§ (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 scats shall be filled by a new nomination.
§ (3) If the place of a senator becomes vacant before the expiration of his term of 592 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 today's proceedings, as I indicated yesterday, I have selected—if the hon. Member desires to move it—the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare), which raises the question of the size of the Senate, rather than its composition. I think we might next approach the Government Amendment, and then, if we have time, the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Totnes Division (Mr. Mildmay), dealing with disqualifications.
§ Mr. HOARE
I beg to move, in Section (1), to leave out the word "forty" ["Irish Senate shall consist of forty "], and to insert thereof the word "eighty."
My original proposal was to substitute eighty-two, and my reason for making the alteration is to bring the Clause more into harmony with the proposals which were made by the Prime Minister yesterday under which the Senate will consist of forty Members. The result of my Amendment, if it is carried, will be to exactly double that number, and it will raise no further confusion in our discussions. There will be a clear issue between forty or double the number. I am quite aware that Members of the Committee are anxious to proceed with the general discussion on the question of proportional representation or direct election. There is no intention on my part to occupy their time for a long while, or to prevent that discussion coming on, but at the same time I would like to point out that it is not owing to any action of mine that this Amendment appears to block the way to the general discussion which hon. Members are anxious to have, but it is due entirely to the change brought about in the situation yesterday by the Prime Minister when he submitted to the Committee proposals of great importance of which we had had no notice whatever. If my Amendment does not raise any wide point, it certainly raises a very important one. The Committee are aware that under Clause 11 disputes between the two Houses are to be settled in 593 a Joint Session of the Senate and of the Irish House of Commons. The Irish House of Commons is to consist of 164 members. Under the present proposal the Senate is to consist of only forty. It therefore stands to reason that in a Joint Session, where the Irish House of Commons would have 164 members and the Senate only forty, the Senate would be powerless as against the will of the First Chamber. It seems only necessary to state these figures in order to show how essential it is that there should be some proper numerical relation between the two Chambers, if by a process of Joint Session, you are to get a reasonable settlement of disagreement between the two Houses. The hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) yesterday alluded to a Chamber that might be composed of archangels. It does not matter how you constitute the Senate, whether by direct election or by proportional representation: however excellent may be its members the fact remains that under the present proposals of the Bill the Senate will always be outvoted in the Joint Session, even if it is composed of archangels, because the vote of an archangel only counts one in the Division Lobby, and, consequently, the Senate will be powerless to make its will felt against the other Chamber. It is the big battalions in the Lobby that must count, and it is on that ground that I am anxious there should be a proper numerical relation between the two Chambers.
These are general considerations which seems to me to apply to any two Chambers anywhere, but there seem to be certain special considerations which make it all the more necessary in Ireland that you should have a Second Chamber comparatively strong in numbers as compared with the First Chamber. First of all, you are giving the First Chamber what are, really, most exceptional powers. You are giving it powers as great as are possessed by only one other First Chamber—the British House of Commons. You are giving the Irish House of Commons complete control over finance. That is a very wide field of legislation upon which to give a First Chamber complete control, and it seemed to me a particularly wide field of legislation as far as Ireland is concerned. I believe that the course of politics in the newly constituted Irish House will be such that the House will have to give its chief attention to financial questions. By giving complete control over finance to the 594 First Chamber, you are giving it complete control over a specially wide province of legislation as far as Ireland is concerned. There are other fields of legislation also which seem likely to be particularly wide in the case of the Irish Parliament. There will be matters of an economic nature. It has been the experience of the Parliaments of the Dominions and of other Legislative Assemblies all over the world that when you are dealing with economic questions which intimately concern everyone, it is most important you should have a fair chance of agreement between the two Chambers, that you should not have friction, but you should be able to get your legislation through as quickly as possible. If you put the Second Chamber in this position of conspicuous numerical inferiority, you will be exciting causes of friction, and the result will be that your economic legislation, for which there may be a swift and speedy demand, will be delayed by constant disputes between the two Chambers; the First Chamber will have to wait for two Sessions before it can have a Joint Session, and considerable discontent will be the direct result.
But more important than that is another point. It seems quite certain that the complexion of the First Chamber will be of a very uniform character. Hon. Members opposite appear to be under the impression that my hon. Friends from Ulster intend to take part in the deliberations of the Irish House of Commons and the Irish Senate. Even supposing that they were correct in their assumption, the fact would remain that in the Irish House of Commons you would have a Nationalist party of 125 members, whereas you would have an anti-Nationalist party of only thirty-nine members. If, on the other hand— and I believe this will be the case—my hon. Friends are correct in stating that they will take no part in the deliberations of the Irish House of Commons, the result will be that you will have an Irish House of Commons of 164 members composed entirely of one party. It therefore seems to me that the uniformity of the First Chamber, the House of Commons, is a strong argument for making the Second Chamber so numerically strong that it will be able to put before the country a different point of view, and put it before the country with the hope of having that view enforced. The Senate is to be composed of only forty members and the House of 595 Commons of 164 members. I believe that hon. Members opposite attach considerable weight to Professor Morgan as an expert upon the creation of the Irish Constitution. I agree with him when he writes, in the recent essay he has produced on the "New Constitution of Ireland":—A Senate of only forty members, compelled to meet in Joint Session a House of Commons of J04 members every second time that it rejects or objectionably amends a Bill, is not likely to prove a very formidable obstacle to legislation.Why, then, does it come about that the Second Chamber is to be placed in such a numerically inferior position to the First Chamber? In the past there have been many discussions as to what should be the proper numerical relation between the First Chamber and the Second Chamber. It was commonly urged in the last generation that there were many countries where you have not a sufficient supply of well-qualified public men to constitute two Chambers. Hon. Members will find, if they look back to the history of the creation of many of the Constitutions in our self-governing Colonies, that that was the reason given for creating in some cases one Chamber, and in other cases only a small Second Chamber, as compared with the First Chamber. That does not seem to me to apply at all to the case of Ireland. In Ireland, as a result of the experience which Gentlemen have had both in local government and in Parliamentary politics, you will find a large supply of men well qualified, if they so wish, to constitute an excellent First Chamber and an excellent Second Chamber. The fact that that is so has already been proved by the course of the Debates upon Home Rule in the year 1886. The Committee will remember that in that year Mr. Gladstone proposed a House of Commons or, as he called it, a Second Order, to consist of 204 members, and a First Order—the equivalent of a Second Chamber—to consist of no less than 103 members. If it was possible to find 103 members to form a Second Chamber in the year 1886, I cannot see why it should not also be possible in the year 1912. Further, if hon. Members will consider the experience of foreign countries, and particularly of our self-governing Dominions, they will find that as a rule the Second Chamber amounts to about one-half of the First Chamber. I am aware that in certain cases the proportion is not so great, but I believe I am right in saying that in all cases it is considerably above one in four, which is the proposal in the present Bill.
596 There is a further point to consider. I believe hon. Members will find that the result of creating a very small Second Chamber will be extremely dangerous. I believe, I do not say in the near future, but in the future, it may be found that a small Chamber consisting of only forty members may be extremely liable to outside manipulation. That has been the experience of several small Chambers throughout the civilised world. It is much easier to bring outside pressure to bear upon a small Chamber than it is to bring it to bear upon a big Chamber, and while I make no charge whatever against hon. Members on my left who are likely to form, in some part, that Second Chamber, I do say that in the future if you have a Chamber consisting of only forty members you will run a very great risk of outside pressure being brought upon it as it has been brought upon small Second Chambers in various parts of the world, with the result that a great blow will be struck at the integrity of your Parliamentary institutions. The importance of the question does not seem to nice to end there. If we were only engaged in creating a Second Chamber for a provincial legislature I own that the question would not strike me as being a conspicuously important one, but what the Committee must remember is that this Constitution may very well be a model for other Constitutions in various other parts of the British Isles. The creation of a Second Chamber is the Government's first essay in the creation of a Second Chamber in any part of the British Isles, and it may very well be that if we create a precedent of a Second Chamber consisting of only forty members, as compared with a First Chamber consisting of 164 members, it will be taken as a precedent for the newly reformed Second Chamber for Great Britain, of which we have heard so much but of which we have seen so little. I therefore say that this is a very important question when we regard it from the point of view of a new model for other Second Chambers, both here and possibly in other parts of the British Isles.
After what we heard yesterday from the Prime Minister, it seems to me that the arguments for a strong Second Chamber are strengthened rather than weakened. I can understand hon. Members objecting to a nominated Second Assembly consisting of a large number of members, but I cannot understand their objection—unless it be that they object to a Second Chamber 597 root and branch—when it is directed to a Second Chamber probably composed, as the First Chamber will be, by a process of direct proportional representation. If hon. Members opposite really believe in proportional representation, it seems to me that they cannot object to the Second Chamber being made to consist of a greater number than forty members, as is proposed in the Bill. The whole assumption of their case is that by a system of proportional representation you will be electing members who will directly and accurately represent public opinion in Ireland. If that is so, surely your Second Chamber, which is to consist of these members who accurately represent public opinion, should be placed in a position not of inferiority to, but of equality with, the First Chamber. Some Members opposite, I dare say many of them, conscientiously believe that the existence of a Senate is likely to be a safeguard for the minority in Ireland. If that is so, do not make your safeguard a sham, but make it both in numbers and in quality of such a strength that it will be able to maintain its position when it happens to disagree with the First Chamber. In view of these facts, first, that the special needs of Ireland demand a Second Chamber, and, secondly, that my arguments have been immensely strengthened by the proposed changes which the Prime Minister outlined yesterday, I appeal to the Committee to make the Second Chamber not a sham but a body both in numbers and in quality capable of holding its own with the First Chamber, a body, be it remembered, to be elected upon a popular franchise, and, upon the assumption of many hon. Gentlemen opposite, likely to directly represent a great body of public opinion in Ireland.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to congratulate him upon the great ability and moderation with which he has presented his case. It is gratifying to all of us, in whatever part of the Committee we sit, to hear a comparatively young Member develop a proposition of great importance like this with so much skill and Parliamentary ability. I am sorry that I cannot, on behalf of the Government, accede to the hon. Gentleman's Amendment. I will endeavour to state in a very few words the grounds upon which we hold that the number we suggest is preferable to that proposed in the Amendment. I 598 do not think the matter of the number of the Second Chamber is affected by the question as to how it shall be composed. The hon. Member seemed to think that because yesterday I indicated a modification in the original plan of the Government as regards the mode of constituting the proposed new Chamber, that change affected, or ought logically to affect, the quantity or number of its members. I do not think that is the case. The functions of a Second Chamber and the objects for which it exists are the same by whatever method it is recruited. The object we have in view in the modified proposals we have made is not in any way to alter its functions, but to make it better qualified to discharge those functions which are appropriate to such a body. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that it was the function of a Second Chamber in a country like ours—or, indeed, in any country under democratic government—that it should be, if not a co-ordinate, something like a coordinate authority with the First Chamber. That is not our view. We think that the Chamber which springs directly from popular election, the First Chamber, must primô facie be taken to be an accurate reflection for the time being of the opinion of the majority of the nation, and that under a democratic system of government it is the opinion of the majority which ought to prevail. What are the functions which are appropriate to a Second Chamber? I have often tried to define them, but on this occasion I will quote a passage from a speech made on this very topic in the Committee stage of the Bill of 1893 by my right hon. Friend and then colleague, Mr. Bryce, now our distinguished Ambassador in the United States. Mr. Bryce was very strong in his advocacy of the Second Chamber, and he said:—A principal reason why Second Chambers have been established in these communities is that they not only involve considerable delay but, also a double debate. Questions come a second time before public opinion. Every question, when it has run the gauntlet of one set of minds in one Chamber, has to run the gauntlet of another set. Every Chamber, by the law of its being and its sense of self-importance, of necessity seeks opportunities of vindicating its right to existence by exposing every question that comes before it to a second consideration and criticism. The result is to waken up still further the opinion of the country.I think that very accurately describes what is the proper function of a Second Chamber in a democratic community in times such as ours. The hon. Gentleman quoted a passage from a distinguished writer, who appears to have said that such a proposed 599 Assembly would not be a very formidable obstacle to legislation. It is not intended to be a formidable obstacle to legislation. That is not the function of a Second Chamber. It is intended to secure what a Second Chamber should secure—opportunities for deliberation and delay, for revision and for a thorough maturing of public opinion. On such a character, and such a composition as will secure that, depend the only functions which, under a democratic Government, a Second Chamber ought to claim. As regards the actual question of numbers, if the Amendment were carried the Second Chamber in Ireland would be half the size of the first. Therefore, if a question in dispute came before a Joint Session, there would be an enormous preponderance of opinion and the Second Chamber would really have the decisive vote. That is far too large a number and far too serious a function for a Second Chamber. If we look to precedents in our own Empire—they are, of course, not uniform; in fact they vary very greatly—in Canada the Upper House has seventy-two Members and the Lower House 214. I am speaking now of the Dominion Parliament. If you take the province of Quebec, the number in the Upper House is twenty-four and in the Lower House seventy. Turning to our Colonies and Dominions in South Africa, in the Cape the Upper House had twenty-six and the Lower House, 107. In the Transvaal the Upper House consisted of fifteen and the Lower House of sixty-nine. In the Orange River Colony, there were in the Upper House, eleven and in the Lower, thirty-eight. When we come to the Union of South Africa, which is the latest of all the Dominion Constitutions, the Upper House consists of forty as against 121 in the Lower House. The hon. Gentleman drew attention to the case of the Commonwealth of Australia, which is much the strongest case the other way. There you have thirty-six in the Upper House as against seventy-five in the Lower House. That is due to the fact that what you may call the Federal principle was carried to its extreme point of development in the Union of Australia because the thirty-six members of the Upper House are elected by the constituent States of the Union on the Lower House franchise. They, in fact, represent, as in the United States, the constituent States which make up the Union. That, therefore, is a case which in principle is not in any way analogous to the case with which we are dealing now.
600 Upon a review of these various experiments—I do not say any one of them ought necessarily to be adopted as a model; they obviously show a great diversity of practice—it is quite clear that the proposal which the hon. Gentleman has made goes very far beyond almost anything that has been attempted in that direction. He is really giving one-half to the Upper House as compared with the Lower. But you have this further fact to consider when you are dealing with a country like Ireland, and that is from what materials you are going to recruit your two Chambers respectively; and if you are going to have a Lower House, in which I hope and believe the best talent and public spirit of Ireland will come forward to claim the votes of the Electorate, consisting of as many as 160 Members, I think without any disparagement of the wealth of political resource which Ireland undoubtedly possesses, if you wish to have an Upper Chamber which will really gain the confidence and be regarded by the people as qualified by the character of its Members to impose a kind of check on the deliberations of the Lower House, which it is the function of such a body in our view to exercise, it would be impossible to get more than forty, which I think is a very reasonable number to suggest for the purpose, who will really be men of such character, prestige, and authority as will enable them to set this Second Chamber going upon a sound and authoritative basis. It is on these purely practical grounds that the Government thought the number of forty, on the whole, best dealt with the special exigencies of the case, and, on the whole, conform best with the precedents which have been set by our self-governing Dominions.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not desire to travel over much of the ground which was covered by the speech of my hon. Friend, in reference to which I would only say that the well-deserved compliment which the Leader of the House paid him is grateful to us on this side. Neither do I wish to follow the Prime Minister into many of the details into which he has gone. He certainly earned the description he gave of himself of a credulous optimist. He frankly sets out to believe what he wants, and he would sooner believe what he wants, though he knows it is wrong—he says so himself— and be proved wrong—
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I admit it is a different thing, but the description of the right hon. Gentleman is still quite sufficient for my purpose. He would sooner believe what he "wants and be proved wrong—knowing that he may be proved wrong—
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Still clinging to the hope that he may be proved right because his scheme will not work if he is not than really listen to the arguments which are addressed or face the solid facts of the ease. It is a little difficult for me to treat seriously the discussion of this Clause as part of the Irish Constitution. It is one of the safeguards, we are told outside the House, which is provided for the security of the minority in Ireland. But the Prime Minister has made it perfectly clear now that, in his opinion, it is not, and cannot be, a safeguard in the sense of protecting the minority against the will of the majority. From the point of view of a safeguard, and from the point of view of the objects with which the Government put it forward in this Constitution, the Clause is absolutely worthless, and I have no interest in it or in the Amendments which are moved to it. If I occupy the time of the Committee it is for rather broader reasons. I do not want to discuss at this stage, and shall carefully avoid discussing, the Amendments of which the Government have given notice later down in the Clause, but I want the Committee to bear those Amendments in mind, because they have a direct bearing upon the proposal of my hon. Friend, as he himself rightly pointed out, though the Prime Minister did not follow the logic of his argument. Let me try and put it to the Prime Minister. The Government in devising their Second Chamber originally thought it advisable that the whole House should not retire together, and there is a provision in the Bill that one-fourth of them should retire every two years—I think a very valuable provision in the case of any elective Second Chamber. Now we are to have an elective Second Chamber, though the Government's original proposal was not an elective Chamber. But under their new proposal the provision that only a fourth shall retire at a time disappears, and the whole Second Chamber disappears at the same moment. We have had, of course, no defence of that 602 in the House from the Government I think, but a communiqué was issued to the Press from the Whip's Office yesterday which explained that this change in their plan was necessitated because with so small a Second Chamber as forty they could not work the system of proportional representation which they propose to employ unless the whole forty retired at one moment. That will, at any rate, show the right hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friend was perfectly correct when he said there was a very close connection between this Amendment and the Amendments which the Government have put on the Paper, and it is from that point of view I address myself to the subject. I do not suppose that I am wholly at one with the right hon. Gentleman as to what is the object of having a Second Chamber in a democratic country, governed in the long run as ours must be, whatever form our Constitution takes, by the opinion of the majority of our people. I hope we are not quite as wide apart as the right hon. Gentleman's speech would lead us to suppose. If we were to take his speech literally, what is his idea of a Second Chamber? A kind of glorified debating society, where distinguished people may be summoned to let off speeches which are to have and 'will have absolutely no effect on the course of events. That is not my idea of a Second Chamber, and I venture to think that if you really want to get distinguished men, men of capacity and position, that is not the kind of Second Chamber you should set up, for men of that character and capacity would not consent to be mere figureheads, and would not consent to sit in a kind of glorified splendour, without any influence or effect.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the Upper or Second Chamber, under the Lansdowne proposals, which were put forward as an alternative, would be in exactly the same position.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken, but I think possibly with the short time we have available I had better rather discuss the proposals of the Government than what he calls the Lansdowne proposals. What should be the functions of an elective Second Chamber in a democratic and constitutional State? I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that under normal conditions—I think there are certain peculiar circumstances in Ireland which are not to be found in the United Kingdom generally 603 —under normal circumstances you do not want two co-ordinate bodies, you do not want power in the Upper House to permanently thwart the will of the people as expressed in the Lower House. [Cheers.] Is that a surprise to hon. Gentlemen opposite? I confess that these Debates in our House of Commons have constant interest for me, because of the unplumbed depths of ignorance as to subjects of current controversy, and as to the position of their opponents which hon. Gentlemen opposite are constantly disclosing by their cheers. I was afraid I was enunciating a commonplace, but I find that I have apparently given to hon. Gentlemen opposite an agreeable surprise. We are agreed that we do not desire a Second Chamber to thwart the permanent desires of the people. What we desire a Second Chamber for is to make sure that we have the permanent will of the people, and not a distorted representation of it, or the expression merely of a passing phase of feeling, and if that be the object of your Second Chamber, and if you desire to have an elective Second Chamber, surely the provisions which stood in the Government's original Clause, and which they have now cut out because the numbers are too small, is the most important safeguard you can have, namely, that whereas your First Chamber will be elected all at one time, and therefore will express the feelings, it may be of excitement, prevalent at that moment, and which will be out of all proportion to their permanent connection with the public opinion of the country, the Second Chamber should be recruited not all at one time, but in sections, at periods of three years, or two years, by a quarter or a third, as the Government propose, so that in that way the Second Chamber may maintain the traditions of feeling, may soften the abruptness of changes, and, above all, may make sure that the majority obtained on some temporary wave of feeling does not wholly represent the permanent and settled opinion of the country, and that the majority does not do things for which that opinion has given it no mandate, and never will.
Holding that view as to the utility of a Second Chamber, holding that view as to the way that use can best be made of it, and holding the view that in this way by partial re-election the elected Second Chamber can best, and indeed can only, discharge the special functions for which 604 it exists, I attach great importance to the Amendment of my hon. Friend that the number should be such as to enable the Government when they come to their Amendment to revert to their original intention that the whole are not to retire at one time, but shall be re-elected by proportional representation, if they will, or in any other way they like, by sections, and shall not be subject to the same partial waves of feeling. On these general grounds, and not because I believe this provides a safeguard for the minority, not because that either unamended or amended it makes the Bill a workable Bill, or because the minority has anything on which they can fall back—on the general grounds of constitutional propriety, I support the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend. I hope the Government will give a more favourable response to the proposal.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I do not suppose there is any danger of the Government supposing that, even if the Clause were amended in the way my hon. Friend suggests, it would be satisfactory, or that those who represent the minority in Ireland would consider it a safeguard. Indeed, the Prime Minister admitted as much himself, because, if I understood him aright, it is not intended that the Second Chamber should prove a formidable obstacle to the operations of the First Chamber. He told us in the same breath that it was to be an adequate protection for the minority. If it is not to be a formidable obstacle to the First Chamber, where is the protection? We were told that it would have power to delay legislation. That means for one Session, or it might be only for a few weeks, or a few days. It was not to deal with the question from that point of view that I rose. I wish to refer to the right hon. Gentleman's argument as regards the Colonial analogies. The Prime Minister frequently makes use of Colonial analogies, and he is not always particular which one he takes. At one moment he flies off to a Colonial province, and at another moment he takes one of the great Dominions, Not only is that so, but the Postmaster-General, in addition to taking Colonial analogies, goes off to Bohemia or the United States. The Prime Minister has, in resisting this Amendment, called attention to the position of affairs as regards the First and Second Chamber in some of our Colonies. I think it will be interesting to the Committee in arriving at a conclusion on the Amendment to go into 605 a little more exhaustive examination of the figures than was given to them by the right hon. Gentleman, because certainly, so far as I have been able to discover, they do not bear out the conclusion at which the right hon. Gentleman arrived—that the number forty in the present Bill is, from a constitutional point of view, apart altogether from the practical point of view, a sufficient safeguard. The right hon. Gentleman referred both to provincial Assemblies in the Colonies and to Dominion Parliaments. With regard to the provincial Colonial Assemblies, I would point out that there is not one in which provision for a Joint Session appears at all. In every single case of a provincial Assembly the Upper House has power, in case of disagreement, of bringing about a dissolution. In some cases it can do it by bringing about a deadlock, and in other cases there are provisions under which the Governor in Council can order a dissolution.
I ask the Committee to consider for a moment how the numbers stand in these provincial Assemblies. The Prime Minister quoted Quebec, where the legislative Council consists of twenty-four and the Assembly of seventy-four. In order to bring out the facts, I should like to put the proportions of the Upper Houses to the total of the Lower Houses as expressed in percentages. The legislative Council of Quebec having twenty-four and the Assembly seventy-four, the Upper House would have 24 per cent, of the total were the two Houses sitting together. But Quebec, which the right hon. Gentleman quoted, has the lowest percentage of the provincial Assemblies as regards the proportion of the Upper House. Let me quote one or two other cases. In Nova Scotia the Upper House has twenty-one and the Lower House thirty-eight, the Upper House being 35 per cent, of the total. In Queensland the Upper House has forty-five and the Lower House seventy-two, the Upper House having therefore 38 per cent, of the total. In New South Wales the Upper House has fifty-two and the Lower House 125, the Upper House having 29 per cent, of the total. In Victoria the Upper House has thirty-four and the Lower House sixty-five, the Upper House having 34 per cent, of the total number. In South Australia the Upper House has eighteen and the Lower House forty, the Upper House having 31 per cent, of the total. In Western Australia the Upper House has 606 thirty and the Lower House fifty, the Upper House having 37 per cent, of the total. In Tasmania the Upper House has eighteen and the Lower House thirty, the Upper House again representing 37 per cent, of the total. Let me observe that in all these Colonial cases there is no question of the Upper House being instituted' as a safeguard for the rights of some minority. There is not any question of any possible undue oppression of the minority by the majority in any of these Colonies, and therefore it is interesting to-compare the proportions of the Upper Houses in these cases, even though there is no Joint Session, with the proportion suggested in the Irish Constitution, where it is expressly being put in on the sole ground that it is to constitute an adequate protection for the minority.
Compare now the cases of the Dominion Parliaments. In Canada, where there is no Joint Session and therefore the position is not analogous, the Upper House has 27 per cent, of the total of the two Houses;, in Newfoundland it has 29 per cent., and in New Zealand it is anything you like, because the nomination there is perfectly unlimited, as it is not confined to any specific number. I come now to the two practical cases of Dominion Parliaments where there is a Joint Session—those of South Africa and Australia. In South Africa the Upper House consists of forty and the House of Assembly 121, and the percentage represented by the Upper House in a Joint Session is twenty-five. In Australia there are thirty-six in the Upper House and seventy-five in the-House of Representatives, so that in a Joint Session the proportion in the Upper House would be thirty-two. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister says that my hon. Friend's proposal is too much, but his own proposal is far too little even on his own showing, and instead of being either 25 per cent, or 32 per cent., as in South Africa or Australia, the right hon. Gentleman proposes in the Bill forty in the Senate and 161 in the Commons, making a proportion in the Senate in the case of a joint sitting of 19½per cent. It is not as if one was arguing that the proportion of the Upper House ought to be equal to what it is in the Colonies, but because it is insisted by the Government that this Senate is going to be a protection of the minority, and therefore the proportion ought to be, if anything, far greater than it is in Colonial Legislatures, whereas there is not a single Colonial Assembly, 607 whether provincial or Dominion, in which the proportion is anything like so low as that which the Government have fixed in this Bill. The case does not stop there. In 1893 Mr. Gladstone brought forward a Bill, which was rejected by the electors of the country by an overwhelming majority, on the grounds very largely that the safeguards proposed for the minority in that Bill were not sufficient. In the Bill of 1893 as in this Bill in cases of disagreement there was to be a Joint Session of both Houses, but the numbers were fixed then at forty-eight in the Upper House and 103 in the Lower House, so that the percentage of the Upper House in a Joint Session would be thirty-one and not nineteen and a-half as here proposed. So, tried by their own test, which the Government have sought to apply, the test of Colonial analogy, the proposals of the Bill do not stand examination for a moment, if they are to be considered in the light of a safeguard. I say quite frankly that it is impossible from our point of view, or from the point of view of any fair minded man to regard the proposals of the Bill as to the numbers of the Senate as other than purely derisive.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I would like to know if the right hon. Gentleman is really determined to sacrifice the principle of rotation on the ground that you cannot adapt it to proportional representation without increasing the numbers? In their first proposals the Government had this principle of rotation of one-fourth every two years in the case of a nominated Senate. I submit that in the case of a legislative Senate such a provision becomes almost more necessary, because if you have not the principle of rotation and you have an ad hoc popular election the whole Senate will be elected at once under the influence of perhaps a very temporary outburst of popular feeling, and to provide against that certainly requires that one-third if not one-fourth should retire at different times. But the case becomes even stronger if you are going to make the term of the Senate the same as the term of the Lower House. According to the Government Amendment we must assume that the term of the Senate is to be five years. It is very probable that the first election of the Senate at the end of five years, when the nominated Senate retire, will coincide within a few months with the second General Election. Therefore, you will have the whole of the Senate and the 608 whole of the House of Commons elected by the same electors within a few months. Surely that is not intended. It is not intended that both assemblies should be subject to the same influence and should be elected on the same terms. I quite admit that there is a difficulty in adjusting the principle of rotation to the principle of proportionate representation if you do no adopt some larger number than forty. I think if you adopted eighty you could fit it in with the Government principle of proportionate representation, half the Senate retiring at the one time. I should like a larger number, a multiple of three. It would work better with ninety. But you could work it with eighty. The Government having adopted the principle of rotation should not throw it over because it does not fit in with the number of forty, and the system of proportionate representation. If you increase the numbers of the Senate you could fit in both principles and surely both principles, even if not necessary—I believe they are necessary—at any rate are expedient if you are to have a really efficient Second Chamber in a democratic Constitution.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
I think that the Prime Minister has been wholly consistent in his end. His attitude is this: "We do not want a Second Chamber anywhere which shall have any power to compel a dissolution, to refer any great question between the two Houses to the people." The proof of that is this. It is a long considered policy on the part of the Prime Minister and his colleagues. It is not a matter relating alone to Ireland and to the immediate and critical moment—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have not intervened on that point before because the right hon. Gentleman was led by an observation on that side to a very reasonable explanation, but I do not think that we should enter into the matter more than as it merely affects the size or number of the Senate.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that the hon. Member who opened the case put it very fairly as directly a question of the number. All I wish to say is that I think that we ought not to go into general considerations except those arising out of the numbers of this particular Chamber in Ireland.
I am much obliged, but I was just about to come to the application of the idea I was putting before the Committee. When the present Government gave its Constitution to the Transvaal it limited the numbers of the Senate to sixteen, as against sixty-nine in the Lower House. The Government bad in its mind the object of making such a proportion between the Senate and the Lower House as would prevent the Senate at any time, in the case of a joint sitting, from being able to enforce its own point of view. The Prime Minister, therefore, as it seems to me, is consistent. We oppose his idea because we believe that the numbers of the Senate must necessarily affect the working of the Constitution either injuriously or beneficially for Ireland. We believe that the present number of the Senate in proportion to the number in the Irish House of Commons will affect injuriously the interests of Ireland. My hon. Friend has put forward the number eighty. That number is not out of proportion to all the instances which the right hon. Gentleman has quoted. On the contrary, it is quite in proportion with the majority of those instances. We say that the Senate exists not alone for revision and delay, as the Prime Minister has said, with no power beyond, as in the case of Ireland, a momentary power. We say in the case of the particular circumstances of Ireland differing from those of any of the other countries quoted by the Prime Minister, where the Prime Minister and his colleagues have admitted that there are anxieties which are not easily allayed, and for which they are ready and willing to provide guarantees, that the guarantees provided by the numbers suggested by the Prime Minister are insufficient, that forty is inadequate, that in a joint sitting it would represent only 19½ per cent., and that consequently, however strong its case might be, the Senate would be really powerless in a joint sitting to produce the desired result. And it is because the number forty is inadequate we believe the number eighty is not too great, and that you would have with the Senate consisting of eighty a body not sufficiently powerful to destroy, as hon. Members might suggest, the will of the people, but sufficiently powerful to bring matters to such a position where the question at issue would receive that fair treatment at the joint sitting which the joint sitting is supposed to achieve. 610 From that standpoint I think that my hon. Friend is extremely moderate in the particular circumstances of Ireland in asking that the number should not be forty but eighty. What objection can there be except that the eighty might not be easily found in Ireland, that Ireland does not possess enough ability and intellectual power to provide the eighty? Unless it is this reason there can be only one other reason for opposing this, and that is that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite want the Irish Lower House to be so all-powerful that the Senate in Ireland with its forty Members shall only have power to secure momentary delay, and will have no real power in legislation or with reference to any of the great questions that have to be decided.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. JOHN GORDON (Londonderry, South)
I would like to know what is to be the real function of this Second Chamber in reference to any protection or safeguards for people in Ireland who do not agree with the majority? If they are not going to have a Second Chamber merely for the name of it, because the Prime Minister says emphatically, "I am a Second Chamber man," and other Members of his Government say, "We are Second Chamber men," I should like to know what they mean by Second Chamber? Is it to be anything which is to be effective or useful, or have any power or control over legislation or any power to ascertain what the true will of the people is? Are they even to have the smallest effect in preventing an injustice to the minority, whom the Government always profess that they wish to safeguard, and in respect of whom they say this provision will have a safeguarding effect? You are dealing here with a new Constitution, admittedly in the Lower House, overwhelmingly Nationalist. I do not think anyone can doubt that for one moment. You are electing 164 Members to that Chamber, and, assuming that all the people in Ireland were willing to have representatives sent to that House—a thing which I do not think will take place—you could not expect, on the Prime Minister's own statement, to have more than something like thirty-eight or thirty-nine representatives of the minority, and therefore you would have already in your first Chamber about 125 Members, as against thirty-eight or thirty-nine. You are to have a Second Chamber composed of forty Members of whom, the Prime Minister stated, there would be something like ten 611 Unionists or representatives of the minority. I suppose the case might have been met, more or less, by the system of nomination. Assume, now, that you apply to it this system of election! I was trying to make some estimate of the matter, and, as far as I could see, upon your proportional representation, even if the Unionists took part in it—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have already ruled that this question of proportional representation should not be discussed on this Amendment, which deals with the question of the number of Members of the Second Chamber.
§ Mr. J. GORDON
I bow to your ruling, Sir, if I have transgressed in any way; but what I was pointing out was that a Second Chamber with forty members as a safeguard is absolutely illusory; because when you have got your forty members in your Second Chamber, even if the supposed minority is able to persuade the whole forty to take a particular course which they thought best for the country, though contrary to the view of the majority of the First Chamber, they would still be absolutely powerless. They could not do anything more than delay legislation for one year, or about one year. But the Prime Minister said, "This new elective principle I am going to adopt has nothing to do with that question." Is that so? Does the Prime Minister think that men will come forward for election if they find that they are only to have a fourth of the power of the members who are elected to the Lower House? I do not think you will get them to do it. But if we had a larger number, if we had a substantial body such as is proposed by this Amendment, men would be willing to come into the Upper Chamber, and to say, "There we will have some chance of making our views felt, and we may hope for some reasonable effect to be achieved, and for some reasonable restraint to be exercised upon the will of the overwhelming majority in the Lower Chamber." But if you retain the number of forty, it is absolutely inconceivable that this would be the result. A member of the Upper Chamber would have to be elected by the same persons. We have no statement as to any qualification for any member of this Upper House, elected by the same electors, and yet they are to go to that Upper Chamber and to be told "You are only a fourth of the Lower Chamber."
612 I think it is inconceivable that a Second Chamber so constituted could have the smallest weight, or that you could get men of any influence, position, or standing to consent to become members of it at all. Surely when once you introduce the elective principle an alteration becomes necessary. I can very well understand the Prime Minister saying, "If I nominate forty gentlemen I will not put them on anything like terms of equality with those members who are elected." But when they are elected by the same body of electors, I cannot see how any sensible man can refuse to give them something like real power to deal with legislation as between the two Houses. I was really surprised to hear the Prime Minister's reference to other legislatures, and I think his intention was to leave the House under the impression that this proposal was fairly representative of other legislatures in our Dominions. But that has been blown to pieces by the figures given by my hon. Friend, who showed that instead of the figures quoted by the Prime Minister being a fair and reasonable representation of the average of relative numbers in the two Houses of legislature in our Colonies and in our provincial Assemblies, the two sets of figures are absolutely at variance. The true figures, given by my hon. Friend, show that the eighty members proposed by this Amendment would be a very moderate number, and would not be in excess of the average numbers in the local Legislatures of our Colonies—or very slightly in excess.
The hon. Gentleman quoted figures which showed that they certainly come to very nearly a third of the entire Assembly. If we adopted the figure of forty it would not be a fifth of the entire Assembly, and eighty would be exactly a third. Therefore, if we go to the local Legislatures in our Colonial possessions we find at once that the figures are in favour of the argument in support of this Amendment and against the proposal of the Government. I want to know why the Government are going to introduce election instead of nomination, if they are not going to give some real power to those members who are to be elected. It seems to me to be a very extraordinary principle. The Prime Minister says, "Oh, our proportional representation would not interfere with that. We are now going to elect for a complete term, and not to have any vacancies occuring at different intervals." Surely what is proposed by my hon. Friend makes it much 613 easier. If the period of six years is adopted, and half the Assembly resigns every three years, you can have your election of forty members just as easily. The real fact is that this proposal of the Government shows how the electors of this country are sought to be imposed upon, by suggesting a mere sham like this as being any safeguard to the minority in Ireland.
§ Sir J. D. REES
I wish to address myself to the question of forty members as against eighty members. Hon. Members who have spoken have addressed themselves to Colonial comparisons. When I hear the debate upon this subject I am reminded of a much more exact analogy with which to compare the action of the Government. Why do not they go to India? Here is a proposal that forty senators shall represent a population of about 4,000,000, well known to be divided by every kind of fissure which can separate people into different sections. I think I have a special qualification to speak on this subject. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, a very special one, one possessed by nobody in this House. I have represented 40,000,000 of people—not one of whom voted for me—as a nominated senator. Never have I seen a proposal so much like that as this proposal of forty members to represent 4,000,000 of people, for that is actually what they are doing in practice. I never thought to hear in the British House of Commons, the home of democracy, a proposal so closely following upon what hon. Gentlemen opposite describe as the practice of a "grinding despotism."
We are given comparisons with sparsely populated Colonies, and, when this proposal is submitted of forty members to represent 4,000,000, I am naturally reminded of that other British possession in which one person may represent 40,000,000. In regard to the forty members against eighty members, it appears to me that nobody on those benches can be found to disprove the argument of my hon. Friend. The double of forty is the very least that should be given, and I think it ought to be multiplied by three. What a farce a Joint Session would be if you had only forty members to sit with 160. Nobody who did not wish to trifle with this all too serious subject would make any such proposal. Not even the Prime Minister, who has a capacity I think unequalled for making the worser appear the better cause—no one since the days of Socrates has been his equal in that respect. [An HON. MEMBER: "Solomon."] 614 I do not know about Solomon. I do not remember what he did. I think he was distinguished in a totally different line. I say that the Prime Minister has not given any reason why forty are sufficient. Eighty is not sufficient. When you consider the Joint Session, when you consider the sparsely populated and wholly different conditions of the Colonies to which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are driven for their justification of this proposal, I am perfectly justified in getting up and pointing out a case far more nearly resembling the proposition put before the Committee by the Government. The Amendment moved by my hon. Friend, all too little as it is, to meet the requirements of the case, should be accepted by the Government.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
I do not desire to widen the discussion, but I am a little interested in a point which arose this afternoon, and which was raised by what are called orthodox Members of the Conservative party. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) drew attention to the cheers which proceeded from these benches in regard to a statement of the policy of the party opposite. The hon. Member for Gravesend—
§ Mr. R. HARCOURT
I bow to your ruling, Sir, but am I not entitled to refer to the question whether this body shall be allowed to force a dissolution? The point which the hon. Member for Gravesend seemed to be making was that this body, however many Members you should give it, should be allowed to force a dissolution by which the opinion of the people could be ascertained. That is the dividing line constitutionally between this side and the other. The point to which I desire to call attention is that if the hon. Member for Gravesend had his way a dissolution would be forced and an appeal to the people would take place. That appeal would take place, not to the United Kingdom, but to the Irish people. Therefore I think we have arrived at a point when it is admitted by the hon. Member for Gravesend, and was stated in fact by the hon. Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore) to-night, that they would regard it as a very essential difference in the constitutional position if an appeal were 615 allowed to the Irish people. If I understand aright—that is, that the Irish Unionist party are prepared in the long run to trust the opinion of the Irish people, and that means to say the Irish people as a whole and the Nationalist majority—I am bound to say I think we have advanced a very long way in the discussion of this Bill.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, but it appears to me he has laid down a proposition which is certainly quite agreeable to us, namely, that the Liberal party under no circumstances will consult the people, while it is our intention whenever we can to do so. It is very unfortunate that we find ourselves in the position of discussing the numbers which are to compose the Second House before we really know exactly what kind of House it is to be, what are to be its powers, and its relations with the other House. The whole question of numbers turns entirely upon what the power of that House is to be and its constitution, and how difficulties are to be adjusted between the two Houses. I could not follow the Prime Minister when he said that the composition of the Second Chamber did not affect the numbers, as the exact contrary would appear to me to be the case. I am inclined to think that the best course would have been, though I am afraid it is now too late, if we had moved to postpone the consideration of this Sub-section dealing with numbers until we were more properly informed as to the intentions of the Government in respect to the Amendments lower down on the Paper. I think myself that the Prime Minister's arguments might have been very effective if they had applied to the House which was contemplated until yesterday, or perhaps the day before yesterday, to be set up. Indeed, the Prime Minister's speech must have been prepared before yesterday, because he said very clearly that the Chamber that springs directly from popular election must inevitably be more powerful or, I think he said, supreme over the Lower House. That definition no longer applies when both Chambers will, to use the Prime Minister's phrase, spring directly from popular election. Therefore the Prime Minister's argument, however appropriate it may have been two days ago, is, it seems to me, no longer appropriate. If the Government would compromise on this question and would give 616 up the idea of a Joint Session, forty might be held to be a sufficient number; but the whole question of numbers appears to me to turn upon the Joint Session. I, for one, find it difficult to discuss the matter without referring to the question as to whether or not a Joint Session is to be part of the procedure laid down by the Government.
On the assumption that there is to be a Joint Session—and we have had no indication as yet from the Government that they propose to abandon it—I certainly think we are obliged to vote for a larger Second Chamber, because I do not see the use of setting up machinery such as the Government does for adjusting differences between the two Houses, which must always have one inevitable result. It is perfectly obvious, with only forty Members in the Senate, that if there is a difference the will of the House of Commons in Ireland will inevitably prevail. I do not think there is the slightest doubt about that. And, then, what is the use of setting up machinery of that kind, which allows so little margin of difference, and which allows so little chance to the minority—that is, the majority of the Second Chamber and the minority of the two Chambers—to get their way in any difficulty that may arise? There is a very remarkable contrast between the way the Government look at difficulties and friction between the two Parliaments—the subject which we have been discussing during the last few days—and the way they look at differences between the two Houses. What is their view, when it is pointed out that there will be inevitable friction between the two Parliaments and when there is no machinery whatever for getting over that? The right hon. Gentleman says, Oh, you must take it that the Irish are a rational people and that we are a rational people, and that some modus vivendi will be found, and that we need not in the least anticipate that friction between the two Parliaments will lead to any difficulty which cannot be got over. What, then, is their attitude on this much lesser question of a possible difference between the two Houses of the proposed Parliament? Instead of saying that we must rely on the common-sense of the Irish people to solve the difficulties between the two Houses, with the ultimate appeal to the electorate, which, after all, they will always have, the right hon. Gentleman says: "Oh, no; in this case, where there is possible friction between the two 617 Houses, we must be most precise in our methods of dealing with the difficulty, and we must ensure, whatever may happen, that the difficulty is to be solved at once and in one way only, and that is that the will of the House of Commons of the day shall prevail." I think that is a very remarkable contrast; it shows, to my mind, very conclusively that the optimism of the Prime Minister with regard to the relations between the two Parliaments is merely a sham optimism, and the real fact is that the Government do not know how difficulties between the two Parliaments will be arranged or settled in any shape or form.
Apart from the question of giving some reasonable safeguard to the minority and some reasonable power to the Second Chamber, not merely of Debate and delay, but of finding out what is the real considered wish of the people, I think there is another argument why the number should be increased certainly to eighty. We are told that this Second House is bound to attract all the best men of talent and position. I think that is exceedingly unlikely if you are going to give them shadowy powers. If you are going to attract them I am anxious to secure the dignity of Debate in that House and that the Debate should be real and have some chance of being read and listened to by the people of the country. I think an Assembly of forty members is too small for that purpose. Curiously enough that is the quorum or minimum which this House considers neces-
§ sary shall be present in order to continue its Debate. We all know what a very dull effect is produced upon this House when there are only forty Members present. I think, no matter how small the size of the Chamber may be in which you have those forty members, that it is impossible with such a small number to have that kind of full-dress debate, and that kind of argument upon important questions which, I think, ought to take place in any Second Chamber. I feel that the standard of the Debates will inevitably be higher if the numbers who are to take part in them are larger even than those proposed. Whatever may be the precedents for Second Chambers in other provincial Parliaments, I think this argument on its merits, quite apart from any question of the powers of the two Houses, should be considered. I think, joined with the other arguments which have been brought forward, that the Government would do very well to increase the numbers if they are going to adhere to the policy of a Joint Session and their policy of proportional representation. I personally wish they would give up the Joint Session, and then the number of forty might possibly not be so serious as it is at the present time.
§ Question put, "That the word 'forty' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 285; Noes, 147.621
|Division No. 285.]||AYES.||[5.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Chancellor, H. G.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Esmonde, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)|
|Armitage, R.||Clancy, John Joseph||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Arnold, Sydney||Clough, William||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Clynes, J. R.||Falconer, J.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Ffrench, Peter|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Field, William|
|Barnes, George N.||Cotton, William Francis||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick Burghs)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Barton, William||Crean, Eugene||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Beale, Sir William Phlpson||Crooks, William||France, G. A.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Crumley, Patrick||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Cullinan, J.||Gilhooly, James|
|Bentham, George J.||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gill, A. H.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Ginnell, L.|
|Boland, John Pius||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Glanville, Harold James|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||De Forest, Baron||Goldstone, Frank|
|Brace, William||Delany, William||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Brady, P. J.||Dickinson, W. H.||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Brocklehurst, William B||Dillon, John||Greig, Col. J. W.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Donelan, Captain A.||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Doris, William||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Duffy, William J.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Guiney, P.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||M'Curdy, C. A.||Richards, Thomas|
|Hackett, J.||M'Kean, John||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Hancock, John George||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Marcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lines., Spalding)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Robertson, Sir John M. (Tyneside)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Roch, Walter F.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Meagher, Michael||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Menzies, Sir Walter||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Millar, James Duncan||Rowlands, James|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Molloy, M.||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Molteno, Percy Alport||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Hayward, Evan||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Mooney, John J.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N. E.)||Morgan, George Hay||Scanian, Thomas|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Horrell, Philip||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morison, Hector||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Higham, John Sharp||Muldoon, John||Sheehy, David|
|Hinds, John||Munro, Robert||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.||Shortt, Edward|
|Hodge, John||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Nolan, Joseph||Smith, H. B. (Northampton)|
|Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Norman, Sir Henry||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Snowden, P.|
|Hudson, Walter||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Hughes, S. L.||Nuttall, Harry||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sutton, John E.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Doherty, Philip||Tennant, Harold John|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Dowd, John||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Grady, James||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicktow, W.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Keating, M.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Malley, William||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Kilbride, Dennis||O'Shee, James John||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|King, J.||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lamb, Ernest Henry||Outhwaite, R. L.||Waring, Walter|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Lansbury, George||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th,||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Leach, Charles||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pirie, Duncan V.||Whyte, A. F.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pointer, Joseph||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Pollard, Sir George H.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Lundon, T.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pringle, William M. R.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Radford, G. H.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|McGhee, Richard||Reddy, M.||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|MacNeill, G. S. Swift (Donegal, South)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Rendall, Athelstan||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Camplon, W. R.|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cator, John|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Bigland, Alfred||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Bird, Alfred||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Chambers, J.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Bull, Sir William James||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Barnston, H.||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Clive, Captain Percy Archer|
|Barrie, H. T.||Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Clyde, James Avon|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Burn, Col. C. R.||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hills, J. W.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Hohler, G. F.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Salter, Arthur Clavcll|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Horner, Andrew Long||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Hunter, Sir C. R.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Stanier, Beville|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Kerry, Earl of||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Stewart, Gershom|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Knight, Captain E. A.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Fell, Arthur||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lewisham, Viscount||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Forster, Henry William||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. S.)||Thompson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Gastrell, Major W. H||MacCaw, Win. J. MacGeagh||Touche, George Alexander|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Mount, William Arthur||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.)||Newdegate, F. A.||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Newman, John R. P.||Winterton, Earl|
|Haddock, George Bahr||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Peto, Basil Edward||Younger, Sir George|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Rawson, Col. R. H.||Hoare and Sir J. D. Rees.|
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "by the Lord Lieutenant, on the advice of the Executive Committee," and to insert instead thereof the words "elected by the four provinces of Ireland as separate constituences in the number stated in the Third Part of the First Schedule to this Act.
(2) The election of senators shall be according to the principle of proportional representation, the electors being the same electors as the electors of members returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and each elector having one transferable vote.
His Majesty may by Order in Council frame regulations prescribing the method of voting at an election of a senator and of transferring and counting votes at such an election and the mode of appointment and duties of returning officers in connection therewith, and any such regulations shall have effect as if they were enacted in this Act."
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
On a point of Order, Mr. Whitley. I would suggest, subject to the approval of the Committee, that on some Amendment, preferably this one, you should allow a wide discussion, as it is obvious that the time before us is not 622 sufficient to enable all the Amendments to be dealt with, and I think it would be in the interests of the Committee that the whole subject should be discussed.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that is so, and I had intended to allow a very wide discussion on this Amendment.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Amendments standing in my name, the general effect of which was stated last night by the Prime Minister, will, if the Committee carry them, make the Clause read very much as follows:—
Then there follow words in regard to the Order in Council prescribing the 623 method of voting and so on. Then you come to the term of office:—
- (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 elected by the four provinces of Ireland as separate constituencies in the number stated in the third part of the First Schedule to this Act.
- (2) The election of senators in these four provinces shall be according to the principle of proportional representation, the electors being the same electors as the electors of Members returned by constituencies in Ireland to serve in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and each elector having one transferable vote.
The term of office of every senator shall be five years, and shall not be affected by a dissolution. The senators at the end of their term of office shall retire altogether and their seats shall be filled by a new election.
Then there is a provision for what is to happen if the place of a senator becomes vacant before the expiration of his term of office. I wish to call the attention of the Committee first of all to the fact that the Amendment applies the principle of nomination by the Lord Lieutenant for a period of five years certain, whereas as the Bill now stands there would have been a retirement in rotation of certain numbers of senators every two years, and that consequently at the termination of two years, four years, and so on, the nomination of these gentlemen would have ceased to be exercised by an Imperial office, and have become vested in the Irish Government; that is to say, the Lord Lieutenant would have appointed them on the advice of his Irish Ministers. The Amendment which I am now moving will secure that for five years certain the senators will remain in office, subject, of course, to the risk of life or retirement. During that period of five years—five difficult years no doubt, five responsible years, five critical years, five years by the end of which many doubts which some people hold will have been solved one way or another—the Senate will be a nominated one. At the expiration of that period all the senators go out together, and the proposition submitted to the Committee by the Government is that the election should then be by the four provinces on the principle of proportional representation. I do not want to inflict upon the Committee at this stage a lecture on proportional representation or the principle of the transferable vote. Many Members of this House have had an opportunity recently of exercising their franchise according to that principle, and the method is one which I know excites a great deal of feeling in its support in all parts of the House; and I am far from saying that there are no persons who object to it very strongly. The object is to secure the right of representation to persons who, although numerically more or less considerable, are not sufficiently numerous in any single constituency to secure a bare majority. The odd man, whose divinity has been called in question 624 in some daring quarters, would not necessarily secure his complete and absolute right. You would be able by this method of the transferable vote to secure to minorities resident in these large provinces a chance of representation.
It may be said that it would not be necessarily a very great chance in a country like Ireland, and there are those who think that, on the whole, the principle of nomination would have been a better means of securing the rights of minorities. But the difficulty felt in many quarters is, by whom should that right of nomination be exercised. To have reserved it for all time to Ministers over here, who, according to the assumption upon which we are proceeding, would year by year become less intimately acquainted with the personality of Irishmen, and therefore less and less qualified to decide who these members of the Senate should be, would, it was felt, have been a very grave and almost impossible situation. Therefore the principle of proportional representation is to be applied, and if it works, a senator returned representing this minority will have the satisfaction of knowing that he is a representative man, chosen by the votes of his fellow subjects, and that he occupies a position somewhat different from those who are purely the nominees of a Government, either the Government of this country or a fortiori the Government in possession of power for the time being in Ireland. The prospects of this minority vote cannot be definitely ascertained. In Ulster you have a population of 1,581,000 of whom the Protestants are 890,000 and the Roman Catholics 690,000. There is, therefore, every reason to believe that out of the fourteen members of the Senate appropriated to Ulster the Protestants, if they choose to vote in that way, will obtain eight, nine, or ten. When you come to the other provinces of Ireland, the proportion of Roman Catholics is very large indeed. Still, the Protestant minority in Leinster is 172,000, as against a Roman Catholic population of 990,000. In the province of Leinster, according to the calculations of devotees of this system, there would be eleven senators, and a very good chance of two or three being representative of the minority. When you come to Munster with a Roman Catholic population of 973,000 odd, against a Protestant population of 61,690, it is calculated that the minority would be represented by one or two. In Connaught, of 625 course, the Roman Catholic population is there overwhelming—588,000 against 22,980. Therefore, in Connaught, if the people persist in voting according to religion, the minority would hardly hope for much representation. That would perhaps be a recommendation of the system to some. Therefore you at all events do secure by this system representation of the minority.
It is very difficult for anybody to assume exactly in what way people will choose to vote in regard to some matters. I always have felt myself that in the Ireland of the future the distinctions would run far more between urban and rural than between Protestant and Catholic. One great advantage of the proportional representation system is that it would give the urban population, which runs some risk of being swamped, a very fair chance of securing its proper measure of representation. Let us look at these figures. They are really striking. Take Ulster. There the rural population is 943,000, as against 632,000 urban—a very considerable urban population. In Leinster you get an urban population of 577,000, as against the rural population of 580,000. There is a pretty equal balance here. In Munster the figures are 345,000 urban, as against 085,000 rural. Still there is a very substantial minority. In Connaught there is 547,000 rural, as against 61,000 urban. The urban population, considerable in all these places, even in Connaught, gives a very considerable urban minority. The total figures are: Urban 1,615,000, rural 2,755,000. I confess I attach very great importance in the future government of Ireland to the representation of urban interests. It may well be a distinction of Irish politics that they should be able to secure full and proper representation of the urban population in the Senate. I think, therefore, that both in regard to the Protestant minority and also in regard to the urban minority that this system of proportional representation, which has occupied the minds of intelligent men for a very long time, which excites antipathy in certain breasts, should be tried—that now is a very good opportunity of giving intelligence a fair chance.
Ireland may pride herself, instead of being in any way ashamed, that these proposals of the Government, this principle of the representation of minorities, should be applied to her. One knows the Latin tag about experiments in corpore vili. I make the quotation myself, but I hope if anybody imitates me, you, Mr. Maclean, 626 or whoever else may be in the Chair, will direct his attention to the rule against vain repetition. I do not myself consider that there is any such corporeal vileness in the matter. On the contrary, I think Ireland in many respects, in a good many ways, and from many points of view, in sheer intelligence, is very much ahead of this country. It has solved many questions with a great degree of rationality which still excite a good deal of, I think, very foolish controversy in this country. Ireland has her own prejudices, her own difficulties. But I think that anybody might well be proud to be connected with Ireland. I do not want much further to occupy the limited time at our disposal, because I am very anxious to hear the opinions of hon. Members on all sides of the House. Having regard to the system which was in our Bill of nomination for a time of the first senators, one-fourth retiring almost immediately, and then vesting the power of nomination in the Irish Government, I think our proposal will be found an interesting, and I trust successful, way in the four great provinces of Ireland of securing the representation of minorities, and that it is one which will, after full consideration and discussion, commend itself to the best judgment of the majority of the House.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
As joint parent of it I should like to say a few words on the Amendment proposed by the Chief Secretary. I was greatly struck yesterday by a remark made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore) when he was speaking of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North-East Cork. He said that the Member for North-East Cork would be scoffed at and derided by the Nationalists who sat behind him. I am sorry to say from a knowledge of Ireland that that is perfectly true. If we on this side of the House who are in favour of proportional representation were to go to North-East Ulster with a view to speaking from an Orange platform, I have no doubt we should be derided and scoffed at at having endeavoured to pull the Government out of a hole by putting the Amendment down on the Paper. I quite admit it. I think it is true. I say at once for myself that I put this Amendment down on the advice of the society for whom I am secretary, in this House; not for Ireland so much as because we are proportional representationists. No matter what the Amendment before us was, if we had a 627 chance of getting in an Amendment on proportional representation we would undoubtedly put it down, and until I am driven out of this House as an amiable lunatic, I shall stick to the cause of proportional representation. Reference has been made as to what proportional representation will give to the Irish minority. We are told that the Irish minority will, should this principle be adopted, only obtain a very few members in the Senate. I quite admit that that will be so. They will not get any very great representation. They would not get anything like half.
The Protestant minority—I am speaking of the minority in the three Southern provinces—recognise that in any Bill in the nature of Home Rule brought into this House and passed without their consent the minoriy of the three provinces are bound to suffer. This minority have three issues in front of them. Three things may happen. First of all, this Bill may be submitted to the electors of Great Britain and it may be rejected. Secondly, this Bill may become law as it passes out of this House. Thirdly, this Bill or another Bill or something of the same nature, may become law with North-East Ulster excluded. These are three issues which the minority in the three Southern provinces have to face. The Irish Proportional Representation Society, for whom I speak this afternoon, has at the present time over 2,000 members drawn from all classes and creeds in Ireland. I have a list of them here, and any Member of the Committee is welcome to see it. But I may say that this list, which I have here, contains the names of 100 bishops and peers, 250 of the clergy of the Protestant denominations, sixty Fellows and other officers of the University, and it also contains the names of men who are presidents of Unionists' clubs in the North of Ireland, and other parts of Ii eland. Therefore it is a strong and representative body of men drawn from all parts and all classes in Ireland.
What is the position of these men'? What is my position who speak for them? We, as Unionists, say this: We say, even supposing you, under this Bill, gave us a Senate of forty, consisting of Irish peers elected for life by the body of their fellow peers—if you were to give us Grattan's Parliament of 300 Protestant Irish landlords, with not a Catholic amongst them—even then we could not work this Bill as it stands at present, either for the good 628 of Ireland, or for the good of the United Kingdom. But we have to recognise on the one hand and we do recognise it—I am going to say something now which may make hon. Members opposite uncomfortable—[Laughter]—supposing you have a Referendum, supposing up and down Ireland you take a vote of every man entitled to vote, whether or not he is in favour of this particular Bill, in the three Southern provinces there would be a majority in favour of this Bill. It would not be a very great majority. It would not be the majority by which Norway separated from Sweden. In this case 364,000 Norwegian males voted for separation from Sweden and only 121 voted against. That was overwhelming. I doubt myself if you appeal to the three southern provinces whether you would get a two-thirds majority in favour of this Bill. I quite admit that you would get a majority. A certain number of Nationalists who condemn this Bill in a great many essential details, who condemn it in practice, would give it a vote on the theory of Home Rule and self-government. That is the position. We wish to throw a small rag of decency over the unashamed naked ness of this Bill. On the Nationalist side there are Members who wish, at any rate, by means of this Amendment, to send this Bill into public life somewhat better equipped and accoutred than at the present time. We are told, of course, that under proportional representation system our representation in the Senate would be very small, and that it would be only something like fourteen out of forty. We are told that if we only had a nominated Senate it would consist entirely of Protestants and upholders of the Protestant faith, and therefore it is pointed out how foolish we are to grasp at the fourteen and lose the forty. I heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary on the Second Reading in favour of a nominated Senate. It was a very perfunctory speech; I congratulate the Chief Secretary on the much better speech he has now delivered in favour of proportional representation. He told us that this nominated Senate would consist of some forty odd political crocks who did not want to go on the hustings and who did not like to go about electioneering, who did not like to go to the factory gates at election times, and who did not like work on Sunday evenings, and that these were the men who were to be formed into a nominated Senate where they could do useful work they otherwise could not do. I 629 do not think much of these forty crocks. They would be forty individuals sitting upstairs in a room passing futile resolutions and calling out with equal futility against what is being done in the Lower House. Occasionally a few of them, who would not be coming up immediately for re-election, might crawl downstairs and perhaps give a vote against some measure in the Lower House; but that action of theirs would depend upon what they considered to be the good will of the archangel who had their re-election in his hands. Of course, the minority have a right to something better than that.
We have in the three southern provinces something like 250,000 voters, and we should undoubtedly gather to ourselves many more. I read, in the course of the Debates of 1893, that it was estimated by a Gentleman on the Conservative Benches that in the three southern provinces we could count on something like 400,000 voters. If we could count on them then we can count on them now. We have a great many with us on the Catholic side who would help us in a case of ordinary emergencies, and we say that these 400,000 in the southern provinces have a right to elect representatives and ought not to depend upon these political crocks. They have a right to send their elected representatives to this Chamber, whether ten or twenty, or whatever the number may be, elected by the people to represent their interest. More than that we have no right to ask; more than that we do not ask. Now the Government have admitted our plan, and I pass it over to them with my blessing. Proportional representation so far as we are concerned is merely removing a form of disability. If the Government made an attack upon us we should have retreated to our own lines without firing a shot, but as a matter of fact it is the Government that have retreated without firing a shot, and we have captured their lines. We accept their Amendment. I may have to vote against my party and vote with the Government on this occasion. If the Chief Secretary is able to carry his Amendment, at any rate he will have done something for the cause of proportional representation.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I was afraid when the Prime Minister began his statement yesterday, that he had capitulated to the wiles of the proportional representation advocates, and it was a source of great gratification to me when he went on and told us that he had done nothing 630 of the kind. I hope we may take it that the statement he made yesterday about proportional representation, so far as the Irish House of Commons is concerned, was a definite and specific statement, and that so far as the Government is concerned it will not for a moment countenance the proposal that the House of Commons in Ireland should be elected on a system of proportional representation. I am opposed to proportional representation, both from the point of view of principle and from that of expediency, but I have always admitted in the various things I have written on the subject, that there is one class of State where proportional representation may with propriety be introduced. When you get a State where the population is not coherent, where you have very sharply marked lines, either racial or religious, as for instance in India, where you get a Mahomedan community on one side and a Hindu community on the other, and where there is very little chance of the Mahomedan voting for the Hindu or the Hindu voting for the Mahomedan, or where, as it is alleged is the case of Ireland to-day, you get a Protestant community on one side and a Catholic community on the other, and where it is alleged there is very little chance of a transference of votes between the two, then I think such a State may be the subject of a proportional representation experiment. But it is a very low—I do not mean morally—form of social organisation when you have such a State, when you have common subjects divided by something that cuts right through their national allegiance. I think that is a low form of national organisation, but where you have that low form, then I think the genius of the proportional representation society might occasionally and for a short time be recognised and drawn upon.
The proposition now is that the Protestant minority in Ireland—and may I say parenthetically that the Protestant minority is not the only minority in Ireland; there are other minorities as well—is in such a condition as that it must be specially dealt with, if not in the House of Commons, at any rate in the Senate. The Senate has been created not merely because the form of British Government is bi-cameral, but for the special purpose of protecting minorities. The Government's first proposition was that this safeguard should be provided in the shape of a nominated Senate. I was very much interested 631 indeed in hearing my lion, and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy), who spoke yesterday, staling that if he were an Irish Protestant he would be more inclined to trust himself to a nominated Senate than to a Senate elected on the principle of proportional representation. I share his opinion. I think, as a matter of fact, that if the minority in Ireland were wise, so far from asking for proportional representation, it would stand by a nominated Senate, because if there is one thing that minorities can do more effectively than another, it is to secure over-representation. It can bring pressure to bear upon the nominating authority, whether that authority be this Parliament or the Irish Executive, either directly or through the Lord Lieutenant to better their position. The minority can appeal to the sympathy and sentiment and sense of fair-play of the people, and the minority that can do that will always get more ample justice done to it than if it had to go to the poll and elect its own representative, even under any form of proportional representation. If I were a Unionist I should think a nominated Senate is preferable, rather than representation under proportional representation.
From the point of view of those of us who sit in this House it is rather an awkward thing to defend what is called a nominated body of any kind. People are so easily taken in by words that they very often forget principles, because when you speak to a Radical or a Liberal or a Labour Member and whisper the very adjective "Nominated," you immediately suggest to him something that is in opposition to all his cherished ideas of representative government. That is quite true; but it is only saying "boo to a goose." Of course, I am only talking very metaphorically. It is not the question merely of a nominated Senate you have to consider; you have to consider the system of government for Ireland. You have two Chambers and a Lord Lieutenant, and the problem you want to face is, if you want to apply your Liberal principles and Labour principles to the legislative machinery of this Bill, is the system of the Government, with an elected Lower House and an elected Upper House and a Lord Lieutenant, more or less democratic than an elected Lower House with a nominated Second Chamber, not nominated by irresponsible authorities, but by those who hare got their authority by reason of their 632 being elected in majorities, either here or in Ireland.
Is that second system more democratic than the other? I say the nominated Senate is far more democratic than an elected Senate under proportional representation, and for this reason: If you have an elected Senate you will have independently elected bodies with concurrently independent authority, though you have not the same principle of electing the two Houses. Moreover, taking proportional representation, your constituency for the Upper Chamber would be a province. What poor man is going to stand for the representation of a province in Ireland? It is putting a premium upon wealth and is putting the representation into the hand of territorial magnates, who can spend enormous sums of money in order to get elected to the Senate in Ireland, and for these reasons a Senate elected on proportional representation is likely to be more undemocratic than a nominated Senate chosen with due regard for all minorities, not merely Protestant minorities, but, for instance, containing Labour Members as well. I hope when this Bill comes into operation there will be Labour representation in the First House. There is not the least doubt that at the end of five years, when we come to voting the Senate, if the constituencies, whether Ulster, Munster, or Connaught are the Divisions, enormous impediments will be put in the way of getting representation of the poorer minorities in Ireland not possessed of a large amount of this world's goods. Therefore I supported a nominated Senate when it was first of all proposed. I have studied very carefully and discussed very carefully with many Members of this House their proposal. I have not changed my mind at all. I think the Government would have been very well advised if they had stuck to this nominated Senate, and not held out the hope of proportional representation being applied. But there is another reason, and this is the one that weighs most of all with me, in expressing my view of the Amendment which the Chief Secretary has just moved. What is the assumption upon which we are going I It is that Ireland has got a somewhat primitive form of social organisation in which two great sections are divided in very nearly watertight compartments, the Catholics on the one side and the Protestants on the other, and the Government say under these circumstances proportional representation is desirable and is a 633 good scheme. The Government, however, say we are not going to start with that. There may be something in the idea if they changed their first position altogether and said, "We have abandoned the nominated Senate and we are going to give proportional representation at the very beginning." What is the optimism which underlies the support of this Bill? It is if Ireland gets Home Rule those watertight compartments are going to be mixed up and changed altogether. Very well, if our optimism is well founded, and I sincerely hope it is, by the end of five years the conditions which alone justify proportional representation being applied to the election of the Senate will have changed altogether in Ireland. The main reason given by the Prime Minister was that there is this special condition of things in Ireland to-day, and therefore it is proposed to protect the minority in this way.
But is the Cabinet wise in anticipating conditions that are likely to exist in Ireland five years from now I If they have decided to abandon the nominated Senate and have made up their mind that they cannot come to this House with any chance of success of representing to the majority of the House that the Senate must be nominated, would they not have been wiser to say, "We will nominate the first Senate, and before five years are over we shall have an opportunity of considering the condition of political feeling in Ireland, and then if you still want these, watertight compartments, and you still have a minority afraid of the majority, then we can adopt proportional representation or any other system of representation or system of election which would seem to meet the circumstances of the case."? I think that would be far the better way. Why tie our hands I Why decide upon a period of five years when everybody knows that the whole political condition of Ireland during the next five years is going to change in directions regarding which we cannot prophesy but only conjecture? Therefore I regret the change and I am bound to express my regret. The one thing that would make it acceptable is if the minority itself accepted it as an extra safeguard. We do not ask whether certain influential members of the minority are in favour of proportional representation or not, because that is another matter and we will fight that in other fields and on other days, but so far as this particular Amendment is 634 concerned, the one thing I want to concentrate upon is that I do not like it, and I regret it. I do not want an elected Senate, or a Second Chamber, but still we are not legislating for ourselves here.
If the Irish minority were to come, and through its leaders and spokesmen in this House were to say, "We do accept this as being a more real and substantial safeguard than a nominated Senate, or a Senate elected in any other way," then I am bound to say I should support them. [An HON. MEMHEB: "Vote for it."] Does the hon. Member assume that if the Irish minority come to us as responsible people we are not going to listen to their representations within the bounds of Home Rule? [An HON. MEMBER: "Labour legislation."] Certainly, just precisely in the same way as we voted the other day with reference to Labour legislation. We voted for Labour legislation in order to keep politics in Ireland real, and when they are real Irish politics are going to divide them into the same divisions as British politics. If the minority want protection, and if they appeal for it to this House, if they say put in proportional representation as the means for the election of this Senate which is being created for our protection, then we are bound to take that into consideration and let them have a precedent if they like. I do not think it will suit them, and I think they are unwise in asking for it, but it is a matter for them to decide whether they are going to reject or accept it, or what attitude they are going to take up. From our point of view an elected Senate is not so good as a nominated Senate, and proportional representation is an exceedingly bad principle for electing any representative authority. That is the situation, and it rests entirely with the minority in Ireland to reject or accept it. I am bound to make this protest, however, and express the regrets and suspicion I have done this afternoon.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The hon. Member for Leicester has made precisely the kind of speech which we invariably expect from him, and he has made it even a little more plainly than usual. He has told us, with a pathos which carried the whole House away, that whenever the minority demands protection and says it will be advantageous to them, he is prepared to listen to their demands, and he says that after having voted against every single one of the guarantees moved from this 635 side of the House. He gave us most conclusive reasons, from his point of view, for voting against the proposals of the Government; but he told us, with a frankness which was really most engaging, that, if we were going to vote with the Government, he would vote with us; but, if we were by any chance going to vote against them, obviously he would vote the other way. There were many other points in the speech of the hon. Member which I find interesting. I am sure, if Lord Courtney or anyone else interested in this scheme had heard his speech, he would have felt most delighted by the strong form of praise which he gave to it. The hon. Member told us that he would condescend, under certain circumstances, to say that this would not be so bad. I am not an authority on this subject, and still less than the Chief Secretary should I like to attempt to deliver a lecture upon it. If he had been asked by the House to do what he said he had saved us from, I think he would have been placed in a most awkward position. I do not profess to be an authority, but when the hon. Member says that proportional representation might apply to a country where there were either two fixed religions or two fixed races which would never mingle, I should have thought, from the little I know, that the exact opposite would have been a reasonable, proposition, that where there are two homogeneous populations proportional representation was useless, and it would be precisely the opposite case where it might be said to be of some value. But apart from that, having decided that owing to the low level of civilisation, Ireland is suitable for this experiment. In spite of that he gave us the strongest reasons why it should not apply to the Electoral Assembly in Ireland—the Lower House. If the state of civilisation is too low in one case it is equally justifiable—
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I do not want to interrupt the general flow of the imagination of the right hon. Gentleman, but I did not say that. I said, "A low state of social organisation."
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am sorry if I unintentionally misquoted the hon. Member. Since Ireland is suited, owing to its low state of social organisation, for this experiment in the Senate House. I do not see why he should have threatened the Government so vehemently if they gave it in the case of the Lower Chamber. The hon. Member made another interesting 636 remark. He said if a nominated Chamber were mentioned to an extreme Radical or to a Labour Member, he would at once say, "Boo to a goose." I do not think that is what would happen. I think what would be said would be: "Here is a position; don't you think perhaps I should be suitable for it?" Then the hon. Member really waxed eloquent that an elected Second Chamber, elected by the same franchise as the other, was the most undemocratic institution you could possibly imagine. We all understand that. The hon. Member means in all questions of this kind precisely the reverse of the idea which was expressed by my right hon. Friend this afternoon. His idea was that a Second Chamber to be of use must have some means of ascertaining when proposed legislation represents the will of the people. The hon. Member wishes it should have no such opportunity, and therefore, naturally, an elected Second Chamber must be undemocratic. I rose really with the desire to say something about the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the House, yesterday, in which he explained to us the new Bill which, so far as the Senate is concerned, he was then introducing. He told us that his mode of proceeding and our criticism of it was an everyday occurrence to which we are all accustomed in the House of Commons. I do not agree which him. I think that the proceedings yesterday were the best example we have got so far of the Rake's Progress, for I cannot believe that even six months ago the right hon. Gentleman himself would have treated the House of Commons with the cynical contempt which he displayed yesterday, and which I am bound to say he is justified in entertaining of the majority which supports him. I have not used those words without, as I think, good cause. I say it was contempt which is almost incredible. What are the facts? He proposes an entirely new constitution for the Senate he is setting up in Ireland, and how does he justify the treatment of the House in connection with it? "Oh," he tells us, "it is a mere matter of machinery." Did anyone in this House ever hear anything like that? In other words, when the right hon. Gentleman talks of the Second Chamber, it is the existence of a Second Chamber he means, and the composition of it does not matter in the least. That is a mere matter of machinery which does not concern anybody.
That is not the only example of the contempt with which he treated the House 637 yesterday. We came down to the House without an idea, so far as I was concerned, and I suppose that applies to most of us, that the Government had in their minds definitely made up a completely new scheme. What happened? We had only two days to discuss the whole question of a Second Chamber in Ireland. The question, not of the Second Chamber in Great Britain, but of one small part of that subject, the relations between the two Houses, occupied us here for more than a Session, but to discuss the whole of it in the case of Ireland we were to have two days, and in connection with these two days he allowed us to spend I think two hours—and if I had not accidentally intervened we might have been going at it till dinner-time—on a discussion which, in face of the new proposals of the Government was utterly irrelevant and utterly wasted. It is quite easy to prove it. When the Amendments were moved they were moved on the assumption that they were alternatives to the proposal in the Bill. They had no other meaning, and, after we had wasted that time, we suddenly discovered that what the Committee ought to have decided was not the relative merits of those Amendments as against the Bill, but the relative merits of them as against something which nobody outside the Government had ever heard of. There is something else to be said about this peculiar method. The right hon. Gentleman told us yesterday that his decision on this question had been arrived at as the result of a deputation at which he was present in June last.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, I said I received a deputation in June. I was much impressed at the time by their arguments, and I promised to give them fuller and further consideration in consultation with my colleagues. Subsequent information reached us from other sources, and it was after the fullest consideration of all those matters we came to the conclusion that this was the best method.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman has corrected my recollection of what he said yesterday, but, even taking the words he has used now, they were to this effect. He will correct me 638 if I am wrong now. He had been present at that deputation, he was deeply impressed with it, and he promised to give it consideration. That is all I want; it is quite enough. That was in June; this is the end of October, four months later! What a long time this impression has taken to come to any result! I have, of course, no secret information as to what happens in the Cabinet, but I am speaking what must be the fact. Here, in a vital question concerning this "Bill for the better government of Ireland," as they call it, the Cabinet made up their minds on the morning on which it had to come up for decision in this House. Is that correct? I do not care whether the right hon. Gentleman says it is or not. It is, and I can prove it. The Attorney-General told us about a week ago that wherever possible the Government would put down Amendments as soon as they knew what they were. They did not put this down till yesterday. Giving the Attorney-General full credit for good faith, which I do, it is not difficult to draw the obvious conclusion that they only knew about it yesterday. That really is one method of dealing with a great subject in a great, Bill. There are only two explanations of it, and I hope the second is the correct one The first is, that the Government have become so indifferent so long as their machine majority lasts, that they do not care what they do; and the other is—and I hope this is the explanation I think it is—that the Government have realised that by no possibility can this Bill pass.
I believe this to be true, though, of course, it will not be accepted as true. There is not a Member on the benches opposite who really wishes the Bill to pass, although he is compelled to say that he does wish it to pass. If that is the explanation, well, we can accept it as something for which we have reason to be thankful. What is the meaning of this sudden change? I am not going to say anything about the merits of proportional representation, but I will set the mind of the Leader of the Labour party at rest before I have done and let him know how he can safely vote. I am not going to say anything about the merits of proportional representation as a system. I do not think I need to do so on this occasion, but I wish to point out to the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, on the grounds on which he justified this change, himself admitted he was giving the minority a smaller protection than he pro- 639 fessed to give them in the Bill as it stood originally. In the Bill as it stood originally the ground he gave for recommending the nominated Chamber was that owing to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland the minority in that way could get something more than the protection they were entitled to in accordance with their numbers. Whatever else may be doubtful about proportional representation, I think this is true: That you cannot expect to get a larger representation than the numbers in the country entitle you to, so that on the right hon. Gentleman's own theory he is giving a lower protection than that which he pretended to give at the lime when he introduced the measure. Look at another aspect of the matter. He tells us that owing to the way the Protestants, if I may call them that, or loyalists were scattered in Ireland—[HON. MEMBFRS: "Oh!"] Well, it is a distinction which we all recognise. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] we all recognise that the political divisions in Ireland—I have said it many times, and everybody knows it to be true—largely run on religious lines. Nobody denies it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
My right hon. Friend spoke earlier in the afternoon of the depths of ignorance that were suddenly revealed. I said that the political divisions in Ireland were largely on religious lines, and the hon. Gentleman interrupts me to say—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO, loyalists."] Did I say "loyalists"? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] It is true equally. The political divisions are largely on religious lines. Assuming these divisions are, as we know they arc, on those lines, the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the loyalists, if I may use the phrase, would in the scattered divisions of Munster and Leinster, obtain some representation under this system, but, he says, "I would not dream of giving it to them in the Lower Chamber." Why? If it is fair to give them this additional protection in the Second Chamber, why in the world is it not fair to give it them in the First Chamber when, as a matter of fact, the two Chambers work together and vote together and the value of the protection is precisely the same in the one assembly as in the other. This Senate is to be a safeguard, we understand. What is the nature of the safeguard? I wish the Committee to realise this in the first place. The Government are always telling us now how 640 anxious they are to meet every legitimate aspiration of the minority for greater security, but here, as everywhere else, this Bill is far more unfair to the minority than the Bill of 1893 or 1886.
Take the Bill of 1893. In that Bill the Lower Chamber was to consist, I think, of 103 members and the Upper Chamber of forty-eight members. There is something else. In that Bill, if I remember rightly, there was some property qualification, and, of course, without saying whether or not that would under any circumstances be an advantage, it would be admitted by anyone who knows Ireland that the people with property who are Catholics, to use the religious distinction again, are more likely to be Unionists. Therefore, from the composition of the Second Chamber it was more of a protection. That, however, is not the point I wish to press upon the Committee. The Lower House was 103 and the Upper House forty-eight. In the Lower House, taking the proportion which applies here, the Unionists would have had something like twenty-five. Deducting that from 103, there would have been a majority of about eighty. Take off the forty-eight, and there would have been a majority against them, if they could have got the whole of the Senate to be on their side, of twenty. What is the fact in this Bill? The Lower House has 164 members, and the Second Chamber is lower than it was in 1893. The result is that if the whole of the Senate were to vote with the Unionists there would still be a majority against them, on the assumption that party divisions remain as they are, of eighty or ninety in the Joint Sitting. Can anyone pretend that could by any possibility be any protection to the minority? It is quite true that the Chief Secretary and the hon. Member who spoke last, and who also must be an incurable optimist, with a full knowledge of what the state of party feeling in Ireland is now—a state without any analogy in any country where similar conditions exist, have assumed that once you pass Home Rule the present political differences will disappear. The thing is ridiculous, and, therefore, as a safeguard I consider it absolutely as of no value whatever, and I shall myself vote against the whole Clause. I think it is of no value. I shall vote against it probably for the same reason as the hon. and learned Member for Waterford wants it. I consider that if this is a subordinate Assembly the analogy of the subordinate legislature in Canada ought to apply, and then you do not need a Second Chamber. 641 I do not want a Second Chamber in the London County Council, and I do not want a Second Chamber, and neither do the people in the provincial Legislatures in Canada. Many of them have been abolished where they originally existed. I have no doubt that the reason why the hon. and learned Member for Waterford wants it is the reason I do not want it—that it is a mark of the sovereignty of the new Parliament.
There is only one thing I should like to say with regard to this question of a Second Chamber or Lower House either as a safeguard. There is one way in which this House can be made a real safeguard. Of course, I do not suggest it would be possible to have it adopted by hon. Members below the Gangway. But we are pointed constantly to the analogy of Quebec and Ontario. I remember that the bon. Gentleman, the senior Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), sent a letter to a Canadian paper, in which he pointed to the fact that Canada in that way had got on perfectly well, and he suggested that was the reason why the same thing should 'happen in Ireland. Everyone in the Committee knows that they get on perfectly well in Canada now, because the differences are recognised, because Quebec, in its local legislature, is independent of Ontario, arid Ontario is independent of Quebec; and the differences, racial and religious, are recognised in the subordinate legislature. The position would be precisely analogous if Ulster were treated like Quebec, and if the rest of Ireland were treated like Ontario. But before the federation of the Canadian provinces Canada was united. Upper and Lower Canada were put together. Upper Canada was largely English and Protestant, Lower Canada and Quebec was largely French and Catholic. The population in Quebec was very much greater than the population of Ontario, but this was the arrangement, that the smaller population should have precisely the same representation in the joint assembly as the larger population had. Will hon. Gentlemen accept that as a safeguard in Ireland?
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am not proposing Home Rule at all. But when hon. Members talk of safeguards let them produce one which has some validity, and then we will believe in the sincerity of the protestations of their desire to treat their fellow countrymen favourably when they 642 get an opportunity. I should like, if I may, though it is a rather difficult subject, to speak on a question raised by my right hon. Friend as to the real functions of a Second Chamber. The right hon. Gentleman, the Prime Minister, told us that it was of use for the purposes of correction, revision and delay. My view of the use of a Second Chamber is that while it is useful for the purposes of correction or revision, it is not in the least necessary for that. It is necessary for an entirely different reason. I have put it in this House before, and I put it now; there is nothing I feel more strongly about. Second Chambers have been regarded as necessary more and more. The Prime Minister quoted from a book of Mr. Bryce, which contained a statement that many of the States of the United States had started with a Single Chamber and had taken on double Chamber government. They are needed for this reason, that the existence of our whole representative system depends more or less on the consent of the people who are governed. It follows that, if the representative system is to continue it must be of such a nature that nobody, neither the House of Commons nor anyone else, can possess power to carry out changes which are altogether out of proportion to the backing which they have in the country; that they can have no power to ride roughshod over the interests and feelings of the minority at any given time. That is the reason why there must be a Second Chamber.
Therefore the whole thing comes to the third reason given by the right hon. Gentleman, and that is the extent of the delay. As he understands these three words, there is absolutely no difference between the Second Chamber and a first-class debating society—one is just as useful as the other. If you were to select to-day thirty of the ablest men in England and give them £400 a year—if they would be content with that—to discuss political questions in which this country is interested, and give them no power to influence the course of the Government, in a month even their ability would not make the newspapers report them, and nobody would pay the smallest attention to anything they did. It is power which alone gives force to a Second Chamber or any other Chamber; therefore I say that, as far as I know, there is no Second Chamber in any great country—I will qualify it to that extent—which has not the power to interpose delay sufficient to make sure that any legislation pro- 643 posed has the real support of the majority of the people behind it. If the Second Chamber cannot do that it is absolutely useless, and we know from experience that nobody, however virtuous, is to be trusted with that absolute power. We see how this virtuous Front Bench has fallen; indeed we know, and common sense and experience tell us, that a body of any kind will act in a matter like this far more unscrupulously than any individual would act if the responsibility were all his own. But the responsibility is divided, and, in that way, they do use to the utmost the powers which are given. I say deliberately, unless there is some means by which the despotic power of the First Chamber can be checked, you do, in the long run, raise up determination to resist, which means the end of representative government in any country.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The right hon. Gentleman rarely rises without discovering that I have committed in the course of the last forty-eight hours some crime hitherto without any precedent in our Parliamentary history; in fact, we shall soon have, I think, if adequate justice is to be done to the subject, a new and extended edition of the Parliamentary Newgate Calendar, to include a large variety of hitherto unprecedented offences for which I and my unfortunate colleagues are responsible. There is one crime which is habitually laid to our charge, by no one more frequently than by the right hon. Gentleman, within the category of which, I observe, he does not place our monstrous conduct on the present occasion, and that is the crime of being subservient to the dictation of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. It is quite a relief to find that any step which the Government have taken, however flagitious, can be accounted for without resorting to the hypothesis that it is done at the dictation of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I hope it will be taken for granted in the future, and not be quite so frequently reiterated. What is the precise offence, the unparalleled offence, of which we have been guilty on this occasion—the last step in what the right hon. Gentleman, with his virtuous regard for the ancient traditions of this House, calls the Rake's Progress? He said that yesterday we announced our in- 644 tention of modifying, not of reconstructing from the bottom, as he suggested, but largely, and, I agree, very substantially, modifying the proposal which we had originally made in regard to the constitution of the Senate, notwithstanding that Amendments to that effect have been on the Paper for months. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not in the name of the Government."] It seemed to come as a surprise that the Government should adopt that course. I agreed we should suspend our proceedings in order that full time should be given to consider it, and I agreed to give extra time in the future for further consideration. That is the whole offence of which we have been guilty, and this is represented as a thing almost unprecedented in Parliamentary annals by a right hon. Gentleman the Leader of a party once led by a very illustrious statesman, Mr. Disraeli. When the right hon. Gentleman talks about the Rake's Progress, has he ever studied the history of the Reform Act of 1866? Does he not know that Mr. Disraeli, who was as jealous of the traditions of this House as any man who ever stood at this box—does he know that Mr. Disraeli, one fine afternoon, came down here, without any notice of any sort or kind, and accepted an Amendment which transformed a restricted extension of the franchise into household suffrage?
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Is it a crime to do a thing when you are in a majority, and does it come to be criminal to do it when you are in a minority? I do not understand the Noble Lord's attitude. I do not deny or question its importance. The right hon. Gentleman says to me, "When and where did you change your mind?" and he has referred to the deputation which did the honour to wait upon me and my right hon. Friend in the month of June. As he has done so, I will quote the exact words that I used to the deputation at the time. After hearing what they had to say, I said:—I should welcome in the frankest and fullest way any amendment, if amendment can be made, in the proposals now before Parliament which will provide practical means by which all sections of Irish opinion can play their proper part in the future of their country. I will go further and say, without pronouncing any opinion of an academic kind upon the merits or demerits of what is called the system of proportional representation, that I think there are very few communities of which we have had experience which offer so favourable a ground for the application of some such system as does Ireland itself.645 I went on to say:—If the predominant opinion of Irishmen shows itself to be in the direction you have suggested to-day, I think we may entertain, not unreasonably, the expectation that there will be due respect shown to it. I am much impressed with the representative character of the deputation and the cogency of its arguments, and I will take care they receive the fullest consideration when the time comes ultimately to decide the course of the Bill.I have carried out that pledge to the letter. I am not the least ashamed of not having come to a precipitate or premature decision on the matter, nor does it appear that anybody has been in the faintest degree embarrassed or inconvenienced. Surely it would be a better expenditure of time—we are constantly being told it is a curtailed time that is left to us under the forms of procedure in these Debates—if, instead of devoting it to these petty points of an irrelevant nature, we expended it in considering the merits of the proposal. I stated yesterday, and I am not going to repeat at length to-day, the grounds upon which the Government have come to the conclusion that on the whole—I admit the arguments are very fairly balanced—that this re-cast proposal offers a better safeguard, a more reasonably adequate safeguard for the minority in Ireland than the original proposal in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman actually says it is a worse proposal in the interests of the minority than that we originally made.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman misunderstood me. He told us on introducing the Bill that under his arrangement the minority would get more than they were entitled to by their numbers. Now they obviously can only get what they are entitled to by their numbers.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the amended proposal does less for the minority than the proposals originally introduced.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
What I thought he said is a mistake. I am very glad. I want for a moment to compare the two. In the Clause as originally framed the original Senate was nominated by the Imperial Government. As I said in introducing the Bill, and as I say now—for that proposal still remains—the object is to secure that in the original Senate the minority shall be adequately represented. The right hon. Gentleman, with his customary affability, said yesterday that that would mean that though they would be nominated osten- 646 sibly by the Imperial Government, they would really be nominated by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—andthey believe it—and that, therefore, when we said that our object in putting in this provision was that some kind of safeguard should be provided for the minority, we were either dishonest or fatuous, or perhaps an accommodation of both. That is the position to which we have now arrived. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues cannot even deviate for a moment into crediting us with ordinary honesty and ordinary intelligence. I assert again, that the object of the Government in the original constitution of the Senate was to have nomination through the Imperial Executive in order to provide for the adequate representation of the minority in Ireland. Under that original proposal the members of the Senate were to go out of office in rotation, I think it was every two years, and the new members who were to take their places were to be nominated, not by the Imperial, but by the Irish Executive. Under the amended proposal we give a fixed term of five years to the original nominees of the Imperial Executive, and any apprehensions—I do not understand them myself—that the minority or their spokesman may have that the Irish Executive would misuse its powers of nomination are to that extent mitigated, if not entirely removed. At the end of eight years, under the Bill as it originally stood, the whole nomination of the Senate will be in the hands of the Irish Executive. I have expressed repeatedly, and have incurred a good deal of obloquy and a certain amount of ridicule for expressing, the opinion that in that matter, as in other matters, the Irish Executive can be trusted.
But I quite agree that in a matter so important as this it is desirable not only to provide actual safeguards, but to provide safeguards which will satisfy all reasonable apprehensions that any members of the minority may entertain as to their future. It appeared to us that on the whole those apprehensions would be most effectually and most reasonably quieted by adopting in regard to the Senate this principle of proportional representation, which, as my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has shown, will secure not only as between Catholics and Protestants in the various provinces in Ireland a representation in the Senate for a minority, but what I believe is quite 647 equally important, as between the urban and rural elements in Ireland; in other words, the different social and industrial interests of which Irish society is made up. It will secure for them also what otherwise they might not possibly get under any other system than proportional representation, an adequate voice in the Second Chamber which is to be brought into being. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why only the Senate?"] As regards the Irish House of Commons, which is the First Chamber, which is directly representative of the people, and which is chosen by relatively small constituencies, we have thought it right to leave them perfectly free—they cannot alter the distribution of seats otherwise than in accordance with the numbers of the population—to mould their own representation as they pleased. If they like, in three years after the passing of this Bill, they can adopt the principal of proportional representation for the Irish House of Commons. Whether they will do it or not I do not know—[Interruption]—and I do not believe anybody there—[pointing to the Opposition]—knows. It appeared to us to be a matter which might well be left to them. The Senate is a different thing. In regard to the Senate, the Irish Parliament has no power to alter its constitution at all. The Senate is the creation of this Bill. Its composition, its constitution, its powers, its numbers, are fixed by this Bill, and cannot be altered by the Trish Parliament. We, therefore, have a direct responsibility for the manner in which the Senate shall not only in the first instance be chosen, but subsequently recruited, and of that responsibility, with all deference to the very powerful arguments of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) I do not think we should be entitled to divest ourselves.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester said to-day that in the course of five years the existing party divisions in Ireland might, he hoped and indeed trusted, entirely disappear and be replaced by a demarcation of a totally different kind. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman opposite appears to take the view that not in five years nor, so far as I can make out, in fifty years are the deep-seated racial and religious animosities of the past, which have created so many artificial divisions in Irish society likely to be in any way mitigated, not to say removed. I do not share that view. I 648 believe that as this system of self-government gets into working order, the healing process of time will obliterate many of the memories of the past, and the forces, the natural forces, which are at work in every self-governing community will of necessity establish lines of division, party division, if you please, lines of very acute party division, totally athwart all the controversies of the historic and buried past. Although I am charged wth being an optimist, I am not quite so sanguine as the hon. Member for Leicester, and I doubt whether that process, although I hope it will begin at once, will have reached final completion and fruition in so short a term as five years. In the closing sentences of his speech the right hon. Gentleman, in discussing the subject of the functions of a Second Chamber, said that the sole ground which he could conjecture for the acceptance of a Second Chamber in this Bill by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and those for whom he speaks was that it was a mark of sovereignty. That is a singularly unhappy phrase. We are reproached with crass, Cimmerian ignorance on this side of the Committee with regard to the working of the Constitutions in various parts of our Empire. Does the right hon. Gentleman who looks upon the Second Chamber as the badge of sovereignty, does he know that there is a Second Chamber in Newfoundland, and that there is a Second Chamber even in the Province of Quebec?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, Sir, it is not. We are having a few lessons in history and geography in the course of these Debates. It may be useful before they proceed further. If you go to the other end of the British Empire, and take Australia, in every one of the Australian States you have got a Second Chamber. I am not speaking of the Commonwealth, but of the constituent States as they were before the Commonwealth, and as they are now, since their incorporation into the Commonwealth. As everyone knows, they all have a Second Chamber. In every one, so far from it being the case that the Second Chamber is a badge of sovereignty, 649 it is almost universally the concomitant of delegated powers throughout the British Empire.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Why did you mention Newfoundland? Newfoundland is a sovereign State. [Interruption.] Deny it in Newfoundland, and see what happens.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I really cannot enter into an elementary lesson on the rudiments of jurisprudence for the Noble Lord. No one would be more surprised than the people of Newfoundland if they were told they were a sovereign State, and I think on reflection the Noble Lord will not say that a Second Chamber is in any sense a badge of sovereignty. It is advocated by ms as part of the new Irish Constitution, because we believe it affords not only—if it discharges its proper functions—a proper vehicle for those duties of revision and delay to which I have so often referred, but in Ireland it is peculiarly necessary for the purpose of giving confidence to the minority and of recruiting into the active service of the State men who might not be able in the process of popular election, otherwise to have a voice in the counsels of their country. It is on these grounds that, we have advocated a Second Chamber for Ireland, and it is because we wish to make the Second Chamber, over which this Parliament is, and will continue to be responsible, as far as possible, a fair and accurate reflection of all sections and shades of Irish opinion, that we ask the House to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
In almost his concluding sentence the right hon. Gentleman brought us back to what is the professed object of the Government in the proposals which they are making, and it is by the test of that profession that I want to examine the value of their proposal. He puts forward this Second Chamber as a security for the minority. He says that is the whole object. What is it that the minority are afraid of? That in the Lower House they will not receive due consideration, but will be at the mercy of a party which they have good grounds for distrusting, both in the long history of their country and in the special events of recent years. In that Lower House, consisting of 160 members, the minority can have at best but forty votes. They feel that that leaves them at the mercy of the majority which they think will exer- 650 cise this power tyrannously, and the Prime Minister and the Government profess that they are anxious to remove those fears and provide a safeguard which shall render them absolutely ridiculous. What is the safeguard which is provided? To safeguard a minority which would only have forty votes out of 160 in the First Chamber, they propose to give them a Second Chamber in which they would only have fourteen votes out of forty. Because, being in a minority of one-fourth only in the Lower Chamber, they might be oppressed, they are to have the protection of being in a minority of one-third only in the Upper Chamber; and when the two Chambers sit together, as they are to do on crucial occasions, their protection will be that if they get the fullest amount of electoral representation that any Member of the Government concedes this scheme can give them, they may secure fifty-four votes out of a Joint Session of 200 Members. And this is one of the main safeguards about which the Prime Minister and his supporters are always talking in the country! And this is the reed upon which they expect the Ulster men to rely, and in face of which they think it would be unreasonable to entertain any further fears! I note with regret that on every occasion when Ulster, and the resistance of Ulster is mentioned, mocking laughter comes from the benches opposite; but the Government, at any rate, have no doubt as to the seriousness of the position in Ulster. They know that they are up against real forces and deep convictions. Do they think that a sham of this kind is going to deceive a single living soul, or would induce any man in Ulster to trust his fate and fortunes to the mercies of a Parliament which he would not otherwise accept? As a protection for the minority this thing is a sham. It is even worse than a sham: it is a mockery; and if there is one thing more dangerous than to refuse to recognise the just aspirations of people in the mood of the Ulster men it is to mock them with hollow shams of this kind.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
The right hon. Gentleman, using an argument with which we have become very familiar during this discussion, charges us on this side with jeering at Ulster. As far as I am concerned, we are not concerned in any way to minimise the opposition and the feelings of Ulster towards the Bill. If we have a grievance, I think it is a much more serious one than that of jeering, and that is the purely negative attitude taken 651 up by Ulster Members throughout this discussion, and which they never vary—an attitude which consists in charging us, or anyone who differs from them, with being traitors to their country, whatever their religion may happen to be. We had a fine example of that yesterday when a Gentleman from Ulster practically said that Lord Dunraven and men of that kidney were either traitors or were hired or bought by the Government. Lord Pirrie, who has done much more for Belfast than all the Members who come from there to the House, is continually taunted with being a person who has sold himself, and with being unfitted to be in the Irish Senate. I am sure there is not a single person in Belfast who would not much sooner have his business managed by Lord Pirrie than by hon. Members from Belfast. That is what we object to, and I think rightly. Instead of having a discussion on merits, they have a continual discussion on prejudice If we have a Senate of forty nominated by the Imperial Government, that is nominated by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) and is no safeguard. If it is nominated by the Irish Executive it is no safeguard. If it is elected it is no safeguard. We are never told what will be a safeguard which will induce Ulster Members to accept the Bill. If they tell us that no proposition is acceptable, what is the use of our endeavouring to devise anything in the nature of a safeguard? There are Unionists from other parts of Ireland who take up the much more reasonable attitude which is represented by the Irish Proportional Representation Society, with Sir Horace Plunkett at its head, and who are ready to discuss reasonable methods and safeguards.
We have had a curious mixture in this Debate of what I might call a change of sides. The Loader of the Labour party made a speech of reactionary Conservatism which has left me absolutely staggered, and the Leader of the Conservative party is rapidly veering round in the direction of a Second Chamber According to the Leader of the Labour party there is nothing so democratic as a nominated Assembly, and the, extraordinary result follows that, if you have an elected Lower Chamber the Prime Minister, with a majority of elected people, tells the Lord Lieutenant what to do. The Lord Lieutenant does what the elected Prime Minister tell him to do and nominates the people the Prime Minister wants him to, 652 and the nominated people are democratic representatives. I have not reached this ultra new system of democratic representation which the Leader of the Labour Party rejoices in, and I for one, and I am sure many on this side, are heartily glad that the Government have given up, at any rate for five years, the vicious system of a nominated Second Chamber. It only exists in two parts of the Empire, in New Zealand and in Canada. In New Zealand it is going to disappear in favour of proportional representation, and in Canada both sides admit that it is a very bad system and a Commission is now sitting to consider how to alter it. What I regret is that the Irish people are to have this system for five years. It. is a great blot on the Bill. It is a great pity they should not start with an elected Second Chamber right, away. If you are going to have an elected Second Chamber, the next question that arises is on what principle is it to be elected. I am rather surprised that in the course of this discussion no reference whatever has been made to the fact that a Royal Commission on electoral systems has been sitting for a long time and recently reported. It came to the conclusion that proportional representation was a very suitable system for a Second Chamber. I go much further. I think it is the only possible rational system for representation altogether. The Leader of the Opposition in one part of his speech was very eloquent about the use and necessity of the Second Chamber safeguard in order to ascertain the will of the people. He laid down the proposition, with which I heartily agree, that no Government has any right to introduce any great change in any country unless it is backed by the majority of the voters in that country, and I should like to show how far that has been the case in the last, say, half a dozen elections.
The report of the Royal Commission states that in J8S6 the Conservative party had an apparent majority of 104. Under proportional representation, that is to say, counting the votes not arbitrarily but in a really scientific manner, the Liberals had a majority of eighteen. That is an extraordinary result, a result so amazing that it took me a long time to really believe it, but apparently it is mathematically correct. In 1895 the Conservative party had an apparent majority of 150. In reality they had a majority of two. In 1900 they had an apparent majority of 134. Again on a proportional representation 653 basis they had a majority of two. According to the Leader of the Opposition they had no right whatever to force the Education Act of 1902 on the country with a majority of two. Where is the safeguard of the Second Chamber in 1895 and 1900? Here is a party which really has a majority of two in the House, which has a subservient Second Chamber forcing on the country all kinds of measures they do not want. The real safeguard to a country is not a Second Chamber, but proportional representation. Where you have proportional representation you do not get what you get now, the casual, fortuitous result of an election in which a large minority get no representation at all. You get the true use of every vote which is given, and the final result you arrive at is, and must be, the actual balance of opinion of the people of the country. That is the only accurate way of ascertaining what you are always talking about—the will of the people. The Leader of the Labour party can get up and say, it is only useful for a country like India, at a moment when it is being rapidly adopted by every civilised nation in the world, and in a short time we shall be the only country that have not got it. The lion. Member says France is a country that is slow and backward in social organisation, but in Germany they are considering it most seriously. Canada has a Commission considering it now. Belgium has had it for a number of years, and the Italian Government has appointed a Commission to consider the question. I was amazed when I heard the Leader of the Opposition say he had not made up his mind, and had not studied the subject.
§ Sir A. MOND
I only hope he has made up his mind the right way. I merely mentioned this point because so many people still cling to the idea that what we are proposing in regard to the Senate will prejudice the Irish House of Commons. They seem to think that proportional representation is a weird wild-cat idea, in which nobody takes any interest except a few cranks. I assure the Committee that is a mistake. It is a matter far beyond that, and it is well worthy of the attention of those who, claim to represent popular opinion in the country. I do think it is now time for the leaders of all parties to make up their minds in regard to this matter. We are glad that a breach has now been made in the wall of prejudice en the subject. We are very glad that the 654 Government have made a small advance so far as Irish proportional representation is concerned. I attach infinitely greater importance to this method of election in relation to the House of Commons than as to the Second Chamber, and I am sorry the Government have not seen their way to make that concession. It seems to me to be the only way in which you can endeavour, so far as it can be done by votes, to give the minority in the South and West of Ireland a chance of having representatives in both Chambers. I would like to quote what is said by the Royal Commission in regard to the result where the system exists under similar circumstances in Belgium. There you have also the unfortunate divisions of religion and race which you have in Ireland. The Report says:—A condition of the second kind, which gives proportional representation peculiar advantages, is n mixture of races or religions in a country. For the power which the system confers on minorities removes the dangers of a coincidence of political and racial or religions boundaries. We were informed that in Belgium, where the Catholic party was formerly practically identified with the Flemish-speaking districts and the Liberal party with the Walloon country, the introduction of Flemish Liberal and Walloon Catholic members, which has been rendered possible by proportional representation, has done much to mitigate the bitterness of racial and religious differences.If you take Ireland, you would get exactly the same thing. Under that system the Catholics of Lister would have proportional representation, while the Protestants in the South and West of Ireland would also get representation. Its adoption would tend to break down, in some degree, the religious difficulty which now exists, and I am sure you would be rendering an enormous service to the future of Ireland. This is the only way I can think of, or that anybody has thought of, which might bring about a beginning of the final solution of this matter. I do not agree with the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) that in the election either of the Senate or of the other Chamber proportional representation would be in any way undemocratic. I do not agree with him in thinking that working men under that system would not get representation. It seems to me that the hon. Member entirely misunderstands what proportional representation is. Any candidate who is sufficiently well known and who can obtain a relatively small proportion of votes can be elected. Suppose Belfast had seven members under the proportional representation system, one of these would certainly be a Labour man. He would have no difficulty in getting the necessary quota in order to be elected. I 655 may point out that the chairman of the Belfast Trades Council is as alive to this point as to any other. He is one of the leading members of the Proportional Representation Society in Ireland, and he was a member of the deputation who came to see the Prime Minister and strongly pressed that the Government should accept this system. Notwithstanding what has been said by the hon. Member for Leicester, I hope the Members of the Labour party will consider this matter in their own light and on a broader scale.
The members of organised labour in Belfast are in favour of the proposal. I am quite sure that the question of expense in these large areas would not be such as to interfere with the election of a Labour member of the Senate if he wants to go there, but why he should want to go I do not know. I do not know why he should wish to go there even if nominated. I should have thought that a Labour member would wish to be elected and (not nominated—not put in by the favour of some Lord Lieutenant in Ireland or some Prime Minister here. I think nomination in such a case is quite alien to all that democratic spirit which we find in the Labour party. It has been said that Labour men would not be nominated. I do not imagine that those who are pressing this point on the House would say on Labour platforms outside that they have any desire for nomination by the Lord Lieutenant, the Prime Minister, or anybody else. If you do not want a Second Chamber at all, you may come to the conclusion that you should have a nominated Second Chamber. But if you want a Second Chamber to have some power you certainly want to have it elected. Ten elected men have more power in public opinion than a hundred nominated by I do not care who. They would have more influence both in Ireland and in this country than forty or fifty gentlemen gathered together by the Lord Lieutenant.
The Italian Senate is nominated, and I remember having a conversation with one of the leading members of that body. He said, "We are absolutely people of no importance. Some of us are dukes, men of science, and men of literature, but nobody takes any notice of us because we are merely nominated and represent nobody." Under a system of proportional representation in Ireland, I believe it would be possible to construct a Second Chamber without much difficulty in which Unionist 656 opinion in Ireland would have considerably more representation than is proposed now. My proposal would run on these lines: Ulster will now have fourteen representatives out of forty. I would double the number and give Ulster twenty-eight, and I would slightly increase the others. This would slightly increase the number of the Senate by increasing the number from that part of Ireland where Unionist opinion is strongest. You would be able without much trouble to achieve some of what the Leader of the Opposition said had been achieved when he talked about Ontario. You would be able to arrive at a Senate of sixty or sixty-five, and I think you would, at any rate, obtain half, or more than half of the elected members from the Unionist party. I think it would be a pity to put "forty" in the Bill. I am anxious, and I am sure many Members of the Committee are sincerely anxious, to do our best to allay any legitimate apprehension on the part of the minority in Ireland. Do not suppose that because we do not take much part in these Debates, feeling that the short time available for discussion should be left to Members of the Opposition, that we take no interest in the Bill. We do take an interest in the Bill, and we shall be glad if any method can be found in the framework now being established of giving the Unionists of Ireland much better protection than they could have under a nominated Senate which would never have any real authority among the Irish people.
I am very grateful to the hon. Member opposite (Sir A. Mond) for saying something about the proposal we are now debating, though I am afraid I shall not be able to agree entirely with what he said. I think we may be allowed to congratulate the Proportional Representation Society on having secured the adoption of their system in some degree by the Government. It has been adopted somewhat hastily, I think, but it is a great victory for the society. I do not wish the Committee to Debate the suggestion now before it without some information as to the nature of proportional representation, and as to the objections which are urged against the system. It is a very complicated system, and I think I can say without offence that it is not very well understood by this House. I may be pardoned if for a moment or two I explain how it differs from the present system. There are two words used in connection with proportional representation which ought to be clearly 657 understood. There is the "alternative" vote and the "transferable" vote. The "alternative" vote is employed for the present system which is really, with one or two exceptions, constituencies returning one member apiece, and to get over the difficulty of a three-cornered fight, it has been suggested that the "alternative" vote should be introduced. On the other hand, the term "transferable" vote is always used in connection with proportional representation, the basis of which is multi-membered constituencies, that is, constituencies returning three, five, seven, or ten members as the case may be. Once the distinction is appreciated that the "transferable" vote only refers to multi-membered constituencies, then the whole question becomes much clearer, and a good deal of confusion will be saved.
The objection most commonly urged against this system is that it is too complicated and nobody understands it, or could be expected to understand it. Its complication is a very small objection indeed. It does not matter a bit whether people understand it or not. All the voter has to do is to mark the paper, which he is perfectly capable of doing, with the figures 1, 2, 3 and so on according to his individual preference. The ballot paper is taken charge of by experts who, although possibly the voters would not understand what they were doing, can be relied upon fairly and correctly to work out the result. If it is objected that the elector would not understand how the result would be arrived at, a similar objection could be urged against anybody on a racecourse betting on the pari mutual system, because something went on which the people outside a box did not see; that they did not know what happened, but got paid something different from what they expected. They might have got a ten to one chance or a two to one; it does not matter. They are prepared to accept what goes on behind the scenes as work correctly done by experts, and it does not matter what the arrangement is provided they get something when the money is paid. It is the same in this case. Those who vote must depend on the experts, who are easily trained. I myself last summer went down practically to Land's End, where they were having an election, and helped to sort out the papers. The sorting part is perfectly simple, so that the objection commonly urged against this idea is a very minor objection and can be brushed aside altogether. But there are 658 some very grave objections which, strange to say, do not appear on the face of it. The hon. Gentleman has said that this system would improve the representation of this House, and would do away with a great deal of the election expense. In saying this he is under a misapprehension. It would do the reverse of those things, though that does not appear on the surface.
There are three main objections to this system. There are the general objections, the objection from the voter's point of view, and, the least important perhaps, the objections from the candidate's point of view. Taking the general objections, it would give enormous power to electioneering machinery and give an increased chance of manipulation on account of the lack of interest that would be taken in these elections. Instead of making elections purer, cheaper, and smoother, it would have the opposite effect. It would largely kill interest in the election. It would increase the power of money, and all that money means in electioneering matters. Take the first of these points. Voters will take a certain amount of interest when two men are fighting each other. The personal element comes in, and it is folly to expect that you can eliminate the personal clement either in this House or in anything that you do in this world without loss of interest. But this system would eliminate that clement in elections. The Royal Commission which the hon. Member quoted says something about proportional representation and its working which support my first proposition, that it would destroy interest in elections. I agree that it is very difficult to say what the effect would be, because on the six different occasions on which this system has been tried it has produced entirely different results in every country. Sometimes it has eliminated small groups and sometimes increased them. Nobody can argue from the small instance which we have got what really the effect would be, but the Committee may hear what the Royal Commission say in reference to the case of Portugal. They say that in Portugal, where the method has been in force since 1901 on a considerable scale, some constituencies returning as many as seven or eight Members, it has apparently failed to give satisfaction; that the electors are said in many districts to take less interest than they did in the contest for one seat, and the return to the election of single Members is therefore anticipated. May I quote another authority which will be accepted 659 by everybody in this House, from a book by Mr. Bryce on South America, where he has been travelling. Referring to Chili, he says:—Chili is also the South American State which takes so enlightened an interest in its electoral machinery as to have devised and applied the system of proportional representation, winch seems to give satisfaction and certainly deserves the study of scientific students in other countries.This is absolutely impartial. Mr. Bryce never knew that it was going to be quoted in this Debate when he wrote it, and it proves what I say to the hilt. He says:—I saw an election proceeding at Santiago; the result was foreknown because there had been an arrangement between liberal sections which ensured the victory of the candidate they had agreed upon, so there was little excitement; everything seemed to work smoothly.In fact, as I am trying to prove to the Committee, under this complicated bit of machinery which is going to improve everything, and is understood by nobody, interest in the elections is reduced, and untold power is given to the caucus, and the same result may be anticipated as happened at Santiago, where the result was foreknown on account of the arrangements made. Under this complicated system I believe that it would be perfectly possible for anybody who will give the time to elaborate the electoral machinery, and will spend the money, practically to ensure anything he likes. That has been proved apparently in Chili and in Portugal. I pass to the next objection, that it will increase the power of money, and all that money can do. It is proposed to enlarge the areas, and in this connection we must not only speak of towns like Manchester or Belfast, but there are large country districts in which it is proposed to introduce this system, and of course it is proposed to introduce it in the provinces of Ireland. At present in a single-Member constituency there may be two or three candidates who are all fairly well known, but it is intended under this Rill enormously to increase the electoral area so that a man to be elected would have to be well known over a very large district. He might be a very important person, and might be well known without any trouble at all. There are quite a number of hon. Members who would not have any difficulty. They would go straight in. Their public record is so well known, and possibly ten per cent, of hon. Members would be in that happy position. But there are 600 of us who are not known at all, and would have to make ourselves known. They would have to do one of two things. They would have to spend 660 an enormous amount of money in getting other people to make them known, or go about and get themselves known.
I think an hon. Member to-night said that Labour Members would have a good chance under this system, but what possible chance would a Labour man have, say, in Devonshire unless he was extremely well-known, or unless he had two or three motor-cars to get about in? The mistake this House always makes is we all imagine that everybody is as clever and as politically educated as we are ourselves, and that they are always thinking about politics. It is about once in live years that they think about politics, and although they may happen to know two candidates in a constituency, do you suppose—when there are about ten vacancies and that you have ten Tories, ten Liberals, ten Socialists, and perhaps ten Independents, as you might have, if we are all going to get our expenses paid, and if you tell the elector to put these forty Gentlemen in the order of their relative political value—he could do it? You might as well take a page out of the London directory and hand it to him. You will have to have an election agent and a man pushing your interests in every Division in the whole of the area. There is no escape. An hon. Member said the other night he should not do that. Well, then, I should, and I would beat him. It is the law of competition, and there is no getting away from it. If A went all over the country trying to get votes, B would have to do it or get left. You have to compete for votes, just as you have to compete in this House or anywhere else, and you would be irresistible if the other candidate did not do the same. Just as it is hard enough now to get in in small constituencies, it would be ten times as hard to get in when it is ten times as big a constituency, and the man who had the most money to spend, whether it was to buy a newspaper to push himself or to work up a political organisation, would likely be the winner. He would have to do it, or see himself being pushed out by the others.
I next, come to the question of how it would affect the voter, and then there is the question of how it would affect the candidate, and though it would probably kill some of us, I think that the candidate is the least important of all. There was an election the other day in which we were all invited to take part; and though I cannot support the system, it is very attractive and fascinating even 661 with its complications, and very interesting mathematically, because it is a most accurate system of bringing out exactly how the votes were cast. We were asked to vote in a certain election, and I am disappointed that more interest was not taken in that contest. The newspapers and hon. Members around me were active in pressing us to vote, but only 269 out of the total of this House were returned. We who took part in that election are interested in politics, and therefore every voter knew for whom to vote. We had an interesting list containing the names of those who are prominent in politics, and I submit that in such an election as that, on the proportional system, it should have attracted everybody to record their vote. If I may, I would congratulate a gentleman whom I have often been under the necessity of lighting in the Press and elsewhere, the honorary secretary of the Proportional Representation Society. The election to which I refer was a very cleverly carried cut example of utilising all the factors which would be thought most useful, such as the presence of big names in politics. But the election, as I have stated, had a very peculiar result. May I put this to hon. Members I Supposing, instead of using the name of Mr. Asquith, and other well known names, you had put before the voters, the Members of this House, the names of some thirty other members. I have here "Vacher's Parliamentary Companion," and I take the letter E, reading certain of the names on this page. I ask hon. Members to see how many of those names they could place preferentially.
There are only 670 Members of this House, who meet for nine, ten, or eleven months in the year, and excepting you, Mr. Whitley, and Mr. Speaker, I submit that hon. Members would not be able to put the names in proper Parliamentary perspective—Esnionde, Essex, Esslemont, Evans, Eyres-Monsell, Faber, Falconer. Falle, Fell, Fenwick, Finlay, Fisher, and others, making some twenty-one names, and if I added ten others to finish the page I. believe I should leave hon. Members just as much mystified. What would be the use of putting these twenty-one names before the constituents say of Norfolk or Devon. Hon. Members would have had to go and ask the Whips to see which way they should vote. It could not be done otherwise. The proportional representation system is beautiful, mathematically correct, and absolutely right; but, at the same time, 662 when you introduce such a system, you should educate politically all the electors. If you could make them realise exactly who are the people put before them—I do not speak of one or two of the bigger figures in politics—there would be something in this system. But that is not so, and you are putting into the hands of an uninstructed electorate a most complicated machinery which they could not use, and in respect of which they would have to go to the political or organising agents to tell them how to vote.
I do not see how that is going to help the electors, especially the electors in Ireland, where there are numbers of illiterate voters, who probably know very little about the politics of the candidates put before them. One in nine of the electors in Ireland is illiterate, and I submit, therefore, that rather than start such an experiment as this in Ireland, where this enormous difficulty is to be encountered, let it be tried in the City of London, or in whatever area may be considered the most educated in the country, and see how it works there. The adoption of the proportional system of representation would involve that almost every voter would seek advice from some organisation. There would be instances where the voter was not able to write down "one," "two," "three," "four," and would not know for whom to vote. I doubt very much whether Ireland should be the first place in which to start this very big experiment. Then, my third point is as to the candidate. The idea is that under this proportional system the candidate would not have to worry about getting votes. All that under this system is to go. Of course, in a connt3r the elector would know nothing at all about the different candidates, except, perhaps, one or two of the bigger men. But there are not enough big men to go round, and the result would be that the electors would hardly know a single name. A candidate, therefore, would have to make himself known all round the county. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Then you would have an elector vote for people of whom he does not even know the names.
An elector might say of one of the candidates, "I saw that man; I like the look of him; I think he is the sort of man that would do; I had a talk with him and he seemed to know what he was speaking about. I must judge by that, for I have never seen any of the others." I think that is the sort of man who would get the 663 preference. The more he went about, the more he showed himself and got into touch with the electors, the more chance he would have of being, if not the first, at all events the second, third, or fourth on the list, and be returned. Therefore candidates would be driven to canvass the whole county, and instead of having to deal with one constituency they would have to visit the whole of the constituencies in the area. The candidate who did not do it would be beaten by the man who did. The result would be that instead of getting highly educated men like Lord Morley, who do not like the strife of an election, we should have a type of men who would get their votes by going round and round the constituencies, utilising every resource of health, wealth, energy, perseverance, and money — especially money—in order to secure election.
I really think that this system, if I may say so, has been rather light-heartedly adopted by the Government, and I do not think that it ought to be accepted or swallowed wholly without a certain amount of debate upon it. I should have liked to hear more debate upon the details of this subject, and I should have been pleased to hear the view of the right hon. Gentleman himself. I have stated how this system lends itself from what takes place in Chili and Santiago, where they manipulate matters just as they like. These are the dangers. I should have liked, if the Committee had been allowed more time, to debate before actually agreeing to the proposal of the Government, because good as the system of proportional representation is, and mathematically accurate though it may be, at the same time I believe you will have to raise the general political interest and the general political education of the country before it can be usefully employed. That is why, after some study of the subject, I cast my vote against the Amendment.
§ Mr. HOLT
On this Amendment, it seems to me, that we have to consider two somewhat different questions — first, whether we desire a nominated or elected Senate; and, second, if the Senate is to be elected, whether proportional representation is the best method of election. First of all, as to the alternative of a nominated or an elected Senate. It is pretty universally admitted that a nominated Senate, if it is to last, must ultimately be nominated entirely by the advice of the Irish Government. In other words, the nomi- 664 nated Senate in Ireland would in course of time become the nominee of the majority in Ireland, and would not in any sense be a protection to the minority. That is a real objection to the nominated Senate. I submit that a Senate which was nominated would not have the influence with the Irish people which would be exercised by a Senate which was directly representative of the people of Ireland. I entirely agree with the view of the hon. Member for Enfield, who spoke with very great knowledge of the South of Ireland, and the conditions under which live the Protestant minority in that part of the country.
If we are to have an elective Senate, I think the Committee will come to the conclusion that the method of proportional representation is the only one which stands a reasonable chance of giving to the minority of Ireland a fair share in the representation of the country. It is quite certain that if you were to have a Senate in Ireland elected on the basis of single-member constituencies, the result would be that in the Senate you would have no representation whatever except the representation of a very large majority and a representation of a small minority in the North of Ireland. That is exactly the sort of Senate which it seems to me to be most undesirable to set up. What we want is that the minority, both in the Nationalist portion of Ireland and the minority in the Unionist portion of Ireland, should have an opportunity of having their own spokesman in the Senate. It seems to me that is really essential. Moreover, it is surely obvious that if an arrangement of that sort is made, there will be more opportunity for moderate opinion in Ireland making itself felt. Many of us hope and believe that there are springing up in Ireland parties which are not wholly represented at present by either the Unionists or the Nationalist party, but who occupy a middle position.
Many who advocate proportional representation believe that it would be the means of affording these independent sections in different parts of Ireland an opportunity to give weight to their opinion in the counsels of the nation. I know of no case in which it is more important that the minority should have an opportunity of making themselves heard than this case to which I now refer. I can assure hon. Members from Ulster that many of us who, like myself, are strongly convinced Home Rulers, are at the same time the friends 665 of Ulster. I do business with many Ulster men, and I greatly sympathise with the people of Ulster. And certainly if there was any suspicion of being willing to meet us half-way on the part of Ulster, I am quite certain they would find a very considerable response from this side of the House. The hon. Member who spoke last told us that this system was mathematically correct. It is something, at any rate, to have the admission that the plan you propose is theoretically correct, and after all if a thing is theoretically correct it is difficult to see how it is practically wrong. It can only be practically wrong if you come to the conclusion that the persons who are going to administer the system are hopelessly incompetent, and in that case it is better to apply yourselves to the persons rather than to the system. The hon. Member said that the system had been tried in Portugal with unsatisfactory results. I know of nothing in Portugal except the manufacture of port wine that is tried without unsatisfactory results. There is no known system that has been found satisfactory in that rather peculiarly constituted country.
We were also told that this system is going to hand over immense power to the caucus. It is a very curious thing that the caucus managers up and down the country are dead against it. Whatever opinion you may find as regards the merits of proportional representation, and you will find Liberals in favour of it and against it and Conservatives in favour of it and against it, there is one section which is dead against it everywhere and that is the people who manage the caucuses, whether Liberal or Tory. I think you may take it for certain that a system which is objectionable to the caucus is not one which is going to increase its power, but that that shows rather the reverse. I should have thought their power would be very much increased by having a purely nominated Senate. We are told also that proportional representation is going to increase the expense of election. I have had certain experience of contested elections. I have fought five contested elections, and I think I know something about the method of fighting an election. What is the principal cost, and the real cost of expense in fighting an election? It is in polling the last two or three hundred people who are going to turn the majority from one side to the other. Going about the county addressing public meetings is not an expensive thing. The expense is in screwing 666 up to the poll the last four or five hundred people. All the money goes in getting them in. Some people go in for getting them in legitimately, and there are no doubt cases of getting them in illegitimately. It is not in bringing up your regular convinced supporters that the expense of an election comes in, but in bringing in those people who have no particular minds of their own but who must be brought in if you are going to attain success. I do not believe myself that campaigning in a large constituency, where you could get the support of settled, convinced opinion, would be anything like as expensive as a small constituency, where you have got to get the support of a trifling number of obstinate people.
There is very little doubt that proportional representation, by diminishing the power of the balancing elector, would conduce powerfully to the better conduct and greater purity of electioneering. The hon. Member suggested that a small constituency was preferable to a large constituency because it enabled the candidates to become so much better known personally to his constituency. That is a very unsound view to take. It means that the candidate who makes himself pleasantly known by shaking hands and who subscribes to the football clubs and opens plenty of bazaars and performs small operations which are of no great benefit to any- of us, becomes extremely popular and gets elected. I would much rather see a larger constituency in which it would be impossible for the candidate to get elected by any of those degrading dodges, and in which he would have to commend himself by his political principles to the electorate. I believe it would be very much better that the candidate's chance of success should depend on the nature of his political opinions rather than on his ability to make himself popular by hobnobbing with individual persons amongst his constituents. I believe the larger the constituency the more security of tenure there will be, and by-proportional representation a man would have more security of tenure than any Member of this House has, or any Member of any House has. I think that would be bound to make him more independent as regards pressure. Certainly the more you can make a Member of any legislative body certain to get the support of a definite mass of public opinion, the more independent he will be of pressure and of the party managers. All that is a step in the right direction. I think it is especially desirable in any Second Chamber 667 under any circumstances, and indeed in the First Chamber, that those who compose it should be as independent as possible, and, with a definite mass of public opinion behind them, that they should have perfect freedom of expression. They would thus feel right through that they could fearlessly advocate and vote for what they thought right. For those reasons, amongst many others, I believe that proportional representation is a thoroughly sound plan of electing a legislative body. Having regard to the special circumstances of Ireland, I believe that the Government are absolutely right in discarding a nominated Senate and coming down in favour of an elected Senate instead, thus adopting the only method of election which gives the minority the certainty of getting the representation to which they are entitled.
I followed the Debate all through, and T could not help thinking of the Prime Minister, who broke into the continuity of his gaging Resolution yesterday in order to tabulate a new plan for our study to-day. What must he have thought when he heard the criticism of our Front Bench this afternoon! Here was the principal Bill of the Radical party and the principal Bill of this whole long tedious Session, and with the care which I presume he and his advisers have given it, right in the middle and affecting the great principle of one of two Houses which in future are supposed to govern Ireland, their minds were so imperfectly made up that they have to throw over the whole of their preconceived and carefully thought-out scheme and launch after a few hours' notice this new idea, this new suggestion, which is to be a safeguard for the loyalist minority in Ireland. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Holt) placed his hand on the crux of the whole matter when he said that if any Member representing the Ulster loyalists would only come half way to meet hon. Members opposite on the question of Home Rule he would find a large amount of support on the Liberal Benches. Like many who have gone before him, the hon. Member propounded an impossible proposition. He asked us to do what no human being can do. That is exactly the rock on which the Government are going to be wrecked in connection with this question of Home Rule. There is no half-way house between the loyalists of Ireland and those who pride themselves on their disloyalty to every- 668 thing that is British and to British rule. You must serve either God or mammon: there is no half-way house. There is no-compromise between backing up the British House of Commons, the British Constitution, and the British flag, and acting on the principle which the Nationalist party have adopted, not today or yesterday, but all through their political career, namely, that of embarrassing this country and the Empire and then putting forward their claims and endeavouring to make something out of it. That is a hard and fast fact which no Radical or Unionist can get over. The hon. Member went on to talk about the protection of minorities. Why is it necessary to talk about the protection of minorities at all? We have had in this House for years past a large homogeneous mass of eighty Members hanging together on all questions affecting Ireland. They have been a minority. Have they suffered? Have any cruel wrongs been perpetrated upon them qua minority? What protection has this House for such a minority?
The whole thing is absurd. They have been the spoilt child of the House of Commons. It is quite unnecessary to speak in that sympathetic way about the protection of minorities. It can be put on one side as a useless discussion. The only reason why I and any of my colleagues have ever attempted to intervene in these Debates is simply and solely to show the country through the Press the absolute absurdity of the propositions thrown out by the Government. Take what happened yesterday and to-day. The Chief Secretary himself said, "I should prefer to see an overwhelming proportion of Unionist opinion in the Senate rather than an even balance. "Those were his words yesterday. What are his words to-day?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I said that for five years you would get a nominated Senate, in which there would be an overwhelming majority.
What will happen after five years? What will happen five days or five minutes after your Home Rule Bill passes? The right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that he would prefer an overwhelming proportion of Unionist opinion in the Senate. To-day he offers us about fourteen out of forty members.
That shows in a most pathetic way the utter absurdity of these 669 so-called safeguards for the loyalist minority in Ireland. Assuming you have a Senate elected by the methods of proportional representation let me picture what would happen. You take the widest possible area, the whole province, and forty members are to be elected between the four provinces. My hon. and gallant Friend this afternoon made one of the most able speeches I have ever heard on the purely mechanical working out of this system of proportional representation: A certain number of candidates will come forward. You will have, I suppose, the official Nationalist party and the party represented by the hon. Member for Cork, nominating a certain number of their supporters. I do not wish to hurt anybody's feelings, but you will have names constantly repeating themselves—O'Brien's, O'Shaughnessy's, and other names which are household words, will be duplicated over and over again, as anyone who has had anything to do with old age pensions can tell you. Picture the chaos and confusion! You will have Patrick O'Brien, William O'Brien, and all the other O'Briens that you can name. Of course I am not referring to the hon. Member for Cork; you may take any other name you please. When it came to a question of voting the elector would have to put his figure 1 opposite John O'Brien, or Samuel O'Brien, if there are any Samuel O'Briens, or whatever other member of the family he chose. Is it not reducing the whole thing to a farce to apply this system first of all to Ireland of all places in the world? I have here the statistics as to illiteracy in Ireland. It took something like thirteen closely typed columns to explain this system to the Royal Commission which sat in 1009. Imagine its being applied in the illiterate parts of Ireland. Take, for the sake of argument, Munster, where you have in the county of Kerry 11.9 per cent. of illiterates. If you take county Donegal it has 20.6—
Yes, that is in Ulster. We all know very well that the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Donegal (Mr. Swift MacNeill) is a great authority upon constitutional history and so forth. He represents all these illiterates. Imagine, first of all, in any of these country districts, wide areas, bog-sides, holes and valleys, in which are scattered hamlets and small houses, having to begin to explain this most complicated system, which takes 670 thirteen closely-printed columns to explain to the Royal Commission! You would have to explain all that to these poor-people throughout the county before they began to understand how to record their votes. Then you have to bear in mind that illiteracy in Ireland means more at election times than not being able to read or write, because illiteracy there, I am very sorry to say, to a large extent depends on the amount of intimidation which is exercised about the polling booth. In many instances the local people, in order to save themselves from falling into bad odour with the United Irish League or the Ancient Order of Hibernians, affect illiteracy so that it may be recorded officially by a mark opposite their names that they voted illiterate. This avoids intimidation afterwards. There is in this another element not only of pure illiteracy but of illiterate voting due to intimidation.
If any hon. Members doubt for a moment the extraordinary number of cases—and sad cases—just let him—I am not going to weary the Committee—get a copy of the Report of the Louth Election Petition. I will read three or four short sentences from it to show how under this proportional representation you would have exaggerated even probably three or four times further this matter. You would have to spare the minority coming forward to vote because the loyalist minority in the scattered parts, if they came forward to vote, the class of treatment to which. I am about to refer would be meted out to them. Dr. Lavery, a local doctor, was shouted out as "Crippen," "Carey." "Tim Healy," "a traitor," and "an Orangeman." He was taken outside and badly beaten. There was another person who was returning from voting who was savagely assaulted with stones, and the police at that place, twelve in number, were unable to protect this single man. A little lower down ft tells about a Mr. Byrne, a large fanner who, after voting, was pulled off his cart, kicked and beaten by the mob in such a way that he had to stay a fortnight in the house. The only reason for it was that he had shaken hands with Mr. Healy. That sort of thing would go on all round if you have proportional representation. [Laughter.] Of course, hon. Members take all this as a joke. It is to them a sort of "Alice in Wonderland." They do not recognise the seriousness of the matter so far as we are concerned. Hon. Members should buy the volume from which I have just quoted, or 671 get it out of the Library, and see the sort of thing that goes on. They do not understand the reality of the situation. They are dwelling in the clouds; living in some sort of an atmosphere that does not exist at all. You need to go to Ireland and to study it and to read this sort of volume before you can appreciate the sort of wrong you propose to do. Home rule would be bad enough in any instance, but when it is thrust upon the country by ignorant people who laugh at the serious cases that crop up, and who cannot get down to the bedrock of what we have to deal with, then, I say, not only will wrong be done, but a great crime will be committed.
To return to what would happen under proportional representation where you have a large majority. Would anybody venture to come forward against the will and wishes of the Nationalist organizations? Where you find this class of intimidation creeping in, you simply get back again to the old hard and fast cleavage. You cannot get rid of it, no matter what you try to do. It was dying away, and if you had left us alone it would have died a natural death. If you had not come forward and irritated these religious, social, and other divisions which only exist in Ireland, it would have gone. But we have to face the situation. We must therefore face it honestly, and put before the House where the Prime Minister and the other Ministers are leading us. What I want to point out is that you have this large electorate of a whole province all run by the caucus. You would simply have the name sent down from the centre to the various localities saying, "This is the official nominee, "and you will get into the American system. There never would be any chance at all of an independent person coming forward, because the moment he stepped into the ring he would have meted out to him the class of treatment that I have read out about. These cases are not isolated. You can go to Cork and find the same thing there. If you are going to have an elected Senate, why not elect it in the way you elect the Members of this House, and the way you propose to elect the Members of the other House? You might as well have a Senate for Yorkshire, or for Scotland, or for the City of London. On the face of it, the thing is simply absurd. But if you insist upon having it, you certainly ought to have a democratically elected Senate, elected 672 under some ordinary system such as people readily understand. If you have a different area, if you have two or three constituencies grouped together, at all events the people would know that the men are standing, in the one case as a Nationalist and in the other as a Loyalist; and if there happens to be a so-called Independent—that hon. Members opposite seem very much to favour at the present time—he could be considered with the others. At all events, the local people would recognise the capabilities, standing, and possibilities of the candidate, and come forward to vote with the full knowledge of the man for whom they were voting, and with the knowledge that they were voting for a man with certain characteristics or on account of some services that he had rendered to the locality or the country. They would have a personal and close knowledge of those concerned and be able to cast their vote in a simple way understood by the poorest in the land.
Your system of proportional representation is complicated to the last degree. What system do the Government intend to adopt? We all noticed that the Government were very careful when they put their Amendment on the Taper not to tell us by what name this proportional system was to be called. I understand there are sixty-two different sorts of proportional representation, many of them in existence and many not. What I want to impress upon the Committee is this. If this is put into the Bill for the sake of looking well, I would recommend the Government that if they do not wish to revert to the nomination of the Second Chamber, to put forward a much better scheme than the one they have now. They have only outlined in the broadest way what they propose. I defy them to show when we come to the details that this matter is not far more complicated than anything they ever dreamed of, and explanations will be necessary for years to come to make it possible for anyone to understand the system or to do it justice in its execution.
I hope in making these few remarks to the Committee that hon. Members will not for one moment misunderstand the position were take up. I am nor going to weary the House by repeating what I have said on other occasions. Hon. Members come down here day after day and say, "Here is a Bill, and we are prepared to meet Ulster Members by putting in any safeguards they think necessary. "We have heard these safeguards explained to the 673 Committee. We have heard the remarks of the Leader of the Nationalist Home Rule party; we have heard his declarations, and, looking at all the safeguards, there is not one of them that will have the slightest effect, and the worst is this new substitution of proportional representation for nomination. Under nomination, at all events, according to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, there would be about half the members in the Senate of Unionist feelings. Under this new system you give us about one-third, and in any case if the two Houses had to be called together in any Session the large numbers of Nationalists in the House of Commons would absolutely swamp the whole of the Senate, plus the two or three members of Unionist feelings who would be in the House of Commons. There is no road to be found for easing the situation so far as Ulster is concerned. Ulster stands exactly where she did before the Bill was introduced. Not a word has been said that would tempt a single man out of the Unionist ranks in Ulster. Not a single olive branch has been held out that has the slightest sincerity behind it in trying to impose upon an unwilling people legislation to which they are absolutely determined not to be a party.
§ Mr. CRAWSHAY WILLIAMS
The speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman has in some ways served a useful purpose. He has shown us again what I think most of us knew before, that the Orange faction will accept nothing; that nothing can inspire them with confidence, and that no concessions can be made acceptable to them. In that case I say it is no good further trying to conciliate, and we should go straight forward on the lines of doing what is best and fairest, and true to the democracy in Ireland. Another argument of the hon. and gallant Gentlemen's that interested me was what he said about the rights of minorities. He rather pooh-poohed the idea that any protection was necessary. He pointed out as is perfectly true that the Nationalist party have considerable influence in this House and have exercised it for a considerable time. If that shows anything, surely it shows that in a Parliament in Ireland Ulster will have corresponding powers, and all this talk about minority protection is condemned out of his own mouth.
§ Mr. CRAWSHAY-WILLIAMS
I should be sorry to think that the business men of Ulster would be so singularly blind to their own interests and business as to refuse to take the position of holding a very predominant position in that body. The preceding three speeches possessed the merits of dealing directly with proportional representation, which was not dealt with at all thoroughly before these speeches were made. An hon. and gallant Member opposite dealt very fully, exhaustively, and conclusively with the whole subject of proportional representation. There are only a couple of points which I would like to add to the remarks made by that hon. and gallant Gentleman. First, I cannot agree that it is a matter of no importance that the electorate does not understand the basis of election. I think it is a matter of great importance, and I cannot believe that British character will lightly adopt any system which it docs not thoroughly understand. No electorate would care to see its votes going through a sort of mysterious sausage-machine, from which exuded Members of Parliament at the other end by some process unknown to those voting. To my mind that is one of the important objections to proportional representation. One other point not made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman is that proportional representation encourages the election of what we may call "cranks" Cranks can get into any legislative Assembly under the conditions which we now know, but it would not be for the good of politics to have a large number of men who did not possess a large all-round knowledge on political subjects. It would be difficult to run a Government on these lines. Supposing you had a large number of men who have special views on several points, such as temperance, the suffrage question, and vivisection, but who had no all-round scheme of politics in their minds. Then when it comes to any important Debates and Divisions on subjects that must occupy the greater part of the attention of a House, I say it must be disconcerting to have any body of unformed opinion elected on special subjects only. Moreover, I should like to reinforce the argument with regard to the difficulty and the disadvantage of what I may call corporate representation. Whatever the disadvantage nowadays of single-Member constituencies, they have one advantage, and that is that any small body of persons in a constituency have a certain amount of what I may call electoral power. They 675 can go to a member of flesh and blood, not six members upon paper, and they can put their case before him, and if they have electoral power he will no doubt pay some attention to them.
§ Mr. CRAWSHAY-WILLIAMS
No, of course; it is entirely a matter of principle, but still, if they have a certain amount of electoral power and they go to their member he is likely to see that their cause is taken up. But what will happen to some small town or village not represented by a single member but by so many gentlemen, none of whom care what happens to these small districts 'I It will then have absolutely no power, and for all practical purposes it will be unrepresented, and in the case of Ireland that is an important consideration. Another important question is that of by-elections, and that becomes a very difficult matter in the case of proportional representation, because you cannot avoid having by-elections taking place over an enormous constituency. I think that is a very grave objection. The scheme of proportional representation is foreign to British characteristics. The British character likes to have a personality before it, and under the system proposed the great power of wealth will be accentuated, and advantage will be given to the man who can write a good election address, or make a good speech for the papers, and have it circulated all over a huge constituency. That sort of thing is foreign to the British character, and will not be accepted by any section of the British people. Ireland is not the first place where such an experiment should be tried, and if anywhere at all it ought to be tried in the large boroughs. In places like Manchester, Liverpool, or Birmingham there may be an argument for proportional representation, but the worst place to try it is in a large scattered district, where you will be placing a premium on those who are able to indulge in expensive and rapid means of travelling.
But these are not the chief arguments against this Amendment. I hope it is not too late to ask the Government to persevere in their first intention, or what I believe was their first intention, and leave this matter to the unfettered judgment of the House. There are vital questions involved. First of all, are you 676 going to nominate your Senate or elect it, and if you are going to elect it what method are you going to choose? I appeal to the Government to let us choose between the two plans. The Government have put one plan forward and withdrawn it, but it was their plan, and as far as I know there have not been any marked symptoms of enthusiasm for the second plan over the first.
§ Sir J. D. REES
Is it the case that two plans are now before the Committee, or are we now debating the one plan contained in the Chief Secretary's Amendment?
§ Mr. CRAWSHAY-WILLIAMS
I am contending that we should be allowed to choose for or against this Amendment.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CRAWSHAY-WILLIAMS
Like the supporters of most Governments, I dislike voting against the Government, and I think it is only when a question of fundamental principle is involved that a supporter is justified in putting his own personal predilections, above the common good. I believe the Government is fundamentally wrong, and I do not think these proposals will conduce to the smooth working of the Bill. They are not democratic, and I cannot see any equivalent gain in them. If we had been able to command the increased confidence of the Protestants by making some sacrifice to attain the goodwill of the Unionist and Ulster factions, then I should say some sacrifice was desirable and justifiable, but I think the words of the hon. Member for Armagh and the hon. and learned Member for Cork last night show that we shall not gain this end. I do not think this proposal will do what is best for the democracy or for the smooth working of this Bill. For these reasons I appeal to the Government to allow a free vote to be taken on this Amendment. I agree with my hon. Friend and colleague the Leader of the Labour party, that a nominated Senate is far more in the interests of democracy than an elected Senate. I think it is vital to have one House supreme and unchallenged, and let that be the Lower House, because it is impossible to have two co-equal assemblies. I do not often 677 agree with the speeches made by Lord Curzon, but in one speech which he made in the House of Lords his Lordship said:—For a purely elective second Chamber I have no sympathy whatever, I hope your lordships will have nothing to do with it. We do not want two Parliamentary Kings of Brentford in this country. We feel that it is almost impossible to imagine an elective Second Chamber which will not steal away some of the prestige and authority of the House of Commons, or which will not land us in recurrent constitutional strife.That also is my opinion. I believe the more democratic you make an Assembly the more power you will have to give it. If you make a second chamber parallel to the Second Chambers of France or Australia you will have to give them similar powers. I do not believe you can make your senators gods and then treat them like dogs. The question of finance is sure to arise. We have heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire putting forward new claims for the Second Chamber because it is to be elected, and, soon you will find the Second Chamber will be claiming powers which will conflict with the powers of the real prime authority—that is, the House of Commons, This has been found to be so in the United States of America. There the Senate began by having no powers over finance, but, being an elected Assembly, it succeeded in usurping those powers, and to-day it possesses coequal powers to the other Assembly. I will read a quotation from Todd's "Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies" with respect to the claims of elective Upper Chambers in Supply:—In certain British Colonies —as for example, in South Australia. Tasmania, Victoria, and the Cape of Good Hope —the legislative council is elective, whilst generally the system of nomination prevails. The elective Councils have plausibly urged that—in accordance with the practice in the United States, where, in Congress, and in the different State Legislatures, while the Constitution requires that Tax Bills shall originate in the lower branch, it is customary to provide that the Senate or first branch may concur therein with Amendments, as in other Bills —"they ought to be at liberty to propose Amendments to Bills of Supply.That shows you how beginnings are made in regard to interference with the rights of the Firs'" Chamber. Everywhere we see the difficulties which arise when the Second Chamber is elective. The more power it has the more difficulties arise. Lord Morley himself said in the House of Commons on the 14th March, 1910:—The stronger and the more efficient the Second House, the more will the chances of friction be intensified.That is precisely the case, and that is what we are taught by history and experience. Anyone who has read the history of the States of Australia will know that that is 678 perfectly true. Broadly speaking, you would find any change which is contemplated not going from a nominated to an elected body, but from an elected to a nominated body, which would work smoother. When you have provided an elective Assembly you have provided a strong power to overcome, and it is very difficult to revert from an elective to a nominative Assembly. In Canada a short time ago there was an interesting debate in the Senate on its own reform. There they have had experience of nominated Assemblies and also of elected Assemblies, and the proposal that a change should be made to election was rejected in the Dominion Parliament Senate, and I think was almost universally discountenanced. Experience had taught them entirely otherwise. Experience had taught them what Mr. Ferguson told them on 5th June:—I was pleased to find that my right hon. Friend, like the Prime Minister in speaking elsewhere, is not favourable to the elective principle that is, electing Members by the direct vote of the people—and T agree with him in that respect. T think we have too many elections, and that an elective House, although in some respects it might be preferable, would carry with it great disadvantages. We had a little experience in Prince Edward Island of an elective Upper House chosen on a franchise of freeholders instead of manhood suffrage; but the Council coming thus directly from the people, claimed an equal voice with the Assembly, and there was continual clashing and difficulty. They claimed, although not successfully, that the Government of the day must possess the confidence of the Council as well as the confidence of the Lower House. It led to constant difficulty, and I am therefore quite strongly of opinion that we should not have a Senate elected by direct election.That is only one quotation from a great many I could make. Almost every senator gave most specific and convincing reasons for not adopting the principle of election in the Upper House. Again, when you have election to the Upper House, you always have to have larger constituencies. That always gives an advantage to the plutocracy, and there, again, you get further out of touch with the democracy. Moreover, it is needless to point out, you have more elections, and on all sides more elections are discouraged. We have seen what the Colonies have to say. Lord Curzon deprecates it, Lord Morley deprecates it, and Lord Rosebery spoke very strongly in the House of Lords against having an elected Second House. The claims of democracy, to my mind, are that you should have first and foremost an elective Lower House, and that it should be supreme and have undisputed powers over finance. Then you want a revising, an advisory, and a suspensory Second Chamber. I do not only claim that a nominated Second 679 Chamber is adequate to its work. I claim it is better fitted for its work than an elected Second Chamber. You want somewhere in the State room for those men whom I may call specialists, who perhaps have no particular aptitude for popular elections, but who can offer a great deal of useful and valuable advice on State matters. Everyone knows many such men. I hesitate to name them in case some of them should be in the gallery, but as a matter of fact there are a great many men, some associated with this very question of proportional representation, who we know perfectly well would be exactly the sort of men nominated to a Second Chamber, and who would do very useful work there, although they might not be successful at elections. So, both for the sake of democracy and for the sake of the smooth and efficient working of the Act, I thoroughly prefer a nominated Second Chamber to an elective Second Chamber.
It may be said that this is simply a domestic concern for Ireland, that it is not a question of any safeguards or of any guarantee of supremacy, and that we should leave it to them and not interfere with their wishes. I do not know what their wishes are at present, and I should like to know. It is not to my mind simply and solely a matter for the Irish people, because it must have a reflex action on our own problems in this country. I do not want to trespass over the bounds of order, but I think I may be justified in arguing that we must have some voice as an Imperial Assembly in this matter, because of the problems we have got to face in this country with regard to the reform of the Second Chamber here. If we set a precedent In Ireland, we shall be confronted with that precedent here, and I do say, if any of us desire not to see in this country constant clash and strife of two elected Assemblies, and if we do still desire to see the Lower House supreme and to see that this House has control over finance, then we should be very chary of setting a precedent which may be brought up against us in the future. It is not simply because I am not in favour of proportional representation, but it is also because I see in these proposals a danger to democracy and that through them our own position in the future may be undermined that I shall feel myself compelled to go into the Lobby against the Government Amendments.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
While I am quite satisfied that the appeal the hon. Member has addressed to the Front Bench that there should be liberty of voting on this question will not be responded to, I welcome the fact that there is one Member on the Government side of the House who has had the courage to admit he is not satisfied with the surrender which in the most Gilbertian manner has been made to some of the stronger forces in this coalition Government. We, the representatives of Ulster, know something of the forces which have been driving the Government to make the surrender at this particular time. We have all been favoured with a copy of the circular issued by those who father this scheme to Members of Parliament and leading citizens, and we recall that in that circular they were careful to explain they regarded the scheme as applied to the House of Commons to be set up in Ireland rather than to the Senate. Why, if this method commends itself to the Government as regards the Senate, have they treated it with contempt so far as it might be applied to the House of Commons? That is the first query we address to the Government, and we yet remain without an answer. We feel that as regards the House of Commons there might be a good deal to be said for this new scheme. We are told the Senate is to be a form of safeguard so far as the minority in Ireland are concerned. We have already pointed out how unfounded is the suggestion that there is any substantial form of safeguard in these new proposals. At the very utmost we could not hope to have more than two additional representatives in the Senate under this scheme. We therefore treat it as another of those pious expressions on the part of the Government of a desire to give the minority in Ireland due safeguards in this measure, a desire constantly reiterated mostly in the country, but always when it comes to the real test of putting it before the House of Commons found to be worthless and altogether useless. It was only at the last moment, after wasting a Parliamentary day, the Government were constrained to put their new proposals upon the Paper.
When we find these proposals put upon the Paper so reluctantly I think I am entitled to ask the House to bear with me if I dwell very briefly upon the manner in which the original proposal of the Government was put before the House by the 681 Prime Minister. Speaking on the First Heading the Prime Minister said:—We have come to the conclusion … that the best mode of dealing with this matter will be that the Senate should be a nominated body. We think so in view of the special circumstances of Ireland. It is most desirable to get in your Senate, if yon can, representatives of the minority, persons who will safeguard the interests of the minority, persons who will not or who might not. have a fair chance of being elected in a popular election, and it is still more desirable, perhaps in Ireland than anywhere else that you should be able to draw for the purposes of your Senate upon resources which are not available in the case of elections."— [OFFICIAL REPORT April, 1912. cols. 1412–13, Vol. XXXVI.]I do not think it possible that under even a system of nomination we could hope to have a selection entirely satisfactory to the Unionist minority. I cannot conceive any circumstances under which this Government, at present so much in the hands of the Nationalist Members, and also, perhaps, in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture for Ireland (Mr. T. W. Russell), would be willing to have as one of the nominated members Sir Horace Plunket, a late Vice-President of the Agricultural Department. Yet I presume it is such gentlemen as he, who have proved their patriotism in Ireland, who were in the minds of the Prime Minister at the moment he made this speech. I only rose because the speech to which we have just listened deserved a word of appreciation on our part. We realise that much might be done in the way of tangible safeguards if the Government, strong in its expressed desire to safeguard the minority, were prepared to stand by their original proposal and make sure that, in the Senate, the minority would at least have tangible representation, with even some influence, when it came to meet the Lower Chamber. But, after this surrender, these hopes have passed away, and when the Prime Minister to-day, with all his usual optimism, declared in the presence of Members of this House that he was still willing to give us safeguards that will satisfy all reasonable apprehensions, we could only feel that it was the most transparent hypocrisy for him to make any such statement.
I only desire to emphasise what has been said by some of my colleagues, that we do not care very much what the form of the Lower Chamber or Upper Chamber may be. The loyalist minority in Ireland looks upon any form of legislature in Dublin as likely to be hurtful to their interests, their property, their liberty, and even their lives. We regard this Bill as in many 682 ways more objectionable than the Bills of 1886 and 1893. If this Government is sincere in its desire to appease the opposition of the Unionists of Ireland, why do they refuse to accept the Amendment incorporated in the Bill of 1893 by Mr. Gladstone, under which the Dublin Parliament was prohibited from dealing with any matter that threatened the lives or liberty of any loyal citizen in Ireland? We have received no answer when we have addressed that question to the Front Bench opposite. We, in Ireland, and I speak as one of the representatives of one of the most loyal constituencies in the North, realise that this measure calls for the utmost opposition in our power. We are absolutely united in our resolve, and no amendment or modification of this Bill can be acceptable to us after the surrender which this Government has made on their original proposal. Their departure from their original proposal only satisfies us that, whatever may be their lip professions, the Government are not able, even though they may be willing, to do anything tangible in the way of making this Bill less objectionable to the loyal minority in Ireland.
§ Mr. KING
This is the first time I have had the privilege of being called upon to speak in these Home Rule Debates, and I feel almost as if I were in an unknown sea. The Debate has proved to me throughout extremely interesting in more ways than one. It has been one of the most symptomatic and interesting Debates we have had on this question. In the first place, we have had independence shown on both sides of the House, and I am glad to think there will be not a few Members of the Opposition who will vote in order that there may be an experiment made with proportional representation in Ireland. That in itself is a good thing. Then we have also had a very interesting speech from the senior Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). I am sorry he is not in his place. I should have wished him to hear my reply. I think it would have done him good. The senior Member for Leicester gave us an extremely able speech recounting the various arguments against proportional representation, arguments of great weight and extremely well put. But to my mind they are all vitiated by the peculiar circumstances of the problem we have before us. I believe that the problem of Ireland is a peculiar problem, which is not to be solved by analogies taken from the 683 Colonies or elsewhere. It is admitted on both sides of the House that the relations between Great Britain and Ireland are different from those of any other two countries in the world. I believe we "want a new and original solution, and, therefore, I view the proposal of the Government in this matter with great hope and satisfaction. I believe they are entirely right in setting up a nominative Senate in the first place, and I hope that they will reserve the places in that Senate until after the first General Election for the Irish House of Commons. I hope those places will not be filled until that election has taken place, and that then they will be offered to the present members who consider themselves extra loyal, and I have no doubt, if the dignity and emoluments of the office are placed sufficiently high, there will be plenty of good candidates from those ranks. I will offer myself as a volunteer for that arduous position, in case it is found that Ulster Members, who call themselves loyalists, are unwilling to take places in that august Assembly.
I wish to say a word or two on proportional representation. I am sorry the hon. and gallant Member for East Down (Captain Craig) is not in his place. He made a long speech, which in itself was very interesting, and certainly in his well-known style, and quite up to his usual form. It was interesting, because he furnished the best example we have had in this Debate of the phenomenon to which attention is drawn by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), when he said our Debates frequently brought to light profundities of ignorance. The hon. and gallant Member for East Down certainly showed absolute ignorance of the Amendment before the Committee, because he asked which of the sixty-two systems of proportional representation was being adopted. If he had known anything whatever about the subject, or if he had taken the trouble even to read the Amendment, he would have observed that the system which is being adopted is that of a single transferable vote. What is the system of proportional representation? with the single transferable vote? Simply this: You get a list of as many candidates as there are, and you are told how many seats are vacant. You have one vote, and you place the number "1" opposite the name of the man you chiefly prefer, and 684 you are allowed to put 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on, against the names of other candidates in the order of your preference. This system is far more simple than the system of election for school boards which obtained in all towns in England until 1902. Under that system you had to divide fifteen votes in any way you desired among a large number of candidates.
§ Mr. KING
Of course, the Scotch are so clever that they can do anything. Curiously enough, this very complicated system of voting was carried on with very few spoilt papers. If that system were carried on for something like thirty years with complete success, with very little difficulty, and with very few spoilt papers, I say the system of the transferable vote is in fact much simpler. Therefore when hon. Members like the hon. and gallant Member for East Down stand up and say that proportional representation under the transferable vote is so difficult that the people of Ireland cannot understand it, I say, "You must speak for yourselves, but do not speak for one of the most intelligent political nationalities in the world. "I wish to add a few words on the larger aspect of this question. Is not the very obvious fact that we in this Parliament are now setting up, for the first time, a Second Chamber which is very near ourselves, and which is going to take a part in the duties we now perform. I suppose it is possible that before many years are over we shall be considering how we are going to set up another Chamber nearer home, so near home that it is only at the other end of the corridor. It is therefore of prophetic importance that this Committee is setting up a Second Chamber upon the system of election. If we are to set up any different Second Chamber from that we have above ourselves, I hope it will be upon the system of election and the system of proportional representation. However, I am looking rather far ahead. I am pleased that proportional representation will only be introduced at the end of five years in Ireland. It will have five years of experiment there, and at the end of ten years we shall be able to see how it has worked. If at the end of that time it has done well, perhaps we shall consider putting it into force for the Second Chamber in this country. In my opinion that will be quite time enough to deal with that great problem, and if the experience we gain in Ireland be favourable, I shall be willing to consider its application to another place.
§ Sir J. D. REES
I can only express my sympathy with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, in that the hon. Members he particularly wished to address seemed to have pressing engagements elsewhere. If he wishes not to experience that kind of thing he should not expose his hand by saying he is going to answer them. Coming to the penultimate speaker on the other side of the Committee, who made a serious contribution to the Debate, while he was speaking I was irresistibly reminded of a couplet, in which during a phase of exaggerated literary fashion the poet said:—My hurt is great, because it is so small.whereupon the critic answered—If it were greater, then 'twere none at all.The hon. Gentleman's argument was that you did not want a Second Chamber of any power, authority, or substance. As he made it so clear in his speech that he wanted a Second Chamber which would be a mere phantom, one could not help wondering why he submitted to the pretence of wanting a Second Chamber at all. It seemed to me that that fact deprived his admirable speech of all the weight it might otherwise have carried. He said he wanted the Lower House to be supreme. If the Lower House is supreme, why have an Upper House. That is absolutely unanswerable, [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad hon. Gentlemen agree with me, for I will come to the position of the Labour party in a minute. The hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt) said the Government's Amendment was unanswerable in theory, therefore he said it must be equally unanswerable in practice, but the hon. Member left out of account, as almost all hon. Gentlemen opposite do, the factor of human nature. I admit I think it looks a very good thing on paper, but you have to deal with flesh and blood. Has he never heard of the saying:—Let me write the songs of a nation, and I will let who will make its laws.That is a very profound saying. When an hon. Gentleman gets up and out of fullness of knowledge and excellence of logic says that because a system is good in theory it must be good in practice, I would commend to him that ancient and well-known saying, and ask him to consider his very logical but not very practical position. I am not quite sure if I followed him here but he was very anxious to put an end to a situation in which attendance at bazaars and subscriptions to football clubs materi- 686 ally assisted an hon. Member in winning an election. I fancy there must be many Members who would be inclined to meet him half-way there, but I do not quite understand how that argument affected the position. He went on to say men of great wealth could come in, as I understand, under the proportional representation system. Are we to suppose that men of wealth have no influence under the existing system? As I am anxious to learn how the position that he laid down can be established I trust he will address himself to it on some other occasion.
Then I wish to express my dissent, so far as I can understand it, from what the, hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Craig) said. I understood him to argue, and I understood the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) to argue, that under the Amendment which is to be found on page 69, and which is intimately connected with the Amendment before the House, the representation of those who are opposed to the Bill would be fourteen out of forty, and he said, "What are fourteen out of forty? "Quite insufficient. I quite agree with him, but so far as I can understand the Amendment to the Schedule, there is no guarantee that anti-Home Rule Ulster will have fourteen out of forty. It only provides that there will be fourteen representatives of the province of Ulster. I do not myself understand how it can be assumed that these fourteen representatives will all be representatives of the Protestant minority when, of the present Parliamentary representatives, under the present system, by no means all represent the anti-Home Rule party. If that is the case, as it is, in respect to the present Parliamentary representation I do not know how the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Craig) and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) can obtain a representation of fourteen under the subsequent Amendment.
Then I should like to refer to the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). I am not sure if I understood the argument of the hon. Member, which was by no means easy. Feeling that I could not, I betook myself to other hon. Members who are not wanting in intelligence, and I asked them if they could tell me what the hon. Member meant by his speech, or even say from his speech which way he was going to vote, and there was not one Member who could say what was the argument, though the Prime 687 Minister described it as a powerful argument—I suppose that any argument is powerful from the nominal Leader of thirty votes—none of them were agreed as to what he meant, and of the four I consulted two interpreted his speech in an absolutely opposite light to the other two. I feel that what I am saying is enormously to praise the lion. Member, because it shows how skilled he is in so balancing himself and waiting until the last moment that he is evidently well fitted to be the Leader, who does not lead, of a party which does not follow.
To endeavour to give my own version of his speech, giving it the very best attention I could, I understood him to say that he himself was opposed to proportional representation, but that if he found the party on this side regarded the Amendment of the Government in favour of proportional representation as sufficiently meeting their wishes—if, in fact, this side regarded it as a valuable concession—he should not be able to vote against it. I do not know how far he spoke for his Friends. That is a very difficult problem, but, if I understood him, that is what he said for himself. He can be in no doubt now that hon. Gentlemen on this side do not accept the Government Amendment as a valuable concession, and most of them probably are going to oppose it. Therefore, I think, by a process of exhaustion we may have reached this position, that we may assume that the hon. Member, so far as he leads the Labour party, leads them to vote against the Amendment, and, so far as he leads them, that they will follow. It will be very interesting to see if this interpretation of his cryptic speech will be supported in the Lobby. It struck me as being one of the most singular of the many singular things I have heard during this Debate, in which I have been reminded on every single Clause that no tyranny is like that of a democratic majority. It astonished me to hear the hon. Member arguing—the Prime Minister called it in a powerful manner—in favour of nomination as distinguished from election. When you hear the Leader of the Labour party arguing in favour of nomination as against proportional representation I cannot help thinking that if the end of the party is not near, the end of his Leadership must be near, and that it is fortunate indeed for him that he has in the interval of leading the Labour party taken such an interest in India that he has 688 obtained a job therein. [HON, MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I submit I am well within the bounds of order. I will ask you, Sir, in the plainest possible manner, whether the word "disingenuous" is disorderly, and, if it be not disorderly, whether when joined with the substantive "casuistry" it becomes disorderly, to which it follows that I beg to say if I am not disorderly in so saying I would distinguish the hon. Gentleman's speech as being a pure piece—
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I think the hon. Member is getting a good deal away from the Amendment.
§ Sir J. D. REES
It seems most ungenerous of me to do so, but as you yourself have promised some latitude—
§ Sir J. D. REES
There is no Member of the House who submits with greater readiness than I do to your invariably impartial and just judgment. I thought, however, so much remained of the speech of the hon. Member, and it was in itself so exceedingly interesting, that I thought I might have been allowed to comment somewhat freely upon it. Should I be in order in resenting as strongly as I possibly can the description of the neighbouring island as labouring under a low form of civilisation or society. It struck me as being one of the most extraordinary statements I ever heard, and I resent that description of the Irish people. I cannot understand how the Prime Minister, having stated that the system of nomination was most satisfactory to the minority, should subsequently have been able to bring forward that which is the antithesis of nomination as giving still more to the minority. The Prime Minister either seems to have been impaled on the horns of a dilemma—an unusual thing for a speaker of his extraordinary ability and equally great dexterity—or to have been in a very deep hole before he could make the change and give the explanation he gave. For my part, I wish to take the strongest possible exception to the-description of the functions of a Second Chamber as being merely those of revision and delay. The Committee is aware that that is the theory which hon. Gentlemen under stress of circumstances have been bound to adopt. I submit that if a Second Chamber is to be of any value at all, it must have far greater powers than those of revision and delay. It must have power 689 to force an appeal to the constituencies— a power of which the Second Chamber in this country has been deprived for the sole purpose of enabling this Bill to be rushed through in the face of public opinion.
We have not heard once in the Debate the description which Cromwell gave of a supreme Lower House as "the horridest arbitrariness that ever was seen in the government of this world. "That, however, is the system which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are prescribing for "the most distressful country, "under the compulsion of the Prime Minister. He described the question as to how the Second Chamber is to be composed as a petty point. It is almost inconceivable how any Member of Parliament, and especially the Prime Minister, should describe that as a petty point of detail. I submit that it is desirable for some hon. Members, besides those representing Irish constituencies, to express their opinions on this matter, for they may have a sympathetic interest in it. I maintain it is not merely an Irish question; it is a question affecting the Constitution of our own country. Why does the Prime Minister put forward as good enough for Ireland that system of proportional representation which nobody has suggested could possibly or properly be adopted in the case of Great Britain? The Chief Secretary deprecated the use of the common tag about making experiments on the vile body. I can understand his anxiety on that subject. The fact is that is exactly what is being done. The Prime Minister has been as adamant about the adoption of those newfangled systems as regards elections in the United Kingdom, but he is perfectly prepared to make the experiment in regard to Ireland. I submit, for that reason, that the whole proposition is suspect. I shall vote aganst this Amendment.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
My only reason for intervening in this Debate for a very few moments is lest the complete silence of members of the Irish party should be misunderstood and misrepresented. I have really very little to say, but viewing the question of a Second Chamber from my own personal point of view, and as an abstract question, I am, as I have many times stated in this House, a Second Chamber man—that is to say, I believe in the advisability of a Second Chamber in the Constitution, but a Second Chamber, whose powers should be limited—strictly limited —as denned by the Prime Minister, to the 690 functions of correction, revision, and delay. I am not a Second Chamber man in the sense of believing that a Second Chamber should have the power of forcing a dissolution upon any question when they like. Therefore I am in favour of a Second Chamber, and as I stated here the last time this matter was under discussion, I. am in favour of a nominated rather than an elected Chamber. In theory, therefore, there is no question at all that the original proposal of the Government in this Bill was more in consonance with my own personal and individual views than the proposal we are now discussing. On this abstract question of the existence, functions, and constitution of a Second Chamber-there are, I am sure, very divergent opinions among my hon. Friends the-Members of the Irish party. Some of them probably are in favour of Single Chamber government, others of them may be in favour of a Second Chamber constituted entirely by election; but what I desire to say to the Committee is that on the concrete case of Ireland, we on these benches are all absolutely united in one view and absolutely governed by one view. In view of the past history of Ireland, in view of the present conditions of the country, and in view of the fears which are expressed by certain classes of our fellow-countrymen, we favour, and are prepared to support, any scheme for the constitution of a Second Chamber which, in our judgment, most absolutely assures full, and, I may say, even extravagant representation of the minority in the Senate.
I would like, if I may be allowed—it is the fashion nowadays to quote one's self— to quote here some words used by me in January, 1911, before this particular controversy arose at all.What we want,I said,is, that the Irish Parliament should he representative of every element in the country. We want every class represented. We want every trade represented. We want the men of learning and letters; the men of commerce; the men of the professions y the working men; the tradesmen; the farmers, the labourers; the artisans; Catholic, Protestant, and Presbyterian. We want equal justice and toleration for all honest opinion. Even, I would say, for all honest idiosyncracies. We want equality, and, I would say, speaking, as I believe I can, for the mass of the Nationalists and Catholics of Ireland, we will not have and we will not tolerate at ascendancy of any class or any creed.And when I was speaking on this question of a Senate in this House on the Second Beading of this Bill I declared that if the nomination of the first Senate rested in my hands, I would not hesitate to put on that Senate a considerable majority of 691 Irishmen who had differed from me and the Nationalist party on politics in the past. I still believe that at the first commencement of this Parliament a system of nomination is best. I believe that at the first election, whether under proportional representation or under the ordinary system of election in this country, it is quite possible that certain types of men who ought to be in the first Irish Parliament might not secure election, and I would look to a system of nomination as certain to get for them an entry into the Senate, and therefore I am bound to say that I could not favour any proposal from the Government for the complete and immediate substitution of election for nomination whether by existing methods or by proportional representation. But the new proposal of the Government is not that. The new proposal of the Government is that for five years the Senate shall consist of men who are nominated, and nominated by the Imperial authority. After all, it is a cheap and unworthy sneer for the Leader of the Opposition to say that nomination by the Imperial Government means nomination by me. Everybody knows perfectly well that that is absurd. My own personal opinion is that if it were nomination by me more representatives of these Gentlemen probably would be on it than if the nomination were otherwise. But the nomination is by the Imperial Government for the first five years. Mark you, that is an advance in the direction of an adequate safeguard from the original proposal of the Bill.
The original proposal in the Bill was that after two years, and then four, and then six, and eight, as one-fourth went out, the members to succeed them should be nominated by the Irish Executive; but this proposal is that for the whole of the first five years the Senate should consist of men nominated by the Imperial Government. The Committee will mark that those five years will most undoubtedly be the most critical in the working of the new Irish Parliament, all the dangers of which will be concentrated in those first few years; and my own personal belief is very strong that, whereas by a system of election you could not immediately obtain a Senate which would be adequately representative of these classes that I desire to see in it, yet by a system of nomination you can; and that by the end of the five years the old lines of demarcation in Ire- 692 land will have been so blurred and so obliterated and the old party passions will have been so softened, or, as I hope, destroyed, that an election after the five years will lead to the result that men will be elected who probably could not be elected at the very first start off. Therefore if there are any men in this House representing the Unionists and Protestants of Ireland who think that a system of proportional representation will be a protection—no matter how inadequate they may think it—will be an additional protection to them, all of us on these benches, even those of us who may be least enamoured of the general principles of proportional representation, will gladly agree to this new proposal of the Government. This proposal has been denounced and repudiated on behalf of the Opposition, but not of the whole Opposition. The Debate has almost commenced in a remarkable speech made by the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Newman). That hon. Gentleman is an Irish Protestant landlord.
§ Mr. REDMOND
He has sold his estate. He represents the class of Irish Protestant landowners from the South of Ireland, and he spoke here on behalf of the Unionists of the three southern provinces.
§ Mr. REDMOND
And he made it plain to the House by reading out the names of members of that society, that it was a largely representative body in the three southern provinces.
§ Mr. REDMOND
Well, the four provinces, better still. He has come forward, and on behalf of these men he has made this plea, "We do not think this in itself is sufficient. We desire further safeguards, but we think it is an additional safeguard, and we ask for it. "And I say the answer of the Nationalist party to that is, we will accept his proposal and will support the proposal of the Government.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir J. Simon)
The Debate has ranged over a wide field, but the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has brought us back to what is after all the central point upon which we have to concentrate our attention. The issue which I the Committee will have to decide is 693 nothing more or less than this: Are they prepared to insert in this Bill, in preference to the proposal which was in it when it was introduced and passed its Second Reading, the alternative scheme for the constitution of the Senate which the Government now put forward? And I would point out to the Commitee at once that if one wants to compare the two schemes, leaving aside mere matters of detail, they differ from one another in two very important respects. On the one hand the scheme as it stands in the Bill at this moment is the scheme, it is true, which starts the Senate by means of nomination, through the Imperial authorities here. But though you give to your Imperial Senate a life of eight years, one-fourth of that number retire at the end of two years and another one-fourth at the end of two more, and another quarter at the end of two more, so that you pass from the constitution of the Senate by Imperial choice as soon as you have got to two years from the starting of the institution. On the other hand, there is, of course, the distinction which has attracted most attention in the Debate, the distinction that whereas under the scheme of the Bill the subsequent constitution of this body would be according to the nomination of the Irish Executive, we are now suggesting that it would really be even better to adopt, after its first constitution, a system of proportional representation. In the course of the Debate the hon. Gentlemen opposite more than once raised the question that if the Government are convinced that proportional representation is a good system to apply to the Senate, to the Upper House, in this new Irish Constitution, why do you not by the same process of logic say that it ought to be applied to the Lower House, the Irish House of Commons? The hon. Member for North Down put the point perfectly fairly when he said if you really recommend proportional representation as the final method of constituting the Senate in the Irish Parliament, then why, on all grounds of logic and consistency; do you not apply it to the Irish House of Commons? I wish to point out some considerations which appeared to me to distinguish the two cases.
In the first place, we invite the Committee, not only those Members of the Committee who are in all times and places enthusiasts as to proportional representation, but many of those who feel the greatest difficulties about this matter, to support our Amendment, because we say 694 that the arguments which are commonly used by them, good or bad arguments, as to proportional representation, at any rate do not apply with anything like the same force to the special case which is under discussion now. What is the argument commonly used by those who have paid some attention to this subject and who criticise the system? I do not assert whether the argument is good or bad; I merely call attention to what it is. The most common argument against proportional representation in the abstract is this. It is said, "You people who are in favour of proportional representation seem to think that you serve some good purpose by merely securing that you get a precise reflection of opinion in your Assembly by this system—proportional representation. "That does not follow. It may be a very good practical working rule, to find out where the majority lies, to exaggerate that majority. The argument most commonly used against proportional representation is that you may by that get a reflection of popular opinion, but, even if you do, the result is you so balance contending forces that the ordinary machinery of representative government, with the majority that supports and maintains the Administration in power, is not expected to arise. That argument may be serious and conclusive against proportional representation, but it has no application to this present matter at all, for this reason, that the system which we are proposing to set up in Ireland, whatever its merits or demerits, is the system by which the Government of the day will depend, not upon the majority in the Senate, but the majority in the Lower House, and, consequently, however closely in this House you may get opinions divided, however much you may narrow the chasm which separates the majority from the minority, whatever consequences may flow from that, you cannot say that in the Irish Senate it is going to undermine what is fundamental to the carrying on of constitutional government as we understand it in this House.
Another form of argument is to say that proportional representation is likely to produce groups. I do not know whether that is true or it is not but if it be true, it is perfectly immaterial as far as the Irish Senate is concerned; it is rather an advantage, so far as the Irish Senate is concerned, that you should not have there what may be desirable where the daily responsible work of Government is carried on under the full light or support 695 of the majority against a minority—that you should not have the ordinary separation between the ordinary contending parties. That is the first reason why many of the ordinary arguments against proportional representation do not apply to this particular case. Let me point out—I know the subject may be regarded as somewhat technical and fanciful — let me point out, in the second place, that some special advantages may be expected to arise from the application of this system to the Senate. It is within the recollection of Members here that a few years back there was appointed a Royal Commission which was to investigate the electoral system. That Commission had the authority of the names of many Members well known to us all. They took evidence and considered this general subject, amongst other things dealing with the whole question of proportional representation. That Commission did not come to a conclusion which was generally favourable to proportional representation, but while they did not come to that conclusion, which was generally in its favour, they, who were by no means prejudiced in their conclusions favouring proportional representation, point out that there might be certain special cases where it might be very well and most admirably applied. I have the Report of the Committee before me. In the first place, this Commission, the whole of them I think, certainly the majority of them, while reporting against proportional representation, went on to say:—There would be much to be said in its favour as a method of constitutionally electing the Second ChamberThe reason they drew that distinction was the reason just pointed out to the Committee, that you do not get, in the case of a Second Chamber, that complication which may arise in the Lower House, that if you apply this system you are not likely to get a working majority. Not only that, but subject to that limitation, when you apply it to a Second Chamber, you avoid many of its disadvantages. They went on to give another illustration where the system could fairly be applied. They said:—There might be cases the conditions of which may make proportional representation of especial value to a community.The instance which they give is contained in a paragraph of that Report:—A condition of the second kind, which gives proportional representation peculiar advantages, is a mixture of races or religions in a country. For the 696 power which the system confers on minorities removes the dangers of a coincidence of political and racial or religious boundaries. We were informed that in Belgium, where the Catholic party was formerly practically identified with the Flemish-speaking districts and the Liberal party with the Walloon country, the introduction of Flemish Liberal and Walloon Catholic members, which has been rendered possible by proportional representation, has done much to mitigate the bitterness of racial and religious differences.I quote those words because they are the conclusion of the Commission and are admittedly impartial. They were discussed not under the conditions of the guillotine which have provoked so much criticism sometimes, and they recommend this system in the case of a constitutional Senate in Parliament in countries where there are political and racial difficulties. I contend that those reasons really make the application of the system to the Senate entirely distinct from the application to the Irish House of Commons.
I come to the third reason. It is quite true, as I think an hon. Gentleman said this afternoon, that you cannot rely very much on Colonial analogy here, but while you cannot rely on Colonial analogy it is not unreasonable first to see what is happening. It so happens that in more than one case at this moment in the Empire at large where you have nominated bodies steps are at this very time being taken, and sometimes by the Government of the community, to substitute proportional representation for nomination in the Upper Chamber. In New Zealand, at this moment, the Government of the day is propounding a Bill designed to substitute election on this principle for nomination to the Upper House, and it is said that the Canadian Parliament has the intention of considering the same thing. It is therefore true to say that the trend of opinion in the Empire at large is rather in the direction of seeing whether this system ought not to be substituted for nomination for the Second Chamber; and for the Second Chamber alone. There is also the point which the Prime Minister made this afternoon, if it is asked why do you not apply this system, here and now, in your Bill to the Irish House of Commons just as to the Senate one very good and sufficient answer is this. When we constitute the Irish House of Commons under this Bill, we leave them, as indeed is not uncommon in those secondary Constitutions to which this Parliament has agreed, what foreigners regard as a very curious power. We give them territorial limits of authority when we constitute 697 them in the first instance, but we do a thing which foreign critics of British institutions are always surprised at. We tell them, "You shall also have the power hereafter from time to time to alter your own Constitution. "That is true, broadly speaking, of the secondary Constitutions throughout the British Empire, and it is true of the Irish House of Commons, but it is not true of the Irish Senate, What we are doing with the Irish Senate, be it right or be it wrong, we are here and now forming and providing what its future constitution shall be, and it will not be possible for the Irish Parliament hereafter, under the powers which we confer upon it, to alter the method of election or of constitution of the Senate. Therefore we say, we must accept this responsibility here and now for the Senate, while for the Irish House of Commons they may-very well decide the matter for themselves subject to certain limitations in point of numbers. Three years from the time this Bill first operates, by its provisions the Irish Parliament is to be permitted to change the conditions under which the members are elected; to change the qualifications for membership and voting, provided always that regard is had to the comparative population in different parts of the country. There is no such power conferred upon the Irish Parliament as regards the Irish Senate. Therefore we must do it now or we have not got to do it at all.
For those reasons I suggest to the House that there is a real difference between the proposal to apply proportional representation to the Irish Senate and the proposal to apply it to the Irish House of Commons. Let me now point out, whatever our views may be as to the merits of this system, and here I am sure some right hon. Gentlemen will agree with me, it is really too late to say that proportional representation is a mere faddist's dream, a mere idea of the crank which nobody has ever practically applied, and which must be taken as still relegated to the laboratory of political philosophy. That is not true. The fact is that it is operating in the great country of Belgium. It is true at this moment that the constituency of Brussels, for twelve years past has conducted a system of proportional representation by its twenty-four members. The fact is that at this moment it is applied to the Constitution of the Senate of the Union of South Africa. The fact is that the present French 698 Ministry is very deeply committed to this principle. Whether you go outside or within the Empire there are quite sufficient cases of the application and of the successful working of this principle. Therefore, it is to be regarded at any rate as an integral principle which has ceased to be merely visionary, and is entitled to be adopted on its merits. My hon. Friend (Mr. Crawshay-Williams) said that the adoption of large constituencies made it extremely difficult for a democratic candidate to be selected. My constituency is a fairly large one, and I took my hon. Friend's remark rather to heart. While no doubt there are some considerations which weigh in that direction, on the other hand, once you get this regarded not as a petty matter arising in a petty area, or in a place where, it may be, an overwhelming and vehement popular view is calculated to sweep timid people on the other side off their feet, but where you try to spread the considerations over a wider field, I should have thought there were at any rate considerations on the other side which it is well worth while to bear in mind if you want to judge the matter fairly.
Finally, I want to point out that the real thing we have to consider is something very practical. It can be expressed by putting a series of alternatives. I do not say that the system we now propose is by the very terms of its framework going to avoid all possible difficulties; but I do say that with the assumption on which we are now working it is the best proposal that can be put forward. What is the assumption on which we are working? We have reached a point in the Committee when we have constituted an Irish Parliament. There is to be an Executive, as we understand it, responsible to the Irish House of Commons. There are to be two Chambers, the Upper Chamber consisting of forty persons. The question and the only question is: How are those people to be selected? I think there is a very general agreement amongst all those who regard themselves as friendly to the general objects of this Bill that in the first years, in the most difficult years, the best thing is to have the members of the Senate chosen by Imperial selection. There is general agreement amongst the friends of the Bill that that is the best way to start; but it is just as well to face the fact that it is quite impossible for that system to go on for ever. It is perfectly impossible that 699 you should endeavour to constitute a subordinate legislature and to say with regard to one of the two Houses that from this time forward and for ever its membership is to be determined by the dictation and it may be the arbitrary choice of those who are responsible for the Government of this country. Therefore while it is a thing we can begin with, it is not a thing we can go on with. The practical question for the Committee to consider is, that being out of the way, what are the alternatives between which we have to choose? There is the alternative originally in the Bill, that when the Imperial nomination ceased the Irish Executive should select instead. I do not take the view that the minority have anything to fear, in view of the declarations which have been made and of which we have heard more than once in this Debate.
But it is no good shutting one's eyes to the fact that in any constitution with which we are confronted in our own Empire where the Upper Chamber is recruited by nomination by the Executive, it tends to be filled by members of one political party alone. We were reminded yesterday that in Canada when Sir John Macdonald was Conservative Premier for nineteen years, during those nineteen years he only once appointed to the Upper House a man who was not a Conservative. On the other hand, when Sir Wilfrid Laurier was Prime Minister for fifteen years, there was no single instance in which he did not feel himself in the circumstances bound to appoint someone politically in sympathy with him. I think therefore that those who fear the consequences of this Bill are fairly entitled to say, whatever assurances may be given on this subject, "Let us see something in the Bill which makes it at any rate certain that that cannot happen in the case of Ireland. "If that is the case, having got rid of the Imperial nomination, having got rid of the nomination by the Irish Executive, what is left? You must have an election of some kind.
Plainly you cannot have an election by the same constituencies or the same electorate; that would merely be repeating the process of the elections of the Lower House. It is quite impossible, I think, for the body of opinion that supports this Bill to support what was proposed in 1893, to constitute the Upper House on the basis of a restricted or limited franchise. If you are not going to restrict the franchise or 700 use the same constituency, is there any other alternative except that you should adopt some system such as is indicated by this Amendment? I submit that is a mere matter of exhausting alternatives, that we-shall find that the system which the Bill proposes to allow—I quite agree that it is not applicable to the House of Commons—is the system to which we are brought. So far, therefore, as the Senate is concerned, I submit this scheme will be on the whole preferable to that in the Bill originally. As regards the House of Commons, we leave that to be decided, as is customary in all similar cases, as soon as the three years are over, to that very body which we set up in the Lower House under this Bill. The broad result will be this. The five first years are, by common consent, years of anxiety. I believe myself that the most bitter opponent of this Bill will not dispute that if the scheme of this Bill operated satisfactorily for five years it will operate satisfactorily altogether. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO"] If you will grant the immediate prospect, then the ultimate prospect will be secure. Therefore it is only for the next five years that we find this proposal actually secured, and that there should be the best protection which we can offer to minorities. Once these five years are over we have to adopt a system which, we submit to the Committee, we are forced to adopt by the practical alternatives before us. For these reasons I ask those who are sincerely anxious about the cause of Home Rule to see to it that if we must have this change in the Bill this is the best means of dealing with this question, which is really a secondary question, but which none the less calls for wise decision.
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
I desire to bring the House back to the realities of the situation for the two minutes which are left before we have to decide this question. So far as the Ulster Unionists are concerned, I submit to the House that the Committee this afternoon has been floundering about in a morass of irrelevancy, because it does not matter the least bit in the world what the Government do in reference either to the representation in the Senate or the House of Commons. If there is any representative Government the Unionists of Ireland can never have more than one-third of the representation in either of these Houses. It is quite obvious therefore that we are in a hopeless minority. Whether we have proportional 701 representation in the Senate or whether the Senate is to be nominated, does not matter a row of pins. For that reason, so far as I am concerned, I am not going to vote on this question at all. But I would like to remind the House also that the Unionists of Ulster have within the last few weeks declared in no uncertain way that under no circumstances will they allow either the Senate or the House of Commons in Ireland to take root in Ulster. Therefore it does not matter in the slightest degree how you compose either your Senate or your House of Commons.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ It being Half-past Ten of the clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 14th October, to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause" put, and negatived.
§ Proposed words there inserted.
§ The CHAIRMAN then proceeded successively to put forthwith the Question of any Amendments moved by the Government of which notice had been given, and the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at this day's sitting.702
§ Further Amendments made.
§ In Sub-section (2), leave out the word "eight" ["the term of office of each senator shall be eight years"], and insert instead thereof the word "five."
§ Leave out the words "one fourth of the-senators shall retire in every second year, and their seats shall be filled by a new nomination," and insert instead thereof the words "the senators at the end of their term of office shall retire all together, and their seats shall be filled by a new election."
§ In Sub-section (3), after the word "office" ["before the expiration of that term of office, nominate a senator in the stead of the senator whose place is vacant "], insert the words "cause a writ to be issued for electing."
§ Leave out the word "nominate."
§ Leave out the word "vacant," and insert instead thereof the words "if that senator was an elected senator, and if he was a nominated senator nominate a senator in his place."
§ After the word "is" ["the senator in whose stead he is nominated"], insert the words "elected or."—[Mr. Birrell.]
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 298; Noes, 209.705
|Division No. 286.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Brace, William||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Crooks, William|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Crumley, Patrick|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Brunner, J. F. L.||Cuillnan, John|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Bryce, J. Annan||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)|
|Armitage, Robert||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Burke, E. Haviland-||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Dawes, J. A.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Byles, Sir William Pollard||De Forest, Baron|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Delany, William|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmot (Somerset)||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Denman, Hon. R. D,|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Dickinson, W. H.|
|Barton, William||Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Doris, W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Clancy, John Joseph||Duffy, William J.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Clough, William||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Clynes, J. R.||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid).|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Boland, John Plus||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Cotton, William Francis||Esslemont, George Birnle|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Radford, G. H.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Ffrench, Peter||Lundon, T.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Field, William||Lyell, Charles Henry||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Reddy, M.|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||McGhee, Richard||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|George, Rt. Hon. O. Lloyd||Macpherson, James Ian||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Gill, A. H.||Macveagh, Jeremiah||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Ginnell, L.||M'Callum, Sir John M||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||M'Curdy, C. A.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Glanville, Harold James||M'Kean, John||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Goldstone, Frank||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Manfield, Harry||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Rowlands, James|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Marshall, Arthur H.||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Martin, J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Hackett, John||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L (Cleveland)|
|Hancock, John George||Meagher, Michael||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Rossendale)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Menzies, Sir Walter||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Millar, James Duncan||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Harmswortlh, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Molloy, M.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Sheehy, David|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Mooney, John J.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Morgan, George Hay||Shortt, Edward|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Morrell, Philip||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Morison, Hector||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Hayward, Evan||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Snowden, Philip|
|Hazleton, Richard||Muldoon, John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Munro, R.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Nannetti, Joseph||Sutherland, John E.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Needham, Christopher T.||Sutton, John E.|
|Hinds, John||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Taylor, T. C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Nolan, Joseph||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hodge, John||Norman, Sir Henry||Thomas, J. H.|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Thome, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Nuttall, Harry||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Hughes, S. L.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Doherty, Philip||Wadsworth, John|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Jones, Rt.Hon. Sir D.Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||O'Dowd, John||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Waring, Walter|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Malley, William||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Shee, James John||Webb, H.|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Sullivan, Timothy||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Keating, Matthew||Outhwaite, R. L.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Kelly, Edward||Parker, James (Halifax)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|King, J.||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Lamb, Ernest Henry||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph (Rotherham)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molten)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Leach, Charles||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pringle, William M. R.||Illingworth and Mr, Gulland.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Balcarres, Lord||Barnston, Harry|
|Ashley, W. W.||Baldwin, Stanley||Barrie, H. T.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Balfour, Rt. Hen. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Beckett, Hon. Gervase|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Greene, Walter Raymond||Nield, Herbert|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Gretton, John||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Bigland, Alfred||Guinness, Hon.W.E. (Bury S.Edumnds)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Bird, A.||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Haddock, George Bahr||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Peel, Captain R. F.|
|Boyton, James||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Harris, Henry Percy||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Butcher, J. G.||Helmsley, Viscount||Rawson, Colonel R. H.|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Richards, Thomas|
|Campion, W. R.||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hills, John Waller||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cassel, Felix||Hoare, S. J. G.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hohler, G. F.||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Cator, John||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Cave, George||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Horner, A. L.||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Chambers, James||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Smith, Albert (Lancs, Clitheroe)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Ingleby, Holcombe||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Jackson, Sir John||Stanier, Seville|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Joynson-Hicks, William||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmote||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Stewart, Gershom|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Kerry, Earl of||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, N.)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Sykes, Allan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Larmor, Sir J.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Lewisham, Viscount||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Touche, G. A.|
|Denniss, E. R. S.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts., Watford)|
|Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Fade, B. G.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo.,Han. S.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Fell, Arthur||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droltwich)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Macmaster, Donald||Wllson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||M'Nelll, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Winterton, Earl|
|Fleming, Valentine||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Malcolm, Ian||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Forster, Henry William||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gardner, Ernest||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Goldman, C. S.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. C.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Newdegate, F. A.||Craig and Major Morrison-Bell.|
|Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Newman, John R. P.|
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next (4th November).