§ (1) The Irish Senate shall consist of forty senators nominated as respects the first senators by the Lord Lieutenant, subject to any instructions given by His Majesty in respect of the nomination, and afterwards by the Lord Lieutenant on the advice of the Executive Committee.
§ (2) The term of office of every senator shall be eight years, and shall not be affected by a dissolution; one fourth of the-senators shall retire in every second year, and their seats shall be filled by a new nomination.
§ (3) If the place of a senator becomes vacant before the expiration of his term of office, the Lord Lieutenant shall, unless the place becomes vacant not more than six months before the expiration of that term of office, nominate a senator in the stead of the senator whose place is vacant, but any senator so nominated to fill a vacancy shall hold office only so long as the senator in whose stead he is nominated would have held office.
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the earlier Amendments on Clause 8, I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I indicated in what way I think it would be most convenient for them to be taken. I foresee that there may be 475 some difficulty in keeping the different questions that arise clearly separated, and I invite the assistance of the Committee so that we may have both a clear discussion and a clear decision. The first Amendment I propose to call is the one standing first on the Paper. I think it should be moved a few words later on after the word "shall." The purport of it is to fix a longer preliminary period than the Bill does for the Imperial nomination. After that I propose to take the Amendment of the hon. Member for North-East Cork, who proposes an ex officio Senate. Then we come to the question whether there should be forty or some other number, and I should hope that at a comparatively early hour we might be able to take the Amendment, which I see a number of Members on both sides of the House are anxious to discuss, proposing proportional representation as an alternative to nomination.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
May I ask you, Sir, what is your ruling with regard to the Amendments which propose to alter the number of Members in the Senate?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment which I propose to take is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare).
§ Mr. MALCOLM
Supposing these Amendments should be disposed of to-day or early to-morrow, could you, for the convenience of the House, say what further Amendments would be likely to be taken before 10.30 to-morrow night?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Quite provisionally. I do not know what may occur in the earlier Debates, but it seems to me almost all the Amendments that follow on the next two pages are consequential on what will have been decided by the Committee before we reach them, and therefore I think the next Amendment will be one in the name of the hon. Member for the Totnes Division (Mr. Mildmay) dealing with disqualifications for the Senate.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
May I ask that you should keep an open mind with regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Lewes Division (Mr. Campion), which proposes to leave out the words "as respects the first Senators"?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That, of course, must depend a good deal on the earlier Amend- 476 ments, but supposing the earlier part of the Clause is not altered, I should certainly take that Amendment.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I understand from your ruling that in the discussion on the first Amendment Members must confine themselves to the question of the length of the initial period, and must not raise the general question of the merits of election by proportional representation.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I said I invited the Committee to assist me on these earlier Amendments. I could not say it would be out of order to introduce some other subject, but I think it would be inconvenient to all parties to do so, and I hope hon. Members generally will assist me in deferring any discussion as to the constitution of the Seriate until we come to the question of the word "nominated."
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "shall" ["The Irish Senate shall"], to insert the words "During the first eight years after the commencement of this Act."
The Clause, as it at present stands, proposes that the first body of senators shall be nominated for eight years by the Imperial Government. Then a quarter of the senators are to retire every two years, and, as they retire, their places are to be filled by persons nominated by the Irish Ministry. That means the Irish Ministry would have nominated a quarter of the Senate by the end of the first two years, half by the end of the first four years, three-quarters by the end of the first six years, and the whole number by the end of the first eight years. This Amendment proposes that the system of Imperial nomination should be retained for the first eight years, and that the system of nomination by the Irish Ministry should disappear from the Bill. You mentioned. Sir, that there are highly important Amendments later on raising the question of proportional representation. This Amendment does not prejudge that question. All it says is that before we adopt proportional representation, or any other elective system, there should be a preliminary period—my Amendment says eight years, but I am not very particular about the length of the period as long as it is substantial—of Imperial nomination. The Senate is intended to be one of the securities for the minority, and, if it is to fulfil that purpose, I think we ought to secure that, at any rate during the first few years, 477 the number of Unionists in the Senate shall be quite of proportion, or shall not bear any necessary proportion, to the number of Unionists in Ireland as a whole.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LEES SMITH
I should think it quite a good thing if, as a matter of fact, the majority of the Senate consisted of persons who have not up to the present been identified with Nationalist politics. If we wish to secure that, and I presume we do, we must realise that we cannot secure it by proportional representation or any other elective method, or by any other practicable method, except by nomination by the Imperial Government. There is one other point involved in the Amendment. The Clause, as it stands, proposes that the original Imperial nominees should retire in batches of a quarter every two years, and that their places should be taken by nominees of the Irish Ministry. I propose to delete this provision and to simply say the original Imperial nominees shall retain office for the full period for which they are at first appointed. When this Bill was introduced the Prime Minister said he expected there would be non-partisan appointments made to the Senate which would secure a rather special representation for the minority. I think that is quite true with regard to nomination by the Imperial Government, but it seems to me to be the last thing we can expect from nomination by the Irish Ministry. If an election is fought and the Prime Minister is returned victorious, it seems to be asking too much to expect him to put into the Senate a number of men who will thwart and oppose his policy. In Canada there is a system by which the Senate consists of persons nominated in accordance with the advice of the Canadian Ministry. I have looked up the history of the matter. I find that Sir John Macdonald was Conservative Prime Minister of Canada for nineteen years, and during that period In appointed one Liberal to the Senate. He was followed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who was Liberal Prime Minister for fifteen years, and during that period Sir Wilfrid was not aridity of even the single weakness of Sir John Macdonald. In New Zealand there is, again, an Upper House or Legislative Council appointed on the advice of New Zealand Ministers, and the New Zealand Government is, at this moment, 478 engaged in passing a Bill to bring the system to an end, and, I may say incidentally, to introduce proportional representation. I know it is not desired by the Chairman that I should diverge from the question of pure nomination; therefore I will not dwell any longer on this point. But I should like to point this out: that when Mr. Bell, the Minister for Internal Affairs in New Zealand, introduced this Bill on behalf of the Government, he explained what he took to be the generally accepted view of the proper duty of a Member nominated to the Council by the New Zealand Ministry. I would like to read that explanation to the House:—Hon. Gentlemen are appointed to this House to support the Government and its measures. If the Government which appoints them remains in power, that Government will necessarily reappoint them if they have been loyal; but if they have been disloyal it should discard them.The only point I wish to make is that when we say that an Irish Ministry is expected to make non-political appointments we are asking that Irish Ministry to do something which no other Ministry in similar circumstances has ever yet done anywhere else in the Empire. I hope that the Government will give up this idea. My Amendment suggests that the period of Imperial nomination shall run for what was originally suggested for the combined system of Imperial and Irish representation. It also suggests that we should wait to discuss on later Amendments the question as to what system we should establish when this preliminary period of Imperial nomination has come to an end. I beg to move.
I will try to be as as brief as the hon. Member in pointing out to him why I think there is really very little value in his Amendment. So far as he hopes that the Imperial Executive will nominate for the first eight years a preponderance of Unionists on this fancy Council, I may tell him at the outset that no Unionist, or anyone worthy of the name, would ever dream of accepting such a position. Consequently, it does not matter a straw whether the Imperial Executive nominates the members of the Senate or the Irish Executive, because everybody knows that the Nationalist party would actually nominate them, although it might be the voice of the Chief Secretary which would probably give the names to the country. It does not matter whether they are nominated therefore by one body or by the other for the first eight years. Even if the hon. Member's idea 479 were carried out, and the Executive in this House nominated those who they thought would form the strongest and best Senate, it would have to be borne in mind that immediately that Senate ran counter to the wishes of the Lower House there would be passed a Parliament Act, with the result that the position would be very much the same as that which obtains in this House at the present moment, a position which I am sure everybody on every side is beginning to get sick of because of its intolerable nature.
There is another point which I would like to make with regard to this Amendment, and it is this. If you carry your nominated Senate for eight years, those put on by the Executive at the present moment might have to live very unhappy lives in some parts of Ireland. I presume the right hon. Gentleman would try to nominate the Senate from various counties or provinces. Imagine the hon. and learned Member for Cork being nominated to act on the Senate as representing Louth! He would have to go back to his old Constituency. What a state of terrorism would prevail if he ventured to put his face once more into that constituency! I think it would be far better to allow this to remain in the hands of the Irish Executive than for the right hon. Gentleman to add still further to the burdens of his office by picking and choosing Members to act on this Senate throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. To start with, he would most probably select the very people who we most sincerely distrust in Ireland—people like those who wrote to the "Times" the other day, recommending some sort of conciliation or some sort of rapprochment. He would select those people who have been steadily purchased with knighthoods, baronetcies, peerages, or who have been appointed Knights of St. Patrick for the purpose of getting a body together who, when the Government found themselves in a hole, would be prepared to write, a letter to the public Press expressing a hope that some way would be found for the Government out of the mess into which it had got itself. These are the people who the right hon. Gentleman I have no doubt has in his mind to nominate to the Senate.
We know perfectly well that that staunch Protestant the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture for Ireland (Mr. T. W. Russell) would be in the very highest position on that body, and I presume that others who have been 480 brought into objectionable notoriety within the past fortnight or so would also be selected. But if the idea for a moment should enter the heads of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that these men, if nominated even to the number of 80 or 100, would be a safeguard for the loyalists of Ireland, I may tell them that not a single one of them has the slightest weight in any political circle in Ireland, and not one would be trusted for a moment. Most of them have been Unionists at one time, but, for their material advantage, have ratted, like so many hon. Members opposite. I hope hon. Members will not imagine that that class of men would have in the slightest degree the confidence of the loyalist minority in Ireland. If the Government has anything in the nature of safeguards to bring before the House, I can only say I hope that those safeguards will not be based on such flimsy pretexts as those put forward by the hon. Member.
§ Mr. MOORE
I will be perfectly candid with the Committee. I really do not regard this as a safeguard. I judge all safeguards by the test of how they are going to work. I look at them from the point of view of how they affect the minority on whose behalf only the Government profess to insert this particular provision in their Bill. From the point of view of the minority I do not think this will work. The hon. Member's Amendment raises the question whether a nominated Second Chamber would be preferable to an elected Second Chamber, and I take it that is really what we are discussing now; whether it shall continue or not for eight years is not very important. The real point is whether we are to have a nominated Second Chamber or an elected one. I quite agree with what my hon. and gallant Friend said just now with regard to the personnel of the nominees. We have only to look at the Irish administration for the last six years to know exactly the class of gentlemen who will be put in this nominated Senate. The Government would ransack the offices of the "Freeman's Journal," and everybody there down to the printer's devil would become a nominated member of the Irish Senate.
Then the staff of the Land Commission, the National Insurance Commission, and of every public department will be drawn upon, and as there is a steady supply flowing in to those departments, there would be plenty of material for nominated members. It would be a test for a 481 nominated member of the Senate, especially should there be a salary attached, that he should belong to the National Health Association, for that is a favourite stepping stone to promotion. Of course they will do their best to get a few so-called Protestants to take part in the farce and to act as a sort of decoy duck for their co-religionists. All these classes would be drawn upon in order to get a greater proportion of Unionists than that party is really entitled to, but if the desire is to get a Senate which will command the confidence of the Protestant minority, I can only say that a Chamber so constituted will not have the confidence of the Protestants. Nobody set up by the Nationalists below the Gangway could expect to have such confidence. We know their methods too well.
I come to the alternative, and I will state why I think I would be rather inclined to favour a nominated Chamber. I would be altogether against an elected Senate. Of course in England I should support the latter, so I would in Scotland, for in those countries no man runs any risk in voting for the man he prefers. The Ballot Act is more or less observed, and, at any rate so far as intimidation goes, the Corrupt Practices Act is enforced. But in Ireland a very different slate of affairs prevails. The whole election staff would be drawn from an organisation run and controlled by the party machine in Dublin. Again and again it has been proved in evidence that these gentlemen in Dublin have sent their own special corps of bludgeon men into county constituencies in order to manipulate the elections. I was talking to a Tipperary Unionist not long ago, and he informed me that nearly every Unionist in that constituency had done his best to get off the register, lest he should be called upon by one Nationalist party or another to vote for it, with the result that he would be boycotted by their opponents for the rest of his life. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite may think that a joke, but it is only too true a description of the state of affairs. It was brought out at the time we were discussing the findings of the judges in the Louth election petition, and it is absolutely characteristic of the way in which the minority would be treated if they were called upon to vote for one candidate or another. I will take as little time of the Committee as I can in reading this Report, but when we are considering whether there should 482 be nomination or election, you ought to consider how elections are worked.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. and learned Member is quite entitled to put that before the Committee, but I hope not at this stage. We shall very shortly arrive at the question of nomination as against election, and I think it would be better if ho were to defer his remarks on that until we arrive at that stage.
§ Mr. MOORE
I at once accept your ruling, and I will not at this stage refer to this Report, but I shall do so upon the first opportunity when I am in order, and if I am called upon. It is part of my duty as a Unionist Member here to show the barbarity and cruelty to an unfortunate minority in a division which a contested election entails upon them when it is run under Nationalist orders. We know what goes on in Belfast. When you go to West Belfast you find that there is more corrupt practice and intimidation carried on in that division than in the rest of the Kingdom put together. It is common knowledge that you cannot get a Unionist elector to go before a Revision Sessions or to prosecute inquiries. I will go into that matter again later, but for the reason that a contested election is simply made a tyranny to any independent Protestant or Unionist who lives in the division, I think that if this farce is to be played at all it should be played in a way which will satisfy them. There ought to be nomination instead of election. I do not want to be taken as saying for one moment that either of those courses would satisfy them. How could it? I could not pretend it would, when I know that the Chamber you set up will be a fraud from start to finish, and that it will never possess any independence of any sort, because you provide by the Bill that the moment it differs with the Lower House, which will consist of a majority of Nationalists, it is to sit in Joint Session and submit to be outvoted. That is your Parliament Act in this very Bill. Therefore, whether you create this Senate by nomination, even if, as the senior Member for Dublin University would say, you put angels into it, it is not the least use in view of the provision for a Joint Session, which has been put in for the same reason which actuates the Government in everything, namely, when there is a difference between the two Houses, to prevent it from being said, "You will have to appeal to your masters and to our masters, that is the people." 483 There is all this business about the Joint Session. I wonder you did not propose to put it in the Parliament Act for this House. At any rate, it is put in here to make sure that if the Legislative Council, however it is created, has the independence of differing for a moment with the Lower Chamber in which there is a Nationalist majority, they will be outvoted. The hon. Member says there is a safeguard. All this, however, is a matter of the most profound indifference to me, whether you nominate the Senate, or whether it is elected, or made up of ex-officio members.
§ Mr. STEPHEN GWYNN
I think that after we have heard the voice of a particular section of Ireland it may be well to put the views of the majority of Irishmen upon the broad principle that is raised in the Amendment. I am not going to attempt to discuss the precise method of nomination, or whether we are to have nomination for a considerable period of years, eight years or less; I want to put from my experience of Ireland, and of this particular principle in operation, the plea that whatever else is done at all events we should start with a nominated Senate. It is well to remind the Committee, as the hon. and learned Member has just done, that the Leader of the Nationalist party, speaking in this House said that if he had to nominate this Senate he would begin by putting into it a majority of Unionists.
§ Mr. MOORE
He said the same thing about the Local Government Act, and then would not allow it to be carried out.
§ Mr. S. GWYNN
If I may describe to the Committee what I take to be our object with regard to the purpose this Senate is to serve, I would not put it as being a safeguard. I put it that the Senate would be a means of bringing into Irish public life representatives of a section of Irish opinion which at the present time is outside public life in Ireland.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is going again into the question of the virtues of nomination or election. We shall reach that point on definite words in the Bill very shortly. We have now to dispose of the question, not whether the proposal in the Bill shall be nomination, 484 but whether nomination should be extended for a definite period of eight years.
§ Mr. S. GWYNN
I thought the discussion had gone a good deal wider than that, but I wish to obey your ruling, Sir. It appears to me that the larger issue has been challenged, and that the question of good faith has been raised in the speeches to which we have listened.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is the point upon which I pulled up the hon. Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore), who was going into arguments as to why he preferred nomination to election, and I understood that the hon. Member washed to follow him in those arguments. That will be quite in order shortly. I think we had better not go into it at this point.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
I would suggest to my hon. Friend (Mr. Lees Smith) that he should withdraw this Amendment, which I think rather unduly restricts the discussion. As I understand your ruling, Sir, the only thing which it would be relevant to discuss at this moment is whether, assuming nomination in the first instance, at any rate, as the basis of the new Senate, its members should retire in rotation year after year, or whether nomination should be for a fixed term of years?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is a very narrow point, and one which can be easily raised afterwards on a subsequent Subsection. If my hon. Friend will withdraw his Amendment now, I think we may come to the question which is really interesting the Committee and which it really wishes to discuss, namely: first, whether the Senate should either in the first instance, or for all time, be based on the principle of nomination; and next, supposing they agree in the first instance that it should be based on the principle of nomination, whether subsequent creations should not be based on some other principle, such as that of proportional representation. I think the whole Committee desires to discuss those two points. We are embarrassed in doing so by the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and I hope he will withdraw it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
May I suggest to my hon. Friends behind me another reason, in addition to that given by the Prime Minister, why it would be to the advantage of the whole Committee that this Amendment should be withdrawn. As I understand it, the only ground upon which the hon. Member presses the Amendment is that he thinks the Senate would be more fairly constituted if nominated by the right hon. Gentleman than if nominated by the heads of the Irish Executive. From our point of view it makes no difference. It is quite certain that in either case it will be hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who will nominate in the one case by giving their instructions to the right hon. Gentleman, and in the other case by acting directly. For that reason I think it would be better to proceed to other Amendments, and I hope my hon. Friends will not object to the withdrawal of the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "of" ["the Irish Senate shall consist of"], to insert the words "the Lords Lieutenant and custodes rotulorum of the counties and cities of Ireland, the chairmen for the time being of the county councils of Ireland, and the Lord Mayors for the time being of the county boroughs of Dublin, Belfast, Cork, and Londonderry."
I should like to say that this Amendment is not moved with any hostility to any other Amendments dealing with the future of the Irish Senate. It was put upon the Paper long before any alternative Amendment dealing with a substitute for the nominated Senate. The only question for us in reference to this or any other Amendment to this Clause is whether it will satisfy our Protestant countrymen. When I say that, I mean not merely or chiefly politicians, but that the mass of the reasonable Protestants of Ireland should have a substantial power in the government and in the administration of the country. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) has already in the course of these Debates stated that we are in favour of any Amendments of this character which will form part of an agree- 486 ment among Irishmen of all classes and parties with a view to passing this Bill into law, or any other Bill that may be substituted for it, Amendments which will make certain that the Irish Parliament is the Parliament of a united country, free from any rational dread of oppression or of injustice from any side; and that there is absolutely nothing, short of the partition of Ireland, to which we would not gladly assent in the direction of increasing the power and the representation of the Unionist minority in Ireland, even if the effect in arithmetical strictness was unfair to the Nationalist majority. To my mind the only practical question is whether the Bill as it stands, or the proposal I now make, or any proposal that may be hereafter made, will be most likely, or at all likely to satisfy the mass of Irish Protestants on that subject, or do anything to disarm the opposition, not merely of Ulster, but of the Protestant minorities in other parts of Ireland, for whom, I confess, I am more immediately concerned. In my belief, the Clause, as it stands, will most certainly not do that. Neither, in my opinion, will proportional representation. I am in total discord, both with the hon. Member (Mr. Moore) and the hon. Member (Mr. Stephen Gwynn) in thinking that the Clause, as it stands, will be satisfactory to almost anyone. Whatever other plan may work well or work ill, it is to me quite clear that a nominated Senate would, in the present circumstances of Ireland, combine every possible disadvantage. To me it is scarcely possible to conceive any arrangement which would work more viciously than a Senate, if you are to have a Senate, nominated by Dublin Castle or by the influences which are paramount there at the present moment. To my Constituents it will be an impossible and an intolerable arrangement, and, in my opinion, a gross wrong, not merely to the minority in Ireland, but to the majority of the people as well. I shrink from giving in this House my reasons for thinking so strongly on the subject, but I must say it would be as objectionable to the Nationalists of the South as to the Unionists of the North. If the Government persist in their proposal, the very least we are entitled to insist upon would be that at all events the names of the members of the nominated Senate should be published in the present Bill, although even that would have the obvious objection that it would force us into invidious personal criticisms. We take our 487 stand upon the principle that the nomination of a branch of the Irish Legislature, either by this House or by secret influences in Ireland, is in the last degree undemocratic.
I have no bigoted parental attachment to the particular proposal that I make, but it would, at all events, have the recommendation that, whereas under any other system that I know it is most doubtful how the Unionist minority in Ireland would fare, under this proposal you would have the absolute certainty that the Protestant minority in Ireland would enjoy at least numerical equality if it did not actually hold the balance of power. The Irish Senate, constituted as this Amendment would constitute it, would not, of course, be an entirely elected body, but the majority of that body would be indirectly elected, as in the case of the French Senate, and it would unquestionably be composed of the best representatives in the country. The chairmen of county councils and the Lord Mayors of the boroughs would form a distinct majority of the Irish Senate, and I do not think anyone will deny that the men who are elected to these high offices are the best representative men in Ireland, in brains and solid good sense, and moderate, as well as genuinely, democratic views. The only non-elective element would be that of the Lords Lieutenant of the counties. They are men, of course, the large majority of whom would be at present classed as Unionists. But they are also the very class of men who, in the entirely new combinations of an Irish Parliament, would be almost certain to merge themselves in a national peace party whose business it would be to unite all sorts and conditions of Irishmen for the peaceful progress of the country. In addition to that I think certainly four and probably live chairmen of the county councils would also be Unionists, and two of the four Lord Mayors would be Unionists also, and, as far as I know, there are only two Lords Lieutenant who are Catholics and they are not Nationalists. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lough), who is the Lord Lieutenant for the county of Cavan, is undoubtedly a stalwart Home Ruler, but he is also a stalwart Protestant man, as they call them in Ulster. But I do not think anyone will deny that as to the generality of the Lords Lieutenant they are precisely the type of men that the mass of the 488 Unionists of Ireland would select as typical Irish Unionists, and they are also men who in my opinion would be entirely unobjectionable to the mass of Irish Nationalists.
As to what party would be in a majority in the Upper House it is a matter that cannot be prognosticated with any certainty, but the possibilities, and even I think the probabilities, are that moderate men and broadly Nationalist men would find themselves in a majority in the Upper House, and I do not think there is a single Nationalist of good sense who would have the slightest objection if the result were to give confidence to reasonable Protestants of Ireland. Certainly, I know of no friend of my own who would have the slightest objection to men of that stamp even holding the balance of power in the Upper House in Ireland, because I am absolutely certain that they could only have a majority by a community of interests—by an identity of material interests — as between them and the majority of the Irish people under the wholly new conditions which arise, and I have not a shadow of a doubt that not only would the arrangement be an essential element of appeasement, but it would 'work most smoothly as between the two Irish legislative bodies.
Some of the speeches we have heard this afternoon would lead me to think it would be an additional clement of my proposal that a Senate so constituted would not contain a single existing Irish Member of Parliament with, I think, the exception of the Lord Mayor of Belfast, whose term of office, I am afraid, will have expired long before then. I say most earnestly that, in my opinion, the sort of Parliament that the Irish people would want would be very largely new men, very largely non-politicians, and men who are unspoilt by the quarrels of the last thirty years. In fact, if I were asked to put down an Amendment which, in my view at all events, would work more than all the other mass of Amendments on the Paper with a view to the passing of this Bill, and to make it work happily for Ireland and for England as well, I should be inclined to put down a self-denying ordinance disqualifying, at all events for the first Irish Parliament, every existing Irish Member, whether he comes from the North, the South, the East, or the West. If the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) will only start a covenant in that direction I should be one of the first cheerfully to sign it. Again I say, to my 489 mind, this is entirely a matter for the Unionist minority in Ireland themselves. If they prefer either a nominated Senate or proportional representation I shall not stand in the way. In my view, whatever value proportional representation may have as a safeguard for the minority will depend entirely upon the Schedule attached to the Bill. I should not object to the election of men for wider constituencies, even as wide as an Irish province, but I am afraid even with the wider constituencies it would be impossible to get anything like a certainty of the minority in Ireland obtaining anything even approaching half the entire representation. Even in Munster, though some counties would vote for Protestants, there would he a danger of the vote being neutralised by the vote in other counties in the province, not in the least through any religious bigotry—there is absolutely no religious bigotry in any part of Munster— but simply owing to the extreme smallness of the Protestant electorate and the paucity of Protestant gentlemen in it who are sufficiently well known to have any influence over us.
I pass from that and I say again that if the representatives of the minority in Ireland prefer proportional representation I certainly shall not stand in the way of their decision. I would respectfully ask the Government, before they come to any conclusion upon the subject, to remember that the representation of the minority, which under any other plan would be at the very least a matter of not more than possibility or probability, would be under the proposal I make an absolute certainty, and you would have a Senate with a strong infusion of the best representative elements of all kinds in the country, and you would., at the same time, in spite of what my hon. Friends above the Gangway may say, inspire the mass of the Protestant minority in Ireland with the confidence, and even with the certainty, that they had substantial power in the Government and the Administration. I have some experience of Ireland, and certainly I venture to say that the proposal I make now to the Committee would be infinitely the best way of getting over the difficulty which was raised by the proposal made in this Bill—a proposal which I say, without hesitation, has created almost universal dislike and distrust among Irishmen of all classes and denominations in the South as well as in the North of Ireland.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
I shall, of course, only deal with the Amendment that has been moved by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. W. O'Brien), and not with the various alternative proposals he mentioned in the course of his speech. His suggestion is that there should be substituted for the nominated Senate an ex-officio one. The ex-officio Senate which he proposes would consist of the chairmen of the Irish county councils (some thirty-three in number), the Lord Mayors of four cities, and the Lieutenants of the counties and cities, who are thirty-four in number, thereby constituting a Senate of seventy-one. I think the size of the Senate is too great, having regard to the proportions to be preserved between the nominated Second Chamber and the elective House of Commons which the Bill proposes to constitute, which will consist of 164 Members. The object of the proposal of the hon. Gentleman as he very frankly stated, is to secure an even balance, or something like an even balance, of opinion in the Senate. For my part, I should prefer to see an overwhelming proportion of Unionist opinion in the Senate rather than an even balance. He thinks the even balance is secured by putting on one side the chairmen of county councils, and, at all events, some of the Lord Mayors—they, too, would be Nationalists if these parties and denominations are for ever to continue—while he presumes that the Lieutenants of counties, being nominated by the Crown, and thirty-four in number, would probably be gentlemen of the other way of thinking. I do not know that that necessarily can be relied upon. I would like to point out to the hon. Gentleman that while he provides that Lieutenants and custodes rotulorum should be members of the Senate, it is no doubt a fact in Ireland, and I dare say in England also, that though these two offices are held by one person, they are perfectly distinct offices, and held by means of separate Letters Patent. The gentleman who holds the office of Lieutenant of a county has duties to perform in relation to the raising of Militia by ballot, and the making of recommendations for commissions in the Militia. The Lieutenancy is a military office and not a civil one. The office of custos rotulorum is a civil one perfectly separate from and not necessarily combined in the same person as the Lieutenancy. The office is a rather difficult one in modern society as 491 regards the recommendation of persons for the Commission of the Peace. Assuming that the office of custos rotulorum would be filled by the Irish Executive, and assuming that it was not held by one and the same person as the Lieutenancy, you might get thirty-four additional persons, making a Senate of over 100, and the nicely adjusted balance which the hon. Member desires would be rudely upset.
For my own part, I see no advantage in having an ex-officio Senate. There may be considerations for and against a nominated or an elected Seriate, or a Senate partially one and partially the other, but this proposal of the lion. Member is for an ex-officio Senate. I do not think ex-officio bodies ever work well. I do not think that persons who hold one post should by virtue of that be entitled to hold other offices. I do not think the knowledge on the part of the chairman of a county council that he was going to be ex-officio a member of the Senate would be at all conducive to the better conduct of local government in Ireland. For these reasons, and also because of the size of the new body, the Government cannot possibly consent to the Amendment.
This Amendment, at all events, is, I admit, an attempt on the part of the Mover to try to keep the Second Chamber from being the nominees of a party leader here or a party leader in Ireland. So far my sympathies are entirely with the hon. Member for Cork who moved the Amendment. Indeed, I think the general tenor of his speech breathed the spirit of fairness in this connection, and I think the House may congratulate him upon it in the circumstances, although I feel the hon. Gentleman deserves more commendation than I have in these brief words endeavoured to bestow upon him. I admit, though for reasons different from those advanced by the Chief Secretary, that I also am of opinion that probably it would do little good, and that some harm might be done, if we introduced the Amendment in the Bill. The Chief Secretary objected to an Amendment because the hon. Gentleman who moved it did not fully grant the purport of it, and he pointed out that he might find the whole balance of political power in the Upper Chamber entirely upset by a sudden division of the existing Lieutenants of counties, if one gentleman continued to be, or would be made, Lord Lieutenant, while another gentleman might be made 492 custos rotuloruw. I certainly think it is one of the unexpected results of the Home Rule Bill that the Government should now disclose to us what they have never before revealed. May I ask where was the last case in Ireland, or in the United Kingdom, in which the Lieutenancy of a county was separated from the custos rotulorum? How long is it since the civil and military duties were discharged by two individuals instead of one? Has it ever happened?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I think it has happened, but very rarely. They are two distinct offices, and the one does not carry the other. They are generally combined in the same person.
I believe they have always been combined in the same person. In the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington (Mr. Lough), who is Lieutenant of the county of Cavan, I do not know whether his natural gifts are more on the civil or the military side. As I understand the Chief Secretary, the Lieutenants in Ireland would continue to be appointed by the Crown and on the advice of the British Government, and the custodes rotulorum would be transferred to the Irish Government—that is not mentioned in the Bill— and they would be appointed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, on the advice of the Irish Administration. It seems very curious that any Lieutenant of an Irish county henceforth who incurs the animosity of the Irish Administration will suddenly find that if he remains Lieutenant for military purposes, he will cease to have the civil functions associated with the office of custos rotulorum. I do not know that it will be very important to the Senate or to anybody else. It is a curious thing in our Debates that this singular change should be disclosed when we are dealing with an Amendment with respect to the constitution of the Second Chamber in the Irish Parliament. Very shortly, my objection to the Amendment is this: I think it would drag at once local government in Ireland even more deeply into the mire of general party polities than' it is at present. I am afraid that even now politics come in far too much, perhaps in both countries, but certainly in Ireland, in connection with all those questions of county and other administration.
I think that to put before the electors in the counties and large boroughs in Ireland not merely the proposition that they have to choose the best man for carrying out his local duties as chairman of a county council 493 or as Lord Mayor, but that they have also to choose by the same act the man who is going to take part in the work of safeguarding the interests of the minority in Ireland, would be to put before them A choice which would do very little towards making a good Second Chamber, and which would do a great deal towards rendering the path of local government, which is difficult everywhere, more difficult in the future than it is at present. That is the real reason why I cannot support this Amendment. I think it is a reason which perhaps will appeal to the hon. Gentleman himself. He may think that this is an added dignity to the chairmen of county councils and to Lord Mayors which will raise their status, and raise the character of the men appointed to these offices, and improve rather than deteriorate the general administration of local government. Nothing, of course, but experience will show whether he is right or I am right, but certainly with such observation as I have been able to make as to the course which local government has taken in recent years, I should be greatly afraid that, instead of raising local government by this act to a higher level than it holds at present, you would abandon the last possible hope of making the Second Chamber in the Irish Parliament a body which would gain the respect of the Irish people as a whole, and the regard in particular of the minority, and which would carry weight at the bar of public opinion in the United Kingdom.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I do not suppose that the Chief Secretary when considering this question realised that there was a serious and vital question at stake for the future happiness and good government of Ireland. I do not think that I ever heard a more perfunctory statement or one less worthy of the right hon. Gentleman, for he went into a disquisition which, as far as I could make it out, had nothing whatever to say to the case, namely, as to the difference between a custos rotularum and a Lord Lieutenant of a county; and he informed us, which seemed very surprising to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City (Mr. Balfour), that the Lord Lieutenant is going to be excluded and continue to be nominated by the Crown. If he would remember the incidents of 1893, he would remember that Mr. Hanbury moved an Amendment which was accepted by Mr. Gladstone, and which, I [...] he will find, excluded Lord Lieu- 494 tenants of counties from the Bill of 1893, so that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman docs not take me at least by surprise. But what has that to say to the case? Suppose they be different persons—suppose the letters patent to be different, how does that affect the question? What is the object of my right hon. Friend, and what is the object with which we are discussing this question of the Senate? Our object is to make things comfortable for the Protestants in Ireland. Our object is to allay unreasonable suspicions. We do not take heed, in a full measure at least, of all the declarations made in this House by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. Perhaps in this House we all speak a little over concert pitch, and if we do not run to the high level of the boiling point of the lion. Member for North Armagh, I am quite sure that he thinks he is representing the people; but we know that he is not, just as in the same way I and my hon. Friend the Member for Cork may not now be exactly representing the current wave of Nationalist opinion in striving, as we are doing, to secure for Protestant Ireland rather more than their fair share of representation in the Senate. But we do so, not that we expect recognition, not that we expect acceptation from hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, because we know very well that their opposition will continue just as well as before.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
There is in the minds of the masses of the people of Ireland, be they Protestants or Catholics, a desire to see a businesslike body which will attract the confidence of the public, not merely by the ability of those whom it encloses, but also by the fact that they are men of solid worth and stake in the country. That is our object in proposing this Amendment. Therefore I think our object must be contrasted with the object of those who wish differently. I do not say for a moment, and my hon. Friend has not contended, that this Amendment represents the acme of political wisdom. Far from it. All I say is that in competition with the proposal of the Government it stands head and shoulders over it. I challenge any man on these benches to go down to the constituencies and say, "I am in favour of a Second Chamber nominated by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland," and to contrast that proposal with a proposal which involves that every chairman of a county council shall at least have a 495 voice in it, and compare the two and say which his constituents will prefer. The suggestion has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City that the chairmen of county councils will in some way lessen their position locally if they are included in a national Senate. I do not think that that is the feeling of the people. I believe that they would show more care in their selection of these gentlemen if they knew that they had to exercise a dual function, namely, a function in the localities, a position perhaps of moderator of local passion in the locality, and that of a senator, knowing very well that every local act of alleged injustice or maladministration would be challenged, as if; would be, when they took their seats in the Senate House in Dublin. Therefore, knowing from our long experience the kindly action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London which he has taken upon Irish affairs, I must respectfully say that I do not at all agree with him in the opinion which he has expressed.
What is going to be done? Are not we. entitled to know, before you put the Question—it may be perhaps put under the Closure— "That this Clause stand part of the Bill," if this Clause represents and exhausts the intelligence and scope and possibilities of the Government's intentions in this matter? If it does, I care very little myself upon the matter so far as Nationalists are concerned, but I say you are missing an opportunity for providing a sedative and an anodyne for the fears and alarms which many Protestants do entertain throughout the country from one end to the other. It is only in that spirit that we have proposed this, and these proposals are the real safeguards in the Bill. We want to run our country as a going concern. We do not want to take it over baptised in blood. We want those who have these alarms to be told that as far as these Nationalists are concerned they have stepped out of their ranks—they have gone out of their way to meet them. For my part, I would not hestiate to support a proposal which would have in this Senate a majority of Protestants, or have it even a totally Protestant body. I recall the hon. Member for Waterford having repeated the saying of Daniel O'Connor that he would rather go back to the old Protestant, Senate of Ireland than be governed by this House. I have the same 496 feeling. I would rather be governed by Orangemen in Dublin than by archangels in Westminster. It is in that spirit that my hon. Friend has proposed this Amendment, and I do believe that, though it is rejected now by the Government, its wisdom will later on be perceived, and, at all events, let it be rejected or not as it may, honest, reasonable Protestant feeling in Ireland will discover that we desire to make no attack upon their religion, their liberty, or their property, and that we, at all events, are willing to give them safeguards which would protect them in the free exercise of every reasonable liberty that they wish to enjoy.
§ Mr. MOORE
I think that after the speech which we have heard it would be somewhat ungracious for one of the people who have been criticised with both blessings and curses if we did not at once say that we are all very grateful to the two hon. Members for Cork who have brought forward this Amendment. It is not that I like the Amendment, or think that there is very much in it; but, at the same time, it affords a very useful test as to which of the two Nationalist parties are in earnest when they are both bleating conciliations to us Protestants for the first time in their history. Since the last Home Rule Bill there never has been a time when we have been met with such protestations of love and mutual confidence and everything else from the Nationalist Benches until this Home Rule Bill was introduced, and from my knowledge of the country for the last fifteen years there has never been a time when everything was so calm. Cattle-driving has ceased or is hung up, outrage does not occur so often in the papers, and it is all part of the same programme. Nothing untoward is to occur which would make the English people, after all, realise what the sentiments are towards Irish Unionists, but when we take the test the hon. Member for Water-ford stops with the honeyed words and the persuasive manner, while the hon. Member for Cork is willing to put into the Bill what he considers a possible safeguard, and, having ascertained it, ho proposes to translate his feelings into legislative action. Then the Government and the hon. Member for Waterford say, "We will have none of it." I think that for us Ulster Unionists it is a very tangible mark of which party of the Nationalists are more sincere in their protestations. I may be allowed to say, on behalf of my colleagues and myself, that we entirely a[...] 497 the sincerity of the hon. Member for Cork in this matter. I do not think it will work, and I am not going to vote for it, because I think it would really add to the farce.
I am entitled, I suppose, to look at it from the point of view of the Chief Secretary. We are supposed at present to be considering safeguards. That, I take it, is what this Government say this Clause is for. One would have imagined that when a responsible Minister of the Government gets up to consider this proposition he would have considered it from the point of view, "Will it or will it not be an adequate safeguard for the minority?" The Chief Secretary's speech was not concerned with that aspect of it at all. He had his orders not to accept it, and there was no use in arguing it. He put himself in the position of pointing out, and I am not at all sure that he was right, that the appointment of the custos rotulorum would rest with the Irish Parliament. I would imagine that it was a dignity which was exempted from the control of the Irish Parliament. But the right hon. Gentleman would catch at any straw at any moment to put a spoke in the wheel of the hon. Member for Cork. The real point is: Here is a tangible proposition put forward in all sincerity of which we have this to say, that it would give the Unionist minority for certain under the Act one-third of the representation in the Upper Chamber. I do not attach importance to it as a working safeguard, but I attach every importance to it as evidence of a disposition towards conciliation on the part of the hon. Members for Cork, and I am only sorry that, while I feel bound to say that I am sure that they will acquit me of any de-side to do them any harm, I know that in the Nationalist papers through Ireland to-morrow I shall be the unfortunate means of getting them ostracised and criticised, and because I ventured to express my thanks to them for which they will be described as in league with the Orangemen. They are very often called Orange bastards. It has happened again and again. They have been described as Orangemen, because I got up in my place to thank them. I am sorry to expose them to such a fate, but it is only right that they should be thanked for their sincerity.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I do not rise to take at in the discussion on this Amendment, think having risen for another purpose, 498 I cannot avoid saying the same thing as has been said by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) and my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Moore) behind me. The speeches to which we have listened from the two hon. Members for Cork do at least show that when they talk of their desire to live in friendliness with their Protestant fellow countrymen they are willing to put that desire into force, and that is a thing which so far has not been displayed by the Government or by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. I also say, in regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Cork, who spoke last, that I was struck by his statement that he would rather be governed by Orangemen in Belfast than by archangels in Westminster. I remember that at a time of Grattan's Parliament a Catholic Bishop said that he would rather be governed by the Beys and Mamelukes of Egypt than by the Mamelukes of Dublin Castle. I would like, however to say with regard to this matter that the only point of view, in granting Home Rule on any terms to Ireland, is that it satisfies their fellow countrymen, that the proposal will not be to their disadvanage. I say let him go to Ireland to convince the people of Ulster that civil and religious liberty are not endangered? Then I think the Government would come to this House on a very different footing than they do now. The hon. and learned Member said to the right hon. Gentleman, "We have made our proposals, what are yours?" I think that is a reasonable request to make.
The right hon. Gentleman says, "Our proposals are in the Bill, and so far as we can judge now we mean to make no change." But we have had rumours of the ordinary kind, to which I do not attach undue importance, that the Government, intend to make a change in the Bill, and if that be so, I say they ought to make some statement. If that is their intention they ought to have made a statement at the earliest possible moment. We have a limited time in which to discuss the whole Pill, and are absolutely in the dark about the Government proposal, and we do not know what it is. Of course if the Government stick to the Bill and make no change, my argument falls to the ground, but if they do make a radical change it is simply inconceivable that they should come down to the House and asked us to discuss the Bill at the beginning of the sitting, while they have an entirely new proposal. In 499 the ordinary course of things under the Closure Resolution those matters have to be postponed. I hope, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will say whether, as at present advised, he means to stick to the Bill, or, if he does not, he ought to tell us what he means to do.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It seems to me that it would really be better if we could deal with this as early as possible, and then get on to the question of policy.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
May I suggest, with all respect, that I do not think it matters on what particular Amendment we get a declaration of the Government intention. The discussion of any Amendment is really entirely absurd if we do not know what is in the minds of the Government.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Of course, I do not mean to say that it would be out of order. At the outset to-day I said that there were many things which were in order that it was not perhaps convenient to take for discussion. The right hon. Gentleman says that if the Government have a statement to make they could do so on this Amendment and that then we should know what it is. As a matter of order I cannot say that the alternative is out of order, but I hope that the discussion on the merits will be taken as suggested, instead of taking the opinion of the House.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
It seems to me that we are really wasting our time. If the Government have any change to make, then we ought to know what the change is, and I think it is expedient that they should tell us in general outline what they intend.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
On a point of Order. The Prime Minister came down to the House to-day quite expecting that on the first Amendment he would have an opportunity of submitting certain proposals that he wished to put before the Committee. We were tied down by a perfectly legitimate restriction to the Amendment before the Committee, and therefore the opportunity passed by.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Why was it not put on the Table? The Attorney-General promised it would be done.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Attorney-General made no such promise at all—he never made any promise of that sort with regard to the Senate. All I can say is that after 500 we have got rid of this Amendment, which has no relevancy to the general proposition, the Prime Minister, or, if he is not here, I myself will have an opportunity of stating the general views of the Government.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
On a point of Order. A further Amendment m the name of the hon. Member for Chelsea comes after that of the hon. Member for Cork, and it deals with the composition of the Senate. It is perfectly idle to discuss the question whether it is to be a nominative Senate if the Government say, after all, that it is not going to be nominative, and is going to be elective. I do-suggest, in the interests of the Committee and in the interest of discussion, that the Government ought to tell us their intention now and at once.
I think the Government will see that it is impossible to resist the demand now made. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork made a direct challenge to the Government. He said, "This is our scheme embodied in this Amendment. It may not be the high-water mark of statesmanship, but, at all events, it is better than the Government plan, and it is between this Amendment and the Government plan that this Committee has to choose." Although the Chief Secretary has not told us what the Government plan is, we know that the Government plan is not the plan of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has told us enough to make that clear. I submit that the Government have put us in a most unfair position. I see that the Prime Minister has come into the House, and I may tell him in a word the point that we are endeavouring to press upon the Government from this side of the House. It is that we have not only reached but long passed the stage when the Government ought to make us acquainted with any change it is proposed to make in the Bill. We had no knowledge when we came down to the House, except certain vague rumours, that any change was proposed, and we have been arguing throughout and up to the present, under the gag, upon the hypothesis that the Government proposal is contained in the Bill.
The Amendments which are put down are alternatives to the proposal in the Bill; and that has been especially pressed upon the attention of the Committee by the hon. Member for Cork, who made a speech in 501 support of his colleague's proposal now before the Committee. He said, "Our plan as proposed by the Amendment may not be perfect, but, at all events, it is a better plan than the Government's plan." But apparently it is not the Government plan. The Government have some other plan of which we do not know. I think we have been treated with gross unfairness. My right hon. Friend made an appeal to the Attorney-General on this very subject some days ago, that, considering the circumstances under which we are compelled to discuss this Bill, we should have due notice of any change of policy on which the Government have determined before we come down to the House to discuss it. I understand that the Attorney-General, though he made no specific pledge about this particular Amendment, did say, as representing the Government, that he thought it was a reasonable request.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
I think I remember what I said, though I have sent for the Report. I think I did say that the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) was a reasonable one. He asked if the Amendment would be put on the Paper, as it would be a great convenience. I replied that if it could be done, whenever we could do it, we would do it. I certainly did not go further than that.
I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Committee that I am not making the slightest suggestion of breach of faith. I do not say for one moment that the Government have made a promise and have now broken it. But surely it would be a most reasonable request, and was admitted to be a reasonable request by the Government themselves, that we ought to have time, especially when changes are going to be made in the Bill of great importance. It is impossible to discuss them under the restrictions of the Closure, and we should know what it is we are going to discuss. The Government not only do not tell us what we are going to discuss before coming into the House, but they do not tell us what is going to be discussed when they do come down to the House. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Cork had the slightest knowledge in reference to this matter; I do not think he had from the tenor of his speech and of his argument, which was that at all events 502 the plan contained in his Amendment was a better plan than that in the Bill. Otherwise, his, argument had no meaning, if he did not know what the plan of the Government was. I think either the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General not merely or simply because the Attorney-General thought it was a reasonable request, but in obedience to something much deeper than that, in obedience to the ordinary decencies of Parliamentary practice, ought to have said what was the plan we were to discuss this afternoon, and they should have given us full notice before we came down, or, if for some reason unknown to us it was not possible to make up their minds until a quarter to four this afternoon, then at all events at a quarter to four they should have given us a full explanation of the new plan.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think I may take upon myself the duty of dealing with this matter. I had let it be known before we began the discussion to-day that I wished, as it were, to clear the course for what I took to be the chief discussion we were to have as between nomination and proportional representation, and it was for that reason that I made a special endeavour to confine the earlier discussion to a limited time. The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly correct in his claim that a declaration might be made on any Amendment, and I am not in a position to say that would be out of order, because he is quite right that alternatives may be submitted to the proposal put before the Committee. If it is the desire, either on this Amendment or that which comes immediately next, that the discussion should be widened, I will certainly agree to it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
With all respect, may I point out the case we are putting is not whether one Amendment or another should be discussed. Our case is, if the Government have made up their minds to make such a change in their proposal as to practically mean a new Clause and new method of dealing with the question, it was utterly absurd that we should not have knowledge of that change before we began to discuss the subject. There would not have been any difficulty, without in the least interfering with your idea as to the proper method of conducting debate, for the Prime Minister, or someone else, to tell us what the Bill of the Government now is, and then we could have dealt with-it with that knowledge. To bring us down to discuss things which may turn out to 503 be absolutely useless seems to me to be an additional injustice to that under which we are working. I do not think that any of us would make the slightest objection now to a Member of the Government telling us what they mean to do, and simply making a statement, whether it is in order or not. We should very much like that that should be done, and after that we can judge what kind the discussion ought to be.