§ Order read for Third Reading.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
This is the appropriate occasion, or used to be the appropriate occasion, on which the House surveyed its labours in the earlier stages of a Bill. To-day we have not got to survey the result of our labours. This House has had very little to do with the Bill. What we have got to do is not to survey the result of our labours, but to make some estimate of the result of the labours of the right hon. Gentleman who has just come in (the Prime Minister) and his colleagues, whose dictates in this matter the House has obediently accepted. I do not deny for one moment that, speaking broadly, the Government have been supported by large and substantial majorities during the course of this Bill. The discussion has been carried on under circumstances which make the value of that support in my eyes, and I should think in the eyes of everybody who has an ideal of what Parliamentary discussions ought to be, utterly valueless. How have the Government obtained that support? The whole course of our proceedings reminds me of those old comedies of intrigue in which the chief schemer goes to each one of the subordinate characters in turn and gives to each a different version of his object and induces them by separate methods to carry out his policy and finally, at the end, leaves them all duped. [Cheers.] I do not know what it was I said that has induced the House to express its approval in this articulate form. I do not honestly know on this occasion how I have earned the warm approval of so many Gentlemen on both sides by my observations, but I will develop those observations, and then we shall see whether that approval is increased or diminished by the operation. I have said that the Government have appealed to a large variety of persons, and that they have duped them all. Let me take them in turn; they have said to the Irish, "We will give you nationality." They have said to the British, "We will give you peace and tranquility from the Irish problem." They have said to the 2104 taxpayer, "We will give you economy." They have said to the Home Ruler all round, "This is a step towards the disintegration of the United Kingdom," and they have said to the Imperialist, "This is a step towards the closer uniting of the Empire." They have said to the dwellers in the South and West of Ireland, "You have an inalienable right to be governed' by yourselves according to your ideas." They have said to the dwellers in the North-East, "You will never be so happy as when you are being governed by others according to their ideas." I say all these people are duped, every one of them; but perhaps the greatest dupes of all are the classes I mentioned first: the Nationalist who thinks the Government has made an Irish nation, and the citizen of this Island' who thinks you have given him political peace.
Just take, as an illustration of that proposition, your financial arrangements. You told those who represent Ireland below the Gangway that Ireland is henceforth to be a nation, and this Bill has been hailed by the Leader of the Irish party, and. I suppose, by his followers, as being a full carrying out of that engagement. How is Ireland to be a nation limited as you propose to limit her under this Bill? Consider, if a nation has any right as a nation, it has the right of controlling its own taxation and directing its own fiscal policy. What are the rights you have given to the Irish under this Bill? They may be too great—they are too great, for the fiscal interests of the United Kingdom. But are they big enough to satisfy even the meagrest opinion of what constitute the powers appropriate to a nation? They are hampered in the imposition of taxation: they are hampered in the reduction of taxation. I remember the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the financial portion of the Bill, making a speech in the earlier part of our proceedings, in which he explained it would be perfectly monstrous to prevent the new Irish Government and the new Irish Parliament giving, if they so pleased, what is known in the cant language of the platform as a free breakfast table to their own people. He was eloquent on the subject. But there were criticisms, not from this side of the House alone—for they would not have moved him—but there were criticisms from behind him, and this is the only, or almost the only, really substantial change made in the Bill. As the Bill comes out, your new nation cannot take off a single one of the indirect taxes which you 2105 have imposed. As to the imposition of taxation, you have hampered and limited them in every direction. It will not be denied—I do not think I need go into details of the wider fiscal question—but evidently the framers of the Bill have been nervous lest Ireland should have full liberty to do what every nation can do, what every Dominion under the British Crown can do—regulate its own fiscal policy, and protect its own fiscal, industrial interests. The Government have completely made any such attempt on the part of the Irish Government impossible. I do not assert, indeed I do not believe, the whole system of bounties has been thrown open to them—not because they would not have stopped that if they could. But the right hon. Gentleman said he did not see any way in which they could stop it. They have not stopped, again, these indirect methods of Protection which, I believe, would be afforded by a monopoly of railway and other rates. There are various methods and various modes of escape which the new Irish Government can exercise; there are open to it certain powers of dealing with what it conceives to be, rightly or wrongly, its own industrial interests.
Broadly speaking, you have done everything you can to take away from the Irish Government that which not only every nation, but every self-governing Dominion of the Crown, possesses in the fullest and amplest measure. They cannot coin; I do not think that is very important except as a symbol or mark of nationality. They cannot look after their self-defence; they cannot raise a man to defend their shores. I do not say that is wrong. What I am pointing out is that you are saying one thing to these gentlemen and another thing to other gentlemen. I do not say it is wrong, if this is a mere measure of local self-government, but I say it is absolutely and ludicrously wrong if this Bill is to give back what the hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Irish party calls the restoration of the national rights of the country. They are dupes, and can anybody read this Bill for one moment and not see that it bristles with points of difference between the two Governments, points which, because they will touch the pockets, will bring into conflict the Exchequers of the two countries, and will bring them into collision also with that frail barrier of this wretched Exchequer Board, which has neither the impartiality and independence of a Court of Law nor the efficiency and organisation 2106 of a public department? By that frail barrier alone between the two, you raise every kind of financial difficulty which can produce friction between the Chancellor of the Exchequer who sits on the Government Bench and his brother on the other side of the St. George's Channel. Therefore, these two great classes undoubtedly deserve the name of dupes, but there is this great fundamental difference between the two, that while it is perfectly certain that the English will not get peace and that the Irish do not get nationality, it is not so certain that this Bill will not put into the hands of the latter, of those who really sincerely believe in what I regard as a historie fiction, namely, this Ireland which we are supposed to have deprived of its rights, and who project their imaginary history into a hoped-for future, a weapon of the most powerful description to make it what the hon. and learned Gentleman professes to think it now, although I can hardly believe he does think so in his heart, a real creation of an Irish nationality with all the rights that appertain to an independent self-governing Dominion. They are dupes as the English are dupes, but there is a method by which they can get what they think they have been given. There is no way I know of by which the British dupe can get back the rights with which he is now so rashly parting. Britain professes to be giving a limited measure of self-government, an administrative rearrangement. Ireland professes to be receiving nationality. How are the giver and the receiver, when each looks at what they are really giving and really receiving, to remain reconciled? How is it possible, for the receiver especially, not to fight better, armed with more effective weapons in the future than he has clone in the past, for that which he professes to be his Irish ideal? I have said a good deal at different times upon the folly, as I think, and the extraordinary absurdity of the scheme which the Irish think they are receiving and which the British think they are giving—I mean this scheme of federation. Nothing I have heard in the course of these Debates has diminished in the smallest degree my sense of the extraordinary absurdity and folly of the whole idea of cutting up the United Kingdom, or my sense of the extraordinary absurdity of representing this as a rational and reasonable step towards carrying out that ideal.
There are now in the world a very large number of communities more or less on the federal basis. Every one of them has 2107 been produced by a coalescence of independent units, and the federal system has been a plan and a machine by which that process of unification could be carried out. You have been pursuing precisely the opposite policy; you have been federalising to disintegrate and not to integrate, but not content with reversing the rational, normal, and right system of devolution, you have done it in a manner which seems to me extraordinarily foolish, even granting that your object was reasonable and wise. We have raised from time to time objections to this or that scheme in your inchoate federal system. What do the Government do? They hunt about the world and they find some precedent somewhere for each one of the errors or the blunders which they have introduced into their measure. Remember the circumstances in which these errors and blunders in other federal Constitutions were made. The Statesmen who had to bring unity out of diversity found themselves face to face with the separate interests of separate organised communities, and, of course, it was impossible for them to make their federal system what they would have desired on paper. They had to deal with this powerful interest, with that ancient or organised province or kingdom, and they had to compromise, and in the process of compromising they undoubtedly destroyed the symmetry of the whole fabric. It is to these compromises, which for them were compromises, and which might be for them the height of wisdom, which in your hands are mere blunders, that the Government rush to find an example for their expedients.
I will not go into details, but I will take one illustration, the Post Office. Everywhere else in the world, so far as I know, it has been thought to be one of the great advantages of federation that the postal system in a country should be one. Unification of administration has been thought one of the greatest objects to be desired, and it is one in almost every federal country in the world, so far as I know, except one, and it is to that one, I need hardly say, that the Government rush for a precedent. Because when the great unification of the German Empire took place, the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Kingdom of Wurtemberg were strong enough to ask as part of the terms—so far as I can understand their history—that the postal arrangements should be left with them, that blot on the symmetry of the 2108 German Empire has been left. I know of no other case in which there is a precedent for that proceeding. In no other case has that proceeding been followed, until these architects of constitutions come upon the scene and hunt about until they find something which, by breaking up the unity of our postal arrangements, will provide the new Irish Government with an adequate fund of local patronage. There is one point connected with this abortive attempt at federation which I most earnestly ask the House to consider. In my opinion, the fact that the Government have approached this question from the point of view of federalism, and not from the point of view of nationality, takes away the last shred of argument or excuse for the abominable manner in which they are treating Ulster. I was not, I am sorry to say, present during the Debate which took place, I think, on the 31st December and New Year's Day. Had the House really been consulted about anything in connection with this Bill, I should have thought that would not have been a convenient day on which this House should be asked to decide what is the most important and most vital question in this Bill. Although I was not present, I have looked up the Debate, and I was enormously struck by what seemed to be the total misapprehension of the Ulster question, both on the part of right hon. Gentlemen opposite and on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman who leads the Irish party below the Gangway.
In that connection, let me remind the House of the fundamental reason why the hon. and learned Member for Waterford would not accept that Amendment, apart from the question as to his relying on Ulster financing the new Parliament. What he really relied upon was that Ireland was a single unit which could not be cut up. He said that was his principle, the national principle. That is not the Government's principle, and it is not the federal principle. I do not know whether the First Lord of the Admiralty is in his place. The First Lord is not the least important member of His Majesty's Administration. We all know, for he told us with engaging candour and in remarkable detail, how he conceived that the federal scheme might be developed of which this is the beginning. Had he this sacred view of the unity of the nation that was not to be interfered with by a federal scheme? Why, Sir, Yorkshire was to be a unit, Lancashire was to be a unit, the Midlands 2109 were to be a unit—I do not remember all, because it would require a Boundary Commission to determine the details of his scheme; but I think it is in the recollection of everybody who read his speech that the very notion that national unity can be an elementary principle of your new scheme is absolutely and grossly repugnant. The whole system is founded upon the other idea. Therefore, when the hon. and learned Gentleman tells us that was the main reason why nothing would induce him to accept the Amendment excluding Ulster from the Bill, that main reason is utterly inconsistent with the whole political philosophy of, so far as I know, all the Members on the Treasury Bench, and certainly explicitly of one of the leading Members of the Government, who showed in a manner that is perfectly unmistakable that they read in an utterly different fashion the whole intentions and objects of His Majesty's Government. That being so, I say that your last excuse for the manner in which Ulster is being treated has gone from you. If you are going to cut up the United Kingdom into convenient fractions, irrespective of anything that historians, good or bad, can describe as nationality, then there cannot be a more obvious, a more necessary, or a more inevitable division than the division between the North-East of Ireland and the rest of Ireland. I confess to being almost shocked at the utter want of comprehension of the Ulster case in this House, and, to a certain extent, outside this House. The Prime Minister, on the date of which I have been speaking, was most careful to explain that he did not underrate the importance of the Ulster position. His language, I thought, left nothing to be desired in that respect either in point of form or in point of taste. But while the Prime Minister thoroughly understood the character of the feeling in Ulster, I could not trace in his speech the smallest apprehension of the grounds and reasons why Ulster has this solid determination—which nothing, I believe, will deflect—not to acquiesce in the system which the Government are adopting. But it may be the fact that he could not understand it. I think it is not only intelligible, but I think there is not a man I am addressing on the other side who, if he has been born and bred and has lived in Ulster, if his business was there and his family were there, would not share the views now held by the people of Ulster. Hon. Gentlemen Seem to think it is a kind of unreasoning 2110 prejudice for which there is no justification, which no person not steeped to the lips in the unhappy memories of Irish histories could possibly hold, that nothing but the recollections of the Siege of Derry and all the rest of it really could explain or justify the objection of Ulster to be included in this Bill. A more extraordinary want of comprehension of circumstances, which hon. Gentlemen if they were in those circumstances themselves; would be the very people to feel most acutely, I do not think history shows, and, if I may say so with all respect, it is a very dangerous want of comprehension.
I feel bound to say something about religious differences, but I am not going to say it, I believe, in a manner which can by any possibility hurt the feelings of any man whatever be the particular creed or absence of creed, and I shall deal with both, which he happens to entertain. It is notorious to everybody who knows anything about Ireland that in that country the divisions of party politics and divisions of opinion on secular administration are closely allied—mixed up I was almost going to say—with questions of creed and of religion. I am going to advance two propositions. The first is, that that is not peculiar to Ireland. My second proposition is, that wherever it exists and whatever be the religion, or want of religion, concerned in every case it produces the most unappy resuls and results which are always injurious to the minority. If you look over the map of Europe from Cape Finisterre to the Ural Mountains you will find in almost every great State that unfortunately this mixing up of religion and politics, which we have nearly outgrown in this country, still remains and always with the effects which I have described. It is not a question of Protestant and Catholic, though it is a question, no doubt, sometimes of Protestant and sometimes of Roman Catholic, but sometimes of the Greek Church, sometimes the clericals and sometimes the anti-clericals, it matters not which. Where the anti-clericals are in a majority the clericals suffer, and where the clericals are in a majority the anti-clericals suffer. It is not confined to one creed nor to one church, nor to one form of denomination. It is a disease which comes up always, be the reason what it may, historical or otherwise. That is the condition in which Ireland is at this moment, and it really is folly to tell me that there is nothing to be feared for the minority if you hand over 2111 the minority and the majority to manage their own affairs. It is contrary to the whole lessons of history. No religion has suffered more from it than the Roman Catholics where they are in a minority. They suffered at our hands in the eighteenth century. They are suffering at this moment in those countries where there is a strong anti-clerical majority. It is notorious that if a man is a sincere and earnest practiser of his religion, it is a bar to his advancement, it stands in his way; it is not to him or his likes that appointments in the hands of Government go, and it is not in his interest that the education system is managed. Are the Ulster men so wrong? They have only to look at their own history to see that they have done that sort of thing themselves. Nothing is more scandalous or more shameful in British history than some of the penal laws and some of the use that was made in times gone by of the powers of education to divert people from the faith of their forefathers.
But there is no reason for believing that Protestants are worse than Roman Catholics. Of course no one supposes in these days that if the Roman Catholics were a small minority in the South-West of Ireland and you gave Home Rule to Ireland the penal laws would be revised, and no one supposes, as the balance of power is going to be the other way, that even without your safeguards the Roman Catholic majority would set to work to persecute in the old style or deliberately to persecute at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] But do I really understand those cheers to mean that that settles the question, and am I really to believe that that is really enough to reconcile the minority in the North-East of Ireland to live under the control of the majority in a country where, as I say historically, for generation after generation, questions of religion and questions of politics have been mixed up? I am talking of the present. I am not talking of some remote future. It may be that there will be a change some day, and Ireland will be divided into clericals and anti-clericals, and that the anti-clerigals may be in a majority and that the clericals may themselves in their education or otherwise suffer. But I think for some time to come there is really no reasonable probability of that. Therefore you are setting up without the balancing and regulating effect of the great mass of the com- 2112 munity, who in this country, I am glad to say, have abandoned those advantages, who do not mix up religion and politics—at any rate, if they do, so much the worse, but at all events not to the same extent, and not in the same way—you hand over these people to a Government which has complete control of education, which has enormous patronage under the Bill, and which can get as much more patronage as it wishes after the Bill is passed, and you think that the minority, who are going to provide more than their share of the taxes, are unreasonable because, as we all admit, there is not going to be anything like religious persecution in the old sense of the term, while we must admit that the conditions of life would be such as no hon. Gentleman opposite would like to see imposed upon himself or his descendants.
But it is not merely the religious difficulty which constitutes the Ulster grievance. Consider what you are doing economically. Your whole contention in this Bill has been that Ireland has been treated to doses of social reform too costly for her economic condition. I always thought it a very strange argument, but it is the argument of the Government. Apparently, as I understand it, if only they had inverted the order of their measures, if they had brought in Home Rule before they brought in Old Age Pensions and the Insurance Act, Ireland would not have had the benefit of either of those measures. She would have been left to look after herself. Owing to no question of principle, but to the political accidents which made the Government think it more convenient to bring in the Pensions Bill before they brought in the Home Rule Bill, the British taxpayer is to be saddled with that particular charge. But never again. That is the consolation of the British taxpayer. Henceforth, when Great Britain is going into social improvement on a costly scale, Great Britain is going to pay the money and get the advantage. Ireland may lag after her as fast as her limited resources will permit. She is not to have any of the advantage. That is the policy of this particular school of social reformers. But while we have relieved ourselves under this Bill of all duties of social reform in Ireland because Ireland is less economically developed, we hand over our share of the burden increased to the one part of Ireland which is as highly developed economically as Great Britain. Is that no grievance? You can draw no industrial or economic distinction between 2113 Belfast and the country round Belfast and Liverpool and Manchester and the country round Liverpool and Manchester. You say Liverpool and Manchester, the West Riding of Yorkshire, this great and wealthy country, and all the rest of it, can afford social reform. Let it have it. Ulster, which can afford it just as well as you, is not to be allowed to have it because you have cut her off, and she is not only not going to have your expensive reform, but she is to pay more than her share of imperfect and halting Irish social reform. Do you think that is a tolerable condition? s it one which you would like for yourselves, or your families, or your children?
But that is not all. I have touched on the religious difficulty, I have touched on the economic difficulty, I have shown how gross is the injustice to Ulster under both those heads, but there is another point very imperfectly apprehended as far as I can see by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that is the constitutional question. "What have we done to injure Ulster?" said the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. "We have left her her allegiance." Allegiance, I take it, is the exercise of certain duties imposed by law, and I daresay you have left plenty of duties upon Ulster. I rather think you have. What have you taken away from her? Ulster desires to be what she is now, an integral part of the United Kingdom. She desires to be legislated for, so far as her own affairs are concerned, by a Parliament of the United Kingdom. She desires to have her full share in directing not merely the domestic policy, but also the foreign policy of the United Kingdom. She desires to have full weight in the councils of the Empire. Do you pretend you are leaving her that, or anything approaching that? It is really folly. In the first place, you are under-representing her by half. You are taking away half her representation. Her full liability for Imperial taxation you leave. If there is a great war, or a great crisis in foreign policy, or a great scheme of development, Ulster is to pay her full share of the new taxation.
I quite agree, but I understand that the nationality which you think is given you by this Bill makes up for that. Ulster gets nothing that she wants under this Bill. She will lose everything, and on her you impose the same disability, accepted apparently patiently, if not cheerfully, by hon. Gentlemen below 2114 the Gangway, but accepted neither patiently nor cheerfully by Ulster. I think that is a perfectly intolerable injustice. I cannot understand how hon. Members who have talked about representation and taxation from their childhood, who have babbled about ship money, and tea in Boston Harbour, and all the rest of it, can tolerate imposing on a reluctant portion of the United Kingdom all the obligations of Imperial taxation, while deliberately cutting down its representation to half—to less than half—what it is now, and only half of what they say it ought to be under any fair numerical arrangement.
I think this question is one of those which were never discussed in Committee, for reasons to which I need not refer more particularly, but I always understood that, so far as the Government plan had a rationale at all, the rationale was that the forty-two Members who came here from Ireland were about half that Ireland was entitled to upon numerical strength.
Then perhaps there is no rationale at all I do not want to quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman over detailed figures. Nobody will deny that forty-two Members for Ireland is not what Ireland is entitled to by her numerical numbers. Yet that is a deliberate arrangement, and it has been stated as part of the scheme of the Bill. It is not an accident of the Bill; it is part of the essence of the Bill, and has been so from the very beginning. That is all that is required for my argument. Now, consider what the position of Ulster is with regard to this House. She wishes to be, as she is now, fully represented, a full sharer in all the issues that interest us. You cut her out. You will not allow us to discuss her affairs. If she comes, as she is entitled to do technically, to discuss your local affairs, she will be looked upon as an interloper. At every Division that is turned by Irish votes the English and Scotch Members will turn round and say, "We cannot manage your affairs, are we 2115 to have our local affairs managed by you? "When they come here, therefore, to deal with our domestic affairs, they will be outcasts and pariahs, and they will be regarded as altogether outside the true limits of the Parliament which adequately represents England and Scotland, but which avowdly does not represent Ireland. That is as regards domestic affairs.
Then as to Imperial affairs, your foreign policy might profoundly influence her whole trade, and you give her only half her representation. You give her nothing except a Parliament in Ireland. Let us turn to the Parliament in Ireland. That is a quite sufficient quid pro quo for the Nationalist Members, but can you think it is a sufficient quid pro quo for Ulster? The whole point in the Nationalist contention is that the interests of Irishmen should concentrate round the new Irish Parliament, that the life of the nation should be revivified, and that the glories of the old Protestant Parliament should be revived under a new guise. That is their case, and their hope. How can it be the hope of anybody who lives in Ulster? He is predestined to be there in a permanent minority. He is there to be taxed, not to tax. And that is not all. With considerable temptation earlier in my speech, I touched upon the question of religion, and I must now again—I admit the temptation—touch upon the question of loyalty. The facts that I am going to cite are disputed by nobody. The facts are that some of the most distinguished, in fact the most distinguished, of the Nationalist Members, and those with whom they have been in close association, have been, not as a matter of remote history, not as one of those ancient wrongs of which we hear at least enough in discussing Irish questions, but in the practical experience of every one of us now living, preaching anti-British views in the most outspoken fashion. They have expressed sympathy with the enemies of Great Britain, whenever Great Britain has been in difficulty, They have been unsparing in their criticism of our policy and our conduct. They have expressed their dislike of us and our ways of thought. They have used language which I do not think would have been tolerated in any other country, and they have used it not once, in a moment of some passing passion or irritation under the sense of some stinging and immediate 2116 wrong, but they have repeated it over and over again as a settled part of their policy.
Now you say, the granting of this measure of Home Rule, for what it may, be worth, is so large an instalment of nationality that a complete change of heart, what theologians call immediate conversion, will take place in these gentlemen and in their friends. That is your hope. I am not going to pose as a prophet one way or the other, but why do you expect Ulster to take your view? Try and be fair. The men in the North of Ireland have seen those under whose heel they are now going to be placed by a British Government denounce the British Government to whatever party it might belong with admirable impartiality on every question of foreign policy, and attack them the more they were in difficulty. And though they may be wrong in thinking that this is going to be a permanent condition of affairs—for that nobody can speak except those who claim to be prophets—is not it unreasonable to assert that they show a gross want of charity and confidence if they ask, if indeed these old declarations did not represent the settled views of those who made them, what ground is there for thinking that their present declarations represent their settled views now? That is not all. The Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture (Mr. T. W. Russell) knows, as I know, for in those days we worked together, that not merely were these declarations which can only be characterised as disloyal in substance, if not in form, are the habitual food meted out to the Irish by those who profess to be their leaders, but he knows quite well, and everybody who has followed Irish history knows quite well, that not merely were there declarations of this character, but that their political actions were backed up by crime and oppression. Again, I say that may be all over. Who knows? Again I say it may be that there will be no more cattle-driving, or boycotting, and that every man will feel safe in his property if he holds it legally. But it may not. Is it unreasonable, I say again, that the Ulstermen who have watched these things closely, who know what has taken place in Ireland, who know not merely these public professions of policy on the part of the leaders, but also the crime on the part of the followers by whom they were backed up—is it unreasonable for them to say, "We refuse to be placed under these men as hewers of wood, drawers of water, and payers of 2117 taxes, without the least hope or chance under this Bill of being able to be masters of our own destinies or of the policy which we desire. "The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has throughout these Debates told us that we have only to mention safeguards and he will give us safeguards. I believe the right hon. Gentleman has been perfectly honest and honourable, and I believe he desires to give safeguards. But the very fact that everybody feels that safeguards are required is in itself enough to show that Ulster is justified in its opposition.
You put a small minority in a hostile country and say, "we will build you a palisade and give you strong places, and if you can show a fitting situation we will stick up another bastion and dig another ditch and you will be able to resist, and we shall be in the background, and if you are too hard pressed we shall come for-word to relieveyou." People donotwantto live in fortresses. The very fact that every man knows on both sides of the House that these strong places are required is ample ground for saying why Ulster hates this Bill, not as a relic of ancient prejudices, not as a mere survival of ancient and unhappy history, not as an invention based upon an imaginary past, but because it feels the existence and the absolute necessity of an overwhelming danger. Can anybody say that Ulster is wrong? Hon. Gentlemen opposite talk glibly of the rule of majorities and of constitutions, and of all that. It is very easy for them to do so. If, by a stroke of the pen, you put Yorkshire in the place of Ulster, Yorkshire would feel in a fortnight as Ulster feels to-day. Do you think that these solid ranks of Yorkshiremen and others, whom I see opposite, in such a case as that would not do what Ulster is doing? Would they not better the example of Ulster? They would spend their days in drilling and their nights in importing arms. If you think the case I have endeavoured to make for Ulster is so weak, then try to put before you the case of the rebelling American Colonies in the middle of the last century and see how the two cases compare. Look back on all the cases in which you have been taught by grave historians to think that the point had come where the doctrine of non-resistance no longer could be carried out. Compare them with the case of Ulster, and see whether you ought to revise your historical judgment or your present condemnation.
2118 The peril of the existing state of things, if I in any sense read the situation aright, is great indeed, and for this reason: I do not believe that Ulstermen are thinking in the least differently from what every Englishman and Scotchman would think in their place, and if Englishmen and Scotchmen do not think so now, it is because, as I believe, they are inadequately informed. They have not, if I may say so without any offence, really exercised their powers of sympathetic imagination as to how they would act themselves in such a case. If they had done that, never would this Bill have been allowed to pass; never, at all events, would the Amendment moved on the first day of this year have been rejected by an overwhelming majority. But this position of oblivion or this attitude of blindness cannot be perpetuated. Something will arouse the feeling of the people in this country; something will make the people of this country under stand what it is that Ulstermen really complain of. Do not put off the day of enlightenment too long. Come it must, but let it come in time. If it comes in time, then the Government have still got a locus prenitentice. There is still time before this Bill becomes operative in which what I firmly believe to be the real sentiment of the British people may find expression in the legislation of the Government, and all the dangers that I fear may be conquered. But if it does not come by argument and perception, and the natural insight of the public of this country, if they only begin to see what dangers and difficulties they are in when those whom they ought to have protected are endeavouring to protect themselves, then it seems to me from every point of view a calamity will have been inflicted upon this country the magnitude of which it is impossible I believe to measure. It will be in itself the greatest of evils, and the collateral consequences will spread far and wide, touching all interests and affecting the whole essence of public morality in this country. All that will receive a shock and a blow from which we may not recover for generations. Do not let that happen. If it does happen, if these calamities do come about, I will not venture among all those who are guilty, or may be guilty, to apportion the blame, but I say with confidence if blood be spilled in this controversy—and God forbid that it should be so—the real assassins are those who have never had the courage to face the situation.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by a complaint, or at least a suggestion, that the House of Commons had very little to do with the Bill in the form in which it now finally appears before us for consideration. The House has had the Bill before it for fifty-two days, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, and I think those who, either by their presence or through reading, have followed our Debates will agree with me, that there is not one single point in the eloquent speech which he has just made which has not been, at one stage or another in the course of those discussions, fully considered and debated. The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for saying so, but it seems to me that he started in this manner from a totally erroneous historical point of view. He appears to me to think that the terminus at which we ought to begin our discussion is the Act of Union, as though before the Act of Union there was no such thing as Ireland, and no such thing as Great Britain, and as though the whole question was whether the Act of Union, having brought about a formal, not a real, union between these two Kingdoms, everything that is now proposed was not in the nature of decentralisation, and was, therefore, a retrograde step. That is a totally unhistorical view, and not only un-historical in point of fact, but it ignores—and this vitiates nine-tenths of the right hon. Gentleman's argument—the sentiments, the traditions, and the moral and economic conditions which have made the Irish question what it is. What is the Irish question? It is not a question of what took place at the Act of Union. It goes much further back. I am not going to recall all the old story of conquests and reconquests, of plantations and replantations, of devastations and expropriations, but when we hear the right hon. Gentleman venting his righteous indignation upon those who in our modern days have not always shown themselves temperate in language in regard to the enemies of this country, a little common charity, a little exercise—not a very large one—of that sift of historical imagination which he has commended to us might surely have suggested to him that language of a more temperate and more reasonable and a more understanding kind might have been used.
Nor will I go back—although that is much later in point of date; for all those things, remember, have left an indelible 2120 impression upon the memory and imagination of the great mass of the Irish people—nor will I go back, except just to recall them, to the days of Protestant ascendency and of penal law, or to the days of Grattan's Parliament, a great experiment, an experiment which, if it failed, as I think it did, still its failure was due mainly, first, to the fact that its members were confined to the Protestant minority; and, next, and still more important—and we had that in mind in framing this Bill—to the fact that its Executive was not responsible to, or dependent upon, the Legislature of Ireland. When you come to the Act of Union with which the right hon. Gentleman starts his Irish history, is there anyone who looks back upon that generation of thirty years that followed the Union who can even conceive that British statesmanship should be so blind as it then showed itself as to ignore for the best part of the lifetime of a whole generation the two greatest and most glaring of all Irish grievances—Catholic disabilities and the payment of tithes? That is only another lesson which has been branded on the memory of Ireland, which has much to do with some of these things that the right hon. Gentleman, in his rather superfine spirit, condemns. In both those cases you only got a tardy and panic-stricken settlement when you were on the verge, or over the verge, of civil war. Then there followed a time—a better time, I agree—for fifty years, during which this Parliament intermittently, spasmodically, but, on the whole, honestly, attempted to deal with Irish affairs; and, again, what do you find? Take the land legislation which followed the famine, the land legislation of the fifties and sixties. It was well-intentioned, and in some respects well conceived, but it was doomed to sterility and failure because it was passed by a Parliament which ignored or was indifferent to the special social and economic conditions of Ireland at that time. It is through experiences like those, which the right hon. Gentleman through the whole of his arguments to-day has conveniently ignored, that the Irish Nationalist movement has passed from a stage of sentiment and aspiration and of abortive effort into what it is to-day—an organised, practical, inevitable reality, a reality which confronts us today, and which ever since we enfranchised the democracy of Ireland thirty years ago has confronted our predecessors. We cannot ignore this, that if you were to 2121 reject this Bill you would find still standing in your path what is, and remains with undiminished vitality, the organised, articulate, and permanent expression of the political demand of the vast majority of the Irish people. That is the vital fact of the situation. That is the thing you have got to face. Instead of the criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman has passed on particular parts of this Bill, the question we are entitled to ask, now that it is going to pass from the control of the House of Commons, a question to which we demand an answer, is this: In the face of that demand, persisted in through the lifetime of a whole generation with unvarying strength and power, What are you going to do?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is an unfortunate lapse of the tongue. The Irish demand is endorsed by a substantial majority of the representatives of Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman, as we all know, is one of the most experienced and most adroit dialecticians in this House. The right hon. Gentleman, as I know well, and others do not, is a past master in the very interesting and admirable art of manufacturing false dilemmas. His speech to-night has been another illustration, in my Parliamentary career, of the fact that his facility and resourcefulness in the practice of that art is not staled by custom or blunted by use. The right hon. Gentleman has presented us again to-night with one or two of those dilemmas to which I should like to ask the attention of the House for a few moments, because they go to the very root of this controversy. The first dilemma is one which I have often heard before, and which was latent, if not actually explicit, in much of what he said. It was this: "Ireland is either a nation or she is not a nation. If she is a nation, this Bill does not go far enough. If she is not a nation, then this Bill goes a great deal too far." Does not that summarise a great deal of the argument used both on the Second Reading and on the Committee and Report stages of the Bill? As I have repeatedly said, I do not believe it is possible 2122 for anybody on paper or in a speech to define what nationality is and means. Judged by any criterion that has ever been suggested by any authority on the subject, I conceive that Ireland well satisfies it. Mr. Parnell once used a phrase, often quoted, to show that the Irish Members cannot accept this Bill in satisfaction of their national demands. The phrase he used was that it was impossible to set bounds to the nationhood of a people. [HON. MEMBERS: "The march of a nation."] So it is.
It does not follow—and that is why this dilemma becomes so unreal, when you bring it down to the level of experience and concrete fact—that the nation might not retain all that makes it such, but have complete autonomy in regard to all its own local affairs, and yet be a member by incorporation and have a voice as such member in the affairs of a larger political whole. If you are going to rule out as not having attained the stature of a nation, or having fallen short of the standard of a nation, countries which do not comply with those conditions, you will have to begin by ruling out Scotland and Wales, and end by ruling out Canada, Australia, and all our great self-governing Dominions. Then there is another dilemma which, I think perhaps, was not so clearly expressed, though it was certainly implied in something the right hon. Gentleman said, and it is that if you have such an incorporation, an incorporation, that is to say, of a nationality in a larger political whole, it must be either federal or not. I perfectly agree in regard to this Bill that it is neither completely the one nor completely the other. We do not adopt in this Bill, as Mr. Gladstone did in the Bill of 1886, the Colonial analogy. We retain the Irish Members in the House of Commons. We allow the House of Commons, the Imperial House of Commons, for general purposes to tax Ireland as well as Great Britain. We retain in the Imperial Parliament large powers which can be effectively exercised, both of overriding legislation and the Executive veto. On the other hand, I also agree that this is not—according to the analogies and precedents of our Colonial Empire—strictly speaking, a federal system, because we give the Irish Parliament powers which certainly no Dominions give to subordinate provinces in regard to taxation.
The reason, to my mind, is the simplest and the most practical in the world, namely, that in dealing with an entirely 2123 new problem, one to which there is no perfect or even approximate analogy either in the British Empire or elsewhere, you should have regard, as all statesmen ought to have regard, to the special conditions—historical, geographical, and economic—which affect the relations between Ireland and ourselves. I am not in the least pressed or troubled by those who say, "Well, this is a thing which is neither fish, nor flesh, nor fowl, because there is nothing like it in the Constitutions of the world." My answer is that there is no set of conditions similar to or identical with those of Ireland and Great Britain, and it would be pedantry and not statesmanship if you were to adopt, by any procrustean method, plans, and precedents which have been found admirable elsewhere, and apply them to conditions which are totally different from and perfectly alien to them. I want to make this point perfectly clear, and let me illustrate what I mean by one or two instances, though not by anything in the nature of an exhaustive enumeration. Under this Bill we retain the Irish representation in the Imperial Parliament. It is quite true, as has often been pointed out in the course of these discussions, that upon a strict debtor and creditor account Ireland at present makes no contribution to Imperial expenditure.
That is a state of things which we hope and believe will be gradually brought to an end. But the Imperial Parliament under this Bill surrenders none of its powers. It can legislate for Ireland. It can by its control over the Executive determine how, when, and under what conditions the veto shall be imposed upon the legislation of the Irish Parliament. It can impose taxation on Ireland for general and common purposes. It retains, at any rate for a time, under its strict control, a number of important Irish services. Under these conditions, to exclude the Irish Members from this House would be a manifest injustice. In regard to all these matters they ought to have a voice, and, I confess, I will not say I was amused, but I think it was very instructive, that when the right hon. Gentleman was dealing with the question of Ulster his grievance against our Bill appeared to be, not that the Irish Members were retained here, but that they were retained here in insufficient numbers. Why should Ulster be separately treated from the rest of Ireland?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is a totally new criterion. We have been repeatedly told in the course of these Debates that even the attenuated Irish representation which is to continue here, namely, forty-two Members, will deflect our party channels, and will afford an almost irresistible prey for the machinations of the wire-puller, and make, therefore, the opinion of the Imperial Parliament what it ought not to be, namely, an untrue reflection of opinion of the country as a whole.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
As it is to day? That is an illuminating and instructive observation of which we will take note when we come to deal with the question of the franchise and redistribution. Let me point out that the exclusion of the Irish Members was the rock, the real rock, upon which the Bill of 1886 foundered. I heard a very eloquent speech the other night from the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), when we were discussing the question of the proposed exclusion of Ulster—a speech listened to, I think, by both sides of the House with very great interest and with very great respect. The right hon. Gentleman said we were turning out the men of Ulster from their allegiance to the British Crown, at any rate to the Imperial Parliament, and he quoted a passage from a speech of Mr. John Bright, delivered in 1886. Has the right hon. Gentleman refreshed his memory lately by reading a speech which was delivered on the Second Reading of that Bill by his own illustrious relative, the Member for West Birmingham? What was the real ground of the opposition of the Member for West Birmingham to the Bill of 1886? Let anybody read that speech again. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham would have voted, I do not think I am wrong in saying, for the Second Reading of the Bill in 1886, if it had contained, what it necessarily did not, the retention of the Irish representation. When people talked as they did, I think not without an assumption of reason in the way of criticism, of putting not only Ulster, but Ireland outside the aegis of the Imperial Parliament, what they had in view, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had, was 2125 the exclusion of the Irish representation from this House, and the conversion of Ireland, to all intents and purposes, into a colony, and the fact that we here in this country should hereafter carry on our discussions, transact our affairs, discharge our duties to the Empire without Ireland having any part or voice or lot in the matter. That is what killed the Bill of 1886. That is what led to the foundation of the Liberal Unionist party. That is no longer any part of our proposal. I will not go into any details on the question of finance on which the right hon. Gentleman touched, and which I have no doubt, later in the Debate my right hon. Friend who sits beside me (Mr. Herbert Samuel) will deal with. I will only say there again with regard to our financial proposals, we have had regard to the special, social, and economic conditions which exist as between Ireland and Great Britain.
I come to what the right hon. Gentleman said in the concluding part of his speech with reference to Ulster. We had a discussion less than a fortnight ago on this matter upon a proposal made from the Front Bench opposite by the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), whose absence we all most sincerely deplore, and, I need not say, deplore all the more because of the cause of it. He has been the protagonist with regard to these matters, and, whatever differences of opinion may have been between us, we have all regarded him from first to last as a consistent, courageous, and resourceful representative of the opinions which he conscientiously held, and which he has courageously put forward. Upon that Amendment we had a long discussion in regard to this matter and I do not know, having listened most carefully to the right hon. Gentleman, what is the claim he puts forward. First of all, as we have often said, Ulster is a geographical expression. The representation of Ulster at this moment is equally balanced. What it may be in a week or fortnight it would take a very good prophet to say, but at any rate it cannot be altered by more than one. So Ulster as Ulster may be left out of the case, and when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking of Ulster I presume he was really referring to those particular counties which constitute the North-Eastern part of that province. What is the claim that is put forward? This is the last time we shall have a real opportunity of understanding it. What is the claim put forward on behalf of those counties? I want to know because the right hon.
2126 Gentleman was not wrong in saying that I have always used, and I think most of my colleagues, really sympathetic language in regard to this subject; and if we could meet the case, so far as it is founded on justice, or even upon aprehension, of those counties, without doing injustice to Ireland as a whole, we should be most glad and delighted to do so. I would venture to quote, though I am quoting myself, one sentence which is expressive of my own' matured views, and I believe of the whole of my colleagues, with regard to this matter, which I used when I spoke in Dublin last summer. What I said was this, and I want to know the answer to it, and I hope we shall get the answer in the course of this Debate:—But to say that a minority, before actual wrong has been, or can be, done them, upon the suspicion or apprehension that in defiance of the terms of an Act of Parliament and of the supreme authority of the Imperial Parliament, they may, peradventure, at some future day be injured or oppressed—to say that a minority is entitled on such grounds to thwart and defeat the constitutional demand of the vast majority of their fellow countrymen and to frustrate a great international settlement, is a proposition which in my opinion does not, and never will, commend itself either to the conscience or to the judgment of the British people.That is our answer that is the statement of our case in regard to Ulster. We have asked again and again what additional securities and safeguards you can suggest or we can provide. [Viscount HELMSLEY made an observation which was inaudible.] Yes, we have indeed. The Noble Lord has not read the Bill, otherwise he would know we made a substantial addition to the Third Clause, and, more important still, when we came to the Fourth Clause dealing with the Executive, which in the Bill as originally framed was without any safeguard, we expressly inserted a provision to prevent the Executive authority from doing acts from which legislative authority was precluded. If similar suggestions, framed on similar lines, had been made or could have been made to us, we should have been only too happy to accept them. I want to know what is your claim. Is the sentence I have read—is it or is it not sound policy? The right hon. Gentleman has talked about Yorkshire. Well, I am a Yorkshireman and have as strong a pride in my native county as any Ulster-man can have in Ulster. I am not going to assert, and no Yorkshireman I know of would assert, a kind of Liberum veto for a minority, that a minority of the population of a country, although collected together in one particular area, and although the inheritors of strong racial 2127 and religious traditions, should thwart and defeat the wishes and the aspirations of the great majority of their fellow countrymen. Minorities ought to be protected. They ought to be protected, not only against injustice, but against even the suspicion of apprehension of injustice. I will go any length in that direction, but I said when we were talking about Ulster the other day what I repeat here to-night, that the claim that is put forward, if it can be formulated in any intelligible shape on behalf of those four counties, is a claim which is absolutely fatal to democratic government.
The right hon. Gentleman suggested then, as he has suggested before and others like him, that under the system created by this Bill there will be perpetual friction and misunderstanding. He said we were all dupes—the Irish were dupes so far as they believed in us, and the English and Scotch were dupes so far as they believed in the Irish, and Parliament were dupes so far as they believed in His Majesty's Government. [An HoN. MEMBER: "Who is it who are not dupes?"] The only people who are not dupes are those who sit on that bench opposite. [An HON. MEMBER:"A happy family."] They have had some experience of their own in regard to what I may call the science of political dupery. Seriously speaking, what is the prospect of this perpetual friction, leading to the unworkability and ultimate deadlock of the Irish Parliament on the one side and the British or Imperial Parliament on the other, under the system set up by this Bill? We have two pictures, two companion pictures. On the one hand, we have the picture of an Irish House of Commons always straining at the leash, chafing against restrictions, bent on harassing, by direct or indirect means, the Protestant minority, and perpetually shaking its fist at the Imperial Parliament. That is one picture. What is the companion picture? There is the Imperial House of Commons, more preoccupied than ever after Home Rule with Irish affairs, watching with vigilant, suspicious, and ever meticulous care every act of the Irish Legislature and Executive, and in turn perpetually brandishing its veto in the face of the Irish House of Commons. I ventured to say twenty years ago, when I was speaking on the Bill of 1893 that, given perversity on the one side and pedantry on the other, there is not a Constitution in the world that could not be wrecked in a week. It 2128 is true of the British Constitution to-day, and it will be equally true of the Constitution created under this Bill. What are the real safeguards against anything of the kind? I will not speak of patriotism, I will not speak of the sense of public duty, I will not speak of any of those higher motives which some may well think may be brought into play. But there are two safeguards which are none the less strong because they cannot be defined in any Act of Parliament, and they are the safeguards of self-interest and of common sense.
We do not hear so much to-day, and we heard nothing in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, about the dangers of separation. In 1886 and in 1893, those of us who took part in those controversies will remember that Home Rule was always represented as the first step towards separation. We hear very little upon that now. The same thing used to be thought and used to be said when our self-governing Colonies were step by step emancipated from the paternal control of the Government of Downing Street, and set up, one after another, as masters of their own households. Lord John Russell talked about separation, while Disraeli at one time in his life talked the same thing. When I heard the right hon. Gentleman just now in his spirited peroration, which evoked so much enthusiasm on the benches behind him, predict in fuliginous language what was at least likely to happen on the grant of self-government to Ireland, when he compared us and spoke of us, I think his phrase was, as the assassins, or prospective, contingent possible assassins at any rate, of British liberties and of the British Constitution, I could not help recalling how, not more than six years ago, from that very same place, I heard the same right hon. Gentleman predict, with equal confidence and in equally lurid language, the consequences which would follow from what he described as the most reckless experiment that political folly had ever conceived in the grant of responsible self-government to the Transvaal. In building up a great Empire it is always necessary to take risks. As the old Roman poet said, and it is equally true of us, Tantae molis erat Romanam, condere gentem. You must take risks. The risks we have run have been invariably justified by subsequent experience, because in devolving from ourselves the control of local affairs upon local communities, and in building up their separate life upon a basis of self-government, with the fullest 2129 freedom of self-development, we have invariably found that we have had our reward, and more than our reward, in their increased loyalty and affection to the Empire as a whole. We hope and confidently believe that this will happen again in this the most crucial and serious case in the whole of our Imperial history. I commend this Bill on the Third Reading not in the attitude or the language of apology. We look forward with confidence to its results, because we believe it to be calculated to bring to an end a secular quarrel. It is no use now to analyse the shortcomings of the past, or to attempt exactly to apportion as though you were weighing up in a balance the burden of the blame. Not only upon one side, but upon both sides, bitter words have been spoken, bad things have been done. It is true in another sense from that in which our great poet used the words:—…High Heaven rejects the lore,Of nicely calculated less or more.It has seemed that almost from the first an unkindly fate has brooded over these two Islands to frustrate their common life and to sever their national unity. Time after time, when they were coming together, the web of reciprocal interests and affection, which seemed to be about to be woven, has been unravelled and torn asunder, as though under the spell of some malignant curse. Let it be our part to exorcise once and for all these baleful influences, and to join two peoples, meant to be one, whom the chances of history, the seeming caprice of fortune, and the follies and passions of men have kept apart, in a fruitful and enduring union.
Mr. MARK SYKES
Members in every part of the House will realise that after the impressive peroration to which we have just listened, it is very difficult for a comparatively new Member to follow on a question which is naturally one of the greatest importance to the people in all parts of the United Kingdom. I would not intrude in this Debate were it not possible that I may be able to view this measure from a rather different angle from that taken by people who have been in politics for a great number of years. It has been my good fortune through life to be constantly in contact with the Irish question in many different circumstances, and those circumstances have very seldom been political. In the first place, I was brought up in an English Catholic school, in which I formed part of a Unionist minority, and 2130 the eyes which are now looking upon the House were occasionally in danger of being blacked during the stormy passage of the Bill of 1892. After leaving there, I found myself continually in command of Irish soldiers, either in English regiments or in Irish regiments. Subsequently I was private secretary to my right hon. Friend the Member for Dover, when Chief Secretary for Ireland, at the time of the passing of the Irish Land Act. Since then I have not been uninterested in Ireland, being concerned in fat stock and the breeding of horses, which is one of the few profitable businesses still left in the South of Ireland. The Prime Minister has told us that we have spent fifty-two days discussing this measure. That is a very gracious concession, for which we are all very grateful. It is one of those touches of old-world courtesy which gild those strokes which, as the right hon. Gentleman's admirers would say, are worthy of old Cromwell himself. But it is obvious, I think, to anybody that the real discussions about this Bill took place long before it came into-this House. What heroic battles must have taken place in the conferences of the allies before the Bill was introduced. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman fought for a minimum drain on the English Exchequer and for a maximum of public safety. No doubt the hon. and learned Member for Waterford fought for a maximum of power in Ireland and a minimum of responsibility.
But in asking whether any Bill which is not a measure of social reform, or a measure affecting the daily life of the people, is to benefit the United Kingdom, I think the tests we should apply would be whether it was likely to effect a saving to the public purse, or to facilitate our commerce, or to increase our national safety. It cannot be contended that this Bill does anything in any one of those directions. When we have a warmhearted Chancellor of the Exchequer it cannot be a saving to the public purse to have present forty or more Gentlemen from Ireland, who do not represent the taxpayers, whose sentimental interests are always in favour of giving people money, who will have the satisfaction of feeling that they are participating in the giving away of money, and at the same time have none of the dissatisfaction of knowing that their constituents have to pay. In the same way, I do not think it can be pretended that different post offices and differentiation of 2131 duties can in any way facilitate commerce within the United Kingdom. The most remarkable point with regard to defence is that it is obviously within the power of the new Parliament in Ireland to hamper this country, but right hon. Gentlemen opposite will not trust that Parliament to assist us. Anything more anomalous than that it would be difficult to imagine. The whole excuse for the Bill from the English point of view is that it may save us money. The Postmaster-General's excuse is that the Bill may have that result at some future date. A saying of that kind is not only hypothetical, but a saving that we do not want to make. If England really owes Ireland money, the English taxpayer is always sufficiently intelligent and patriotic to wish to pay it. At the same time he naturally wishes to control the money which he sends to Ireland, and that is why he objects to even a smaller actual expenditure than that in the Bill.
It must be admitted that the first great boon that this Bill proposes to confer upon Ireland is apparently a revolution. The first great advantage is that there will be a perfect riot. I think that that is not denied. The cheers which followed the Prime Minister's speech admitted that that not is inevitable. If the Bill is passed, Ulster resists. If the Bill is rejected, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford resists. Therefore the Irish people who are interested in business have double cause to bless this Government, who, by the very production of this Bill, make trouble for Ireland inevitable. I submit that the test of whether any measure will benefit Ireland is the question whether it does one or more of four things. It must tend to solve either the land question, the racial question, the religious question, or the one question which I submit curses Ireland at the present moment almost more than anything else, namely, the existence of all those secret associations which for one purpose or another pass their time in bullying and boycotting, or in pressing other people to bully and boycot their fellow-countrymen. The Prime Minister referred to the history of Ireland before the Union. I certainly think that nothing stronger could be brought forward against this Bill than the history of Ireland before the Union. I would base the whole of my objection to the Bill not on the faults of people who 2132 are living now, but on acts which cannot be forgotten of people who are dead.
First of all, there is the land question. To begin with, the land in Ireland was stolen from the people. Stolen is a very hard word. Communal feudalism was turned into landlordism. Afterwards the Colonists got the land, and it passed from hand to hand, and so forth. Then the land was atrociously speculated in at the latter part of the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth centuries. The result was that the Irish peasant was looked upon as thriftless and hopeless, and thriftless and hopeless I am certain the Irish peasant must remain until he is economically placed upon his holding. The great secret of the hope of Ireland lies in land purchase, with which my right hon. Friend the Member for Dover made such a magnificent beginning when he was Chief Secretary for Ireland. Pass this Bill, and it is certain that land purchase not only will be retarded, but eventually will be stopped, and must be stopped. If the credit of Ireland is divorced from the credit of the United Kingdom, land purchase cannot go on at the rate it ought to do. The only other solution is the solution of the Irish Parliament solving it for themselves, and solving it eventually with injustice or with violence. We shall then have the methods again of the hon. Member for West Meath, cattle-driving and so forth, that will leave another crop of hatreds and another crop of prejudices which you have to live down through another generation before you can get removed. There is the racial and the religious questions. Surely, if anyone can speak upon them from an impartial point of view, it is myself, an Englishmen and a Catholic. The religious and racial prejudices which exist in Ireland at present are not the result of any person living; but they are a real existing thing.
Strangers colonised the North of Ireland, and brutally oppressed the people. That I admit. They were savagely retaliated upon. That is also admitted. That is remembered and that is known. You have memories going back for 200 years. You cannot root these out in a moment, and you cannot do it by passing a preposterous measure of this kind. There is only one way. That religious and racial hatred was dying down. It had been reduced a great deal. It is now blazing up again. Pass this measure, and it becomes an outbreak that nothing will put down. On the other hand, there is a 2133 certain solution which we, the party of the Union, were pursuing as it should be pursued—the policy of land purchase. We were doing our best to stifle the religious and racial enmities which exist in Ireland. There is only one way, and that is by merging the population of Ireland into the 46,000,000 of the United Kingdom who have neither part nor lot in the quarrels of Ireland and know nothing whatever about them.
Lastly—and I think nobody acquainted with Ireland at all will deny it—old land questions, the questions of race, and the questions of religion which still remain have produced in the social life of Ireland one deplorable thing, and that is that the people will band together in small parties and men will band together in secret organisations to force people to buy or to sell, or to force some people to boycott others, or to terrorise people into doing what they do not want. All this is simply the result of these questions one upon the top of the other going through the centuries. You have landless men banding together to snatch the land from the people who have it. You have Catholics banding together to protect themselves against Protestants, and Protestants banding together to protect themselves against Catholics. Pass this measure and you set things back. These matters began long before the Act of Union. They go back to the Rapparees, to the Whiteboys, and through the whole gamut of these secret societies which come down to the present moment and culminate in the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Orange Lodges of the North. Pass this Bill and this plague of Ireland is redoubled. Pass this Bill as it is and passions which are only words now become actions, and only the extremists will survive? No Catholic will survive who is not a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, who will back him up, and no Protestant in Ulster or elsewhere but will have to belong to a Protestant organisation to protect his trade and to protect his life. It is only people like Lord Dunraven and nice people of that sort who think that things will settle down. Victory will lie with the extremists if this Bill becomes law. Other societies will rise up, and other troubles, if you cut Ireland adrift from England. The wants of Ireland will become more, and naturally there will be more secret societies and more forms of terrorism started in order to get those wants fulfilled.
2134 What is the excuse of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister for bringing forward this Bill? He has only one excuse. He gave it on the Third Reading and on the Second Reading. It was that it was the absolute and the constant demand of the democracy of Ireland. If he had said it was the demand of the Irish Nationalist political machine he would have been right. I really think that we can come now to talking about this matter without humbug, for every man in this House knows this fact, that the Irish party is a mere political machine. The demand referred to is not the demand of the Irish people. Perhaps once hon. Members below the Gangway might have said that they reprssented the Irish people. Now they are a political machine. Uncontested by-elections and secret societies have seen to it that the democracy of Ireland has been robbed of the power of expression. That is a matter of common knowledge to anybody who knows Ireland. Every time the Irish democracy gets an opportunity it repudiates hon. Members below the Gangway. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Yes, the Irish democracy does. These were the same men who were killed and wounded in South Africa. These were the same men who cheered for the King when he went through Dublin. They were many more than they who decided that he should not be received by the Dublin Corporation. There are more people in Ireland on the side of land purchase than on the side of hon. Members below the Gangway. There was unanimity on one subject alone; the whole of the Iirsh people were united on the subject of the Budget. I am not certain that the whole of the Irish people was not united in the desire not to chase away Sir Horace Plunkett who had served so well the Irish people.
Hon. Members give away their whole case when they say, "We stand where Parnell stood." [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] They do not deny it. Nobody else can. Parnell stood in the face of an Ireland landlord-ridden and overtaxed with a surplus. They stand in the face of a country that has now begun to grow prosperous, though certainly it has a deficit. They cannot say that the situation is in the least degree the same. The demand in the time of Parnell was the demand of a desperate and hungry peasantry. It is now merely the demand of some American sentimentalists and people who have to demand Home Rule 2135 because they have said so in the past and cannot get out of it. Hon. Members below the Gangway say they stood where Parnell stood. It is impossible for living dwarfs or any number of living dwarfs to say that. In fact, the Irish Nationalists political machinery has got to go on demanding Home Rule just in the same way that James II. had got to lose his Crown. I do not say that there is not a certain amount of Irish national political instinct in this Bill. Irish people act in a very instinctive manner in many things. When the Irish soldiers fought against us at Fontenoy they charged with great valour, and with disastrous results to ourselves. When they served with us in later wars they also charged with the same valour, and with glorious results for ourselves—which we share and are proud to share with them. But I submit to this House that if Mr. Croker was bringing forward a Bill for Home Rule for the Tenderloin district of New York, he would certainly bring forward a Bill very much like this. We can see in this Bill where the Irish Nationalist party is prepared to compromise, and where it is not. I think I may speak with a little indignation on one point, and on one point upon which the Irish party will compromise, and that is on Clause 3. As a Catholic I protest against the inclusion of that Clause in the Bill. If hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway accept that Clause, I say it shows that they believe every pamphlet issued by the Protestant Alliance which has been sent from one end of the country to the other. If they do not believe that the Clause is necessary they ought to have the courage to say so in this House. They will compromise upon it.
There are certain things they will not compromise upon. They will not compromise about the Flag because they know that probably, as in American elections, "twisting the lion's tail" will be a splendid asset in Irish General Elections. They will not compromise about the Post Office for they believe in that Irish-American maxim: "To the victors belong the spoils." They will not compromise even over the language because they believe that, some paleolithic or pleistocene jargon may be invented by which they can keep their enemies out of office, and which they say they can talk themselves, and nobody knows whether they can or not. Naturally they will not compromise about the bench. It would not be safe to leave other parties in charge—as the Royal Irish 2136 Constabulary. If they did, they would have this situation: The Irish Parliament actually in power and being able to prescribe, by what it says within its walls, a not would not take the responsibility of quelling it; but they wish to have a sympathetic judge when the riot is over to deal with the cases when they come up.
There is one point—and the last—that I want to make before I sit down. Hon. Members below the Gangway know, as well as everybody else, that when this Bill passes there is bound at length to be a violent period of disillusion set in, with trouble between the North and South or wherever it is. When this is over and the dust subsides, the people will find that they are not going to have all comfits in this glorious paradise that has been prophesied for three generations. A scapegoat will have to be found. I am not going to say that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will find that scapegoat. But eventually some organisation or something of the kind will have to be found to bear the brunt of a disillusioned and disappointed people, who see the cottage policy "held up," social reform, land purchase, and many other things "held up," and see nothing but excessive taxation when they had expected something different. There is only one organisation then to attack—the Church. We are in great danger not only of keeping up the old feuds, but of there growing up in Ireland a strong anti-clerical party, so adding one more tribulation to that country. I know it will be said that the whole of the clergy are in favour of Home Rule. The clergy in Ireland are in precisely the same position as other men. The priest who is in favour of Home Rule has a right to say so. I believe 500 were recently at the Convention. But supposing a priest is not in favour of Home Rule? Is he able to say so in Ireland? [HON. MEMBEES: "Yes."] If any large number were against it, and there was any danger of a campaign arising on their part, then would follow the same tyranny that has driven people and persecuted people, that has follows landlords and land agents and everybody else in Ireland who has stood in the path of hon. Members below the Gangway.
The only other possible scapegoat Is the Imperial Government. Their machinery and organisation is ready. Supposing this Bill brings disillusionment, then it will be easy enough to say that the Bill was not good enough, that it was a great act of treachery, and there are plenty of 2137 Members who sometimes sit below the Gangway who would be ready to take up that side. There is the hon. Member for East Mayo, who is always endeavouring to hinder our foreign policy. Then, no doubt, there will be the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, who perhaps would not care to identify himself with the extreme section, but there are plenty of others who opposed our Army and fought against us in South Africa. There are plenty of Irish organisations, Irish Republican Brotherhoods, and so on, who will be in evidence. I saw the only member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood I ever saw in my life in South Africa preaching sedition among the troops, so I have reason to know that particular subject. They will be ready at the very moment that this Bill fails to try and turn it into the absolute separation they desire. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford makes protestations in a very fascinating way when he speaks to English audiences, but he cannot nominate his successor; and, secondly, I do not know if it is generally known to the House what attitude the hon. Member for Waterford took up so lately as 1910. I only know this, that when England was in its darkest hour and when there was no question of politics or party at all, and when every nation sympathised with her and every people sympathised with her, and when telegrams were pouring in from every part of the world expressing sympathy in the loss of our late King, the only discordant note that was struck was struck by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
The hon. Member must excuse me; that is not so. I was abroad at the time of the death of the late King, and the very moment I came back, in the first, public speech I made in Ireland, I expressed my deep sympathy at his death.
Mr. MARK SYKES
I happen to have got the report of the hon. Member's speech in the "Times." I think he will be satisfied with that.
Mr. MARK SYKES
Then I must read it, and as I do not want to make a special quotation from it, I hope hon. Members will not mind if I read it at length. Here it is—Death of the King.—There was one thing to be deplored in the present political situation and that was the immediate check—it was only immediate—which had been caused by the death of the King—2138 You see what comes in the front. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read on."]There were two aspects in which the death of the King must be viewed by Irishmen—the personal aspect and the constitutional. From the personal aspect all parties in Ireland were sorry. The King never showed any hostility to Ireland—an unusual thing in a British Sovereign. The general feeling was that he was a frank, manly and friendly Sovereign, and they were all sorry for his death and sympathised with his family and with the English people. There was the second aspect—the constitutional aspect—and of it he would say let no Irishman be guilty of the hypocrisy of pretending to the English people that they regard as to the demise of the Sovereign as affecting Ireland in the same way as the demise of the Sovereign affected the people of England.There is nothing to prevent that being said if this Bill is passed by the successor of the hon. and learned Gentleman. At any rate, these monstrous words were ringing—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!" and "Withdraw"]—I should hardly think that that was an un-Parliamentary expression to use with regard to such an expression as that. At any rate, it was a truculent attitude at such a moment as that to use such words as these.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I really think the hon. Gentleman is treating me most unfairly. He commenced by saying that at a moment when expressions of sympathy on the death of the King were coming to this country from all parts of the world I struck the only discordant note. Thereupon I interrupted, and said that, on the contrary, having been abroad at the time of the death of the King, the moment I came back I made a public speech, and in that speech I expressed my sympathy on the death of the King—and he read my words—and with the relatives of the King and with the English people. To insist on depicting me as having said one disrespectful word unsympathetic about the death of the King is most unfair.
Mr. MARK SYKES
—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] If what I said was un-Parliamentary, Mr. Speaker will tell me to withdraw it; at any rate, I do not consider I am speaking in an un-Parliamentary way by saying that I consider these were monstrous words which I think ought never to have been uttered. All I say, further, is that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had these words ringing in his ears—the epithet on the constitutional point—when he suspended our Constitution to pass this Bill into law.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I should like to ask indulgence of the House in rising to address it for the first time on this Bill which 2139 I have the honour to support. I hope at the outset to be able to bring myself into perfect harmony with the views of hon. Members upon the opposite benches. The Leader of the Opposition has lately told us that he and his supporters intend to consult the Colonies in determining the fiscal policy of Great Britain before asking a mandate on that question. I suggest they have already a mandate from the Colonies on the question of Home Rule. The Dominion Parliaments of Canada and of the Commonwealth of Australia have petitioned the Crown to grant Home Rule to Ireland. They have never interfered in any respect whatsoever with the domestic legislation of Great Britain except in this matter. I would suggest to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), that they should listen to the voice of the Colonies, and I wish to give them the opportunity of hearing real Colonial sentiment on this subject by reading a resolution carried by the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia dealing with it. A similar resolution was carried in the Dominion Parliament of Canada. One Clause was deleted from that resolution by the Commonwealth Parliament, namely, the Clause which referred in complimentary terms to the Land Purchase Act of the Conservative Government. The Australians have a very much hardier faith than Canadians and do not believe that any good can come out of the Tory Nazareth, and therefore they kept out these words. If some hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want to hear the voice of the Colonies I at least want this resolution to be put upon the records of the House. The resolution passed in the Federal Parliament of Australia in 1905 was:—Resolved that a humble Address be presented to His Majesty as follows:—May it please your Majesty, we your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, desire most earnestly in our name and on behalf of the people whom we represent to express unswerving loyalty to your Majesty's person and Government. Enjoying and appreciating as we do the blessings of Home Rule, we would humbly express the hope that a just measure of Home Rule may be granted to the people of Ireland. They ask for it through their representatives—never has request more clear, consistent and continuous been made by any nation. As subjects of your Majesty we are interested in the peace and contentment of all parts of the Empire, and we desire to see this long-standing grievance at the very heart of the Empire removed. It is our desire for the solidarity and permanence of the Empire making for peace and civilisation that must be our excusel for submitting to your Majesty this respectful petition.2140 There you have the views of several millions of Colonists expressed, and the sentiments prevailing in the Debate were well emphasised in the words of one of the most distinguished men of Australia, Mr. Higgins, judge of the Federal High Court. He said:—I wish to show that the Union between Great Britain and Ireland is an admitted failure, conceived in blunder, consummated in fraud, and maintained to the discredit and damage of the Empire.That is a refreshing example of the real Colonial sentiment such as we do not hear from the benches opposite. This resolution having been carried, I think it deserves the attention of the great Imperialist party opposite. I would not bring before the House resolutions carried by Colonial Governments, were I not sure that these resolutions express the views of the majority of the electorate of Great Britain. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that we had not a majority in England. Perhaps in representatives in this House we have not, but we must remember that some forty Members opposite were rejected by the electors of their constituencies. They were elected by the plural voters, and when the plural vote is gone we shall have a very much larger majority for Home Rule. But when they say that the English electorate is opposed to Home Rule, I ask why they have not fought the by-elections on Home Rule. Opportunity after opportunity has been afforded them of denouncing the Home Rule Bill and securing votes of censure upon it in these by-elections. I have been in many of them, and I have fought one myself, and I never hardly heard Home Rule mentioned. It was always the Insurance Act. In one of these by-elections, for instance, North-West Norfolk, the party opposite imported a horde of men from Ulster, including some Nonconformists and boycotted farmers to denounce Home Rule, but they had not been in the constituency very long before they were turned off Home Rule and were turned on to denounce the Insurance Act. I say we have the majority of the British and English electorate with us upon this question. We are taunted with the fact that if we grant this measure of justice to Ireland there will be civil war and bloodshed. If we are to have civil war—personally I do not believe we will have war, and I do not believe we will have civility—I would like to know the fundamental issue. I listened to the speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite, and I tried to get an idea from him as to what is the real issue.
2141 We know what the issue is as put in Ulster, for instance, by the hon. and learned Member for North Armagh (Mr. Moore). We know the blood-thirsty fustian he talks in trying to rouse fears of religious bigotry there, but I never heard it in this House, and I may say that nobody has censured more the methods of the hon. and learned Member and the raising of these religious issues than the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I happen to have in my hand, for instance, a copy of the "Times" of the 27th September, 1911, in which the hon. Gentleman opposite wrote:—Sir,—In your report of the speech of Mr. Moore, K.C., M.P., delivered to the great meeting at Craigavon on 23rd September, the following sentence occurs:—The British Government had never had to face the question of Protestant rebels in Ireland yet. Let them beware how far, to please the Vatican and Patrick Ford, they proceed to create them.That is a quotation from the speech of the hon. Member for North Armagh. The hon. Member for Central Hull proceeds to say in his letter:—If the Anti-Home Rule campaign is going to be conducted on such texts and speeches as these, I feel convinced that for a number of Unionists it will be impossible to take any active part in it. Mr. Moore's expression could not at once be more misleading and insulting, misleading to Protestants and insulting to Catholics. To the one it suggests that the Pope is leagued with those who desire to break up the United Kingdom; to the other it puts His Holiness on a level with a person who does not scruple to advocate the use of dynamite.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I did not suggest that the hon. Member did. I was only saying how difficult it is for an inquirer to find out what is the issue. The hon. Member for North Armagh says that Protestantism is in danger and there is to be bloodshed for the maintenance of Protestantism as against Roman Catholicism, and the hon. Member for Central Hull writes to say, that if the campaign is going to be conducted on those lines it will be impossible for him to take any active part in it. I am inquiring as to the real issue, and I am inclined to think that the religious issue is only intended for Ulster use. I think myself that the issue was openly and very honestly stated by the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long), who, speaking on the question of the veto of the Lord Lieutenant, said:—Is it to be supposed if I used the words 'Catholic' and 'Protestant' or does the Solicitor-General really think that either my right hon. and learned friend (Sail. Carson) or I, or anybody, would interpret that 2142 language as meaning that the Nationalist party would proceed to pass Statutes attacking Protestants as such and condemning them. What the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General and the Prime Minister refused to recognise, because for some extraordinary reason they will not face the facts, is this, that you are-giving to this new Parliament under this Bill extraordinary powers. For instance, in land legislation yon will enable them to legislate in such a way that they may bring very great injury upon the minority to-the advantage, through the circumstances of the case in Ireland, of the majority. What is their protection? You have told the country that their protection is in, veto. Those who anticipate this loss and this injury—it is to go out from this debate to-night on your statement that their security and their protection and their safeguard against robbery or injury rests on the veto of the man who will act on the advice of Ministers who have produced the very Bill of which they complain.There is the real issue; they are afraid of the coming land legislation of a democratic Irish Parliament. They are afraid of robbery and injury to their vested interests. Therefore, it is not to be civil war for the maintenance of the rights of Protestantism, but civil war for the maintenance of vested interests, if there is to be civil war. A speech was made by Lord Barrymore recently in Dublin as president of the County Cork branch of the Irish Landowners' Association, in which he reviewed the question of Home Rule, and at the end he proceeds to say:—That was not a very good prospect for the landlords who had to live in Ireland, but they looked round and asked where this taxation was to come from. The only-possible thing upon which taxation could be imposed was the land, and the land concerned them all alike. On the whole the prospect before them was not a cheerful one.Therefore, what is meant is civil war not in the interests of religion, but to prevent any legislation affecting land which may be passed by a Parliament in Dublin. There is another vested interest which they wish to safeguard against an Irish Parliament. I have been into Belfast to study the condition of the workers in the linen factories owned by the great supporters of Unionism. I confess that I went there with my enthusiasm rather damped upon the issue of Home Rule, but my enthusiasm rose very rapidly after I had been in the homes of the workers of Belfast, because there I saw the need of a Legislature in Ireland to deal with the conditions I witnessed. Talk about the white slaves, why in Belfast they reduce women to slavery. There they degrade womenkind and they bring them to slavery and will not pay the price. I went into one of these miserable dens in which I found a young girl dying with the first touch of consumption upon her. She was in a little room, and there was another family living in the room above, which was reached by a ladder. She had been working in the hot atmosphsre of the linen factory and after leaving her 2143 employment had been caught by the cold night air, and that was the end of that poor Irish woman. There are thousands and thousands of women like that, and thousands of homes like it in Ireland, and the concern of an Irish Parliament will be with such matters as these. I speak here to-night as an Australian who has lived under a federal system, and I know the matters which do concern a State Parliament in Australia, with its narrow, limited sphere of legislation, under which bigger matters are withdrawn from it and the whole time of the State Parliament is practically concerned with industrial and social matters, trying to improve here and there the condition of the people. I say that an Irish Parliament will have similar concerns and similar spheres of usefulness, and even a greater sphere of usefulness. No doubt it will trench upon vested interests. If you saw the slums of Dublin I am sure you would realise that an Irish Parliament has much to do.
The Leader of the Opposition said the other night that if you established Home Rule and there was civil war in which thirty Unionists were shot, it would be the end of this Government, and it would be swept out of power. All I wish to say is that if thirty Privy Councillors preaching sedition in Ulster were shot it would not lose me a single vote, because I would go to my Constituency and take with me the Blue Book on the condition of labour in the Belfast linen works, and I would tell the people what the Unionists of Belfast were really fighting for; and would be glad to tell the miners and potters of Hanley that the armed forces of the Crown were turned for once against the sweaters instead of against the sweated. The people ought to understand clearly the questions underlying these industrial problems. This campaign is being conducted in a different manner in Ulster than it is in England. In Ulster the fires of religious bigotry are being fanned. But in this House we are told that under Home Rule there is a danger of excessive taxation and also a danger of entrenchment on vested interests. If those are the reasons upon which Home Rule is opposed by the Opposition, then all I say is that they are precisely the reasons which will commend Home Rule to the people of this country. For my part, I hope and believe that this Parliament which we are establishing in Ireland will be an efficient instrument by which the destinies of Ireland can be shaped 2144 in accordance with 'Irish ideals, Irish aspirations, and Irish patriotism. I wish to share in the rejoicing which will gladden the hearts of Irishmen in exile all over the world when they know that the shrine of their race is no longer in alien hands. An Irishman will rejoice to be able to say, "In my own country I am master in my own house, and I no longer take my marching orders from an English official." Ireland is haunted by the ghosts of the past, and this measure will lay them for ever. The people will set to work to build the State of the future and under the foundations will be buried the memories of bygone wrongs. I support the cause of "Ireland once more a nation."
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
I am the unfortunate Member who has the very difficult task of congratulating a new Member on a maiden speech with which I heartily disagree. I regret that I did not hear the whole of the speech, but with every word of the part which I did hear I disagree. I am sorry, on the occasion of a maiden speech, that I should have to refer to it in an adverse way, but I cannot allow a speech like that, referring to the city where I was born, and of which I am justly proud, in the terms he referred to Belfast on this occasion to pass without protest. I am only going to deal with this point in passing. With regard to what the hon. Member said about the conditions of labour in Belfast, I am confident that they are at least as good as they are in any similar city in the United Kingdom. I do not say that the conditions in the linen and cotton warehouses and factories might not be better than they are, but if you extend your inquiries to other cities as well as Belfast, I feel sure that that city will come out of the inquiry at least as well, and I believe a great deal better, than most of the other cities of the United Kingdom. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, no."] Hon. Members who have paid one visit to Ireland during their whole Parliamentary career come back here and do their best to slander Belfast. Why do they do that? Simply because Belfast, in the face of the peril of Home Rule has resolutely and consistently refused to allow itself to be drawn aside from the real issue of this Bill. That is why hon. Members are so angry with Belfast, and that is why they take opportunity after opportunity of slandering Belfast in this House and elsewhere. I think Belfast is a credit to the nation, and instead of slandering it they should be only 2145 too glad that Belfast exists, and they should do their best to create other cities which have done as much for the Kingdom as Belfast.
I regret to have to refer to any remarks in a maiden speech, but I could not allow the remarks made by the hon. Member for Hanley to pass without some protest from these benches. Now I want to say a word or two with reference to the speech of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by giving his views of the growth of this question of Home Rule. He dwelt for some time—he always does—on what he called the persistence and the insistence of the demand for Home Rule by the Nationalists of Ireland. He proved, I suppose to his own satisfaction, that so insistent and persistent has it been that the House of Commons must now grant what he called this long-deferred demand. I venture to take exception entirely to the view of this Home Rule question which he has set before the House of Commons this afternoon.
Far from there being that persistent and insistent demand for Home Rule, I honestly and truly believe, and my belief is shared by most of my fellow countrymen in the North of Ireland, that this demand for Home Rule at the best of times was a fictitious demand, and that at the present time it is infinitely less strong than it was even five years ago. If five years, or at the outside ten years, had been allowed to elapse without a Home Rule Bill being brought before this House, there would have been so little driving power behind any demand for Home Rule that no Government, even if it was in ten times a more precarious condition than the present Government, would have ever listened to it for a moment. Let the House of Commons remember one historic fact. Some hon. Members may not be aware of it, and some others may have forgotten it. Before the advent of Parnell in politics the question of Home Rule had hung fire in Ireland for a great number of years. I do not say there were no advocates of Home Rule or that there were not persons who felt very keenly on the subject, but I do say, that before and during Mr. Isaac Butt's time there was no serious demand for it in Ireland, and that there would have been no serious demand for it to-day had not Mr. Parnell had the foresightedness and the acuteness to see if Home Rule was ever going to get any hold of the people of Ireland it must be joined on to some other question which 2146 would affect them in a material way. Therefore, as hon. Members are no doubt aware, he tacked Home Rule on to the land question, and he said to the people of Ireland, "If you will support Home Rule, I will be able to get your land for you practically for nothing, or at any rate for a very small price." From that day you may say the Home Rule question began to gather weight. It received its first blow in 1903 when the Land Bill of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) was passed into law. It is common knowledge, and hon. Members below the Gangway will not deny it, that since the passing of that Act every farmer in Ireland who has bought his land has decreased by one the number of the supporters of Home Rule in that country.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
An hon. Member below the Gangway, I think it was the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin), on one occasion, I think it was the first election in 1910, gave the show away in a very remarkable manner, because he admitted that since the passing of the Land Act of 1903 the Irish Parliamentary coffers, which had up to that time been largely filled by the farmers of Ireland, had been seriously depleted, and he animadverted very strongly on their action in refusing after they had got what they wanted to help on the cause of Home Rule. There could be no stronger proof of the fact that as soon as a man in Ireland becomes owner of his own farm he ceases, at any rate, to be the strong Home Ruler he was before that event took place. I believe in my heart that in the vast majority of these cases these men as soon as they become owners of their own farms cease to be Home Rulers. I admit we have no tangible proof of that fact. There have been no constituencies hitherto returning a Nationalist Member which have returned a Unionist Member, but the time has not been long enough yet for this undoubted change of opinion which has taken place in Ireland during the last seven years to become articulate. I believe, if we could defeat this Bill in some way, or if it had not been introduced, whatever feeling there is in favour of Home Rule would in five or ten years time be so dissipated that no party below the Gangway would ever be strong enough to seriously obtain the attention of any Government in this House. Therefore, I say the views of the Prime 2147 Minister as to the strength and persistence of this demand are entirely and altogether mistaken, except as measured by the fact that the counties represented by hon. Members below the Gangway have for many years returned Nationalists.
The Prime Minister proceeded to ask what was the alternative of the party on this side of the House. It is not for me to speak on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, but I would refer the Prime Minister to speeches made by that right hon. Gentleman and by other right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. He will find from them, if he does not know it already perfectly well, what the policy of the Unionist party is with reference to Ireland. It is, first and foremost, to carry out to its logical conclusion, not the various Land Acts, and certainly not the Land Act of the Chief Secretary, but the Land Act of 1903, so as to convert every tenant in Ireland who has not yet bought his farm into a landowner. Once that is done, you have practically settled the Irish question. Time after time hon. Members below the Gangway have admitted, not so much in later days as several years ago, the land question is the Irish question, and that if you settle the land question you also settle the Irish question. You have half settled the land question, and I submit you have therefor half settled the Irish question. Finish the sale and purchase of the land in Ireland, and you will have no more of the Irish question. That is the chief part of the Unionist party's Irish policy. There are other ameliorative measures. For instance, if a Unionist Government came back to power it would finish what has been left undone in the labourers' question.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
I do not see that has any practical bearing at the present time. The Prime Minister informed us there was a substantial majority in favour of Home Rule. I suppose he meant in this House. There is undoubtedly a substantial majority, or, at any rate, a majority which will to-morrow night vote for this Bill. I question very much if the whole of the party opposite which is going to vote for the Bill to-morrow night in their heart of hearts like the Bill. I am perfectly convinced it is only with very considerable difficulty that many hon. Members on that side of the House have brought themselves up to the sticking pitch, when they are able to satisfy their consciences that 2148 they are doing the right thing in voting for the Third Reading of this Bill. I think that is perfectly clear. It is impossible to believe any person who was opposed to this measure a few months ago can have been convinced by any arguments that have been put forward during the Debates on this Bill, or by anything contained in the Bill itself, that what a few months ago he thought was bad for Ireland can now be good for Ireland. Therefore, when the Prime Minister says there is a substantial majority in favour of Home Rule I doubt it, even as far as this House of Commons is concerned; but I am perfectly convinced, as I believe is every impartial man, that the majority in the country is far from being in favour of this Bill. I believe if the question were properly put to them they would say in the most decisive way against Ireland having Home Rule.
Hon. Members opposite have tried time and time again, and I think with very poor success, to show that this matter was properly submitted to the people at the last General Election. We, on the other hand, I believe, have proved beyond a shadow of doubt—we have proved, at any rate, to the satisfaction of many ardent Liberals—that this question was not properly put before the electors at the last General Election. I am sure many hon. Members believed that. Many hon. Members know what they did at their own election, and they must know that in this particular matter they are not depending on anything they said or did, but on one or two isolated statements made by the Prime Minister, or by other Members of the Government. Surely that is not the way to put a great constitutional question like this before the country. Yet hon. Members pretend to be satisfied with an occasional reference to it by the Prime Minister when he was heckled in Scotland at a late stage in the election, and by a few other Members on the Front Bench. The vast majority of Members never mentioned the question one way or the other. Every one, by common consent, avoided it as far as possible, and yet we are told this great constitutional change, which will have incalculable results on the destinies of this country, and which will probably lead to bloodshed in the North of Ireland, was properly and fully put before the country at the last election. If the question was of less importance I would not lay such stress upon it, but it is of pre-eminent importance to the destinies of this nation, and 2149 I say no hon. Member should be satisfied unless he fully in his heart thinks the matter was thoroughly placed before his constituents at the last election. Let me come to that part of the question in -which I am chiefly interested, the position of Ulster and Ulster's claims in this matter. The Prime Minister and a great many Ministers and hon. Members on the other side of the House have persisted in misrepresenting the position Ulster has taken up. The Prime Minister misrepresented us even in the quotation from his speech he read to us this afternoon. I took down his words as closely as I could follow them. He said:—To say that a minority before any wrong had been done them should, on the mere assumption of some wrong, resort to force for the purpose of thwarting and defeating the demand of a vast majority of their fellow countrymen was, he was sure, a proceeding which would not be approved by the electors of this country.I would like to say a word or two about that declaration. The Prime Minister has on a great many occasions given us credit for the sincerity of our feelings on this subject. He has fully and frankly admitted we feel very strongly on this matter, and that we mean all we say. If that is so, surely he must think us a very simple lot of people in the North of Ireland, if, when we strongly fear a wrong is going to be done to us, we calmly wait until in due course the Irish Parliament make up its mind to commit that wrong upon us. Surely as a man of the world, if he was in our position and if he felt strongly that a wrong or an injury was going to be done him, he would not wait until it was done, but would take very good care to protect himself against it.
That is all we are doing. We feel very strongly on this subject; we do believe that the Irish Parliament will not treat us fairly; we believe that our industries will be very seriously impaired if not ruined; we believe that our whole position will be reduced, and that we will not be in the same prosperous condition after a few years' subjection to an Irish Parliament as we are at present. We believe that all we have won by hard work and by application to business during the last century will go to the winds after a few years under an Irish Parliament. If we believe all that, surely the right hon. Gentleman must think us a simple lot of men in the North of Ireland if we are going to sit down calmly and await the inevitable. That could only be compared with the action of a madman lying on the road when a steamroller was approaching and allowing himself to be crushed instead of 2150 attempting to get out of the way. We, at any rate, are going to make our preparations beforehand, so that, when the Irish Parliament does come into existence—if it ever does—I do not believe it ever will—we shall do our best to prevent it working its wicked will. At any rate, before it can do so, it will have to overcome the resistance of a determined people. My second point is that our position has been misrepresented. The right hon. Gentleman says that for a minority to resort to force in order to thwart and defeat the demands of the majority of their fellow-countrymen any such attempt on their part would not be tolerated. But let me point out the significance of the words "thwart" and "defeat." If we can we shall prevent this Bill ever becoming law. We have made no secret of our intention to resist its becoming law in our part of Ireland. We do not suggest that we would be able to stop it having effect in Cork or Munster, but we have resolved that in our part of Ireland, where we are in a vast majority, we will never allow it to take root. Therefore, to talk of us as seeking to "thwart" and "defeat" the demand of a vast majority of our fellow-countrymen is simply to attempt to mislead the public.
An hon. Member has suggested that we are showing a dog-in-the-manger attitude on this question, that not only do we ourselves refuse Home Rule, but that we will not let the rest of Ireland have it. Perhaps we would not let the rest of Ireland have it if we had the power to prevent it. But we all know we would not be able to prevent Home Rule taking root in the South and West of Ireland any more than it would be in our power to change the Government in Germany. All we propose to endeavour to do is to prevent Home Rule taking root in our own portion of Ireland; and, therefore, again I say it is ridiculous to talk of our attempting to thwart and defeat the demands of the vast majority of our fellow-countrymen. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of our fellow-countrymen who are Nationalists in the South and West of Ireland will have Home Rule if this Bill becomes law, and we shall not have the power to stop it. All we propose to do is to prevent Home Rule becoming law in our own part of the country. The Prime Minister has stated that the claim of Ulster is utterly opposed to democratic government. There has been a good deal of talk about nationality, and the Prime Minister, in the marvellous peroration at the end of his 2151 speech, talked about this Bill bringing together two peoples who ought always to have been one. All that is absolutely wasted upon me. I am quite content to be as I am. My fellow-countrymen in Ulster are proud to be Ulstermen; they are proud, too, to be members of the great British Empire. We do not want any change; we say, in the first place, you have no right to thrust us out from union with this country. Even the most extreme will admit you have no right to say that we shall no longer belong to Great Britain, but that we shall be subject to a Parliament in Dublin. There is no free, self-respecting community which would submit to terms such as that.
If hon. Members pass this Bill into law, and if there is disorder amounting almost to civil war in Ulster, they will have themselves only to blame for it. I do not think the adjectives used by my right hon. Friend in regard to that too strongly express the responsibility which would rest upon your shoulders if the Bill is forced upon Ulster. I look upon the whole of this Debate from first to last as a most serious affair. The Prime Minister told us that we had had fifty-two days in which to Debate this Bill; but from beginning to end hon. Members on the opposite side of the House have displayed very little interest in the arguments. A large section of them disliked it from the start, and, as a matter of fact, the Debate, so far as they are concerned, has been really thrown away. They had made up their minds, whether for good or for evil, that they were going to pass this Bill, for the reason that if they did not they would have to go back to the country. I leave hon. Members to reconcile their action with their own consciences; but speaking on behalf of a very considerable proportion of the inhabitants of Ireland, I can only say that, under no circumstances, will they allow this Bill to become the law of the land in our part of the country. If hon. Members opposite still hold to the opinion that we Ulstermen are bluffing, and that we do not mean what we say, then I venture to assert they will have to realise the very grave responsibility of bringing about a state of affairs which may amount to civil war in Ireland.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I find it rather difficult to deal with the speech just delivered, because I gather that no accumulation of facts or arguments would have 2152 any effect on the mind of the hon. Gentleman. What hope have I, or anybody else, of convincing the hon. Gentleman when he turns round and says that what you want in Ireland is five or ten years of resolute government in order to see Home Rule disappear. The late Marquess of Salisbury demanded twenty years of resolute government, by which, of course, he meant coercionist government, in order to get rid of the movement for Home Rule. Well, we have had twenty years—indeed nearly thirty years have elapsed since that demand was made—yet the Home Rule demand is as vigorous as ever. According to the hon. Member, there is no proof of a desire for Home Rule for Ireland except that there is a majority of Irish Members returned to this House in favour of it. Under representative institutions that is regarded as final and unquestionable evidence of the feeling of the country, but the hon. Gentleman sees no movement in favour of Home Rule anywhere! He suggests that a considerable section of hon. Members on the opposite side of the House dislike the Bill, but are swallowing the pill in order that they may cling to office. [An HON. MEMBER: "And £400 a year!"] I thought we had heard the last of that argument, but how again we are told that there are a large number of Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House who are supporting Home Rule because they want to keep their £400 a year. That is the charge made by the hon. Gentleman, and I can only remark that it is difficult to argue with an hon. Gentleman who starts out with such an extraordinary proposition. I do not need to deal with most of the speech of the hon. Gentleman, because it has been little more than a repetition of speeches of the same character made previously. I will, therefore only refer incidentally to some of his observations with regard to the position of Ulster.
He gave us a restatement—an entire restatement of the position of Ulster. Up to the present time the position of his friends and himself has been that even if Ulster were to get separate treatment, they would still continue their inflexible hostility to Home Rule. It was said that even if the Government were foolish enough to break up the Irish national entity into two entities, even that would make no difference to them, and they would still oppose Home Rule being given to the rest of Ireland. To-day we have had another statement from the hon. 2153 Gentleman, to the effect that if Home Rule were to be decreed by the Imperial Parliament for the rest of Ireland, they would not be foolish enough even if they had the power to resist it, but they would be more or less satisfied if they got some recognition of a separate nationality for themselves. I note that in passing, because it shows a certain change of heart. It is not the only change of heart I have seen in those hon. Gentlemen since these Debates began. I welcome the very great change, for instance, on the question of religious persecution in Ireland. When this Ulster campaign began there were speeches made, I will not say by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, but made in their presence and by their friends, speeches made in Ulster which, I think, surpassed in wickedness as appeals to religious bigotry anything since the famous monk told the troops to kill all heretics and believers alike, for God would know his own. I have read speeches in which the Protestants of Ulster were told that the wholesale massacres by Catholics of 1641—as to which, of course, I do not quite accept their history, any more than Mr. Lecky did—that those wholesale massacres of Protestants by Catholics, which are alleged to have taken place in 1641, would be repeated if the Home Rule Bill were carried. That is the kind of speeches and sermons in the House of God that were made five or six months ago when this campaign began, and the Gentlemen who approved of and listened to those speeches, and some of them imitated them, these are the very Gentlemen who are now compelled to sit silent or to rise in agreement when their own leaders in this House declare that they never had any fear of religious persecution in the shape of legislation by the Irish Parliament.
I remember an extraordinary scene, which, if the circumstances were not so serious, I should have regarded as almost absurd, which took place here between the Attorney-General for England and the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Dublin University (Sir Edward Carson)—whose absence I join with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) in regretting—I remember a remarkable scene between those two distinguished lawyers. In the course of the Debate, the senior Member for Dublin University said that he did not fear and never had feared legislation by the Irish Parliament which would be unjust to Irish Protestants. The Attorney-General for England, as he was entitled 2154 to do, pounced upon that extraordinary admisison. What followed? Member after Member from Ulster got up and said, "Nobody ever said that there would be any danger of religious persecution from an Irish Parliament in the shape of legislation." It was an admission I welcome, but it was in strange contrast to the things they said when they began the campaign in Ulster six months ago. I do not want to say anything that will sound provocative to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, but, as a matter of fact, the only place in Ireland in which there is, or has been for two or three generations, anything like religious intolerance is the part which is represented by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. When hon. Gentlemen talk about separating the four counties of Ulster from the rest of Ireland, I have to make two observations. In the first place, what becomes of their own minority in the South of Ireland? Are they going to desert them? The "Irish Times," which is one of the organs of the Conservative party most powerful in Ireland, declared that that form would be separatism in its worst shape. Is it not instructive to put in juxtaposition the two statements of hon. Gentlemen, first, that a man, because he is a Protestant, and the minority, because it is a Protestant minority, is in danger from the Irish Parliament and from the Catholic majority, and, secondly, the readiness of those Gentlemen to desert the Protestant minority in Ireland in those parts of Ireland where they are weakest, and where, therefore, they would be subject to the greatest danger of religious persecution, if such a thing existed?
It is palapable that they do not believe in those statements. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that they will get a majority of the Protestants in the South of Ireland to back their statement that they, at least, had any dread of persecution. On the contrary, protest after protest has been made by leading men in all stations of life in the South of Ireland against this cry or any apprehension of religious persecution. I believe that when this conflict has gone a step further, and when these Protestants in the South of Ireland recognise that this Government and this country are determined to pass Home Rule, we shall have innumerable declarations from Protestants in the South of Ireland that they are willing to accept Home Rule in full confidence of the justice and toleration of their Catholic countrymen. There is one answer to all these 2155 statements: democracy and liberty have everywhere been proved to be incompatible with religious persecution.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I cannot pronounce an opinion upon the internal conditions of Portugal. I do not konw anything about them, but if the hon. Member for Central Hull (Mr. Mark Sykes), who is more of a globe-trotter than my opportunities have permitted me to be, raises a doubt I must leave it there. By the way, I must not forget the hon. Gentleman. He made a very interesting speech, a very good-humoured speech, but a very wrong-headed speech, if he will allow me to say so. As he was speaking I was rejoiced to think that the hon. Gentleman was not an Irish citizen and would never have any likelihood of becoming one, because we might then have a double civil war in Ireland. Apparently we are so Papistical that all those good Protestants above the Gangway are afraid for their religious liberties and of attacks upon their consciences; yet, according to the hon. Gentleman, we are such bad Papists that he rises in indignation and sees red because we have consented to the Third Clause of this Bill. Imagine the position of an unfortunate Irish Ministry if it had the Orangemen in rebellion on the one side, led by the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken (Mr. C. Craig), in the cause of Protestant liberty, and on the other side a Catholic rebellion, led by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Hull, in defence of the inalienable rights and liberties of the Vatican and the Church of Home. I have to congratulate the hon. Gentleman on one thing. He does not stand alone in this objection to Home Rule. I have read about two pages of a London newspaper containing messages, extracts from speeches, and sermons from the North of Ireland. I find that these worthy men, pastors of good, sound, dour Protestant flocks who are going to be persecuted, declared their fear with regard to the future of Ireland was that it would begin by being clerical and end by being anti-clerical. They were so anxious, not merely for the liberties of Protestants, but for the fidelity of Catholics to their own Church, that in the interests at once of Martin Luther and Ignatius Loyola, they declare against the Bill.
Everybody can see how unreal this cry is. It has come almost to vanishing 2156 point, and not even the adroitness and resource of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) has been able to bring it back to life. The right hon. Gentleman when criticising this Bill from the point of view of an ardent and extreme Irish Nationalist—that only shows what a versatile artist he is when he can don the sock and buskin of an Irish cavalier or rapparee and defend the nationality of Ireland from the scanty and miserable recognition given to it by the Bill—showed us that metaphors taken from the stage were quite in his line. For instance, he described to us what is known of the day of dupes in the French Revolution when a Gentleman said one thing to one group, another thing to another group, and a third thing to another group, and in time duped them all. I could not help being struck with the irony of the situation when the right hon. Gentleman, with the historic Nemesis which he is reaping over his successor, actually turned to the present Leader of the Opposition and asked why the House laughed when he made use of this illustration. The right hon. Gentleman in his criticism of the narrow, scanty, miserable, niggardly recognition of Irish Nationality which this Bill gives pounces upon the safeguards. He says, "You recognise Ireland as a nation; you establish a national Parliament, or you say you do so. Here you are duping that extremely gullible and simple young man, without any Parliamentary experience, who represents the City of Waterford. You are deceiving him by telling him that you are recognising Ireland as a nation, and yet you put in these safeguards."
Why are these safeguards put in? Does anybody suppose that we on these benches think them necessary? We do not think them necessary. We do not think there is the slightest possibility, or chance, or any apprehension in any rational mind not blinded by partisan bigotry or what I might call historic atavism—by that I mean the men who still dwell on the banks of the Boyne, and who haveneverlearned anything since—there is not a single man in our party—and we are Protestants as well as Catholics, and we have Protestants among us, and we shall have another Irish Protestant before long from Lister—and I do not believe there is a single man on the benches opposite who really believes that there is any danger to the liberties, spiritual, social, or political, of the Irish Protestants. If there were any danger, the Protestants of Ireland would require no other safeguard than the Protestantism of England, 2157 Scotland, and Wales, which would rise in revolt against any such proposal on the part of the Irish Parliament. They have sufficient security in the opinion of the whole civilised world, which would no more tolerate religious persecution to-day than it would the rekindling of the fires at Smithfield. Why then, it may be asked, have they consented, and, not only consented, but approved the insertion of these safeguards? Because our consciences are clear upon the matter, and because we want to give every form of pledge and undertaking and binding legislation that Parliament can devise to banish these absurd and ungrounded fears of religious persecution. I have reread Clause 3, and I do not see anything in it to which anyone could object, Catholic or Protestant. It simply prohibits any law which will interfere with religious equality. Why should not we welcome that? Why is that an insult to us? It is our whole position. Supposing the hon. Member (Mr. Mark Sykes) pursued that line of argument and said, You have accepted in this Bill a provision against the establishment by the State of any Church. Is there any Member in this body who would object to that, or, if it were not in the Bill at all, is there any Irish Catholic, familiar with the traditions of his race and of his creed, who would not oppose any proposal in the Irish or the English or any other Parliament to put the Catholic Church on any other foundation but the faith and generosity of its people?
As to the schools and any provision against any religious intolerance in these schools, all parties in Ireland are agreed about the schools. The school difficulty does not exist in Ireland. The Protestants have their schools and the Catholics have theirs, and the Protestants as a body, I believe, are quite content that the Catholics should have their schools, and the Catholics are equally content that the Protestants should have theirs. What annoys me about all these speeches above the Gangway is that they are really calculated to give English listeners the idea that we are perfect savages in Ireland, filled, all of us, with the venom of the deepest religious bigotry. I assure my English friends in all parts of the House that that is an entirely ludicrous caricature of the real conditions of Ireland. They are always caricaturing our feelings. The extraordinary thing about these Gentlemen is that they do not understand, or at least profess not to understand, the psychology 2158 of their countrymen. I take the instance of an hon. Member who has just died, and who was respected by every Member of the House, whatever his political party. There never was a more devout Catholic on these benches and yet there never was a man who was a more ardent and uncompromising advocate of absolute religious equality. What hon. Members above the Gangway do not seem to understand is that the Irish Catholic reconciles, I think rationally and rightly, the profoundest religious convictions of his own with the profoundest respect for the convictions of others.
Now I come to another main line of argument which was developed to a certain extent in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour). That is what I may call the Imperial point of view. I shall contend that one of the fallacies of the whole position of the Opposition is that they are unable to see the Imperial interests which are involved in the grant of self-government to Ireland. Let me deal with the other branch of this question. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of some violent and hostile language which was used with regard to this country in past times and by past speakers. I may sum up all his statements as meaning that Irishmen hate England, always have hated and always will hate her, and always have tried and always will try to do England a bad turn. Or, to put it briefly, that Ireland still thinks, as O'Connell used to say, England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity. I always regard it, I will not say as ungenerous but as shortsighted and foolish to quote in one epoch the language and ideas of another epoch when conditions are entirely changed. Supposing I were to try to do that. In my early days, Ireland was in the position of bleeding from every pore. A hundred thousand, 150,000, 200,000 men and women were leaving the shores of Ireland every year, and under processes of law, silently, tranquilly unnoticed, and in England not only unrealised but, I believe, so far as the majority of the people are concerned, unknown, there was going on one of the most tragic of all stories in the history of the world, namely, by a bad land system and by other means a great, gifted, and ancient and historic nation disappearing until it was going down to half the population, disappearing as steadily as if the land had been invaded and conquered by a savage Genghis Khan, who was ready to 2159 massacre all his prisoners of war, or as if the country had been conquered by a devastating plague. What was the kind of language used at that time? I used to read the "Saturday Review" in those days. The "Saturday Review." was a very useful paper to the revolutionary party which then existed in Ireland. Can you wonder that it was a revolutionary party in a country which was actually being destroyed, as Ireland was at that time, and which had no democratic force, as in England, to help on the cause of reform, and which had a corrupt and inefficient body of Irish representatives in this House? I remember one article in the "Saturday Review," which I have quoted many times. In the course of one year, when some 100,000 or 150,000 men and women left Ireland, Dr. Magee, then the Archbishop of Tuam, wrote a pastoral, in which he called attention to this terrible decrease of the Irish population, and the "Saturday Review" said "the lion of St. Jarlathe sighs over the departing demons of assassination and despair, for Ireland would be all the better for this process of divagation."
That was the kind of language which was used by English journals. I could quote from the "Times" of this period to the effect that Irishmen would soon no longer be visible on the banks of the Shannon. I could quote these two things in juxtaposition, a village in the middle of the famine in the county of Galway, of sixty houses and about 240 people, devastated, every house thrown down, every man, woman, and child driven out, the old men and women over eighty, the sick and the well, all driven out to the ditch and driven from the ditch and refused the shelter even of the hedges and refused admission to the houses of any of the neighbouring places, and at the very moment when the account of these things appeared in the Irish papers there appeared the account of a great battle in India, won, as many another battle had been, by the arms of Irish soldiers. These are the things that led to bitter words. We have heard bitter words from hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. Does anyone suppose that if we were graced, as I hope we shall be, in the Irish Parliament by the hon. Member (Mr. Moore) that we should quote the speeches he has made against Home Rule? Any man who would do that in a sensible body, as the Irish House of Commons I 2160 am sure will be, would be laughed down as a bore of bad manners. It is true that in the past there has been a profound and bitter hatred of England among the people of Ireland, and the hatred, of course, has been most violent among the people of our race in other parts of the world. There are times in history when a nation is nobler in hatred than in loving and in rebelling than in submitting. I have already explained how this hatred has arisen. What did the Irish people know of England then? How did England present herself to Ireland then? The only-thing she knew of England was the English soldier and the Irish policemen used as an English soldier, who stood behind the battering ram and the torch and all the laws that were destroying the nation. I know, and the Irish people know now, that the mass of the people of England had no responsibility for that at all. What I say now is that there is a new Ireland and a new England, and that in the last twenty-five or thirty years, since democracy became established in this country, the progress of Ireland under sound and just legislation from this Parliament has been steady, that the Irish people recognise that there is a new England, and I hope the English people recognise that there is a new Ireland as well.
We are asked occasionally by speeches above the Gangway whether we can answer for the loyalty of Ireland. I am not very fond of using the word loyalty about Irish affairs, largely because the term has been abused by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway to mean the maintenance of religious and political ascendancy, and largely because it is also the language of courtiers and office seekers, with whom I have never had any particular sympathy. The words I will use are these, that you can rely on the goodwill of Ireland, and I will give some substantial reasons, apart from those I have already given. The most substantial of all friendly associations between individuals or nations is the feeling of interest. Does anyone realise the gigantic extent to which these relations of trade between England and Ireland have grown? Let me give a few figures. In the year 1911 Ireland sold in England £13,500,000 of live stock, nearly £4,000,000 of dead meat, and nearly £S,000,000 of eggs, poultry and butter, and Ireland imported from England at the same time, in 1911, £66,000,000 odd, and the exports from Ireland to England were £65,000,000 odd. That is the present position in Ireland, and the trade in future will be still more. We 2161 have 300,000 peasant proprietors there. I am afraid I must disappoint my hon. Friend the Member for Hanley (Mr. Outhwaite) who made so brilliant a contribution to our Debate to-night. Somehow or other he did manage to get in the question of the land. I am afraid I must disappoint him and those who think with him when I say that I do not think there is any likelihood of his particular plan of campaign finding much success in Ireland. You have at present 300,000 peasant proprietors, and you will have 500,000 in a generation or two from now, especially as the Government have undertaken to consummate land purchase. If there be any material in the world which is unfit for revolution, which hates revolution, and which always opposes revolution, it is a nation of peasant proprietors, and especially a nation of peasant proprietors that is getting over £65,000,000 from the markets and the people of England in one single year. The old maxim of O'Connell that "England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity" is dead and gone. It does not apply to the situation of to-day, and, in my opinion, it is much more true to say that England's danger is Ireland's danger as well, and that each of the two countries stand committed to the other's prosperity.
I now come to answer a question which has often been asked. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) has ever asked it. He knows too much of the administration of Ireland to ask it. The question is, What good will Home Rule do to Ireland? I will endeavour to answer that candidly. I put it to anyone who has ever gone to the roots of representative institutions to challenge the proposition that there is only one security for good government, and that is the responsibility of the administrator to the people over whom he rules. I challenge any man who understands even the elements of representative institutions to deny that proposition. It is fundamental. I listened with astonishment and something like horror to some of the statements made by hon. Members above the Gangway, and especially to a statement made by the hon. Member for the St. Augustine's Division (Mr. Ronald M'Neill) in the able speech he made against the Bill. He said: "We in Ulster object to the Bill, because it gives us an inferior status to what we have to-day." I will examine that proposition. What is 2162 our superior status and sublime position which we occupy to-day? We bring before this House a question of Irish administration, say, the drainage of the Bann, or the management of workhouses. What has happened 200 or 300 times in the course of the thirty-three years of my Parliamentary life? I remember a good deal of trouble occurring when, with the full assent of my colleagues, and with the usual amiability to political opponents, I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London to give an evening for the discussion of an Irish question. He had begun by refusing to do so; but on reflection he gave us an evening. It excited a great deal of feeling on these benches. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) was away in America, and we were more or less sheep without a shepherd. The result of it was a good deal of resentment as to what the right hon. Gentleman had done, and it produced scenes at Question Time in the House of Commons. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten them, but I remember them very well. I thought we might have some very ugly denouement to the proceedings. We got our evening from nine to eleven o'clock. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) led the discussion, and he made, as he always does, an admirable, eloquent, and trenchant speech. To whom did he make it? He made it to the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, seventy Irish Members, and to benches absolutely devoid of a single English, Scotch, or Welsh Member.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
That may or may not be. That is the fortune of war. That is the superior status the hon. Member wants to continue—to address your arguments and appeals, your eloquent, pathetic, and touching orations, to empty benches. But when it comes to reality and fact and business, English, Scotch, and Welsh Members troop in from all parts to vote yon down or vote you up—I do not care which it is—on the question of a debate not one word of which they have heard. I will present to the hon. Member above the Gangway what I regard as the proper method of discharging business. It is to have in the Irish Parliament a Minister responsible for, say, local government in Ireland, and to say to him, "This abuse has taken 2163 place in a workhouse. This doctor or that nurse has neglected his or her business. An inmate has been vaccinated unskilfully, and has died, and we want to know how these things occur in the department which you control. If you do not redress this grievance we will put another man in your place by the votes of men who know the facts of Irish inner life." What do hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway think the business of the Irish Parliament will be? Do they suppose that they will be discussing religious questions, or do they suppose that we will be bringing in laws affecting the Protestants of Ireland? We shall be discussing education in Ireland among other things, but we will be discussing it in order to raise the intelligence of all children in Ireland in future. We shall be discussing drainage and sweating, whether in Dublin or in Belfast. These are the questions on which the mind of Ireland will be concentrated, and for the discussion of these questions we want the help of the men of the North of Ireland. They should not turn away their faces from their fellow countrymen, but should be altogether free from the horrible spectre of religious bigotry. We want the men of the North of Ireland, and we would welcome their strong common-sense and business-like acumen. I always think of Ireland in the terms of a speech I heard delivered half a century ago by a well-known Irish priest, Father Daly of Gal-way. Anyone acquainted with that town will know that it is full of hostilities, and at the same time in the very darkest depths of poverty and unemployment. It has on one side a beautiful lake and on the other side the sea. Father Daly's words come fresh to my mind along that half century: "The very waters and streams of Galway weep and wail at the neglect of the natural resources of these waters, for there is not the sound of a single mill upon them." That is the way Ireland appeals to me. I have to offer, on my own part and on behalf of my hon. Friends, our thanks not merely to the Government, but to all the Members of the Liberal and Labour parties for the manner in which they have carried this great measure of Irish emancipation through the House of Commons. To the neglect of their business, their families, and their private concerns, those English, Scotch, and Welsh Gentlemen have come here night after night, week after week, and month after month, 2164 to support the cause of Ireland. Ireland has now taken her place among the great enthusiasms which this country has shown for the improvement of races in many parts of the world. If I am challenged to say whether Ireland is going to remain eternally hostile to England, my answer is, "You gentlemen of England who have supported the cause of Ireland have, please remember, reconciled and united the peoples of the two countries."
§ Mr. AGAR-ROBARTES
I wish to express the hope even at the eleventh hour that the Government will hold out the olive branch of peace to Ulster Unionists. There is only one safeguard, only one protection, which is of any value to them. I hope that their request will be granted. On what hypothesis do the Government-ask support for this Bill? The Government claim the support chiefly on the ground that the majority in Ireland have consistently and insistently demanded Home Rule. On the very same hypothesis, to my mind, you are bound to grant the request of the Ulster Unionists, more especially as their demand is merely to retain the status quo, while the Nationalist demand is to make a new experiment which on the face of it must be a grave experiment. I always understood that it was part of the principles of the Liberal party that coercion in Ireland has been proved a failure, and that you cannot remedy anything in Ireland by coercion. This Bill, to my mind, is a coercion Bill: It might be described as a Bill for the better government of certain parts of Ireland and for the coercion of Ulster. There are only two alternatives remaining to the Government. The first is, that there may be a General Election before this Bill becomes law, and if the General Election should take place there is the chance of the Government being beaten and the Bill being rejected by the electors. The other alternative is, you are bound, if you carry this Bill in its final form and put it into force, to coerce Ulster. You must use physical force in order to carry this Bill into law, with this difference: in the past various Governments have applied coercion to maintain the law as they found it, but you will have to apply coercion to enforce the law as you have made it. I have never advocated what hon. Gentlemen opposite have preached in years gone by, "resolute" government of Ireland, the strangling of all national sentiment and aspirations. I do not think anyone in this 2165 House can fail to admire the deep indomitable sentiment which has compelled hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite at various times to be the political Ishmaelites of this House, because the hon. Gentlemen have worked harder for the cause in which they believe than any other party. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford, speaking on the Ulster Amendment the other day, stated that if he could get rid of the question of Ulster he believed that the Home Rule Bill would pass through as an agreed Bill.
I think that that statement was somewhat optimistic, but if he could give facilities for the four counties to contract out of the Bill he would be removing one of the great stumbling blocks in the way of Home Rule, and advancing the interests of the cause for which he has worked so hard for so many years. Now, when he seems almost on the threshold of success he might add to the peace of Ireland by excluding the four counties from the operation of the Bill. I am quite aware of the view of the Government that this Bill will bring reconciliation to Ireland—the Government displayed great optimism in that respect. To my mind, optimism must be running riot when this view is held. How are they going to deal with Ulster? Are they going to emulate the example of Oliver Cromwell and turn Belfast into another Drogheda? Is it by physical force that they hope to regenerate Ireland and introduce peace and contentment? If not, what other means can the Government employ to overcome the opposition of the Ulster Unionists? If they let this Bill pass and an election takes place before the Bill becomes law, they will want all the cards in their hands in order to win on this issue. Never for the last quarter of a century or more was there an appeal to the British electorate with success on this question on a straight issue. In 1895 they were beaten, and also in 1900. In 1906 the Prime Minister, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Lord Haldane, under the Leadership of Lord Rosebery, stated emphatically at that election that they were opposed to an independent Parliament in Ireland or anything which could lead up to it, and again at the election of 1910, the Prime Minister distinctly stated that the dominant issue was the question of the House of Lords, and I am sure that the Government will bury their heads soon if they think for one moment that British electors do not realise the full importance of the question of Ulster where there is an 2166 overwhelming majority in four counties in opposition to Home Rule. Surely, these places should receive special treatment.
If this Bill performs one quarter of what has been promised for it then if those four counties were allowed now to contract out of the Bill, no doubt in four or five years they would be inspired by a spirit of nationalism and would be anxious to join with the rest of Ireland. I think it might happen that in four or five years they might realise that their fears were groundless. I cannot see any other way out of the difficulty except by coercing Ulster by physical force. Personally, I do not wish to be associated with the warwhoop of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Dublin University. I do not understand the attitude which many of his supporters are taking up. But then, I am not an Irishman, and I believe that it requires an Irishman to understand another Irishman. So far as I can judge, from the sources of information available to every hon. Member of this House, there is no doubt that wild horses will not drag the Ulster Unionists under the Irish flag into the Irish Customs or the Irish Parliament. I shall be within the recollection of the House when I remind them that during the Committee stage I moved an Amendment for excluding the four counties of Ulster—Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry; and the proposition which I then made was that in those four counties there are very large majorities opposed to the Home Rule Bill who will not, they say, come in under that Bill, and will not serve under an Irish Parliament in any circumstances whatever. The argument then used by the Government for rejecting that Amendment was that it was not moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite, but was moved from these benches, and was not really wanted by hon. Gentlemen opposite or by the Ulster party. A few days ago a similar Amendment, wider in scope, to exclude the whole of Ulster from the operation of the Bill, was moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University himself. What the Government then suggested for rejecting the Amendment, as they could not fall back on the excuse given in my case that it was not asked for by the Ulster Unionists, was that they did not consider that the majority in Ulster itself was sufficiently large to justify the exclusion of that province.
In spite of the fact that they are never weary of telling us that they are ready if 2167 necessary to give any reasonable safeguards to Ulster Protestants, the only Member of the Government who appears to have taken the question of the exclusion of the four counties seriously was the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty. Shortly after discussion in Committee the right hon. Gentleman flew his kite in Dundee and offered Home Rule to Lancashire and Yorkshire. So far we have heard no news from Lancashire. Though Lancashire has spoken lately and has given the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his party food for reflection, no answer has been given to the proposal of the First Lord of the Admiralty. My point is if it is conceivable to offer, or even to suggest, Home Rule to Yorkshire and Lancashire, it is inconceivable to refuse it to Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry. I know that it has been the fashion in the past to ignore or pour ridicule on the impressive protest which was made at the demonstration in Ulster. It is easy, no doubt, to obtain signatures to almost anything. I entirely agree that one or two ludicrous mistakes were made, but the demonstration was one of the greatest that have ever taken place in Ireland, and I am perfectly convinced, at all events, that the Chief Secretary for Ireland must know of the strong opposition which exists in Ulster to this proposal. Nor is it strange, when one studies the history of Ireland and the crimes which have been committed on both sides in the name of religion, when one realises that there are people in Ireland to-day who cherish the memory of the Boyne, who probably never heard of Waterloo or Trafalgar, that these bitter feelings have continued, and one sees that you cannot remove these antagonisms by putting one section in subjection to the other.
If the Irish Parliament is to be in the future half as beneficent as the promoters of this Bill suggest, then, and not till then, will Ulster Unionists take their place under that Parliament. Sure I am of this, that you must first of all show them the Irish Parliament in working order. You must prove to them that the Irish Parliament is for the good of their country. You must prove to them that their fears are groundless. The hon. Member for Waterford on two occasions has refused the request of Ulster Unionists to contract out of this Bill. When one considers the hard words which have been spoken and the harsh actions which have been committed and 2168 the eternal animosities which have been sworn on both sides in the past, one cannot blame one section for refusing to come in when it sees the other section about to obtain its crowning ambition. When that section remembers the history of the past and with smooth words tries to allay the fears of the other section, you cannot blame that other section if it refuses its blessing immediately to that scheme, and fancies, as it must fancy, that in this. House, though the voice may be the voice of Jacob, yet, in Ireland, the hands may be the hands of Esau. There are many other objections to this Bill. They are mainly matters of detail and not of principle. There is the question of Customs. I do not suppose that anyone who goes to Ireland or has friends there voted for Customs with a light heart, as he realised the inconvenience caused to himself and his friends by setting up Customs. Probably the only man who-smiled as he walked through the Lobby was my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division, who is a very welcome guest in the country of his adoption. Then of course there is the question of finance. So far as one can judge from the criticisms levelled on all sides, the finance must be in an unsatisfactory position. It was probably summed up correctly by the Hon. Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy), who, as we all know, is famous for the elegance of his style and who, if my memory serves me rightly, described the finance as "putrid."
The hon. and learned Gentleman is a purist amongst purists, and therefore I propose to leave the matter to him, and I shall not encroach further on his ground. One other point I wish to make. You are asking or suggesting Home Rule for Ireland—you are asking or suggesting self-government for Ireland, and at the same time you will not give Home Rule or self-government to Great Britain. That is a question which has been raised before, that question has been repeated, and that question is now being disregarded. You are going to allow forty-two Irish Members to interfere in British affairs. You will find that the British taxpayer at his own expense will be assisting Ireland to govern themselves, though at the same time we shall have forty-two Members in this House, who, if your theory is correct, will be all for Ireland, and will support and endeavour to extort doles and conditions for their own country from the 2169 British taxpayer. I think we must realise that this question might have been compromised upon, but owing to the guillotine the only question which we discussed was whether there should be forty-two Members or none at all. I should have thought that there might have been a great deduction in the numbers and that there might have been six or seven delegates in this House who could have stated the view of Ireland on any subject. But these are all matters of detail, and if they had been the only questions involved I should certainly have voted for the Bill; but in regard to the other questions, namely, that of Ulster, much as I dislike voting against this Bill, I feel that, unless you solve the Ulster question, the Bill is foredoomed to failure, and therefore I am obliged to give my vote against it.
§ Sir HARRY VERNEY
We have had an interesting speech from the hon. Member for Central Hull (Mr. Mark Sykes), who knows something about Ireland, but who said he did not know very much about the Bill. I speak as one who does not know much about Ireland, but does know something about the Bill. It has been my good fortune to hear almost every speech made throughout these Debates, and it has been the good fortune of the House that I have not intervened until this late stage of the Bill. I wish briefly to put two or three points before the House. I want to put this point, and I hope I may be able to carry the Opposition with me. One of their chief complaints is that this Bill has been inadequately discussed. I want to examine a little what is meant by that complaint. I understand them to mean that but for the guillotine they would have been able to persuade the Government or wring from the Government certain important Amendments which would have improved and modified the Bill. I think they will agree that there is no use in discussing some of the Amendments—for example, the cherished ambition of the Opposition for Single Chamber Government, since we who are pledged to Second Chamber Government could not give way on that.
There were admittedly wrecking Amendments, which serve no purpose except that of the public Press. I think they say that were it not for the guillotine a number of important modifications might have been introduced into this Bill. That being so, if we could find a Member of this House who had not listened to all the 2170 debates what would he expect to find? He would expect to find two things. First of all that, owing to lack of discussion, the Amendments were very few and far between; and, secondly, that such Amendments as had been added to the Bill, after fifty days of brilliant opposition, were Amendments of far-reaching importance. I submit to the House that the exact opposite is the case. So far from being few and far between, every single page of this Bill has had some changes made in it as the result of discussion. The second point is even more important, and it is that the Amendments which were put in were in the main trivial. They were mainly, I think, the result of arguments as to the possibilities which were very often raised by the hon. and learned Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel). He put before the House possibilities, which I thought extremely improbable, but still possibilities, in order to meet certain gaps which were stopped up. If he will look at the first seven Clauses of the Bill and the last ten or twelve Clauses of the Bill he will agree that on the whole the Amendments are trivial. There is one exception, an Amendment of Clause 47, which reads as follows:—
"His Majesty may by Order in Council transfer in time of war or national emergency the powers of the Irish Post Office to the British Post Office, or to the naval and military authorities of the United Kingdom. " The hon. Member for Torquay (Colonel Burn) I am sure would approve that Amendment, providing that the Irish Post Office in time of war or emergency should be under the control of the British Post Office. But the House will be surprised to hear that the whole Opposition voted against that Amendment.
§ Sir H. VERNEY
I was referring to the Leader of the Opposition and the 188 Members who followed him, but we had the honour of the hon. Member for Torquay's presence in our Lobby. With regard to the complaint of inadequate discussion, it will be seen that when the Opposition goes and votes against an Amendment in that way it does not encourage compliance with their wishes when they came and asked for more time. What were the subjects discussed? We have had a number of eloquent speeches from the hon. and 2171 learned Member for Down (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson) and other hon. Gentlemen, and some hon. Members opposite will blush to remember what trouble they had in preventing the Schedules from being discussed on the last day in Committee and the last day on Report. They had to bring in the Member for East Nottinghamshire (Sir J. D. Rees), the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), and the hon. Member for Central Sheffield (Mr. James Hope), who made an excellent speech, with a remarkable and original peroration—"Get up someone." Then complain to us that the details were not discussed. It so happens that Clauses 8 and 9, 33 and 37, which set up the Schedules, were fully discussed. I think anyone who examines the first and second parts of the Schedules will find that the minority in Ireland are over-represented according to population. Take the instance of the Irish representation in the Imperial Parliament. The Province of Ulster is entitled to fifteen Members, and according to the present parties, ten would be Unionists and five would be Nationalists. The present representation is sixteen Unionists and sixteen Nationalists, so that the minority are over-represented. We have often been told that Home Rule was not before the country at the last election, but Home Rule is now before the city of Derry, and we will see whether there will be an overwhelming increase in the Conservative majority. The truth is that this Bill has been discussed again and again in all its principles and almost all its details, and I think that anyone who has sat through one-half of the Debates must know that to be the case. Of course, it is quite well known that the avowed object of hon. Members for North-East Ulster has been to wreck this Bill. [Sir J. LONSDALE: "Hear, hear."] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher) supported an Amendment which admittedly was for the purpose of wrecking the Bill. How can hon. Members ask for more time for the purpose of improving and modifying the Bill if their object is to move Amendments for the purpose of wrecking it?
We come to this last stage of the Bill. We seem to have two absolutely irreconcilable parties. We on our side have not only pronounced an opinion in favour of Home Rule, but in the interests of the Empire we meet the demand for 2172 Home Rule. Hon. Members for Ulster use the phrase, "We will not have Home Rule—[Sir J. LONSDALE: "Hear, hear."]—it does not matter what the law or Constitution is, it does not matter what the last General Election or the next General Election may say, we will not have Home Rule." [Sir J. LONSDALE: "Hear, hear."] I hope the hon. Baronet will allow me to say that I have never minimised the danger of the Ulster question. I recognise it to the full, but now that we have come to the last stage of the Bill I cannot help seeing one or two gleams of hope in the future. There was the speech made on the First Reading by the hon. Member for St. Augustine's (Mr. Ronald M'Neill), which I have treasured up and in which he used what seemed to me a remarkable phrase. He said, "I am perfectly willing to plead guilty to having all the prejudices of the Ulster people." I think he can hardly expect that those who act with him will keep such a high standard of prejudice in the future. The prejudices of Ulster I believe will gradually die down. It was my great privilege to attend a deputation to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture on the question of foot-and-mouth disease. We had there the Nationalist Leader and the Leader of the Ulster Unionists, and those two Gentlemen, when speaking on foot-and-mouth disease, said it was a subject above all party politics, and they were united on this great question. The lion and the lamb lay down together at the feet of my right hon. Friend.
§ Sir H. VERNEY
In his interruption the hon. Baronet has put the important point distinctly that on this question Ireland was one whole. It is true, also, that if you once understand the Government of one part of Ireland you understand the Government of the whole of Ireland, including Ulster. We have been taunted that we know no more about Ireland than we do about Jerusalem. We agree; we stand aside, and allow those who know Ireland to govern. I believe the time will come when we shall none of us know Ireland; when Home Rule comes into existence, a people, unhampered by those who do not know Ireland, will be able to work out their own national ideals, and it is because I passionately believe this that I shall joyfully give my vote for the Third Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. HORNER
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool' (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). I have on more than one occasion paid him the compliment of describing him as the champion blarney spouter of the Irish party and we have had a good sample from him to-night. I do not intend to occupy time in vain repetition of arguments against the Bill. I merely rise because this is the last opportunity that we Unionists in Ireland will have to enter our strongest protest against this Bill, against the methods by which it was brought in, and against the manner in which it has been forced through Parliament. It is the most important Bill that has ever been introduced into this House, and yet neither its principles nor details have ever been submitted to the electorate. The Ministers most responsible adopted the simple subterfuge of silence in their election addresses. The Prime Minister, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the Postmaster-General, did not dare to refer to Home Rule once in their election addresses at the last election. On the contrary, they did everything that terror and trickery could suggest to stifle the question and to distract the public mind from the possibility of it ever being raised, and why? Because, if the Government had been returned at the last election as in 1906, with a majority independent of the Nationalist vote, this question never would have been raised; but after the election they found themselves dependent on the eighty Irish Nationalist votes, and now we have this shameless swindle of attempting to pass this Bill through this House under a suspended Constitution and without the electorate having a chance of voting upon it. Surely this Bill, which embodies at least a score of Bills, should have been amply discussed by both sides. What prevented free discussion? The principle of bargain and sale, the bargain being that the Government was to be kept in power by eighty Nationalist votes and the sale that of the Irish Unionist minority. The details of the Bill were agreed upon by the contracting parties before the Bill was in print.
Take one example. I think we all admit that the Financial Clauses are the crux of the Bill; yet how were those fantastic proposals dealt with? They were embodied in the Bill contrary to the advice of the Cabinet's own financial experts, and retained there in spite of the protests of 2174 every individual capable of forming his own independent judgment on the question, and in spite of every body of expert opinion in the Kingdom. Scores of Amendments on those Clauses from this side of the House, many of which went to the root of the Bill, were never discussed. Take only one instance, that of the Transferred Sum. In the Bill it looks quite simple. It is to be the cost of the transferred services and the subsidy, but as new services will be transferred in the course of years, and as new Imperial taxes and as new taxes imposed by the Irish Government are either added or deducted, this Transferred Sum will consist of hundreds of items, each indefinite in amount, and each only fixed by the estimate of that autocratic body, the Joint Exchequer Board. No plan could have been more ingeniously devised to lead to bitter and continuous controversy in the future, and yet those Clauses were practically never discussed. And hon. Members talk of the finality of this measure! I venture to say that there is not one man in this House understands the finances of this Bill, and, judging of the attendance of hon. Members who support the Government, I do not believe that one man in twenty even tried to understand the finances of the Bill, but they voted for it. Will anyone tell me how business in Ireland will benefit by the complicated machinery which will involve a double set of taxes in Ireland? Will anyone tell me how Irish security and Irish credit will be improved by this Bill? Can any Free Trader opposite reconcile the powers that he has conferred upon the Irish Parliament under this Bill to establish bounties and Customs barriers with his Free Trade principle?
We have heard a great deal about safeguards. "Tell us," said the Prime Minister, and other Ministers, "what safeguards you want, and we will put them in the Bill." We know what happened. When it was shown that every one of the so-called safeguards was a sham, and when real safeguards were asked for they were refused. The invariable answer chanted in a different key by different Ministers was in effect, "You must trust the Nationalists." We do not trust them. We are not like the Prime Minister "credulous optimists"; we can live amicably with them if we are let alone under a common Imperial Government, but we will not have them as governors. [Sir J. LONSDALE: "Never."] To all our unanswerable arguments we had the 2175 assurance of Ministers, 'Oh, do not be alarmed. You will be all right; the whole life and character of Irish Nationalists will change under Home Rule." The people of British stock in Ireland are a practical people. We are not satisfied with the prophetic assurances of a bright and glorious future when we have as unerring guides the dark history of the past and the experience of the present. And, therefore it is that Ulster Unionists have made up their minds to have nothing to do with this Bill. They will resist its application to such portion of the North as we control, passively at first, actively if need be. There were precedents for both courses. A large section of Radicals in England, represented by hon. Members opposite, believed in passive resistance to the Education Act. We believe they are sincere in that belief. No one doubts that. What right have they, then, to question the sincerity of men and women in Ulster of their own race and faith on a question which dwarfs English education into insignificance? I have here a pamphlet of the "National Passive Resistance League," entitled, "The Peers' Veto gone, what next? Passive Resistance," by Dr. Clifford. Amongst members of the committee I observe the names of many distinguished men, some of them being Members of this House. What did Dr. Clifford say at page 12?No mistake, therefore, ought to he possible concerning (1) the absolute justice of the cause for which Passive Resisters are fighting: (2) or the weight of character and influence of the protesters;( 3) or their share in the leadership of the civic and political life of village and town; or (4) their numbers; or (5) their fixed determination to battle till justice is done.If those are the arguments upon which Passive Resisters in England justify their attitude, every one of them is a hundredfold more applicable to Ulster Unionists; whose position is a simple one We earnestly ask to remain under the Imperial Parliament. We maintain that her economic and social conditions signally unfit Ireland for Home Rule. We know that Irishmen are divided on distinct lines of race and religion, so sharply drawn that the only safety for all is under the control of the Imperial Parliament. We know that we have prospered, and we look for increased prosperity from the benefits and advantages to be enjoyed under an Imperial Parliament, but which we can never secure from a local Parliament with its bankrupt Exchequer and its distrusted public credit. An example will show what 2176 I mean. The whole of the western sea-coast counties—almost one-third of Nationalist Ireland—is at the present moment being spoon-fed by huge Grants from the public purse, through the Congested Districts Board, in order to teach the people the very elements of industry and civilisation. Yet the Members returned to a Dublin Parliament by the people in these counties would outnumber the representatives from progressive Unionist Ulster. Take Donegal, one of these counties, which is overwhelmingly Nationalist. It returns four Nationalist Members. This is an Ulster county, though except in parts it was never planted by British settlers. There are more illiterates in one of the divisions of county Donegal than in the whole of Scotland. What is the position the Government have to face, whether they like it or not? It is popular with Radicals opposite to sneer at us as bigoted Irishmen, while their smiles are reserved for Ireland's future rulers, the Molly Maguires, and all that they stand for, in lawlessness and disloyalty. You may scoff as usual, but easy-going gibes do not alter stern facts; they only serve to stiffen our resolve in Ulster. We have adopted no tactics of silence, evasion, or ambiguity. Preparations have been made, preparations are being made, and preparations will be made with care and deliberation to hold Ulster for the United Kingdom from the day when Home Rule passes.
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, Ireland)
What do you mean by Ulster?
§ Mr. HORNER
I mean the Ulster people by British stock. The right hon. Gentleman knows that as well as I do.
§ Mr. HORNER
I am speaking of the people for whom the right hon. Gentleman was perhaps the foremost exponent in days gone by. I will quote several of his speeches and pamphlets if he so desires. Two hundred thousand men are at present 2177 enrolled in our Unionist clubs. These are facts. Drilling is regularly and systematically going on.
§ Mr. HORNER
The authorities know these facts After a series of meetings unparalleled in numbers and enthusiasm the Ulster Covenant was signed last September by half a million men and women in Ulster. [An HON. MEMBER: "And children."] No children. As there has been so much scoffing, I will read the text of the covenant, so that Radical Members may in their calmer moments study it quietly. They will find it in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow morning.Being convinced in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship, and perilous to the unity of the Empire, we, whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of his Gracious Majesty King George V., humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, hereby pledge ourselves in Solemn Covenant throughout this our time of threatened calamity to stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom, and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland; and, in the event of such a Parliament being forced upon us, we further solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves to refuse to recognise its authority. In sure confidence that God will defend the right, we hereto subscribe our names, and, further, we individually declare that we have not already signed this Covenant.Unionists of all ranks, classes and creeds met, many for the first time, under the same roof, many who differ as widely as can be on ordinary questions of political and sectarian doctrine, and, after solemn religious exercises, signed that pledge. Does anyone honestly in his heart believe that they are all blasphemers, hypocrites, and bluffers? Does anyone imagine that these men are not in earnest? Why, if only one man in twelve stands true to his solemn pledge, look what a calamity the Bill is inviting. There would remain when the time comes 20,000 well drilled resolute men armed with modern weapons, 20,000 final reasons why they and all they protect should not be driven from the shelter of the British Constitution and called upon to surrender all that men in every age have thought it right to fight for. Behind them they will have the great traditions of a race that has never known defeat, and the sympathy and help of all that is best from every quarter of the Empire. Radicals may affect to minimise all this, but they cannot. With that state of things, does the Government not see 2178 that if they persist in their policy they are forcing men to sacrifice their lives? The pity of it is that there is a simple and easy alternative if they have the honesty to adopt it. That alternative is to put the question as a clear issue to the country. Which course will they adopt? As an Ulsterman, making that final appeal on behalf of my Ulster fellow Unionists, I call upon the Prime Minister to have the manliness and courage to carry out his challenge given a few days ago in debate and submit his Bill to the judgment of the electors.
§ Mr. SAMUEL YOUNG
I desire in a very few words to express the gratification that I feel in being privileged to take part in the third reading of a Bill which in my opinion will bring peace, contentment, and prosperity to my native land. I am the only one in this House, or perhaps in the three Kingdoms now living, who was a repealer in the days of Daniel O'Connell. Repeal was the form of objection at that time to the Union calamity, which ever since has produced disunion and discontent in Ireland, and retarded the progress and prosperity of the country. After 112 years' trial, the Union has proved a disastrous failure. However, the time for argument is past. During the exhaustive discussion in the five stages of the Bill, all objections have been paralysed. Most of them were flimsy and silly, and have their origin in the region of prophecy and party spirit. The ascendant minority are making their last effort to retain place and power in Ireland. But their day is over. The argument of distrust in their fellow countrymen is no longer even in force. It will not hold water. Reading the North of Ireland and the Protestant people of the country, their distrust of their fellow countrymen is almost a grave indignity. This House will miss the presence of the Irish Members. The Members of this House, however, do not believe that the Irish people are as unfitted as their enemies represent them to be. Had they not been a hardy and fit race, they would have been exterminated long ago. Their country was reduced to barrenness and became the abode of strife, and was governed in opposition to the ardent wishes of the people.
Ireland was used for experimental legislation. The Irish people fought for civil and religious liberty from 1800 to 1829. I saw the tar barrels on the hills when the Act was passed in 1839. They fought for 2179 the Commutation of Tithes Act in 1836, to put an end to the rector going into every field for the tenth stook before the crops dared to be gathered. They also fougtht in 1869 for Disestablishment, now to be copied in Wales. They fought the landlord question in 1870, 1881, 1886, and 1903, and left peasant proprietary to be imitated by Great Britain. Now they are experimenting in proportional representation in the formation of the Senate in Dublin. These are the people who are unfit to manage their own affairs or cannot live and thrive as do much smaller countries, such as Holland, Denmark, and Belgium. I am a Belfast man, and have no hesitation in saying that in the North-East corner of Ireland the objections to the Bill are much overstated in this House. You have heard that even to-night from the hon. Gentleman who preceded me. All this bluster is fomented by active politicians and bigoted sectaries, and will disappear once the Bill becomes an Act. In Dublin there will be the highest intellects and the best feelings in full force for the elevation and improvement of Ireland. I do not think I shall be expected to reply to the main observations which have been made by my predecessors. It is the old stuff again—nauseating, and we have been nauseated by it. I am very much obliged to the House for having listened as it has to one of the oldest men in it.
§ Mr. RUSSELL REA
Every Member who has addressed the House on the other side, from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) to the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who has just sat down, has endeavoured to rise to the same note of tragedy and prophecies of doom to which we are accustomed in these Debates. It appears to me that this House is getting into the position of a man who has acquired the drug habit and who requires a stronger and stronger dose to produce any responsive stimulation. The climax was reached when the Leader of the Opposition presented to the House the vision of His Majesty's Ministers lynched on a line of London lamp-posts. Artistically speaking, I think it was impossible to maintain that level. Even to-day, in spite of the excellent endeavours of the speakers, this tragic note has somehow lost its effect. It appears to me that really the most striking feature in the present situation is the startling con- 2180 trast—the contrast that it presents between the emotional atmosphere which it is endeavoured to maintain in this House and the frigid temperature outside in the country. In this House we are told that we are preparing for revolution, civil war, bloodshed, for the end of all things, and tragic things of that kind. Outside this House I think it must be admitted there is complete indifference. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University admitted this in a speech a little time ago. In an instant of insight and candour the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that "he was filled with despair when he considered the apathy of the British of all classes." That is undeniable. It is impossible to raise any interest in the question of Home Rule in any English by-election. A speaker from this side of the House who goes down to speak is advised by the local politicians to avoid Home Rule at all costs. He is told that the people are sick of it. The contrast is great when it is viewed in connection with the state of mind of this country thirty years ago. It means nothing less than that Home Rule is accepted generally by the people of England. It is accepted by Liberals with some amount of quiet but not jubilant satisfaction. It is accepted by Conservatives with resignation—a resignation which in many cases amongst English Conservatives amounts to acquiescence. The fact is that we see the question in its true dimensions, as a purely domestic rearrangement, with nothing Empire-shaking about it. So far as I can judge, the strongest sentiment on both sides appears to be a sense of satisfaction that at long last we are likely to get rid and dispose of a controversy which has dominated and damaged British politics for a generation. It is difficult for the younger Members of this House to realise the difference between the present time and 1886—the recoil of the nation then, when it was suddenly, and perhaps prematurely, confronted by a proposal so startling as Home Rule for Ireland, embodied in a completed Bill, to be passed then and there. At that time Ireland had had no more experience of popular self government than Turkey has to-day. It had, as the Turks have, the privilege of sending a number of ineffective members to Parliament, but the grand juries ruled the counties and levied the rates, and it was quite open to an opponent of Home Rule to argue, without absurdity, that the Irish 2181 had shown no capacity for local administration. At that time the land war was in full career, and Mr. Morley had to interrupt the Debate on the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill for the purpose of renewing one of the innumerable Coercion Acts which were habitually passed by this House—the Irish Arms Act, called the Peace Preservation Act, which had been passed for five years in 1881.
The land question was then the greater half of the controversy, and the whole of the landed interest in Ireland, backed by the whole of the landed interest in Great Britain, fought with the energy of men fighting for their lives against Home Rule. Mr. Gladstone was forced to introduce a comprehensive Land Purchase Bill, which he declared to be inseparable from the Home Rule Bill, and to run it through Parliament concurrently with the latter. This Land Bill had no friends. The Irish Nationalists thought it a mistake, and not a single landlord declared in favour of it. Every argument for the Land Bill was an argument against Home Rule. If the former was necessary, the latter was dangerous, and from that dilemma there was no escape. Imperial sentiment, too, was offended by the total exclusion of Ireland from the Imperial Parliament. Against these two features in the scheme was directed the great weight of the Opposition, and to them Mr. Chamberlain almost entirely directed his attacks. That the proposal of Irish Home Rule as then presented was startling, and was suddenly launched upon a country not prepared for it, was proved by the great weight of opinion of persons of eminence, not actively engaged in politics, who declared against it. I, myself, had become convinced of the necessity of Home Rule for Ireland by the teaching of Lecky and Froude and Matthew Arnold—yet, to my surprise, each one of these eminent men shrank back from the immediate embodiment of the principle he had taught, in a practical Act of Parliament, and took the field in opposition to it—and, to my greater astonishment, were joined by that typical Little Englander, Mr. Goldwin Smith. This startled recoil was not only that of politicians and political writers, but of the most influential of the intellectual and even of the religious leaders of the nation. Huxley and Tyndall came out of their laboratories, Tennyson, Browning, and even Swinburne, then a red Republican, came out of their libraries to crusade against Home Rule. Such men as Herbert Spencer and Jowett and Martineau entered 2182 the political arena on the same side. Even the Nonconformist pulpit added its thunder, not only that of Dale in Birmingham, but that of Spurgeon in London. Such were the odds Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Morley, and Lord Spencer had to face in 1886.
Let us turn to 1913. What a contrast! Ireland is peaceful, almost crimeless, sane, moderate, loyal and, what would be most surprising of all to the men of 1886, Ireland is prosperous. In the face of this change what do we find? We find the phenomenon upon which the Prime Minister laid stress to-day, that through all the political changes of a generation in Great Britain, and in this House, Ireland has maintained without secession, without alteration, without abatement, her peaceful and constitutional demand for Home Rule. In the face of this transformed yet constant Ireland, it is useless to pretend that the attitude and temper of England has not equally changed in relation to this question. She has come to realise that the old spectre which produced a frenzy of terror to the nerves of a past generation is simply a harmless and rather useful piece of machinery. Many things have contributed to this conversion. The economic progress of the island, the success* of the local government which has already been granted, the admirable restraint of the Irish party in Parliament, and, above all, the great lesson of South Africa, has not been lost upon her; the unanimous opinion of our self-governing Colonies, expressed at home through their Legislatures and here through their Premiers, has not been lost upon her, and to-day it is impossible to rekindle even a flicker of the old fires at a public meeting or to induce the electors even to listen to the subject at a by-eleetion I have spoken of the contrast between the attitude of the English people to this question to-day and that of 1886, but the difference is not merely a subjective difference. It is not merely a difference in opinion and in temper. The granting of Home Rule now is, in fact, quite a different thing from what it would have been then. It is a much smaller thing, a much easier thing, a much safer thing.
We have discovered that while we have been ostentatiously resisting Home Rule in form, we have already granted the greater part of it in substance. In the form of its framework, its Clauses and Sections, the Bill of this year very much resembles those of 1886 and 1893, but its sting, or rather its various stings, have 2183 been extracted. Then the land was the great question, and what would be the effect of Home Rule on land-owning, and land tenure, and land cultivation in a country where the land was almost everything. Mr. Chamberlain declared the Land Bill was the larger half of the question. That sting has been extracted. The land question is settled. We all remember how Lord Salisbury declared that Local Government would be worse than Home Rule. That has been given, that sting is extracted. When you have deducted from a whole sum two separate portions, each of them more than half of it, one must allow that what remains must be a somewhat diminished quantity, and when we remember that the old hot university quarrel has also been settled and must also be subtracted, a still smaller quantity remains. In truth, what remains is chiefly to give form and freedom to work out what we have already conceded in the manner desired by the great majority of Irishmen, and in a form which will gratify and satisfy their national sentiment. It was happily inevitable that the character of the opposition to Home Rule now should in a similar way differ from that in 1886. The landlords of Ireland and England are satisfied and silent, the poets, historians, philosophers, and preachers are no longer interested, the man in the street is thinking of something else. But as the volume of opposition has decreased, so has its violence increased. The steam confined to a narower pipe makes a shriller note. The drums and trombones have ceased, but our ears are still pierced by the scream of the Ulster piccolo. We have no longer the opposition of Huxley, of Tennyson, and Spurgeon—a respectable opposition, which represented a national bewilderment, a national protest, and a national conscience—perhaps somewhat confused and misled, but after all earnest and sincere. We have now the irreconcilable opposition of a group, not even of a party. This chilling indifference, which is the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University's despair—what does it mean?
I do not agree with him that it means apathy or selfishness. It probably does no I mean a conscious change of opinion. It means a change of heart. The heart is out of the opposition. The people have simply outgrown their terrors. The Conservative party is honeycombed with scepticisms of the infallibility of the Unionist dogma— 2184 as the Conservative party is honeycombed with scepticism about Tariff Reform. The convictions in this country appear to prevail (1) that Home Rule, whether desirable or undesirable is inevitable; and (2) that however important to Ireland, for Great Britain and the Empire, Home Rule for Ireland is a comparatively unimportant matter. No amount of inflammatory rhetoric will disturb these well-grounded convictions, or frighten the English people out of their gradually acquired composure.
§ Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
It is a matter of genuine regret to all of us Irishmen below the Gangway that the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour), should have thought it his duty to take so prominent a part in this Debate as to move the rejection of this Bill. He did so, of course, needless to say, with characteristic force and eloquence, but we cannot forget the right hon. Gentleman's work in Ireland—I do not mean the passing mistakes of his coercion days, but his great work of Imperial statesmanship in Ireland—will live as the most enduring monument of his life. We should have hoped that his experience in Ireland would have taught him that Unionist policy has always failed in that country whenever it came into collision with national sentiment and has always most gloriously succeeded when it was adopted from a Nationalist programme and was seconded by national support. That is an historical truth which one may hope will be the same in the future as in the past. That is not Unionist policy but Nationalist policy, and it was justified by every great thing which the Unionists did. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the City, in the past was not too proud to take the moral from that, and I do not altogether despair that he may yet take it to heart again in the future. I noticed with pleasure that the right hon. Gentleman's criticisms against this particular Bill were in regard to its incongruities and want of finality and not against the general principle of a great national sentiment for Ireland, and against that he directed almost all the ability of his subtle intellect. As for this particular Bill, while I am opposed root and branch to every criticism made by the right hon. Gentleman, on the other hand I cannot altogether share the raptures which have so often been expressed in glowing terms from the benches behind me in reference to this Bill, raptures that I notice were altogether omitted from the eloquent speech of their 2185 spokesman of to-night, the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). On the other hand, I have no desire whatever to plagiarise a certain notorious peroration in the Third Reading Debate upon Mr. Gladstone's Bill of 1893 with which a certain Irish leader dismissed a far better Bill than this to its fate in the House of Lords a few days afterwards. I take an altogether different view of this Bill in its essential principles even in its present maimed condition.
This is an occasion for perfectly frank speaking in a matter of so much seriousness to the two countries, and I must first of all make my reservations. I should be only misleading the House if I concealed my own feeling that in almost every single particular in which this Bill has been altered since its introduction, either in Committee or on Report, it has been altered for the worse from the point of view of Irish nationality. It has been a process of mutilation and not of amendment. It is not too much to say that our own land purchase Amendment is the only one in all those twenty-two allotted days that in my opinion will ever bring any substantial advantage to Ireland. I will only say as to the finances of the Bill that at all events as far as we non-Ministerial Nationalists are concerned every attempt of ours to debate that vital matter has been strangled and strangled by sharp practices of some questionable order in the manipulation of the Government timetable and of the guillotine. I abstain from saying anything more upon that point on an occasion like this, but under such circumstances it would be unfair to England as well as unfair to Ireland to pretend that as to the finances of the Bill, or indeed as to the powers of the two Parliaments and the relations between the two Parliaments, this Bill in its present state can any longer be accepted, by us at all events, as a full and final acquittance of our national requirements. Indeed, I am glad to say I do not think the Government themselves, judging by many of their own Amendments, even ask us now any longer to regard this Bill as it stands as an eternal law of nature for all time.
Having said that which I felt bound to say, we can and do accept the Bill with all our hearts as a sincere and courageous message of peace to Ireland on the part of the great historic British party who form the majority of this House. There is one point on which I am in hearty agree- 2186 ment with what was said by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. We accept the Bill with gratitude for the spirit of sympathy and of trustfulness which has been evinced during all the Debates by the other side of the House in that series of speeches of which we have again had a very admirable continuation to-day, from the speech of the Prime Minister down to that of the hon. Gentleman who has just been addressing the House. We accept it also with gratitude to the people of England for the calmness and the fair play with which they have up to the present watched this controversy; and indeed, if I may be allowed to say so without hypocrisy, some of us, at all events, are deeply sensible also of the self-restraint that has been shown in general even by the most determined opponents of this Bill under circumstances of irritation that might well have tried the patience of most men, and especially of Irishmen. I do not think it detracts from the credit due to them for the stubborn fight they have made in the face of a great many difficulties to say that on their part, as well as I hope on our own, we have had a very happy change indeed for the better for all of us from the scenes and passions of a quarter of a century ago, which some of us are old enough to remember.
For these reasons, although I must repeat my objection to the Financial Clauses and also to the shadowy powers of taxation that are left to the Irish Parliament in contrast with the overwhelming control over Irish taxation which is retained by this Imperial Parliament in which two-thirds of our representation is effaced by this Bill, nevertheless I, for one, can certainly promise with a clear conscience that any hon. Members with whom I have any influence will accept the Bill cordially and loyally and work it for all it is worth if it should become law, with the one honest purpose of endeavouring to make it conduce to the welfare and the contentment of every class and of every denomination of our countrymen and to the extinction of all the old quarrels and all the bad blood between the different parties in Ireland. I do not say this for the purpose of saying smooth things or with any idea that anything I can say under present circumstances will be altogether acceptable upon either side of this House. All I do claim is that even the most determined adversaries of the Bill will scarcely deny it when we tell them that the contentment of Protestant Ulster 2187 is as surely as dear an ambition to my colleagues and to myself as the contentment of Catholic Munster. We are not, at all events, endeavouring to cajole them with tinselled platitudes manufactured for the purpose of Parliamentary show in a mere party emergency. They will scarcely deny that ever since the whole situation in Ireland was revolutionised from top to bottom as it was in 1903 by the historical agreement of landlords and of tenants, and by the total abolition of landlordism, we have at all events given some hostages of the faith that is in us, not merely in words, but at a cost to ourselves of greater suffering in body and mind than we endured in all the previous years when we struggled against coercion.
We have for obvious reasons abstained, in the course of these Debates, from reminding hon. Members above the Gangway who have natural anxieties—in our mind wholly visionary anxieties—as to the effect of this Bill on the Protestant minority that they are not the only minority who have something to risk in accepting the rule of the gentlemen who, no doubt, for some years, will have the upper hand in the Dublin Parliament. I would point out to them for their comfort that we have never for an instant hesitated to accept the risk and to put our trust in the ultimate good sense and inborn goodness of our own countrymen, and I would like to add that our confidence in the mass of our own countrymen has been already pretty richly rewarded, because we have, in the course of these Debates, heard expounded with great eloquence those very principles of conciliation as between class and class and as between creed and creed, and we have heard expressed that passionate desire to extend to our Protestant countrymen even more than their proportionate share of honour in their own country—doctrines for which my colleagues and myself were, up to a short time ago, held up, by an unthinking or unscrupulous section of our countrymen, as traitors of the darkest dye. But I do not want to allude to anything of that sort except in a spirit of entire good humour. The Prime Minister had the courage to quote an old Virgilian verse; I remember there is another favourite Virgilian tag, and although I will not attempt to follow the Prime Minister in giving it in Latin, the effect of it was that possibly it might yet rejoice all hearts to recall the memories of those encounters in the brave 2188 days of old when at all events on both sides we fought our fight manfully so long as the fight went on. We are all sometimes perhaps a little hot-blooded; I think we may fairly say that Irishmen are generous winners as well as pretty hard fighters.
There is one thing I must say, even at the risk of misunderstanding, to some of the friends of Ireland on the opposite side. I cannot agree it was the most judicious way of advocating Home Rule to make the declaration which was made in the name of Ireland on a certain remarkable occasion at Nottingham. On that occasion words were addressed to the Prime Minister to the effect that on every single item of the Liberal programme, apart from Home Rule altogether, he would find just as sincere and just as enthusiastic support from the Irish Nationalists as from Members of his own party. That was not Mr. Parnell's position. It is not our position. His position was, and our position is, that the Irish national cause should be kept outside and above all English party politics, Liberal or Tory, and should not be overlaid by any mere party interests or by the rivalries of English politicians. Our best hope for Ireland is not in mere Parliamentary manoeuvring or bargaining, although these are important enough. Our best hope for Ireland, and it was also Mr. Gladstone's best hope, is to try and combine both of the English parties by putting the Irish question in the same position as the question of the Navy or the question of our Colonial Dominions—above all heat, passion, and intrigue of mere party politics—but treating it as a matter of supreme Imperial concern in which one and all have an equal share and which, in my humble opinion at all events, is alone the way by which Home Rule can be secured. But it is no use crying over spilt milk. The milk was spilt at the time of the constitutional crisis. Some of our friends say that that constitutional crisis still continues, and that the Constitution has been broken up into a state of chaos and disorganisation which cannot possibly last. The Irish difficulty is only a part of the constitutional difficulty, but it is the first difficulty that will have to be settled before anything else. As I understand it the leaders of the great British parties are now pretty well agreed that the people of England will have to be, at some stage or in some form, consulted at the polls before the Irish Parliament can be got into practical 2189 operation; otherwise I do not know what is the meaning of the interregnum of fifteen months, reduced the other night to one year, between the passing of the Bill and the appointed day. I do not know too what other meaning the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty had when he told the Ulster men that, long before the Irish Parliament could pass any legislation, the verdict of England would have been taken at a General Election. That, in my opinion, will prove to be a woeful disappointment in Ireland.
But, for my own part, I hold that if the case of Ireland could only be put clearly and dispassionately before the people of England, there is no reason whatever why we should dread the verdict of the people of England, any more than we dread the verdict of the people of Scotland or of Wales. As to how that case may be put before the country in the best way, it would be presumptuous on my part to say. But if you could get together in one room all the Chief Secretaries for Ireland of both parties still living, and all the Under-Secretaries for Ireland still living, and if you could only add three representative Irishmen whom I could name, I would wager my life that before they left the room they would have come to a measure of agreement which would content all rational men in Ireland, and be acceptable to the sentiment of your whole Empire. As to the names, it is a difficult thing to enter on any question of names. I have not the smallest title or authority to do so, but as somebody has to suggest something, and in order to show, at all events, that Ireland is not bankrupt of men who could, if they would, furnish the materials for a successful conference upon this subject, I will, greatly daring, venture to mention two or three names, although, as the House will see in a moment, I have not the slightest authority to speak for any one of them.
The first is Lord Dunraven, who needs no eulogy from me, although he has been treated in certain quarters perhaps almost as harshly as some of us who shall be nameless. The second is the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond), whose power as the head of authority of a party of seveny-six Irish representatives I willingly recognise, and as to whom I have never denied that, profoundly as we have differed and do differ as to methods and procedure, he is a man of an equable mind and a tolerant temper. The third name—I am afraid hon. 2190 Members above the Gangway will be horrified at the suggestion—is the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Sir E. Carson), who is absent, I am sorry to say, from his place, and I am still more sorry for the reason for his absence. If his friends do not disdain a cheer from the ranks of Tusculum, I will venture to say that he has proved himself, in the course of these Debates, the very type of Irishman of whom Mr. Parnell exclaimed that Ireland could not afford to lose a single man of them. I go further, and in justice to our own people and as a comment upon the nonsense of the talk about an unbridgable gulf between Irishman and Irishman, I will say that, I am convinced in my heart that, even in the excitement and the misunderstandings of the present moment, that right hon. Gentleman would only have to say the word himself to be the Prime Minister, and even the first Prime Minister of an Irish Parliament, and without a note for a programme except one of national peace. This, however, is a question which does not depend upon the individuality of any man. I could name scores of Irishmen scarcely less eminent, although less well known. There is so little at the present moment that is permanently irreconcilable in dispute, and the prize, as the First Lord of the Admiralty put it the other day, of a settlement by consent is of such inestimable value to men of every party in every part of the three Kingdoms, that it would be, unlikely as it may seem at the present moment, almost a crime against humanity to doubt that any conference of really great Irishmen and of any great Imperial governing men must reach a conclusion that would satisfy all rational men in Ireland and in Ulster, which would be applicable, of course, mutatis mutandis at once to England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and as to which any Colonial conference you summoned might agree almost unanimously to be the first part of the reconstruction of your own Imperial Parliament.
Before I sit down I want to make one remark upon an appeal made by the hon. Member for the St. Austell Division of Cornwall (Mr. Agar-Robartes). My friends and myself have, at all events, never disguised from ourselves that the misgivings of our Protestant countrymen in Ulster are a far more formidable obstacle to Home Rule than the House of Lords. In the course of these Debates my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) and 2191 myself have done our best to make it clear that we are prepared to go to almost any lengths to meet them, with one exception—that is, the partition of our country. I am proud to think that, however we on these benches may differ in other matters, upon the question of the partition of Ireland we are absolutely a united Ireland. On that point, come what may we are unchanged and unchangeable. We recognise the sincerity of the Ulster Protestants and Covenanters, and, apart from any question of civil war, which, in my humble judgment, is unthinkable, we know that they have in other ways the power of making the life of the Irish Parliament almost unbearable. But, on the other hand, whatever the politicians may say, and I think more of the masses of the hardworking Protestants of Ireland, I have the unalterable opinion that it is an absurdity to talk of impossibility in reference to the ultimate fusion of the races the moment you have secured what is far more important, the fusion of the material common interests, and that you will have most undoubtedly got the moment you have the land purchase difficulty out of the way. We respect the feelings and sympathise with the feelings of Ulster Protestants, but I hope that they will do us the justice of remembering that we also have our feelings. They are the feelings of a race twenty millions strong, whose aspirations are absolutely compatible with their highest material interests, but are absolutely indestructible as long as grass grows or water runs, whatever may be the fate of the present Bill.
I was amazed to hear the hon. and gallant Member who made a very interesting speech from above the Gangway earlier in the day, who seemed to be captivated by the opinion that many foolish people who do not know much about Ireland have, who ascribe our moderation for the last ten years to the impression that the national sentiment in Ireland is dying out. So far is that from being the case that even if our long and hard struggle for ten years for peace between all classes of Irishmen, and for peace between the two countries, should end once more in bitter disappointment, which will certainly be a calamity for both countries which I completely refuse to believe can take place, so little would such a calamity have the effect of wiping out the nationality of Ireland that I may be allowed very respectfully to say this much. Some of us have 2192 grown grey enough in the wars of forty years and are not perhaps any longer very formidable as fighting men, but you will find that it is just those Irish Nationalists who have gone furthest and risked most who will be the first and the readiest, if necessary, to go out into the wilderness again and to go through all over again any thing we have ever gone through in order to hand down to the generations of the future a nationality which can be and which is actually at the present moment won over to eternal forgiveness for anything that has passed—a nationality, believe me, which can never be put down.
I am sorry my own leader is not here to speak on behalf of the party, because I am conscious how much better he would have done the work than I possibly can. There are two points which have impressed me in the speech which we have just heard. The first is the request for a conciliatory policy towards this question. There are those who would like to see a conciliatory policy with regard to all kinds of questions. The Navy, question is made a non-party question, and no doubt the hon. Member, who has worked so hard all these years for the cause of Ireland, would like to see conciliation operate with regard to this Irish question. But the second point which he made, and made very impressively at the close of his speech, taken in conjunction with other statements which have been made during the course of the Debate, shows the impossibility, if I may speak as an Englishman in regard to this matter, of that conciliatory policy. I would remind the hon. Member of the speeches of the hon. Member (Mr. Mark Sykes) and of the hon. Member for Southampton, the effect of which speeches was that if the land problem was settled in Ireland there would be no further opposition to Home Rule. The hon. Member (Mr. Mark Sykes) led us to believe that the desire for Home Rule had been growing less and less as the land policy had been carried out from day to day, and from year to year, but the speech to which we have just listened contradicts that entirely. I do not believe any economic rearrangement of Ireland is going to satisfy the Irish people. I should have a less opinion of the Irish people than I have if I felt that it was merely on economic grounds that they desired Home Rule. After all, there are things in the life of a people 2193 which are greater than prosperity—worldly prosperity at least—and nationality is one of those things. But whatever may be the difficulty, and I at least am not going to endeavour to state that there are not difficulties in this problem of Ulster, you will never kill national sentiment, and, if the people desire to govern themselves, better bad government by themselves than good government by other people. That, I think, is one of the principles that at least, were I an Irishman, I would stand by. It is one of the principles I believe in, speaking as an Englishman.
It is almost impossible to say anything new on this particular problem. Every principle in the Bill was debated in the fifty-two days that the Bill has been before the House, and every point it is possible to conceive has been canvassed. During the lengthy discussions to which the Bill has been subjected, hon. Members have made quite sure that all the leading points of objection have been discussed. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) to-day prophesied all kinds of dreadful happenings when the Bill became law. I find it difficult to understand how any Member can believe in the possibility of these things. For myself, I do not accept the idea at all. I do not think that the party lines which to-day obtain as between Unionist representatives from Ireland and the Nationalist representatives, who represent in some cases Protestants, too, I believe, are going to be the lines of division at all when you get your Irish House of Commons, and I think that those who sit on these benches with me believe that what will obtain in Ireland, when you have a Home Rule Parliament sitting in Dublin, will be pretty much the same thing as obtains here in England to-day. Your lines of party division as they exist in Ireland to-day exist because of the fact that you have bodies of men united upon a sentiment of nationality, and that unity is bound to break up when once you have conceded their demands and given to them the Parliament for which they are asking, and in place of that united body working together you will have, I think, your Conservative and your Liberal and your Labour men, just as we have in this Parliament to-day, divided not on religious grounds, but divided as between the representatives of the agrarian interests and the industrial interests of Belfast and Dublin and other cities. My fears with regard to this Bill take an entirely different form. Our past government of Ireland has been so bad—I 2194 do not refer to the last few years, but to the years preceding them—that the education of the people of Ireland has not kept-pace with the education of the democracy of this country, so far as I understand it. Thought is not so far advanced there amongst the mass of the people; the workers are not organised to the same degree as they are organised in this country; as the result of your Land Purchase Acts you have a larger number of small vested interests in relation to the sum total of the population, as expressed by the peasant proprietor who is the owner of the farm on which he is working; and the effect of all these things will not be to make the new Irish Parliament a revolutionary Parliament, but rather to make it, from the point of view of men holding opinions such as my own, a reactionary Parliament. I am sure many hon. Gentlemen will think that the new Parliament which is to meet in Dublin—I do not think there is much doubt about that—will not be a Parliament composed of men who will be for ever following out revolutionary legislation. I think the fear is that it will be, instead of revolutionary, perhaps too conservative.
There is another point of view. The First Lord of the Admiralty, speaking on the occasion of the Second Reading of this Bill, made reference to the decrease in revolutionary tactics and to the decrease in the amount of violence owing to these tactics which has taken place in recent years. He traced historically, and I think with great force proved his point, that as this House has given to Ireland a greater share of local government, as Ireland has been permitted to undertake the management of her own local affairs, just in that degree have the revolutionary methods of the people been decreased. I think there is possibly no country on the face of the earth—no civilised country, at least—where there is such a wicked waste in the form of its government as exists in Ireland to-day. You have forced upon the Irish people a lot of things they do not want, and many things they do not need. You have policed the country to an extent which in these days it does not need. The cost of the Irish police is out of all proportion to the amount we pay in England. You have upwards of thirty-eight boards of one kind or another—boards of bureaucratic officials—which are costly in their operation, and which are not democratically composed by the people of 2195 Ireland. I take it that Home Rule in some measure will remove this kind of thing.
I agree thus far with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London that this Bill is not a full and complete scheme of Home Rule. Neither do I think it will be final so far as Ireland is concerned. Quite sufficient for me if for the moment it satisfies what the Irish representatives in this House are prepared to accept on behalf of their people to-day. Sufficient for us to face the problem of to-day without troubling about what the Irish people will ask for when they get this. Probably in a few years' time, when we have seen how well this Bill works, this Parliament will be prepared to hand over one after another—I hope the right hon. Gentleman who represents Dublin University will be one of those who will be enthusiastic in this matter—the reserved services to the people of Ireland. So far as safeguards are concerned, I agree with what was stated in the earlier part of the Debate that the best safeguards you can have in regard to a matter of this kind are not paper safeguards embodied in a Bill, but the safeguards of the common sense and the self-interest of the Irish nation. These are the two prime safeguards, and it is my belief that the Irish people are not going to destroy their trade, they are not going to be at each other's throats, but will unite, as they did a few weeks ago in respect to the importation of Irish cattle, to get more money from England both in this House and through the Irish Parliament, and to improve the position in which their Legislature stands.
We of the Labour party have been accused throughout those Debates of being part of a coalition majority that was walking continually through the Lobbies in support of all the Clauses of this Bill in order to hold our position in this House, and not because we believe in Home Rule. Well, that is not so, as far as the old Members of the Labour party are concerned. To a man they are convinced Home Rulers. To a man they have made it a point in their election addresses, and when we go into the Lobby to-morrow night to vote for the Third Reading of the Bill, we shall do so because we conscientiously believe in Home Rule We would vote for it whether it caused a General Election or not. As far as I myself am concerned, I have been a declared Home Ruler ever since I entered Parliament, and my majority has stood 2196 the test of three elections. Therefore, there is nothing to fear in that connection. I do believe that this Bill could and would be a step in the direction of Home Rule all round. I speak for myself on this point and not for my party. I am a believer in federal Home Rule. I believe in Parliaments for England, Scotland, and Ireland, and also for Wales if she wishes one. I believe in an Imperial Parliament with Colonial representation. I believe that you can never have a logical system of Government for an Empire such as ours until a scheme of that character is carried out.
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
In the last two speeches delivered in this Debate hon. Members have made declarations in support of the Bill from two of the sections of this House. The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. J. Parker) has voiced again the unwavering support that has always been given with sound political instinct by the organised workers of this country to the claims of Ireland for self-government; and we on this side of the House listened with deep satisfaction to the very frank acceptance by the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. W. O'Brien)—subject to certain reserves on one point which he clearly expressed—of this Bill, and his declaration, spoken with every sign of passionate sincerity, that he and his friends would loyally accept the Bill, and do their best to turn it to good uses. The hon. Member made a most earnest plea for the settlement of this question by consent. He urged that the right solution was a conference of the leading men representing various schools of thought, and he was sanguine enough to believe that if such a conference could be summoned, it would not be fruitless of result. Well, if only it were possible, nothing would be more cordially welcomed by the Govenrment, I need hardly say, than a settlement of this great question by consent. But just as it takes two to make a quarrel so it takes two to make an agreement, and unhappily the uncompromising attitude that has been taken up on behalf of Ulster and the Opposition in all these Debates, and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London to-day, and the very terms of this Motion which the House is at this moment discussing, do not appear to open any door for the agreement for which the hon. Member pleads. Now that we have come to the Third Reading of the Bill after all these long Debates, it cannot be 2197 said that any point could be raised in the House that has not arisen during the sittings in Committee or on Report.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London began his case against the Bill to-day by saying that it ought not to be passed by the House because it had not received adequate discussion. This is the occasion on which perhaps we may briefly review the allegation that because there has been closure by compartments, and because many Amendments have been excluded, therefore the House should not properly pass the Bill. It appears that men of all parties are coming now to realise that it is impossible for a single legislature such as this to keep in its own hands at the same time a hold upon all the vast affairs of our Empire, to keep up to date also four codes of law, one for England and Wales, one for Scotland, one for Ireland, and one for the United Kingdom, and at the same time to give attention to every detail of large controversial measures. It is beyond the power of any legislature. It is beyond human capacity, and that I think has been recognised by right hon. Gentlemen opposite; for while they may blame us for using what is familiarly known as the guillotine, and while on grounds of highest constitutional propriety they may say that such curtailment of discussion should in no circumstances be allowed, yet they have not ventured to assert if they were in office they would refrain from using precisely the same instrument in order to carry their own measures into law. Indeed, that has been very clearly expressed in respect to this very Bill itself, and the very Closure Resolution under which we are working, for on the Motion for it a few months ago, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire who represented the Front Opposition Bench on that occasion, said:I have myself more than once been responsible for the Closure. If I happen to be in office again I may be, and very probably will be, responsible for it, and let me say in passing that we will lay about the backs of hon. Members opposite very lustily the rod which they are now using.10.0 P.M.
So it is quite plain that it is not for any fundamental reason of constitutional propriety that they object to our use of the guillotine on this occasion, but because it is employed by us in support of a Bill which they dislike, instead of being employed by them in support of one of which they approved. The hon. Member for North Bucks (Sir Harry Verney), for whose indefatigable assistance all through these Debates I should like on behalf of my 2198 colleagues and myself to say a word of sincere gratitude, to-day has made some analysis of the extent to which curtailment of discussion has affected the business of the House, and I think that hon. Members opposite, in candour, will admit that although it is true many Amendments have been excluded from discussion, a very considerable number of those Amendments found their virtue, not in their own reasonableness, but in their number, and they were regarded as of value, not for the particular things that they proposed, but so that they might be counted in newspaper paragraphs and elsewhere, as victims in the tumbril of the guillotine and as heads in its basket. Although it is true that many Amendments have been excluded from discussion, the fact remains that every substantial proposition in the Bill has in effect been discussed, and that no one can honestly say that those which have been excluded have been other than points of detail and machinery. But if there are those who declare that even that curtailment of discussion is objectionable—and I for one shall never pretend, for I do not believe it, that the use of the Guillotine Closure is free from objection—if there are those who say that even that limitation of discussion is open to objection, what is the remedy? The way of escape is by the devolution of business, and the remedy for the Closure Resolution is the very Bill that we are now discussing.
I have risen to-night, however, primarily once more in parting to take a review of those Financial Clauses with which I myself am most closely connected. It has been to me a labour, but a labour of love, for I feel as convinced as of anything in modern politics that a Bill such as this Home Rule Bill for Ireland is essential for the welfare of our country, and would prove most beneficent in its working, and therefore I count it a very high privilege to have been associated in some degree with the conduct of this measure. Let me very briefly, and in the plainest and simplest terms, point out to the House what is the financial scheme which has been represented so often as being complicated, incomprehensible, fantastic, and unworkable, and has been described by the other epithets of vituperation and attack—[An HON. MEMBER: "Putrid"]—that hon. Gentlemen opposite have at their command. The scheme, briefly outlined, is this. The Irish Parliament is to be set up, and when it comes into existence the Irish Government will find that they 2199 are in possession of a guaranteed revenue which is equivalent to the present cost of the Irish services for which they are responsible, a revenue guaranteed to them in good times or bad times, and the whole of it drawn from Irish taxes. In other words, Ireland will find herself in complete control of her own revenue contributed, every penny of it, by her own people, to be spent on her purposes at her own will.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
That is precisely what I am attempting to avoid, because there is nothing which confuses Debate so much as the constant use of statistics. The hon. and learned Member, I think, will not for a moment deny that the revenue which is to be placed in the hands of the Irish Parliament will be calculated to be equal to the costs of the services which will be in the hands of the Irish Government to administer, together with a margin over and above them. There has never been any dispute upon that. Whatever economies the Irish Government will be able to make will accrue to the benefit of Ireland herself. Whatever additional expenditure Ireland chooses to make, she herself must find. There are those who have suggested that if Ireland is able to make economies, say, for example, in expenditure upon old age pensions when they are taken over, or on any other purpose, those economies should accrue to us, while any increase in expenditure made by the Irish Parliament should fall upon them. Surely if that proposition is candidly viewed it will be seen to be a suggestion as ungenerous as it is impracticable. That Ireland should be told that whatever increased expenditure is found necessary, she herself must defray it, but that if by her own efforts she is able to economise on the present cost of government, then we here should take the profit—and that seems to mo to be both an impossible and an unfair suggestion. Equally impracticable is it to say, in my view, that if Ireland finds it necessary to increase her expenditure, we, who have no control over her action, should defray the increased cost to which they are put. The Irish Exchequer, therefore, will bear the cost of the services under their control. The Imperial Exchequer will bear the cost of certain Irish services also, but the Imperial Parliament will have complete control in every respect over those ser- 2200 vices of which the Imperial Exchequer will bear the cost.
The balance of the Irish revenues which will remain in the hands of the Imperial Treasury will not indeed be sufficient to defray the cost of the whole of the reserved services. The Bill makes no difference in that respect, and the Imperial Exchequer, in the immediate future, as now, will defray the existing deficit betwixt the present revenue and present expenditure of Ireland. But for the first time the Imperial Treasury itself is relieved of the increase of expenditure that afterwards occurs on these Irish services, which are now transferred to the Irish Government. In consideration of the Imperial Treasury being relieved of the growing cost of the Irish services transferred to Ireland we grant to the new Irish Parliament a sum of money, a gradually decreasing sum, which for the first eight years, on the average, will be £400,000, and will afterwards be a fixed figure of £200,000. In other words, we commute the future growth of expenditure on these services for that sum, by leaving to Ireland the entire profit of any economies she may be able to make. Surely most of those who have considered the subject must believe, that if not in the immediate future, at all events in the not very distant future, there will be economies and substantial economies able to be made by the new Irish Government. A country which has 4,000,000 inhabitants, and which has a police force which costs year by year more than the entire expenditure upon the Bulgarian Army, surely is governed in a way which gives room for some economies. Again, we find Ireland at the present time financially dependent on the British Exchequer so far as the cost of her services are concerned, and we provide in this Bill, for the first time, means that will enable the transition to be made, not a violent but a gradual and easy transition, from the present position of financial dependence to a condition of self-reliance which is the only one really compatible with a status of self-government.
The Irish Parliament will on its initiation find itself armed with powers to increase revenue if it desires to do so. It has been assumed in these Debates almost as a matter of course that one of the first things the Irish Parliament would wish to do would be to make use of the powers entrusted to it for the increase of its revenue. It may be so. It is possible that the Irish people may desire to find at the outset of their career 2201 as a self-governing community fresh sources of revenue; but, on the other hand, there is no small probability that they will prefer for many years to come, or for some years to come, to cut their coat according to their cloth, to use the surplus that is provided to their hand for immediate needs, to make economies where they are able, and it may well be that those powers placed in their hand to increase their revenue will lie unused, and that the balance sheet, which is their balance sheet at the outset, will remain much the same for a long period. But if it should happen that those powers of increasing the revenue are employed, we have most careful safeguards so that in no circumstances can those powers of taxation interfere in any degree with the principle of freedom of trade. No possibility of discrimination is allowed against British goods for the benefit of Irish goods, no new Customs Duties can be imposed which are not already in the tariff, and the only power which is allowed with regard to Customs is to place a surtax, usually of a very-moderate amount, on the existing duties forming part of our tariff, leaving the sources of future Imperial taxation substantially unimpaired. With the gradual growth of the Irish revenue an equilibrium will be reached between revenue and expenditure, and when the present deficit is ended then the position is to be reconsidered, and on the one hand a contribution will be made from Ireland towards the expenses of the Empire, and on the other hand larger powers will be given to the Irish Parliament in the imposition and collection of taxation.
Such in outline is the scheme on which for nine days we had exhaustive discussion, in which every important principle, every point of substance in this scheme has been adequately discussed, and we find that while it has been altered in one particular of importance, namely, the excision of the power to reduce Customs duties, and while it has been modified in a number of small details, as any scheme of any great Bill usually is and should be when it is submitted to the wisdom of the House of Commons, the fact remains that the outstanding and fundamental features of the scheme of finance of the Bill are the same now as when the Bill was introduced months ago by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister. Let me briefly review some of the chief criticisms that have been levelled against this part of the Bill in various quarters. It was suggested at the 2202 outset that our proposals were profoundly unjust to the British taxpayer, and the sum of half a million to be given to Ireland at the outset, to be reduced to £200,000 in the course of a few years, was swollen by political imagination to most formidable proportions. Although it means only about the one-thousandth part of our revenues, about a farthing in the pound, this sum of £200,000, which is the only permanent increased charge which is imposed on the British taxpayer has been represented as though it cast an enormous burden upon the British taxpayer, and leaflets were circulated in the country to the effect that every family will be paying many shillings a week here for the benefit of the Irish people. I am not quite sure whether those leaflets are being distributed at the Londonderry election, I am not sure whether those arguments are addressed to the Irish people, also, that under Home Rule they will receive large financial grants at the hands of the British taxpayer. Probably not. Later on in our proceedings we had an attack from the opposite standpoint. We found the right hon. and learned Gentleman the senior Member for Dublin University, expressing in the most passionate and eloquent terms, his repudiation of the financial provisions of the Bill for reasons from precisely the opposite direction, namely, that in his view they were too hard upon Ireland, that they cut off from Ireland resources, subventions, grants, which she would otherwise receive from our Exchequer, and that the real objection to the Bill was its lack of generosity to the Irish people. That was supported by the hon. Member for Cork City and the hon. Member for Cork County, and outside by Lord MacDonnell, another distinguished Irish authority, who was, largely quoted by hon. Members opposite on the principle that any stick was good enough to beat a dog with. Now apparently we have reached this position: that the Opposition asks the House and the country to reject this Bill on financial grounds for the reason that if it were rejected, and if Home Rule were not passed, then we should be taking less money from the British taxpayer, and at the same time giving more to the Irish taxpayer. It is only ten years of steady and laborious training in the principles and methods of Tariff Reform that could possibly have succeeded in educating a party to that pitch of inconsistency. Let me answer in this connection the contention that was made again and again by 2203 hon. Members for Cork and by others, that this portion of the Bill is unjust to Ireland because it takes no account of past large contributions by the Irish people to Imperial revenues, that it does not go back on the previous over-taxation, as they regard it, of Ireland, and makes no allowance to that country under that head. It is true that we have not asked the House to embark on the troubled sea of controversy relating to the past taxation of Ireland, with respect to which there is not, I think, any one single point on which there is any measure of general agreement.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Even though hon. Members who sit on those benches are all united on this point, that does not conform to the condition that there should be some measure of general agreement. It has been the general experience of the Treasury that if there is one thing which invariably cements all sections of Nationalists and all sections of Irishmen it is any plea for more generous treatment on financial grounds for their country, and naturally in the interests of their constituents they would take that view. But in any case our principle has been that if it were the fact that past generations had been asked to pay more than they ought to have been asked, as to which I now express no opinion, that is no reason why under any financial scheme future generations should be asked to pay less than they may fairly be invited to contribute. In these matters we must start on the basis of things as they are. It is indeed not surprising, in view of the stormy records of Irish history, that Irishmen of all schools, Nationalists, and perhaps still more anti-Nationalists, are ready to dwell, possibly it appears to some of us, to dwell too much on the past and on the events that have gone by in previous generations. Perhaps it is the case that Englishmen on the other hand are not ready to make adequate allowance for events that have occurred in the earlier days of Irish history. It is indeed one of the troubles of the Irish problem that the English people know too little of Irish history, while the Irish people know too much. At all events, our view is that we must proceed on the basis of present circumstances, and if we were to adopt this suggestion that has been made again to- 2204 day by Lord Dunraven, that we should set past overtaxation, as it is alleged to be, against present contribution, I feel sure that such a proposition would not be approved by public opinion. If this Bill had proceeded on those lines, and if it had said let England make a grant to Ireland under the name of restitution, and at the same time let Ireland make a grant to us under the name of Imperial contribution, and that is Lord Dunraven's proposal, and if we had asked the British taxpayer to pay out of one pocket a large sum in respect of the past, while he is to receive into the other pocket a much smaller sum for the sake of the future, it would have been universally regarded in this House and in the country as an attempt to cloak the real position by a too transparent pretence. Therefore we have pursued the course Mr. Gladstone pursued in framing his financial scheme, of building on the basis of present facts, accepting the situation as it is, and proceeding from that starting point.
There is another objection made to the financial provisions of the Bill. In the course of our Debates it has been said that our proposals are confused, that they involve too much interlocking of the finance of Great Britain and of Ireland, that the inevitable result must be incessant friction, and that the scheme in practice will prove unworkable. It has been urged upon us that we ought to have adopted a better and clear-cut scheme, and to have said to Ireland, "Here are certain heads of taxation over which you may have full control, which you may vary as you like, and to which you must look for your revenue," while other heads of taxation, especially Customs and Excise, should have been retained entirely in the hands of the Imperial Government, and no power of control, large or small, devolved upon Ireland. That, no doubt, would be in many respects a preferable scheme. It would be simpler. It would enable a clear separation to be made between the two systems of finance. But it has the one fatal objection that it would not work. It is impracticable in the presence of the conditions with which we have to deal. In the first place, Ireland would have an inadequate revenue. Limited to direct taxation only, if we retained entire control over Customs and Excise, Ireland would have a revenue of only £4,000,000 a year. The services, with the management of which she is to be charged, will cost £7,000,000 2205 a year, and if she takes over old age pensions and other services later on the expenditure will have to be on a still larger scale. In any case, it would not be possible for mere reasons of arithmetic to limit Ireland to a revenue derived merely from direct taxation, while placing upon her shoulders the burden of administering the various services with which she is to be charged.
Secondly, the chief head of direct taxation is Income Tax. It would be a matter of great difficulty—I do not say it could not be done—to disentangle Irish from British Income Tax in view of the fact that most of it is now collected at the source. Next, it is of the very essence of our scheme that future increments of Irish revenue due to the normal growth of revenue should come to the Imperial Exchequer in order to pay off the deficit. If Ireland was given complete control over her own direct taxation the increments on that portion of her revenue would not come to this Exchequer; the plan for paying off the deficit would be rendered less effective, and the date of the wiping out of the deficit would be pro tanto postponed. Lastly, if Ireland had no control over her indirect taxation, should she wish to raise a larger revenue, she would find the resources in her hands unduly limited. Income Tax, Death Duties, Stamps—these heads of revenue would not enable her, should she so desire, to raise any considerable sum without imposing upon comparatively small selected classes of the community a burden of taxation which might be too heavy for them to bear. It is very easy on paper or in a speech to propose a most simple, clear-cut, and definite separation of the finances of the two countries, but when you come to translate your propositions into figures it is found that they are not practicable.
The Leader of the Opposition and other speakers have continually taunted us with the fact that the system of finance adopted in this Bill is one which finds no precedent; that nowhere in any federation in the world do you find to this degree powers given to the central and to the local government each to deal with the same heads of taxation. I will give hon. Members two precedents, drawn, not from insignificant or remote States, but from two important nations, one of them a foreign country, and the other within the bounds of the British Empire—Germany and Australia. When the German Empire was founded the heads of revenue reserved to the central 2206 Government were Customs only, with the matricular contributions, as they are called, from the separate German States, and the war indemnity which had just been exacted from France. Roughly speaking, with regard to the taxation of the German Empire, the Empire retained in its own hands only the power to vary the Customs, leaving all the other heads to the States. This has been found inadequate, and during the forty years that have since elapsed the Empire has taken to itself larger and larger powers. At the present time both the Empire and the States, at one and the same time, have the power to deal with the Death Duties, Stamps, and Excise, and with that admirable tax on the unearned increment of land which the German Empire has lately adopted. With regard to Australia, the Commonwealth, under the Constitution, has the power to deal with the whole field of taxation, while the States have the power to deal with the whole field of taxation excluding the Customs and Excise; while Excise and Customs are reserved to the Central Government, over all the rest of the sphere of finance—both the Central Government and the States have powers-simultaneously if they wish to use them. It is quite true that if the Irish Government deliberately sets itself to work to make this scheme of finance inconvenient, and to introduce friction, to make the scheme unworkable, and out of perversity and animosity to create difficulties then, unquestionably, the financial scheme which is contained in the Bill will not be successful. But statesmanship is not required to make by legislation provision against every conceivable mischief that an ill-advised legislature may choose to engage in. If it had been so required there would not have been any grant of self-government to our Colonies, and there would not then have been any British Empire to-day.
Two other main heads of criticism have been raised, which in conclusion I must deal with. It has been said, "whilst you are now making elaborate provision for the scheme of finance during the next series of years, you have left the whole matter open for revision and review at such a date—if, as hon. Members opposite say, such a date shall indeed arrive—when the Irish revenue balances the Irish expenditure." That is so. The present scheme is avowedly a provisional scheme, and when the deficit is over, the financial relations of the 2207 two countries can be placed upon a different footing. That is inevitable. Suppose we had done the opposite. Suppose we had included in our Bill elaborate Clauses to deal with such contingencies as might arise some years hence when financial equilibrium has been restored, imagine the play which would have been made by hon. Members opposite! They would have regarded the matter as a pedantic, and indeed an impossible settlement. They would have said, and said with truth, "It is folly to suppose that you can now deal in detail, not only with the financial problems of today, but also with the financial problems of ten or twenty years' hence, and make provision in all respects for the readjustment of the financial relations which may take place then." Necessarily and inevitably this review must be left to the Parliament of that day.
The last point is this: It has been urged that, although perhaps in matters of taxation we have done our best to safeguard. Free Trade, so far as the balance of Customs and Excise are concerned, and the provisions may be admitted as satisfactory, still they do not prohibit the Irish Government from giving advantages to Irish industry by bounties on production. This point has been made again and again. What are the facts? Bounties on the export of Irish goods are absolutely prohibited in the Bill, and cannot be granted. Bounties upon total production would, in the first place, cost too much money. I am sure the Irish Parliament would not find itself so lavishly provided as to be able to scatter them far and wide from it.? own resources [Mr. T. M. HEALY: "Hear, hear,"], and the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork would, I am sure, be the last to say that Ireland should depend on eleemosynary grants from this country for the conduct of her own affairs. The important point is this, that in any case there is very little probability that the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer will find himself in the possession of so large a surplus that he will be able with both hands to extend financial assistance to Irish industries. Secondly, there are certain things which we are all agreed are legitimate which are now being done by our Government in Ireland, and which ought not to be stopped, the whole work of the Congested Districts Board, the assistance that is given to the formation of new Irish industries, the 2208 encouraging of the fishing industry, and the various assistance that has been given by the Department of my right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, which he outlined in a most interesting speech to the House the other night. If you are to prohibit, not merely every form of bounty, but every attempt to evade the prohibition of bounties upon production, you put a stop to the useful and beneficient work which the Congested Districts Board is now performing, and it surely would be a ludicrous thing to say that when Ireland is granted a Home Rule Parliament, charged with the development of the resources of her country, she should be stopped from doing the very work which is now under the Imperial Parliament being done in that direction. In this respect we may shelter ourselves behind the great authority of Mr. Gladstone, whose orthodoxy in regard to Free Trade no one will question. He said in the Debate of 1893, on this very point, that while he himself had his doubts as to the wisdom of the policy pursued in the working of the Congested Districts Board, he was profoundly convinced that you could not in any circumstances prohibit the Irish Parliament, if it so desired, from continuing the practice in the future which the Imperial Parliament had adopted.
I think we may claim now, at the end of these long discussions, that the criticism to which the Financial Clauses of the Bill has been subjected in this House and out of it has not succeeded in arousing any alarm either in the British taxpayer or in the British trading community. On the other hand, the taxpayer in this country is inclined to regard the Bill as affording some prospect of welcome relief from the constantly increasing drain, and he sees some opportunity of securing in the future a contribution from Ireland to Imperial purposes which is not now being paid, and which certainly never will be paid if hon. Gentlemen opposite get the control of the financial destinies of Ireland, since they have promised not to end the present deficit, but with both hands to increase it. We find, as my right hon. Friend (Mr. Russell Rea) said this evening in his valuable speech, public opinion in this country has taken a very different view of the problem from what it did twenty years ago, and, in addition to the considerations he mentioned, I would suggest to the House that this is due in no 2209 small degree really to Imperial grounds. During the twenty years that have gone by, through the action of both parties, the Empire has become much more of a reality to the British nation than it was. The stirring events of the South African war, the Imperial conferences that have taken place, the visits of the Dominion Prime Ministers to this country, the fact that more and more families have members of their own in various parts of the Empire, and so bring the people into closer touch with the Colonies—all these things have made the nation more conscious of the Empire. And it is, I venture to say, because the nation is not less conscious, but more conscious of the Empire and its existence, and its history, and its meaning that this Bill is now accepted by the people in a way that previous Bills have not been. It is because the people realise the policy which it embodies is in harmony with the traditions of our Empire and the principles of its growth, it is because they realise that this policy is of a piece with that which has made the real greatness of our Empire that it commands the approval, as we believe, of the majority of our fellow-countrymen.
§ Mr. J. H. CAMPBELL
I am sure the House will share my regret in regard to the reasons which upon this occasion—which will probably be the last occasion when for the purposes of this Bill in this House the case of the loyal minority can be stated—have impelled me to fulfil a task which would otherwise have been discharged by my right hon. Friend and colleague, the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Sir E. Carson). The Prime Minister told us to-night, and told us very truly that you must take risks in building up an Empire. The people for whom I speak, and whom I have the honour to represent in this House, have taken their share in those risks probably to a greater degree, and certainly equal to, if not exceeding that of any other part of the Empire. But are there not greater risks involved when you begin to pull down an Empire, and is there anyone in this House who doubts for a moment that the proposals in this Bill involve a dangerous experiment, one based entirely upon prophecies, speculations, and proposals, which, if they ever come into operation must inevitably produce in Ireland a generation of internecine struggles, and if the operation of these proposals fail, they must produce in Ireland permanent disaster to the progress 2210 and prosperity of that country. It is, therefore, worth while to review the grounds upon which these proposals, both on the platform and in this House, have been commended to the electors of the United Kingdom. I will take, first of all, the grounds upon which the electors of Great Britain have been asked to accept these proposals. I do not propose to follow—I could not if I would—the speech which the Postmaster-General has just delivered. I recognise, and I frankly admit it, the very great intelligence, constant attention, and industry which the right hon. Gentleman has given throughout the whole course of these Debates, but I cannot suggest any greater commentary upon the allegation that we have had ample time for the discussion of this important Bill than the fact that now, at the eleventh hour on the Third Reading, he should have thought it necessary to make an elaborate exposition of the finance of this Bill. No greater proof could have been afforded than he has afforded to-night of the right hon. Gentleman's conviction that these financial problems are not understood, not only in the country, but even in this House, and no greater proof of the reality of the criticisms of the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Cork could be found than when he asked the right hon. Gentleman to indulge in figures and not phrases, because from the beginning to the end of the interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman we were not vouchsafed one single figure. I was in hopes, as I listened to the right hon. Gentleman, that he would have forgotten the very mean and contemptible argument he used at a very early stage in the Debates on this question. I mean his appeal to the English electors to support this Bill because it meant cutting their loss. He is the only one of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite who has indulged in any of these cold-blooded calculations. The others have realised to a certain extent that this is no mere matter of pounds, shilling and pence, but that there are matters involved in this Bill that cut at the very root of our social life and well-being in Ireland, and that cut at the very root of our civil and religious rights. In the course of a great partnership, such as that which is supposed to exist in the United Kingdom, I can conceive no more contemptible and no meaner argument to address to any intelligent assembly than to say, "For years Ireland has been pay- 2211 ing her way and has been paying a larger contribution than she was justly entitled to pay, but for the last two years, owing to our own legislation, to our own acts, and to the introduction of measures which we have forced upon Ireland, the balance has turned against Ireland, and therefore we say to you British taxpayers, 'Cut your loss.'" That argument only appeared at the close of his remarks.
What are the other considerations upon which the English electors are urged to accept the proposals in this Bill? They are told it will relieve congestion of business in the House. I venture to say that with a knowledge of the true facts no man, unless he is a knave or a fool, can now pretend that. What are the facts? From 1906 up to the present day hon. Members below the Gangway have found it quite consistent with the interests of Ireland to devote about one week in each Parliamentary Session to Irish affairs; but under this Bill every question that hitherto has occupied time and attention in this House, except the one question of education, is still to be reserved for Imperial control, and in order to give vocal expression to the wishes and the desires of Ireland in regard to these reserved services you are going to have forty-two Irish Members constantly entrenched in this House. Can anyone suggest for a moment that the congestion of business is due either to numbers or to quantity? It depends upon a very small numerical representation, forty-two Irish Members can occupy as much time in this House and can devote as much interest to Imperial politics as ever 103 Irish Members did, and the argument that you are going in any shape or form to relieve congestion in this House is a sham and a pretence. Finally, the First Lord of the Admiralty addressed an argument at very great length to an audience he collected on the football field in Belfast, that the settlement of the Irish question would placate Irish-American opinion in the United States, and that the hostility, the recognised and admitted hostility of the Irish race, both at home and abroad, would be appeased by this Bill, which would be accepted as a final settlement. Let us see what foundation there is for that belief.
Take the case of Ireland itself. Up to the present hour, up to the moment I am addressing the House, prominent persons in Ireland—I do not say they are necessarily members of or in touch directly with 2212 the organisations represented by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, but in Ireland they are representative men—men representative of opinion which has ever been the backbone of this agitation, and which has ever been behind hon. Members below the Gangway, a force which they themselves, outside of this House, have ever been the first to recognise—I mean the advocates of physical force in Ireland—they have one and all condemned this Bill as a sham and a pretence, and they have proclaimed that they will never accept it as any settlement of or any satisfaction for what they claim to be the legitimate demand of Ireland to be an independent and separate nation. But when it is suggested that this is going to placate Irish-American opinion, what are the facts? A great revolutionary society, which up to recent days was recognised by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—the Clan-na-Gael in America—met in New York twelve months ago, and their Supreme Council passed a resolution condemning the hon. and learned Member for Waterford as a traitor. This is no laughing matter. They not merely denounced the hon. and learned Member as a traitor, but they said that the proposals of this Bill were a beggarly pittance that Parnell would never have accepted. Again the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America met in Philadelphia, and the supreme council of that body passed a resolution a few months ago in which they said they welcomed the proposals in this Bill, but it must be distinctly understood that they were not to be in substitution of or in satisfaction of the Irish demand for complete separation and independence. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway took the precaution of publishing the first part of the resolution, but they also took care to omit the second.
Some few weeks ago celebrations were held, not merely in Ireland but in this country, to commemorate the memory of three men -whose merit was that they assassinated a humble police officer. These men were Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien Their claim to recognition and commemoration was that they had assassinated or murdered a humble representative of the law—a sergeant of police—while discharging his duty. At the demonstration in Cork the spokesman on the occasion declared that it was the duty of every Irishman to arm himself and take care, as the day was drawing when he would be in a position to recover Ireland's lost freedom and nationality. 2213 Similar sentiments were uttered at a similar demonstration in Dublin, and a demonstration was held in Manchester, the importance of which is due to the fact that it was attended by an hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Clare—[HON. MEMBERS: "That is not true"]—who has been put forward on several occasions in this House to declare his belief in the sincerity of the feelings and convictions of the Protestant minority in Ulster. But while he has made that profession on several occasions during the last few months in this House, a few weeks ago at Manchester he took the opportunity to talk of the bluff and bluster of the people of Ulster. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Does that cheer mean that the hon. Members below the Gangway desire to go back upon what has been so frequently said in this House, that they recognise the reality and sincerity of the feelings and convictions of the Protestant minority in Ulster? As regards finality, the Prime Minister made a statement which I fear that, if not he, his successors will have cause to regret. He said that this was a question which involved the existence of Ireland as a nation, and that the solution of this difficulty was to recognise and realise that Ireland was a nation. He quoted with approval, as I understood, the well-known saying of Mr. Parnell that—No man can set finality to the progress of a nation.Does he mean by that to suggest that he even imagines or believes for a moment that the contents of this Bill are ever likely to satisfy that aspiration? Under much provocation the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) was induced to stand up in his place in this House a few nights ago and to say that he accepted this mea-suure as final, and he gave the astonishing piece of information to the House that he had never been a separatist.
§ Mr. DILLON
No. I said nothing of the kind. A Noble Lord said I had belonged to a separatist organisation in Ireland, and what I said was that if I had belonged to it I should not be in the slightest degree ashamed to admit it, but, as a matter of fact. I never did belong to it.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
That is exactly what I stated. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The hon. Member was driven to informing this House of two interesting facts, first, that he had always advocated constitutional methods, and, secondly, that he had never been a separatist. I could refute that 2214 statement by very many quotations. I will give the House one.
§ Mr. DILLON
The right hon. Gentleman is repeating what I have contradicted. I did not say, nor was I challenged to say, whether I had ever been a separatist. That question was not raised. The statement made was that I belonged to a separatist organisation. That means a Fenian organisation in Ireland.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
Certainly the hon. Gentleman has now given an explanation of his intervention which never occurred to anyone at the time it was given, because there was no question whatever at the time about any Fenian organisation. The question was as to whether this was going to be a final settlement of the question, and the hon. Member was instigated to rise in his place to say, speaking on behalf of the Irish party, that he was prepared to accept it as a final settlement, and it was in the course of that statement that he added the interesting piece of information that he had never been a separatist. I will take it that he never belonged to a separatist organisation. Let me ask, first of all, What did he mean the House to understand? Let us be perfectly frank in this matter. It is a matter of importance, and it is a time for plain speaking. Did anyone in the House understand that the hon. Gentleman meant by that to convey that he was never a sworn member of the Fenian Brotherhood, or did they understand him to mean that he had never been in favour of separation?
§ Mr. DILLON
If the right hon. Gentleman challenges me, what occurred is in the memory of hon. Members here in the House. A Noble Lord challenged me on this point. He said, turning round to me, that I had belonged to a separatist organisation. It was not a question of opinion. It was a question of fact, whether I was enrolled in a separatist organisation. Replying to that challenge, I said that while I should not be in the least ashamed, if it had been true, to admit in this House that I belonged to a separatist organisation, as a matter of fact I never did belong to it.
I quite accept the hon. Member's statement that he never belonged to a separatist organisation, but that does not at all touch my point. The hon. Member, until the last few months, has always been an advocate of the 2215 complete separation of Ireland from the United Kingdom. Let me just quote by way of proof of this fact one incident that occurred in this House. It was in the year 1898, at a time when the hon. Member was not exactly in the same degree of harmony with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) that he is today, and the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) was rather sneering at the hon. and learned Gentleman's professions of Nationalist loyalty. He said this:—The hon. and learned Gentleman, as I understand, has denned that the full measure of the Irish demand is the repeal of the Act of Union, and in a previous speech in Ireland he led the Nationalists to take the same view, and having recognised that the policy of Home Rule as carried out by Mr. Parnell had failed he now falls back upon the repeal of the Union.Mr. John Redmond: No.Mr. Dillon: You spoke of the repeal of the Union and the re-opening of the Irish Parliament as the full Nationalist demand. Now, I say that in my opinion, and in the opinion of the vast majority of the nationalists of Ireland, that is not the full Nationalist demand.Mr. John Redmond: Separation?Mr. Dillon: Yes, that is the full Nationalist demand. That is the right on which we stand. That is the Nationalist right of Ireland.11.0 P.M.
The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) has himself advanced a little, I think, from the stage represented by that interesting dialogue in 1898, because in the last two years he himself has proclaimed at a meeting in Dublin that he looked forward in a very short period of time, with the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to the approach of the day when they can tear down and trample underfoot the infamous Act of Union. After we had listened for weeks to professions of loyalty to and love for the British Empire, the hon. and learned Gentleman the other night was provoked to stand up in his place and say that Nationalists outside Ulster loathed and detested the Union. These are the foundations for the belief of hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the benefits that are going to accrue to Great Britain from the proposals in this Bill. What are the benefits that are going to accrue to Ireland? I have repeatedly asked, and I ask it again, if any man can stand up in any quarter of this House and state a grievance of any sort or kind which any man or woman in Ireland suffers from, as compared with any man or woman in England or Scotland. I have never got an answer to that challenge, and I never will, for the simple reason that owing to the legislation of this Parliament during the 2216 last thirty years there is no single grievance of any sort or kind that ever existed, or was claimed to exist, in Ireland, that has not been removed, with the result that to-day the position in that country with regard to civil and religious liberty is exactly the same as prevails in every other part of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
The Chief Secretary shakes his head at that. I hope he will tell us when he speaks to-morrow some grievance under which Irishmen suffer today as compared with Englishmen and Scotchmen. I admit that there are many individuals in Ireland who suffer from tyranny and persecution. The right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us what is the reason of that. It was going on before his time, I agree, but the right hon. Gentleman has been true to the traditions of his predecessor. I also accept his statement that it existed in the time of Unionist Chief Secretaries. The only grievance I have ever heard suggested is one which is common to the whole of the United Kingdom, namely, that the people of Ireland have to submit to laws that have received the sanction of the Imperial Parliament. The only advantage I have heard that this Bill will give to Ireland is that it will enable economies to be effected in the administration of the country. That was urged in season and out of season, and now we are told that no economies can be effected in Ireland for generations. What is the incentive to economy? Why ! that when they have wiped out the deficit and begin to pay their way once more the surplus is to be paid into, and utilised for the support of, the Imperial Exchequer. What an encouragement to economy and saving The Prime Minister told us to-night that the loyalists of Ireland had two great safeguards which were not in the Bill. He was wise to ignore the safeguards in the Bill. I wish he had been here when an hon. Member, speaking on behalf of the Labour party, declared his utter want of belief in any paper safeguards. We share in that distrust so long as you have an Irish Executive to administer the law in Ireland, but the right hon. Gentleman told us there were two great external safeguards to be found in the self-interest and common sense of the Irish people. Has he ever considered how far those two considerations ought to influence the attitude 2217 of the Protestant minority in Ireland, and what self-interest and common sense would dictate to them, and what good this Bill is going to bring to the province of Ulster? Has he ever suggested, directly or indirectly, how the loyal community in Ulster or outside it is going to benefit in any degree by the proposals of this Bill? No man out of an asylum can suggest any such benefit. On the other hand, self-interest and common sense, the two factors to which the right hon. Gentleman appeals, convince the loyal community in Ireland that the progress which Ulster has made in a degree equal, if not superior, to the progress made in any other part of His Majesty's dominions was made as a result of the industry and the law-abiding, peaceful, God-fearing character of its people; and has furnished an example of prosperity to the rest of the United Kingdom. They ask, Why are not they left alone? What have they done to deserve this act of betrayal on your part? Have they ever been false in their allegiance? Have they failed in their loyalty? Have they refused to come to the aid of Great Britain or the Empire in its hour of danger or its hour of need? Have they not done much towards building up that Empire of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke to-night? Have they not devoted their treasure and their children to building up that Empire, and in every department of public life, at home and abroad, have not their descendants filled with honour and distinction high positions in your Civil Service and your Army and Navy?
The right hon. Gentleman expressed surprise at the attitude of Ulster, and he held up his hands in pious horror at the words spoken by those who champion the rights of the loyal minority in Ireland. I do not suppose that any Member will challenge the right of a free and courageous community under certain conditions to resort to force in defence of its civil and religious rights. If that were not a recognised axiom of constitutional history, the history not only of this country but of every civilised country in the world would have to be rewritten. There is no quarter in this House in which any man can stand up and deny the right of people under such conditions to so defend themselves. There are right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Bench whose early experience would demonstrate the truth of that statement. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a speech which I read some few months 2218 ago, I suppose on the strength of being born in Lancashire, described himself as a child of the mountains. The mountains have been in labour before, and the births have been similar. But this child of the mountains has occasionally developed into a Rory O'More of the hills. Will hon. Members below the Gangway who represent labour interests deny the principle that physical force is sometimes a remedy? Will hon. Gentlemen from Ireland who sit below the Gangway deny the proposition that there is not a leading man among them who has not from time to time declared that if Ireland was only strong enough to do it, they would desire and recommend Ireland to secure its independence by force of arms. This sentiment as coming from Irish Members below the Gangway, and as part and parcel of their policy, is well illustrated by a statement in a leading article in the "Irish World," edited and controlled by that distinguished patriot, the apostle of dynamite, Patrick Ford. He is a gentleman, by the way, who is always eulogised in the most fulsome terms by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the eve of a mission to America. What does Patrick Ford say?—There are Irishmen who believe that only by physical force, only by cannon, and guns, and spearsHON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] What has become of their loyalty now?can the freedom of Ireland be won. Let them hold to their belief; let them do all they can to carry their policy into effect. Not an Irishman has or ought to have a word to say against it. On the contrary, all good Irishmen, every Irishman worth his salt, every Irishman with true Irish blood in his veins, would be delighted to see England and her infamous rule in Ireland faced and beaten in the field and crushed and destroyed for ever by the use of Irish guns and Irish spears, or by the armed might of Irishmen, acting in co-operation.The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury saw great fun in this; the humour of the situation did not occur to him in Belfast. The editor goes on to say:—This is Irish sentiment and Irish instinct, and therefore no good Irishman has a word to say against the physical force principle. None of the leaders of the parliamentary movement has a word to say against it, or ever does say a word against it, or against the organisation that believe in it as the only right principle.Yet in face of that, you are asked to believe all this incessant and nauseating talk about the future loyalty and toleration of the men whose record and whose actions are known as well to right hon. Gentlemen opposite as they are to us. When they talk about the loyal minority being unwise in not taking their fellow- 2219 countrymen on trust, have they ever asked themselves what right they have to do so? Are they not entitled to profit by the lessons of experience, and the history of the last thirty years. The Prime Minister went back to fifty or sixty years ago, but he said very little about the last thirty years in Ireland. Even during the last thirty years while this Parliament has been going out of its way to pledge Imperial credit and try legislation of all kinds to remove the last vestige of grievance or complaint in Ireland, to start that country on the road of future progress and prosperity, what has been the history of Ireland outside of Ulster. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford has said, and I believe with perfect sincerity, that he hopes in the future and trusts and believes that they will not be able to afford to lose or to spare a single Irishman. They have never spared one during the last thirty years. There has not been during the last thirty years throughout the West and the South of Ireland any Irishman who ever stood in the way of the tyrant or the intimidator who was ever spared, and that blood-stained record has taught those people in the North that they would be worse than fools if they were to attempt to exchange their guarantee which they at present retain in being governed and ruled by laws which receive the sanction of the Imperial Parliament. They have present to their minds the experience of the Local Government Act of 1898. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford stampeded the country and proclaimed in this House a policy of conciliation and toleration for all men throughout those three provinces. He proclaimed that room would be found on the local boards and the county councils and district councils for Unionist local residents who were prepared and willing to give their time to the management and control of local affairs. He was perfectly genuine in that desire, but what has been the result. He knows his prophecies were a failure. The only thing I complain of with regard to him is that from that hour to this he has never stirred hand or foot to attempt to redeem those prophecies or pledges. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) told us the other night that in his county of Cavan that, while the leading men of that county were Unionists and paid the large bulk of local rates, they had no representation on any 2220 of the local boards, and he regretted it. He said so, but he is a man of influence in that county, and that state of things has gone on since 1898, and to my knowledge he has never lifted hand or voice to remedy or redress that state of affairs.
All this pretence that we hear of nowadays is only part of the sham; the same sham that prevailed in 1886 and 1893 when the loyalists of Ireland were asked to exchange their guarantees and take in return those specious prophecies and pledges. I do not think that any man, and certainly none of my countrymen, even those below the Gangway, can ever say of me that I ever have been bigoted or in-tolerent. I do not believe that any man who knows me will ever make that accusation in reference to me. I have supported Irish views below the Gangway on every occasion in anything that I thought was for the common good of my country. I supported the Local Government Act of 1898. I supported all the land legislation. I supported the Land Purchase Acts. I was in favour of granting facilities for university education, and upon public platforms before any legislation was introduced in this country I advocated the removal of the offensive words from the King's Declaration. I have done all this, and while even to-day I am prepared to stand with them and pledge myself to aid and abet them in the removal of any grievance which they can point me out as existing to-day, yet on this question of Union there is an un-separable gulf between themselves and me. While I am prepared to go any length with them3 short of surrender of principle, in settling this question, I say this, and I say it deliberately, that so long as right hon. Gentlemen persist in their attempt to force this measure through under existing unconstitutional circumstances, so long will I aid and abet as far as I can the determination of the loyalist minority to resist these proposals by every means in their power. No man can contemplate with equanimity the possibilities—I will not say the possibilities—the certainties that will ensue in Ireland in the event of the Government persisting in this design. We who represent Irish Unionists in this House have adopted every constitutional means to save the situation. We have under unprecedented conditions of humiliation and degradation submitted to discuss this measure and the proposals therein contained. We have not yet exhausted our 2221 constitutional remedies. There are still, at least nominally, three estates of the Realm. There are King, Lords, and Commons.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I suppose you have abolished them. There is at least this remedy left to us. We have the right to present a humble petition asking the Crown not to give its assent to this measure unless and until it has received the consent of the electors of Great Britain. It may be that by a policy of renewed trickery or coercion the Crown may be induced to give its assent to this measure before that stage takes place. If that happens, I state plainly and fearlessly that we at home will be compelled to take care of ourselves, and in that resolve we will have behind us the whole resources of the united Unionist party in this country. As this is probably the last occasion upon which in this Debate an appeal can be made on behalf of the loyalist community, I do not think I can do better, in bringing my remarks to a conclusion, than to sum up the situation of these people in words which bear repetition, even though they are the words of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Mr. T. W. Russell). There has been perhaps no more remarkable feature in the whole of these discussions than the muzzling of the right hon. Gentleman. There is no one who, assuming him to be honest, could have thrown more light upon this question, more particularly as to the attitude and position of Ulster. If there is any man in this House competent to do that from knowledge and experience it is the right hon. Gentleman opposite. But not only has he been muzzled, he has been isolated. There has been a sort of cordon drawn around him. One would almost imagine that he suffered from some contagious disease. What is his view? How did he present the case of those whose case I am advocating to-night? He said:—Before closing my remarks may I make a final appeal to this audience on behalf of the loyalist minority. What, I ask, have they done that they are to be deprived of their Imperial inheritance? In the words of the Apostle"—[a laugh]—It is no laughing matter.In the words of the Apostle they are to be made bastards and not sons. Three hundred years ago Ulster was peopled by Scottish settlers for State reasons. The blood of the Covenanters courses through their veins. They read the same Bible. They sing the same psalms. They have the same Church policy. Have they ever proved altogether unworthy of their ancestry? Two 2222 hundred years ago when the Empire was in peril the descendants of these Scottish settlers, hunted from post to pillar, remembering that they belonged to an Imperial race, turned desperately at bay under the walls of Derry. Their by no means dishonourable record has been dealt with by the historian. The descendants of these men have made Ulster what it is. They have turned the most sterile province of Ireland into the most fertile. They have planted industries and established commerce—shipyards that vie with the Clyde and the Mersey. The linen trade of Ulster takes its place amongst the great industries. Wherever we find these loyalists, as Mr. Chamberlain has said, there we find the nucleus of prosperity, order, and industry. Their names are unstained with crime or outrage. They are not moonlighters or cattle drivers. They neither make the criminals nor the paupers of the country. Not until their last shilling is spent, or their last resources have been exhausted; not until we have done everything that the honesty of man dare do, shall we consent to be governed by men whose record in the past is stained with crime, outrage, and plunder, so as wholly to destroy all confidence in their future.That is the experience of one, forty years of whose life was spent in Ulster. He was surely not drawing upon his imagination? Is it because he has committed himself to these honest statements that he has remained muzzled throughout the entire course of these Debates? All I can say is that I believe every word of his statement to be true. It is because I believe it to be true that while probably even beyond any other man in this House I look with horror and dread at the very thought of civil war or strife—it is because I believe these men in the North of Ireland are sincere and honest in their beliefs—and that their fears are real and well grounded, that I warn the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his colleagues, even though they may by their manœuvres and machinations force these proceedings through, and so avoid an appeal to the electors of the United Kingdom; nevertheless when all has been said, they will find themselves up against an irresistible barrier to be found in the determination of straight and courageous men.
§ Mr. JOHN DILLON
I desire to say a few words of personal explanation. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken read an extract from a speech of mine with the object of proving that at the date named, 1898, I was declaring myself a separatist. I shall read the extract to the House and Members can then judge whether the right hon. Gentleman has read what he read fairly or not. He stopped at the following words:—Yes, that is the full Nationalist demand. That is the rock on which we stand—the national right of Ireland—There the right hon. Gentleman stopped. The speech goes on to state:—which we always were prepared to compromise. The very fact of our coming to this House shows our 2223 willingness to compromise. I was called upon the other day in Dublin by two or three young fellows, and they claimed as Nationalists the right of Ireland to the Parliament of 1782, and they said further that the national right of Ireland was a right to separation, and I said to them how can you expect us who believe in the efficacy of Parliamentary agitation and who stand upon Parnell's platform, and who are willing to accept the Gladstone Bill and policy as full compensation and compromise of our national demand, and to stand loyally by that settlement, and so we do. I pointed out to those young men who were determined to put forward the full national right of Ireland as their demand that no man who made that demand had any business to cross the floor of this House, and hare no honourable means of crossing that barrier because they are face to face with an oath which no man could take who are engaged in pressing forward that full national demand of Ireland.I ask hon. Members is it fair play or is it honourable for the right hon. Gentleman to suppress that statement and to bring forward the mutilated quotation which he did bring forward as proof that at that time I was declaring myself a separatist.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I assure the hon. Gentleman that I would not for a moment intentionally misrepresent him. I said at the time that I was only referring to one quotation out of a dozen which would demonstrate the same thing. Let me read now what he said four years' ago. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]
§ Mr. DILLON
On a point of Order, I made a personal explanation of an extract 2224 which was taken from the context and mutilated in this House in a way which it is not the habit of Members of this House to do. The right hon. Gentleman has now run away from that extract; he has made no apology or withdrawal from the gross misrepresentation he has made but he wants to give some other extract from some other speech.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman desires to supplement the extract the simplest plan is to hand the book to somebody else, and it can be read to-morrow.
§ Debate adjourned; to be resumed tomorrow (Thursday).
§ The Orders for the remaining Government business were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 14th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at twenty-six minutes before Twelve o'clock.