§ 3. In the exercise of their power to make laws under this Act the Irish Parliament shall not make a law so as either directly or indirectly to establish or endow any religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, or give a preference, privilege, or advantage, or impose any disability or disadvantage, on account of religious belief or religious or ecclesiastical status, or make any religious belief or religious ceremony a condition of the validity of any marriage.
§ Any law made in contravention of the restrictions imposed by this Section shall, so far as it contravenes those restrictions, be void.
On a point of Order. May I ask you, Mr. Whitley, whether the Opposition will have an opportunity of discussing the fifty-two important Amendments that have been cut out just now?
You can judge afterwards, because I am rather getting past the time, to tell the truth, when I care whether it is in order or not. I wish to ask you, does the fact that you proposed Clause 3 from the Chair cut out all possibility of the Opposition being able to discuss the fifty-two important Amendments dealing with the Royal Irish Constabulary and other things in this Bill which is now brought before the House for the first time?
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the point the hon. and gallant Gentleman has made, I think it arises on Clause 5.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
May I ask whether it is not the case that of these fifty-two Amendments a very large proportion were duplicates and out of place?
§ The CHAIRMAN
None of these are points of Order, and it is not a very fair use of the position, on my resuming my seat, to get up an argumentative question.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I agree that in both cases it is a matter of argument. I am instructed by a Resolution of the House to proceed in a certain way, and questions of that kind should not be put to me.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
May I whether your roiling means that in regard to these Amendments, shut out in consequence of the closure at the present hour, we are precluded from putting them down and having them discussed at a later stage?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have already pointed out that the one mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Craig) is pertinent to Clause 5. If hon. Members will put them down where they think they come in, I will consider them. With regard to Amendments on the Paper to Clause 3, the first in the name of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Camlachie) to leave out the word "Parliament" ["under this Act the Irish Parliament shall not make a law"], and insert instead thereof the word "Council," and the second in 2037 the name of the hon. Member for Graves-end (Sir Gilbert Parker) to leave out the word "Parliament," and insert instead thereof the word "Legislature"; they have been already dealt with. The next two are out of place, because we must first deal with the subject-matter of the Clause before we propose to add to them. The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Hicks Beach), to insert after the word "law" ["The Irish Parliament shall not make a law"], the words, "or vote or grant any public money," is, I think, met by the words in the Bill; and the next Amendment, in the name of the hen. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel), after the word "law," to insert the words "requiring or authorising any judge at the instance of the Executive to give a decision upon any question not actually in litigation of," is out of place. The one I propose to call is the one standing in the name of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Butcher), about endowments; but before that I understand the hon. Member for South Bucks (Sir Alfred Cripps) wishes to raise a point upon his Amendment after the word "to" ["so as either directly or indirectly to establish"], to insert the words "disestablish or." I do not quite appreciate the purport of that Amendment.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Before that Amendment is taken there are certain words that come before which I should like to move to leave out, in order to ask a question of the Attorney-General. The Clause commences:—
In the exercise of their powers to make laws under this Act the Irish Parliament shall not make a law so as, etc.
I want to know what is the effect of the words, "in the exercise of their powers lender this Act," and why these words are there at all, and I move to leave them out, because unless there is some other power reserved to the Parliament, the Section will read properly and legally by commencing. "The Irish Parliament shall not make a law." It seems to me these words are either surplusage or have behind them some other meaning of which I do not know. The Bill is so very complicated with all the general powers' to make laws and the reservation to make laws, that one does not actually know what is the meaning of putting in words like these. It occurs to me they ought to be left out.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Clause."
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
These words were inserted to carry out what has already been passed in Clause 2. If you look at the beginning of Clause 2 it says:—
Subject to the provisions of this Act the Irish Parliament shall have power to-make laws.
And Clause 3 says:—
In the exercise of their powers to-make laws under this Act the Irish Parliament shall not make a law, etc.
It is a restraining Section in the exercise of the powers already conferred under Clause 2.
§ Sir E. CARSON
The right hon. Gentleman has not explained what the effect would be to leave these words out, because it would then read:
The Irish Parliament shall not make-a law so as either directly or indirectly.
There is no other way that I know in which they could make laws except under the previous Clause. What I want an explanation of is: What is behind these words?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
There is nothing behind them at all. It is simply carrying out what is in Clause 2 of the Bill as passed, and we begin the third Clause by saying, "Now in the exercise of these powers given the Irish Parliament shall not do certain things." There is nothing whatever behind it.
§ Sir E. CARSON
You do not say what the words add. Surely, if the Irish Parliament is going to be restrained from doing a thing, it is not proper to say in the exercise of their powers they shall not do it. What you want to add is "the Irish Parliament shall not make certain laws."
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
In reference to what the Attorney-General said, it is quite clear these limiting words ought not to be inserted in this Clause, because what he said, in effect, is that the Irish Parliament shall not have powers to make laws in certain circumstances. If the words are put in "In the exercise of their powers to make laws under this Act" it would certainly be argued that the limitation in this Clause is only in reference to-the exercise of powers given, and that out- 2039 side these powers the Irish Parliament, although a subordinate body, had powers included in this Section 3. It is quite clear that these words ought to be eliminated. If, as I understand the Attorney-General, the Irish Parliament are to be prohibited altogether from making laws with reference to certain subjects, under Clause 3 these words of limitation ought not to be introduced if that is the intention.
§ Sir ROBERT FINLAY
From the explanation of the Attorney-General, it is clear to demonstration that these words are absolutely surplusage. They are wholly unnecessary. I do not know what mischief the Attorney-General suggests would be done by leaving them out if they mean what he says. What is the reason for retaining these words on the explanation of the Attorney-General? He says that they are merely a reference to Clause 2, but Clause 2 defines the powers of the Irish Parliament, and what you want to do by this Clause 3 is to impose limitations. I really cannot see the sense of keeping these words in, and I am driven to suspect that there may be something behind them. Why not leave them out if they are surplusage, as the Attorney-General says they are?
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
What has been done by Clause 2 is to limit the functions of the Irish Parliament with regard to legislation. It is provided that, they can only exercise their powers in certain respects, and there are certain exclusions. In Clause 3 you refer again to what has been enacted under Clause 2, and in the exercise of those limited powers there is this further limitation.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
Will the Attorney-General say what difference it will make if these words are left out?
I cannot help thinking that all my hon. and learned Friends are getting very angry on both sides about what is really a matter of small importance. The Attorney-General says there is nothing behind these words, and he is perfectly right, because there is nothing behind them, not even a meaning. I respectfully suggest to the Government that whenever they cannot show a meaning to 2040 words they would hasten business and smooth the proceedings if they would leave out words, which, although they may commend themselves to those who are masters of drafting English and whose business it is to construct drafting English, are words to which the lay House do not attach the smallest significance. I think it would simplify and smooth the proceedings in this House if the Attorney-General, unless his hon. Friends have been able to find the meaning of the words, would agree to drop those words.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I am greatly disappointed with the few words that have just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. I thought he rose in the interests of peace. May I make a suggestion? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has conducted a number of Bills through this House, and he knows that it is rather a dangerous thing to drop out words which the draftsman has put in. I suggest that the Attorney-General should consider the words before the Report stage, and if he finds they are necessary, then he can stick to them, and if they are not necessary he can get rid of them. That course would get rid of this difficulty for the moment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
My answer is contained in the words of the Motion. I cannot accept any such proposal.
Then may I appeal to the Government to send for the hon. and learned Member for Waterford to come and explain the Bill which he drafted?
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
If the Attorney-General is willing to accept the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend, I will sit down. The words of the Clause are, "In the exercise of their power to make laws under this Act." We will suppose the Home Rule Bill has passed and the Irish Parliament has been set up. [An HON. MEMBER: "Never."] We will suppose also that they have asked for some extension of powers, and those powers have been given to them perhaps in pecunia. If they get such an extension of powers, will the exercise of those new powers be governed by the words of Section 3 or not? If these words are left out, whatever new powers the Irish Parliament get will be governed by Section 3. If these words are left in. any extension they get will not be 2041 governed by Section 3, and I ask the Attorney-General to clear up that point.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I want to know what is the difference in the Section with those words in and with them out? If there is no difference, then the words ought to come out, and if there is a difference, then the Attorney-General ought to tell us what the difference is. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us what is the difference in the meaning of the Section, if the words are struck out or kept in?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Under Clause 3 you have the limitation of the use of those powers, and if you leave out those words you run the risk of extending the powers. The object of putting in those words at the beginning of Clause 3 is to limit and not extend the powers you have already limited by Clause 2. There as no general power of legislation, and what you are doing by these words is to show that there is a limitation being imposed upon a limited exercise of the powers thus provided for.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I know nothing is more tedious to the Committee than a mere discussion by lawyers, but perhaps the Attorney-General will forgive me for saying that I think his explanation is too transparently absurd. He makes the statement that if these words are not inserted there will be some risk of extending the powers, but there is no such risk, and there is no possibility of any such risk. Supposing the Clause read, "The Irish Parliament shall not make a law to directly or indirectly disestablish or disendow any religion." That provision would be an absolute protection, and I defy the Attorney-General to show how the omission of those words permits any such risk. It is clear to any fair-minded man on either side of the House that if these words are left out the protection is absolute. No hon. Member opposite who has spoken has suggested a single reason why the retention of these words makes the slightest difference.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
The Attorney-General said this was a drafting question, but if these words have no meaning, how can it possibly be in the interests of good drafting to put them in? It is good drafting as well as common sense not to put in words which have no meaning at all. The Attorney-General knows quite well that when words in an Act of Parliament come before a judge which apparently have got no meaning, and which ought to have been 2042 left out, he looks about for some hidden meaning. We are told that there is no hidden meaning, or any other meaning, attached to these words, and why, in the name of all that is sensible, does not the Attorney-General get up like a man and say, "I will leave them out"?
§ Mr. HEWINS
I think there is a meaning in those words. The Clause as it is drafted deals with what we may call the legislative powers of the Irish Parliament, leaving the administrative and executive powers of the Irish Parliament untouched. The Clause lays down that the Irish Parliament in the exercise of their power shall not "give a preference, privilege, or advantage, or impose any disability or disadvantage." As the Clause stands, it appears to me that the Irish Parliament, in the exercise of its executive power, could give such a preference. Therefore, I think it is important that those words should be omitted.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to give an answer to my question or else say that he cannot do so. Supposing under some future Statute the Irish Parliament gets additional powers, will the exercise of those powers in the future be limited by Section 3 or not?
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The thing might be passed in pecunia. If you leave those words out the whole Section will govern any future legislation.
§ Sir E. CARSON
As I proposed to leave out those words, let me say that I did so in the expectation that I would get some reasonable answer from the other side. I really moved this Amendment because, in reading over the Clause, it occurred to me that the words were absolutely surplusage. We have gone on for a considerable time trying to get some information from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but we have not got any. I am going to appeal to my hon. Friends not to prolongs this discussion. I know perfectly well that no Opposition would be treated in the way we have been treated, or could be treated for a moment in this way, but for the fact that the Government are relying upon us spending the short time allotted to us in this way, and it makes no difference to them whether they give us a proper answer or not. If we were discussing this Bill under normal conditions, of course 2043 there would be a Motion to report Progress, and that would be the natural way to deal with the difficulty. This is how we are being treated under the Closure, and we shall only have a few moments to discuss a large number of Amendments. Here we are under these conditions having to spend all this time on a point like this
§ because we cannot get a single explanation from the right hon. Gentlemen opposite who treat us with absolute contempt when we try to raise this question.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 267; Noes, 115.2045
|Division No. 261.]||AYES.||[8.15 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Fitzgibbon, John||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lundon, Thomas|
|Adamson, William||France, G. A.||Lynch, A. A.|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Furness, Stephen||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gill, Alfred Henry||McGhee, Richard|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Ginnell, Laurence||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Armitage, Robert||Gladstone, W. G. C.||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Glanville, Harold James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Goldstone, Frank||M'Kean, John|
|Barnes, George N.||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick)||Greig, Col. J. W.||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Manfield, Harry|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Hackett, John||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Black, Arthur w.||Hancock, John George||Martin, Joseph|
|Boland, John Pius||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Meagher, Michael|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Molloy, Michael|
|Brocklehurst, William B||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Bryce, John Annan||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Mooney, John J.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Morrell, Philip|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Morison, Hector|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hayden, John Patrick||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hayward, Evan||Muldoon, John|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hazleton, Richard||Munro, Robert|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, w.)||Needham, Christopher|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Higham, John Sharp||Neilson, Francis|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Hinds, John||Nicholson, Sir Charles (Doncaster)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Nolan, Joseph|
|Clough, William||Hodge, John||Nuttail, Harry|
|Clynes, John R.||Hogge, James Myles||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Connor, John (Kildare)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hudson, Walter||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Dowd, John|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||Ogden, Fred|
|Crooks, William||John, Edward Thomas||O'Grady, James|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Cullinan, John||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Malley, William|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Shee, James John|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Dawes, J. A.||Jowett, Frederick William||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Delany, William||Joyce, Michael||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Keating, Matthew||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Doris, W.||Kelly, Edward||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Duffy, William J.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kilbride, Denis||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||King, J.||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Crick lade)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lansbury, George||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Radford, G. H.|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson 1||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Raffan, peter Wilson|
|Ffrench, Peter||Levy, Sir Maurice||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry|
|Field, William 1||Lewis, John Herbert||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Sheehy, David||Wardle, G. J.|
|Reddy, M.||Sherwell, Arthur James||Waring, Walter|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Webb, H.|
|Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Snowden, Philip||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Sutherland, John E.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Robinson, Sidney||Sutton, John E.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Rowlands, James||Thorne, William (West Ham)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Toulmin, Sir George||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Ure, Rt. Hon, Alexander||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Verney, Sir Harry||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)||Wadsworth, John||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Scanlan, Thomas||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Malcolm, Ian|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Ashley, W. W.||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Moore, William|
|Astor, Waldorf||Fletcher, John Samuel||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Balcarres, Lord||Forster, Henry William||Nield, Herbert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Gardner, Ernest||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gastrell, Major w. Houghton||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Barrie, H. T.||Gibbs, George Abraham||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Gretton, John||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bird, Alfred||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Randies, Sir John S.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Beyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Harris, Henry Percy||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Helmsley, Viscount||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Butcher, John George||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hills, John Waller||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Hoare, S. J. G.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H,||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Cave, George||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Chambers, James||Horner, Andrew Long||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Houston, Robert Paterson||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Larmor, Sir J.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R,||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dennis, E. R. B.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (St. Geo., Han. S.)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Duke, Henry Edward||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Younger, Sir George|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Macmaster, Donald|
|Fell, Arthur||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Stanier and Mr. Hewins.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Magnus, Sir Philip|
Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I wish to hear the hon. and learned Member for Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) as to the meaning and purpose of his Amendment.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
The meaning of my Amendment is that the new Irish Parliament shall not only not establish or give legislative sanction to any religious body or community, but shall not act prejudicially to any religious institution by disestablishing that institution or by 2046 interfering with its existing constitution. I agree my Amendment raises very much the same point as a later Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen), but I think it is properly raised in my Amendment, and that I use the proper expressions applicable to it.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I understand the hon. and learned Member's view to be that the meaning of the words "disestablish 2047 or" is the same and the proper legal expression for "interfere with the constitution of."
§ The CHAIRMAN
If that be so, I think the hon. Member is entitled to move, but of course the Amendment cannot be moved subsequently in the form suggested by the hon. Member for Dudley.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I beg to move, after the word "to" ["or indirectly to"], to insert the words "disestablish or."
My object in moving this Amendment is to make it as clear as I, can that, so far as the Irish Parliament is concerned, it should not have any power whatever to interfere with the great doctrine of equal religious treatment irrespective of the denomination of the body itself. I want to make it quite clear at the outset, in dealing with this question of religious equality, that I am not throwing any doubt on the intention of the Roman Catholic community, because the proper attitude of anybody as regards religious equality is not to draw any distinction between one denomination and another. Christian people undoubtedly express their convictions most earnestly under different forms. I want to dissociate myself at the outset from the idea that I am finding fault with the Roman Catholic community either in this country or in Ireland. I wish this religious question to be dissociated from the question of Home Rule. I never like religious questions coning into our discussions, and I have the same respect for the sincere Roman Catholic as I have for the Presbyterian or any other Nonconformist. As regards the Section, its object, I take it, is to prevent the establishment of any religion. Of course, one is cognisant of what is meant by the establishment of a religious body, but I have great difficulty in understanding what is meant by establishing a religion. It is a contradiction in terms. It is an absolute impossibility. No Legislature could ever establish a religion. On that most people interested in religious topics will agree with me. But I understand that the word "religion" here is a synonym for religious body or Church, and if we alter the word religion into a meaning of that kind the Clause as it stands is quite intelligible.
The proposal is that you shall not give State existence or legislative sanction to any religious body or community. I un- 2048 derstand that is the meaning of the Clause, if it is to have any meaning at all. But I want to make it clear that if you are asked to give no established position to any religious community in Ireland you are not at the same time to interfere by legislation or compulsion with the existing constitution of any religious body in that country at the present moment. Suppose I take for illustration one of the Nonconformist or Presbyterian bodies. I want to make it quite clear that whatever legislative powers may be vested in the Irish Parliament it cannot have any right or power to interfere compulsorily with the establishment or constitution of any religious community in any part of Ireland. I think it all the more necessary to make that clear because it is rather curious—I am not in any way trying to deal with a subsequent Amendment—that in the latter-part of this Clause you do not prevent legislation giving preference to a particular religious body. What you say is that members of any particular religious body shall not be put under any disability owing to the religious body to which they belong. Unless these words are introduced there is not a single word in the Clause as it stands which would prevent the Irish Parliament interfering with the constitutional establishment of any religious community which happens to exist in Ireland at the present time, or which may exist in the future. I put this to the Committee and to the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Irish Office, whether it is not his intention to have religious equality in this sense; that it is not to be in the power of the Irish Parliament either to give preference to a particular body as I understand the word established, or to interfere with the establishment or constitution of an existing body having regard to its powers and privileges, whatever they may be, which exists at the present time.
I should like to add one word as regards the use of the word "establishment" because it is sometimes used in this country in the sense of a Church established by law and sometimes to refer to the legislation of Henry VIII.'s time. I take an entirely different view of the meaning of that word altogether. I think any Christian fraternity of a defined faith or Constitution is an establishment in the ordinary sense in which we use the word in our religious language and literature. I want therefore to make it quite clear that using the word in that sense neither Roman Catholic, nor Presbyterian, nor Anglican, nor any other religious body in 2049 Ireland could ever be preferred by a subordinate Irish Parliament when constituted or put under any disability by having its constitution interfered with. I do not know whether it is the intention of the Government to make Clause 3 govern the principle of religious equality. I dare say it may be so, but I am quite clear that the words as they stand do not carry that out, and in order to carry out that intention, if it be the intention of the Government, they must either adopt the words which I propose in my Amendment or words of a similar character. I am not discussing a mere question of drafting, but when a Member of the Government replies to this Amendment I would ask him to say whether they intend what' I have denned as the true aspect of religious equality, namely, non-interference with the establishment of any existing constitution.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I do not know if I had time to enter into a long conversation with the hon. and learned Member that I should differ materially from anything he has said. But I feel perfectly satisfied that the introduction at this place of the word "disestablish" in front of the word "establish" would mislead ordinary persons who are not quite so well acquainted with the history of ecclesiastical matters as he may be. The real protection which the hon. and learned Member desires to have for every form of religious body that may be in the possession of property would be much better secured by the careful consideration of subsequent words in this Clause and on Amendments which appear in the name of the hon. and learned Member for York and other hon. Members. What he proposes to do is to say, "You must not disestablish any religious body which is established." He used the word "compulsorily" in his speech, but there is nothing of that sort in the Amendment, and it would be a very clumsy limiting form to put upon a Parliament which might have to deal with religious bodies to say if they came to Parliament, as people have lately done in Scotland, asking for an alteration or confirmation of their trust, that they cannot under this Clause disestablish any Church. Hon. Members opposite are always viewing with alarm the possibility of danger from any Irish Parliament. They never think that the fact of taking away the power to do harm also takes away the power to do good. I am prepared to argue that this is a body capable of doing both harm and good, but I am not prepared to assert it can only do 2050 harm. I think the words in he introduction of this Clause preventing the Parliament from ever doing anything to what the hon. and learned Member calls disestablish any Church are sufficient in view of the fact that the Irish Church has been disestablished and that the Clause forbids the establishment of any other Church in place of it. We have therefore got rid of the word "disestablish" altogether in that sense. But the hon. and learned Member attaches another meaning to the word. Ho is not thinking of the Liberation Society. He means by "disestablish" that nobody is to interfere, in any possible shape or way, in this Parliament with the constitution or the property of any religious body.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
With the constitution of any religious body. I say that would be a limitation upon the powers for good of that Parliament which might very likely interfere with and do particular damage to the very body whose interests he is seeking to protect. I do not quarrel with the general words used by the hon. and learned Member as to what we intend by this Clause. Although we are quite willing to consider whether our language cannot be improved by some of the Amendments which subsequently appear on the Paper, I do honestly put it to the hon. and learned Member that the introduction of this word "disestablish," which, in minds less clear than his own, has a quite different meaning attached to it, would be rather to cloud counsel and deprive the Irish Parliament of useful powers which the religious bodies might be desirous of its having, and do no good at all.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman illustrates the very great difficulty we are under, thanks to the procedure adopted by the present Government. We are not allowed fully to discuss this Clause or fully to discuss this point. The right hon. Gentleman admits that my hon. and learned Friend has put his finger upon a defect in the Clause as drafted.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Then what was the meaning of your speech? I presume the words of the right hon. Gentleman had some meaning. He said that the matter might be reconsidered hereafter on a subsequent Amendment.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
No, I said that the points which he urged might better be considered on a subsequent Amendment.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
That is very much what I said. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that subsequent Amendments will not be reached.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The next Amendment deals with disendowment, an absolutely different point altogether. It is quite true there is an Amendment of my own on the Paper, but we have been told that it is not to be reached. The Chairman has already told us. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] He said that if the matter were discussed on the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend, it could not be raised again on my own Amendment. That is the very point the right hon. Gentleman made. My Amendment says that the Irish Parliament may not divert the property or, without its consent, alter the constitution of any religious body. My hon. and learned Friend wishes to prohibit the Irish Parliament from altering the constitution of any religious body now established in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman knows that that cannot be discussed later, yet he refuses to consider this Amendment, and asks the Committee to reject it. This is a very important matter. It is all very well to use the word "establish" or "disestablish" in what may be called the ordinary sense of common talk. The right hon. Gentleman knows that every religious body that holds property is legally established.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
That, at all events, is a matter of controversy. A great many people think it is not so.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Then ought not the matter to be cleared up? We want to know definitely, and not to leave it vague, whether the Irish Parliament is to legislate on a matter of this sort or not. The right hon. Gentleman now admits that it is a matter of contraversy. Who is going to decide it when the Irish Parliament is set up? In my humble judgment any religious body that holds property is established. I hold that every Nonconformist body in this country, at any rate since the Toleration Act, has been established and is established, and the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that they cannot alter an iota of their constitution without coming to this House.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
That is the point. Are they to go to the Irish Parliament, or to come to this House, or is the Irish Parliament to have the right, whether they come to it or not, to alter their constitution without their wish? That is the most important point of all. The right hon. Gentleman said—I think it is a mere debating point quite unworthy of him—that what is called the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland was disestablished by the Act of 1869. Does he not also remember that by Royal Charter it was re-established, and that subsequently to its new constitution it was set up, and by that charter, which was a definite act of establishing it, it holds its property at the present time. What we want to know is whether the Irish Parliament is to have the right to interfere with the present constitution of that Church? It is not only a question of that Church. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland holds property, and is in that sense established. It holds property subject to a certain definite constitution and definite obligations and duties. It is an endowed church in a very real sense. As the right hon. Gentleman remembers, there was a very large Grant made to the Presbyterian Church before the Disestablishment of the Church in Ireland. There was what was called the regium donum, a lump sum which was handed over to the Presbylerian Church of Ireland. They hold that property under a certain constitution.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Are the rights of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to be interfered with at the sweet will of the Irish Parliament, or can its constitution only be altered by the act of this Parliament?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
An act of Parliament can override trusts. The question we are arguing at the present time is whether it is to be an act of the Trish Parliament or an act of the Imperial Parliament. I think it is clear from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that he recognises that something must be done. He thinks that to introduce the word "disestablish" will cause confusion. 2053 It may be that the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend is not the best way of dealing with this matter; but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, as he has admitted a grievance, what is his proposal? Has he any words to bring up, or any suggestion to make, whereby under the conditions under which we are discussing this Bill words can be brought up? If he has, we shall be glad to hear it; if he has not, the only thing for us to do is to support the Amendment, because we hold it will be a monstrous injustice if the Irish Parliament is permitted to interfere in any way with the constitution of any religious body now established in Ireland.
§ Mr. BARRIE
I should have preferred if we had had an opportunity of discussing this matter on the wider Amendment which stands lower down. We had an intimation from the Chairman that on this Amendment it would not be open to the House to discuss the later one, so I take it this is the only opportunity the Committee will be afforded of discussing the important matters raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I may be permitted to speak especially as representing the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and I do not think even the Chief Secretary denies that there is grave anxiety amongst the Presbyterians of Ireland as to what their possible fate may be should this Bill ever become an Act. I say it in no spirit of disrespect as regards the Roman Catholic Church, but we have no precedent in the? Colonies for the Constitution to which considerable reference has been made during these Debates, and we know that in the eyes of the Romish Church we are heretics, and therefore our property is not entitled to the respect which the property of other Communions might be entitled to receive. It is well known in Ireland that the Presbyterian body is numerous and influential. Its property is estimated to be worth at least £5,000,000, and I am sure the property of the Episcopal Church is worth very little less and may be quite equal to that. The Chief Secretary, at Bristol, freely and fully admitted that he was setting up a Roman Catholic Parliament in Dublin, and in view of the past treatment that Protestants have received where that Church has been in power, it is only reasonable, and even the Chief Secretary must admit it, that in fair play to the Protestants who will be under the power of that Parliament, if it were ever established, a protective Clause should be inserted in this Bill. How does the Chief 2054 Secretary receive this suggestion? He says he would rather have had it raised in a subsequent Amendment. He was in the House when the Chairman ruled that the subsequent Amendment could not be raised.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I am loth to interrupt the hon. Member, but he may be confusing the Amendments. The next Amendment to be called is that in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. Butcher), which raises the precise point which the hon. Member is now raising.
§ Mr. BARRIE
Under the limitation of time that we are working under, it is quite evident that no further Amendment can possibly be reached this evening. Therefore the Chief Secretary in making that suggestion, is only repeating the tactics the Government have so constantly resorted to during the progress of the Bill under the guillotine Motion of evading difficult problems by suggesting that they might better be raised on some other Amendment. If I am wrong in that suggestion, it is quite easy for the Chief Secretary now to say that at some later stage in these proceedings he is prepared to move words, the insertion of which would give the protection that is called for by my co-religionists, and until we have some such declaration from the Chief Secretary, I think the fears to which I have given expression, will remain and, if possible, increase. I do not know that we need enlarge upon the point further, but I do not think even the Chief Secretary will suggest that I am at all exaggerating the state of feeling prevalent amongst the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Methodists in Ireland, and I think we are entitled to this protection if the Government are sincere in their oft expressed wishes to grant any reasonable safeguard which may be demanded by the representatives of the unfortunate minority in Ireland in the House of Commons. I submit that with all respect to the Chief Secretary. He has now an opportunity which, under the Parliament Act, will not recur of showing that there is some sincerity in all his avowals of a desire to treat the minority fairly.
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
I have been moved to make a few remarks on this Amendment by the jeers which emanated from hon. Members sitting below the Gangway at some remarks of my hon. 2055 Friend. I think the House of Commons is the only place on the face of the earth where Members seem to be determined to ignore the fact that in the main our objection, not only to this Clause, but to the whole Bill, lies in the hostility—I am sorry to say—which exists between the various Churches in Ireland. Everyone who knows anything about it knows perfectly well that if we Protestants, Presbyterians, Churchmen, or whatever we may be, thought for a moment that we should receive fair treatment from our Roman Catholic fellow countrymen, and particularly from the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, we should look upon the proposal for Home Rule in a very different spirit and from a very different point of view. Why do hon. Members below the Gangway make jeering remarks at my hon. Friend when he states the plain truth?
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
My name has been mentioned by various hon. Members below the Gangway. If that is so, ought not they to state why they mention my name, and what object they have in view? Otherwise I submit they are out of order.
Mr. C. GRAIG
Hon. Members below the Gangway will not get away from the plain facts of the case by referring to my hon. Friend or in any other way. The fact remains that this religious hostility between the various sects in Ireland is at the bottom of our opposition to Home Rule. Everyone knows that, and what is the good of trying to disguise the fact here? This is a most important Amendment from that point of view. I frankly admit that until I had studied it I was inclined to look upon the word "disestablish" in the other sense than that which has been used by my hon. Friend; but, after hearing what has been said, I quite agree that it would be open to an Irish Parliament to construe the word "disestablish" in the way that he has construed it, and he has opened to me a danger which until he had spoken I was not conscious of. After hearing his speech I may say that this is a most important Amendment, for, without introducing words similar to these, it is quite clear that the Irish Parliament will have power to interfere with the constitution of any Church in Ireland. You may scoff at our fears, but a great many of you know they are perfectly well founded. [An HON. MEMBER: "We know you think so."] I 2056 have heard it stated by hon. Members and by innumerable so-called Liberals outside the House. It is perfectly ridiculous to pretend that there are not a large number of Liberals, or so-called Liberals, throughout the country who believe that our fears on this point are well founded. That being so, I say we are entitled to have some such words in the Bill as have been suggested by my hon. Friend.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I understand from what was said by the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Irish Office that the question of interfering with the constitution of religious bodies should be left to the Irish Parliament, because as between the two Parliaments he thought that was the proper Parliament to leave it to. That, I think, is a most important matter. There is no matter that ought less to be left to the Irish Parliament than a question of that kind. If there is one matter on which you ought to have limitations, and on which you ought to reserve the right of the Imperial Parliament, it is as regards the constitution of religious bodies in Ireland. I thought I was moving my Amendment on the principle of religious equality. If there is one matter that is more likely to lead to religious strife in Ireland than another, it would be the leaving of the Irish Parliament to deal with the religious constitution of existing bodies. So important do I consider that it should be a matter for the-Imperial Parliament that I will certainly go to a Division on my Amendment.
§ Sir JOHN SPEAR
I cordially support the Amendment, although I do not like the word "disestablish." I believe that as the Clause stands at present there is nothing to prevent an Irish Parliament interfering with the property of Protestant denominations, and having regard to-the cleavage of opinion in Ireland on religious matters, I believe it is the duty of this Parliament to make quite sure in framing the Clause that no opportunity be given to the Dublin Parliament to interfere with the status of Protestant denominations. I do not wish to cast any aspersions on conscientious men anywhere, but any one who has read the history of Ireland must feel that the Protestant minority do require, in stating this constitution, that there shall be complete security for that minority. I venture to-say that no one who has read the oath taken by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and who knows the attitude which they 2057 manifest—[HON. MEMBERS: "There is no oath."] I have read the oath myself, and I venture to say that if words mean what they are supposed to express it is an argument that they are justified in extinguishing, if possible, the Protestant faith. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I like the interpretation which I have placed upon the "words, and, that being so, I say that the responsibility rests on this Parliament to see that justice be done to all—Roman Catholic and Protestant alike. I believe that can only be secured by the insertion of the words suggested in the Amendment. It is evident that the Government see the necessity for safeguarding to some extent the Protestant minority because they prohibit any action being taken under the Ne Temere decree. I venture to say that in any country where such a decree as that can be enunciated and have such an effect as it had in the McCann case it is necessary that this Parliament should see that no loophole be left whereby any such persecution as was manifested in that case can be given effect to. I feel confident that this is a simple measure of justice to the Protestant minority in Ireland, not to dictate terms, but to see that in the eye of the law they should have fair play, and that their position should be duly safeguarded by the action of this House.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I was a little sorry, I admit that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite on a somewhat technical word came before other Amendments which I wanted to have discussed. I cannot accept the words proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman. There are two points of substance. One is the property, the vast property, of the Protestant Church and of the Presbyterian Church. That has got to be considered, and that was an Amendment which I hoped would be considered some time ago on the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for York (Mr. Butcher). We were quite prepared to hear what he had to say, and if it was thought desirable, to introduce language to secure the property. We were willing to consider that with the view of giving hon. Gentlemen opposite the protection they desire. Then there is the question of constitution to which the hon. and learned Gentleman attaches some importance. He seems to think that the constitution of these religious bodies, Presbyterians, or the Protestant Church of Ireland, would be likely to raise in the new 2058 Parliament, quite apart from property or any question of that sort, some question of altering their constitution. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] I am arguing the question, and I want you to consider it. I say that the constitution of these churches deals with domestic matters and the determining of the particular form of faith of those belonging to the churches, and apart from property, apart from interference with endowments, apart from taking away from these religious bodies some money or estates that belong to them, I cannot conceive an. Irish Parliament-—except at the instigation of these religious bodies themselves, who might require Parliamentary interference or assistance— interfering of their own motion in matters which do not concern them, such as dioceses, synods, and regulations of the Presbyterians, and the Protestant Church of Ireland.
Why, in the name of commonsense, should Roman Catholics interfere with them? If you say that you object to the Dublin Parliament interfering with property, I understand your objection. Very well, property touches everybody, and quite properly. But as to this constitutional point, the notion that the Church of Rome would wish for some purpose of its own to interfere with the constitution—[Interruption]—The hon. Member said quite frankly that it is a Roman Catholic Parliament. Can you conceive of anybody coming and asking this House to interfere with the constitution of the Baptists? I could understand you wanting to take the Baptists' property, but can you imagine anyone coming to this House and saying, "I am dissatisfied with the constitution of the Baptists. I do not like their methods or system of teaching their doctrines. I do not like their constitution or their order. I do not like their mode of church government, and I propose in future that the Baptists should adopt the synodical form instead of the congregational form, and that they should require the sanction of the synod of the locality as the Presbyterians do, instead of doing it simply as a congregational matter"? That, to me, is an almost impossible conception. But there are those who think it is possible and that it is of great consequence. I do not think it is of any consequence, but I would say to my hon. and learned Friend opposite, as he and others think it is, that though I cannot accept his words now, I am quite prepared to consider whether we should not insert some restrictive words 2059 in the sense of an Amendment which appears later on, that the constitution of religious bodies should not be interfered with by this Irish Parliament except on their instigation or with their consent. I suppose that the hon. Member does not really want to prevent any religious body in Ireland, if it wants some Parliamentary assistance, from going to the Parliament nearest to hand to have effect given to their wishes, but I am quite prepared, though I do not give any pledge on this subject, to consider words with my hon. and learned Friend to secure that the constitution of religious bodies shall, except at their own wish, be removed from the purview of the Parliament. We shall come to the question of property on the Amendment later on and we can then discuss it.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I should like to meet the right hon. Gentleman on this point, because I think it an extremely important one. He says that it is most unlikely that the Parliament would desire to interfere with the constitution of any Church apart from the property of the Church. I cannot accept that, because we have got an instance in which there is interference with the constitution of the Church in what many people think a very vital matter. I take that as an illustration, and say that it is absurd to say that a Parliament may not deal with a question of this sort. Looking to the future, no one can say that, and the only question, if the right hon. Gentleman agrees with what I say, is to take precautions that they cannot do so. I am not dealing with mere voluntary action, because if any religious body in Ireland or elsewhere wishes of its own motion and desire to alter the constitution of its Church, I have nothing to do with that. What I wish to put quite straight is that there shall not be legislative power, at any rate, against the will of a religious denomination, which might under particular conditions be a very small minority, to alter it. I do not think the question of minority and majority have anything to do with religious questions at all. Therefore I want to make it quite clear, as a fundamental proposition outside the power of a majority, that in future the constitution of religious bodies in Ireland cannot be compulsorily altered by the new Irish Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman says that he will introduce words to that effect I shall be satisfied. I put it that there shall not be compulsory 2060 interference, because I realise what he said about voluntary interference. On the understanding that there will be a provision to that effect in this Clause, I shall not seek to go to a Division.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Notwithstanding what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, I cannot bring myself for a moment to conceive how any Parliament would seek to-interfere in the domestic constitution of any religious body. I cannot conceive what gain they could get, what money they could get, or what harm or injury they would inflict on any person. To come to any voluntary body, as all religious bodies in Ireland are, and say, "We are going to alter your constitution; we are going to interfere with your regulations," seems tome to be almost an impossible conception; but, at the same time, though I can see great difficulty in settling how the will of a voluntary religious body is to be determined, whether it is to be a mere majority or a majority of a certain size, yet if it is put to me that if this Irish Parliament claims the right to interfere with the constitution of voluntary religious bodies, I do not think it should have that right, and I am quite willing to give a pledge to introduce words which I think would have that effect.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman had gone the whole length when he used the word "consider," but if now he says that he is willing to introduce words to carry out the view which I have expressed as regards compulsory interference, then I withdraw the Amendment.
§ Question proposed, "That the Amendment be withdrawn."
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
As there has been so flattering a demand for my opinion on this subject, I feel bound to give it. My view as to this whole Bill is that I am against any subordinate Parliament in any part of the United Kingdom, and if there are to be any subordinate Parliaments I want their sphere of action and their power, whatever use they are likely to make of it, restricted in every possible way. That I would apply to a Bill for any part of the United Kingdom in any sphere of activity, and I say with regard to this particular Amendment, though for different reasons from my hon. Friend's, that I am just as much entitled to support it as the blackest Orangeman from Portadown.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I beg to move, in the first paragraph of the Clause, after the word "endow," to insert the words "or interfere with the existing endowments or property of."
The object of this Amendment is to prohibit the Irish Parliament from making laws which will have the effect of diverting the property of any religious body to other uses. In the Parliament of 1893 I moved practically the same Amendment, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland, then Mr. Morley, admitting that the point was a good one, accepted an Amendment in substantially the form in which I propose it. The Chief Secretary for Ireland first said "the point is quite a good one, but is already provided for in the Bill," and he pointed to two provisions in the Bill which he said met the point. But after Debate he was convinced that the point was not met in the Bill as it stood, and thereupon he accepted an Amendment prohibiting the Irish Parliament from passing any laws diverting the property of any religious body. The present position is in some respects similar to and in some respects a great deal worse than that of 1893, because in 1893 there were certain safeguards in the Bill which do not exist now. The Government are never tired of telling us in answer to almost every Amendment we propose, "You have already got plenty of safeguards in the Bill." With regard to this matter in general they are never tired of pointing to Clause 3, and saying, "Here are ample safeguards for all religious interests," and I doubt not that on many a platform Clause 3 has been read out to an admiring, perhaps, I might add, in some cases, ignorant audience, as though it were an ample provision for every form of religion and every endowment of every form of religion. I assert, and I challenge the Government to contradict me when I say that, as the Bill stands, there is no word or line in it which would in any way restrict the power of the Irish Parliament to divert the property of religious denominations to secular uses. If that be so, I say that it ought not to be allowed to stand as it is. If the Government were disposed to adopt the methods which were largely adopted by the Government in 1893, in dealing with the then Home Rule Bill, why, of course, they would accept my 2062 Amendment at once. But they have already in the course of the discussion on this Bill shown that they adopt a very different attitude, and they have already told us—I think the Prime Minister told us in one of his early speeches—that they have expressly left out from this Bill certain provisions which were thought necessary to be inserted in the Bill of 1893. I think the Prime Minister gave some reasons, or alleged reasons, which were totally inadmissible.
The real reason why they have not inserted these safeguards which were put into the Bill of 1893, and which are not found in this Bill, is that they are more susceptible to the wishes of hon. Members who sit on the Nationalist benches than was the Parliament of which Mr. Gladstone was Prime Minister, and which, of course, never submitted to such servitude as that under which the present Government labour. Therefore I am not surprised that on these proposed Amendments and safeguards they give various reasons for refusing them, though they never once give the real reason, that is that they are not permitted by the hon. Member for Waterford and his Friends to answer them. I suppose we shall be told to-night that, after all, this objection is founded on the view that the Irish Parliament will be endowed with a double dose of original sin. We have had that suggestion before. On this occasion it is not necessary to suggest that they have a double dose of original sin, or, indeed, any greater dose of sin, original or otherwise, than have hon. Members who sit on the benches opposite. What, after all, are the Government of the present day doing? They have introduced a Bill into this House for the purpose of diverting the endowments of a religious body in Wales from their original uses, and turning them to secular uses. Is it not possible, to say the least, that the same reasons which have caused the Government to bring forward this Bill for diverting the small endowments of the Church in Wales from their original purposes, might animate the Irish Parliament, and induce or impel them to introduce a Bill in the Irish Parliament for diverting the religious endowments in Ireland from their existing uses. What reasons maybe which are to-day animating the Government to pursue their policy of Welsh Disendowment I do not know and I do not care. It may be original sin, or merely predatory instinct, or, indeed, it may be pressure from a 2063 relatively small section of their supporters which they are not able to resist. Whatever their motive may be, it is to say the least of it not improbable that the same motive may animate the Irish Parliament some day, and induce them to bring in a Bill for diverting from their proper purposes the endowments belonging to religious bodies.
The Irish Government might have, I do not say some justification, but some excuse, for such a Bill, which this Government cannot allege for their Bill for Welsh Disestablishment. The Government do not say that their reason for Welsh Disestablishment is to get money; but when the Irish Government is set up they will be a Government hunting on every side for some means, legitimate or illegitimate, of getting money, and they may say, "We have got no money for the public service; here are funds possessed by different religious bodies; why should not we take some of those religious funds and convert them to our own purposes and enable us to carry on this so-called measure for the better government of Ireland?" That is one of the dangers which I think you run when you set up this Irish Parliament without such a restriction as I suggest. In the case of the Church of Ireland, there is a special reason why this provision which I suggest should be inserted. The Church of Ireland, as we all know, under the Disestablishment Act of 1869, were confirmed in their possession of some of the ancient cathedrals and some of the endowments of the Church of Ireland. As the matter stands with regard to cathedrals, we know that the view of the Roman Catholic Church—I am not complaining for a moment of it—is that, historically, the Roman Catholic Church are entitled to all the cathedrals and ancient churches of Ireland. That is their claim; and they also go further and say that, notwithstanding the long continued relation of these Cathedral Churches with the Church of Ireland, and notwithstanding the fact that the Act of 1869 expressly confirms the right of the Church of Ireland to these cathedrals, their title to those cathedrals is a good one.
I am not going further into that, but I shall refer the House to a recent speech of Archbishop Walsh delivered in Dublin in October last year, in which, while disclaiming any intention to act oppressively to the Church of Ireland, he condemned as 2064 utterly unlawful and utterly illegitimate the process by which St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin had got into the possession of the Church of Ireland. There are numerous other authorities for that proposition. I do not for a moment impugn the sincerity of the Roman Catholic Church in putting forward their claim. I do not discuss whether it is a good claim or not, but that view being as strongly held as it is by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland at this moment, I see great danger that the Parliament in Ireland, consisting largely as it must necessarily consist of Roman Catholic members, might be induced by these Roman Catholic Members to divert some of those cathedrals, and hand them over to the Roman Catholic Church. I say that is a danger which ought to be guarded against. But it is not only with regard to the Church of Ireland itself that this danger arises. There is another Church in Ireland, and a very large Church, mainly in the North of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. The Presbyterian Church of Ireland is possessed of very considerable endowments. Previous to the Act of 1869 the Presbyterian Church of Ireland was endowed out of State funds: but when the Church of Ireland was disestablished then the Presbyterian Church was disendowed as well. The State handed over to the Presbyterian Church at that time a very considerable sum of money by way of commutation. An hon. Friend reminds me that that amounted to £750,000. That sum has ever since remained and now is part of the property and endowment of the Presbyterian Church.
That is not the only endowment the Presbyterian Church have got. They have got other large endowments which were subscribed for by their own followers, and to those endowments, whether given to them by the State or raised for them by their own followers, I conceive that they have as good and indefeasible a right as any body, public or private, in this country. I ask the Government is it not right that they should insert an express Clause in this Act to prevent the Irish Parliament from even having the temptation to interfere with those endowments? I shall be told, I suppose, as we have been told on former occasions, that to insert such a provision would mean distrust of the Irish Parliament. Let me ask what reason is there, beyond that suggestion of distrust, why such a provision 2065 should not be inserted in this Bill? Clause 3 as it stands admits the necessity of preventing the Irish Parliament from interfering with religion. It prevents it from endowing religions; it prevents it from prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Does that imply no distrust? If your confidence was so great in the Irish Parliament, or was well founded, would Clause 3 have appeared at all? Clause 3 goes on preventing the Irish Parliament from giving any powers, privileges, or advantages, or imposing any disability or disadvantage on account of religious belief. If it is necessary, as everyone admits it is necessary, to have prohibitive Clauses of that sort in the Bill, what reason can you allege for not having a prohibitive Clause protecting the endowments, such as I suggest by my Amendment? If I may summarise the matter in two or three words, I would put it in this way: If it is to be supposed that the Irish Parliament intends to exercise this power, which they have under the Bill at present, of diverting the endowments or property of religious bodies to secular uses, then I say it is the undoubted and clear right of all those interested in religious bodies in Ireland to prevent them exercising that power. If, on the other hand, you tell us that they have no such intention and that the Irish Parliament would not dream of diverting those funds, then I say this Amendment will do no possible harm and it may do a great deal of good, and on those grounds I beg to move.
Mr. JOHN GORDON (Londonderry, S.)
I am most surprised at the temerity of the hon. and learned Member for York in moving this Amendment, which is, in the words of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, offensive to the Irish people. It is an insult to the Irish people, in the words of the Solicitor-General, and we are to show our trust in the Irish people and to trust them to do everything right. Those are the views that are put forward, and this is almost contrary to the general opinion of hon. Members on the other side of the House, who, I suppose, consider that it would be quite right that your Protestant cathedrals in Ireland should be handed over to the Roman Catholics, and that the Roman Catholic people should get any moneys which are now in the hands of any Protestant body in Ireland at the present moment because those cathedrals were theirs as of ancient right and the moneys the Protestant people have got were moneys filched from Roman 2066 Catholic churches. The people will all believe that and they will send to Parliament Members whom they think will give effect to their wishes. It almost strikes me dumb to hear the hon. Member get up and dare to move such an Amendment as this in the House. But if the Irish Nationalist Parliament does not wish to do this, what reason is there for not accepting this Amendment? It is not taking anything from the Irish Nationalist Parliament. It is only asking to preserve to religious bodies certain funds and certain endowments which they have at the present time. I know the Chief Secretary for Ireland is in a very great difficulty because the master of the Government is not here to-night to tell him whether he will accept this Amendment or not. He is then in this position, that he has to wait for the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) to get up and to say this is an Amendment which, really, though it is an insult and offensive to the Irish people, ought to be accepted. And then the Chief Secretary says, "We will accept it," or the Chief Secretary may come down and say. "Well, really we think this Amendment ought to be accepted, but I have to think about it," and the real reason he thinks about it is that he has to consult the hon. and learned Member for Waterford as he did in the last Amendment. "I must," he says, "wait until I see if he will approve of it."
Mr. J. GORDON
Here is an Amendment, and a commonsense man like myself and those who are members of the Nonconformist Churches who would like to preserve their own property, ask what justification there is for refusing to accede to this Amendment giving protection to religious bodies for their monies and their endowments. They ask, if you inflict upon Ireland what we regard to be this terrible calamity of Home Rule, that, at all events, you should do something to protect the property belonging to those religious bodies. Are you so utterly lost to all sympathy which your Protestant fellow citizens as to say, "We shall run the risk even in face of their determined opinion that it would be a grave danger, we shall leave them to run the risk of having their property filched and taken away from them by a Parliament which we create, and over which we shall not be able to exercise any control in reference to this matter." I should like to hear from the Chief Secretary or whoever answers on behalf of the 2067 Government, what is their objection to putting in these simple words, or what fair reason can they adduce for saying that they shall not provide that the Irish Parliament shall not interfere with the endowment of any religious body. Does an Irish Parliament wish to do so? I am tired of listening to this "Oh, we trust the Irish people." Trust them or not trust them, what are you taking from them by inserting an Amendment of this kind. The Irish Church, when it was disestablished, got a very large sum of money, and a great deal of money which had belonged to the Irish Church, and whether rightly or wrongly is a question I am not entering into, was taken away from them by Parliament, and was handed over to other Imposes in Ireland, and is being used for those purposes. What is to prevent an Irish Parliament saying that the Imperial Parliament did not go half far enough, and here are funds which are ear-marked as part of the funds belonging to that Church which was disestablished and disendowed by the Imperial Parliament, and why should we not take some of it to meet our necessities. Is not that a logical conclusion? And what power would you have to prevent them? Would they not turn to you and say, "We are only following the lesson you taught us in dealing with Church property"?
The Presbyterian body, in which personally I am interested, have a very large sum of money—£700,000 or £800,000—which has been supplemented by their putting their hands into their own pockets and by people interested in the Church leaving large sums of money under their wills. That money has been invested under the control of trustees, who have the authority and sanction of this Imperial Parliament for their existence. You are going to hand the whole of that over to be dealt with by the Irish Parliament. What answer have you if they say, "We are only following your example when we say that this fund, which was originally public property, and which came out of the pockets of the ancient Irish people, should be taken hold of and put back in their pockets"? Even supposing they do not want to do that, there is nothing to prevent their saying, "You ought to invest these funds by lending them to the Irish Government for certain purposes." How are you to control them in that matter? What is to prevent them from putting the money into the worst securities of the Irish 2068 Government? I think that, at all events, men who have any conscience left should see that the religious bodies in the country are protected from any chance of spoliation and plunder which might arise under this measure—more particularly when they are taking away nothing from their dearly beloved friends of the Irish Nationalist party.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir John. Simon)
If, as I suppose is really the case, the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment desired to commend it to the Government and to present it in a conciliatory spirit, their notions of what is conciliatory are certainly very strange. For my part, before I deal with the Amendment, I must say in answer to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gordon) that he is not the only representative of Nonconformist feeling in this House. I am glad to avow that I, too, come from a Nonconformist stock, and I should indeed be ashamed if it went forth as the real view of the Nonconformists of this country that they entertained these miserable suspicions of every religious opinion except their own. I regret more than I can say, that in the name of religion and charity opinions of that sort should be put forth in such a temper and spirit. As to the Amendment itself, which these two hon. Gentlemen are so anxious to get the Government to accept, I can relieve their anxiety. They both knew before they began to speak that an announcement had already been made, that as it is proposed to modify the Clause in view of protecting the constitution of these bodies, so that is not the slightest objection to making a modification as regards their property.
The hon. and learned Gentleman has no right to say that I knew perfectly well what was in his mind. I did not.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
The hon. and learned Gentleman has made a statement which I beg to characterise as absolutely unfounded. I had not the slightest notion when I got up to move my Amendment, that he was going to accept it, and it would have been perfectly open for him to have said in two or three words that that was his intention. I assumed that the Government would treat it in the way they have treated other Amendments. Therefore I beg to tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that his statement about me had no foundation whatever.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
I offer my apologies to both hon. and learned Gentlemen. One of them claims to be a gentleman of common sense, and they both claim to follow the Debate. I supposed therefore that they were aware of what the Chief Secretary had said. Of course I perfectly accept their statement, and they were justified in interrupting me when I attributed to them a state of knowledge which is not theirs. What must be their gratification, surprise, and pleasure to learn that the proposal which they make on behalf of Nonconformists, is one which in principle the Government do not find any difficulty in accepting. I congratulate them on their good fortune. The remaining question is as to the proper form in which this protection should be put. The Mover of the Amendment would be the first to recognise that it vas not intended by asking for this change to make it impossible for a railway company, or for the promoters of some other work of utility to acquire, if need be, under Lands Clauses Act terms, the fabric of a particular church or chapel if good cause is shown. I am not attempting to turn aside from the real proposition which lie put, forward by pointing out that we have to be careful to safeguard ourselves from any such consequence. It is not desired, I presume, by those who support this Amendment, that the Irish Parliament should be debarred from giving authority in a proper case for such an ordinary case of taking over the property even of a religious body. Subject to cases of that kind which we have to be careful to provide for, I can say—and I speak in this matter, of course, with the authority of the Government—that in principle, if this is really, as of course it is, such a satisfaction to hon. Gentlemen opposite, there is no objection to the Amendment.
Personally, I do not believe that, because the majority of the nation happens to be Catholic it is therefore reasonable and proper to suppose that they are going to behave in an outrageous manner. That is, perhaps, because I am such a poor Nonconformist that I do not understand the real opinion of Nonconformists. Therefore whilst the words which the hon. Gentleman proposes do not appear to me to be the most apt, and while we have to guard ourselves against incidental consequences such as those to which I have referred, it is our intention to introduce a provision which will meet the substance of the case, and secure that in regard to property of 2070 religious bodies in Ireland it shall not be within the competence of the Irish Parliament to deal with it in a manner which would amount to its diversion for improper purposes, or contrary to the church trusts. I hope the hon. Gentleman will see that that is at any rate a straightforward and clear statement, made quite unconditionally. I must ask him to take my word for it that it is not from a desire to criticise the words, but with the real desire to carry out the intention which he has at heart, that I ask him not to press the Amendment in its present terms in face of the statement I have made.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I want to be quite clear. As I understand the Solicitor-General, the limitation on the words which he thinks are necessary would only really be a limitation to reserve similar to a case of a railway company seeking by private Bill legislation to take a particular property? In this case it would be the property of one of these religious bodies for public purposes. That is the only limitation he suggests?
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
That is one which occurs to me; but the hon. and learned Gentleman knows—no one better—the case of a limitation of that kind. I want the Committee carefully to consider limitation similar to the one I referred to which might arise in another direction.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I want to make it quite clear. That would be a case in which in the property which is so taken there was pecuniary compensation. As regards religious endowments, of course, everyone will agree that cases of that kind ought to be provided for. That is the only limitation that is in his mind. One question as regards the general matter. I want to-say, quite shortly, that at the present time, when Members of the Nonconformist bodies in this country are attacking endowments of the Church, that the simulated virtue of the Solicitor-General is rather out of place. I hope when the question does arise in a larger sphere that he will bear in mind what he has said this evening.
Sir G. PARKER
I think the Solicitor-General imparted unnecessary heat into his remarks. The tone of his speech throughout was rather rasping. But I want to make this point: The Solicitor-General said that my hon. Friends were not justified in casting suspicion upon the intentions, or the possible intentions, of 2071 the Irish Parliament; and that they were not willing to trust to the fair play, the honour, and the honesty of their Catholic fellow-citizens in Ireland. I want to recall to the Solicitor-General, who is learned in historical and constitutional law this fact: That in 1791, when French Canada and Upper or English Canada were united, the very suspicion which he speaks of, and that anxiety which he condemns, was the dominant feeling on the part of the French Catholics in Canada. They pressed their point with so much force that when the British Government said that the status of the priesthood of the Catholic Church and the position of the endowments of the Catholic Church in Quebec, the revenues, the tithes, and so on, would not be interfered with, that did more than anything else to produce a good feeling on the part of the French people of Canada—a quarter of a century after the conquest.
Sir G. PARKER
Well, but then how was the Solicitor-General justified in accusing my hon. Friends of being unduly suspicious? "Miserable suspicion," he called it. My hon. Friends were absolutely justified. They would be lacking in their duty as representing the Nonconformists and the Established Church in Ireland and in this country if they did not put forward this claim which has always been put forward in such circumstances in the British Empire.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
A point emerges directly out of the statement of the Solicitor-General, but it is not confined to the particular question which we are now discussing. The Solicitor-General made it perfectly clear—I was in some doubt upon the subject—that it was not the speeches of my two hon. Friends that had influenced him. He intimated that the Government had considered this Amendment—as we know every Government does consider in advance Amendments—and that this was not one of those cases in which the Debate altered the preconceived notions of the Government, causing them to accept the Amendment. That being so, and it having been the intention of the Government beforehand to accept this Amendment, with an alternative, I venture to say that it would be to the convenience of the Committee, and I think it is due to Mem- 2072 bers and critics of the Bill, that in a case of this kind the Government ought to put their alternative on the Paper. That is always to the convenience of the Committee in any Bill, and it is specially necessary when we are discussing a Bill under such conditions as prevail at the present time. If the Government had their words waiting they could have moved them as an Amendment to the one we have been discussing; this Amendment would have been withdrawn, and we should have turned the discussion at once, if necessary, on to the words of the Government. The discussion would have been continuous, and the House would have dealt with this matter at a moment when it was prepared to deal with it. But when the Government come down and say they are prepared to accept the spirit of the thing, but must be allowed to produce their own words, and do not produce them till a subsequent time, they must remember that under the circumstances in which we are it is at once a matter of the greatest doubt whether we shall ever have the opportunity to consider them.
We shall see them some day on the Paper. Very likely they may have to be voted into the Bill when some night the the guillotine falls and discussion may not be possible. My appeal to the Government is that when they are prepared to accept the spirit of an Amendment, and they think it necessary to offer some alternative words, they ought in advance to put their alternative words upon the Paper, so that we may all have an opportunity of seeing what they are, and so discussion may proceed in its regular course, and we may not be asked to withdraw words on which we set a value without knowing in the least what are the words the Government are going to produce in their place. I am not suggesting that the Government are quibbling over words, but very often differences of opinion do arise as to the adequacy, even of Government words. Very often a little debate shows the Government that their words are not wide enough to cover all the cases they wish to cover, or to include cases which they have no intention of including. I make my appeal for Bills which will be discussed in their normal course, but I think the appeal has a special force on an occasion like this, when, if you do not deal with questions finally at the moment they arise, there is a very great probability you will never have an opportunity of discussing them at all.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I think the right hon. Gentleman has made a very reasonable appeal; and whenever we can meet it we shall be very glad to do so. And we have with that object in mind prepared words which I will read to the Committee, in order that the Committee may see that we are really not only saying that we will meet them, but that we have attempted to do so by drafting words which I will propose as embodying what my hon. Friend the Solicitor-General has said would be inserted in the Bill. The words are to insert after the word "thereof" ["or prohibit the free exercise thereof"] the following words, "or divert property from any religious denomination except for roads, railways, lighting, or drainage works, or other works of public utility."
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have no objection, if hon. Members think that that is a serious defect in the Amendment, to add the words, "upon the payment of compensation." I have no objection whatever to doing that, but I think it naturally follows. I am very anxious to meet any reasonable objection, and if there is any reasonable apprehension that property can be taken or diverted from religious the words "upon the payment of compensation, I will add at the end of my Amendment the words "upon the payment of compensation." That, I think, would meet any objection. These are the words we suggest as embodying to the full what was said by my hon. Friend the Solicitor-General on behalf of the Government, and I hope the Committee will think that we have really attempted to meet these points by the insertion of the words I suggest in the Bill.
§ Sir H. CARLILE
Will the right hon. Gentleman add the form of the compensation, because the expression "compensation" by itself is hardly adequate?
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I do not think the words of the Attorney-General are very satisfactory. I think what he means is this, not to divert property from any religious denomination except for such purposes as roads, railways, lighting, or drainage works, or other works of public utility, and then only on the payment of compensation and that the amount of compensation should be invested for the benefit of 2074 the same religious denomination. That makes it quite clear I think. I do not want the words or divert property only for certain purposes, but also that the words should be put in, when you get the compensation provided that the money should be used for the same purpose.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I will ask the hon. and learned Gentleman who is an authority on these matters, whether he considers it necessary to add such words as he suggests. You cannot divert property for works of public utility except upon the payment of compensation. It necessarily follows that compensation must go to the body whose property was diverted. The Amendment makes it perfectly clear that you have that limitation. I suggest that it will not be necessary to-insert these words.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
As the Attorney-General asks me I think the words are necessary to make it perfectly clear. The Attorney-General says that without the insertion of these words you would arrive at the same result. I do not think that necessarily follows. I ask him to put in those words so that there may be no doubt about it at all. If you put in these words, the question can never be raised afterwards. This Committee will have clearly expressed its intention and no subsequent difference will arise.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I would like to-meet the hon. and learned Gentleman. I suggest that if the Committee thinks fit to-adopt these words we will consider if it is necessary to add them, and if upon careful consideration, we think there is any doubt we will add the words. It does not occur to me at the present moment that they are necessary.
§ Mr. HOARE
I should like to know exactly what the Attorney-General means by "works of public utility." It seems to me that they cover a very wide field. I cannot help thinking you might include under that head all the various objects for which you want the property you wish to-take from the Church in Wales. I own that I much prefer the phraseology of my hon. Friend's Amendment as it stands, and I cannot see why the Government should not accept it and all the more so-as the words of the Amendment are almost identical with those accepted in 1893. Mr. Gladstone at that time at once accepted 2075 a Sub-section proposed from this side of the House in these words:—divert the property, or without its consent alter the constitution of any religious body.These words seem to me to meet the case very much better than the extremely vague words we have here from the Attorney-General. I hope, therefore, my hon. Friend will not withdraw his Amendment, but will maintain his own words which cover the ground much more accurately than those of the Attorney-General, and that we shall have no such vague words as "works of public utility." Let me draw the attention of the Committee to this curious fact. At the present moment there are two prominent Bills before this House. The arguments by which the Government have attempted to justify the one are absolutely inconsistent with the arguments we have just heard upon this particular Amendment. It would be out of order to go into the argument urged in favour of the Welsh Church Bill; but it is relevant to this Amendment to say that the two arguments: first, that the majority has a right to deal with religious endowment; and, secondly, that a nationality has no right to deal with religious endowment, are entirely at variance with the concession which the Attorney-General has outlined. By your concession you deny to Irish nationality what you are claiming as a right for Welsh nationality. Surely the concession we have heard outlined by the Attorney-General is another step in the game of make-believe that we have been playing here for the last fortnight.
§ Mr. HOARE
We all know that paper safeguards are no good, and now we are engaged in a task congenial to right lion. Gentlemen opposite, of window-dressing. It seems to me that if we are engaged in that operation, we should do it thoroughly. Accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for York and make the proposal complete and not be put off with the vague words suggested by the Attorney-General.
§ Mr. MOORE
I object to this word "compensation," and I should like to explain why. Our compensation code in Ireland is under the Railways Compensation Act. The Railways (Ireland) Act is not exempted from the powers of the Irish Parliament, and the Irish Parliament 2076 could amend the Railways (Ireland) Act in several ways. They could put in a provision that no religious body shall be paid more than a limited amount of compensation, or they could appoint a number of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway as a jury to fix the amount. It is not exempted from their powers, and compensation means exactly what the Irish Parliament chooses to legislate for. Therefore, when the word "compensation" is used here, it should be defined to be in the sense provided for under the Lands Clauses Act or the Railways Acts, and not in the sense in which an Irish Parliament might determine. I think the word "compensation" ought to have after it the words "as at present defined by the Railways (Ireland) Act or the Lands Clauses Act," or otherwise the whole thing may be an absolute farce. I understand that adequate compensation is meant under the law as it stands, and not as it may be altered by an Irish Parliament, whose ideas of justice may be different to ours.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
If the Government intended to make this concession, why did they not put it in the original Bill? It was in the Bill of 1893, when it was introduced by the present Lord Morley, who accepted an Amendment that it should not be competent for the Irish Parliament to divert the property of any religious body. If that had been inserted in this Bill we should have known where we were. The Government gave us no inkling of their intention, but after the speech of the hon. Member for York and others they improvised words which are unsatisfactory to most of us, and they have asked the Committee to accept them. For my part, I do not in the least understand the exact purpose of the words suggested by the Attorney-General, who said, "Supposing it was found necessary to take the fabric of a church, we do not desire to give the Irish Parliament power to take the fabrics of any religious body in Ireland." It seems to me by far the best course would be to accept the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for York, and then on Report make any Amendment which was found to be necessary. The hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare) has pointed out very well the absurdly illogical position the Government are in in making this concession at all. In fact we have another Bill before us under which the Church in Wales is to be disendowed simply and solely on the ground that the Welsh nation demands it: and now the 2077 Irish nation in their own Parliament are not to be allowed to disendow any religious body in Ireland. I accept the concession, but it makes the position of the Government on the other matter absolutely illogical. Supposing this Bill passes and Welsh Disestablishment does not pass, and suppose, further, that the scheme of the First Lord of the Admiralty comes about, and we have a Home Rule Parliament for Wales, will that Parliament be debarred from disendowing the Church there?
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
I desire to draw attention to the very marked difference between the speech of the Attorney-General and that delivered by his colleague the Solicitor-General. The speech of the Attorney-General was conciliatory and courteous, whereas the air of supercilious ness and self-conscious superiority of the Solicitor-General was extremely offensive. The right hon. Gentleman prided himself that he came of a Nonconformist stock—
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
If I was offensive I am sincerely sorry, and I will endeavour not to repeat the offence. I hope hon. Gentlemen will do the same.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
I must acknowledge that that is a very full apology for what was undoubtedly a most offensive speech. With regard to what the Attorney-General has offered us in the way of Amendment, so far as I am concerned I do not think it meets the case at all. My hon. Friend has already pointed out that the expression "any works of public utility" is an extremely wide and varied expression. Although I shall, no doubt, incur the resentment of hon. Members opposite, I say frankly, but perfectly sincerely, that under such an Amendment that the right hon. Gentleman has offered I can foresee that under the very terms offered to us, the Roman Catholic church would endeavour to get possession of some of our fabrics in Ireland. Personally I shall not be content with any other words unless they are as strong and conclusive and far-reaching as those contained in the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Butcher).
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I wish to express my thanks to the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General for having done as much as they can to meet the very legitimate views which we have put forward. I do not like the words suggested by the Attorney-General. I think, for instance, that the words "works of public utility" are far too wide, and no one knows what they 2078 mean. I am not aware that those words have ever occurred in an Act of Parliament: before with similar subject matter. I do not like the provision as to compensation. I think the words "without payment of full compensation" would be better. One-would like to know how this compensation is to be assessed, because this is a very important matter. Is it to be in accordance with some Irish Act of Parliament of which we know nothing, or in accordance with the views of some Commissioners who may be appointed when taking up land and property belonging to different religious bodies. The Clause requires a good deal more consideration, and perhaps the Attorney-General will answer the point as to how this compensation is to be assessed. I understand the meaning is as regards pecuniary endowments and certain structures and fabrics of cathedrals and churches they are not to be interfered with, but as regards any land or other buildings belonging to church bodies they are not to be interfered with unless for railways, drainage, and so on, and in that case there is to be full compensation paid to be assessed in a proper manner.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I should be very sorry to have any misunderstanding with regard to the effect of these words. I do not think it is suggested that there should be power to take the church fabric.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
What he did say was that there should be no power to divert property from any religious denomination—and of course it includes a church fabric—except for "works of public utility." That is a well-known expression, and, though I will not pledge myself the words have been actually used in an Act of Parliament, I should have thought, there was no doubt about them. And, further, that there should be payment of compensation for the property which is taken. The reason I interrupted the hon. and learned Gentleman was because he stated the effect of the concession my hon. and learned Friend had promised, and which I had embodied in the words I have read to the House, would be that under no circumstances would the fabric of a cathedral be taken. You might, for example, be going to construct a reservoir in a certain place, and have to take certain property belonging to a religious denomination. There is no reason you should not do that providing you pay compensation for it. That is what is intended by the 2079 Clause. It is essential there should be no misunderstanding as to the meaning of the words which we are introducing, and it is for that reason I was anxious to make plain to the hon. and learned Member that what he stated was going a little further than the concession offered by my hon. and learned Friend.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Are we really to understand that the fabrics of cathedrals are not protected? I agree it may be necessary that some remote country church should be taken for a railway, but I think it is perfectly preposterous to suggest that it may be necessary to take the fabric of a cathedral for some drainage or reservoir. It ought to be made quite clear that is not to be done. May I ask the Attorney-General to answer the other point which I put, and which has not been answered, namely, how the compensation is to be arrived at.
§ Mr. PETO
I want to try to emphasise the point which the hon. Member who has just sat down has been making. We understand Church fabrics may be taken for purposes of public utility. The hon. Member has just referred to drainage works, reservoirs, and things of that kind. I want to call the attention of the Attorney-General to a case which much more obviously may be held to be of public utility and of which we have had a recent example in some continental countries. I want to know whether, under the words he proposes to introduce, it would be perfectly legitimate for the Irish Parliament to transform any sacred edifice into police barracks, or something analagous to that. It seems to me that in the words "public utility" you have such a vague definition that almost anything might be included which would seem to the Government in power in Ireland at the time to be of public utility.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
What we are doing by this Clause is to limit the powers of the Irish Church and to say what it is they cannot do. The words we are introducing are words which are inserted for the purpose of limiting those powers. We have said there shall be no power to divert property except for works of public utility. We cannot go on to provide how the compensation shall be assesesd, as that would make this Clause absolutely impossible. The words we are proposing will give effect to what the hon. and learned Gentleman desires, and I hope, therefore, 2080 he will withdraw his Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I thought we had met all the points raised by the hon. and learned Member. We have done everything we have been asked to do.
I do not think there is very much difference between us, having regard to the very proper and considerate way in which the Attorney-General has met this question. But there is one difficulty which still remains and about which those of us who know the realities of Irish life and conditions prevailing there are extremely anxious. I do-not think the right hon. Gentleman quite appreciates that. I can thoroughly understand that he is anxious to reserve to the Irish Parliament powers where question of public health, general public convenience, sanitation, and kindred matters may require powers for the compulsory acquisition of churches or churchyards and ecclesiastical buildings more or less important. But what we are anxious to preserve and keep from the operation of such powers are our great national cathedrals. Take, for example, the City of Dublin—St. Patrick and Christ Church Cathedrals. Owing to the change that has taken place in social life in the City of Dublin the areas in which these two great cathedrals are situated have become some of the poorest parts of the city, as the tide of fashion in social life has diverted prosperity from those quarters to other districts. In the close vicinity of these great cathedrals are to be found some of the slum areas of Dublin. Thanks to the generosity of Lord Iveagh, the slums in the immediate vicinity of the cathedrals have been removed and their places taken by great blocks of artisans dwellings and by public parks. But there still remain some slum areas, and what we want to prevent is that under any pretence of public utility or under any scheme for the improvement of the city these Cathedrals shall be taken. In the same way we wish to protect cathedrals such as are to be found at Limerick and Kilkenny—we want to make it impossible in any scheme of suggested public utility that such buildings should be removed, as no money compensation could adequately replace them. We want to safeguard the edifices of these great historical buildings. I am quite confident, having regard to the spirit in which the Attorney-General has met this, that he will be able to solve this difficulty; therefore I hope we shall not go to a Division upon this Amendment, but that we shall 2081 accept the pledge given to us by the Attorney-General, and that either in the course of the next few days, or upon Report, he will undertake to provide for this in such a way as will secure to us the continued existence and preservation of these great cathedrals.
§ Mr. MOORE
I am not satisfied about this compensation. The Irish Parliament can appoint a Commission consisting of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) and any two of his colleagues to fix the price. They can repeal the Lands Clauses Acts and the Railways (Ireland) Act. There ought to be machinery by which the compensation is made fair compensation, and not compensation fixed in an arbitrary way by the Irish Parliament when trying to acquire an Irish cathedral.
§ Sir H. CARLILE
The Attorney-General has said it will be extremely difficult to specify in terms the form which the assessment of the compensation will take. I can quite realise that it might be difficult to do so. There can be no objection to full compensation being given. That, I have no doubt, is the intention of the Government. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept the word "full," otherwise the word "compensation" means absolutely nothing?
§ Sir E. CARSON
The point that has been made by my colleague in the representation of Dublin University is one about which we feel extreme anxiety. If the right hon. Gentleman knew the many things that have been said—I do not want to go into controversial matters— with reference to these cathedrals, he would understand our fears upon the subject. I do not suppose that anybody would suggest that in any circumstances, say the Cathedral of Canterbury, St. Paul's, will ever be demolished for public purposes in this country. We feel exactly the same with regard to three or four cathedrals in Ireland. What I am going to ask the right hop. Gentleman is this: Cannot he give us an undertaking that he will reconsider this question, with a view to meeting us upon the question of these ancient cathedrals which we are so anxious to preserve? I do not want him at the present moment to give us any words with reference to the matter, but if he can say that the matter will be seriously considered by him, so as to try to meet the very natural objections we feel, I certainly shall advise my hon. and learned Friend not to go to a Division, 2082 but leave the matter to be dealt with subsequently.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I certainly will give that undertaking. It is a matter upon which apparently there is very strong feeling and some apprehension. All I desire to say in reference to it now is that, having listened to the Debate and heard the appeal made to us, we will consider the question and see whether we can give effect to the views of the two right hon. Gentlemen who represent Dublin University who have spoken, and see in what form words can be introduced. I can assure them that the matter will receive, not only careful consideration, but we shall attempt, so far as we possibly can, to give effect to them.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Upon that undertaking given and on the understanding that the words will be introduced now or on Report, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir H. CARLILE
I beg to move, after the word "prohibit" ["or prohibit the free exercise thereof"], to insert the words, "or restrict."
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am prepared to accept these words. It is possible that "prohibit" might have a more limited meaning than we intend.
§ Mr. ASTOR
I beg to move, after the word "marriage" ["a condition of the validity of any marriage"], to insert the words, "or whereby any person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law in accordance with settled principles and precedents, or may be denied the equal protection of the laws, or whereby private property may be taken without just compensation."
These words are taken almost verbatim from the Home Rule Bill of 1893. They were inserted by the framers of that Bill and were copied from the Constitution of the United States. They were put into the United States Constitution in order to protect life and liberty and property, in order, that is to say, to protect the civil liberty of the subjects of that country. The words of my Amendment are the words as they were in the Home Rule Bill when it came out of Committee. When first introduced there was a Sub-section in the 2083 Home Rule Bill of 1893 which did not have the words "in accordance with settled principles and precedents," and those words were added in Committee to strengthen the Sub-section. We have been discussing the protection of religious liberty in that country, and the object of my Amendment is to extend the same security to civil liberty. There is at the present moment in Ireland a real fear as to the consequences of this Home Rule Bill. I will not at the moment discuss whether they are justified or not, but hon. Members would make a great mistake if they did not realise that the fear is genuine. There has in the past been cleavage between landlord and tenant, Roman Catholic and Protestant, Unionist and Home Ruler. Only yesterday we saw the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) state in this House that he was prepared to hand over the industrial population in Ireland, who are a minority, to the control of the majority of the non-industrial population in Dublin. There are many of us who have not the same cheery optimism as to the legislation which will be turned out by the Parliament in Dublin. After all, those of ns in this House and the people in Ireland who have this fear as to the result of Home Rule are justified by the action of some hon. Members who sit below the Gangway. I would only refer to a statement made by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). He said:—When we come out of the struggle, we will remember who were the people's friends and who were their enemies, and we will deal out our rewards to the one and our punishments to the other.It is because there is a very genuine fear on the part of a large number of people in Ireland that punishments may be dealt out to them that I move this Amendment in order to try, if possible, to protect the civil liberties of the people. We have here in this country certain rights which have been obtained by the people through various charters and after a great deal of struggle. There are Magna Charta, the Habeas Corpus Act, and the Bill of Rights, which provide very great liberty for the subject. What I wish to do is to extend to Ireland the same protection as exists in this country.
The words of my Amendment form a Sub-section in the Bill of 1893. I was reading only to-day the Debate in Committee on this particular Sub-section. There was a proposal to omit the words, and the Attorney-General 2084 of that day resisted their omission. He stated that the object of these words was to prevent the infliction of grievous wrong. It is for the same reason that I invite the Committee to insert the words in this Bill. The Solicitor-General in 1893 also defended this proposal, and Mr. Gladstone, in one of his eloquent speeches, explained to the Committee that, in his opinion, it was desirable to have this safeguard in the Home Rule Bill of that year. He said the words were in fact an authentic rendering of a phrase in Magna Charta itself. I could hardly imagine that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would accept this Amendment if it were only proposed and supported by myself, but when I bring before them the evidence of the support of Mr. Gladstone and his Law Officers for the proposal to insert these words, I certainly hope that they will see their way to accept the Amendment. There are other reasons. One is the constitution of the Supreme Court. Under the Bill of 1893 two Exchequer judges were appointed under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom. They were only removable by the Houses of Parliament here in London. Under this Bill the Supreme Judges will be appointed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and are to be removable by the Houses of Parliament in Dublin. That is to say the Supreme Court of Appeal will not be as efficient a safeguard under this Bill as it was under the Bill of 1893. We have here words to protect the liberty of the subject that were accepted and defended by Mr. Gladstone. We have here a safeguard that has proved successful in the Constitution of the United States. The only possible reason why the Government would oppose it is that when the Bill was being discussed in Committee in 1893 Irish Nationalist Members then opposed this proposal, and their opposition has continued and increased.
Yesterday, in the interests of hon. Members opposite, the Labour party put aside their avowed object to follow the lead of the Liberal party, and I expect we shall have to-day another instance—there have been many of iate—of the Liberal party putting aside their objects and following the lead of the Nationalist party. Hon. Members opposite will probably defend opposition to this proposal in the same way as they justify their position as Home Rulers by the argument that you must trust the Irish. It is an odd coincidence that the amount of trust which the Liberal party have in the Nationalist party increases with the dependence which 2085 they have on the Irish vote in the House. There is a minority in this House and a minority in Ireland that have not the same implicit trust in the Parliament which it is proposed to establish in Dublin. The Government cannot possibly injure the framework of the Bill if they accept this proposal, and they will show that they are genuinely anxious, so far as it lies in their power, to do anything which they can to do away with the very real and very genuine fear that we know exists in Ireland as to the civil liberty of the subject under the Home Rule Bill.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
The hon. Gentleman has referred to reasons for the Amendment which certainly require consideration, and I want to put to him and the Committee the considerations which occur to us on the other side. Undoubtedly that is an important matter of which we ought to judge fairly. Let me remind the Committee of the points which the hon. Memhas made in support of the view he has urged. He says, and he is quite right, that you may find these words in the Bill of 1893. He pointed out that they were not of British origin, but I think are rather to be regarded as derived from that phrase in the Constitution of the United States. He pointed out further—and I say quite frankly that it is a matter which must press upon anybody who desires to approach this question fairly, as we do on both sides of the House—that the words were recommended in 1893 on authority which will never be suspected by any Irish Home Ruler, because Mr. Gladstone, amongst others, explained why he was himself prepared to accept those words. I think the hon. Member will do me the justice to say that I have stated his points fairly and clearly, and I hope he will believe me when I say that it is not from any desire to shirk those points if I ask him to consider one or two matters the other way. The first thing the Committee have to remember is that what we are engaged in doing now is to limit the powers of this subordinate legislature, and we are consequently raising a number of questions which may involve litigation and judicial decisions hereafter, and I dare say will involve them, though I am sure the right hon. Gentleman opposite, like myself, will hope that the litigation will be a diminishing quantity. The first thing the Committee have to consider is whether or not the insertion of a limitation of this Clause is really relevant to a question which is 2086 reasonably susceptible of judicial determination from time to time.
How is a Law Court going to decide whether or not the Irish Parliament, in exercising its powers, has been dealing with those topics "in accordance with the settled principles and precedents?" I am sure that those words could not be found in any British Act of Parliament, and while they may be very proper subjects for debate in a deliberative assembly, I very gravely question whether they can be regarded as raising questions capable of judicial interpretation and application, and that would be the case if we were concerned only with the situation of to-day; but when you remember further that we are endeavouring to prescribe the boundaries within which this subordinate legislature is to act, not only now but in future, we have to recollect that the standard in this matter undoubtedly varies from time to time. I do not think it will be open to dispute that fifty years ago legislation now accepted as perfectly reasonable and perfectly proper in connection with such a thing as Irish land purchase would unquestionably have been regarded as chimerical on the one side and pure spoliation on the other. We do regard it as a serious thing to introduce into the Bill matters which, it seems to us, are not really susceptible of judicial examination, which undoubtedly would increase the amount of litigation and disputes, and which really would not lead ultimately, as it seems to us, to definiteness and precision in the powers of this Parliament, but, on the contrary, would raise a series of very grave and very difficult questions, the precise arising of which it is very difficult indeed to prophesy. I say, quite frankly, that it is not possible for me now, and I do not think it is possible for anybody, however carefully they consider it—I do not think it is possible for anybody to say now how, in times to come, a limitation of this sort may raise disputes and how inconvenient, and it may be absurd, it would turn out to be. It is not from any desire to extend unfairly the powers of this subordinate legislature that we oppose the introduction of these words, but it is because we are honestly convinced that introducing those words does not do any real good. It certainly is going to produce a wilderness of questions to be decided. The hon. Gentleman says quite fairly that this is one of the fundamental propositions of the United States, but there they were laying 2087 down, just as Magna Charta was laying down in our own country, the fundamental policy, rather than the statutory limitations of their Parliament. They were making as it were a treaty with all who came under their scope. My answer to that is, if indeed we had no other means of restraining outrageous action on the part of a subordinate legislature, there would be something to be said for putting in these words in spite of the inconvenience, but the way in which outrageous legislation on the part of the subordinate legislature is restrained is by the use of the Veto—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]—and by the power of the Imperial Parliament. I am sorry that view seems to be merely fantastic to hon. Members. At any rate, they do not mind my putting my view.
It is quite true that the exercise of the Veto in connection with the subordinate legislatures throughout the Empire is unusual, but it is by no means non-existent, and the reason is, and here I am sure we shall all agree, because those subordinate legislatures have shown themselves capable of exercising the powers they have in a reasonable way. On the other hand, if there be any danger that this subordinate legislature is going to act in an outrageous manner, the real way to restrain outrageous action is not to arrange that there shall be a lawsuit in the Irish Courts everytime somebody thinks a law exceeds the limitation, but the real way is to put confidence in this House. For my part for those reasons it appears to us that it is better these words should not be inserted. I make no complaint at all that the hon. Gentleman should have-raised this question, and I make no complaint of the arguments he used with reference to its merits, but I do not think this is a subject which can be regarded as decided by the Bill of 1893. We honestly think that the introduction of those words is not going to improve this Bill, and, at any rate, I shall be allowed to put my view, and is not going to result in less litigation and less doubt, but on the contrary in so far as those fears have to be provided against. They ought to be provided against by the securities to which I have referred. It appears to us real safeguards are safeguards not to be found by inserting -words such as these. Inasmuch as these words, as we believe, cannot do other than lead to fantastic dentations in the Courts of Justice, it is far better that we should avoid these 2088 evil consequences and trust to the security which depends, on the one hand, on the good sense of subordinate legislatures throughout the world, and on the other hand, on the power of the Imperial authority in this House.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
I think there is a little more to be said with regard to the history of these words than we have heard from the Solicitor-General. Everyone on this side must have been pleased at the way in which the Solicitor-General received the speech o£ my hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment, and I trust it is not impossible that the Government may still listen to reasons which may be urged in favour of the insertion of the Amendment. These words were not in the original Constitution of the United States. They were in the first draft, but not in the Constitution as originally-adopted. They were inserted in 1866, after the great Civil War, and ratified in 1868. That is a very important point. It was originally proposed that they should be inserted. No doubt after hearing arguments similar to those advanced by the Solicitor-General, they were omitted-Two generations go by, and then after the bitter experience of a civil war the United Slates, in the maturity of its experience, determines, by a majority of Congress and with the ratification of a great majority of the States, to insert them. The Solicitor-General said he would rather the words were not inserted, because they are not capable of judicial interpretation. The Constitution of the United States has to be interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States. That Court stands inferior to no Court in the world. Deliberately, after two generations' experience, the United States sets to its Supreme Court the duty of interpreting these very-words. Shall it be said that another branch of the Anglo-Saxon race has an inferior judicature and one which is not capable of applying itself to the task? The Solicitor-General enumerated some of the reasons which have been advanced by the Prime Minister why this Clause, which was in the Bill of 1893, should not be repeated in this Bill. The final and, as he thought, capping reason was that there were other safeguards. In our belief in times of stress—and it is only in times of stress that these safeguards matter—those safeguards will fail, and we desire, following the experience of the United States, which had gone through a time of stress when they inserted the words, to be able 2089 to fall back upon the first principles upon which our Constitution is built. You may very easily have a time of great stress as between this Parliament and the Irish Parliament. We are building for that future. The United States had a Constitution which failed two generations afterwards. The cause of failure had been foreseen when the words were inserted in the first draft. They were omitted, and two generations afterwards what had been foreseen came about. It is our duty to look forward. You may have economic reasons that may very easily cause very great stress between the two Parliaments. Your various safeguards will then utterly fail you. You have the Parliamentary representation for Ireland in this House arranged. That representation has become an utter anachronism; so may all your economic arrangements become anachronisms. You may easily have stress and strain. Suppose, when it happens there is a foreign difficulty, do you think that those safeguards on which the Prime Minister and the Solicitor-General rest will have their use? Parliament will hesitate in a time of war to carry an overriding Act. The veto of the Lord Lieutenant will not be used. The Cabinet would desire to have peace in Ireland, not conflict. Appeal to the Privy Council, so far as it rests upon the initiative of the Government here, would not be resorted to if for some reason, in this time of difficulty, there is delicate suspicion between the two countries or the two Parliaments.
For all these reasons, the one and only remedy that would remain to you would be an appeal to the Privy Council from a private source in Ireland, from some organisation in Ireland, which is defending itself, because the Government on this side, neither by appeal to this House, the veto of the Lord Lieutenant, or reference to the Privy Council on its own initiative, because the Government, for diplomatic reasons, refused to put the machinery of its safeguards into action. We want some words in this Act upon which private organisations in Ireland appealing to the Privy Council in such a time—because the Government will not help them—may rest. There is value, as was seen in 1893, as was found in the United States, in the insertion of these words. The Solicitor-General told us that these words were difficult of legal interpretation—in other words, he repeated the Prime Minister's reason, that they were vague. May I read to the 2090 House a statement made in 1893 by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, Sir John Rigby:—We can never repeat too often, nor in too many forms of words, those essential doctrines which we intend to guide and govern our own inferior Legislatures, or the conduct of any who are subject to our laws.Reference has been made to the fact that the judicature in Ireland will be of a different kind to that contemplated in 1893. Yes, it is a judicature resting on a narrower basis—a judicature appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, removable by address to the two Houses in Ireland. You are preparing a federal Constitution. In Canada your federal Constitution is so framed—framed, remember, immediately after the Civil War in the United States, framed in the light of the experience of those two generations as to the causes of failure—a federation so framed as to place the judicature of Canada on a basis of the whole of Canadian opinion. You are not taking that course. You are not even taking the course proposed in 1893 of having two Exchequer judges, as they then were, in Ireland. All the more reason therefore is it essential that you should have the principles laid down which are to guide your judicature, from which an appeal may be made to the Privy Council in this country. There are two special reasons why at this stage of the discussion we should include these words in the Bill. The first is that you have refused to retain here the residuum of power: you have placed the residuum of power in the hands of the Parliament in Ireland, and it is essential therefore that there should be some general terms indicative of the way in which that residuum of power should be exercised. And the second reason is this: You have thought fit to reserve to this Parliament legislation in regard to land purchase for all time. It is not a service that can be transferred; it is to be retained here. If it be the case that you cannot trust legislation in regard to land purchase to the Irish Parliament, then surely you ought to fear that there will be some attempt to steer round the power you have reserved to this country, some attempt to force sales, some attempt to interfere with property by indirect methods—it is indirect methods that are indicated. The very fact that you have reserved that power to the United Kingdom Government is indicative of the fact that you feel the necessity of preserving it, and the necessity of preventing indirect attempts to interfere with the 2091 power you have reserved to yourselves. For these reasons I say the grounds that have been put forward against omitting from this Bill what was felt to be very necessary in the 1893 Bill of Mr. Gladstone by his Attorney-General and Solicitor-General in carefully reasoned speeches, in appeals to the case of the United States—a very remarkable case—not based on a priori grounds, but based on long and bitter experience, these words do merit careful consideration by the Government, and I trust that the words of welcome almost used towards this Amendment by the Solicitor-General will not be wholly meaningless, and that the Government are willing to consider the case put forward in support of the Amendment.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow (Wednesday).