§ Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [9th June], "That the Bill be now read a second time."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ Which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day three months."—[Mr. Balfour.]
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
I must confess that I rise upon this occasion to take part once more in the discussion of this Home 1464 Rule question, with considerable reluctance. All I can hope for myself is that it may be the last time that I shall ever trouble the House in discussing the matter. I rise with reluctance for this reason, that while I and those who think with me in Ireland are engaged in matters which to us are of the most serious consequence, everybody knows that the present proceedings, as a contribution to any settlement of the Home Rule question, are nothing less than sham and hypocrisy. Indeed, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) said very graphically a short time ago that this was only an "automatic process." So far as I and my friends from Ireland are concerned, we decline to be the automata. I cannot help thinking that it is well to look at the reality of the present situation, because we have now before us the first concrete example of the working of the Parliament Act, under which the Constitution is suspended in conspiracy with the Irish Nationalist Members for the purpose of passing this very Bill. In his statement yesterday the Prime Minister himself demonstrated the hopeless position in which this House has placed itself by its own legislation. What is that position?
Last year, for want of time, half the Bill which you are going to force upon us remained undiscussed, and a thousand Amendments which we put forward, and which you told us yesterday you are only longing to accept, were closured and thrown into the waste-paper basket. This year, if you could for a moment claim that your procedure was a reality—which I am bound to say you honestly confess it is not—you would at least have allowed us to employ our time in going through some portions of the Bill which you yourselves by your Closure and your "kangaroo" prevented us from entering upon. Let me illustrate what I mean for a moment. You are setting up a Constitution which you say ought to satisfy the industrial part of the population in the North of Ireland, a Constitution which puts them in the power of the smallholders and agricultural labourers in the South and West. Last year we never had one single day to discuss what were the proper constituencies which were to govern the country in which you are setting up this Bill. That was a scandal. Just imagine asking people in this country to consent to and be satisfied with a Bill brought in by the Government to redistribute seats in this country, and telling the House of Commons, 1465 "We are sorry, we cannot give you a day to discuss it; you must take it as we drafted it in Downing Street or elsewhere." Take another matter. We pressed all last Session for the Report of the Finance Committee, which you set up. Nothing that we could do would get it from you.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Nothing that we could do would get the evidence, which was the all important part. Now we have the evidence. You gave it to us when the Session was over. When the Bill was passed all your scruples about keeping the evidence secret had vanished. And what does the evidence show? It shows that the Report throws over the whole of the evidence, and goes in the teeth of every man in Ireland who knew anything about the financial subject. I say that that demonstrates the folly—indeed, I may go further—the wickedness of your procedure, which leaves this question in abeyance, never discussed and never settled, and calmly tells us that we are to come down here and spend our time while we carry out the automatic process, as the hon. and learned Member for Waterford called it, at the bidding of a Government bound hand and foot to their supporters below the Gangway. Does anybody suppose for a moment that the Bill of last year was as good a Bill as you could make it? Does anybody assert that? The right hon. Gentleman yesterday quoted one or two passages from the Second Reading Debate in the House of Lords, one from a Noble Lord and the other from the Archbishop of York. Let me quote three passages from Radical Peers, Home Rulers, supporters of the Home Rule question. I think the right hon. Gentleman might well take them to heart, and consider whether he ought to go on asking us to go through this farce—whether he ought not to set up the ordinary procedure and let us discuss this Bill in the ordinary way. The first is Lord Weardale, who will be remembered in this House as an extreme Home Ruler and an extreme Radical. He said:—It would be a great mistake if the Government, in obedience to a somewhat eager section of their supporters, were to hold the Parliament Act as a sword of Damocles over the head of the Conservative party.Lord Macdonnell said:—I agree with my Noble Friend, Lord Dunraven, that there is a great deal in the Bill which needs amendment.1466 Lord Dunraven himself said:—The Bill is a makeshift; it proceeds on no definite principle; it makes for friction and not for settlement. It is not fair to the Irish people; it does not give the Irish Parliament a hundred to one chance, strive as they may.4.0 P.M.
That is the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman claimed yesterday he was right in pressing on under the Parliament Act. True it is that he said, "We have a new procedure under which we will take away all your grievances about it; we are going to set up a new procedure—procedure by suggestion. "What does suggestion mean? It means this—and I ask the House of Commons to mark it if suggestions are put forward which the Government think are improvements to the Bill, aye, even if they are thought by them to be vital to the Bill, and although they may pass this House, and although that suggestion or those suggestions—a case having been made out—may be passed, they at the same time have announced to the House that, however grave or however vital these Amendments are, the House of Commons has no power whatsoever of inserting them. Was there ever a Legislature which by its own act had reduced itself to a state of such absolute incompetence? The truth is that this whole proceeding which we are now asked to go through is but make-believe. It is carried on with a view to deluding the electors into the idea that we are legislating, when, as a matter of fact, we are only masquerading and marking time. So far as I am concerned—and I speak on behalf of my colleagues from Ireland—we are bound to contrast this farce with the stern reality of what we know is happening in Ireland. There, at all events, men are in deadly earnest. They value being citizens of the United Kingdom, and these means which you are adopting to drive them out are making them more bitter and determined every day. They have had flung at their heads a Bill half-discussed, and upon every section of which the word "betrayal" is imprinted. They are preparing, and rightly preparing, to resist in every way they can that Bill being made effective as against themselves; and they know well, just as well as you do, and just as well as I do, that this procedure which we are engaged in to-day, and which is set up by the Parliament Act, is merely humbug and pretence with a view to passing over the time until it may be made a weapon for their subjection.
We Unionists from Ireland will refuse to help you to play out this pantomime. You 1467 can play it out without our interference, and we shall watch with deep interest the progress of your suggestions, which can be all the more efficient as they will be untrammelled by any interference on our part. Our duty upon this question is not here. Our duty is to help our own people to organise, and also to ask those people of Great Britain who would never be a party to your wretched, miserable, and scandalous betrayal, to organise for our assistance. The Prime Minister, in what he was pleased yesterday to call his impartial review of the situation, came to the conclusion that the Government stands to-day where it did upon the Third Reading, both in this House and in the country. It is very easy to make an impartial review when you are yourself the counsel who makes it and the judge who decides upon its impartiality. If the right hon. Gentleman says that the Government stands where it did, I tell him that Ulster stands where it did. As the Prime Minister indulged in a little of the art of the statistician, perhaps I may be allowed to ask one or two queries as to whether he really believes that he has investigated the thesis that the recent elections have made no difference. I am afraid I am sceptical myself about statistics. In the Law Courts we have three classes of witnesses—as the right hon. Gentleman knows. We have got the liar, we have got liars with an expletive, and we have got statisticians.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Well, they are experts. I do not myself much believe in these figures that you give, particularly in the manner in which they are put together to suit a particular view of the right hon. Gentleman. The Prime Minister proceeded to quote some anonymous contributor to the "Times" as to the fact that Home Rule never played any part in the Newmarket election. I shall quote an authority whom he dare not resist, because it is that of an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway—I refer to the hon. Member for Meath—who, at the time of the New-market election, sending his apology to the Annual Convention of the United Irish League of Great Britain in Ireland, said this:—Home Rule workers detained in Newmarket election fighting important Tories from Ireland, send greetings: another victory in sight.1468 The right hon. Gentleman, not knowing, of course, that one of his supporters had made that statement, preferred to take up some anonymous contribution from a newspaper which probably was written by some Radical reporter. Then I come to Altrincham. I notice that the right hon Gentleman was not quite so confident about Altrincham. He did think there might be something there which he had not had time to look into since he came back from inspecting the defences of the country. If he had had time to look at a paper which is one of his best supporters, the "Manchester Guardian," I think he would have found as a proposition, summarised shortly, that they put forward in reference to that election that, "Every vote for the Tory is a vote for anarchy and rebellion in Ulster." That was the main purport of it, and the hon. Gentleman, who was a candidate of the Unionist party there, boldly took up the challenge, and Altrincham, I am afraid, must go down with the stigma upon its character that, according to the "Manchester Guardian," it is "in favour of anarchy and rebellion in Ulster." It really comes well from the right hon. Gentleman to chide us as to whether Home Rule was present to the minds of the electors at these various by-elections or not! Was not it as much present to their minds as it was to the electors at the last General Election. Why, then they even had it not in their addresses. Above all things, they had not the Bill.
Always recollect that upon the two previous occasions in the history of this controversy it was after the Bill was produced in concrete form, and was before the electors, that the electors saw how monstrous it would be, and absolutely discarded it! When the right hon. Gentleman said that those electors did not care about our resistance to Home Rule does he find much evidence of enthusiasm in favour of Home Rule? One would expect, at least, that in the great constitutional change, and with what he himself called yesterday the grave and serious situation in Ulster, that before you broke up the Constitution under which we live and under which this has been avowed hitherto, you would find some enthusiasm; but what is the case of the right hon. Gentleman? That even under these grave circumstances the best way he could put it is that the electors have taken no interest whatsoever in Home Rule. I have asked the right hon. Gentleman this question on 1469 more occasions than one, and I have never got an answer. May I repeat it in the hope that I may get an answer from somebody who follows in the Debate: "Will you refer me to any speech of any responsible Minister at the last election in which he discussed the question of Ulster and the question of coercing Ulster if she refused to be driven out of the United Kingdom?"
The case of Ulster never was stronger than it is to-day. Not only is it a strong case, because of the brotherhood and fellowship which joins each and all of us there together, but strong because that even in the threat of armed resistance, if it should ever be necessary—which God forbid!—we have now the open declaration of our leaders, of the Leader of the Opposition, of the ex-Leader of the Opposition, that we have behind us in that armed resistance, under present and existing circumstances, the whole force of the whole Conservative and Unionist party. That is not put upon any idle grounds or upon any petty political party reasons. Anybody who listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend, the former Leader of the Opposition, yesterday will have found in it a deep constitutional thought, which goes to the very principles of the right of government as involving taxation, when he said that what you are attempting to do is to continue as regards Ulster—because they will not accept the Bill—that is why he singles out Ulster—you are going to continue the right to tax for Imperial and for other purposes, and you are going to take away from them the share of representation to which they are entitled as an integral part of the United Kingdom. The Solicitor-General purported to make some answer to that argument. He said, forsooth, that my right hon. Friend was always arguing dilemmas—that what he said was, "You say you are taking away Members in the case of Ireland, but you are not taking away any in the case of Scotland." Do you think that was the argument? It was not. What he did say was that you dare not propose in the case of Scotland, the very thing which he said was his argument in regard to Ireland, that you were going to continue your taxation and that you were going to reduce her representation.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir John Simon)
He said one thing more. He said that if there was Home Rule in Scot- 1470 land, and that the Scotch representation was not reduced, that that would mean a monstrous injustice to England.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Does anyone doubt that? The hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that is a terrible thing to say. You are to give to Ireland the management of her own affairs so that no one in England is to have the least power to interfere, but they are to be welcome to come over here and to disturb the whole balance over here and to interfere in every detail of every local matter that affects this country. That is one of the monstrous absurdities of the Irish Bill in its present form, and one of those matters which, I think, you would be very slow to submit to the electors of this country. The Prime Minister knows perfectly well that so long as we are in the position of having behind us in all the steps that we may have taken, and are taking in Ulster, the majority in England as we have at present, and I believe a majority in Great Britain—at all events you are afraid to put that to the test—he knows perfectly well that while we have the active co-operation and sympathy of certainly one-half of the population of Great Britain, that he is in as helpless and hopeless a position as regards this Bill as ever was a Minister in regard to any Bill in the House of Commons. For my own part, I have no fear; I have the most absolute confidence; and I believe there is no man strong enough, and no Government strong enough, certainly not this discredited Government, to put in force a single Clause in this Bill against Ulster.
The right hon. Gentleman played a good deal yesterday with the absurdity of having a General Election. He says, "What difference would it make? Look at those Ulster people, they will not accept it even if we were again returned to power." Does he really think it would make no difference? All I can say is, I prefer to fight out this battle with the whole Unionist party behind me, and the whole of the Unionist party in the country behind me, than fighting it out, as we may have to fight it out eventually, alone in Ireland. Does the Prime Minister really think that it makes no difference? There is a great deal of questioning of us over this: "Will you," the Prime Minister says, "undertake if we go to a General Election to refrain from further opposition in Ireland?" Why is this question ever 1471 asked. If there is a General Election and it goes in our favour, I ask, will you undertake to refuse to support the Nationalist party below the Gangway in their application for Home Rule for Ireland? We hear talk a great deal about a General Election settling these matters one way or the other. We have had two upon the subject, and each time you were beaten, but each time, I will not say you absolutely refuse to acquiesce, but you did refuse to acquiesce until you found you were not in a position to go on without the aid of the Nationalist party. But after all the great strength of Ulster's position is that we have an unanswerable case as regards the claims we put forward. What are they, in a word?
The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, yesterday made an amusing speech full of fiction, and amongst other things he said this: "The claim of Ulster was a claim to govern the rest of Ireland." I say that is absolutely false, and I should like to ask any Gentleman in this House now, has Ulster been governing Ireland for the last six years? All Ulster asks—the claim has been put forward a hundred time in a few words—is that they should be treated as any other individuals in the United Kingdom, that they should have the same rights and the same privileges, neither more nor less, and they leave the ascendancy, not to any party or to any faction or any religion or any section in Ireland; but they are willing that a Parliament composed of all parts of the United Kingdom should be the arbitors as between them, and to that arbitration they are willing to submit. And after all is there not something very vital and deep down in the lives and hearts and consciences of those men that you are attacking which you never think of? You talk of their claim—even I have been led into talking of their claim—it has always been argued as if they were claiming something. It is said: "Why should Ulster's claim be conceded, and that of three-fourths of Ireland rejected?" We claim nothing; we ask to be left as we are. That is what we have inherited. It is under that system of government that the North of Ireland has prospered and progressed, just as great cities and great provinces in Great Britain have progressed. We claim nothing but to be left alone. On the other hand, what is the claim of hon. Members below the Gangway? Is it a claim for local government? 1472 Not at all. That is the falsest catchword that has ever been put forward, either in this House or in constituencies. If it was a claim for local government, you know well the matter would be settled very easily and on entirely different lines. No; it is the whole difference between the claim of local government and the claim of nationality, and it is a claim of nationality on the part of hon. Members below the Gangway, because they think it will give them a perpetual ascendancy. Yes, Sir, they are very anxious to claim this nationality, but they will only take it upon two conditions. One is that you supplement their income by £2,000,000 a year, and the other is that you give them free play with your soldiers, to whom they would not contribute, to put down all those who disagree with them in the North of Ireland.
You may have a right to change our allegiance to a Government. I doubt it. The Prime Minister yesterday said that no Legislature in the world would tolerate a portion of a country like Ireland preventing Home Rule or something of that kind being granted to the rest, and I interjected a question which I have often put before, "Where is your precedent, either in your own country or in that of any other country, in which men, who are satisfied and content to live under a particular form of government, have been compelled and driven out by those with whom they had equal rights and to whom they have every right in their loyalty to look to protection?" And then the right hon. Gentleman says, and this I think was also mentioned by the Solicitor-General—it certainly was by some of the other speakers—"We warn the Tory party to consider what will happen if his Bill does not become law. They had better look out for the terrible things that will happen in the South and West of Ireland." What a notion of statesmanship? The right hon. Gentleman raises the question, and he puts these two alternatives: if you do pass the Bill we may have civil war in the North of Ireland, and if you do not pass the Bill we may have civil war in the South and West of Ireland. Sir, I think if it were not for the exigencies of the political situation, the right hon. Gentleman is far too keen a statesman and much too far-seeing not to have first considered that question before it brought about the storm that arises, and with which he himself is faced whichever way he turns.
I desire to say a few words in reference to a speech made by the hon. Member for 1473 Cork (Mr. William O'Brien). His speech was the speech of a man who wants to bring about peace. I frankly admit it. Yes, Sir, that has been—I have no doubt conscientiously—his aim for some time. He knows as well as I do how little he has succeeded, and he knows perfectly well the penalties that have been put upon himself because he has tried. I will say this: that if ever you are going to bring about a united Ireland, if ever you are going to bring the Ulster portion of the community into line with the rest of Ireland, you will never do it by any means except those of persuasion. You must show and explain to them what is your case for turning them out of the United Kingdom, and you must show them, in addition, which you never profess to show them, what is the advantage they are going to gain when they are turned out. It is all very well to say that you are making a concession to the sentiment of two-thirds of Ireland. Yes, Sir, but in your Bill you are legislating against the sentiment of one-third of Ireland, and that not the least important part of the population. When the hon. Member for Cork tells me that these men, by fair treatment, might be induced to come into this Home Rule settlement, I think the Nationalists of Ireland will have to try different methods from what they have tried for the last twenty years.
What has there been in the conduct of the Nationalist party for the last twenty years to give them confidence? It is unnecessary to go over the history of those years, but even now, since this Bill came in, mark the way in which, not in this House, but throughout the country, responsible Ministers talk of Ulster when they want to persuade them that they will be well treated if they throw in their lot with the rest of Ireland. I notice that the Secretary for Scotland talked of me as "the blustering braggadocio of Sir Edward Carson." The Under-Secretary for the Home Office talks of "the virulent volubility of ascendancy." Much he knows about it. The Secretary for the Colonies, one of the most cultured and aristocratic individuals in the House, talks of "the mouthings of the Orange Members"; and the Minister for Agriculture, who seems better in keeping cattle out of this country than the Irish Government are in keeping arms out of Ireland, talks about "the fire-eaters of Ulster." In contrast with those Gentlemen, whom I would suggest to the Prime Minister he ought not so easily to let loose upon the 1474 country, the Prime Minister comes down and talks of "the grave and serious situation in Ulster." Sir, I think we may pass by these bleatings of a discredited Government. They leave us absolutely unmoved, and I only say that it is not by this kind of abuse that you will ever persuade me or anybody connected with this movement. What more have the Nationalists done to bring about this reconciliation which I have no doubt the hon. Member for Cork sincerely desires. They have started a Black List, a boycotting list of every trader and manufacturer in Belfast who has dared to support the Union and the present Constitution, and every man throughout the country in the South and West who has had the good or the bad fortune to be on any board of a public character, if ever he has dared to go to a Unionist meeting, he has been the next day turned off with ignominy of the most scandalous character. Even men who are not in any public positions, if they have dared to express that they are Unionists, have been brought up before those who have far more authority in Ireland than the Chief Secretary.
The truth of the matter is you are doing in this case what you never would do as regards your remotest Colonies. You make no attempt except to please hon. Members below the Gangway. Does anybody doubt that if the real question was one of local government, you could have settled it without any of this acrimony at all? You are often appealing to Canada. Do you think that in framing your Constitution for Canada you would put Quebec under Ontario, or Ontario under Quebec? The thing would be ludicrous, and it would not be stood for a moment by either of these two provinces, and yet I venture to think there are not so many differences between them as there are between the provinces in Ireland. Ulster is not going to be treated in a way that no free community has ever been treated before. You may laugh at us, you may jeer at us, but we will go on, and eventually we will defeat you. For my own part, with all my heart, I will continue to support these men in the North of Ireland, and I will take full responsibility for every resistance that they are able to organise. And why? Do you think it is from any self-seeking on my part? Do you think it is a matter of self-seeking on the part of any of the men concerned in this movement. Not at all. It is only because we think that your attempted betrayal is one of the most dastardly acts that has ever disgraced the pages of history. You may be able—I know you 1475 will be able, if you are allowed to do it, but you will not—to put us down by sheer force. You can seize arms, but you cannot destroy spirit or determination. You may send your troops there, and you may prevail upon them to fire, and even if you have not got troops at the moment, you may call in the Concert of Europe. But I ask, what then? What remains? Have you then settled the Irish question? Have you then, with these men handing down from father to son the burning sense of the injustice of their betrayal, done anything to conciliate them and bring about a better state of feeling in Ireland? No, Sir, you are crying peace when there is no peace. You know it, and you will fail.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has made this afternoon what he always makes, an able and vigorous speech. I have heard every speech that he has made upon this question, and if I may be allowed respectfully to criticise the speech which he has just delivered, I would be inclined to say that this is the most violent speech which he has yet delivered in the House of Commons. I thought I noticed an absence from his speech of that grave sense of responsibility which characterised the last speech which he made in this House, a speech which impressed hon. Members in every part of the House. The responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman is a heavy one. He speaks in this House, not for half of the representatives of Ulster, but for very nearly half, and he speaks and claims to speak, and to a large extent, no doubt, he does speak, for a large number of Unionists in Ireland. That is a heavy responsibility, and he advocates a policy of the gravest possible character. He says that he will counsel resistance, armed resistance, to an Act of the Imperial Parliament. He says further—but he did not say it quite so distinctly to-day as he has said it outside, and I will quote his words a little later—that he will advocate armed resistance to an Act of the Imperial Parliament, even if both parties in this country united to pass that Bill. That is a responsibility which I think is a very heavy one, and ought to impose upon him a gravity of speech and epithet. The right hon. Gentleman made one assertion grossly offensive as well as grossly unfair to the Irish Nationalist party. He impugned our motives. Yes, he impugned our motives in a way most offensive and most hurtful to us. I am sorry for it, be- 1476 cause, after all, we are brother Irishmen, and I can say for myself, and I think I can say for most if not all of my colleagues, that in a bitter controversy with him we have never impugned his motives. He declared that our motive was to establish an ascendancy in Ireland.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Did not the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) say yesterday that was our motive?
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
I am not going to be drawn into recriminations of that kind. If I understood the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, his argument was that the Unionists of Ireland had in the past maintained an ascendancy in Ireland, and that our object was to put an end to that ascendancy. That is strictly true, but when anybody says—
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
May I interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman? It will be in the recollection of the House that the whole argument of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—Allow me to go on.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
The whole argument of the hon. Member was that what we were fighting for now was the retention of that ascendancy.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was heard through the whole course of a long speech without one single interruption, and I think the House generally knows me well enough to be aware of the fact that I am not going to intentionally irritate the feelings of anybody, and I do claim as my right that I should be allowed peacefully and without interruption to reply to the right hon. Gentleman. I say that anybody to make an accusation against us such as the right hon. and learned Gentleman has made, that our object is to establish an ascendancy, is guilty of a gross insult to his own fellow-countrymen. We have suffered too much in the past in Ireland ever to tolerate, if it rests with us, any ascendancy of any class or creed. I confess that I sympathised with the opening remarks of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He said that he rose to speak with some reluctance. I had hoped that it would have been possible for me to have refrained from taking any part whatever in this discussion, and I confess that I am 1477 oppressed by the feeling that it is impossible for me to say anything fresh or new upon the subject at this stage. This great Debate has gone on, not for this year or last year or the year before; this great Debate has gone on for thirty years. Since 1886 every phase of this question has been argued and reargued in Parliament, in the Press, and on the platform, and, so far from it being true that it is the intention or the desire of anybody to rush Home Rule into law without due consideration and behind the backs of the people, I assert that there has been ever since the days of Catholic Emancipation no great constitutional issue of this kind which has been so thoroughly discussed on the platform, in the Press, and in Parliament. Every argument for and against Home Rule has been so reiterated that I confess I feel it an impossible task to say anything new or fresh.
Lord Curzon, in the House of Lords, stated that this subject is almost thread-bare, and that every argument is stale and hardly admits of reiteration. My feeling is that so far as this House of Commons is concerned, after the 57½ days spent last Session in discussing this measure—a longer time—by the way, than has been spent on the discussion of any constitutional measure in this House for over a century—there is no need and no desire for a long Debate. My feeling is that there is only one question for the House of Commons now to decide: Has it changed its mind since last year? If it has not changed its mind, if it still stands by the decision which it came to after 57½ days of discussion and by a majority of 110, then its function now is little more than to reaffirm its decision. That is what I meant when I used the phrase "an automatic process." It is not an automatic process if the House of Commons has changed its mind. It is not an automatic process if the Opposition has changed its mind to the extent of making suggestions which can be considered for the acceptance of this Bill in the end, but, if neither of these things has occurred, then manifestly the only practical and real question is: Has the House of Commons changed its mind, unless indeed the Parliament Act, which was an Act passed by a majority of the House of Lords as well as of the House of Commons, is to be torn up and thrown into the wastepaper-basket? Under these circumstances, the House will be glad, I am sure, to hear that my contribution to 1478 this discussion will be brief, and I confess that I would not have spoken at all were it not that I feared that my silence might be misrepresented as meaning some weakening in our demand or some wavering in our complete confidence that this Bill will pass into law next year, and will be the opening of a new era of Irish content and of Imperial unity.
I would like to note one remarkable change which has come over the discussion of this question. That change is to be found in what Lord Curzon, in his speech in the House of Lords, called the great difference between the circumstances and the atmosphere in which this Bill is being discussed now and the previous occasions in 1886 and 1893. And there is no evidence of that change so striking as the character of that discussion which took place in the House of Lords. In 1886 and 1893 the attitude of Unionist statesmen was simply one of absolute non possumus to the whole attitude of the extension of anything like national self-government to Ireland. Their decision was that under no conceivable circumstances, under no possible scheme that the wit of man could devise, would they tolerate the idea of an Irish Legislature for the management of Irish affairs. I ask the House to note what has become of that attitude. Why there was scarcely a responsible man in the House of Lords who opposed the passage of this Bill who did not admit that the present system of government in Ireland was impossible, and that this great problem of Irish self-government must be dealt with. And yet, although that was their attitude, they proposed no alternative whatever to this Bill. Their opposition was not to Home Rule, but to the particular kind of Home Rule which is contained in this Bill. In 1886 and 1893 the Unionist party was justified in their refusal to propose any alternative, because they said there was no problem. They cannot say that now. After the declarations in the House of Lords in the recent Debate, by admission of Unionist statesmen, there is a problem, a grave and an urgent problem, and yet they propose no alternative. Their only course is to attempt to destroy the Bill which is at present before the House. Take Lord Grey. Lord Grey has just come back from close intercourse with some of the greatest of the self-governing Dominions of the Empire. His testimony is valuable because at one time he was an uncompromising opponent of Home Rule and one 1479 of the men responsible largely for the defeat of Mr. Gladstone's Bill. He has come back from his intercourse with the self-governing Colonies a convinced Home Ruler, and he declared, in his speech, the present position to be intolerable, and he gave this grave warning to the Unionist party, to which I beg them to listen. He said—that for them as a party to continue one day longer than is absolutely necessary in their present hopeless position is from the Unionist party point of view crass stupidity. He said that in Canada and the other great self-governing Dominions you will find an almost universal sympathy with the Irish movement in favour of Home Rule, and he used these remarkable words:—We are, I think, justified in assuming that a wise and well-considered measure of conferring upon Irishmen powers of managing their own local and domestic affairs, which would have been in 1886 nothing less than an agrarian outrage, has now become a safe and moral policy. I go further and say it is not only a desirable but is a necessary policy.He opposed this Bill it is true, and he explained that he did so because this Bill did not carry out his particular ideal of a settlement, which he thought ought to be modelled on the system of provincial Parliaments in existence in Canada. But while opposing the Bill he said:—Although I take it for granted that this Bill will be rejected, I think it would be a serious political misfortune if we were to allow the impression to be created out-of-doors that those of your Lordships who are opposed to this Bill have no alternative policy.And the answer of the House of Lords to that was simply the rejection of the Bill and no alternative policy whatever. He goes on further and says:—While I hope the House may decide that this Bill cannot be accepted, I also hope a clear and positive message may issue from Unionist leaders in this House which will convince the people of Ireland that the Unionist party as a whole are prepared to assist in some other form of settlement.5.0 P.M.
What message has the Unionist party, either in the House of Lords or in this House, sent to the people of Ireland? Absolutely none. Although they admit through these statements that the problem has changed since 1886 and 1893, and that now there is an urgent problem demanding attention, they offer absolutely no alternative to this Bill. That was the keynote of almost all the important speeches which were made against this Bill in the House of Lords. Again, the Archbishop of York declared himself a Home Ruler. He said:—Few of us can deny there is a real and urgent Irish problem, or believe that we are likely to advance 1480 towards it by merely reiterating that we will not have Home Rule.And then he used these remarkable words, which were quoted last night and which I take the liberty to quote again:—Few can deny that there is a really urgent Irish question. Some recognition must be found for the persistent and sustained desire of the Irish people to have some liberty to manage their own affairs in their own way. I agree that some measure of Home Rule is necessary, not only to meet the needs of Ireland but to meet the needs of the Imperial Parliament.And, lastly—I must not weary the House with further quotations—let me refer to a speech made by Lord Curzon, whom one would regard as a type of the uncompromising Unionist on the question of Home Rule for Ireland. In this speech he fully admitted the gravity and urgency of the problem, and he argued that it was as much in the interests of the Conservative party as of the Liberals themselves to solve the Irish question. These were his words—to clear the decks of all the troubled questions of Irish administration, finance, land, and education, and free the House of Commons from congestion.Lord Curzon also opposed this Bill, but he made it perfectly clear that he viewed with equanimity, and regarded indeed as inevitable, the prospect of a new Constitution for Ireland, and he said he hoped it would be brought into existence much in the same way as the Union Parliament was brought into existence in South Africa—by conference. But he seemed to have forgotten that the conference and the Union Parliament only became possible in South Africa after Home Rule had been given to the Transvaal. The point which I desire to make on these quotations, I think, is clear enough. I want to show the extraordinary difference which, on the statements of these Unionist statesmen themselves, has come over what Lord Curzon called "the circumstances and atmosphere surrounding the question" now and in 1886 and 1893. Then there was no problem of Irish self-Government in any shape or form. To-day there is a problem, an urgent problem, which must be solved in the interests not only of Ireland but of England and of the Empire. We are told in the House of Lords by these great Unionist statesmen that it cannot be ignored; that the settlement is inevitable. They object to this Bill, but they propose absolutely no alternative whatever. I respectfully say that that is not statesmanship. It is a reckless and dangerous trifling with an admittedly urgent problem upon whose settlement depends the peace, 1481 the loyalty, the happiness, and, in a sense, it may be said the very life of the whole people. The Unionist party rejected the Bills in 1886 and 1893, but they proposed no alternative, because they denied the existence of the problem. To-day they admit the problem and they still reject the Bill, without making any alternative proposal whatever. The late Leader of the Opposition, in his speech yesterday, enumerated four alternatives, as he called them. But he did not put them forward as alternatives, because each one of them in turn he denounced and said he would not have, so that he is in the position of the rest. Having admitted the problem he makes no proposal for an alternative whatever. The sole policy put before the Irish people to-day as the alternative for this Bill is that they are to be thrown back into the inferno of disappointed hopes, despair and madness of heart. That is not statesmanship, it is criminal folly.
Let me for a moment deal more closely with the position of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College. His attitude and that of his friends is, and as far as I know always has been, perfectly simple, logical, and consistent. The men for whom he speaks are a majority—not such a very overwhelming majority—but a majority in four counties in Ireland. I say they are not such a very overwhelming majority, because it is a fact that there is no county in Ulster that does not return a Nationalist Member or a Home Ruler to this House. There comes to this House from every Ulster county—
The hon. Member should allow the hon. and learned Gentleman to make his speech, and he will have an opportunity of reply.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
I hope that that does not specially apply to me. In 1482 this instance it is not a misstatement, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast is elected by a constituency in the county of Antrim, and the hon. Gentleman who has recently been returned for Derry represents a constituency in the county of Londonderry; therefore there is not a single county in Ulster that does not return a Nationalist Member. Consequently, I make the statement that the majority in these four counties for which the hon. Members speak is not such an overwhelming majority as people might think. But still they have a majority in those four counties. Mark their position. They will not have Home Rule on any terms, under any name, under any conditions, under any scheme whatever. These four counties are to be allowed to coerce and overbear the opinions and wishes of the rest of Ireland, and, as I stated a moment ago, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College, in a famous speech in Belfast, made this declaration, that if both parties in this House united to pass a Home Rule Bill—he did not say this Home Rule Bill—then those for whom he speaks in these four counties would not have it at all, but would resist. In this he has been clearly consistent. The speech to which I have just alluded was made some little time ago. But the other day the right hon. Gentleman repeated the same declaration. Here is what he says on 22nd April this year on the question of a conference or a compromise:—I have never believed any compromise on Home Rule possible, and, personally, I should never be a party to any negotiations which would have as their basis the handing over of the Unionists of Ireland to an Irish Parliament and an Executive responsible to it.On 16th May of this year he said:—We do not care for political parties except so far as they support the Union. If ever the time comes—and these are very remarkable words—when the people of Ulster think it better to compromise for any reason, I must stand aside because I never could, under any circumstances, be a party to compromise.The right hon. and learned Gentleman therefore—and it is to his credit—does not rely on the false, hollow and ridiculous cry about the mandate of the constituencies. A General Election does not count with him. One General Election or a dozen General Elections would not alter the situation for him. If all political parties as the result of a General Election in Great Britain united in favour of Home Rule, and if, as I believe is the case at this moment, practically the whole of the 1483 British Empire is in favour of Home Rule, he would remain absolutely unshaken and in the name of loyalty would resist by force of arms the will of Parliament, of people, and of the Empire. I was genuinely surprised to read two or three days ago in the "Times" a declaration, the first of the kind made by him, of the same character from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division. He had been arguing that the Government should dissolve on this question of Home Rule, and he said:—It must not be thought I am suggesting that, whatever the result of an election may be, the people of Ulster and the Unionists of Ireland will assent to Home Rule. They will never do this, and any Government which determines deliberately to force on Ireland a measure in any way similar to the present one, must face this fact and even be prepared to deal with it.I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division, should follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College, and give up this wholly ridiculous plea about mandates from General Elections. Let me in a few words clearly I hope, although briefly, put before the House again what is our present position on this question which is called, and improperly called the Ulster question. We do not believe that the extreme attitude of the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his Friends represents the settled, sober opinion of the mass of the Unionists in the North of Ireland. We are willing to go any length—practically any length to conciliate any honest apprehensions that they may entertain, and I may be allowed to say for myself—and I am sure I speak for every one of my colleagues in this matter—that there is no sacrifice that I am not prepared personally to make most cheerfully to soften their opposition and if possible to bring them in to join hands in working Home Rule for the benefit of Ireland.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman told us the other day in Ireland that his friends were drilling. He said someone had asked him or might ask him "What for?" And he gave the answer. He said they were drilling for defence. They are perfectly entitled to drill for defence, and I say if they are attacked under Home Rule, if any single civil or religious right of theirs is attacked or menaced in any way whatever they have a right to resist, and certainly they would have my full sympathy in any resistance they might make. But I have sufficient faith in the sanity—I will not put it on any higher 1484 ground than that—I have sufficient faith in the sanity of my fellow-countrymen to know that they never will be attacked and that this drilling for defence will never be brought to anything more than drilling. I believe—and nothing I have heard in these Debates has shaken my belief—that very soon indeed after this Act is passed all Ireland will be united, and that you will find that what happened in Canada and in South Africa will take place in Ireland. The memories of ancient wrongs will become obliterated and obscured. Men whose fathers had hated one another, and had fought one another, perhaps, will come together and will agree to bury the memories of the past. More than that, what happened in South Africa may happen, and I believe will happen, in Ireland—that not merely men whose fathers fought, but men who they themselves fought as the two contending parties in South Africa fought, will come together as Botha and those who opposed him in the field have come together in South Africa, in a united effort to advance the interests of their country. But, Sir, while that is my opinion and my strong and confident belief, at the same time I know—no one knows better—the incalculable value of union of this kind when we are starting the machine, when we are putting into operation the great machinery which is to work out in the good government of Ireland. Therefore, to the very last moment, I will use words of conciliation and of friendship to my fellow countrymen in the North of Ireland. Our professions have been received, I am sorry to say, with contumely, sometimes with insult. I have been myself accused of being a hypocrite when I have advocated safeguards and have held out the hand of good fellowship.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
I do not care in the least for these insults and this contumely. No irritation by harsh or insulting words will affect my conduct in the smallest degree, and no shrieking by the right hon. Gentleman about "No compromise," will prevent me from reiterating my declaration, and I make that declaration in the name of all my colleagues, and, I believe, in the name of the overwhelming mass of the Irish people, that Irish Unionists can have for the asking any reasonable safeguards consistent with a free Irish Parliament and an Executive responsible to it. 1485 But, Sir, I must be quite honest. There is another side to this question. Twenty-eight counties will not permit themselves to be intimidated by four, and in the last resort the cry of hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, "We will not have Home Rule," will be met by the answering cry from the rest of Ireland, "We will, we must and we shall have an Irish Parliament, and for an Ireland one and indivisible." Bear in mind—this is the last point upon which I will weary the House—the record and antecedents of the men who are opposing this Bill so violently. The right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of our antecedents. May I, not as bitterly or as violently as he did, allude to the antecedents of himself and his Friends with reference to the government of Ireland? I say that they and the men whose lineal political descendants they are, are the men who have opposed in the past every single reform for the benefit of Ireland. They opposed emancipation, they opposed the ballot, they opposed the franchise, they opposed the abolition of the State establishment of the Church. They opposed for generation after generation every amelioration in the land system, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) declared had the worst defects of every bad land system in the world. They are, in fact, the same men of whom John Bright said:—These Ulstermen have stood in the way of improvement in the franchise, in the Church, and in the land question. They have purchased Protestant ascendancy, and the price paid for it has been the ruin and degradation of their country.They say the Union is a success, and Unionists boast to-day of the extension of local government to Ireland, and of the Land Act of 1903. I was really amused at hearing the right hon. and learned Gentleman's references to possible extensions of local government in Ireland in the future. What is his record upon that question? Why, Sir, in 1898, when the Local Government Act, of which they boast now, and to which they point as a proof of the success of the Union, was being passed into law, what did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University say? On 28th April, 1898, he said:—We are now engaged on the consideration of a measure only second in importance to Home Rule and they considered that the proposals of Her Majesty's Government would lead to social revolution in Ireland. He could not conceive on what ground Her Majesty's Government thought that they were acting with any degree of fairness or justice to those with whom those now present sympathised in Ireland when they introduced this measure, which was not only democratic, 1486 but more democratic than anything in England or in Scotland. The fact was that the Unionists of Ireland had been betrayed by their Unionist Government.This is the right hon. Gentleman who is the Leader of the men who point to this very Act as a proof of the success of the Union, and he is the very man who stands up here this afternoon and darkly hints that, while he does not like this Bill, he would not be unwilling to see further extensions of local government in Ireland. Let me read three or four words more from that speech:—He Was told that the Unionists of Ireland ought to be proud to know that they had in the House of Commons a majority of 140. What had that majority done? They had done absolutely nothing so far as legislation was concerned. He had been in the House of Commons for many years, and he could honestly say that during the three years the Government of all the talents had been in power he had never heard towards the Unionists of Ireland one word of sympathy from Her Majesty's Government. Was this a state of things to be allowed to exist?[An HON MEMBER: "That was a Tory Government."] My hon. Friend reminds me that that was a Tory Government. Of course it was a Tory Government, and a very short time after that speech the right hon. Gentleman got office in that Tory Government. What about the Land Act of 1903, which has also been pointed to as proof of the success of the Union, and which is now regarded apparently by the right hon. and learned Gentleman as something of which he ought to be proud?
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
I may be allowed, perhaps, by way of parenthesis, as I am alluding to the Act of 1903, to add my humble voice to what was said yesterday with regard to the loss of Mr. George Wyndham. Mr. Wyndham was a man with whom we had quarrels in connection with the government of Ireland, but my own personal view of him was that deep down in his heart he was a real friend of Ireland and had deep sympathies with Ireland and Ireland's aspirations. He undoubtedly did a great work for Ireland in connection with the Land Act of 1903, and I may be allowed, without impropriety, to add my few words of sympathy to what was said yesterday about his untimely death. But what about the Act of 1903? What was the record of the right hon. and learned Gentleman? In May, 1903, the right hon. Gentleman went down to Oxford and made a speech. Here is what he said:—He wished Mr. Wyndham was there to explain to them the great benefits that Ireland was going to 1487 receive, or, at all events, thought it was going to receive, from the passage of the Irish Land Bill. He knew something of Irish legislation; he had lived through it for forty years—indeed, he might say that for several years he lived by it. He only desired to say this, that, as regards the Irish Land Bill, he would give it the minimum of his support.There is the Gentleman the Leader of the party that points to this Act as proof of the success of the Union, and who has no alternative whatever for the future of Ireland. Therefore, I repeat the statement that those men who are now opposing this reform have equally opposed every reform in the past that was carried for the welfare and advancement of the interests of the Irish people. Let me say just this one further word with reference to them and those they represent. All through the pages of Irish history they have been unsafe guides and false prophets. I say to the House of Commons that they are unsafe guides and false prophets to-day. The defeat of this Bill—I speak not about its rejection here, of course; that is impossible—[Laughter]—its passage here by a clear majority of British votes, apart from the Irish votes, is regarded as a matter of laughter, rightly and logically regarded as a matter of laughter, by the men who say they will go to war whatever British opinion is upon this subject—the defeat and destruction of this Bill is absolutely unthinkable. It is no exaggeration to say that its passage into law next year is eagerly awaited by the entire Empire and by the whole of the English-speaking world. I point not only to the declaration of Lord Grey, I do not point for the moment to the unanimous resolutions passed by practically all the self-governing Parliaments in the Empire—five in succession in recent years passed by the great Dominion Parliament of Canada—I point not to these things, but let me allude to the fact that this year we have been honoured in this country by visits from some of the most distinguished statesmen of the various self-governing Colonies, Ministers of various States in Australia, Prime Ministers, and other distinguished statesmen, and Members, indeed, of both parties in those States have been in London. I have innumerable declarations from them here. Let me read one which is typical, and I read it because the man who made the speech is a remarkable and important man—I mean Sir Joseph Ward, the late Prime Minister of New Zealand, one of the greatest Imperialists of the day, and a man 1488 who was primarily and personally responsible for the policy which presented a "Dreadnought" to the British Navy. Here is what he said the other day in London:—I have lived in British self-governing countries all my life, and, as long as I can remember, the great majority of the public men, and especially can it be said of the leading public men, have been sincere and earnest supporters of Home Rule for Ireland. It mattered not whether they were Englishmen, Scotchmen, Irishmen or Colonials born, or whatever their creed, with rare exceptions they have been supporters of Home Rule. In support of this statement let me remind you of those Prime Ministers with whom I attended the two last Imperial Conferences. They were all, by honest conviction, supporters of, and believers in, Home Rule for Ireland. Nor can this be wondered at. They lived in countries where Home Rule existed; where the people had a right to govern themselves; where, under the widest freedom, the feelings of loyalty to the Sovereign and British Empire have not only never weakened, but have grown stronger and stronger as the years have rolled by. As one who wants to see conditions existing within the Empire that make for unity and strength, I would do much to see Ireland and her sons and daughters across the seas pacified! It is necessary in the interests of Ireland; in the interests of the Oversea Dominions; in the interests of the Empire, aye, in the interest of the whole civilised world.If you pass away from your Empire to the English-speaking world, what do you find? I have received unanimous resolutions passed by both Houses of the State Parliaments of well over one-half the States of America in favour, not merely of the principle of Home Rule, but in favour of this Bill, and these resolutions were not proposed by Irishmen or Irish politicians. They were proposed, in almost every case, by the most distinguished American statesmen in the Parliament, and were supported by the members of both parties and carried unanimously. If you want to know what was in these resolutions, let me give you the key note. Everyone of them struck the same note. They said they welcomed this as an act of justice, but they specially welcomed it because, in their opinion, the passage of this Bill would make for the removal of the barrier which to-day, undoubtedly, exists between England and the really friendly relations with the great Republic of America. In addition to these resolutions I have received communications from leading statesmen in all parts of America. Let me give one typical case. Here is what Colonel Roosevelt wrote to me:—I feel that the enactment into law of this measure backed by a majority of British Members and accepted by Irish Nationalists, bids fair to establish goodwill amongst the English speaking people. This has been prevented, more than by any other one thing, by this unhappy feud between Ireland and England, a feud that has raged for centuries, and the settlement of which, I most earnestly hope and believe, will be a powerful contribution to the peace of the world based on international justice and goodwill. I earnestly feel that the measure is as much in the interest of Great Britain as it is of Ireland.1489 I repeat, therefore, that the destruction of this Bill would be a shock to the public opinion of the whole Empire, and it would grieve and disappoint the friendly public opinion of America. It would outrage the feelings of the people of Ireland, and would shatter the fairest prospect that has ever opened before them of a future of peace, contentment, and loyalty. Ireland to-day is crimeless beyond all record. Ireland to-day is full of hope and expectation. Beware how you dash that hope to the ground. Rebellion is threatened. Rebellion is justified in high quarters. The rebellion of a portion of the population of four counties, because they disapprove of the Act of the Imperial Parliament before any wrong has been done, and before any oppression has been attempted, would be a crime and a calamity. Rebellion by over three-fourths of the people of a country distracted, tortured, and betrayed, deprived of the rights of freemen, and condemned to a barren policy of coercion, would be too horrible a thing to contemplate; and it is because this is so that I rejoice with all my heart to believe and to know that this Bill is safe, and that the future of Ireland is assured.
Mr. C. G. HAMILTON
I trust the House will show me the consideration which I understand it always shows to a new Member on rising to speak for the first time. My reason for intervening so soon after coming into this House is that last week the Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister the following question:—Is the right hon. Gentleman of opinion that by-elections form no guide to the opinion of the country?The Prime Minister replied:—I am talking about the Government of Ireland Bill, to which, so far as I know—I speak after looking at these things from a distance—no attention has been given at recent by-elections.I feel that I owe it as a duty to the electors of the Division which elected me, and further, that I owe it as a duty to Unionists throughout this country, and more especially in Ulster, to point out that the by-election at Altrincham was fought, so far as the Unionist candidate was concerned, with the Home Rule Bill as the chief thing before us. When I was asked to contest the Division, I realised that this by-election came just at the time when the Home Rule Bill was almost due to come before this House again under the Parliament Act, and I was not afraid to ask for the verdict of that Division on the 1490 Home Rule Bill and on the Church Bill in Wales. I was consulted early in the by-election by the leaders of the party in the Division as to whom I would like to assist me by addressing the last meeting before the poll, and at my personal request the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) addressed that meeting for one hour on the subject of Home Rule for Ireland. I do not think I should be doing my duty to the right hon. Gentleman who so helped me in that election if I did not make this point quite clear. It has been said that this and the other by-elections have been fought largely, or entirely, on the Insurance Act. I do not know whether the Prime Minister has any cutting from a newspaper with regard to Altrincham such as he quoted with regard to Newmarket yesterday, but in case he intends to quote that, might I point out that I did not even refer to the Insurance Act in my election address. So much for what the Unionist candidate did and said. But much more important, I think, is what the Government speakers said, and perhaps even still more important, what the Liberal and Radical Press wrote during that election. The "Observer," a paper of some importance on our side, after the election said they did not think I had been fighting with the Liberal candidate as my opponent. I had been fighting with my opponent as the "Manchester Guardian." I think the "Manchester Guardian" is acknowledged to be the leading Liberal paper in this country. From the 22nd of the month up to the polling day, which was the 28th, every day the "Manchester Guardian" had a leading article on the subject of Home Rule for Ireland, in which they called me a good many very hard names. The first article was headed "Revolutionism at Altrincham," and I was accused of asking for English votes on the strength of the fact, or in spite of the fact, that I backed a scheme for breaking the law, shaking the Throne, and smashing the Empire, unless our party in Ireland was let have its way against other Irishmen. The next day the same paper described certain explanations which I made on reading about this revolutionism, in which I insisted that what I had said was that Ulster would actively resist in the last resort if Home Rule were forced on her people, as lame excuses for disorder; and they described Ulster men and myself as Ulsterettes nearly as bad as women suffragettes. On the following day the same journal referred to my remarks about 1491 Home Rule as anarchism, treason, rebellion, and mutiny, and in a third article they said:—The Ulsterettes look to Altrincham to bless it along with the rest of the rebel movement which Mr. Hamilton blesses and calls right. Will Altrincham do so, or will it say that there is no place for anarchism in the British Empire?The day before the poll this same paper wrote as follows:—The thoughtful voter has, by circumstances which are only partly Mr. Hamilton's fault, been brought to a crisis at which he must either vote for Mr. Hamilton to the Empire's hurt or against Mr. Hamilton for the Empire's safety. Lawlessness and disloyalty, the cankers of Empire, have taken one side in this contest and made it their own. It is for every voter who values the strength of the law, and the stability of the Empire, to place himself, at whatever sacrifice of personal inclination, on the other.I do not think I am a rebel. I do not think I said anything revolutionary. All I did was to support the Unionist policy, and the Ulster Members' policy, during that election. On the actual day of the poll the same paper wrote an article, and was kind enough to say that I had behaved, in their opinion, very well in not having, during that by-election, referred to a certain Committee of this House which is sitting to inquire into certain business, and it concluded the article by saying:—Mr. Hamilton's great failure is nothing of that kind, but his wilful or reckless blunder of committing himself, as the chief issue, to a policy which makes every vote given to him to-day a vote of encouragement to the use of criminal disorder as a weapon of political, social, or industrial agitation everywhere in the Empire.I hope the Prime Minister will realise that the "Manchester Guardian," which really fought this election against me, at any rate made it, I think, quite clear in its leading articles during the last ten days of the election, on the day before the poll and on the polling day, that they appreciated that Home Rule for Ireland was the question alone, with the question of the Church of England in Wales. On the Monday before the poll the Lord Advocate said:—He was there that night representing His Majesty's Government to give them the absolute assurance that if they could point out anything in the Home Rule Bill which was unjust or would inflict any hardship upon any man, woman or child in Antrim, Armagh, Down, or Derry, that provision would be struck out.I do not know whether under the Parliament Act it is quite possible to strike out such provisions in this Home Rule Bill. If it is, I did not know it. I thought it would be necessary to bring in some form of alteration which would be passed, and, if approved by the other House, would then become law. Here is a definite statement by a Member of the Government 1492 that anything which would cause hardship would be struck out. The same right hon. Gentleman, speaking on the same night, said to the electors in my Division:—It would be a great discouragement and disappointment to the Prime Minister and his colleagues if the electors of Altrincham failed to support them at this critical stage, though, he must add, as a very humble Member of Mr. Asquith's Administration, that whatever the electors of that Division chose to do on Wednesday next, the Government would go on and complete their task.The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, speaking about the same time, said:—That the Government did not mean to go back, but forward. If anyone supposed that the result of the Altrincham by-election, in which a great many plural voters took part, was a sign that people thought the Government were going too fast, he said that the Government did not believe it, and would have none of it.I venture to submit that, although there may be a few plural voters in that Division, there were plural voters at the last election. May I also remind the House that in that Division there are over 20,000 electors, while in the Bolton Division there are the same number of electors, and yet the Bolton Division returns two Members to the Government side of the House, while the Altrincham Division only returns one representative? In conclusion, may I appeal to the Prime Minister to consider whether he could not repudiate what has been said by the Secretary for War and the Lord Advocate? I would ask him clearly this question: Are the electors of this country, whether at this by-election or elsewhere, to count for nothing in this matter? Surely, in spite of the attack made upon me as an Ulsterette and revolutionary, the electors did pronounce a very clear verdict, and surely the old principle of "Government of the people by the people for the people" has not altogether been thrown over by this Government. The understanding in the country as to the provisions of the Parliament Act is that the Prime Minister's own word can be relied upon, and that no Bill will be forced through if the opinion of this House and the country is not stable in its support of the Government of the day. I venture to think that recent by-elections show at least which way the wind is blowing, and I claim that these elections should have some influence on the Prime Minister's reply when we ask him to submit this great constitutional change to the verdict of the country before forcing it, at the risk of civil war, on the Unionists of the United Kingdom. I hope I may say that, even if after a General 1493 Election the Members who represent Ulster refuse to submit to Home Rule, surely still the Prime Minister might try a General Election to see if the country is behind him, seeing that recent by-elections indicate that it is not. Nor do I wish to exaggerate in any way the importance of this by-election. I trust the words I have said may convince the Prime Minister that from his distant point of view, when he watched this by-election, he was not able to perceive what undoubtedly is the truth, and if he had been nearer he would have seen clearly that the first issue was the firmest and most uncompromising opposition to Home Rule for Ireland.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
Following the usual custom of the House, I have to offer my compliments to the previous speaker upon the interesting speech he has made in addressing the House for the first time. During the course of the contest in the Altrincham Division the Insurance Act played a prominent part—almost as prominent, if not quite, as the question of Home Rule. I accept the statement of the hon. Member that the question of Home Rule was prominently before the electors. I rise for the purpose of offering a few remarks on behalf of the party with which I am associated, because we cannot allow this occasion to pass by without stating our solid and strong conviction that this Bill ought to be carried into law. I might remind the House that the British majority in this House in favour of Home Rule includes the forty Labour Members, representing a very large section of the democracy of this country who have never wavered in their adherence to Home Rule, and when you consider that it is an organised party, whether for industrial contests or political contests, I think I am safe in saying that an expression of opinion coming from these benches on behalf of men and women of that character ought to count for much in the counsels of this House. I was astonished at the statements which have been made on the question of Ulster, and I am more astonished still to find that they are mere statements, and that there has not been a tittle of evidence given by any speaker in this House or outside to prove that the fears of Ulster are well founded in regard to the points which have been put. I noticed that the former Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour) in his speech yesterday still contented himself with making statements and expressing fears. What do they amount to? So far as I have been able to 1494 gather from that speech and previous speeches, the fears are that the Protestants in the North-East corner of Ireland Will suffer in their civil and religious rights and liberties because of the establishment in Dublin of a Parliament with a Catholic majority.
I wish to try to discover whether there is any foundation for fears of that kind. I can speak, for instance, for the Catholic workmen in the other provinces, and I am certain I can speak also for the Catholic workmen of Ulster, when I say that we would even agree to delay Home Rule if there was the slightest foundation for fears of that character. I feel that the Catholic priesthood in Ireland would be the first to denounce on the part of any of their congregations the mere suggestion that things of that character would take place. When we remember that 90 per cent. of the Irish priests come from the working class and the small farmer class in Ireland, and that they are filled with broad democratic sympathies, I feel sure that they would do nothing, particularly in this matter of difference in religious beliefs, to encourage persecution. I think that statement ought to be taken and well considered. The point I wish to state is this: I do think that the Protestants ought to give the Government of Ireland credit for some common sense. Obviously, if a Parliament was established in Dublin with a Catholic majority, and if it could be proved that religious persecution was entering into their minds, that would make the Catholics of this country clamour for the repeal of Home Rule, and they are not going to risk things of that kind. What is the other fear which the people of Ulster have? So far as I can gather it is a fear founded on no evidence at all, namely, that the effect of a Parliament in Dublin would be to restrict their civil rights. I wonder whether they think that the Catholics of Ireland, and Catholic workmen in particular, would stand that kind of thing from any Parliament in Dublin, and whether it would not affect Catholics as well as Protestants? I know that there would be a combination of forces in Ireland—Radical, Labour and Socialist, Catholic and Protestant—which would give very short shrift indeed to a Government who attempted to restrict the civil rights of any section of the population.
I am more concerned as to whether the Ulster workman has any fear that his economic position will be in any way 1495 worsened because there happens to be a Parliament in Dublin. I wish to know if he does really think that he will be worse off as a workman under a Home Rule Government than he is now under the Government at Westminster. Does he not think that the wish in a Parliament in Dublin to diminish and, if possible, to abolish sweating would be no less sincere than in this Parliament?
Although I was not born in Belfast, I went there for the first time fifteen years' ago, and I think I know more about the lower deeps in Belfast than some hon. Members do. I spent fifteen years attempting to organise the men engaged in the sweated workshops of Belfast, the whole of which exist in the poverty stricken districts of the city. I wish to know if these workmen, and also the women and children in the linen mills of Belfast, are still sweated, or whether in the general run of trades in that city the workers are going to be any worse off with a Parliament in Dublin than they are at the present moment. If they have got that idea in their minds, I have to say that the trade union movement in the North, East, South, and West of Ireland will take care that there is no laxity on the part of the Parliament in Dublin in matters of that kind. If it is contended that the workmen of Belfast think that as a result of Home Rule their volume of trade would be in any way diminished, and that therefore there would be a risk of greater unemployment than they have now, I may say that the most eminent authorities upon this question of self-government, particularly with regard to Ireland, over and over again have shown that as a result of Home Rule you would get capital attracted to Ireland. I believe that, and I think that if I had time I would prove it, but it is fairly clear that the government of the country would be much better than it is at the present moment, and the people, having self-government, would work as they never worked before to make the best of their own country and develop its economical resources and do all they could to create industry in Ireland, and I suggest that, as a result of that, you would attract capital, and, as a result of Home Rule and the Parliament in Dublin, the volume of trade would not be diminished and the risks of unemployment would not be greater than they are at the present moment. I come 1496 now to the threat of rebellion. I do not think that hon. Members from Ulster have ever given an answer to the statement in the speech of the Prime Minister, made in Dublin, that the whole of these threats are based on mere assumption. The assumption is that when there is a Parliament established in Dublin certain things are going to take place—the restriction of civil rights, religious persecution, and all manner of things of that kind. It is not fair to assume that. There has never yet been any evidence of it, and the threat of a rebellion before any wrong has been committed seems to me to be an astonishing attitude to take up. I quite agree with the Leader of the Nationalist party that they are entitled to defend themselves against actions of this kind. Take the case of the business man of Ulster. Is he going to take risk upon assumptions of that kind? I give the business man in Ulster credit for ordinary common sense, and I believe that he is going to take no risks upon assumptions of that kind by going into rebellion.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
We have got to do that, but you want to do things beforehand. I do hope that hon. Members will try to see the point put by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), in one of these Debates on a previous occasion, that when you have got a Parliament established in Dublin you are not going to have the same political cleavage as you have between Irishmen in this House. May I suggest that there will be four parties in an Irish Parliament. There will be a Labour party, a Radical party, a Conservative party if you like, and there will be a party representing the views of the hon. Member for Cork in regard to the land question and other economic issues. I suggest to you that if that be so, it will be impossible for a Parliament of that kind to do anything but justice to the business men of Ulster, and to Belfast in particular, and there can be no fear of any grave economic wrong or fiscal wrong being perpetrated by a Parliament of that character, with regard to to the general business of Ireland. We are the only white race under the British flag that has been denied the right of self-government. I feel that keenly, and I cannot for the life of me understand, provided that the fears are removed—and I have tried to prove that there is no foundation for there fears—why the Ulster 1497 Workman and the working classes of Ulster will object to Home Rule at all. How have hon. Members from Ulster got together these great bodies of workmen to protest against Home Rule? They are not protesting against Home Rule at all. They are inveigled together to join a combination on the assumption that their Protestant faith is going to be persecuted with all the vigour that a Government might foolishly enact, and I complain against hon. Members when it is a known fact that during the last ten years in particular the growth of the Labour movement, particularly in the town of Belfast, has done more to bring Catholic and Protestant workmen together to vote upon the pure economic issue in political concerns than any other movement that has yet taken place, that they should come along and seek to rend this movement by dividing these men into Catholic and Protestant bodies. A very grave responsibility rests upon them for doing that, and I say further, that when the Protestant workman in Ulster begins to discover this kind of thing short shrift will be given to hon. Members if they endeavour to propagate ideas of this character in the future. I may refer now to the Imperial point of view. As I have said, we are the only white race under the British flag that has been denied the right of self-government. Have hon. Members opposed to this Bill ever considered why the British Empire is so strong and so unified as it is, particularly in view of the fact that it is scattered all over the world? I believe that it is because the British Empire, as no Empire that ever existed ever was, is based upon a foundation of self-governing States, and that it could not exist without that basis. The position which hon. Members take up is that under no consideration will they have Home Rule.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I think that the hon. Member himself will admit that there is no reason in that position. They have taken up that position although the majority of the people of Ireland say, "We want Home Rule," and the people of this country have said emphatically that they should have Home Rule. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] Let hon. Members make a comparison of the constituencies which they represent, in point of numbers, and the constituencies which we represent. Nearly all of us come from the large industrial centres in this country, and there is no 1498 equivocation, qualification, or reservation about the attitude of the Labour movement in this country and the workmen generally upon this question of Home Rule. I cannot help remarking that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University pledged the Tory party in this House and outside with its organisaton, and I presume its funds, to back up this kind of rebellion which is to take place in Ireland, he was talking without any warrant. I venture to say, that if that statement is made before Tory workmen up and down the length and breadth of this country they will repudiate it; and upon that point I may say that we have got the Tory workman inside our trade unions and that we know him and respect him, so that the right hon. Gentleman has no warrant to say that. Despite what is said by hon. Members who say that they represent Ulster—though it is only a portion of it, and the Catholics in Ulster in point of numbers almost equal the Protestants—to the effect that they are not going to have Home Rule, though we also hear them talking on the other hand about the Imperial Parliament and the British flag, almost every self-governing Dominion overseas, as the hon. and learned Member for Waterford has declared, has passed a resolution strongly in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. Are they not to count? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If this case was submitted with all its surrounding facts, to a council of the eminent statesmen from the Overseas Dominions to adjudicate upon, there would be absolutely no doubt as to what their decision would be. Hon. Members from the North-East corner of Ulster say that they would not accept even that. The former Leader of the Opposition stated yesterday that if Ulster was 2,000 miles away instead of being so near, we should separate Ulster from the rest of Ireland.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
If Ireland, including Ulster, was 2,000 miles away, there never would have been any Act of Union to start with, and there is no doubt that they would have had the full self-government which has been enjoyed by Canada.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
We would not have had the betrayal and the corruption which are involved. I hope that I have not said 1499 anything to wound the feelings of those of my countrymen—for I may call them so though I was born in England—who represent a portion of the Ulster people. I am going to plead that even at this late hour fair consideration should be given to this Bill. I think that they will agree with me that it is at least an attempt to settle a deep-seated wrong, an attempt to grapple with a situation that has puzzled this House, and that has made government almost impossible—on occasions even in this country—and that has taxed the minds of the best and most brilliant men we have had amongst us for the last fifty or sixty years; and when we come to consider that the overwhelming portion of the people in Ireland and the Irish people outside Ireland, the great Irish population of America and Australia, are all looking to this House to settle this question, at least they should give it some consideration. For my part, I do recommend this Bill to the serious consideration of the House, in the hope that, if possible, the majority will be increased on this occasion as compared with what it was on the last.
§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has dealt with a very difficult question, and a question that often excites great heat, in a very calm manner, and in a manner which I hope to follow. Although I believe that we differ both in religion and politics, we are both Irishmen, and Irishmen never forget that, although sometimes they are overheated in their arguments. There is not very much to argue with regard to the Home Rule Bill, but there are one or two points that I do not think have been dwelt upon with sufficient force in the arguments that have been brought before the House. The Government Bench and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and in all parts of the House, regard it as certain that if this Home Rule Bill is forced into law civil war will result. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Hon. Gentlemen do not agree with me. I think that civil war is certain, and I think that it would be a terrible tragedy. But there is another tragedy which, in my opinion, would be far more serious and terrible to this country if that civil war was brought about, and that is the question of its becoming a religious war. Only one Member has mentioned this question of a religious war—I refer to the hon. Member for Central Sheffield. I am of opinion that so surely as the Government employ British 1500 troops to force the Home Rule Bill upon Ulster—and they would be bound to do it if they intend to carry Home Rule—so surely as they shoot down Protestants who will be opposed to them, so surely will they wake up in this country a power which is absolutely overwhelming, though at present is latent, the power of Protestantism. I always say that everybody's religion should be a man's own business, and that we should not interfere with it. But I do believe that if you wake up this most serious power it would be terrible in its violence and virulence and unfairness, once you got a religious war in the country. That is my firm belief and I think it my duty to state it in this House, although on every occasion that I have spoken here. I have tried to leave the religious question out of these discussions.
The Government will not agree with me, I dare say, but they ought to know my view. I repeat that if you insist upon forcing this Bill upon my fellow countrymen in the North of Ireland, you will deliberately provoke this religious question with your eyes open. [An HON. MEMBER: "Your side are doing that."] The hon. Gentleman says my side is doing it. Certainly, he cannot accuse me of doing it. I have never done anything of the kind. I appeal to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway if I have not always kept clear of this religious question in public. But I do bring it up now, because I am certain that if the Government make this Bill law, they will wake up in this country a power, which is very strong though latent at present. Are the Government certain that they will get the officers—I say nothing about the men—to go over to Ireland to shoot down these people whose only crime is that they sing the National Anthem with the Union Jack in their hands? The hon. Member who has just sat down said that the Protestants need not be afraid of persecution, but if they went to the South and West of Ireland singing the National Anthem and carrying the Union Jack, it would soon be seen whether they would be persecuted. Why were those little children attacked? It was because they were carrying the Union Jack. It irritated the Nationalists, and that is why they were attacked, as the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well. It is certain that if the Government endeavour to send troops to Ireland it will be the smash up of the British Army. I am perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman knows as well as possible that he will never be 1501 able to enforce this Home Rule Bill, unless troops are sent. Ulstermen will come from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; indeed, from all parts of the world. I have been in all these countries, and I have had letters from them. I do not deny that some Nationalists would come also. As soon as Home Rule starts they will come. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) in his sepech referred to Lord Grey who, he said, was in favour of Home Rule. [Hon. MEMBERS: "No."] I will read Lord Grey's letter:—Bet my Canadian experience also causes me to realise that the present Home Rule Bill, if persisted in, must lead to bloodshed and civil war.Then the Noble Lord goes on to say:—To ask Ulstermen to consent to the handing over of the administration of their local affairs to Dublin, and to the reduction of their representation at Westminster below the measure of their equal rights, is to ask them to consent to indignities which no free men should be asked to consider, much less to accept. I confess my sympathies are heart and soul with the Ulstermen in their resistance to the Bill, and I will unhesitatingly support them in their endeavour to prevent it from becoming law.I will ask any Member of the House of Commons, who heard the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, if it did not convey the impression that Lord Grey was entirely in favour of the Home Rule Bill? [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I thought he was until I read this letter. [An HON. MEMBER: "He said Lord Grey was not."]
§ Mr. DILLON
The hon. and learned Member for Waterford quoted a speech made in the House of Lords by Lord Grey.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) will support me when I say, as I do now that Lord Grey is directly opposed to the Home Rule Bill. The speech of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford certainly led to the inference that Lord Grey was in favour of Home Rule. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I would like to put another question to the House. I am an Ulster man, born and bred. My boyhood was spent in Ulster, and I have spent my life in the British service. The breath of my life has been discipline—to obey orders or to give orders. I will say this, however, that if the Government send troops over to Ireland I shall offer my services to my countrymen, even at my age, and poor though my services may be. But is not that deplorable? I say, and I honestly think, that it is deplorable that a man who has worked the whole of his life in the British service, who has been loyal to the Union 1502 Jack, should have to stand up in the House of Commons and say that he is prepared, knowing his responsibility, to go and be one of the first to be shot down if troops are sent to Ireland. That is not swagger. [An HON. MEMBER: "You will not get the chance."] That is what I intend to do if you send troops to Ireland. I may be wrong, but so sincerely do I feel on this question that I should carry out my determination if the Government force this law upon Ulster and send troops over to Ireland, and they could do it in no other way. I suppose it might be called a rebellion.
A rebellion is wrong, and mutiny is wrong; but a bad law makes rebellion and bad discipline makes mutiny. Some speeches have been made about the decision of the majority, but I will not pursue that point, which was clearly argued by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London. Whatever may be the majority, you cannot make wrong right by a majority. The House is perfectly aware that the Ulstermen will fight, no matter what the majority may be in this House. You ought to have known that before you produced this Bill. It was perfectly easy to know it, because it was declared by Ulstermen, who followed up their declaration by preparations. If you make Home Rule by British cannon and British bayonets, you are certain to have bloodshed. Ulstermen believe that Home Rule is against their rights and against their liberties. They may be wrong, but that is their earnest, honest, and sincere belief. What would you hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House do if you laboured under that belief? Would you talk all those platitudes about majorities? Would you not fight if your liberties were interfered with?
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
Another experiment in "Wait and see." No; we will not have Home Rule, and the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that he will not be able to force Home Rule upon us without troops. A great deal has been said about alternative suggestions. We are asked, "What have you got as an alternative?". I have some alternatives. The alternative to hauling the Union Jack down is to keep it at the mast head. That is what we intend to do. The alternative to Home Rule and separation is that Ireland should continue under the same Government, the same Parliament, and 1503 the same Executive as England, Scotland, and Wales. What is good enough for them we think good enough for us. Another alternative, perhaps the best of all, at any rate one of the best, is to go on with land purchase, the one thing that has done more to pacify Ireland and to put an end to what was the curse of my country, Protestant domination in past days. What do you want to do? You want to put us under a Catholic Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Protestant domination in days past drove my fellow - countrymen out of Ireland by hundreds of thousands to America, New Zealand, and Australia, and they will never get over that hatred of the English race which is bred and born in them, and so far as those Irishmen are concerned, they will never be satisfied until Ireland is a separate nation altogether. The hon. Member knows that perfectly well.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
That is very different from what I believe. If I had been a Catholic in the old days, I would have been a rebel, and I would never have any of your sham conciliations. I do not understand them.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
You ought to have been one too. If I had been in your place I would have been a rebel, for they were brutally treated. I tell you what I think and honestly think. I would have been a rebel. My argument now is: You may say you are not going to do it, but as sure as you have Home Rule Ireland will be under Catholic domination. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] All I say is the whole Irish question is the land and nothing but the land. The best thing done by Ireland was done by the right hon. Gentleman the late Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham), who in all time will be remembered as the man who did more for Ireland than all the Governments, by settling the land question. What is the result of settling the land question? The Prime Minister, in his speech said, "if you do not coerce Ulster, you will have to coerce the other three provinces in Ireland." I do not agree with him, and I will tell you why. The result of settling the land question and the benefit derived, in the last twelve years particularly, is that in the last twenty years the Joint 1504 Stock Banks have improved by £23,000,000, the Post Office Savings Bank by £8,000,000, Irish Investments by £14,000,000, and trade by £27,000,000. That is a total of £72,000,000 that my country has improved in twenty years. That is the result of the Union on this poor down trodden country, which we hear of from the benches below the Gangway. I put most of that improvement down to land purchase, where you made the occupier the owner, where the people had credit and where they improved themselves and their country with that astounding result. "Oh," says the Prime Minister, "if you do not coerce Ulster, you must coerce the other three provinces." Do you think the other three provinces are going to rebel and run the chance of losing all that trade and improvement. Not a bit of it. You will have war, civil and religious war, if you have Home Rule, but nothing of the sort if you do not have Home Rule.
The right hon. Gentleman himself (Mr. Birrell), when he came in, as he has often been reminded, said that Ireland was composed of people that were absolutely happy, prosperous, and contented. Why was that, and how was it brought about? It was simply because of land purchase and nothing else. Why did the right hon. Gentleman stop it? Why does he not go on with it? It is all very well saying that the price of stock went up, but what is the price of stock compared with making a whole nation comfortable and happy! Let him go on with the improvement which has resulted in those astounding figures. The hon. Member below the Gangway opposite spoke of safeguards. I wonder he had the temerity to speak of them, because mostly those hon. Members there go into screams of laughter when they hear of them, as they know they are not worth the paper they are written on.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
The Government know they cannot pass this Bill. Why do they not go out now, instead of waiting till the last moment, which they will do, when they will then betray their Irish allies on exactly the same lines on which they are now betraying, or trying to betray, the loyalists of Ulster?
§ Mr. LOUGH
We have had a most interesting speech from the Noble Lord (Lord C. Beresford), and very appropriately he took as his subject the Union 1505 Jack. He has been in its service for fifty years, and he could not have selected a theme with greater appropriateness. The Noble Lord said that at present in some parts of Ireland you could not, or the people did not, sing the National Anthem or wave the Union Jack. The answer I give to that is the object and aim of this Bill, and one which I firmly believe it will secure, is that in every part of Ireland the Union Jack will be as popular as any Other emblem, and all the people will unite in singing the National Anthem or anything else that indicates sympathy with the general aspirations of the Empire. All we on this side, in spite of the speeches we have heard from the other side yesterday and to-day, regard this as a red-letter day in the annals of Liberalism. This is the day on which we are putting into force, at any rate, the early stages for carrying into effect the great Parliament Act which we believe to be the guardian of our rights and liberties, I might say, as Liberals. For many a long year all the high hopes of this party have been defeated, often without argument and without reason, by action taken in another place. Let no one suppose that that action was confined to great measures such as this. It was not. They often dashed the hopes of the Irish people, as they might now if the Parliament Act had not been passed, and the hopes of the people of this country. Now, in spite of what they do, if we here are able to maintain our case in argument and propose a reasonable measure of which the country approves, and I think I will be able to show both those points have been fulfilled with regard to this Bill, then it cannot be destroyed in another place.
We are living under the new order of things, and we rejoice that it should be so. We can only smile at the appeals Made by the Noble Lord, and just before his speech we had one from the new Member for Altrincham (Mr. Hamilton). I am sure the House will agree that that hon. Member in his speech gives promise that he will take an interesting part in our future Debates. Both he and the Noble Lord appealed in a most innocent way to have a General Election. I trust the Prime Minister will lend no countenance to such an appeal. We have our views as well. You cannot put the Parliament Act into effect if you continue having General Elections. We have had three General Elections in about two and a half years, and they always result the same way. They returned on each occasion a 1506 great majority on this side of the House. The very day after we were elected hon. Gentlemen opposite would begin again saying, "You are not acting in accordance with the opinions of the country." For an appeal of that kind there may be an excuse for the new Member for Altrincham, but I wonder that an old and hardened politician like the Noble Lord could make such an appeal without blushing. I trust nobody on the Government side will be disheartened by any trifling circumstances that may be taking place in any part of the world. The party is in excellent spirits, and is advancing to battle in this great fight in three definite wings, the Liberal party, the Labour party, and the Irish Nationalist party. All three are united at the back of the Prime Minister, and we will render him continual support in bringing this great measure and the other measures to which his Government is committed, to a successful issue by means of the Parliament Act. So I say we are very proud of what is going on at present. The machinations of the enemy in another place have been defeated, and I trust that the Bill will be safely steered into port.
Nothing really excites us in the present Debate but this question: What has taken place since we had this great Bill before us last year? Is there any evidence from any quarter that the Bill commands less support in this country or in Ireland than it did then? I think no one will say honestly that there is one spark of evidence that should shake the Prime Minister in his resolution to pass the Bill into law. The hon. Member for Altrincham said that he did not mention the Insurance Act in his address. An hon. Friend of mine behind me was down in the Division during the election, and I would venture to ask the hon. Member whether he did not mention the Insurance Act in nearly every speech he made throughout the constituency. The fact is notorious. So far as the Government may be suffering a little, and they are only suffering very little and temporarily, they are only suffering because of their good deeds. When we put through a great revolution like the Insurance Act affecting all the people who have to pay contributions, there are sure to be slight adjustments that pinch a little here and there, and when those pinches have been felt, people may cry out for the moment, but as time passes, all that will be swept away, and it will be seen that the Insurance Act, which is causing a little 1507 temporary stress at the moment, will redound to the credit of the Government. Any temporary failure at elections is, I believe, all due to that. At any rate one thing is certain; that the great cause of Home Rule is just as popular through every part of the United Kingdom as ever it was. We Liberals all say that. There is no question about Home Rule. It is safe and it is making better progress in the minds of the people every day. If the House wants assurance to that effect, let them consider the bad speeches made from the opposite side. Take the first speech. I came down with some expectation to hear the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City (Mr. Balfour) yesterday. He made, I think, the worst speech on Ireland he has ever made. He has made many most excellent speeches on Ireland, and carried through several excellent laws, but yesterday he fell far below his standard. He took only one point. He thought it would be best to do so. When people have a bad case they do that, and it fails them generally. He said people in Ulster will, after the Bill is passed, be taxed by this House here in which their representation will be reduced to less than half. That was his case. He said, who would stand it, and is it any wonder that Ulster would revolt. He said that if this thing were attempted in some other State we would all be appealed to to go to the assistance of that oppressed community. The whole thing arises from the right hon. Gentleman not understanding the Bill. If he knew the Financial Clauses he would see that that could not happen. The moment the Bill comes into operation, in the matter of finance a new era will open for Ireland, and an end will be put to the sad oppression of 112 years. No doubt this House will maintain the right to tax Ireland, but another authority will be set up. Every item of taxation levied in Ireland by this House will have to be put down to the credit of Ireland, and Ireland will be in a position to ask this House to account for every penny realised by Imperial taxation or by the taxation of the Parliament in Dublin.
§ Mr. LOUGH
With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, that is the Bill. An authority is to be set up which is to appraise how much every Imperial tax, as well as every Irish tax, produces, and 1508 accounts are to be kept. If there is over-taxation, the moment equilibrium is established between the payment of Ireland and the expenditure of Ireland there is to be a concession of extended rights with regard to taxation. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the Bill somewhat carefully and, instead of going in for so much rhetoric, study the principles of the Bill, he will find that I have given a fair account of it. Apart from the question of defeating the Bill, I think the testimony to the soundness of the principle underlying the measure given in the great debate in another place was one of the most remarkable justifications of the policy of Home Rule that we have ever had in this country. I am almost tempted to put the Noble Lord opposite (Lord C. Beresford) right in regard to Earl Grey's position by quoting Earl Grey's words. Earl Grey is a little like the Noble Lord himself, in that everything he says at one time does not absolutely agree with what he says at another. Earl Grey published in the "Times" yesterday morning a letter which the Noble Lord opposite reads and comes to the conclusion that he is going to be shot down in Ulster. I, on the other hand, read the statement of Earl Grey in the House of Lords debate, and the two things do not agree at all. This is what Earl Grey said:—The Unionist Party are prepared to assist in some other form of settlement which may be more safely relied on to promote the well-being of Ireland… I am in favour of such a measure of Home Rule as will give the people of Ireland power to manage their own domestic affairs.Now the Noble Lord looks a little pale. That is what Earl Grey said in his better moments. His other statement is a little different. It wants interpretation. Earl Grey pledged himself to give to the Irish people such a measure of Home Rule as would give them complete control over their own domestic affairs. I maintain that this Bill goes no farther. That is its avowed policy. And it was not Earl Grey alone who said that. The Archbishop of York confessed himself in favour of the principle of Home Rule. His objections were founded mainly on finance. If these aspects of the Bill, the financial provisions and the proposals with regard to the Customs House, were fairly considered, if the party opposite would stick to the excellent principles stated by the Archbishop of York and Earl Grey, they would discuss this question of finance; they would say, "Smooth out this question; explain it to us," and it would be 1509 done. They would ask, "What about this Custom House? Is there anything terrifying in it?" We would show them that if you had a complete Customs House you would know, for instance, what quantities of arms were imported into Ireland, how much food unfit for human consumption was brought into the country just for the want of these Customs facilities, which exist in every port in Scotland, and in every other part of the civilised world. The principles put forward by various Members of the House of Lords were excellent, and when just as far as the Bill, while the small matters to which they took exception could be easily adjusted if they showed the spirit of adjustment.
The right hon. Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson), opened the Debate this afternoon in what I must also say was generally rather a bad speech. The points were so bad that I could not help taking them down. He said, "Take this point. We could not discuss it in the whole of the fifty-five days." On that, I say that he could have discussed anything he wished. He had only to ask it and we would have discussed it for a day or two days. But he did not ask it, and now he tries to make a fundamental point of it. What was this point? He said that the rural constituencies in the South and West, with a population of small peasant proprietors, might exercise great influence in Ireland. I suppose he meant that they might destroy the industries of Belfast. But who established these peasant proprietors? Who arranged these electoral constituencies? They are not fresh constituencies. It was done by this House. If there is any fault at all it is simply another example of the misgovernment of Ireland by this House. Take his second point. He said, "We had a great deal of trouble to get the Prime Minister to publish the evidence of the Committee on Finance, but at last they published it." Then in a tone of tragedy the right hon. Gentleman said, "We found the evidence quite different from the Report." But what has the Prime Minister done with that Report? He has thrown it aside. The Bill is not based on the Report. Therefore there was not the slightest ground for complaint in this matter. On the contrary, the very words of the right hon. Gentleman show that there was justification for the action taken by the Prime Minister, although, as far as I am personally concerned, I would have published anything I was asked for. Then there 1510 was the right hon. Gentleman's point about suggestions. He asked what stage there was for them. Now is the time for suggestions, and Gentlemen opposite are beginning to feel it. They feel that this policy of blank resistance will not do. It will not satisfy the constituencies. It will be treated with contempt by the Empire. Even the Noble Lord opposite said that he would make some suggestions, although I must say they did not come to very much.
§ Mr. LOUGH
A nation cannot live by land alone. Has the Noble Lord any charge to make against Nationalists or Liberal Members of not supporting that land policy to which he attributes so much success? Who enabled Mr. Wyndham, whose death I deplore as much as any man in this House, to pass his great measure? Does the House believe that if the Liberals then in opposition had treated the then Government as the present Government is being treated by the present Opposition, that great Bill would have been passed into law? No. It was unfortunate for the Noble Lord that he mentioned that subject. I would appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to be guided by the splendid and patriotic example set by the Liberals in 1903 of treating the Irish question from a non-party point of view.
§ Mr. LOUGH
The Liberals helped. I was there all the time, so that I know. The present Foreign Secretary, Lord Morley, and others, made most excellent speeches—in fact, the whole Front Bench supported the policy. The truth is, so far as we are in any danger of drifting into difficulties in Ulster—of course, there will be no fighting, but as an Ulster man I would deplore that anything should be done to create hostility between Ulster and this country, to which it is so much attached; but if anything is tending in that direction, it is because hon. Members opposite, encouraged by their leaders, will not follow the example set by the Liberals from 1895 to 1905 of treating the Irish question from a non-party point of view. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite suppose that everyone on this side approved of all the details of the land purchase policy, or of 1511 the Grant of £800,000 a year given under the County Government Act, largely to the landlords? Great objection was taken to it, but the Liberals said that the question was serious and ought to be treated seriously, and they supported the Government all through. I say now, and I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition gives me the opportunity of saying it in his presence, that if this policy is pursued of using all the resources of the Conservative party to stimulate opposition and armed resistence—those are the words that have been used in this Debate—the right hon. Gentleman opposite will incur a heavy responsibility indeed.
I was speaking of the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University for an opportunity to make suggestions, and that brings me to a point which I think requires great attention in the present Debate. I believe that every Member opposite, certainly those above the Gangway, were much interested in the profound appeal made yesterday by the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. W. O'Brien) that Members should approach this question from a non-party point of view and endeavour to arrive at some adjustment with the minority in Ireland. In my humble way I have been trying to bring about some progress in the same direction. No man is so much entitled to press this point upon the House as the hon. Member for Cork City. It was he who brought together feeling in Ireland to such an extent that Mr. Wyndham was able to pass his great Land Act. Therefore, in making an appeal of this kind, he has the prestige of great success. But although the hon. Member makes these appeals for peace, he does not always carry an olive-branch in his mouth. For instance, he was very hard on the Government, and very hard on hon. Gentlemen behind—the Members of the other parties in Ireland. He was even hard—and this was worst of all—on those who support the Government. He criticised three parties in the House, but what criticism, did he offer to hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway opposite? There was not a word of criticism for them. I want, however, not to take any small point in this matter. I just want to take the spirit of his appeal. He said something should be done, some offer should be made to settle this question. Who is to make the offer? I say, so far as my right hon. Friend the Prime 1512 Minister could make an offer, he has made it over and over again, and he repeated yesterday the offer he has made. It is the same with my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Government have constantly said that within the principle of the Bill—and I think they would be willing to accept as their statement of the principle of the Bill the words used by Earl Grey in the other House—any proposal made by the other side of the House would meet with the greatest sympathy. What took place yesterday afternoon? What was said by hon. Gentlemen who represent the Nationalist party in regard to this matter? Some exception has been taken to the very interesting, eloquent, and amusing speech made by the hon. Gentleman who represents the Scotland Division of Liverpool. What is the good of taking notice of every little superlative that an Irishman may use? Let us try to understand their minds. I did not find much wrong with the speech.
At any rate, we had a calm, deliberate speech on the point from the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) last night. He used a most excellent expression with regard to it. He said something in justification of what the hon. Member for the Scotland Division had said earlier, that there had been ascendancy too long in Ireland. He said, "We want no 'top dog' under Home Rule" That is a good expression. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford in his excellent speech this afternoon, which I am sure the House listened to with great interest, went further. I think he used a stronger expression of a desire to meet the Ulster minority than ever I have heard from him before, although I say it is perfectly consistent with the tone he has adopted from the commencement. What more does the hon. Member for Cork City want from the Government, or the followers of the Government, or the hon. Gentlemen who sit behind him? I say he ought to be perfectly satisfied with what they have said. It is not for the Government to make an offer. Anything of the kind would be laughed at here. The tone has been pitched so high by hon. Members opposite and hon. Members on the Front Opposition Bench that the Government would only expose themselves to humiliation if they made any definite offer. We have heard the hon. Member opposite, and we remember that during the House of Lords debates it was said they would be glad to have the Councils Bill. When 1513 the Councils Bill was before us, what did they say? They would not have it at any price. If the Government, or the hon. Member for Waterford made any offer at the present stage, I believe they would only be treated with contempt by hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am not one who can properly make an offer, but I second the earnest appeal that has been made by the hon. Member for Cork City.
This is a matter which ought to be settled by adjustment. There cannot be adjustment if the principle is not accepted by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and if their responsible leaders will not ask for something that would satisfy them and enable them to close up the long contest. In the next place, a very remarkable result this afternoon followed the speech of the hon. Member for Cork City. I notice, after all the strong language, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University used, he came down to this: He came down to deal with the speech of the hon. Member for Cork City. He took a general exception to us doing this or that. His words were—so I understood him—"We are quite prepared to accept a system of local government." We have heard of a system of local government that hon. Gentlemen opposite are willing to accept. I remember the right hon. Gentleman referred to it once before in a speech. He said: If once the Protestants of Ulster are persuaded to come in it is no small Home Rule Bill we will want, but a big Home Rule Bill. They would not, he said, ask for a petty Bill; they would ask for full powers such as had been obtained in the other Dominions. Why, then, cannot he come here and say what adjustment in the Irish House of Commons or the House of Lords will satisfy Ulster? I say the responsibility rests with hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Government, and especially the Prime Minister, has been holding out his hand to them all through these long Debates. They have been met fairly by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. If we are to arrive at a peaceful solution of this difficulty, on which alone I believe the peace, prosperity, and future development of Ireland depends, hon. Members opposite must take a very different tone to that taken throughout these Debates.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
There is one point which has emerged in the several speeches which have been made in support of this Bill in this Debate which appears 1514 to me to reveal a fundamental misunderstanding as to the attitude which we on this side of the House take up. It appeared strongly in the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford, in that of the hon. Member for Leeds, and also in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. These supporters of the Bill have urged that the threatened resistance of Ulster, and what they call the irreconcilable attitude of the Unionist party towards this Bill, is crying out before we are hurt. They said time after time, wait and see whether, in point of fact, when the Parliament is established in Dublin it attacks your civil liberty, your economic rights, your religious privileges, and so forth. We time after time in the Debates of last Session pointed out innumerable ways in which we believe that this legislation might inure to the disadvantage of the people of Ulster in all these respects. But deeper than that, and behind all that, lies this fact. The hon. Member for Leeds says: "Wait till you are attacked." The establishment of a Parliament in Dublin is in itself an attack. The establishment of a Parliament in Dublin is itself, independently of what it may do, the taking away from the people of Ulster rights which they at the present time possess. It is, to begin with, the transference of their allegiance. It is the degradation of their position from being part and parcel of the United Kingdom, or at any rate in the fullest sense, part and parcel of the United Kingdom, to being a province. It is that degradation of their position which they resent and which they will not allow to be perpetrated if they can help it; altogether independent of what may or may not be done in the way of specific legislation to their disadvantage by this Parliament after it is established.
I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down upon the admirable way in which he has thrown himself into the fun of the entertainment in which we are engaged, an entertainment which my right hon. Friend, the Member for Dublin University, this afternoon so well described as a pantomime, this entertainment which has been provided for the House and for the country by the Prime Minister. We are all invited to suppose that we are engaged in the practical work of legislation. I hope in the very few observations I shall offer to do my best to support that illusion. The stage manager who usually sits here 1515 below the Gangway, has told us himself, and someone else has mentioned to-day, that we were to be engaged in an automatic process; in other words the hon. Member, like Snug the joiner, blurted out the truth and so spoiled the illusion before the Play began. Surely it would be impossible for any Person more accurately to describe the proceedings in which we are engaged, than to say that it is an automatic process. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford, by voting for the Budget in the first instance, and by other previous transactions, puts his penny in the slot. Then the Prime Minister, when the time comes pulls the lever, and the prize-packet emerges labelled, "As supplied to the House of Commons." So we are invited to continue the play. Under such conditions as that, I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman and others who have succeeded so admirably in keeping up the illusion. For my part, I think any attempt to enter upon examination or discussion of the merits or demerits of this actual proposal, which forms the programme of the performance, certainly requires a genius for comedy to which I can lay no claim. Therefore I shall only direct myself to one or two surrounding circumstances. The first of those surrounding circumstances is concerned with the actual working of the automatic machine which the Prime Minister has set up. I expect that the results which this machine is turning out are not very different from what the Prime Minister both hoped and expected when he devised it. They are wholly different from what he told us they would be! The Prime Minister in devising this machine took out his patent, but the patent was on a false specification. The specification, to begin with, set forth for us that all important legislation which was to pass through this machine would have the advantage of securing for itself deliberation, revision, and delay. These are the words the Prime Minister used:—The delay of three Sessions, when the suspensory veto of the House of Lords interposed, precludes the possibility of convertly or arbitrarily smuggling into law measures which are condemned by popular opinion, and will at the same time secure an ample opportunity for reconsideration and revision to hasty or slovenly legislation.I want to know in the fulfilment of that promise where is the opportunity which we are to have for reconsideration and for revision? So far as reconsideration is concerned, I quite agree we are to be 1516 allowed any amount of reconsideration, always subject to this proviso, that our reconsideration leads to the old conclusion which is agreeable to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford. It rather reminds me of the story of the man who asked his friend to name a drink. He replied: "I think I can take a little champagne." The friend who made the offer replied: "Think again, but think beer." In exactly the same way we are told that we may think any amount of reconsideration, but we have to again think the Bill. If we do not think the Bill, we are not allowed to think at all. As for the revision, what is meant by revision in the specification of the Prime Minister? Revision in this instance means revision which shall confirm the verbal inspiration of the authorised version. Real revision which may lead to amendment is called mutilation by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Then there was another advantage which was held out to us in the specification of the machine in these words used by the Prime Minister. He said:—Lastly, and this is as certain as the daylight, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the new House of Commons could, and would, reverse legislation which had been shown by the General Election to be opposed to the will of the mass of the people.Is that really a course which the Prime Minister deliberately recommends to this House and to the country as a proper procedure under the Parliament Act as the machinery which he has set up? Does the Prime Minister really hold that it would be a wholesome constitutional process, instead of finding out for certain beforehand that his legislative proposals have the support of the electorate of this country, to bring in a Bill like this, which is exciting in Ireland exultation on the one hand and deep resentment on the other, and to force that Bill through, and then expect his political opponents by reversing the process to turn exultation into anger, as we have been told to-night would be the result, and anger into exultation, and thus to inflame both passions in the people at a time when public opinion is sufficiently inflammable? Is that really a course which the Prime Minister thinks ought to become the future model for legislative action in this country? I quite agree that in such procedure as that which the Prime Minister invites, he may throw very considerable difficulty on to the lap of his political opponents. It may be an extremely astute party move, but is it statesmanship? Is it worthy of one of the Leaders 1517 of the nation? Is it even consistent with the elementary duty of a responsible adviser of the Crown? I have no hesitation in saying it is neither one nor the other, but nevertheless it is the course, if language means anything, which the Prime Minister has deliberately indicated to the country as that which he recommends in the case of a Bill which is not endorsed by the opinion of the country at a subsequent General Election. I cannot imagine why the Prime Minister propounds such a doctrine as that unless he anticipates that there may be a case to which it would apply. Did the Prime Minister find it impossible even to conceive the possibility of measures carried under this Parliament Act being disapproved by the nation at the next General Election? It is perfectly true he gave us quite another assurance which I think was referred to in the course of the Debate, and which it is not very easy to reconcile with that which I have just commented upon, because the Prime Minister said that—unless Bills carried under the Parliament Act were backed by stable and consistent public opinion in the constituencies through three Sessions, it will be impossible to carry them into law.I wonder if the Prime Minister, when he used these words, had any clear, definite meaning in his own mind at all? By what means can stable and consistent public opinion make itself known or felt except by by-elections? Does the Prime Minister propose—I need hardly ask the question after the amazing speech he made yesterday—but I was going to ask, Does the Prime Minister mean for a moment that he has got for this particular Bill and for his policy any such general, consistent, and stable authority in the recent by-elections? I must say I think the passage in the Prime Minister's speech dealing with the by-elections yesterday was the most amazing example of sophistry to which the House could have listened, and I am not going to attempt to follow him in the exercise of higher mathematics, but I will mention one fact that blows all his calculations out of the water. The Prime Minister, when giving these elaborate calculations, informed the House that the by-elections since the Bill was brought in showed a majority of 15,000 in favour of Home Rule. He was most careful not to tell the House that these same elections at the General Election showed a majority of over 30,000 for Home Rule, and that, consequently, the net result, so far as actual numbers is concerned, is that the 1518 by-elections have shown a decrease of exactly 50 per cent. in support of this policy of Home Rule. I am perfectly well aware that hon. Gentlemen opposite hug the idea that it was not this particular proposal of the Government, but one of the other principal measures of the Government which the country so utterly detested.
With absolute callousness to the feelings of the unfortunate Chancellor of the Exchequer they attribute all their misfortunes to the Insurance Act. Well, I think, it would not be at all difficult to prove out of their own mouths that that is a very false, or at any rate a very partial account of the matter. But supposing it to be true, supposing it is true that the by-elections have been fought and won, so far as they have been won by this side, and that the great difficulty for the Government in every election is to be attributed to the Insurance Act, does that help Home Rule? Why did not Liberal candidates when they went down to the constituencies say, "Oh do not pay so much attention to this Insurance Act; whether it is good or bad we can tinker at that later on, but for goodness sake remember the glorious Home Rule Bill. Remember this measure which is going to put an end for us for ever to all the troubles of the Irish question, which is going to bring peace and contentment to Ireland, and which is going to relieve from oppression the tender and long-suffering lambs led by the hon. Member for West Belfast and some of his friends." Why did they not say that; or, did they say that? If such appeals as that were not made, or were made to deaf cars, in either case it seems to me perfectly idle for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen now to say that these elections have shown that positive support, that stable and consistent support, for this particular measure which the Prime Minister postulated in July. In point of fact such an appeal as I have mentioned was made at the last two by-elections. Take the election at Newmarket first. My right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University has spoken to-day of the telegram which was sent to Dublin by an hon. Member who usually sits below the Gangway. Now the Prime Minister made great play yesterday of the fact that the rural voters in Cambridgeshire could not be got to take sufficient interest in the Home Rule question, and that they were the despair of two ladies who came from Ulster, and his words were greeted with 1519 laughter and cheers. My right hon. Friend to-day pointed out the telegram which was sent by the hon. Member for Meath and which was:—Home Rule workers detained Newmarket, fighting imported Tories from Ireland, send greetings; another victory is in sight.The hon. Member is, I am sure, far too honest a man to have sent a telegram like that prepared in advance to claim a victory which he saw in sight for Home Rule unless he knew that that had been, if not the only issue, at all events a very prominent issue, in a contest in which he himself was engaged, and as I myself was one of the imported Tories from Ireland, whom the hon. Member honoured by staying away from the meeting in Dublin, to fight, I am sure if he will not quarrel with me for claiming for the Union a victory which we had not only in sight, but in hand.
At Altrincham the case was still stronger. There there were Liberal Members deliberately making the first issue in that fight, not merely the general question of Home Rule, but the specific question as to whether Ulster would be morally justified in resisting, if necessary, by force of arms, the establishment of Home Rule under this Bill. Not only that, but a Member of the Government went down there to emphasise this issue. The Lord Advocate, a bird of ill omen to his party, and a sure harbinger of disaster, went down to impress upon the electors of that Division, that it would be "a great discouragement and disappointment to the Prime Minister and his colleagues if Altrincham failed to support them at this critical stage." Why this critical stage? The critical stage, of course, was because we were in the middle of that period during which the Prime Minister declared he must have the stable and consistent support. Lest there should be any doubt as to what his meaning was, the Lord Advocate told them this:—He was there that night as the representative of His Majesty's Government, and he gave them an absolute assurance that if they could point out anything in the Home Rule Bill that was unjust or would inflict any hardship on any man, woman or child, in Antrim or Armagh, Down or Derry, that provision would be struck out.The electors of Altrincham attached precisely the same value that we do to the absolute assurance of the Lord Advocate, but I am quite certain that his insincerity, to use a very mild term, could not have been so patent to them as it is to us, because, as the Lord Advocate very 1520 well knew himself, you could not strike any provision out of this Bill without destroying the automatic process over which the hon. Member for Waterford keeps guard. In the face of facts such as these, it passes my comprehension how any man who retains the smallest regard for straightforward dealing, can get up in this House and pretend in the face of the country that this measure has that stable and consistent support which the Prime Minister requires. We, at all events, have the satisfaction of knowing that the latest great constituency in England to be consulted upon this question has pronounced not only a most emphatic condemnation of this Bill, but an equally emphatic approval of the attitude of Ulster. Now, so far as the attitude of Ulster is concerned, I need hardly say that since we last discussed this proposal last Session, the attitude of Ulster has undergone no change whatever, unless it be to harden somewhat the intensity of their opposition. Surely it is reasonable for us to ask, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University has asked, how the Government propose to deal with this opposition. I wish to acknowledge that the Chief Secretary has, so far as I am aware, from first to last, treated this matter of the attitude of Ulster with a gravity and seriousness which is gratifying to us, and which we are glad to acknowledge. Since we last discussed this matter the right hon. Gentleman has himself used words which are very significant. Speaking at Newcastle, on the 8th February last, the Chief Secretary for Ireland said:—He recognised that there were tens of thousands of Protestants in the East of Ulster who had the utmost aversion to being subject to an Irish parliament and Executive. He admitted that this aversion had got to be conquered in some way or another, and that justice had to be done to those people.I am perfectly certain the right hon. Gentleman used those words with sincerity and intended to carry them out, but I would like to ask him, how does he propose to conquer the aversion of those people to being subject to a Parliament and Executive in Ireland? How does he propose to do justice to those people because that is one of the things which he says must be done. Is he going to adopt the advice of the Lord Advocate, and conquer their aversion by shooting them and hanging them? Is that how he is going to conquer their aversion? If the right hon. Gentleman tries that, all I can say is that the only result he will find will be that those who ultimately survive his 1521 butchery will be more unconquerable than ever. I am not vain enough to imagine that so illustrious a personage as the Chief Secretary for Ireland is going to attach the slightest value to any words from so insignificant an individual as myself, but I can tell the right hon. Gentleman—and I think I know the Protestants probably as intimately as any Member of this House knows any section of his fellow countrymen—that neither the bullying methods of the Lord Advocate, nor all the volumes that the Chief Secretary can produce—[Cheers.]—I have no objection to adopting what is suggested by the cheers of hon. Members opposite, and I will say that not all the books which the Chief Secretary can throw, or all the volumes he may produce of fascinating obiter dicta will have the smallest result in conquering the aversion of these people. How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do justice to those people and conquer their aversion? In the debates we had last Session upon this matter a great deal was said about two Irelands or the two nations we have in Ireland. This notion of two Irelands was ridiculed by the right hon. Gentleman and by many hon. Members below the Gangway. I remember the hon. Member for Galway was good enough to single me out as an example of one whom he would find it difficult to place as between the two Irelands. I gladly acknowledge that in a great many matters all Irishmen are at one. I was exceedingly sorry to hear something that fell from the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), when he quoted from a very old letter written years and years ago by Lord Wolseley, in which he spoke of the people of the North of Ireland as regarding their fellow countrymen of the South with hatred and contempt.
§ Mr. DILLON
Why did I quote it? Simply because it was quoted by the "Irish Times," with full approval, within the last two years.
§ Mr. R. M'NEILL
I disagreed with it then, and I profoundly disagree with it now, and considering that the hon. Member for East Mayo quoted last night a speech made recently in Belfast by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, I think, at all events, it would have tended more to that spirit of conciliation which he professes to desire, if he had gone on to quote from my right hon. Friend's speech in Belfast, rather than from a twenty-year-old letter written by Lord Wolseley. My right hon. Friend 1522 said in that speech that we had no sort of animosity or feeling against any individual Irishman, and that he was, as far as that was concerned, entirely animated by good will towards them all. That is a point of view which I take up, and I ask hon. Members below the Gangway to believe me when I say that I am as sincerely and passionately attached to Ireland as the hon. Member for Galway or any one of his Friends. I share their love for Ireland's soil, for her scenery, her people, her history, her poetry, and her romance. I am as touched as any one of them by the wistfulness of those "old unhappy far-off things, and battles long ago," which imparts a tint of tender colouring to her story. In all these respects Irishmen are at one but if an irreconcilable antagonism in regard to matters of citizenship, of allegiance, and of Government constitutes two Irelands; if our unalterable conviction that the policy of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford is making for the destruction of all that we believe to be prosperous and progressive and enlightened and of happy augury for our country in future, constitutes two Irelands; if the deep and age-long conflict between the rival ideas of authority and liberty as the basis of religious belief constitutes two Irelands, then indeed two Irelands there most assuredly are. For myself I would only say that if I opposed this Bill on no other ground, I should oppose it to the utmost of my poor ability because I believe it will bring to England not what some hon. Gentlemen opposite fondly and, I have no doubt, sincerely believe, a relief from political difficulties, but rather an increased intensity of embarrassment, and it will bring to Ireland not peace, but, a sword, and a sword that will be red before it returns to, the scabbard.
§ Mr. D. C. HOGG
I am loth to intervene in this Debate, but I am tempted to do so by the remarks which have fallen from the last speaker, in which he referred to the Lord Advocate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up."] I had the pleasure of having the Lord Advocate in Londonderry at the last contested election in Ireland, and I attribute a great deal of the success of that election to the speech which the right hon. Gentleman then made. The election took place in a small constituency, where the people had been in the habit of following the lead of the Duke of Abercorn, who was intensely popular in that district, and who was held in great respect; but in spite of all that I was successful, 1523 and we turned a minority into a majority in our favour. I never canvassed one of the electors. I issued my address straight and clear, declaring that I was a Liberal, and that I was in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. I left my address to speak for itself. I think we have never had a contest in Ireland where there was less canvassing, and we never had the finish up of a contest in Londonderry which was more satisfactory as regards the conduct of the public, which was a very grateful thing to me as the successful candidate. Hon. Members have spoken of religious persecution, but I see no reason for it at all. There has been some talk of boycotting, but I have lived for sixty years in Ireland, and I have gone through the lanes and visited the houses of the people in the city I represent when policemen dare not do it. I have been among the people and dwelt among the Catholics in times of excitement, and I have visited them as a magistrate to try and calm them and induce them to obey the law. If the law we are discussing is passed, I think it will be the duty of the leaders of society in Ireland, who are better educated, to try and induce those who are not so well educated to obey the law, except when it comes to any infringement upon their consciences, and if ever that comes about in my time, I shall be on their side.
The House has just listened, and I am sure with great pleasure, to a speech from the hon. Member who represents Londonderry. He fought and won an election at a very important time to the Government, and I am quite certain that his personality which endeared him to Londonderry will have the same mark on the House itself. He represents, I believe, the majority in the representation of Ulster in this House, and, as that fact has been alluded to by the Prime Minister, I should like to examine the figures on which the right hon. Gentleman based his case. The Prime Minister relied on two different sets of figures. He told the House that since the Bill was introduced, the representation of Ulster had been transformed, and that Ulster now sent a majority to this House in favour of Home Rule. He also informed the House that the Home Rule Bill had been passed by successive majorities which averaged something over 100. I believe it is a fact that the Coalition can now command seventeen votes from Ulster against sixteen for the Union, but the 1524 Prime Minister neglected to inform the House that the representation of Ulster in this House on which he is relying, does not in the least correspond with the support that he has in Ulster itself. Is he aware that there are rather over 2,000 more electors represented by every Unionist Member than are represented by those who support the policy of separation, which probably means that on the average there is 11,000 more population represented by every Member who supports the Union in this House than that which is represented by the seventeen Members who support the right hon. Gentleman on the Home Rule Bill. You have constituencies of 19,000 like that of East Belfast against constituencies of 1,700 like that of Newry. Therefore, though hon. Members can make the small pettifogging point that they have a majority from Ulster in the Division Lobby, they have in the country very little support indeed in comparison.
The Prime Minister and the Government are relying on the majority they have for the Bill in the House of Commons, but that is not going to carry them through the difficulty into which they are inevitably going to get when they try to put this Bill into operation, for the support they can get in the Lobby is in no degree comparable to the support they will get in the country outside. That will be their difficulty. If they had the moral support of the country, if they had the country behind them, they could afford to laugh at threats of resistance, but there is danger to the Liberal party in carrying this Bill because they lack that support, though apparently they think they are able to point to it in this House. The Prime Minister has referred to the support that this Bill has received, and he has said that if you knock out the Irish Members there is still a majority in Great Britain for Home Rule. I suppose it will be accepted by this House that the question of Home Rule is as important to England as it is to Ireland. The separation of the United Kingdom is just as big a question to England as it is to Ireland, and you cannot deny, because your own Government return proves it, that on this question the vote of every elector in Ireland is worth twice the vote of every elector in England. Ireland is not more interested in this question than England. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), who tried to persuade this House that Canada supports this measure, asked, "What has it got to do 1525 With England, anyhow?" There is one very good reason I can give. England has got to pay for it. England has got to finance this reckless experiment, besides taking many other great risks. Therefore, it is just as important a question to England as it is to Ireland, and I say that the voice of England in the Lobbies should have the same power as the voice of Ireland. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) yesterday said:—We go for equality.And again, later on, he said:—There must be equality in Ireland, and no top dog.Would he assent to equality here as between England and Ireland in the Division Lobby, or must he to pass this Bill have the privileged position which hon. Members from Ireland claim in the Division Lobby at the present time? There is no argument against putting England and Ireland on an equality on this question, except one which the Irish Members sometimes use, but which I hope no English Member will use, for the credit of his sense of humour. They quote the Act of Union to keep these seats when that is the only possibility of smashing the Act of Union. It takes an Irishman to use that argument. I shall not do the Liberal party any injustice if I say that they claim in the country that they have a mandate for the Home Rule Bill. They say, and I do not deny it, that the country gave them a majority for the Parliament Act, and they say that as they got support for the Parliament Act they are entitled to pass Home Rule and to drive Ulster out of the Union. There is in this House what is called a consequential Amendment. When we have passed one Amendment a consequential Amendment arises out of it, and the argument of the Liberal party is that the Home Rule measures is a consequential Amendment on the Parliament Act. I say that the Liberal pjarty make the greatest mistake they have ever made if they think that goes down in the country, whatever it does in this House. The Home Rule Bill was not the issue before the country at the last election. The election was won on a mixture of issues: "Peers versus the People," and "The Food Taxes." That is no mandate for the Home Rule Bill. That is the chief mistake they make. They think that they can pass this Bill on such a very flimsy pretext against the opposition of Ulster, backed up very rightly by the whole of the Unionist party. When the Prime Minister goes to Ulster and tries to drive Ulster out from the protection of 1526 this Parliament, he will have to give a better warrant than to say that he has got a mandate merely consequential on the support he received for the Parliament Act. The hon. Member for East Mayo said that Canada is in favour of this policy. Canada has frequently, but not latterly, passed a Home Rule Resolution through the House of Commons at Ottawa. It was generally done on the motion of the Honourable John Costigan. I would ask the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, who sends a weekly letter to Canada on what is going on here, if he can get a Home Rule Resolution passed through the House of Commons at Ottawa to-day or even introduced? I challenge the hon. Member to try and put through the present Parliament in Ottawa a Resolution in favour of Home Rule for Ireland.
I will agree to this. I will be only too willing if he can get a Home Rule Resolution passed through the Ottawa House of Commons to-day, or within the next three months—well, I will give him this year—to allow the hon. Member to order the best dinner he can for the whole of his party at my expense. He knows perfectly well that they will not touch a Home Rule Resolution. It would never go through. If the hon. Member thinks so, let him try and persuade his friends to put it through. It would have a very great effect on this House. There is not the least doubt that the case had never been put before Canada until last year. It has hitherto always gone by default. I was in Canada last year with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long).
§ 8.0 P.M.
Yes, I had the honour of crossing on the same boat with the hon. Gentleman. Gentlemen came up to my right hon. Friend, and said, "Do you mean to say that this Home Rule Bill sets up a Post Office and a Customs House in Ireland? It is incredible. We do not believe it." They never had the case put before them before my right hon. Friend explained it, and he did not do it because he wanted to do so, but because they insisted on it. They would hear about nothing else. It was 1527 incredible to these men that we in the British House of Commons were proposing to set up a new Post Office and Customs House in Ireland, and when in my humble way, tried to put it before them that we were doing it with every Irish vote counting twice to every English vote, they at once said, "Why do not you take the democratic view and put everybody on an equality," because, as hon. Members know, out there, there is equality between the provinces. I take leave to say that a great deal of this question is a Parliamentary one. The fact that the Nationalist Members have this great block of votes, not only counts in the Lobby but has a moral effect on the Liberal party. It has a double effect. It blesses him who gives, and him who receives. It not only counts, but it forces the Liberal party, because we all know they are never so keen about Home Rule when they have an independent majority. When there is of necessity that large block of Irish votes it reacts on the Liberal party in more than one way. I do not feel that this question can ever be settled on the lines proposed while England is so handicapped as against Ireland. The first thing to be done is to put on an equality the English and the Irish votes in this House, then the matter can be fought out on its merits, and it will not have to be decided by a very clever Parliamentary manœuvre. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite to give this question his earnest consideration. Why on this Home Rule question should the Irish vote count twice as much as the English vote? How, too, on earth can you justify the Irish vote counting twice as much as the English vote on the question of despoiling the Welsh Church? Even if such a disparity be right in regard to the Home Rule question it certainly cannot be right in regard to the Welsh Church question. Yet these two questions hang together. If Home Rule is defeated the Welsh Bill must go. If the Welsh Bill is defeated Home Rule goes. That is the policy of the party opposite. It is a clever policy but it has a danger that that party must face. I invite hon. Members from Ireland who are to tour the country next week to explain to English audiences if they can why their vote is to count twice as much as the votes of Englishmen in the Lobby of his House. I believe the country is getting more interested in the question of the value of votes 1528 than in the details of the Bill, and when once the electorate begins to realise that the Irish vote has twice the value of the English vote in the Lobby of the House of Commons the supporters of the Government will be getting very near their end. Many questions in the country do not go down because they are too complicated, but here we have a very simple issue, and if once the electorate realises the true state of affairs the Liberals will have great difficulty in explaining to English audiences why the Irish vote has the greater value.
I am discussing the effect of the Irish vote in the Lobby of the House of Commons, and I have never been backward in declaring that everybody should be on an equality in this House. I should have no difficulty in supporting the Plural Voting Bill if, first, everybody were put on an equality. That ought to be done, and we ought to have a General Election. All I ask for is strict equality and nothing more, and let the best policy win. But until we get equality in voting power, I think Ulster will be perfectly right in fighting against this Bill. I can only repeat that I think the right solution of this problem is first to put everybody on an equality and then to have an election on this question of Home Rule.
§ Sir WILFRID LAWSON
I remember that many years ago, in the course of a Home Rule Debate of this House, one of the speakers said he had two very good reasons for knowing a great deal about Ireland. The first was that he had never been there, and the second was that he once met a commercial traveller who told him a great deal about it. I do not know whether my qualifications for making a few remarks this evening are greater or less than that speaker's. But I should like, in the few words with which I will trouble the House, to give a few of my reasons for supporting the measure we are now discussing. What is the present position in respect to it? Last Session we spent a considerable amount of time in discussing this Home Rule Bill in its different stages, on the First Reading and the Second Reading. I think we spent forty days and forty nights, too, in the wilderness of Committee, while also discussing it on the Report stage. As a humble private Member, whose business here is generally to exer- 1529 cise his feet rather than his brains, I think that that sort of thing is getting too dangerously near to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London might describe as an intolerable strain. It seems that we are beginning the whole process over again. It reminds me of a man I have heard of who read a verse in the Pralms which says, "We bring our years to an end as a tale that is told." He said that could not be a correct statement because a tale that is told never comes to an end; it is always told over and over again.
Of course, I know that this is a great constitutional question which requires all the care and attention which parliament—which is generally supposed to be a deliberative body, although I am not sure it would not more properly be called a deliberate assembly—it requires all the care and attention that Parliament can give it. But the question of the government of Ireland has been discussed in this House for the last thirty years, and I hope I will not be considered unduly precipitate if I say it is about time that we came to a settlement. What is the settlement that is proposed in this Bill? It seems to me that nothing can be more simple, more reasonable, more equitable, or more in accordance with the dictates of self-interest and common sense. I know that some people contend that the question has changed since the days when it was formerly before this House. So it has. It has changed in respect to its details, in view of what has happened through the passage of the Land Act in Ireland, and so forth; but however you look at it, whether you look at it with a modern eye or through green spectacles, or in any other way, the principle remains the same. It was Napoleon who said, "You can do anything with bayonets except sit upon them." And so it is with nationalities. You can do anything with them except extinguish them. An advocate of temperance was once asked why he was so strenuous in his support of it. He said he had seven reasons for it, and when invited to explain, he said he had a wife and six children.
If I were asked why I give my humble support to this measure I would reply that I have eighty odd good reasons sitting in a solid, good-looking phalanx on the benches opposite—I notice they do not all sit there at the present moment. Why are these Gentlemen here? They do not come here as the Members of another place were once described by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for 1530 Ireland, when he stated that the Members of the Upper Chamber represented no one but themselves, and that they enjoyed the perfect confidence of their constituents. It is quite different with the party opposite. They come here in a different way. They come here representing large and important constituencies in Ireland. They have the force of public opinion in that country behind them. They know what they want. What is it they do want? It is nothing more than the simple elementary right or liberty and self-government; a right which is, or ought to be, the very corner stone of the greatness of this country and of this Empire, on which its true stability and power for good depends, and which the Irish are as much entitled as any other of His Majesty's subjects to enjoy. Who are we that we should resist in any way that demand? We were told at one time—and I am happy to think that those times are gone—that Irishmen are not as other men. I know we had a saying in my part of the, world that there are good and bad of all sorts and worse of Irish. But I am glad to think that the days have gone when it could be said, as a great statesman now dead once said, "You do not give self-government to the Hottentots." We have come now to look at this question with a more humane, a more generous, and a more modern eye. We cannot say that again. What have we done? By the exercise of a wise, far-seeing and beneficent act of legislation we have extended self-government to South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London said at the time that that was an insane experiment, just as those who oppose Home Rule to-day say it is an insane experiment. But it has not proved so in South Africa. On the contrary, it has proved itself to be nothing but an added strength and glory to this Empire. Like causes should produce like effects in the Island of the sister nation of Ireland.
Why is it that this Bill is being opposed? I come here and I hear right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite trotting out day by day and night by night the old misgivings, the old fears and the old bogeys about this question which have been their stock-in-trade for years. They have a perfect aviary of scare-crows, or, to put it better, I might call it a stable full of nightmares, which they trot out to make our blood run cold. They have been very useful animals in their day for hon. Gentlemen opposite, but, if it is not an unparliamentary expression, I should say 1531 that at the present moment they are "crocks," and the sooner they are taken out of training and put to grass the better it will be, although I have no doubt that hon. Gentlemen opposite will go on using them to the end of the chapter. What are they? We have heard of them over and over again. There is the old bogey that there would be religious intolerance under Home Rule. Surely one ought to have got rid of that idea by this time of day! I think some hon. Gentlemen opposite have done so already. I think the hon. Member for the Honiton Division (Major Morrison-Bell) has done so to a large extent from what he said to-night. The hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster), too, said in the course of our Debates in Committee upon this Bill that he, for one, was heartily sick of the talk about the two religions in Ireland. He said that in the course of his experience at the Bar he always found he got just as good law from Catholics as he did from Protestants. If you get as good administration of law from Catholics as from Protestants, you ought to be able to get as good legislation from Catholics as from Protestants. I have never observed in the case of hon. Members of this House, Irish Members, whether they are Catholics or Protestants, a propensity for flying at one another's throats here, but very much the contrary. Even if it were so over here or in Ireland, I wonder who else has an equal right to do that than themselves? I do not believe that they believe, although it sometimes seems to be the case in Ireland, that there are what might be called sermons in stones. If they think that the only way—To prove their doctrines orthodoxis by—Apostolic blows and knocks,all I can say is so much the worse, not only for their politics, but for their religion. Personally, I am prepared to trust the Irish people to the full to exercise their newly acquired powers sanely, wisely, fairly, and well as responsible citizens, and not as children. Therefore, I dismiss all this; talk of religious intolerance as being, in Lord Morley's phrase—a phantom got up for the benefit of the eccentric religionist.Then we have all this continued talk about the possibility of civil war in Ireland. It is one thing for anyone like myself to get up and offer a few remarks in this House, being perfectly sure, as I am, that scarcely anybody inside or out of it pays the 1532 slightest attention to or cares for what I say, but it is quite another thing when prominent statesmen, as I have heard them do, talk of civil war in Ireland as if it were almost an accomplished fact. I think they are incurring a very grave responsibility, a responsibility which I, for one, should be very sorry to share with them. However that may be, you cannot argue with a prophet, even if he is a statesman. You can only disbelieve him. I say let us brush aside these unworthy suspicions; let us judge the Irish as we ourselves would wish to be judged, and not always look upon them and think of them as likely to be actuated by the worst of motives, but rather by the best. I have never looked upon the Irish people, in the famous phrase of Mr. Gladstone, as—having a double dose of original sin.But when I think of the steadfastness with which the Nationalist party, through good and evil report, have followed a noble ideal through years of toil and misfortune, I think they have certainly been endowed with a double dose of original patience. Perhaps the House will forgive me if I end with a personal allusion. I happen, Sir, to be the son of one—
§ Sir WILFRID LAWSON
One of the first English Members of Parliament, now a dwindling band, who, when days were dark and friends were few, gave his vote for Home Rule when it was first brought forward in this House. From my point of view I am proud of that. Partly I suppose because of it and partly because I have always been convinced of its inherent justice, I have from time to time, as opportunity offered, tried to give to this cause my humble support, and now, when the daylight is dawning, it gives me unbounded pleasure and satisfaction to be able to give my vote for a measure in the justice, the wisdom and the safety of which both for Ireland and Great Britain I believe with all my heart.
§ Sir JOHN SPEAR
The hon. Baronet has used as an argument in favour of Home Rule the success of self-government in South Africa. There is no analogy whatever between the two cases. The people of South Africa never had representation in this House. The Irish have had representation, and we have gone on in partnership—a partnership which I, for one, hope will never be dissolved. Further, 1533 self-government in South Africa was a consolidating principle, but the proposal for Home Rule for Ireland is a disintegrating principle. Therefore, there is no logical argument to support Home Rule in what has occurred in South Africa. I notice that the hon. Baronet spoke of his having been a Home Ruler from the commencement, and with his thorough sincerity of purpose he takes credit to himself for having taken up that position. I have been, in my very humble capacity, an opponent of Home Rule since 1886. I was a Member of the Liberal party at that time, and I was convinced that Home Rule would be injurious to us, and what has happened since has confirmed me in that opinion. Our Irish friends were as sanguine then that if Home Rule was granted it would be a good thing for Ireland, but if Home Rule had been granted in 1886 we should have had no land purchase scheme, which has been a regenerating power in Ireland, neither should we have had old age pensions for Ireland; and therefore, as one who does not yield to my hon. Friend opposite in appreciation of the Irish people, and in a desire to promote the welfare of Ireland, I say it would have been disastrous to Ireland if Home Rule had been granted in 1886. Those great reforms which have since been passed, and have been made possible by the help and co-operation of Nationalist Members, could never have been passed, because Ireland under Home Rule would not have had the financial credit to enable her to initiate a great scheme of land purchase, such as was carried into effect by the co-operation and the financial credit of the United Kingdom. I shall vote against the Bill simply because I am of opinion that Ireland will progress more completely and more thoroughly under a united Parliament at Westminster than could possibly be the case under a Home Rule Parliament in Dublin.
Last autumn, being very anxious to study the Irish question on the spot, I visited Ireland, and I was delighted to see the signs of prosperity all over the country The effect of land purchase is apparent at every turn, and one objection I have against this Bill is that I fail to see how land purchase can be completed except under a united Parliament. But in addition to the great and good effect of land purchase, there was the provision of some 40,000 cottages. Here again, as far as I can see, that could not have been done by a Home Rule Parliament, and alto- 1534 gether the increased deposits in the savings bank and the joint stock banks pointed to a very great advance of prosperity in Ireland; and it would be disastrous if a step was taken, such as is proposed under the Home Rule Bill, to put a stop to that great progress which we wish to see carried on. We are proud of Ireland in connection with this country. We want to go on in partnership. Ireland should share in the prosperity and in the responsibility of this great Empire. Surely with a united Parliament at Westminster, any grievance which may be manifested from time to time can easily be redressed. An hon. Member said yesterday that Unionists had done nothing for Ireland. He had forgotten the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Balfour) action in the distressed districts, and he has forgotten also that the Unionists gave Ireland the management of their own local affairs, just as is the case in England and in Scotland. It was the Unionist party who initiated local government in this country, and what is good enough for England and Scotland is good enough for Ireland. Not only was I impressed with the industry and the good farming of Ireland, for as an agriculturist I took a great deal of trouble to see how the small holders were managing their holdings, and how agriculture generally was developing in Ireland—I was delighted to see the great improvements they were making in their stocks, and every sign of great prosperity on every hand. Let us hesitate before we take a step which may hinder that development.
But I spent some time at Belfast. I was there at the signing of the Covenant, and I saw the people at different places surrounding Belfast, and I am bound to say I never saw a calmer, more respectful and determined class of men than I saw in Belfast, and I am satisfied, from co-operating with them, that they will never submit to a Home Rule Parliament in Dublin. I honestly believe that under a Home Rule Parliament their religious and civil liberties would be menaced, if not destroyed. You may say that precautions are taken to prevent that. The precautions which are taken cannot be operative. Hon. Members who allude to what has been done for Canada and South Africa, know very well that if the Imperial Parliament attempted to interfere in any local matters in either of those countries, if we attempted to interfere in any question of securing religious liberty, either in Canada 1535 or in South Africa, the Governments of those countries would tell us to mind our own business. The very fact that precautions are put into the Bill shows that, in the minds of the promoters of the Bill, there is danger of religious intolerance. I know hon. Members question that, and I do not wish to stir up any religious animosity, but in a country where such a scandal as the McCann case occurred recently, even under the United Government at Westminster, it is necessary that precautions should be taken that these things shall not occur under a Home Rule Government. Having regard to opinion in Ireland on the land question and on religious matters, it is most important that justice to Roman Catholic and Protestant alike shall be secured by the legislative power of a United Parliament in Westminster. Some hon. Members seem to think Ulster men are guilty of bluff. I attended their religious services, and saw them in almost every capacity, and I am bound to say that nothing will induce these men to give away what they hold to be their birthright, and to be ejected from the just Government of the United Parliament at Westminster, and put under a Parliament in Dublin, which they, at any rate, suspect and abhor. Hon. Members seem to take great exception to the question of civil war being mentioned. Well, after all, those who honestly believe that there will be civil war if Home Rule is passed, think it is far better to speak out to-day than when it will be too late.
On the merits of the question, we have had the opinion of Lord Grey quoted in favour of self-government for Ireland, but I would point out that he abhors this Bill. I venture to say there is not any prospect of this Bill being a complete satisfaction of Irish national feeling. I admit that if the Bill was likely to cause contentment throughout Ireland, I should hesitate about voting against it. But there is no prospect in my judgment of any such result. The Bill is not what the Irish Nationalist Members have been asking for. It is true that to-day they show a spirit that they will make the best of it, and I am sure they will honestly try to carry out their part of the bargain. But surely the financial conditions of the Bill are so absurd, so far as I can see, that if Ireland is going to carry on any development of all she must become bankrupt, and that is a prospect which 1536 none of us wish to contemplate. I venture to say that Ireland could not have had land purchase and old age pensions if Home Rule had been given in 1886. There are more reforms to be carried out which can only be accomplished by the joint co-operation of the Parliament at Westminster. With respect to the English aspect of the affair, we have to find £2,000,000 a year for Ireland. I yield to no man in being a supporter of the policy of granting British funds to be used for the development of Ireland, that is to say, when the United Parliament sees that these funds are used in a just and fair manner; but if Ireland gets Home Rule, they ought to pay their own costs. While they will have £2,000,000 a year under this Bill, Ireland will be exonerated from paying any contribution for the upkeep of the Army and Navy, and I say that the position of Ireland does not justify the placing on the people of England and Scotland of the whole burden of the maintenance of the Army and Navy. Therefore, I think from that point of view the proposals of the Bill are unjust to Englishmen. Nothing can defend the proposal that while Ireland shall manage her own affairs, forty-two Irish Members shall come here to interfere with the government of England. Surely that is most inconsistent and something that cannot be tolerated on the principle of representation and responsibility going hand in hand! I cannot help thinking that that is a consideration which should carry weight and induce Englishmen to vote against the Bill. As to the questions of the tariff and the Post Office, the Bill is most unsatisfactory.
I want to see Irish agriculturists drawing closer together in co-operation with British agriculturists, but it seems to me that under Home Rule there would be a temptation to put obstacles in the way of closer co-operation between this country and Ireland. Altogether, I cannot help thinking that the Bill will be a failure. It will be unjust to England, and it will disappoint Irishmen. I have met very few men myself in Ireland who are in favour of Home Rule. I went North, East, South, and West, and took a great deal of trouble to sound people generally, and I found that the anxiety for Home Rule had arisen largely on the land question. Now that the land question has been partly settled and is going to be completed in the Parliament at Westminster, the feeling in favour of Home Rule has been much reduced, and many men who have supported it hitherto would prefer that it should not be enacted.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I cannot speak as to any particular constituency, but the general feeling was that the Nationalist organisation really tended to intimidate the Irish people to support the played-out principle of Home Rule. I found that those who had secured their little holdings of land were strongly opposed to Home Rule in any shape or form, because they realised that if the Irish Government is to succeed at all, there will have to be increased taxation, and therefore they object from that point of view. In 1886 I opposed Home Rule because I believed it would be bad for Ireland. I venture to say that if Home Rule had been passed then, all those great reforms could not have been passed for Ireland. That shows that the Unionists were right in 1886. If still further reforms are to be carried out, they can only be accomplished by the financial and legislative partnership of England, Scotland, and Ireland in this House of Commons. I know it has been stated that the opposition of Irish Members has retarded certain legislation here. Some claim that it has hindered the progress of our work in this House, and that under Home Rule we shall have greater liberty to transact business here. I disagree with that entirely, because it will be found that if the Irish Parliament pass any measure which the Imperial Parliament may deem it necessary to veto, there will at once be the repassing of that measure, and our control will be entirely inoperative. There will be no way whatever of imposing our control except at the point of the bayonet, which is too terrible to think of. On the other hand, if a measure of that kind is vetoed, forty-two Members in this House will hold the balance between parties, and we shall have contests with the Irish Members as acute as any in days gone by; so that from the point of view of the relief of business in this House, I believe that the Home Rule Bill is a sham, and that it will not result in anything of the kind, but, on the contrary, will result in estrangement of feeling between the two countries. We are proud of Irishmen. They have fought our battles on sea and land, and, to the credit of the British Empire, it is the remembrance of and gratitude for these deeds that have caused the Unionist party to promote those great ameliorative reforms which are regenerating Ireland, and which we are prepared to carry on 1538 with the aid of Irishmen, and with Ireland as part of the British Empire. The present system has been brought about by unconstitutional methods. The first election of 1910 was fought on the Budget, and the majority of Members came back against the Budget. The Irishmen were against the Budget.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
They agreed to support the Budget on the understanding that the Veto of the House of Lords should be destroyed and that Home Rule might pass without reference to the people. We claim that so great a constitutional change ought not to be made until the people of this country have had clearly put before them what is proposed. That was not the case at the last two elections, when the Liberals generally burked the question of Home Rule. In the interests of a peaceable settlement of this question I hope that even yet the Government will take the opinion of the country upon it. We know the automatic machinery which is humiliating to a free Assembly by which this Bill is to be passed into law. There is a day of reckoning coming, and when the British electors get the opportunity they will show what they think of the action of the Government on this question. Newmarket and Altrincham have spoken plainly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Derry."]—and if the people of this country are consulted there will be a judgment passed upon the party opposite from which they will not readily recover.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has lately visited Ireland, and we were all interested to learn that as a result of the information which he gathered in that country, everybody there is opposed to Home Rule.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
The hon. Member would not wish to misrepresent me. I did not say that everybody was opposed to Home Rule. Nothing of the kind. I pointed out that a great change had taken place and that a large number who were in favour of Home Rule before the land question was settled are against Home Rule.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I should have been very glad if the hon. Member, to whose absence from the Debates I have no doubt is due largely the series of inaccuracies which run through his speech, had told us precisely where he gathered his experience. He said he had visited every part of Ireland. Did he visit Derry?
§ Mr. DEVLIN
If he was in Belfast he would have found that so far from there being a change in feeling against Home Rule, there was a change of feeling for Home Rule, because for fifteen years Belfast sent a united representation of four Members to this House against Home Rule, and during the last seven years it has sent a Member to this House with increasing majorities in favour of Home Rule, and only within the last three months I challenged the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith), who went to Belfast and assailed me, and who stated that when my Constituents would get the opportunity they would reverse the verdict which they gave at the General Election, and I made him this offer that I was prepared to resign my seat and fight it over again in Belfast upon this one and only issue of Home Rule, and that I would promise that when they appealed from the bullet to the ballot they would get the real genuine well-ordered judgment of the people of Belfast in an increased majority for Home Rule. I have heard this sort of declaration, that we have just listened to, not once, but twenty times. A Unionist from England goes over as one of Cook's tourists to Ireland and he comes back to this House and goes on English platforms telling the people of England and the Members of this House that Ireland has changed in regard to Home Rule. It is a mere convention, a mere political commonplace, that three provinces in Ireland unitedly return to this Parliament with an enduring and passionate conviction every Member to this House from these provinces in favour of Home Rule. If there is no weakening, but a strengthening of the Home Rule sentiment in Derry, if there is no weakening but a strengthening of the Home Rule idea in Belfast, perhaps it was in Queen's County that he found it. Why did not he and his party take advantage of the opportunity that was afforded by the recent vacancy in Queen's County to test the real and genuine feeling of our people? It was only the other day, at a time when Belfast was panting for the opportunity to rise in arms, because the Government was proposing this measure of Home Rule for Ireland that they were actually returning to the Imperial Parliament a Member to represent Derry opinion and to give in Ulster a majority in favour of Home Rule.
1540 I and my colleagues are rebels, traitors, and anarchists, and up in arms against the Constitution, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walton, who assailed me in Belfast, was afraid to meet me at the polls, is a constitutionalist. He is a great British statesman. He hopes some day to have office. No doubt he will be a Law Officer of the Crown. Why does he appeal to anarchy and rebellion and to civil war when the opportunity is given him to test public feeling in the ballet box? And as I have challenged him before I challenge him again, and I say that if he comes to Belfast he will find, and I think I will prove to the House before I sit down, that all this talk about civil war is humbug, sham, and hypocrisy, organised by lawyers in England who, if they had not been so successful at the English Bar, would have been ranked among the foremost stage managers of the London stage. Let us get back to fundamental principles. After all, it is not a matter of much consequence one way or the other whether an hon. Gentleman from England takes a trip to Ireland and has a conversation with two or three people here and there. This House of Commons has to decide this great constitutional issue in a constitutional fashion. Three-fourths of the people of Ireland for thirty years, since the franchise was enacted, have sent to this Parliament three-fourths of its representatives to demand the right of the people to manage their own affairs. Is there any other nation under the British flag, speaking the British language, which by the voice of three-fourths of its people demanded a great constitutional change, which would not have had that change conceded to it. It is only to Ireland that it is denied. We will come to the reason in a moment. Ireland makes a constitutional demand through three-fourths of its representatives. The united representation of three provinces and a majority of the other province demand it, and only two or three counties stand aloof and in hostility to this claim for national self-government.
But we are told that Ireland has no right to decide this issue, that this is not an Irish matter but a matter that appeals to the people of the United Kingdom, and that they must be ultimately the final arbiters in its adjustment. But they will not accept the judgment of the English people. We have had two General Elections in which Home Rule was a most vital issue. Not only Liberal statesmen and the Members of the Government, but the 1541 Leaders of the Opposition and all their party, declared over and over again that one of the reasons why the Parliament Bill should not be passed was because, if it were passed, most assuredly the Home Rule Bill would be carried for Ireland; and, on that principle, Home Rule was placed before the English people twice, and they returned the Liberal party to power. The Liberal party are pledged to carry Home Rule. In this House we had a majority of 110 in the last Division in favour of Home Rule—a British majority. As my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford stated to-day, they picked out the whole of the Irish Members from this Parliament, and declined to recognise their vote in determining this issue, but only the votes of British Members, English, Scotch, and Welsh, and still we have a majority. We have the claim of an almost united Ireland, we have the great majority of the English people, and the moral sanction and support of every English-speaking country in the world. One of the hon. Members who spoke here to-day questioned the statement of one of my colleagues that Canada was in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. Why, the richest of our resources to carry on this movement in Ireland come from Canada. We have the support of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Prime Minister, and every leading statesman of Canada; and the Secretary of State was one of the principal speakers at a great Home Rule meeting which I had the honour to attend eight or nine years ago.
The Home Rule sentiment has grown and developed in all the passing years. The dollars which you so much despise have been largely Canadian dollars, coming from the Canadian people, not of Irish birth, not of Irish extraction alone, but Canadians of all grades and all classes that have sprung from all races. Go to Australia, again. I say that the most generous support that has been given to this movement which we have carried on in Ireland has come from Australia. From New Zealand, where there are only one-ninth of the population either of Irish or Irish descent, the largest and most munificent of all contributions to the Home Rule fund came last year. No matter what you may say about American dollars, or any other dollars, the real test of the people's sincerity for a cause is not only that they vote for it but that they pay for it. How many of the Ulster legions who are to go 1542 out when this Bill passes, and use their rifles against their fellow countrymen or against the British Army, have given the first test of real sentiment by subscribing to the Unionist fund? You have got, I believe, two dollars from some mill girl. I understand that those two dollars are framed in all the Orange Lodges in Ulster. We quite recognise that in a poor country like Ireland, with the whole forces of landlordism, wealth, and privilege organised against us, we have to appeal not only to our own countrymen, but to the loyalty and generosity of our race to maintain this magnificent and unparalleled fight of a nation for its liberty. Last year, in the city of Belfast, from the Nationalists of that city, the toilers and workers in that great industrial community, £1,200 were subscribed to the Home Rule fund. Twelve hundred pounds from peaceful, honest citizens, toiling and labouring, loving their liberty and anxious to secure it, and prepared to secure it by the operation of constitutional adjustment. Here are the warriors who are going out to fight, who say that they are going to die, with 2s. to fill the commissariat! Why it will not pay for the crêpe for the undertakers' hats! Is there any real seriousness in this thing? I say there is not, and I am at least the most competent to state in this Debate that there is no reality in it, because I am the only Ulster Member and the only Belfast Member who has spoken in this Debate. The only two Ulster Members who have spoken up to now are both Home Rulers. Derry has spoken, and has cried "No surrender," and Belfast says, "Hear, hear." Surely if these people intend to fight, they will be prepared to pay! They will not pay for the posters announcing where the drill is to take place. The whole thing, as I have stated, is a sham and a fraud.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
What do I know about it? The hon. Gentleman has spent his time in England; I have spent all my time in Ireland. I am a Member for Belfast; he is a Member for Kent. If the hon. Member wants to know what they are thinking about in Belfast, let him go and find out in Kent. It used to be the grand old Tory and Unionist doctrine that a Kent man could govern Ireland better than a Belfast man, and now it would appear that a Kent man knows more 1543 about Belfast than a Belfast man. We have heard a great deal also lately about the Covenant. We are told that everyone who signs that Covenant has made up his mind like the Noble Lord (Lord C. Beresford). The Noble Lord is going to die on dry land. I always knew that would be his end. Now that there is a prospect of war with Germany, he finds it much more comfortable to be in Parliament than in the Navy. He told us to-day that he was going over to Ireland, and that he would put himself in the front line of battle. I understood that this army was to be led by lawyers, and not by ex-Navy men. But the lawyers seem to have resigned, and the Navy men are about to take their place. But they do not intend to fight. We have had this question tested lately, and in the Courts of law. There were no less than two actions tried in the Dublin Courts recently. One of them was an action taken by the secretary of the Expelled Workers' Committee in Belfast against a local Tory paper, and one of the witnesses examined for that Tory paper was Mr. George Clark, of the firm of Workman and Clark. He was drilling his men in the works, and the only result of the drilling was that something like 2,000 Protestant and Catholic working men who believe in progressive principles were hunted from their employment and denied the primeval right of earning their living in their own way. When Mr. Clark was examined counsel said to him, "You were drilling your men," and he said "Yes." He was asked was he drilling them to rebel against the authority of the law. He said "No." He was then asked, "What were you drilling them for; did they intend to fight?" and he said, "Not at all." Again, the other day another action was tried, and I would like to read some extracts to the House, because these are the real men, and this is the element that is to constitute the most inspiring part of the civil warriors, the men who signed the Covenant. One of the leaders was in Court, and three of the rank and file were examined. To one of them counsel said:Don't you know you were pledged to fight, and was it your intention to bolt as soon as you had signed? [the covenant].—It was not, my Lord.Did you know at all what you were signing or the meaning of it?—I may not have taken it piecemeal.When this Bill became law, and the King had signed it, and it was thereby law, you pledged yourself not to recognise its authority?—I did, my Lord.And, if necessary, to take up arms against the enforcement of it?—I did not see any mention about arms.1544Were you not one of those armed men who were to march to Cork to cut the throats of the Catholics?—I did not believe there would be any lighting, and that is why I signed the covenant.You were to resist and refuse to recognise its authority? [of this Act of Parliament].—I never thought of any possibility of armed resistance, my Lord.That was the opinion of one of the witnesses and of one of the principals in this action, and two others gave precisely the same evidence. I would not trouble the House at all in this matter but for the fact that that is the only thing they have to depend upon. They have no argument. In a democratic Assembly of this character or in any democratic Assembly in the world there is no answer to the unchanging demand of a people, constitutionally expressed year by year and generation after generation, in favour of a great essential constitutional change. There is no answer to it on the grounds of justice, because not one of them have ever denied that Ireland is entitled to it, by the wrongs that have been done us, by the evils that have been perpetrated, by the curses which this foreign and alien and ignorant system has imposed upon us. Not one of you have defended it. The Noble Lord (Lord C. Beresford), in his speech, even rebuked one of my hon. Friends for not being a rebel. He said, "If I were you I would be a rebel, the Government of Ireland was such." The Noble Lord cheers that sentiment. He said he would be a rebel. A rebel against what—a rebel against the laws which this Act of Union as imposed upon Ireland during the last century? You talk about your Land Purchase Act of a few years ago and your Local Government Act. You passed a Local Government Act in order to subsidise the landlord. That was why the Tory party passed it. You passed a Land Purchase Act in 1903 because you thought it was the best settlement that could be made for the landlord. No doubt you changed your method, but it was not for love of the people that you carried those beneficent measures. It was to serve your class, and then you come here and you Pour benedictions on yourselves.
Let it be remembered, if land purchase is a good thing for Ireland, we have paid dearly for it. They only consented to land purchase when they were able to extract splendid terms for themselves. Again, when the Local Government Act was passed there was a measure of county justice, but it was accompanied by another large subsidy to the landlords, removing from them the obligation to pay half the 1545 poor rates in Ireland, which they formerly had to pay. They have never made a single concession to liberty for which they have not made Ireland pay a dear price. I am, not going to come here and join in these hypocritical tributes which are paid here to the Tory party for what they have done, because everything they have done during the last fifteen or twenty years has been done at the great price to Ireland, and has only followed after a long and weary fight against the forces of coercion which they brought to bear on it. For the principles incorporated in the Land Act of 1903, they sent hundreds of Irishmen to prison. "The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland" was the platform of our movement, and for preaching that policy they put their coercion Act into operation, and they sent the most trusted of our local and national leaders to prison. They suppressed the right of free speech; they denied the right of public meeting, and they inflicted every constitutional wrong they could upon our people prior to the passing of that Act.
Conciliation always following coercion has been the policy of the Tory party as long as I can remember. One would imagine, too, this was only a religious question, and no doubt they have largely made it a, religious question. The Noble Lord (Lord C. Beresford) in his speech to-night said he deprecated the introduction of religion into these topics. So do we—more than they do by far. You will now travel from Donegal to Cork, and from Galway to Dublin, and you will never hear an insulting word uttered either on platform, or in pulpit, or in the Press on Irish Protestants. I do not think there is a country in the world so free from theological controversy. The Catholic Church in Ireland pursues its course amongst its own people. It does not interfere in the slightest degree with the course of others. There is not a Unionist pulpit in Ulster that does not reek with unmanly and calumnious denunciations of the Church to which we belong. They have made this a religious question, and why? They are appealing to the sentiment of the great English Protestant nation, whom they think are as low as themselves, and whom they think can only view great national and constitutional questions from the narrow standpoint of the pedantic theologian or the selfish bigot. The English people are able to form a conclusion for themselves. I say that the people who deprecate the introduction of religion into 1546 this Home Rule question, they and they alone are responsible for it. What has been the government of Ireland in relation to Ulster for the last thirty years? England has not governed Ireland. No British party has governed Ireland. Ireland has been governed by the loyal minority, and that is why the minority are loyal.The good old rule, .…the simple plan, That they should take who have the power, And they should keep who can.That was the gospel of the Tory party. They have had place; they have had power; they have had patronage; they have directed the fortunes of the great Imperial and Conservative party. They say that they will not be governed by Ireland. No; and they will not be governed by England. They will only be governed by a section of the English people in whom they believe. If you read their speeches you will find that they have uttered infinitely more violent diatribes against the government of Ireland by the present Government than they have uttered against us. What they want is not English administration, but Tory administration. Their idea is not that, they should be governed by England, but that they should be governed by a perpetual Tory administration. That is the secret of their opposition; that is the platform on which they stand. I say that as long as you perpetuate that system, you foster religious rancour, you develop racial hatreds, you create profound distrust of your system, and you stifle national enterprise in Ireland. If one hundred years of English rule has brought about this condition of things, surely Ireland should have a chance to adjust her affairs and to advance her fortunes on different lines. We could not make as bad a hand of it as this system of government has done during the last century. I remember when the Home Rule question came again strongly to the front in Belfast, and there were these appeals to religious passion. People were coming together, but it was not the work of the wealthy and privileged classes who wanted the union that they might rob the people; it was the union of the masses of the people in the City of Belfast. In that great city we are told people live on milk and honey, and are clothed in purple and fine linen. We hear of its greatness; let the House listen to the other side. There was a meeting of the Presbyterian General Assembly the other day in Belfast. Most of the time was occupied in denouncing Irish Catholics and in assailing the 1547 Home Rule cause; but there was sufficient humanity, sufficient love of the people, sufficient of the Christian spirit, even in that assembly poisoned by party malice, for one of these clergy to give utterance to this view, which I would commend to those who tell us that Belfast has grown rich, great, and prosperous under the Act of Union. Here is the other side, and a more squalid story has never been told by minister or layman. After describing the condition of the sweated workers of Belfast, the Rev. John Gale said:—If you doubt my word on these things, if you would investigate for yourselves, leave this vast assembly and step out into the streets. If you are a thoughtful man, with an observant eye and kindly heart, you will be shocked by the sight of the puny children, ill-fed, ill-clothed, with pallid cheek, and big, wistful eyes. What does it mean? Is this the way a great country raises its future citizens? Go through Belfast and see the little street traders running amongst drunken men and women. This is the problem of child life. If you get into conversation with one of these children and accompany him to the den where he lives, you will find a hovel in a back street, a breeding ground for disease. Talk with the parents, and you will find the problem of poverty and the possibility of being out of work for months. It was possible to get out of work at any week-end, although a man might be a workman of good character, steady habits, and undoubted industry. That was the great industrial problem of Belfast, whose ramifications bewildered everybody. Was it any wonder that there was a ground swell of unrest and discontent?Another minister from another part of Ireland, the Rev. J. E. Hamilton, said:—The revelations embodied in that Blue Book [on the conditions of Labour] came as a painful surprise even to some of the firms involved.… They found from the Report that a great proportion of the workers were earning by hard work less than a penny per hour, and the worst of it was that they had to work long hours in order to gather together a miserable pittance winch would keep soul and body together; and that the little children had to be kept from enjoying their play and their sleep in order to increase the family budget, with the result that they suffered mentally and physically. They had it stated in the Report that when these conditions were brought before a great many of the manufacturing firms of Belfast, they, as a body, were anxious that the out-workers should receive a living wage, and they passed a resolution that they would raise no objection to the extension of the Trades Board Act to these industries, provided it was also applied to other centres in the United Kingdom where they had competitors.But because I used language infinitely milder than that, because I dared by questions and otherwise in this House, to do precisely the thing which these ministers and those for whom they speak so much desire, I was held up, as I am held up in this House, as an enemy of Belfast. You are no friend of that city if you speak for the toilers and the workers. It cannot be said that their opposition to me is because I am a Nationalist, for they have had here representing Belfast an Orangeman who was 1548 a worker and a toiler, and they drove him not only out of the representation of one of the Divisions in Parliament, but out of public life altogether. The question is not so much religious as economic. The war of thirty years carried on as a religious war in connection with the Home Rule movement, and all the forces that were brought into operation against the Bills of 1886 and 1893, were organised by the landlords, who used the religious cry that they might set North-man against South-man, in the hope that they would extract, rents from tenants who were unable to pay. When the land question was about to be settled, and when men and women sought a higher life, and a fairer share of the goods which thèir labour, toil and blood secured, up again comes the banner of religious hatred and rancour, and the economic question is forgotten. The privileged classes can defend and help themselves in this House. I say to all sorts of men, in Parliament and out of Parliament, that there is something bigger and greater than the mere religious platitudes and party rancour which we hear here. The whole thing is to defend and perpetuate an indefensible system. I say that the moment Home Rule is granted you will have a complete transformation in Ireland. The old party divisions will disappear. New parties will spring up. The men who to-day gather on these benches will be divided. The men who are there above the Gangway will, perhaps, be amongst some of my colleagues, and other men will take their place. Belfast will not, when it gets fifteen representatives in the Irish Parliament, be content any longer to be represented by solicitors and distillers. Belfast, that great industrial community, with 95 per cent. of its population industrialists and labourers, will demand its share in that representation. While the civil war, the mock civil war is going on, while the stage army is holding its review, these men will go on with the work of selecting their own representatives to the Irish Parliament. These will go there to exercise power. Genuine grit, with a true civic spirit, a lofty sense of duty, and a keen knowledge of life will make them in the Assembly where they will stand the most welcome of its Members.
§ Captain TRYON
I will begin by expressing the hope that if ever Home Rule should come into force the Home Rule Government and party will not be animated by the same spirit as that which 1549 characterised the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. Hon. Members below the Gangway on this side apparently were highly delighted with the speech. Personally I can only say that I am glad that neither I nor anybody with whom I am connected is likely to have to live under the Government of the hon. Member who has just addressed the House. But I desire to reply to two points, one raised by the Solicitor-General. He said that Ulster had no right to impose her veto upon Home Rule. He reinforced that argument by saying that in no other part of the Empire would such a veto for one instant be tolerated. I believe as a rule Unionists regard the South African Union as parallel to the case of the Union here, and consider, just as the people of South Africa have one common Parliament for the whole of South Africa, we here should have one Parliament for these Islands. That is not the attitude taken by the Liberal party. Their attitude is that because they gave self-government to South Africa, so, they say, we are going to give self-government to Ireland. If that is their contention what becomes of the argument of the Solicitor-General? Before the Parliament of South Africa was set up, each separate part of South Africa was allowed to decide for itself whether or not it would become a part of that Union. The case of the people of Natal is in some ways parallel to the case of the people of Ulster. They were allowed to vote, and on their vote depended whether they had one common Parliament for South Africa or whether they remained outside. If the argument of the Solicitor-General is a sound one, if this case of Natal is sound, I hold that the people of Ulster have a right to decide their own fate, apart from the wishes of the rest of the country. I need hardly say that both in the case of Canada and in the case of Australia the Solicitor-General was also wrong, because the people of British Columbia had to give their consent before they formed part of the Union in Canada. In the case of Australia every State gave its consent before the Commonwealth became an actual fact.
The point, however, I would wish to raise now is another one. It is based upon the fact which has come to the knowledge of us all since this Bill last passed the House of Commons. I allude to the fact that we now have the scheme carried a little further. We are now able to see a little further down the road upon which we are asked to embark. We now have an out- 1550 line of the Home Rule for Scotland Bill. Speaking as an English Member, I venture to say that this Irish Home Rule Bill ought not to be proceeded with, because it will get the Constitution into an inextricable tangle before the case of England can possibly be considered. I am not arguing for federation; but I say this: if the Government succeed in passing Home Rule, if they go on with this scheme, then under their policy federation becomes an absolute necessity, because you cannot deny to England, in the long run, what you granted to others. Before, however, we come to a Bill that gives England Home Rule we shall be tied up by the arrangements of the present Bill. For instance, there have already developed absurdities as between the Constitution of Scotland and the Constitution of Ireland. Ireland, I understand, is to have two Houses, and Scotland is to have one. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] The hon. Member who cheers only one is giving two to Ireland under this Bill. Scotland is to be allowed to deal with her land legislation, apparently because she is known to have a large Radical majority at the present time. Ireland is not, I understand, to deal with its land legislation, and so on. In short, my point is this: that we are committing ourselves to a series of experiments in the case of each country, and that we shall be tied up in this tangle before we come to deal with the case of England. I do not advocate federation, but I say if you do have it you must deal with the case as a whole. It is perfectly ridiculous to deal with the case of Ireland alone, and to deal with the problem piecemeal. It is all the more important because a mistake copied from the American Constitution has been embodied in the present Bill. In the American Constitution the central Government only reserves such powers as were nominated: all other powers were delegated to the several States.
In the case of the American Constitution the question of slavery was apparently forgotten altogether when that Constitution was formed. The result was that when slavery became a very acute question, just before the Civil War, the central Power had not under the Constitution a legal right to deal with it. In the same way, anything which may have been forgotten under this Bill will have been hidden away, and put into the powers of the Irish Parliament, and not reserved to the central 1551 authority. We say, as we have urged before, that it should be the other way about, and that the subjects which are given to the local authority should be mentioned, and everything which is not mentioned should be reserved to the central power. We emphasise it as being all the more important at the present time, because by this Bill, suppose—and I do not believe for a moment that the Liberal party will succeed—but suppose they do succeed with it, we are in this Bill laying the foundation of a constitution for the whole of the United Kingdom. The absurd thing is that you are laying the foundation for the whole before you have settled the design of more than one single part of your federal system. These two points are points which I believe have not been raised from our side during this Debate. They are simply that the Scottish Home Rule Bill, which has been voted for by the Liberal party, and which has passed its Second Reading, has added to the absurdities which were already evident in the present Home Rule Bill; and my second point is that we should deal with this Federal case if you insist upon dealing with it at all, not by beginning with one isolated portion of the country, but by bringing in simultaneously a concerted scheme for the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
I only rise because of the remarks made by the hon. Member for the Honiton Division. He questioned what, I thought was an undoubted fact, namely, that the people of Canada are in the great majority behind not only Home Rule generally, but behind this Bill in particular. Secondly, he also doubted as to whether the Government had the moral support of the people of this country, and the people of the Overseas Empire. I must confess myself I have great respect for the hon. and gallant Member in reference to the equalisation of our franchise of which question he is an undoubted master, and I will go as far as he will in that matter; but when he, as a casual visitor to Canada, comes back and tells this House of Commons that the people of Canada are not in complete and persistent sympathy with the Nationalist Members below the Gangway, I am bound to confess I think he is not talking in accordance with fact. He was in Canada last year and had the pleasure of accompanying the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long), 1552 who also made a statement which is paralysing in its inaccuracy, namely, that he never met any Home Rulers in Canada at all. Let me say, first of all, we have had the Parliament of Canada on five successive occasions unanimously supporting Home Rule. We have further this outstanding fact, that since this Bill was introduced and carried through all its stages in this House, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand has toured Canada trying to persuade these Home Rule people that Home Rule for Ireland is a curse, although it is a blessing for the Overseas Dominions. That was his point, and I am speaking as a Canadian upon this phase of the question, because it was not touched on in the Debate before.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand, great personality as he is in our public life, and certainly great English gentleman as he is, was unable to get up on his platform in support of his anti-Home Rule campaign a single Cabinet Minister of the present Borden Government, or a single Cabinet Minister of the nine provincial Cabinets. Not one public man in Canada would speak by him, with him, or in support of him in his anti-Home Rule campaign. It happened that at that time also the hon. Member for Clare (Mr. William Redmond) was visiting Canada, and he was able to get up on his platform, not one, but many Cabinet Ministers, and especially the Minister of Justice in the present Borden Cabinet, Mr. Doherty, who is not only a keen Home Ruler and a prominent Member of the Dominion Conservative Cabinet, but is also now and has been for many years president of the United Irish League of Quebec and Montreal—[A Laugh]—and he was also one of the four colleagues of Mr. Borden who came over to this country last summer and offered—and they endeavoured to carry through their offer—three "Dreadnoughts" towards the Imperial Fleet. If such a man is to be mocked at, as he is mocked at to-night, I am bound to confess myself it is a question which our kinsmen may ask themselves sooner or later, "What is the advantage of being connected with the Home Country, which mocks at the views of Canadian statesmen?" [HON. MEMBERS: "Who mocked at him?"] You mocked at him. You laugh at the idea—at a Canadian Cabinet Minister, and the Minister of Justice as well, because he is president of the United Irish League in 1553 Montreal, and the suggestion is that that is inconsistent with loyalty to Imperialism and to the best interests of the Empire. [HON. MEMBER: "No, no."] My contention is that in a question like Home Rule the issue is not merely a parochial matter—and Ireland, from the Imperial point of view, with her population of something like 4,000,000, is only a great parish—but the matter must be considered in the light of the Empire to-day. Not only in Canada, but in New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia, there is not now one single public man in office, or out of office, or who hopes to get into office, who is not in sympathy with us, and who would not refuse to give his support to anti-Home Rule in this House or in the country. The Opposition cannot claim any one single public man or any one single judge on their side, and the judges in our Overseas Dominions are appointed for life, and never hesitate to express their views in language fluent and free, which is so characteristic of the overseas citizens. These oversea kinsmen have tried Home Rule; they believe in it as the first step towards a united Empire. They are behind the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and his Friends, and they are behind the Government upon this question at any rate. It is one question in which every Colonial takes a keen interest, and there is more than that in it. Not only is our Overseas Empire, which represents 16,000,000 of white people in Australia and in Canada, which are growing much more rapidly than the adjoining Kingdom of Ireland with us, but I think that fact is of as much importance, from the point of view of moral support, as the Ulster people are in their very strong and undoubtedly sincere opposition upon this question. I go further.
There are in the United States somewhere between twelve and twenty millions of Irishmen, and I am one of those who believe that it is essential to the success of this country and Empire that we should be on good terms with the people of the United States. At this moment Irish power is so great and the Irish grievance is felt so keenly, that up to the present the Government of the United States have been unable to officially recognise the attempt to celebrate 100 years of peace between the United States and the British Empire. Everybody has in their mind the fact that the late President of the United States absolutely declined, prior to the last election, to agree to the clear and unmistak- 1554 able conditions of the Panama Canal treaty. Anyone who knows the New World knows that the grievance of Irishmen abroad is the same as the grievance of Irishmen at home. It is long standing, it is persistent, it can be easily remedied by the granting of Home Rule to the people of Ireland, which I do not believe for a moment, as one who lived amongst Catholics in the majority as they are in some parts of Canada, means religious intolerance. But I do know it means this. It will wipe out a great barrier towards international amity between us and our kinsmen in the United States, and it will make one long stride towards the federation of this Empire, which is, from every point of view, more important and more insistent than the inflated though sincere demand made by hon. Members representing the North-East corner of Ulster.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down began his speech with a statement with which I do not disagree, that a temporary visit of a few months to Canada does not authorise anyone to speak with absolute authority as to the feeling of Canada. But I will go a little further, and suggest to the hon. Gentleman that even the fact that he was born and lived in Canada does not justify him in making statements which everyone who has the smallest acquaintance with that country knows are absolutely wide of the mark.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
If the hon. Member had said that a majority of the people of Canada are in favour of Home Rule I would not have contradicted him, because I do not know, but when he says that the whole of Canada was in favour of Home Rule, then I myself, who have been in Canada, who was born in Canada, and who is constantly meeting Canadians, can tell him that his statement is utterly at variance with the facts. Look at the other statements which the hon. Member made. He said that no Members of Mr. Borden's Cabinet had taken part in anti-Home Rule demonstrations. That, I believe, is true, and I hope it is true. I had the pleasure of meeting those Canadian statesmen when they were here, and there is not one of them who is not wise enough to recognise that just as we have no right to interfere in their domestic affairs, so the last thing they have a right to do is to interfere in our domestic affairs. Then the hon. 1555 Member told us that the Canadian Parliament has passed resolutions in favour of Home Rule. I would ask him to recall when was the last resolution passed. I defy him or anyone to obtain from the Canadian Parliament to-day any expression of opinion on this subject. And more than that, when he says that the Canadians approve of this Home Rule because they like their own, does anyone know better than the hon. Member what nonsense it is. Let him propose to the Canadians that one of the provincial Parliaments should be given a separate Customs House and a separate Post Office, and see then what the Canadians think of his scheme.
I listened a short time ago to a speech which I thought was more important than that of the hon. Member, and that was the speech of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin). There were two things which struck me in that speech. The first was his contention that this anti-Home Rule feeling in Ulster is the feeling of a class. There is not anyone who knows anything about Ulster, and who will say what he believes, who will deny that the peculiarity of the opposition to Home Rule to-day, as compared with the opposition to previous Bills, is that the movement comes now from below, and that it is the democracy far more than the upper classes who are opposed to it. Does anyone pretend that the very fact to which he called attention that many of these people in Belfast are poor, and that under ordinary circumstances they would be attracted by the very same policy which attracts the same class in our cities, the policy represented by the Socialists—does anyone pretend that in spite of the condition of these people so soon as the Home Rule question arises all other considerations will be forgotten, and all class distinctions disappear; and does that not itself prove that there is a vital feeling at the bottom of this hostility which no ordinary circumstances can for the moment mitigate? The other point, in the speech of the hon. Member which seemed to me striking was the contrast between the tone of his speech and that of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford, as he has often done before, asked us to believe that all he wants is to trust his fellow countrymen with whom he disagrees as fairly as men could possibly be treated. I ask anyone who listened to the speech of the hon. Member for West 1556 Belfast, who realised that he was keeping himself under restraint all the time, and in spite of that restraint, listened to the way in which he spoke of all his fellow countrymen who disagree with him—I ask any hon. Gentleman opposite, would he consent to be subject to a government of which the hon. Member for Belfast would be a Member?
We are discussing this Bill to-day under conditions which are not only new in our Parliamentary history, but which have never been heard of in any legislative assembly in the world. We can, it is true, discuss this Bill, and we can debate it, but after we have debated it, whatever may be the result of our discussion, we cannot alter one single line of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman told us that that is all put right by the suggestions stage. Of all the provisions of the Parliament Act it seems to me that this is not only the most absurd, but the most fatuous. What did the Prime Minister tell us yesterday? He said the suggestion stage would be useful if we accepted his conclusion, and if we looked upon this as a Bill which had been not only approved by this House but by the country, and which must inevitably pass. Yes, if we accept that condition, perhaps it would, but we do not accept that condition. It is evident, not only from what the right hon. Gentleman said but from the facts of the case, that under the circumstances for us to make suggestions would be to admit that we had given up the fight against the principle of the Bill. Under those circumstances, we cannot make suggestions. Consider also the futility of it from their own point of view. The suggestions can have no effect unless they are accepted by the House of Lords. That means only that they can be useful if there is a compromise, but what is the use, of that? If there is a compromise, there is no need for the Parliament Act, and the Bill can go through without suggestions or anything else. Under those circumstances I, for one, think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Trinity College and his colleagues from Ulster were perfectly right in saying that they declined to take part in this automatic process. They have not given up the fight, but they have deliberately and wisely determined to make their appeal not through the House of Commons, but direct to the people of this country, and that appeal will not be made in vain.
Under such conditions, it is hardly worth while dealing with the Bill itself, 1557 and I shall not take up much time in regard to it. But there is one point of view I should like to put before the House. If there is anything which would reconcile the people of the United Kingdom to Home Rule, it would be the belief that they would in that way get rid of the Irish question, that the long quarrel between the two countries would be brought to an end, and that there would be a final settlement. I do not mean a final settlement in the sense that no changes would follow. That, of course, is inevitable in any case, but they do hope, and it is the only thing that would reconcile them, that they will get a settlement which in principle will be final and which will end the discussion. Is there anyone in this House who has studied the Bill at all, or who followed the discussions last year, who does not recognise that every Clause of the Bill is marked as a transitionary Clause? Is there anyone who doubts that it never could work in practice, that it is only a stage to some further development, and that the moment it was carried that moment the struggle would be renewed under a new form? That is true even from the point of view of England. This Bill is so unjust to England that if it were understood—and when it is understood—it is impossible that the people of England could accept it. You are giving Home Rule to Ireland, as you say, and in the very process of giving Home Rule to Ireland you are denying Home Rule to England. Is that tolerable? We have had experience of what it means. We have had the Members from Nationalist Ireland taking their full part in our Debates and taking their full share in determining British questions, and, more than that, occasionally, as now, absolutely controlling the British Government. That is a big price to pay for the Union, but the Union is worth the price, and we do not grudge paying it. But does anyone suppose that England will continue to pay that price after the Union has disappeared and we have lost the sole justification for making it?
Look at it from the point of view of Ireland. There is nothing in the Bill which can last. I will take only one or two big points. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister yesterday referred to safeguards. I do not think that there is anyone in the House who in his heart differs from the statement by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) that no one attaches any value to these safe- 1558 guards. But look at the position of the Bill and at the attitude of the Government. They say that we have preserved in this Parliament full power over Ireland, and that if the Irish Parliament does anything which we think unjust we can interfere and we can stop it. Over and over again we asked them, "How are you going to stop it" and "how are they?" What the Irish Government may do this Parliament may think unjust, but they would not think it unjust or they would not do it, and when we try to interfere what will happen? The Irish Parliament will back up the Irish Government. They will resign and no other Government will take their place. The moment you try to exercise this power that moment the Act fails, and one of two things must be done. This Parliament must give way or you must take away by force the Constitution which has been extracted from you. Look at the financial question. Of all the proposals of the Bill this seems to me the most mysterious. The ways of the Government are indeed strange. They appoint a Committee of financial experts to consider the question of the financial relations between the two countries, and they carry through a financial scheme which had in its essential features been condemned in advance by the very Committee they had set up. I do not know whether the Government are proud of these financial provisions. They are in reality a mass of complicated jugglery which does credit, perhaps, to the conjuring capacity of the Member of the Government who was responsible for them, but that they are proposals which would last in practice for a week, no one who has examined them for a moment can believe. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Long) yesterday challenged the Government to give any authority in Ireland, however small, which has expressed a word of approval of these provisions. I noticed that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Herbert Samuel), who was sitting down there, came up to the Solicitor-General evidently to coach him, but he did not think the coaching was good enough. At all events, when he came to speak he made no attempt to produce anyone who had a good word to say for these financial provisions. As Mr. Childers said in a letter to the "Times" to-day, you do not under this Bill in the financial provisions give Ireland the one thing, if it is going to be of any value, which 1559 should be given. You give her neither dignity, freedom, nor responsibility. In order to make Ireland friendly to England you make England collect all taxes, English or Irish, while the Irish Government spends the money. A curious way to make the Irish people love England! Then out of pure perverted ingenuity, you create an extraordinary body called the Exchequer Board. That body is to have far more power than any Prime minister in Ireland. It is to decide, not questions of fact, but questions of opinion, questions of opinion which will decide what the contribution of Ireland is to be, and that Board is to consist of three English representatives and two Irish representatives. What happens the moment the Irish Parliament disagrees with them? An injustice to Ireland! The English Parliament tyrannising by means of the English Board!
Take a point raised in another connection by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour). You claim the right, and not only that, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that it would be the duty of this House to impose on Ireland as on the rest of the United Kingdom in future all taxation which is for Imperial purposes, and simultaneously with this power of taxation you reduce the Irish Members to half of what they think I presume they are entitled to. Is there any community in the world which would permanently stand an arrangement like that? It was because we attempted to tax the American Colonies without representation that we lost them. Is there any difference in principle between taxing them without representation and only giving them half the representation to which they are entitled? Why is it that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway accept the Bill with such provisions? The hon. Member for Cork, in a speech delivered in Ireland during the Recess, which I read then, said that in his opinion the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) would have been more honoured if he had said, "We do not like and will not keep the financial provisions. As soon as we get our Parliament we will alter them." That is his view, and it is not only the view of the hon. Member for Cork, who does not work with the other hon. Members of the Nationalist party. The same view is expressed by supporters of the hon. Member 1560 for Waterford, though he himself has not yet used words of that kind. This is what was said by Professor Kettle, a supporter of the hon. Gentleman, who used to be a Member of this house:—The Bill was a transition Bill. If it were the final word in the devolution of Irish affairs from Westminster to Dublin, then it would be a disastrous Bill. It is not the end but the beginning.And that is why the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have accepted it. They have accepted it because they know that once you give them their own Parliament, and still more if you give them Irish Members here so as to impress their claims upon you, they can extract any terms they please. The Prime Minister himself has admitted it. He says that the ground on which he gives Home Rule is that the Irish people constitutionally ask for it. But if they ask for it by their own Parliament, will that not be asking for it constitutionally? If that is the ground on which he gives it, how can he ever refuse any demand which is made by an Irish Parliament? That Bill is not, as it pretends, a Bill for the government of Ireland, and as such it could not last for a year. It is not that at all. It is a Bill to give the Nationalist Members from Ireland a lever which, when they have got it, will enable them to make any arrangements they please for the government of Ireland.
I wish to consider the conditions under which it is proposed to carry this Bill. I do not think there is any one in the House who will disagree with me when I say that, whether it is good or bad, it is hardly possible to imagine any subject which is more important or which any Government should be careful not to deal with until they find they have the authority of the country behind them. I think I am right in saying that in any country where there is a written Constitution this is precisely one of the changes which cannot be made by a bare majority, and which can only be made after it is proved that there is an overwhelming feeling in favour of it. I do not think there is a man on that bench who can honestly say that there is even a bare majority in favour of this Bill. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman says that they have a mandate for Home Rule. Strange to say, in the very same speech in which he made that statement, he proved unintentionally, but with absolutely convincing force that there was no such mandate. I am not going into the old controversy, I think we have proved to demonstration that, at the last election, what the Government did was to try and get a 1561 majority which would carry Home Rule by concealing from the electors the fact that they intended to carry it. That has been proved to demonstration at all events, and I am not going to try and prove it again. But since hon. Gentlemen are so interested in the subject, I will recall to their minds one fact which is important and which is not irrelevant. The Prime Minister, as one of the reasons for granting Home Rule, said that the Irish representatives for eight consecutive General Elections had expressed their desire for this change. The right hon. Gentleman is half as good himself—not for eight but for four General Elections, the last four General Elections in which he has taken a part, and in which he has given election addresses there is this curious fact, that in not one of his election addresses did the right hon. Gentleman ever mention Home Rule. The right hon. Gentleman has proved to demonstration there was no mandate, for in that interesting acrobatic feat about by-election statistics, of which we were the witnesses yesterday, he dealt with North-West Manchester, and the effect of what he said was this: That it was well known Sir George Kemp, the Liberal candidate, was opposed to Home Rule.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
What I said was that Sir George Kemp was known not to be an ardent Home Ruler. That is very different to saying that he was opposed to Home Rule. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read, read."]
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Very well, it is what the right hon. Gentleman actually said. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say I never suggested he was saying something which he did not think. I was only speaking from recollection.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman says that what he said was that Sir George Kemp was known not to be an ardent supporter of Home Rule. What does that mean? I will put this to the House, and anyone who is acquainted with political party warfare will appreciate it. The Liberal party in Manchester accepted as their candidate a man who was not in favour of Home Rule. That man was the official candidate of the Liberal party at headquarters, and not merely that, but a most important and capable Minister, at least I think he is and he also thinks he is—the First Lord of the Admiralty—went down specially to support this supporter of the right hon. Gentleman. I put it to anyone in this House if the Liberal party had regarded it as an issue, and if they had wished the country to regard it as an issue, would they have accepted as their candidate a man who was not an ardent supporter of Home Rule? [Hon. MEMBERS: "The Cecils."]
I said I was not going into the general question of the mandate. But there is another aspect I would like to put before the House. Supposing it were true, which I utterly deny, that there was mandate of any kind for Home Rule at the last election, would that carry us very far? Home Rule, after all, is a phrase which may mean anything or almost nothing, and surely, before any Government which professes to be carrying out the will of the people undertakes a great change like this, it is bound to put its policy in such a way that the people of this country know, not as a formula but as a reality, what it is is going to be carried by the Government. We have had experience of that before. [An HON.MEMBER: "The Education Act."] Do two blacks make a white? Before 1892 Mr. Gladstone advocated Home Rule as the policy of his party, but he refused to give any particulars as to what his Home Rule Bill was. What happened? He won a majority for Home Rule in the abstract, but after Home Rule had been put in the concrete, and the Bill was rejected by the 1563 House of Lords, although Mr. Gladstone wished to test the feeling of the country upon it, the Cabinet, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, refused to allow it because they knew that the verdict of the country would be against it. In confirmation of this, I have something still stronger, at any rate, I think it is stronger. What was the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman himself at that time? Over and over again, not once, but many times—I have the quotations here if he doubts what I say—he said that Mr. Gladstone was wrong in not giving the particulars before the election. He said that if he did not he would lose the moral authority which the election gave him. I put it to the Prime Minister that all the convictions of a lifetime should not make shipwreck on party expediency. If that was his view then, if it was wrong for Mr. Gladstone, is it right for him? I say that for any Prime Minister to carry through such a proposal upon such conditions would be intolerable, but for a Prime Minister with the record on the subject of the right hon. Gentleman to do it is as outrage. Now I come to another aspect of this Parliament Act. I ask the House to consider it in the light of what was said about it at the time it was carried through this House. We were told then that the object of that Bill was to make sure that the will, not of the Cabinet, not of a temporary majority of this House, but that the will of the people of this country should prevail. What the Government are doing is to use the Parliament Act to make sure that the will of the people of this country shall not prevail. The right hon. Gentleman gave an example of his talents yesterday—talents which I think we all admire, for there is no one who has greater respect for the ability and dexterity of the right hon. Gentleman than I have. I do not think it was ever so severely tested as when he attempted yesterday to prove that the by-elections since the introduction of the Home Rule Bill indicated rather a growing enthusiasm for it than otherwise.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Well, that is an exaggeration. I will put it quite accurately, that they gave no indication of any loss of confidence of the country in the Government. I ask the House to consider the facts of these by-elections as they are, 1564 and not in the light of the impartial survey which was made of them by the Prime Minister yesterday. What are the facts? In Great Britain, since the Home Rule Bill was introduced, there have been twenty-two by-elections. At the time of the General Election those twenty-two seats were held by seven Unionists and fifteen supporters of the Government. We had not quite one-third of them. They are held now by twelve Unionists and eleven supporters of the Government, and we have more than one-half of them. If any hon. Gentleman wishes to realise the significance of that let him make a sum in simple proportion. If the Government have lost five out of fifteen seats, what would their proportion be in this House if the General Election told the same tale? But the right hon. Gentleman had some qualifications, and I shall examine the qualifications. He pointed out, in the first place, that in two of these lost seats there had been a three-cornered contest, and that both the Progressive candidates were presumably in favour of Home Rule.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Well, the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. The Labour candidate for Midlothian distinctly said that Home Rule was not, as far as he was concerned, an issue at that election. But take it as the right hon. Gentleman wishes.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
You get at the real result by taking the total votes polled in all the constituencies for the two parties on the two occasions. I shall take exactly the figures which were given by the right lion: Gentleman yesterday, but I shall make an addition to them which he carefully left out. It is quite true that at the by-elections the number of votes given for the Unionist candidates was 105,000, and for the coalition 120,000—a majority for the Government of 14,000. The figures which the right hon. Gentleman left out were what the poll was at the General Election. Perhaps they will interest him if he has not seen them. At the General Election the figures polled for the Unionist candidates were 93,000, and for the coalition 122,000. That is to say, the Unionist poll has increased by 12,000, and the coalition poll has decreased by 2,600, and half the majority has gone.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I beg pardon. The figures have been given me, and I have been checked them, and they are correct.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
No, the figures at the by-elections were 120,308, and at the General Election 122,924. Therefore, the figures I have given are absolutely accurate. Put it another way. The Unionist poll has increased 13 per cent., and coalition poll has diminished by 2 per cent. Make another calculation in arithmetic, and you will find the result will be that if there is the same turnover, or anything like it, at the General Election, there will be an overwhelming Unionist majority in spite of the excessive representation of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman made another qualification. He said that at some of the elections there was no official candidate supporting the Government. That is true, and what is the lesson to be drawn from it? Does anyone suppose they would not have run a candidate if they thought he had any chance? The fact that they did not run a candidate proves that not only have they lost the confidence of the country, but that they know they have lost the confidence of the country. Then the right hon. Gentleman made one other qualification. He said these by-elections do not prove anything about Home Rule. They were not fought on Home Rule. Whose fault is that? If a great revolution like this is to be carried, do you mean to say that you have the right to carry it by the apathy of electors who are not interested enough to vote? What really does this qualification of the right hon. Gentleman mean? He cannot deny that, whatever else it may mean, they have lost confidence in the Government. This is the curious contention: "We," he says in effect, "are discredited." Well, that is true. Nobody doubts that. "We are discredited, the country does not like us, but there is no proof that they do not like our Bill, although they do not like us." The right hon. Gentleman gave a distinct pledge that unless his Bills under the Parliament Act received the consistent support, not only of this House but of the constituencies, they ought not to be carried forward. I say that, with one exception in his or in my political life at the close of the last Unionist Government, there has never, 1566 I believe, been a time when the by-elections were going so overwhelmingly against the Government. [Indications of dissent.] Well, that is a fact, and no amount of acrobatic agility on the part of the right hon. Gentleman can alter it. Under these circumstances to attempt to carry through a Bill when all the evidence available is that the country is not in favour of it is something which neither this nor any other Government has a right to do. My right hon. Friend yesterday referred to a question which he said had often been put on behalf of the Conservative party. The question is this: Do you intend to impose this Bill upon Ulster by force, and, if so, do you intend to employ that force before you have received the sanction of the people of this country? That is a relevant question, and the Prime Minister has never answered it. I hope the Chief Secretary who is to follow me will answer it now, and if he does not, hope he will tell us why he does not. What is the position? Do the Government really contend that this is a Bill which they have a right to carry unless they are sure that they have the support of the people of this country? Unless they maintain that, why do They not put it to the test of having an election before it becomes law? Why not? Under the Parliament Act they would lose nothing by it, assuming that they still had the confidence of the people of the country. They would not even be delayed.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
What has that got to do with it? I am speaking of the duty of the Government which is irrespective of the attitude of the Opposition. Why do they not do it? I can think of no reason except that they fear, perhaps they know, that the people of the country are against them. I can think of no other reason, but there is one possibility. We all know that, at the time of the Budget, a bargain was made between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond). This is not a matter of dispute. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford has been franker in this matter than the Gentlemen who sit on the benches opposite. He has told us that there was a bargain. Does he deny it? [An Hon. MEMBER: "When?"] I quoted it before in this House in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman. I quoted the exact words. The suggestions 1567 is that part of the bargain was that the Government undertook to carry this Bill into law without an appeal to the electors. If there is such, a bargain, the country ought to know it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have quoted them before in the presence of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he did not deny them. In those circumstances I do not think that I am bound always to quote them. Does the hon. and learned Member deny that there was a bargain?
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by a "bargain." In the sense in which he is using the word there was no bargain.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I wish to say, speaking for myself and the Government, that there never was any bargain of any sort or kind.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
There seems to be some difference of opinion between the two parties. Some day, when they are not united so closely as they are now, perhaps we shall have some interesting revelations.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I would like the Government to tell what they mean to do. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wait and see."] Some hon. Gentleman has used a phrase with which I am familiar. The right hon. Gentleman at one period was very prominent with the phrase which has just been repeated, which, I think, is not foreign to his temperament—"wait and see. "If that is the attitude in which they are dealing with this great question, in my opinion 1568 nothing could be more dangerous, because it is not a subject on which any Government has a right to take up such a position. The attitude of the Chief Secretary is even more difficult to understand. He is responsible for this Bill, which, apparently, he means to enforce as any other Act of Parliament would be enforced, but he has said over and over again, I think, in this House, and certainly in the country, that the Government never will use British troops to coerce Ulster. Indeed, the curious frame of mind of the right hon. Gentleman was illustrated by a very strange statement on the Third Reading Debate on this Bill. I thought of the words of the Duke of Devonshire on that occasion, in which he said that Ulster would be justified in resisting. What does the right hon. Gentleman say!
What did the right hon. Gentleman say? He said, "I associate myself with every word of it." Remember that those very words were described by Lord Morley at the time they were uttered as" the high-water mark of frenzy and of Unionist fanaticism." And the right hon. Gentleman adopts every word of it. What does he really mean to do. If they intend to impose this upon Ulster by force, then they ought to have made up their mind by this time. They ought to know and be able to tell us what they mean to do. It is difficult to get at what their intentions are, but so far as one can judge, if they have any policy it is this—it is to carry this Bill into law and then to have a General Election before it is actually enforced. There are indications that that is their intention. The First Lord of the Admiralty has made speeches which I think can have no other meaning. If that is the intention of the Government, I do ask them, not for the sake of party advantage, seriously to reconsider it. I cannot imagine any policy which would be more un-statesmanlike or more criminal. I think I may say, and certainly more dishonourable. Just think what it means. The moment the Home Rule Bill becomes law, the people of Ulster will in self-protection organise themselves to resist this measure, and, whether the Government wish it or not, there will be almost inevitably a collision which will result in bloodshed. That is one side of the question. Suppose the election takes place and is against the Government, and we have to reverse what they have done, then inevitably there will be infinitely greater difficulty in governing Ireland, and there will be danger of 1569 bloodshed once more from another quarter. Is that a statesmanlike policy? Look at it from another point of view. If the Government really believe that they have a mandate which justifies them in doing this, and if they are prepared, as my right hon. Friend said yesterday, ruthlessly to go on, then I can understand that. But if there is any doubt that there must be an election, can anything be more dishonest than to take such a course. They say that the Parliament Act is to enable the will of the people to be carried out. On that hypothesis they are taking steps to make it difficult and almost impossible that the decision, that the will of the people, shall be carried out as the result of the election. Whatever else the Government do, I hope their drifting will not take that form. I of course realise, as everyone does, that the real crux of this question is the resistance of Ulster. After the speeches which were delivered yesterday and to-day by my right hon. Friends, I will say very little on that subject. I would only like to put this point again to hon. Gentlemen: You are carrying this Bill in the name of self-government. Can you imagine anything more atrocious than in the name of self-government to compel a great homogeneous community to leave a Parliament and a system with which they are satisfied and to submit to another government which they loath and detest? That is done, remember, in the name of self-government. It really all turns on this: Is that mandate such as I have described. The Solicitor-General said yesterday that there is always a minority. Has he ever been in Belfast? Hon. Members below the Gangway know the conditions. It is no good the hon. Member for Waterford saying it is only those four counties. What does that matter? Those four counties contain more than a million people—those four counties around Belfast—and the feeling against this Bill is overwhelming in those four counties. The population is larger than the whole white population in South Africa. It is larger by far, I believe. The men who signed the Ulster Covenant were more numerous than the men who signed the Solemn League and Covenant in Scotland. Does anyone say that by any principle of justice, if you are giving self-government, those people are not as much entitled to it against the rest of Ireland as Ireland is entitled to it as against the rest of the United Kingdom. It did seem to me yesterday as I watched the faces of hon. Gentlemen opposite as they listened to the 1570 impressive speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for the City (Mr. Balfour) that for the first time they were beginning to realise the danger of the rock. It seemed so to me. I am not going to discuss the matter. I am going to ask them to consider facts. If the facts are as the hon. and learned Member for Waterford says, and if my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) does not represent the Unionists of the North-East of Ulster, and if they will accept this Bill, then there will be no trouble. Suppose he is wrong, and suppose my right hon. Friend does represent them, and I have some means of judging, and in my opinion if he fails to represent them it is because he is not so determined as they are. Suppose the hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong, and that he does fairly represent them, what is your position? If you are prepared to sec the thing to an end, then you are justified in going on now. If you are prepared to go down to your constituencies and say, "You gave us a mandate to force this upon Ulster by the sword and we have done it," then you have the right to go on, but you have no right to drift. But, unless you are prepared to do that, you have no right, whatever your Government may do, to take a course which in my belief will inevitably lead to bloodshed, and which your constituencies will be the first to deplore. My right hon. Friend said yesterday that what was wanted in Newmarket was that the people did not understand Home Rule because their imagination did not enable them to realise what the conditions would be. In my opinion, statesmanship is just imagination. I think so. It is just the faculty which enables you to picture to yourselves what the condition will be when certain facts have arrived. That is what I am trying to do. Are you trying to do that?
I quite admit that so long as you believe, or the people of this country believe, that Ulster will, with a little repining, accept this Bill, that you might possibly carry it; but I am as sure of this as of anything in this world, that if through your action blood is spilled in this quarrel, your constituents will be the first to hold you to a account for what you have done, and will not your own consciences hold you responsible? It is all very well to get rid of a difficulty to carry a Bill which does not concern you. But, after all, what do these people in Ulster want? They ask only that their allegiance 1571 should not be changed. They ask only that they should have, as they have always had, the protection of this House and the full privilege which that brings with it. That is all they ask. Is there anyone of you who would give up that right? I see some Members from Scottish constituencies. If there was a proposal to transfer, let us say, Glasgow to the government of these Gentlemen, what would happen then? Would you tell them about safeguards? Yet I am within the mark in saying that Glasgow would not regard such a prospect with half the horror with which it is regarded by Ulster. That is all I wish to say on that subject. There is only one other thing that I wish to say before I sit down. The Prime Minister is not very good at answering questions; he is very good at putting them. He put to my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University this question: Would you cease your opposition if the General Election went against you? I would like to put this other point to the Prime Minister. What is your view? Would it make no difference to you, whatever Ulster may do, that you had the sanction of the people behind you? Would not your moral position be enormously strengthened. Even more than that. By what you are doing, by carrying this Bill under such conditions, you are, whether we like it not, putting the whole Unionist party at the back of the Unionists of Ulster. That does not necessarily follow. I can quite imagine conditions in which they would take one view and we would take another. But you are compelling the whole party to take the same view. You are compelling us, if you attempt to carry this by force, to resist you just as Ulster will resist. Does that make no difference? I think it makes all the difference. I think it makes this difference: If Ulster chooses to resist, after the will of the people of this country has been declared, I admit that that will be rebellion. But rebellion is often justified, and that might be.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
That is not my business. I will remind the right hon. Gentleman that both the Duke of Devonshire and the Duke of Argyll thought it would. But that, I say, is not my business. If it is done after the expression of the will of the people of this country, it will be rebellion. But if you do it under these condi- 1572 tions, I say deliberately that I believe in that case you would not be a Government at all; you would be a self-constituted revolutionary committee. That really is my view. It does not cease to be an act of revolution because it is done under Parliamentary auspices; not in the least. I say it is my real belief that in that case you would not be a constitutional Government, and resistance to you would not be rebellion. It would be meeting revolution by counter-revolution. I do pray the right hon. Gentleman not to make any mistake. I am perfectly sure that in what I have said now I have the support of the whole of the Unionist party. Do not think you can carry the Act under such conditions. I said that the right hon. Gentleman put to me another question. He said, "Supposing you win the next election, what will you do? What will your policy be?" I think that is asking more than he has a right to ask. I think it is for the Government to lay down a policy, and so long as the Opposition says that the policy you propose is unjust they are justified in simply opposing it. That is my view. But I am not afraid to meet the question so far as I can. As I understand the position to-day, our alternative is the continuance of the Union. I do not think that is a bad alternative. Remember this problem, which the right hon Gentleman speaks of as so very deadly, could not have seemed so deadly always. When you came into office in 1906 you had a majority with which you could have carried a Home Rule Bill according to your ideas. You never thought of doing so. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It cannot have been so very deadly or you would have dealt with it then.
The best defence of the Union that one can imagine was given yesterday in speeches by two hon. Members below the Gangway—by the hon. Member for Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), and the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien). What did those speeches tell us? The speech of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division was full of the bigotry and intolerance of the Unionists of the North of Ireland. The speech of the hon. Member for Cork contained nothing but evidence, and burning evidence, of the bigotry and intolerance of the Nationalist majority. Under these circumstances, seeing the difficulty, seeing that there is this great gulf quite evident between these two sections in Ireland, would it not seem to 1573 every reasonable human being—and not unfairly—that the majority holding these, views should not be allowed to trample upon or even rule the minority; still less should the minority be allowed to rule the majority. Surely it is not unreasonable that both should be subject to the British Parliament, in which both are represented, and from which both are certain of receiving justice. It is all very well for the hon. and learned Member for Waterford to tell us how warm his heart is towards the Unionists of the rest of Ireland. They do not accept that view. Anyone who has had any acquaintance with what has been done, and what has been said in Ireland, and, indeed anyone who has listened to the speech of the hon. Member for West Belfast will understand this attitude of the dominant faction of the Nationalist party. They will treat the minority perfectly well—if the minority are subservient! Their attitude is precisely the attitude of the followers of Mahomet, "the Koran or the Sword; be my brother, or I will slay thee"! That is all the toleration that Unionists in Ireland have any right to expect. I have said before—and I am quite ready to repeat it now—that so long as a large section of the Irish people is dissatisfied with your plan, and refuse to work under it, that does present a problem which any British statesman would do his best to solve, if he could. I do not deny that. I say further, that if it were possible that anything on the lines of the speech of the hon. Member for Cork City were taken, if he could succeed in pursuading the rest of Ireland in favour of any course, if he could come to us and say, "What we propose is not utterly detested by one-third of the people of Ireland, but that there is a general consent," we should all rejoice and welcome any settlement which was arrived at by such means. But it is nothing to the point to say there is a problem. What you have got to say is, we have found a solution for that problem. If you could bring to us a Bill which is both just and possible—and your Bill is neither, for in my honest belief a Bill which includes Ulster without the consent of Ulster, never by any possibility can be carried into law by any Government—if you bring in a Bill which is just and possible we will welcome it, but we are not going to try to solve one difficulty by creating a greater difficulty. And still less are we going to do, what the Foreign Secretary said in another connection he would never do, make new friends by betraying old friends.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Mr. Speaker, I rise as is my only right to do, but it is a very real one, to intervene in this Debate at this time, because I have been for, I think, nearly seven years the occupant of the post of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Living as I have done during that time immersed in Irish affairs, I do not feel particularly inclined, even were I the man to do it, to follow the right hon. Gentleman in all his political prophecies, or to seek to analyse the somewhat dangerous doctrines he has advanced in his speech; and least of all am I going to say anything about by-elections, and the like. As I understand the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he has been tapping his political barometer, and he is rather satisfied with its movement. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has also been tapping his, and he is in no way cast down at the result. He points out what, to a plain man, seems to have something in it, that the Government have lost four seats and they have gained one, and that their loss of two of them was in three-cornered contests. But I say at once I have not got a barometer in my house, and consequently I have never tapped it. One thing I am tolerably persuaded of is there is nobody in this House who is in a position to make any confident declaration as to what would happen at any General Election, of the time and opportunity of which he knows nothing, and therefore I think I may be well content to leave these matters out, although it may be I am only exhibiting my incapacity in declining to deal with them. The one thing and the only thing that interests me is the position of Ireland. What is our policy, and what is your policy towards a country which I have learned to love? That to me is the only thing which seems to have any interest. I am, of course, a party man, or else I suppose I should not be here, but I do not clang my chains very loudly, and sometimes I am rather glad to forget that I have got them on.
I say that this matter of Ireland, having regard to its history, its present Parliamentary representation, its present position, the feeling of the country, and to what is going on there, is, if ever there was one, a question which we on both sides of the House might very properly be called upon 1575 to consider without direct party reference or party recrimination. What is going to be its future? Along what path do you imagine it is going to progress? The right hon. Gentleman in the closing remarks of his speech, which seemed to me to be conceived in a some-what different vein from the rest, said something which seemed to me perhaps to exhibit a little of that imagination which he so rightly says is the very essence of statesmanship. I myself can make very little out of those observations except this, that if the whole of Ireland, under the guidance of the hon. Member for Cork, could come forward with an agreed measure, the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends would not oppose it. I can imagine that. I heard with amazement the right hon. Gentleman say that the attitude and feeling of the Nationalists in Ireland, and of all those who, whether they belong to the Nationalist Parliamentary party or not, hold dearly to national sentiment, towards their brethren and fellow Irishmen was, "Be my brother or I will slay thee" That is a libel upon the character of Irishmen, and no such feeling exists North, South, East or West in Ireland itself. The one desire of the Irish people is, if it were possible, that they should be able as Irishmen acting together to raise the character of their nation higher than it has ever been before.
Although people may call me a sentimentalist for saying it, I say a new Ireland has sprung up since the late Leader of the Oppoposition was Chief Secretary for Ireland. Wherever you go you see evidences of a new life, and you see a thousand evidences of the fair beginning of a time.[An Hon. MEMBER: "Under the Union."] There is a great movement in Ireland, a movement which you see wherever you may go. In Roscommon and in Mayo you see springing up in what was once a dreary landscape hundreds and hundreds of cheerful homesteads, and you see the occupants of those houses busily occupied tilling their own fields. If you go into the bookshops in Dublin you will find them crowded with books on history, on archaeology, on the Irish language, on Irish literature, and the Irish drama, books of original research, putting forward new views with new learning, and books of imagination as well as books of learning. If you go even into the Courts 1576 of Trinity, so ably represented by the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) you will find among the younger members of that famous foundation a new spirit. You will find it there, and you will find it equally vocal and vehement in the crowded classes of the new universities of Dublin and of Belfast where, I am happy to say, at this moment during this term, over 150 Roman Catholic students are sitting side by side leading the same collegiate life and learning to love and to be proud of their alma mater. Yes, and that in Belfast! You will find these things going on all around you—a great movement—and now, this is my point; Whither is that movement tending? What is its direction? What is its main force? What is the inspiration which carries it irresistibly along? It is a national movement. It is full of Irish sentiment and of Irish feeling, and I say that I am as certain as I am standing here that it is a movement which will carry with it inevitably in its irresistible course an Irish Parliament and an Irish Executive responsible to that Parliament. You may say that movement does not exist, or you may say that it is moving in another direction, but I say that its tendency, its goal, its terminus ad quem, is what I have described, and I defy anybody with real knowledge and with real sympathy and with a real power of imagination such as that which the right hon. Gentleman justly desiderates on the part of himself and his Friends to deny that this new Irish movement is full of national sentiment, national pride, and national feeling, and will demand as time goes on more and more, year after year, an Irish Parliament to represent those feelings, and an Irish Executive to raise the Irish people to the dignity of those who are fit to carry out their own decrees as the government of their own country.
This is the moment which the right hon. Gentleman chooses to flout the national sentiment, and on the part of himself, and I admit of all his colleagues sitting around him, to say to the Irish people, "Give up all this nonsense of yours about Home Rule. We have heard it until we are sick of it. Generation after generation you have sent up men making the same demands. We have refused them again and again. We shall go on refusing them. We have no room for them in our Constitution, and there is no place for those feelings within the ambit of the 1577 British Empire." I say that it is a thousand pities that any such declaration should now be made. It was a pity to adopt that policy—that bankrupt policy, I was almost going to call it—that policy which has nothing for the Trish people except to say, "Go on as you are going and subsidies shall be yours. There is no Irish problem that British money and Irish money, too, cannot solve, and so it shall be solved, but you must give up all this nonsense. Our hands are full of subsidies, but our mouth sneers at your aspirations and our tongue libels your character."
The right hon. Gentleman the late Leader of the Opposition in the speech he delivered yesterday, made an appeal—a solemn appeal, to which I instantly paid attention, to what he called our consciences. The right hon. Gentleman assumed, I presume, that we had consciences. I certainly am very conscious of having one—a very sensitive one, one as sensitive as that of any Ulster Member in this House. Although I paid close attention to that appeal it did not appear to me to be an appeal to conscience at all. It seemed to me, I will not say a threat, although some of its language was minatory enough—I will not call it a threat, for it was made in perfect good faith—but they were words of warning, exciting and intended to excite our fears and our alarm as to what our policy might lead to in the immediate future. But as an appeal to conscience —that final arbiter between nations and between individuals of right and wrong—it did not seem to make much appeal to conscience. However, the right hon. Gentleman said—and many of his Friends have been good enough to make the same remark—that among my many expressions, among the thousand and one indiscretions I have uttered. I have never used slighting or indifferent language as to what has been called the gravity of the Ulster case. He also implied—having been Chief Secretary for Ireland himself—that I probably had some reason to know something about what was going on in that province. He was perfectly right. I never have, I never could use slighting, scornful, or indifferent language about the situation in Ulster, and I think I know pretty well all that there is to be known about the proceedings within that province. I sometimes think that I probably know a little more than even the right hon. and learned Gentleman the 1578 Member for Trinity College. I hope I do not know more than has actually happened, though sometimes I entertain a doubt about that. Ireland under the Union is Ireland under a microscope. Everything is made the subject-matter of a report, from incipient rebellion to the cinematograph. Even as to the lectures of emissaries of my right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture, I am told whether they are or are not well attended. It would be surprising if I did not know a great deal at all events of what is going on in the province of Ulster, or at all events in some portion of it. It is not a nice system, this espionage, and I sometimes rub my eyes as I read reports of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his Friends have been saying in different places, when I suppose they thought they were not overheard.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
What does the right hon. and learned Gentleman suppose I mean? I said I had received reports of language used, but I did not say it was bad langauge.
§ Sir E. CARSON
The right hon. Gentleman implied that I had said things when I thought they would not be reported to him.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The right hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken. If that is his idea it is an idea which never entered my mind. [An MEMBER "You said it."] What I said was that I had reports of things said by the right hon and learned Gentleman at times and in places when he might very reasonably expect—[Interruption]. Well, Mr. Speaker, I have no desire to say anything the right hon. Gentleman can by any possibility consider offensive. It never occurred to me that he would suppose that I would suggest that he would say anything anywhere that he would be afraid, indeed, that he would not be pleased to say aloud in this House. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I was referring to the system of espionage which, I confess, I think can only be justified by the past history of Ireland for the last, perhaps, two or three hundred years. But I do not need any police reports or private reports from other persons to convince me that there are to be found in the four counties of Ulster, and in the great city of Belfast, a very large number 1579 of persons, to estimate whose numbers is beyond my power, who view with the intensest dislike and abhorrence, if you choose to use the word, the very notion of setting up in Dublin an Irish Parliament, even although they themselves would be entitled to send their representatives there, and an Irish Executive responsible to it. I could not doubt anything of the sort. It would be impossible for any sane man to do so. Everybody knows how foolish anybody would be who pretends to shut his eyes to the fact that at the bottom of this mischief is violent religious bigotry. I do not think there is much use in exposing it, or in revealing its horrible features or the ravages it makes in the milk of human kindness. I do not think there is much to be gained by that. Religious bigotry can only be fought, and I rejoice to think it is being fought at this moment in Belfast itself, by other weapons. Through those weapons, and those weapons alone, can we look forward to the time—it must of necessity be a distant time, not only in Ireland, but even in this most superior country—when people will be able to look one another in the face and say that they are destitute of religious bigotry. There are people in Belfast who are destitute of religious bigotry. There are leaders of the Ulster party who are free from it, and I am glad to name the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who is as free from religious bigotry as any man can possibly be. I recognise that, and always have done, and say so with pleasure. But the pulse of the machine, the thing that makes hatred, the thing that leads to violence, is religious bigotry. This religious bigotry will not be cured either by cursing or by blessing, but only by the spirit of real religion, of knowledge, and of sympathy. The distinctions, some of which are very vital, between the Church of Rome and the Presbyterians and the Episcopal bodies in Ireland—what is the good of pretending that they are not of grave importance? I am as good a Protestant as any man in the House, and I should not like to say I was free from prejudice on the subject of the Roman Church. I have my own views about ecclesiastics of all kinds. I have had curious experiences in the whole of my official life, first at the Board of Education and afterwards in Ireland. I have been in close personal contact, I will not say collision, with Cardinals of the Church of 1580 Rome and Archbishops of Canterbury, and I commend them all generally to God.
I wish the House to perceive that I do recognise the grave and serious state of things in Belfast and indeed I should be the first of a long series of Chief Secretaries if I did not admit that to the full, because I cannot remember a time, and my reading of history does not tell me of a time, when the situation in Belfast, aye, and in the environments of Belfast, spreading out into these four counties was not always—not every day in the year, but on many days, in the year—a grave and a serious question. There are inflammable and dangerous materials. They are heaped up. They are at present in a specially inflammable condition. I do not deny that for a moment, but when hon. Gentlemen tell me that unless we withdraw this Bill, unless we make it perfectly plain to the Nationalist party in Ireland and to the great movement to which I have already referred, which contains amongst its members many persons who are not members of the Irish Nationalist party or always very friendly towards them, that we are for ever to shut down Home Rule and all that Home Rule means unless it is made plain that neither hon. Gentlemen opposite nor we ourselves will in future have anything more to do with it—because a Home Rule Bill in any shape or form which carries with it an Irish Parliament and an Irish Executive, without which it is worth nothing, for all the rest is leather and prunella, leads straight up to civil war—that the cannon will boom through the streets of Belfast and that hundreds and thousands of our Protestant fellow subjects, the men to whom we ought to be devoted and whose interest we ought to have at heart will be ruthlessly shot down by British rifles—when we are told these things, grave as the situation may be. I am lost in amazement.
I really cannot quite understand, and no one has given me any clue to it—although it really is, according to them, and in a certain sense according to me, the key of the situation—exactly how these things are going to begin. Who is going to fire the first shot? The hon. Gentleman referred to a statement made by the Duke of Devonshire. When my attention was called to it I remembered that I had read it before, although I was not aware of what Lord Morley had said. But we literary men are accustomed to 1581 differ on points of style. I certainly understood that passage to mean that the men of Ulster would be right to fight as soon as they found themselves oppressed in their religion and Protestantism. It was, I think, an expression of this opinion on the part of the Duke to which I gave my adherence. We are all potential rebels. I made that remark before, and I repeat it again. There are things which no man of our blood and breeding would ever put up with, and the men of Ulster, I am sure, would never be behind, but would be in the forefront of opposition to any such oppression or tyranny. But surely Ulster may be asked to wait for its revolution. I confess I am shocked at the ease with which some people refer to the most appalling thing that ever happens in this world—a civil war. Talk about imagination! I frankly admit that I cannot imagine any more appalling thing than a civil war. Our own great civil war occurred in 1641, and a far greater civil war was the civil war in my boyhood, the American Civil War, which lost a million of lives and broke ten million of hearts—I cannot imagine that either of these was ever used as a threat in connection with political action or in a political assembly. The people found themselves in it because they could not help it. They did not flourish it about to threaten their opponents.
I repeat that I do not believe that it was ever used against a legislative proposal, and I am astonished at the great freedom, with which this threat has been brought to induce us on this side of the House to abandon the policy we have preached and taught during all our lives, certainly all our political lives. The authors of the Parliament Act ought not to be accused of intermittent zeal after having done all that in them lay, and of taking a violent step in order to remove a perpetual barrier to Home Rule legislation. Therefore, on that part of the ease I only say that I cannot bring myself to believe that when it conies to the point the people of Ulster will, however much they may oppose these proposals and however much they may hate these proposals, ever themselves be the first to fire upon British troops or police or anybody else. I cannot understand, and I do not believe, that the occasion will ever arise. The right hon. Gentleman and his Friends have themselves admitted that, so far as Ulster is concerned, so fierce is their determination and so uncontrollable is their hatred of 1582 what is proposed, that no General Election or utterance by the country or demagogic approval of this proposal will have any effect on the state of their minds. That also, I confess, I cannot believe.
I quite agree as to the gravity of the case, and that we ought to be ready to consider and, if possible, to acquiesce in any proposal to settle this. A great many compliments have been paid—I do not quarrel with them—to the speech of the hon. Member for Cork. He says, "Why not settle this?" and the right hon. Gentleman, at the conclusion of his speech to which I have already referred, indicated that something of the sort might be brought about; only his notion of a compromise is a rather curious one. But how can you at this moment build upon a compromise when we meet with these violent assurances with regard to civil war? The hon. Member for Cork is full—and I do not blame him—of the successful part he played in the land conference previous to the land legislation of 1903. It is rather ludicrous for me to talk to the hon. Member for Cork about Irish land legislation and Irish laws, because he knows all these things far better than I could possibly know them at first hand, but surely it is common knowledge that there never could have been any Land Purchase Bill of 1903 had it not been for the previous Gladstone legislation which secured to the Irish tenant fair rent and fixity of tenure. It was fair rent and fixity of tenure that led the way up to land purchase. When you had got your fair rents fixed and your tenant had got his fixity of tenure, and your Tory party in its wisdom had conferred upon the Irish people local self-government, it was easy enough, provided your terms were sufficiently good to induce tenants to leave off paying rents, and to pay instead a purchase annuity of 25 percent. less. Nor was it a difficult matter to persuade Irish landlords who had already lost the great hold upon the country which they had at one time enjoyed, to take so many years purchase plus 12 per cent. by way of a free gift on the purchase money, which went straight into their pockets. I applaud that Bill. I am not saying one single word against it, and I am very glad indeed to remember, now in this melancholy hour, that when Mr. Wyndham was in this House and I was speaking in that noble and animated presence of his, that although I was smarting at the 1583 time under imputations against myself on this land purchase question, which I at all events knew to be unjust and felt to be unkind, I never for a single moment allowed myself to speak of him otherwise than as a man who had done a great deal for Ireland and whose name for ever would be associated with the great charter of peace.
I am glad to think now that I did that I had much cause to admire him, and in some ways to envy him. I envied him many things, but nothing so much as his Chancellor of the Exchequer. If I had had the same good fortune I would not have been exposed to imputations which I think have been most cruelly made against me as if I had frustrated a policy to which I am heart and soul devoted. But what is the good of the right hon. Gentleman using Land Purchase as if it were akin to Home Rule, having regard to the feelings of all the gentlemen on those benches. At the same time I do not want to discourage anybody. I am always for compromise if it can be done consistently with the principles of this Bill which are to be found in the first five Clauses—
Give me but these clauses bound. Take all the rest, the world goes round".
§ Let that be the basis of conference and agreement, and I should then be willing to sit in conference with the hon. Member for Cork, who is, I hope, a friend of mine, and I can assure him that my breast entertains no sort of animosity against him, and never has done. I am willing to meet him and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, all of them. I have sat on conferences before now, and it is very interesting. I quite agree with the hon. Member who said that we should settle this by agreement, and that it is our bounden duty if can. But, somehow, this thing will have to be settled, and will be settled. This Bill, criticised as it has been, and I dare say as it ought to be—for a man would have to be both vain and profane to pretend that any work of his hand was perfect—is open no doubt to many objections, some of which time will reveal. But for the time being it holds the field, and the Liberal party, associated with all those who are hearty Home Rulers, will bate neither heart nor hope, but steer right on.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 368; Noes, 270.1589
|Division No.104.]||AYES.||[11.37 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Bryce, J. Annan||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Devlin, Joseph|
|Adamson, William||Burke, E. Haviland-||Dickinson, W. H.|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Dillon, John|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Doris, william|
|Alden, Percy||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Duffy William J|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Byres, Sir William Pollard||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Carr-Gomrn, H. W.||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Chancellor, Henry George||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Clancy, John Joseph||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Clough, William||Essex, Sir Richard Walter|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Clynes, John R.||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Barnes, Gerorge N.||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Falconer, J.|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick Burghs)||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Barton, William||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Ffrench, Peter|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cotton, William Francis||Field, William|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Cowan, W. H.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamelts, St. George)||Craig. Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Bentham, G. J.||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Crean, Eugene||France, G. A.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Crooks, William||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson|
|Black, Arthur W.||Crumley, Patrick||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Boland, John Pius||Cullinan, J.||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gilhooly, James|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Gill, A. H.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Ginnell, Laurence|
|Brace, William||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Brady, P. J.||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||Glanville, Harold James|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Dawes, James Arthur||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Delany, William||Goldstone, Frank|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Macpherson, James Ian||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Reddy, M.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||M'Kenna, John||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginaid||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Guiney, P.||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Richards, Thomas|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Richardson, Albion(Peckham)|
|Hackett, John||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Manfield, Harry||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Hancock, John George||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Harcourt, Rt Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Robertson, Sir G. S. (Bradford)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Martin, Joseph||Robinson, Sidney|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Meagher, Michael||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Rowlands, James|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Menzles, Sir Walter||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Middlebrook, William||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Millar, James Duncan||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hayward, Evan||Molloy, M.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Molteno, Percy Alport||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Mooney, John J.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morgan, George Hay||Sheehy, David|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Morrell, Philip||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Morison, Hector||Shortt, Edward|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Higham, John Sharp||Muldoon, John||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Hinds, John||Munro, R.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Murphy, Martin J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Hodge, John||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Snowden, Philip|
|Hogg, David C.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Hogge, James Myles||Needham, Christopher T.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Neilson, Francis||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddingdon)||Nolan, Joseph||Sutherland, John E.|
|Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Norman, Sir Henry||Sutton, John E.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hudson, Walter||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Nuttall, Harry||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Thomas, J. H.|
|John, Edward Thomas||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Johnson, W.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Doherty, Philip||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Dowd, John||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Ogden, Fred||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Grady, James||Wadsworth, J.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Malley, William||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Shee, James John||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Wardle, George J.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Outhwalte, R. L.||Waring, Walter|
|Kilbride, Denis||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|King, Joseph||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lamb, Ernest Henry||Parry, Thomas H||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Webb, H.|
|Lardner, James C. R.||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H.M.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph (Rotherham)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Leach, Charles||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pointer, Joseph||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Pollard, Sir George H.||Whittaker. Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Logan, John William||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Lundon, Thomas||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Priestley, Sir W. E. (Bradford)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Pringle, William M. R.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|McGhee, Richard||Radford, G. H.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Maclean, Donald||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Winfrey, Richard||Young, William (Perth, East)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Wing, Thomas||Yoxall, Sir James Henry||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Doughty, Sir George||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Duke, Henry Edward||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Astor, Waldorf||Fell, Arthur||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Baird, J. L.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London)||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Mackinder, H. J.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Fleming, Valentine||Macmaster, Donald|
|Baring, Maj. Hon, Guy V. (Winchester)||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Forster, Henry William||M'Mordie, Robert James|
|Barnston,Harry||Gardner, Ernest||M'NeIII, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Gibbs, G. A.||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Gilmour, Captain John||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Goldman, C. S.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Goldsmith, Frank||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Moore, William|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Grant, J. A.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Greene, W. R.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Bird, Alfred||Gretton, John||Mount, William Arthur|
|Blair, Reginald||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Newman, John R. P.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Haddock, George Bahr||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Boyton, James||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Nield, Herbert|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Norton-Griffiths, John|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Butcher, John George||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Campbell, Duncan F. (Ayr. N.)||Harris, Henry Percy||Peel, Lieut-Colonel R. F.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Perkins, Walter|
|Campion, W. R.||Holmsley, Viscount||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cassel, Felix||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Cator, John||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Cave, George||Hills, John Waller||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Rawson, Colonel R. H.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Chambers, J.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Horner, Andrew Long||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Houston, Robert Paterson||Royds, Edmund|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. J. (Birmingham)||Hunt, Rowland||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Ingleby, Holcombe||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Jackson, Sir John||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S)||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sandys, G. J.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Kerry, Earl of||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Keswick, Henry||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninlan||Kinloch-Cooks, Sir Clement||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Knight, Captain E. A.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Croft, H. P.||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stanier, Beville|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Larmor, Sir J.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Starkey, John R.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Lee, Arthur H.||Staveley-Hill Henry|
|Dixon, C. H.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Stewart, Gershom||Valentia, Viscount||Winterton, Earl|
|Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Walker, Colonel William Hall||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Swift, Rigby||Walrond, Hon. Lionel||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Ripon)|
|Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)||Weigell, Captain A. G.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Terrell, H. (Gloucester)||Weston, Colonel J. W.||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)||Wheler, Granville C. H.||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Thynne, Lord Alexander||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)||Younger, Sir George|
|Tobin, Alfred Aspinall||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Touche, George Alexander||Wills, Sir Gilbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Tryon, Captain George Clement||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)||Edmund Talbot and Mr. Pike Pease.|
Bill read a second time; and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next (16th June).—[The Prime Minister.]