevent the Irish Parliament when it becomes master of its own postal service from making its own postal rates. There are exceptions in the Bill providing that they shall not be allowed to alter certain stamps, stamps on bills of exchange and contracts, stamps in the mercantile sense of the word, and I take it if it was necessary to reserve those from their powers it would have been equally necessary to put into the Schedule another provision that they should not alter postal rates. I can find nothing in the Bill to prevent them, and there is no use handing over to the Government the postal service if they cannot charge their own rates for the carriage of their own mails. What is to prevent the Irish Government from saying England is a foreign country? Hardly one hon. Member below the Gangway has not said that in the course of his life. What is to prevent an Irish Parliament in a hurry for revenue, saying, "We are going to charge 1½d. on every letter that goes to England "? What is to stop that? There is nothing in the Bill, and who would that hit? It all comes back to the same thing. It would not hit the small farmer, who perhaps writes to his brother once a week or a month when he happens to be over here for the harvest or something of that sort. It would be a direct tax on the commerce and industry of the North, which is the industrial centre of Ireland.
§ Mr. KEATING indicated dissent.
§ Mr. KEATING
I will remind the hon. Member that 75 per cent, of the Irish people are engaged in agriculture.
§ Mr. MOORE
I should be sorry to compete with the hon. Member and his colleagues in prejudice. The very instant the Irish Parliament wanted to raise a little revenue they would say, as they have always said, "Let us get it out of Belfast." [HON. MEMBERS: "We have never said anything of the sort."] Never said it! Why, the reason you would not agree to leave out the Ulster counties was because you would have nothing to tax. That is a truism. You may impose on hon. Members opposite, but you cannot impose on us, who live in the country and have the pleasure of reading your utterances. "Why not get it out of the North? After all, we 75 per cent, engaged in agriculture do not bother very much about writing letters, and we are not very much concerned about newspapers, but those wretched fellows in Belfast are writing letters, hundreds of them, every day, and many of them to England. Let us put an extra halfpenny on the fellow who writes to a foreign country. It will help to-relieve our burden." I remember very well an experience of my own. I was in the Committee—the Chief Secretary was there—on the University Bill. I moved an Amendment that in the university he was founding Irish should not be made a compulsory subject, and that no student should be compelled to learn Irish. The Chief Secretary laughed and said such a thing would never be possible. I was called bigoted, and the chairman said it was ridiculous, but, in eighteen months, that very thing came to pass, and it is now the working rule in the National Universities. Therefore I do not attach much importance to manufactured laughter and suggestions that things will not come into force. I have lived in the country. I have had the fortune to live alongside Members below the Gangway and I am aware that they know when it is desirable to laugh. I venture to assert that if you had an Irish Parliament this proposal would be carried unanimously, because there would be no Unionist Members in it, and the conclusion would be that the best way of increasing the revenue would be to charge an extra-Jd. on English letters. Think how that would appeal to the friends of hon. Members in America. Why it would be another way of cutting the last link that binds the two countries!
The time will come when you will have a halfpenny rate in England. Is there any power to compel the Irish Parliament to-reduce their rate to one halfpenny in 1541 those days. Are you going to have a halfpenny rate in England and a penny rate in Ireland? This suggestion is not at ail improbable, and, if this Government had an election in view and thought that such a proposal would bring in votes, we should get it within six months. I am not prophesying. I would only point out it is not so improbable. What I want to know is when you arrive at a halfpenny rate in England is there anything in this Bill which will insure uniformity? Can you compel the Irish postal service to give a halfpenny rate in that country? I do not think that a Dublin Parliament, 75 per cent, of the Members of which represent people on the land, would be much concerned about letters. They would look on such a proposal as a loss of revenue, and you would have the lieutenants and privates of the various leagues up in arms against the idea of a reduction of Post Office revenue, in fear that their weekly salaries might disappear. Could you under a suggestion of federalism have different rates for postal service in different parts of the United Kingdom? And if you have power to ensure uniformity what will be left to hon. Members below the Gangway? Absolutely nothing but a power of unlimited jobbery, and that is the beginning and the end of the whole business. I think it is a dirty political transaction under the guise, of a respectable looking Bill such as none but a Liberal party could be capable of.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I wish to make one short point. I do not propose to deal with the arguments that have been addressed to the Committee. I propose to put a question to the Government—to the Chief Secretary and the Attorney-General, who are in their places at this moment. The Postmaster-General, as I understood him, clearly admitted that the Imperial Parliament will pay £250,000 annually to the Irish Parliament in respect of the Post Office which is now carried on at a loss of £250,000 a year. The money will be paid over in the Transferred Account, but should the Post Office prove profitable Ireland will still continue to get the benefit of that £250,000 and will have that benefit for all time. I understand, however, the Postmaster-General now says that that is not so, but there are provisions in the Bill whereby if the Post Office becomes profitable in the future the Imperial Parliament will get the benefit of it. That is 1542 the point on which I wish to join issue. I can find no such provision in the Bill at all. As I read it there is to be a fixed payment of £250,000 a year to Ireland for all time. That is a point on which I should like an explanation
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
The Postmaster-General said nothing of the kind. When it, was suggested he had made a statement to that effect he denied it. Ho said it was not right to declare that if there was a loss it would have to be paid for all time, but the matter would be brought into calculation with other sources of revenue which he enumerated.
§ Mr. HOHLER
It appears to me we are now undertaking a bargain whereby for all time, however profitable the business of the Post Office in Ireland may become, we shall be called upon to pay this quarter of a million every year. This is an Irish service beyond question. If you look at Clause 14 you will find in Sub-section (26) that we are to make certain payments to the Irish Parliament in respect of all transferred services existing at the present time, and, therefore, there will be brought into account the present cost of the administration of the Irish Post Office, which is admittedly carried on at a loss of a quarter of a million sterling a year. The point I am making is this: So far as I know, the only provision for a readjustment as between the Imperial Parliament and Ireland of payments to be made is in Clause 26, and the Attorney-General will observe that a comparison is made between the Imperial taxes levied in Ireland and Irish taxes. The reserved services are to be brought into account, but the Post Office service is not included. If that service is transferred to the Irish Parliament we shall have to make good for all time an annual loss of £250,000. However profitable the Post Office may be in Irish hands it is never brought into account again at all. That is made perfectly clear by Clause 47, where the expression "tax" includes duties other than duties on postage. Under this provision we endow the Irish Parliament with £250,000 for all time in respect of the Post Office.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I have already referred to that. The prosperity of the Post Office is a general index of the prosperity of the 1543 country. The Government have so carefully drawn this Bill that however prosperous the Post Office may become in Ireland we shall never get back a halfpenny of the £250,000. If in ten years' time they were to make a clear profit of £250,000 a year upon their Post Office, we should, in addition to that, be giving them £250,000 a year. There is no escape from it.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
The Committee owe a debt of gratitude to the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler) for his explanation how this country will stand in connection with the £250,000. I take the same view that he did, and I am surprised that the Attorney-General did not agree with it. Perhaps, when he replies, he will give us an explanation. I want to speak as an Irishman to my fellow Irishmen below the Gangway. I do not want to lecture them; they have been lectured already, and have stood it very well. Apart from the question of federalism, is it worth while to take over this great expense? I have read the Government of Scotland Bill, which is a very skilfully drawn measure. I notice that the Members who backed that Bill always bitterly attack their own Front Bench from the rear in the course of these Debates, but after they have done that they go to eat their chop at the National Liberal Club, and take good care not to vote against their side. We listen to the criticism, but do not get their votes. Do the Government really think that it is worth Ireland's? while to take over this great financial responsibility of the Post Office? I do not think it is. I quite realise that there is in Ireland, especially in the three Southern provinces, a genuine aspiration to nationality on the part of people who test any Home Rule Bill by asking whether it is a Bill they can take if they wish to be a nation. For instance, as late as May, 1910, the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) said:—Our modern demand has always been that whatever Parliament is given to Ireland now must have absolute control over the taxation of Ireland and over the executive government of Ireland.This Bill cannot be said to come up to that expectation, and I believe hon. Members below the Gangway acknowledge that, I have also a resolution passed at the National Conference held at Cork on 25th May last. The first resolution runs:—That without concealing from ourselves the sacrifices of Irish National sentiment, which the Government of Ireland Bill demands from us in substituting for the large measure of legislative independence conceded by 1544 Mr. Gladstone's Bill of 1886 a system of Canadian provincial devolution in all essential features similar to that proposed by Mr. Chamberlain a quarter of a century ago we welcome the Bill as offering a reason able basis of permanent reconciliation between the two countries.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
It was composed of representative Irishmen, and the resolution was carried with acclamation. It shows that this Bill is not the full measure of independence which hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have asked for, and perhaps they can for that reason give way on the postal matter with a certain amount of grace. I can imagine them saying that although this Bill does not give them all they ask for, and may be only Canadian devolution, there are States smaller than Ireland, with less independence than they get under this Bill, but which have their postal service and their own postage stamps. There are petty provinces on the Balkan frontier, Bosnia and Herzegovina, some of the independent Indian States, and some of our small Colonies. Most of the West Indian Islands have their own postage stamps, and the small island of Montserrat, which is supposed to be an almost Irish colony, has its own postage stamp, which, curiously enough, represents a woman holding a harp, with a dog couched at her feet, the heraldic description being:—A female proper, with hound couchant, and a harp or. …At any rate, I quite realise that it will be a source of legitimate pride to a Nationalist when, later on, he can lick his own national stamp and put it on his own letters. It is all very well to say that hon. Members want to have a postal service because of patronage. It cuts both ways, and it may give to the House of Commons and to their constituents more trouble than it is worth. The Chief Secretary has told us himself that finance is going to be a tight fit. If the Bill becomes law, all that the Irish Chancellor will have to play with is a beggarly £500,000, diminishing by £50,000 to £200,000 a year. Ireland is going to take over a, certain number of transferred services, and those Departments are the very ones in which money will have to be spent—things like education, agricultural development, and the 1545 nationalisation of railways, perhaps. Money will have to be spent like water if Ireland is to take these over. I think the Post Office is going to be an increasing charge. The figures have been quoted of the increase in the last few years. We know that in 1893 the postal revenue was £740,000, and the expenditure £790,000, a deficit of £50,000. In 1912 the postal revenue was £1,354,000, and the expenditure i1],600,000, showing a deficit of £250,000, all that, of course, with the population stationary. Why is that? Simply because we in Ireland enjoy the increased postal facilities that England and Scotland enjoy. We have a house-to-house delivery; that is a great boon—a wonderful advantage. I remember very well when I used at one time to pay the postman a sovereign a year extra for bringing my letters up the drive a quarter of a mile from the gates. Now they are delivered at my house twice a day. But, of course, it costs money. In every small village all over Ireland they have this same house-to-house delivery, so that they need not trudge four or five miles through the wet to get their letters.
What is going to happen? The Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland will have to make his Budget balance. He will, of course, put on an extra tax—a business tax, perhaps. He will put a duty on land and bleed the grazier white, and perhaps for a while he will make things balance; but in time to come even this extra bit of tax will fail, and then, when the luxuries of the rich in Ireland are gone and the man with £2,000 a year has gone and those who can afford luxuries have left the country, the luxuries of the poor will be taxed. The house-to-house delivery is a luxury of the poor, and if that is to be taken away, you will be doing something to make the poor man poorer, and yet you will be bound to do it. We did very well, you may say, during 1893 without a house-to-house delivery, but we should not like to go back to it. Apart from that, we want an extension of the telegraph and telephone system. Some hon. Members below the Gangway mentioned the butter trade. What a thing it is to have a telephone and get the price of your butter without any difficulty at all. How could we manage to run a creamery if we had not a good telephone system? Individual farmers want telephones. They are getting them in England, and they ought to have them in Ireland.
1546 Again, if you do not starve your education system and agriculture, you will have to starve your Post Office. You must starve something to get your money. If there is one thing that strikes the stranger who comes into the country, the first thing he asks about and makes comments on is the postal service of the country. Hon. Members below the Gangway would not like a Frenchman or a German to see the telephone and telegraph system in England perfect, and then find Ireland a hundred years behind the times. Yet they will have to put up with that. The Committee on Finance said Ireland could not afford the same sort of postal facilities as England. They will have to put up with something much more behind the times. Is it worth their while to take on great extra charges'? I have a suggestion to throw out which may be laughed at, but I put it forward for what it is worth. The Postmaster-General said, as a concession to the feeling on these benches, that Ireland would not be allowed to have her own postage stamp, and that the design shall be the same as the English. I suggest that Ireland should be allowed to have her own design, but should not run the Post Office. We should not have this friction between the English and the Irish Post Office. They should be allowed to have the lady, the dog and the harp. At any rate, let us keep the postal service together in the two countries. We cannot have friction. We should only lose money on both sides, and Ireland would get an extremely inefficient service.
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
I should like to ask whether this question of the Post Office in Ireland has ever been placed before the Defence Committee, because I think it is an enormously important question from the point of view of Imperial Defence. If it has not been placed before the Defence Committee I think those Members of the Government who are responsible for this Bill are really guilty of a very grave misdemeanour. It seems to me quite conceivable also that the division of the Post Office may lead to a considerable danger in the security of land purchase in Ireland. At present the Land Commission every year sends out thousands and thousands of receivable orders through the Post Office to those persons who have to pay the annuities. Supposing the Irish Post Office altered this system, which at present is very efficient, and suppose it became less efficient, it is quite 1547 conceivable that those receivable orders would not get into the hands of those persons who owed the annuities, and a good deal of delay might take place in the payment, because at present there is a check at the returned letter office, and if a man says he has not received the receivable order it can immediately be checked at headquarters. It seems to me that this is one of the most retrograde provisions of the whole Bill, and it is especially important after the speech made by the First Lord of the Admiralty the other day, who it seems to me has entirely changed the aspect of this Home Rule Bill.
Up to now we have used the phrase Mother of Parliaments, but after the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty his Mother of Parliaments will be more like theOld woman who lived in a shoe.And had so many children she didn't know what to do.If under the scheme of federation all these entities are to have their separate post offices, it seems to me that the complexity of the post office system would be something extraordinary. I cannot understand why the Postmaster-General—he said it in a speech the other day—insists upon saying that this Bill is founded on the Colonial model, when it has been pointed out in Debate that Australia, Canada, and South Africa have insisted upon a unified postal system. In Africa there were four systems, and in Australia there were six systems before federation. They were unified. What was the effect in Australia of the six separate systems being unified? Before federation in Australia the charge for a telegram from one State to another was 2s. for ten words, not including the address and signature, and 2d. for each additional word. If, before federation, a telegram had to pass from one State into another State, say from Western Australia to Victoria, an extra Is. was charged for every ten words as it passed from State to State—that is to say, a telegram before federation in Australia passing from Western Australia to Queensland cost 4s. for ten words, such a telegram having to pass through Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland. Before federation, in the case of telegrams to Tasmania, an additional charge was imposed by the Eastern Extension Cable Company. What has happened since federation? In Australia the inter-State charges for telegrams has been assimilated 1548 throughout the whole Commonwealth, and the existing charge for a telegram of sixteen words, including the address and signature, is only 1s. to any part of the Commonwealth, and no additional cable charge is made for a telegram to Tasmania under existing conditions. The whole of the telegraph system has been enormously cheapened since the unification of the postal service in the Commonwealth of Australia.
Another thing has happened in Australia. Prior to the unification of the postal system there was very wide divergence in construction and maintenance of postal buildings, and especially telegraphs. In South Australia, for instance, they used iron tubular posts, which were found to resist the ravages of the white ant. Over the whole of the rest of Australia they used wooden poles. Since the postal service has been unified they have put up iron posts throughout the whole of the Commonwealth, and standarised and improved the whole construction and maintenance of the telegraph service. If the Dominions found it in their interest to unify the postal service, surely it is far more important to keep the unified postal and telegraph system of this country and Ireland, for this reason: Ireland and Great Britain are far more related through systems of private companies, and a unified system is far more essential to the general defence and administration of the Empire. I wonder whether this question has been submitted to the Committee of Imperial Defence, because it seems to me that a unified postal system for Great Britain and Ireland is absolutely essential to the defence of this country. It must not be forgotten that the Commander-in-Chief during a state of war has to work through a civilian director of telegraphs. If that director has an intimate knowledge of the telegraph system of Great Britain, and Great Britain only, he cannot hope possibly to work efficiently and sympathetically with the telegraphists in Ireland in the same way as he could do if he had a unified system to deal with. Yesterday the First Lord of the Admiralty mentioned that one-fifth of the war signalling stations in the United Kingdom were situated in Ireland. I think that was an extremely important statement, because as a matter of fact these war signalling stations are absolutely bound up with the telegraph system of the United Kingdom. In war the signalling station has to depend entirely upon the telegraph for the orders received from headquarters, which have to be transmitted to the military and naval 1549 authorities, and without a properly unified telegraph system it is quite conceivable that most serious mistakes might be made, and that apathy might ensue among the telegraphists in one part of the country as distinguished from another.
I should like to know what is going to happen to the monopolies of the Postmaster-General under this Bill. The Postmaster-General at the present moment has got three cardinal monopolies, subject to one or two minor exceptions. His first great monopoly is the exclusive privilege of carrying, collecting, and delivering letters, with the incidental services; the second is the exclusive privilege of transmitting telegrams, with the incidental services; and the third is the exclusive privilege that no person may set up a wireless installation without his licence. I think I am correct in saying that. Under this Bill will the Irish Parliament be able to grant licences in Ireland infringing those monopolies of the Postmaster-General? it is really a very important matter, because I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that these monopolies are the palladium, and the security, of cheap and uniform telegraphic and postal rates. If you allow rival bodies to compete with these services, they will take over the profitable work of the Post Office and leave the Post Office the unprofitable work. Supposing the Irish Parliament can destroy the monopoly enjoyed by the Postmaster-General in Ireland to grant licences infringing these monopolies, there will be immediately enormous pressure brought to bear in this country for the abolition of his monopolies in Great Britain, and telegraph and postal rates will inevitably rise in consequence. I should like to know whether the Irish Parliament will be able to restrict the free delivery of telegrams in Ireland and make it more costly for an Englishman to telegraph to an Irishman in Ireland than for an Irishman in Ireland to telegraph to an Englishman in England. I think that is a perfectly sensible question to ask, because under the present regulations, as hon. Members know, the minimum area of free delivery is three miles from the terminal telegraph post office. But the Irish administration might easily make the minimum one mile. Therefore a person living beyond the minimum limit on his letter paper would have to put, "Nearest telegraph office," so and so, "porterage, 6d," say, and his English correspondent would have to pay the porterage, an extra 6d. on a telegram from England to Ireland. But 1550 the Irishman who happened to be living beyond the mile limit would pay the usual charge, and therefore would be at an advantage as compared with his friend in England. This question of the Post Office is of enormous importance. The Postmaster-General has made some concessions which I recognise as being important, but I hope that he will see his way before the Report stage to make still further concessions, and retain the unification of our present postal system.
§ Mr. T. DAVIES
Most of the points referred to by the last speaker were answered by the Postmaster-General earlier in the evening, and if the hon. Member had been present he need not have wasted time asking these questions. The hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Newman) evidently does not agree with his colleagues, who, I understood from the hon. Member who introduced this subject, were very much afraid of having a different stamp. The hon. Member does not mind the stamp as long as the administration is kept under the Postmaster-General in this country. The hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler) raised one peculiar point. Ho said that this £250,000 would be a charge for ever on this country, although I think that has been also disposed of by the Postmaster-General. [HON.MEMBERS: "No."] Very well, I have not the slightest doubt then that it will be answered by somebody else later on. It appears to me that the hon. Member did not enter into the consideration of the matter from a business point of view. If anyone wanted to take over a business which was making an increasing loss from year to year, a loss which this year has reached nearly £250,000, would he be expected to take it over without some payment? [An HON. MEMBER: "We do not want them to do it."]. I know that, but the majority of this House think, whether it is a wise or good policy or not, that on the question of finance it is a good bargain for this country. In twenty years the deficiency in the Post Office in Ireland has increased five-fold and is expected to increase still further, if the Irish Post Office continues to be managed from London; but if the Irish Government are able to manage it more economically surely Ireland ought to have the benefit of that. It has been demonstrated year after year that we cannot run the Post Office in Ireland without great loss. We are only giving them what they ought to have. If the deficiency in ten years rises to £250,000 or £500,000, there will be a saving 1551 to this country of the difference between that sum and £250,000. Personally, I do not think that the Irish Government is getting any great bargain by taking it over, on being allowed the deficiency of this year along with it. If I know Ireland the people will not be satisfied with a service of less efficiency than they are getting at present, and I do not think that they will be able to reduce the deficiency very much from what it is. At any rate, I think it is good finance for this country to hand it over and to give the £250,000. The hon. Member for Chatham evidently forgot to read Sub-section (2) of Clause 26, in which the whole of the taxes of Ireland come under review, and therefore if any profit has been made that surely will be calculated at the time, so, whether it is good or bad from the Irish point of view, evidently it is good for this country.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I wish to bring the Committee back to a point which was urged by one or two speakers as to the danger of a divided postal service in time of war. The Postmaster-General treated this point with what I can only call an optimism bordering on levity at the end of his speech. He said that the new spirit created by this Bill would be such that the postal authority of the Empire and of Ireland would be certain to work in harmony. I do not put this on the question of loyalty at all but on the question of divided jurisdiction. I can give one instance which will show the great importance of this matter. I happen to be a friend of two of the gentlemen who acted as censors during the South African war, and the opinion of both of them was that it was absolutely essential for the purpose of the discharge of their duties that they should have been able to work in amicable relations and loyal co-operations with the Postmaster-General at Cape Colony. That they were able to do because that gentleman was Mr. Somerset French, a distinguished Civil servant, and they worked in the most absolute and loyal co-operation with him. But if he had not been there their duties would probably have entirely broken down. The strain of these duties would have been too much for them. In other departments it was not so, and no question of loyalty was involved because at the beginning of the war there were very grave difficulties in other departments of the Cape service—the railway department, for instance. Mr. Schreiner, 1552 who was Postmaster-General of Cape Colony, took exactly the kind of optimistic view which the Postmaster-General has taken, and he said that all things would go well and there was no need for trouble and no need for a departure from the ordinary course of the law. The result of that attitude of Mr. Schreiner was that the enemy obtained enormous advantages at the beginning of the war from having the railway service open for munitions of war, which reached them and were used by them. If you have the same spirit prevailing in the postal service the difficulties of censorship under military administration would have been indefinitely increased. Would it not be the same in Ireland?
I do not say for a moment that the Irish Government would not wish to work in harmony. I would say exactly the same if we set up a Post Office in Scotland, that having double jurisdiction over a Post Office in time of war must be a source of great weakness to the Government. They may have to consult the Post Office in Dublin, they might have to consult the Post Office in Edinburgh, and they might take a different view in a time of emergency, so that it would be absolutely essential for the central Government to retain a central control. The case has been made out worse by what the Postmaster-General has said, because the control of the cable terminals would be in the hands of the subordinate Government, not merely the control of internal messages, and it would be in their power to transmit or refuse to transmit the cables coming across from, abroad. That makes the position much more serious, and I do say that in time of war it is absolutely necessary for the central Government to take into its own hands a real grip of the means of communication. For them to have to negotiate and to have to go begging to the subordinate Government to assign them their powers, might involve a terrible amount of friction, which would be fatal to the strategic objects which the Government might have in view. This is only one example of many which I think may be developed as this Debate proceeds. The questions of the command of the railways, of the commandeering of forces, of the refusal to admit aliens into this country, are all questions which will have to be dealt with. The first of all these questions is the central 1553 control of the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communication, and in the case of war it is essential that the Government from the very first moment of danger should have the machinery in its command.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
I am very sorry that the hon. Member for North Armagh made a very serious charge against a branch of the Civil Service, which up to the present time has possessed an exceedingly good reputation. He deliberately stated that, at some of the Post Offices in Ireland, if a telegram were put in, dealing with confidential or private matters, the contents of that telegram would be in the hands of an opponent. I think the Postmaster-General ought to make some inquiries to ascertain whether it is the fact or not. Personally, I do not believe it is. In my opinion it is most unwise on the part of the Government to split up what is a national service. I think it is a bad business. I think to split up the organisation of the service would cause friction and confusion, and I sincerely hope that the Government will reconsider their position. Personally, I was strongly opposed to appointing separate Commissioners for the different countries to deal with the Insurance Act, because I believed it would lead to confusion and friction among the people directly concerned, and it has done so already. To split up the Post Office service will have the same result. The present trend is not to split up businesses or national services, but to amalgamate and concentrate our forces. I cannot for the life of me see how it is going to benefit Ireland or England to split up the Post Office service. I am speaking only for myself, and I shall vote in favour of retaining the postal service in the hands of Parliament and the General Post Office here.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
I wish personally to examine the point of view which was put forward by the right hon. Member for Islington, who seemed to regard the Post Office service as a sort of humble industrial department of the Government as if it were a laundry or subordinate transport department. It is curious that every modern civilised state has found by experience that the Post Office is a most essential and necessary attribute of sovereignty. The experience is that the wider spread the service, and the cheaper you make it, the more efficient is that service, and the more certain it is to secure that the benefits of it shall reach the 1554 poorest and the furthest from the centre of government. This proposal is defended on the ground or principle of what we may call, "cut your loss." Cut your loss means perpetuating standardising, and stereotyping your loss for all time, and that is what is achieved by this Bill. Groping into this subject as a non-expert must necessarily do, I discovered quite early in my political life that the Post Office is one of those services in which it is a necessity that the richer parts of the country should pay for the poorer, and that is one of the aspects of all Governments, in rich countries where the greatest contentment of the people is achieved.
I live in one city and I represent another city, out of the populousness and wealth of both of which the Postmaster-General makes some revenue. But I have never in either city heard a single citizen complain of Ireland in her poverty receiving the benefit of a postal service for which she does not absolutely pay. The Postmaster-General in his argument referred to the watery barrier between Ireland and England, and said it was on that account proper to have a separate Post Office. At the present moment you may flash a message from Cork in the South of Ireland to Thurso in Scotland. I am told a telegram from Dublin to London takes about three-quarters of an hour from despatch to delivery. I do not pretend that a telegram from Cork to Thurso would take quite so short a time, but I am sure that a telegram from Cork to Thurso would get all the benefits, whatever they may be, of a unified service without crossing-any border between one jurisdiction and another. On the other hand, my own experience of sending a telegram from one individual in London to another in Paris is that it does not take anything like so short a time as from one individual in Dublin to another in London. Therefore, I hope that the Committee will see that although the Postmaster-General boasts of having got rid of the watery barrier between England and Ireland, yet ho has set up one anew in a place where water had been successfully bridged by human ingenuity.
The right hon. Gentleman, faced by the analogies of every modern federal State, had to take refuge on the narrow ledge afforded him by the cases of Würtemberg and Bavaria, where a concession had to be made to the patriotism and sentiment of those two sovereign States, 1555 which joined, against their will, the federation of many other sovereign States. At this moment you can point to the fact that if you are in Bavaria and travel in the railway to Germany across the border, and post in Germany a letter, a Bavarian stamp will be of no use to you. If you write a letter in Hanover to Bavaria and enclose a stamped envelope for a reply, the stamp will be of no use. These are small inconveniences, but I should like to ask whether there is any man who will tell me that these small inconveniences are not greater than any conveniences which apart from pure sentiment can be found in the separation of the Post Office of Bavaria from the rest of the German Empire. Those are some of the casual and unskilled reflections of one of the persons who, like all the rest, must necessarily have experience of this question, and I hope that the House will retain this service.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I do not propose to travel over the ground of the whole De-bate, particularly as my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General replied when most of the criticisms had already been advanced on both sides of the House. There are, however, one or two fresh points which have been raised and to which I think I should refer. There was the point which was made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler), and which arose from a complete misconception of what the Postmaster-General said, and which was certainly explained by him during the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain). The Postmaster-General never for one moment said that if the postal service showed a profit of £250,000 or so much of it as would counterbalance the deficit, that it would no longer be paid. What he did say was very definitely and clearly that that £250,000 was part of the sum which was going to be paid by this country to Ireland, but when you have once had out of sources of taxation a sufficient amount of proceeds to counterbalance expenditure, and when you got then the case which has been referred to, that the consequence would be that you would no longer pay that £250,000, which was part of the whole sum that was being paid. That was the point he was making and I thought he made it quite clear. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham said that even supposing that a large profit had been made by the Post Office in 1556 Ireland that we should have to go on for all time paying that £250,000. Apart even from the answer which the Postmaster-General has already made showing that it is not for all time, there is a further provision referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for the South Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. T. Davies) and that is in Clause 26, in which there is power for the revision of the financial provisions, and of course when you have got to that point, a report being presented on which you could have a revision of the financial provisions under that Clause, you would have to take into account the extra receipts and profits, if there were any, which were being made in the administration of the Post Office.
There was a further point made by the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) which was also dealt with by the hon. Member for the Central Division of Sheffield (Mr. James Hope). That was that in time of war or any great difficulty or emergency of Imperial defence that we ought to have control of the Post Office in Ireland. I agree, but, then, if the hon. Members had followed what was said by the Postmaster-General, he indicated quite clearly that that would be done, and could be done, under Order-in-Council, under Clause 44 of the Bill. You want an Order-in-Council in order to give you power to make regulations which would then apply, and that would give you the right you require. It has already been indicated that that is what is intended, and what can be done, and if it cannot be done, it certainly shall have to be done. That was made perfectly plain by the Postmaster-General. We are at one in this: I agree entirely that in time of war it is desirable, and it is indeed essential, that we should have the power to control the postal and telegraph services in Ireland. Further, under that very Clause provision is made for regulations which will enable us to exercise facilities with regard to telegraphic and telephonic communication in Ireland. All that is already provided for under this Clause. No difficulty will arise, and certainly if any question does arise we shall make it perfectly plain and see that there shall be no question.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I put it to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who treats me always with the utmost courtesy, that surely Clause 44 relates entirely to the getting of the Act into operation, and makes 1557 no provision, as I read it, for Orders-in-Council when the Act is in full operation?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I agree with my lion. Friend to this extent. I have already pointed out I do not think myself that the Clause is quite clear with regard to it. I think it is necessary that there shall be no question about it. The Postmaster-General said to-day that power would be taken to do it. We are not going to leave it in any doubt or ambiguity. I quite agree it is essential to have the power. The hon. Member for Salisbury asked the further question, whether or not the provisions for the transfer of the Post Office had been laid before the Committee of Imperial Defence. I think he must have forgotten, or may not know, that when a similar question was recently asked of the Prime Minister, it was stated by the Prime Minister that it is contrary to usage to state what is laid before the Committee of Imperial Defence. I think I have said enough to show at any rate that we are fully alive to the difficulties that might arise in the case of war or any emergency for the purpose of Imperial Defence, and that the provisions will be made quite clear in the Bill, so that I think all doubt that may exist on this point will be set at rest.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
May I ask whether there will be a specific Amendment so as to secure not only the power, but the machinery to execute the power?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I will not pledge myself definitely as to the point of machinery for the moment. It requires consideration, and I do not like to make a statement with regard to a question of that kind as to an Amendment which is not yet granted; but the point will be borne in mind, and there will be opportunity, of course, for seeing it when the Amendment is put on the Paper. Many Orders in Council have to be made for the purposes of Imperial Defence. They give the right of control to go and take possession which otherwise does not exist.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
May I ask if the Order in Council will provide that in case of war the Imperial Executive may take control of all the post offices in Ireland out of the hands of the Irish Executive?
§ Colonel GREIG
May I ask whether under the law at the present time the Imperial Government can take over all the railways of the country. [HON. MKMBEKS: "At the present time?"]
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
We certainly must be able to take control over the Post Office, just exactly as we would have the right to do in a number of cases which must arise, and for which effect is given in an Order in Council, which has to be formulated for that purpose in any case of emergency.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have tried to answer the question. Of course we shall have the opportunity at a later stage of discussing this very point, when I shall be happy to answer any question put by the right hon. and learned Gentleman which he thinks has not been satisfactorily dealt with by the Bill. The hon. and learned Member for one of the Divisions of Sheffield dealt very forcibly, from his point of view, with the inconveniences which might arise in sending telegrams from one country to another from not having the benefit of the unified system. No doubt there is some force in that. But there is no difficulty in sending telegrams from Berlin and Munich to other places, where you have exactly the same question arising.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
It often takes a shorter time to send a telegram from here to New York than from here to Dublin. I hardly like to discuss this point, but it has happened. I know occasions on which telegrams have been sent to New York from an office in the city, and the answer received within a few minutes.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
It was not at all between privileged persons. I am thinking of a personal experience, when it was my duty to dictate telegrams, and that is some years ago. Certainly in those days I was not a "privileged person," and I was not acting for a "privileged person." 1559 I have taken a telegram to an office in the city from which the message was sent, and the answer was received in from ten to twelve minutes. I have not the slightest doubt that that happens at the present time, and probably it has been accelerated. The hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out a further inconvenience. If you get to Munich and you have a Bavarian stamp, and you want to use it across the frontier, you have to get another stamp. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman did not quite gather what was said by the Postmaster-General. That is one of the inconveniences which we mean to abolish. My right hon. Friend gave notice of an Amendment which he proposes to put on the Paper, by which one of the excluded services will have reference to stamps, so that the same stamp will be available for all purposes in the United Kingdom. This is the paragraph to be inserted in Clause 2 at the end of the excluded services, before you get to the reserved services: "Any postal service and the rates and charges therefor, except in respect of postal communication between one place in Ireland and another such place; the design of stamps, whether for postal or revenue purposes." Therefore any criticism that may be justified now will disappear.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I do not think the hon. Gentleman need be alarmed on that point. I think I have covered all the fresh ground that has been opened up, and I hope I shall not be accused of discourtesy if I do not reply to points already dealt with by the Postmaster-General. My submission is that we have met all legitimate criticism, or such criticism as struck us as having force in this matter. It would be very difficult for us to resist the natural aspirations for the postal service, limited as it is under the Bill, and as it will be by the Amendment we intend to put down. We think that by what we are doing we are really carrying out what is necessary and desirable for the purpose of making this Bill a workable and useful measure.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
The Attorney-General says that we shall have a further opportunity on Clause 44 of discussing this very important point as to the power to take over the Irish Post Office in time of 1560 war. Is that a definite promise that an opportunity will be provided by the Government?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The hon. Gentleman knows how we stand with regard to the time table, and the observation I made was intended to meet that. It all depends on what points are raised when we come to discuss the Clause. The point I wanted to make was that when the Amendment is on the Paper, if any points arise, apart from the discussion in this House, I shall be perfectly ready to answer any questions which may be put to me. Whether we have an opportunity to discuss the question does not depend upon me.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman need in the least apologise for having taken up some time in discussing this very important matter. I doubt if there is any more important matter in the whole Bill. It is somewhat unfortunate that, at this early stage of our proceedings, when we make criticisms, the only answer the Government have to give is that the Bill does not really express what they intend, that their intentions are entirely in accordance with our criticisms, and that at some future day they will put down Amendments which they cannot undertake the House will be able to discuss. It really comes almost to the farcical when the Government have to tell us, "We have so gagged ourselves that you cannot even discuss what we would most willingly wish the House should fully consider." After all, I suppose the answer to that would be, "Look how generous we are. If we do apply the gag, surely you ought to forgive us, because we have applied it to ourselves." That is the extraordinary way of carrying on legislation which is to frame a Constitution for Ireland and for England for all future time. The Postmaster-General has already told us we are to have Amendments: that they never really did intend to set up a real Post Office in Ireland. It is only a matter of sending a telegram from Cork to Mallow, from Dublin to Kingstown, or something of the kind. That, they say, is really all we mean to give. All the rest remains with the Imperial Parliament. How the arrangement is to be worked between the Imperial Parliament and the local post office nobody has yet told us. But I put it to the Postmaster-General: Is it worth while upsetting the whole postal arrangements, not merely of the United Kingdom, but of the Empire, for 1561 the purpose of setting up a purely local post office to transmit letters from one part of Ireland to the other?
The truth of the matter is all that is left to Ireland is the patronage, and all that was asked for by Ireland was the patronage. That is the emblem of sovereignty for which Ireland are so enthusiastic. We are to have this amended, though not discussed—I can understand the reason why—on some future occasion. But then was raised the important question: If you are only setting up this local post office to have your letters carrisd, as distinct from the service of the United Kingdom, what are you going to do in times of war? "Oh," says the Attorney-General, "that is really a very important question." I should think it is! Hon. Members opposite never thought of it until to-day. That all comes of this, that you will frame your Bill solely in consultation with hon. Members below the Gangway. That is all that occurred to you. When right hon. Gentlemen opposite found that there were Members on their own side of the House who really think that after all it is hardly worth while setting up a local post office with this limited carrying of letters and disarranging the whole business, of not only Great Britain, but of the Empire, they suddenly see that there are questions which have never been suggested. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General is driven back—I saw how he squirmed under it—to his old Order in Council. What a mighty engine of argument for a Government in distress is an Order in Council. The Attorney-General knows perfectly well that the Order in Council Section to which he referred has nothing on earth to say on this matter, as I shall show to the House in a few minutes. Telegrams in times of war, do they come within Clause 44? The Clause says:—His Majesty may make an Order in Council for the purpose of the transitory provisions of this Act … or proper for setting in motion the Irish Parliament.These are telegrams of war!Transitory provisions and also—and this I suppose he brings in—other matters for which it seems to His Majesty necessary or proper to make provision for the purpose of bringing this Act into full operation.The Attorney-General has far too high a position in the legal profession to argue 1562 for one moment that the Order in Council has anything on earth to say to any of these things. It is ludicrous; it is misleading the House. I was more than surprised at the Attorney-General because he went on to say in his own inimitable way, "Well, it may not be perfectly clear." It is perfectly clear that it has no application whatsoever. I know perfectly well the Attorney-General would have liked to have said candidly to the House, "We will put in a section which is perfectly clear." That is what it comes down to now. The only reason he gibbed at that was because he would have had to go on to say, "That under existing conditions you will not be able to discuss it, and therefore I am not prepared to admit that it does not in some way or other, either in my imagination, or the imagination of somebody else provide for these things." And, in addition to that, I have no doubt before all this is done, of course, he will have to consult his legal advisers on this side of the House. The observation which I think might close this branch of the concession wrung from the Government on this occasion is this: If all this arises upon this matter of the local post office for Ireland, what do you think would be the nature of the questions that would arise if you had not blotted out day after day page after page of the Amendments that we want to discuss. You cannot leave the matter here. It is an object lesson of the reasons of the Government in determining that under no circumstances shall we be able to discuss the future Constitution of Ireland in its relations to this country, having regard to the complicated details of this Bill, and with the working of the two countries as one as hitherto carried out. If anything was wanting to point the lesson of the tyranny and the cowardice of the Government in refusing us discussion, it is the lamentable performance and exhibition that has taken place this evening in trying to strain the terms of this Bill in the way in which it has been drafted to meet the criticisms made on this side of the House in relation to this one matter.
We now come back to the starting of the local post office in Ireland—the local post office in Ireland to be started for what? Is it for greater convenience? Convenience for whom? Is it convenience for this country? Will anyone suggest it is. I suppose I would be told on the other side we are not thinking of this country. It is true that there is a majority in this 1563 House from England against Home Rule, but what does England matter? Wretched England? Who cares for that? The question is whether it is for the convenience of Ireland. Why, Sir, the whole argument was that you are giving so many conveniences to Ireland at the present time that it costs too much; the whole argument is that you are going to give to the Irish Members or the Irish Parliament, the right to cut down those conveniences. I do not know whether it is worth while starting an Irish local post office for that purpose. It may be that to agitators and to some people in Ireland, who think they see some profit under this matter, that that would be a convenience. It may be so, but I would like to know what any great business concern in Ireland, which is very little concerned with the agitation in favour of Home Rule, may think of this proposal. It may be that you are satisfying the sentiment of a number of people by thinking they have a national badge by having a Post Office, but what of those great commercial people who hate the national badge and the sentiment of it, and who, in addition, have to suffer the inconveniences you are setting up under the separate Post Office in Ireland. They are to receive no consideration whatsoever, because they will not join in an agitation for separation from this country. But it does not rest there, because when you are asking the British taxpayer for the setting up of these two classes of inconveniences to pay £250,000 a year to Ireland, I think the whole thing becomes so absolutely ridiculous that it really turns the whole of this proposition into an absolute farce as regards legislation. Now let me take the question of the £250,000 a year. After all that is a quarter of a million, and it is worth talking about, at least it would be worth talking about in Ireland, and I have no doubt it has been talked about there. Hon Members below the Gangway say, "Look what we are getting England to do with a majority against Home Rule in the House of Commons, these English fellows. It is very rich and comforting. They are actually going to give us £250,000 a year to set up a local Post Office to send our letters from one part of Ireland to the other." Do you not think in Ireland they ask each other, "I wonder which of us will be in it?" That is the whole question. What did Lord MacDonnell say in his Report? He said, "After all, if Ireland makes concessions about the Post Office 1564 in giving certain control to the British Government, then the least concession you ought to make to them is the patronage." It all comes to that. It is not a question of letters or telegrams, it is a question of appointments.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I suppose the hon. Gentleman thinks that is a relevant and intelligent interruption. We will leave it there. We have many important matters to deal with, though he may not think either the Home Rule Bill for Ireland or the question of the Post Office is of any importance. I do not think he does. I do not think he realises it. The question of this £250,000 a year I have not the least doubt has to be defended. How is it defended by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite? "Oh, we want to cut the loss. We want to save the British Treasury." I would suggest to the Postmaster-General or the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General just to go round the South and West of Ireland and call together large meetings of Home Rulers, and tell them that your one object in the whole of this is to save the British Exchequer and throw the cost on the Irish people. That is the kind of talk we hear over here. In Ireland you hear of the free gift of £250,000 for all time from the British Exchequer, and over here it is the question of the cutting of the loss. I can only say this, because this argument is used frequently about Ireland being run at a loss to England as part of the United Kingdom, that I object to that separatist doctrine. It will lead not only to a break-up between Great Britain and Ireland, but it will lead to a break-up between every wealthy and poor part and every province of the United Kingdom. You cannot run a country by segregating the contributions of the poor and the contributions of the rich. The moment you do, you will get to disastrous consequences. If you were to select tomorrow the poorer parts of England and compare them with the contributions of the richer parts of England, would anybody say you ought not to give postal facilities, say, in Norfolk or Cornwall, or some of the poorer counties, simply because their contributions are less than the contributions of, say, London, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, or any of the wealthy parts of the country? The whole object of Governments, the whole idea of government, and the whole reason why people amalgamate together and consent to a 1565 government, is that the rich may help the poor, and that by working as one harmonious whole you may carry on to the best advantage of every individual in the country. [Cheers.] Yes, I hear hon. Gentlemen giving me ironical cheers. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, sympathetic."] But the moment you go to Ireland what is your whole case? You say, "Ireland, a poor country, we are running it at a loss, we must cut the loss." What has caused the increase of this Vote in Ireland for what is called the loss upon the Post Office? It is this, and I am glad of it, that there has been in the last twenty or twenty-five years a levelling up of the standard of life in Ireland which was unknown before. That is what has caused it, and when you tell me you are going to cut the loss what you mean is that you are going to let the standard of living in Ireland lapse back to a different grade from that which it has attained to-day. If you look at the Financial Relations Report—that Report on which you are always relying, although the evidence in connection with it you refuse for some mysterious reason to give us—that Report which you act upon when it suits you and do not act upon when it does not suit you—you will find in it that the very grounds I am putting forward are justified. What they say is if you leave Ireland alone they can run on a cheaper grade and standard than now. That is not my ambition. My ambition is—I do not mind the cheers and unworthy laughter of hon. Gentlemen opposite—but my idea is that there ought to be just as high a standard of living in Ireland as in England, and that is why I have always said that you cannot benefit by a dissolution of partnership where the poorer partner is driven upon his own resources and dissociated for ever from the advantages of being connected with the richer partner. What you really mean by cutting your losses is that Ireland is to be allowed to lapse back into a different grade or standard of living from that it has been going up to by its connection with England, and that, at all events, you are not going to hold out to it a helping and lifting hand in the progress you yourselves are making in the advance of civilisation, but are leaving the people alone in their own poverty to do what they can by taxing themselves up to a standard which you admit they never can afford.
I know that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will give me the answer that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford 1566 has given: "We prefer empty stomachs and rags rather than not have our sentimental aspirations agreed to." Yes, he may. I can understand—do not imagine I cannot—the aspirations of nationality being so deep that the hon. and learned Member would undergo any hardship or any retrogression for the purpose of satisfying them. But surely you are not also going to force that upon men whose aspirations are the other way. I ask you, am I to take these detestable aspirations, and at the same time also have retrogression, rags, and an empty stomach? There is one other observation I should like to make upon the Bill as it has now evolved after the criticisms and speeches of the Postmaster-General. He has told us that all the functions necessary to carry out the interchange of communication between this country and Ireland, and also, as we now know, the carrying on of the Savings Banks, which is a not unimportant matter, in relation to Ireland, are to be carried out by what I call the local Post Office. Let me say, in passing, as regards these Savings Banks, that that is a matter which, in a part of Ireland, at all events, will create the very gravest dissatisfaction. In point of fact, I doubt very much, if there is an Irish Post Office managing the moneys and trusts of the Savings Banks, although with an Imperial credit, whether you will find very much money left. I certainly should not advise anyone to leave it there. I should like to ask this: Will the Irish Post Office be paid by the Imperial Government for the work they carry out? I can find nothing upon that in the Bill. Will there be contracts? I should like to ask that now.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The work done for the Savings Bank is paid for out of the Savings Bank Fund, and is recouped to the Savings Bank by the profit on money invested. The Savings Bank and the English Post Office are separate Departments, and the English Post Office is paid by the Savings Bank Department for the work done on its behalf. Similarly in Ireland the Irish Post Office will be paid by the Savings Bank Department for the work done on its behalf.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Will they also be paid for the Post Office work they have to do in transmitting cables and telegraphs and letters to this country, which does not fall within the purview of the general work of the local offices?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
There will be an allowance, as there is in the case of all administrations, foreign or Colonial, where they pass from one office to another.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Let us understand this. It is not in the Bill, but I take it from the Postmaser-General, because no doubt, if it is not in the Bill, it will be put down in the Amendments, which we shall not discuss.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Let us understand it. You are going to pay them for all they do for this country, both as regards the Savings Bank and as regards those other matters which are outside the mere transmission of letters in Ireland, and you are going to give them £250,000 a year in addition. For what? The £250,000 a year at the present moment is for the discharge of those services, therefore you are going to pay them twice. I put it to the Government that we have now narrowed down this question to the mere question of the transmission of letters within the island, taking the boisterous and tempestuous sea as the frontier boundary. I put it to the Government, as that is all that is left—plus the patronage—is it really worth while to upset the whole arrangements that have been built up after all these years of negotiation with parts of the Empire, with foreign countries, in this country, and in Ireland itself—is it really worth while not to agree to this Amendment now, and reserve this as an Imperial service, and not upset every arrangement that has been made, which has grown up by experience for a vast number of years, ever since the Post Office has existed, and by which it has been brought to the state of efficiency in which it now exists. At all events, whether that be so or not, I think this discussion has been useful in many respects, and not the least point of utility has been this, that it has been demonstrated that you cannot, with any idea of making a workable measure, or at least a measure which could even be morally thought fair, go on with the prosecution of this business under the condi- 1568 tion that we are to have no voice in the many questions that arise upon the Bill.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I must apologise for being obliged to bring the Debate down from the level of stormy rhetoric to which the right hon. Gentleman has raised it to a pure and simple matter of business. Since he has specifically and directly asked me a question, it would be discourteous to him and to the Committee if I were not to reply to it. He has asked what will be the relations between the Imperial Post Office and the Irish Post Office in respect to remuneration. If they are receiving a sum of money now in respect to the loss which is already borne in regard to the Irish Post Office service, are we going to pay them over again a second time in respect to the same work? Of course not. Such a notion has never entered the mind of anyone who was not anxious to score a debating point in the House of Commons. In so far as the present cost of the Post Office in Ireland does include the cost of work done in the Savings Bank or Telegraph department, or anything else it will not be paid for over again, but if the work grows, if the savings bank or the telegraph service, or if any other additional work is done, unquestionably, out of the revenue which we receive from those telegrams which are sent abroad from this country through Ireland, and out of the revenue which we receive in the form of interest on savings bank deposits which are in our hands, we naturally shall pay the Irish Post Office as our agents for the work to help us to earn that additional revenue, and I fail to conceive how anyone can say that is not a perfectly businesslike and perfectly just arrangement. The right hon. Gentleman also raised an exceedingly important point with regard to control in time of war. He says just now, at the last moment, when the matter is debated on the floor of the House, the Government at last realise that there may be some question as to the control over the Post Office arrangements—censorship, and so on—in time of war, and when the Attorney-General pointed to Clause 44 he pointed to a Clause which merely referred to transitory provisions to bring the Act into operation, and the right hon. Gentleman said, amid the vociferous cheers of his supporters, that there was not a word in the Clause which could remotely touch the point that had been raised. Clause 44 says that an Order in Council may be made 1569 for the purpose of bringing this Act into full operation, and that Order in Council may
make regulations with respect to the relations of the Irish and British Post Offices.
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. H. Campbell) laughs. Does he imagine that means make regulations with respect to the relations between the two Post Offices at that moment, which regulations, as soon us the Act comes into operation are to have no force and to be merely of transitory value? Of course not. If the right hon. and learned Member will read the Clause, he will see that these regulations are to bind the whole future relations of the two Post Offices. The words of the Clause are perfectly clear, and there can be no possibility of dispute. These regulations may provide for facilities being given in respect of postal services generally by one Post Office to the other—not for the moment but for all time—in relation to submarine telegraphs, or telegraphic communication with any place out of the United Kingdom. This matter has not been undiscussed or unconsidered. It has throughout been the intention of the Government when handing over a share of the business to the newly created Pest Office to secure that this Order in Council, which will regulate the relations of the future Post Offices, should have paragraphs in it specifying the relations in time of war.
My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General, said that, if it is thought this paragraph is not sufficiently specific and clear, although we have no doubt whatever that it is, in order to meet the desire of hon. Members opposite, and to make it perfectly plain and beyond the possibility of dispute in any quarter, however prejudiced, the matter can and will be dealt with, and that we will put it in terms in the Bill. I would only ask the Committee in conclusion, is there any hon. Member in this House who heard the very eloquent speech of the right hon. and learned Member who has any idea in his own mind whether he argued that we were giving the Irish Government too much or giving them too little?
§ Sir E. CARSON
As the right hon. Gentleman makes a challenge, may I say that he argues both—one in Ireland and one here.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The right hon. Gentleman apparently is arguing 1570 both at one and the same time in one and the same speech. The right hon. Gentleman invited the Attorney-General to say what are our proposals in regard to this matter. The Irish people know full well. If there is to be a challenge, let there be a challenge on both sides. I say to hon. Members for English constituencies who have been applauding the right hon. Gentleman's eloquent sentences—let them go to their constituencies, hold meetings, and say their policy is "No Home Rule. Continue the loss of £250,000—a loss which has increased five-fold in twenty years." Let them tell the British taxpayer too, that there is every prospect of the loss increasing five-fold again in the next twenty years. Let them say that is their policy.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am going to try to imitate the right hon. Gentleman in avoiding all heat, and discuss this question from a purely business point of view. He ended his speech by a challenge to us to go to our constituencies and say to them that our policy with regard to Ireland in the future, as in the past, is to treat Ireland precisely in the same way as we would treat any poor portion of the United Kingdom, and allow them to share in our prosperity, if we have it, so long as they are members of the same family, and that in spite of the possibility that the loss which we now bear will be increased. We have answered that challenge in advance. I have said, in almost every speech that I have made on this subject, that 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. That is our policy, and I noticed with some surprise and some pleasure that the two hon. Members for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien and Mr. T. M. Healy) yesterday referred to my clear statement of that policy. But I have not received much expression of sympathy from that quarter.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
From their point of view I cannot say that I have deserved it, 1571 but 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 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.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The Colonies are our own people. The right hon. Gentleman has led me to add a little which I had not intended in my speech. The Prime Minister and other Members on that bench have said: "How does your preferential arrangement come in if you are to give special arrangements to Ireland?" The answer is: "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. [Interruption.]
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I do not in the least object to the interruptions, for this reason, that they show that the position which we take on this subject is entirely misunderstood. None of our Colonies profess to have the intention, in giving a preference to us, to treat us in an equal way with the treatment of their own people. We do not ask them to do that. What we ask them to do, and what they have done, is to give us a preference over foreign countries. And what I say now is that so long as Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom there will be no difference in treatment between Ireland and any other part of the Kingdom; but if she chooses to put herself in the status of a Colony, then we will give her a preference, but we shall not treat her precisely as if she were a member of the United Kingdom. I think it would be well that the people of Ireland should clearly understand that that will be the attitude, not only of the party which I represent, but I venture to say further, that if that change did actually take place hon. Gentlemen 1572 opposite will be influenced by the opinion of their own constituents, and, except to the extent of the power of forty Members who are still among them, will act precisely as we will act—we shall think twice of our own people and once of them. I shall now deal with the two business propositions stated by the right hon. Gentlemen. The right hon. Gentlemen laughed to scorn the idea suggested by my right hon. Friend that they were going to pay the Irish Parliament twice for their postal service. I am not sure whether my right hon. Friend behind me was right or the right hon. Gentleman opposite. As I understand him what he means to say now is that the intention of the Government is this. Suppose the Irish Parliament find that the Post Office and telegraph do not pay at the present rates, and suppose they find that it is necessary to increase the cost in Ireland for sending a telegram between Dublin and Belfast and Dublin and Cork from 6d. to 1s., is it the intention of the Government, if a telegram is sent from John O'Groats to the furthest extreme of Ireland, that the Irish Post Office will only be paid in proportion to the distance, as they are at the present moment? Is that what the right hon. Gentleman says?
Then what is the pleasing prospect of the Irish Post Office? The bulk of their business, a very large part of it, must under these circumstances, be run at a loss, and that is the prospect which the right hon. Gentleman holds out. I venture to think that when they have consulted their legal advisers they will have to make a little clearer still what they mean, and the meaning will not be what the right hon. Gentleman now says it is. I now come to the question of the time of war, about which he was so dogmatic. The Government are to have complete power to regulate everything in time of war under Clause 14. He read Subsection (c), but I wonder if he read the opening of the Clause, which says that all these provisions are transitory for the purpose of bringing the Act into operation. But when the Act has got into operation is it or is it not the case that the Irish Post Office will have control of the local Irish Post Office? If it has, does that come under the transitory provision which will regulate what is to be done in a case of that kind. It is perfectly obvious that this arrangement of separate Post Offices does mean the possibility of great danger in time of war. One 1573 of my hon. Friends behind me put a question to the First Lord of the Admiralty, and it was to this effect—How many stations connected with the Admiralty are there in Ireland? He said it was not in the interests of the service to give the number. He said they were about a fifth of the total number in the United Kingdom, which is quite enough for my purpose. What does that mean I Unless the Irish Post Office is as completely under the control, whether it is the Admiralty or the War Office, as is the English Post Office in London, there is bound to be danger of delay and of friction, which in time of war might be most serious—not to put it too strongly. But I am not going into the whole merits of this question. I am quite ready to leave the case where it has been left by my two right lion. Friends behind me. I would like to say this before I sit down—how do they justify the action which they are now taking, in view of the universal experience of every other country, and of the Commonwealth of South Africa, which was created during their own period of office? What happened? In Australia there were six separate Post Offices. The moment the Commonwealth became united the six disappeared and there was one. In South Africa there were four separate Post Offices. The moment the Union of South Africa was created the four disappeared and there was one. I ask the Committee to remember this that that was far more difficult, because those separate organisations were there.
It was troublesome and difficult to get rid of them, yet the necessity of unification, and the experience of the whole civilised world, that one Post Office is better, was so strong that those difficulties were overcome, and one Post Office was established. More than that, it has been the experience that the moment the change was made the service improved. In Australia, for instance, the cost of sending a telegram between one of the States of the Commonwealth and another was 2s.; 3s. if it was over two States, and 4s. if it went over three States. Now there is a uniform rate throughout the whole Commonwealth, and everyone will admit that the service is infinitely better than it was before. It is evident it must be so. Really the whole case was put just as well or just as badly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) as by anyone else who has spoken. His case was that there 1574 is no need of having elaborate poles and all the rest of it for your telegraph wires.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
And telephones, but hang them all on trees. There is a disadvantage about that in a great part of Ireland, and that is you would have to plant the trees before you could do so. I was myself connected with an electric company in Scotland. That company did not exactly want to do what the right hon. Gentleman suggested. We did not want to put our wires on trees, but we wanted to have it as cheap as possible. The Board of Trade immediately stepped in and said that in the public interest "You must have them up to a certain level." Why, because in the long run the Board of Trade think, and I think they are right, that it is in the interests of the country that those things should be done up to a certain standard of efficiency. But the whole claim which is now made is not that this will be in any shape or form an advantage to Ireland except to the taxpayer. The whole claim is that you will save money by having a less efficient service. Could anything be more absurd? They say that Ireland does not need and does not want it. But what is the principle on which our postal telegraph system is based? Everybody knows that if you treated London or Glasgow or any other big city by itself, you could make the telegraph rate a farthing a word and it would pay, whereas you make it a halfpenny a word over the whole Kingdom and it does not pay. Why do we do it? Because as my right hon. Friend said, the object of uniting in nationality is to pool the advantages and the disadvantages. I do not despise national sentiment, but I think it is possible to have it as we in Scotland have it, while still partners with England in the government of the country. The only justification of it is that the Nationalist Members prefer what they call the national sentiment with poverty and rags to a better system with prosperity and contentment. That is a noble sentiment for the hon. and learned Gentleman. What I wish him to do is to make clear to the people of Ireland the fact that Home Rule does mean poverty, and connection with us prosperity and contentment.
§ Question put "That those words be these inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 200; Noes, 2791577
|Division No. 256.]||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fletcher, John Samuel||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Aitken, Sir William Max.||Forster, Henry William||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Foster, Philip Staveley||Parkes, Fbenezer|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Gardner, Ernest||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Gibbs, G. A.||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Goldman, C. S.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Goldsmith, Frank||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baker, Sir Randoll L. (Dorset, N.)||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Pirie, Duncan Vernon|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Greene, Walter Raymond||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gretton, John||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Barnston, Harry||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Renaldshay, Earl of|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Royds, Edmund|
|Bennett-Goidney, Francis||Harris, Henry Percy||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Harrisoh-Broadley, H. B.||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Salter, Arthur Claveil|
|Bird, Alfred||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.)||Hoare, S. J. G.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Boyton, James||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Horner, Andrew Long||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Butcher, John George||Houston, Robert Paterson||Stanier, Beville|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Campion, W. R.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Mildred||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cassel, Felix||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Swift, Rigby|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Kerry, Earl of||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Cave, George||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Major)||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Larmor, Sir J.||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Chambers, James||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lonsdale, Sir John Browniee||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Lytteiton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Macmaster, Donald||White, Major G. D. (Lancs, Southport)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Magnus, Sir Philip||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Malcolm, Ian||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Croft, H. P.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Dixon, C. H.||Moore, William||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Doughty, Sir George||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Wortiey, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Mount, William Arthur||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wyndham, Rt Hon. George|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Newman, John R. P.||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Fell, Arthur||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Younger, Sir George|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nield, Herbert|
|Finfay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Norton-Griffiths, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Marquess of Tullibardine and Mr. Rupert Gwynne.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Brady, Patrick Joseph|
|Adamson, William||Barnes, G. N.||Brocklehurst, W. B.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Brunner, John F. L.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Barton, William||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Beale, Sir William Phipson||Burke, E. Haviland|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)|
|Armitage, Robert||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Boland, John Pius||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Booth, Frederick Handel||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Bowerman, C. W.||Chancellor, Henry George|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Clough, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Jowett, F. W.||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Joyce, Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Keating, Matthew||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kellaway, Frederick George||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Kelly, Edward||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Radford, G. H.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouh)||Kilbride, Denis||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||King, J.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Crean, Eugene||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Reddy, Michael|
|Crooks, William||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lansbury, George||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Cullman, John||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rlnd, Cockerm'th)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Delany, William||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Doris, William||Lundon, Thomas||Robinson, Sidney|
|Duffy, William J.||Lynch, A. A.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||NcGhee, Richard||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rowlands, James|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||M'Kean, John||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Falconer, James||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Farrell, James Patrick||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Scely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|field, William||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Sheehy, David|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Martin, Joseph||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Furness, Stephen||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Meagher, Michael||Snowden, Philip|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Glanville, H. J.||Menzies, Sir Walter||Sutton, John E.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Millar, James Duncan||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Molloy, Michael||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Greig, Col. J. W.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Tennant, Harold John|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Thomas, J. H.|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Guiney, Patrick||Mooney, John J.||Thome, William (West Ham)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Morgan, George Hay||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Hackett, John||Morrell, Philip||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Harcourt, Robert v. (Montrose)||Morison, Hector||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Muldoon, John||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Munro, R.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Needham, Christopher T.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Neilson, Francis||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Nolan, Joseph||Wardle, George J.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Hayward, Evan||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Nuttall, Harry||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Webb, H.|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||O'Doherty, Philip||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Donnell, Thomas||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Hinds, John||O'Dowd, John||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Hodge, John||O'Grady, James||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Keily, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Keily, James (Roscommon, N.)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Malley, William||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Hughes, S. L.||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Shee, James John||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|John, Edward Thomas||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D.Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Outhwaite, R. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland,|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next, 21st October.