§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman, in his able and interesting speech, touched on one matter very significant and very interesting to Irishmen. He referred to emigration from Ireland, but said he would not go into the cause of it, though he might have his own opinions on the subject. I am going to refer to-day to one of those causes, namely, the excessive taxation of the country. I only do so this afternoon, when we should, probably most of us, wish to be away, because the Government, either by inadvertence or by design, have hitherto refused to reply to the definite charges which we have made against them, charges probably as serious as have ever been levied against any 2271 Finance Minister. I do not now bring these charges forward merely for the purpose or at all for the purpose of recrimination. I do so because there has been promised to us what the Prime Minister calls an interval for suggestion in the Home Rule Bill. He stated yesterday that an interval would be given in which suggestions could be made for the improvement of the Bill. Of course, I do not intend to touch upon a measure which has only just been introduced, but I do say that what we regard as a vital portion of that measure is its finance. I wish to call the attention of this House to the pledges again and again given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by the Home Secretary, by the Postmaster-General, and by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—by, in fact, four Cabinet Ministers—in reference to the Budget of 1910. I wish to ask whether any Member of this House thinks it right that a State Paper should have been issued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which had no other result, and could have no other result, than to deceive the people of Ireland and their representatives? I gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer notice yesterday that I was going to bring this subject forward, but he has not given the advantage of his presence. I do not complain of that for the moment, but I have discharged my duty, at any rate, in giving notice.
I hold in my hand a State Paper issued by the British Government at the instance of a prominent Irish Member—the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon)—and signed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That paper secured the Budget of 1910, and there under was also secured the Insurance Act and many other measures. That State Paper I denounce as a fraud and a public scandal. It was a document issued by the Government, and it has been the foundation stone of a multitude of subsequent statements made by Ministers and by prominent Irish leaders. There have been under investigation upstairs, for the last six months, some very important matters by the Committee on Putumayo and the Committee on Marconi. I really think it would be better that there should be some Committee of investigation as to the conduct of the British Treasury as to the conduct of its officials and as to the system they adopt in dealing with Irish transactions, whereby a Minister is maintained in office year after year, and the votes of Irish Members are reversed—because they 2272 voted against the Budget in 1909 and they voted for it in 1910—on these public pledges and statements of Ministries, which statements were afterwards put into black and white, and were signed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is a serious charge to make. Let me make it good. This State Paper was issued at the instance of the Member for East Mayo. The Budget passed its Third Reading on the 27th April, 1910. On the same day the contents of this State Paper were given to the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In order that the matter might not depend upon mere verbiage used in the House, the Member for East Mayo made this request of the Government. He said:—This Budget, in my opinion, passing as it now will pass, will lay upon Ireland the charge this year of about £480,000.Mr. Lloyd George: £435,000.Mr. Dillon: I quite agree that Treasury figures should be scrutinised, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman, at the earliest possible moment, to lay upon the Table of the House a White Paper containing the Treasury Estimates of these figures showing exactly what Ireland is paying. Then let these Gentlemen who talk about £2,000,000 produce their calculations to show that the Budget does, in fact, lay a burden of £2,000,000 a year upon Ireland. That is n fair challenge, and let them face the Irish people upon the issue, and, if they are proved to be wrong. I hope they will withdraw and apologise."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th April, 1910, cols. 2112–13, Vol. XVI.]It is sometimes extremely difficult for us to get from the Government Papers dealing with Ireland, and this year, although we are now in the month of May, we have not been able to get the figures for last year. Both in April, 1912, and in April, 1910, the Treasury were able to produce figures without any difficulty, yet now, when we wish to discuss the Budget of the present year, the right hon. Gentleman tells us we can have no figures until the month of July! He produced them for the Budget Bill, and he produced them last year for the Home Rule Bill, in order to defraud us by his fraudulent finance, for his finance is nothing else than fraudulent. This year, when they are wanted for the purposes of criticism, the right hon. Gentleman says he is unable to produce his figures until July. Before I analyse these figures, let me say what that State Paper was. It is divided into two parts. It gives for the Budget year—that is to say, the first year of its being in operation—an analysis of what the taxation would probably be for that year, and then it gives an estimate for all time. I am going to quote from the Home Secretary, 2273 who was then the chief financial expert in the Government, as well as other Ministers, what the Member for East Mayo told the Irish public was a pledge—a public pledge from the Minister—that that figure would never be exceeded as regards Ireland. When we come to the Home Rule Bill, they will refuse to give us even one-tenth of the extra taxation which this Budget of 1910 wrings from the people. Here is the Return "A," divided into two heads: "Estimated Irish contribution to the true revenue of the year 1909–10, in respect of new and additional taxation imposed by the Finance Act, 1910, £438,000." That is the figure which the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon two occasions announced as the true figures for that year, and in order that we might not be astonished at his moderation there is this note:—The increased duties have thus proved actually less productive than the former rates.That notice is put by the right hon. Gentleman who, when bringing in his Budget, rejoiced that at one and the same time he had benefited morality and had increased the yield for the Exchequer. That was the Estimate for that year. I come to the other portion of the Return—that is, the Estimate of the Government for the future. I will then read the pledge the Government gave, that that would be substantially a constant demand upon Ireland, and I will show what the political results from that state of things are:—(B). Estimated annual Irish contribution to the Revenue to be derived from the new and additional taxation imposed by the Finance Act when the duties have become fully productive.That is to say, for all time. When these duties have become fully productive, this is going to be the result. This is the State Paper issued by the Government upon which men reversed their votes. They voted against the Budget in 1909, and on the strength of these stories they voted for the Budget in 1910—the same men and the same Budget, but the men voting in different Lobbies. Here it is:—Irish proportion, £518,000——that is the existing duties—Proceeds of the new duties imposed by the Act, £84,000; total, £602,000.That is to say, that the proceeds of the new duties imposed by the Budget should only be £84,000. There may be some doubt and question as to that, therefore I will only rely on the total, namely, £602,000. The House is not dealing with children. This is not a gamble; this is a solemn State Paper issued to the nation 2274 to justify the national representatives of Ireland in swallowing their own words and in reversing their own votes. Before I give the actual facts, let me quote what the Ministers said. I take the Postmaster-General, who spoke on 25th April, 1910. The importance of any speech by the Postmaster-General is that he was the man who was specially put in charge of the finance of the Home Rule Bill. We all admire his ability; nobody admires it more than I do. What I want to show is that the Government brought forward in turn each of their financial experts to justify their statements—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Postmaster-General, the Home Secretary, and the Chancellor of the Duchy, who are their four big financial men. The Postmaster-General, replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Cork City (Mr. William O'Brien), said:—He declared that the additional burden cast upon Ireland by this Budget amounts to £2,000,000 per year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has given the House another estimate. His estimate is £435,000 a year. There is this difference between the two; that while the estimate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is supported by published figures showing in detail precisely how——Mr. T. M. Healy: Is it supported by unpublished figures?Mr. Herbert Samuel: The figures have been laid before the House, and each item that makes up the £435,000 has been declared, and that is the difference between the estimate of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the estimate of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork. While the particulars of this £435,000 are given in all detail, the figure of £2,000,000 of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork is a peroration and nothing more, and is unsupported by one single fact or figure.2.0 P.M.
Then he goes in for the old ninepence for fourpence dodge, and says to us that we are getting £2,800,000 for old age pensions, and he says:—In exchange for this £2,800,000 receipts, she is asked to make an expenditure of £435,000.That is ninepence for about twopence, I suppose. He goes on:—In any other part of the United Kingdom, or part of the world except Cork, it would indeed be thought to be a good bargain to pay £400,000 odd and receive £2,800,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1910, col. 76, Vol. XVII.]It would be a good bargain. Let us see what the other Ministers said. Here is the Home Secretary, The importance of the statement which I am now going to read is that it was publicly availed of in Ireland by the hon. Member for East Mayo in order to show the Irish people that a distinct pledge had been given that only this small sum would ever be exacted in the future. The speech of the Home Secretary will be found in the OFFICIAL 2275 REPOET, Vol. XVI., 20th April, 1910, Cols. 2124 to 2135. Strange to say, it is not included in the volume, which is always published, called "Irish Debates." I suppose it is left out because it is so important:—Mr. McKenna: I am endeavouring to deal with the argument that this Budget is costing the Irish taxpayers £2,000,000, and I am endeavouring to show that, so far from that being true, for last year the cost of the Budget for Ireland was well under £450,000, and we do not anticipate that ever in the future it will exceed half a million—a quarter of the alleged charge which it is supposed we are imposing upon the Irish taxpayers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th April, 1910, col. 2132, Vol. XVI.]As we know from the White Paper issued at the instance of the hon. Member for East Mayo, it is not too much to say that that is a speech made by a Minister handling finance with skill—I will not say it was made by arrangement, but, at all events, it is remarkable that it had scarcely been uttered when the Bill of which he spoke was endorsed by the hon. Member for East Mayo. Here is what the Irish people were told on the speech I have just read. The hon. Member referred to Mr. McKenna's speech on the 30th May, 1910. The speech was only then practically three weeks old. He said:—This country has been deluged with lies about the Budget, and he held Mr. McKenna's speech as a distinct pledge given to the Irish party that at no future period would Ireland be called on to contribute more than half a million under the Budget,A pledge given to the Irish party is a very sacred thing. It is a pledge-bound party. I myself wrote out the pledge and made it as stringent as I possibly could. I never understood why I was not allowed the benefit of that pledge myself as the author. At all events we may well ask whether the pledge-bound party is going to insist on justice from a pledge-bound Ministry, which pledge-bound Ministry they hold in the hollow of their hands. You are never tired of hearing that.
Let us now see the remaining Minister, the Chancellor of the Duchy. The great position that the Chancellor of the Duchy has on finance we recognise. At first, when he was appointed, we were not all aware of his ability. I confess that his appointment, when he was on the Indian Ocean, to the position of Secretary to the Treasury, came upon me by surprise, but I wish to say, with all humility, that I think he has entirely justified his position, and that it would be difficult to find in the Ministry, modest as he often is, a man of greater ability. He was therefore made Secretary to the Treasury, and a year after- 2276 wards, when they had had the experience of twelve months' working of the Budget, the right hon. Gentleman spoke on a Debate which I raised. He was extremely courteous and extremely conciliatory. The extraordinary thing about it is that he was so skilful and conciliatory that I believed him. He said:—In confirmation of what I have said, if the hon. Member for Cork had referred to another Return—That is this fraudulent State Paper. I want to link up and show the House how, right through the history of this business, this document figures like a sort of Dreyfus dossier. He goes back to the year after it was issued, and he endorses it in this way:—In confirmation of what I have said, if the hon Member for Cork had referred to another Return, which was issued by myself on 28th April, 1910, he would have seen that the amount to be collected in excess from Ireland in a full year—that is, when the Land Value Duties have reached their maximum—in respect of the new duties imposed by that Act, will amount to £84,000, and in respect to the existing duties will amount to about £518,000, or somewhere thereabout. That is, of course, subject to adjustments to be made. But the total excess revenue to be collected from Ireland in a full year, when all the duties have come to full fruition, will be £600,000, or a very close approximation to the figure named by the hon. Member for East Mayo."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th August, 1911, col. 1297, Vol. XXIX.]The hon. Member seemed at that time to live in the Treasury and to be their exponent. He boasted in that Debate that he always spoke the truth.No matter how great the indignation of the hon. Member (Mr. William O'Brien) I shall never be ashamed or afraid to tell the truth about Ireland's affairs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th August, 1911, col. 1202, Vol. XXIX.]There I have shown, by a series of quotations from Ministers, by a State Paper, by the endorsement of Ministers' speeches by leading Irish Members, a pledge by the Government as far as language can extend. Of course, it is not stamped or sealed at Somerset House. It is not a legal document. It is nothing in the nature of a contract note, but it is, so far as Parliamentary institutions go, a document which Members of Parliament are entitled to rely upon and for which the Government have had value received. Now let us come to the facts. Let us now take the Returns issued last year and I maintain that, if we had been honoured by the Returns for the present year instead of their being delayed, the pitiful story that I am now going to tell would be much deepened and darkened. That Return which we should have is kept back from us and therefore I can only go upon a comparison of the Return of 1910 with the Return of 1912. I take the four chief taxes affected by the Budget. With 2277 this Return staring them in the face, hon. Members who boast that they are not afraid to tell the truth about Ireland, have not only remained silent, but have endeavoured by every expedient to boycott exposure and have even gone the unparalleled length of placing Parliamentary pickets at that door to keep out any of their followers who might wish to come in to hear the truth. I take the first increase—tobacco, a poor man's luxury, if ever there was one. The right hon. Gentleman's pledged, signed Paper gave the increase of the tobacco Returns at £213,000. Last year's Paper gives us the real money collected—£490,000—more than double what we get under the Home Rule Bill to run Ireland with. We get £200,000 to run Ireland with under the Home Rule Bill and the increase on tobacco smoke alone is £490,000. That is to say, that the right hon. Gentleman and his experts, whom we are always told to rely upon, have budgeted for more than twice what they should. Supposing I had a deficit of £7,000,000 and put it down at only £3,500,000; suppose I budgeted on English beer for £10,000,000 and I exacted £20,000,000 from the British working man, what would the English say?
I now come to Estate Duty. Of course, the Treasury may state that it would affect dukes and millionaires. It does not affect them entirely. It affects them, too, but it affects humble people as well. If there is any subject on which a careful estimate could be made, I think it is Estate Duty. I humbly submit that there is no excuse for such an estimate when dealing with Estate Duty. The right hon. Gentleman's estimate for that duty was £133,000. The exact revenue from it was £220,000—nearly double the Estimate. As to Income Tax, I suppose that, at all events, on that, too, a pretty exact figure could be estimated. The Estimate, according to the Return, was £124,000, but you got from the Irish people £246,000. Remember Ireland is a poor country. We do not think in billions; we think in bawbees, and when you budget for £190,000,000, why these little wretched figures of poor Ireland really sink into insignificance! It reminds me of a man who went bankrupt for £1,000,000, and his washerwoman asked him for 1s. for washing his shirts. He said that in large commercial transactions we cannot afford to deal with these trifling amounts.
Take even the Super-tax. I thought there was only one millionaire in Ireland. 2278 I thought Lord Iveagh, for whom I have great respect, and who has done so much for the country, was the only one. I remember, when Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, now Lord St. Aldwyn, was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he asked me if I would hesitate to increase the Income Tax on a man like that. I said I would, because every time you put a tax on a rich man you have a gardener, a coachman, or a groom less; or he orders fewer changes and repairs to be made. You cannot tax a millionaire without hitting the working man, just as you could not throw out the Great Western Bill without having men down at Fishguard starving in a year or two. I thought that if there was anything you could make a fair estimate upon it was the Super-tax. The Estimate was £60,000, but you actually collected from our paltry group of millionaires in Ireland £104,000. On every head of estimate and expenditure the Government have acted—well, it really is impossible to find suitable Parliamentary words to characterise what they have done! If England, Scotland, or Wales had been treated like that, would hon. Members have sat silent on these benches, although the cold chain of silence rests upon Ireland's watchdogs? Take the very small item of motor spirit. You could not even make a decent estimate for Ireland about motor spirit. The Estimate was £12,000, and you actually got £21,000. Let us see what the main figures are. We were paying in the year before the Budget £9,250,500, and last year—remember the figures for this year are still unavailable—we paid £10,688,000, an increase of £1,437,500. There are nontax services, like telegraphs and telephones, which I have deducted. I put them at £104,500. The net increase is £1,333,000, and of that sum, on the confession of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, £1,100,000 is the result of the Budget which he said was only to cost us from £400,000 to £500,000.
What is the inference from this? It is that those who were arranging the future of Ireland under the Home Rule Bill would at least have said last year, "Well, we will make no Jew's bargain with you. Give us for Ireland as a dowry in the future, and we will ask nothing else, the result of the extra taxation arising out of the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer which comes from Ireland." Would not any man of common sense have made that bargain with the Government? 2279 It would have been an irresistible position to take up, because they could have said, "We were against the Budget." I will not trouble the House with the speeches hon. Members for Ireland made in denouncing the Budget. They said that the taxes were unfairly imposed upon Ireland, and they made a number of other statements of that kind. Therefore, they were in a position to say to the Government, "By our votes we have kept you in office all these years, and we helped you to pass what was unwelcome and unwilling to ourselves. Give us, at all events, the fruits"—I will not say of our misconduct—"and the product of our tears." They never thought of that. While, of course, I quite admit the set-off as to old age pensions, and as to the other reserved services, I say that on that Budget the Irish party occupied a position of impregnable strength. If that was too much to ask of them, I would make this suggestion. We are told by the Prime Minister that there are to be suggestions to the House of Lords. The Government are going to appoint a Procedure Committee. It would be very interesting if there were recommendations by the Committee as to how procedure might be executed on suggestion day. On suggestion day we make a Motion and suggest to the House of Lords that they should keep Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer to his promise, and not levy on Ireland under the Budget more than £500,000. I am sure we shall have the support of the Irish party for that suggestion. I am satisfied that the House of Lords would assent to the generosity of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and would be practically unanimous in saying that, instead of the miserable dole of £200,000, we should get the whole usufruct of this great and good Budget. I am almost sure that the House of Lords would be so pleased with this that it would pass the Home Rule Bill.
Therefore I have raised this question, no doubt on an inconvenient day, but, as I had the honour of pointing out earlier, the discrepancy which has been established in the practice of the Committee of Ways and Means and in the Report of the Resolution drove me thereto. I therefore thank the House for the way in which it has allowed me to make this statement, and I finish by asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer is it too much for an Irish Member to request the 2280 British Government to keep faith with Ireland? It will be no answer to me to say that we are getting old age pensions, insurance, and I do not know what else. We were getting all those when you promised us that our taxation would not exceed £500,000. Therefore let us go back to the position of 1910, and ask that as we are in the future to have in this House only forty-two Members, you will at least keep faith with the forty-two. It is upon this question, and on this question alone, that the representation of Ireland in the future gives me great concern. I gladly assented to the cutting down of the Members to forty-two under the Home Rule Bill, but in the future I confess to some' anxiety. That anxiety was first created when Ireland was treated as a foreign country in the matter of cattle, and Acts were applied which were passed on the statements of Ministers that they were to apply only to the Argentine, the United States, and other foreign countries, and would never apply to Ireland. On the faith of these statements our predecessors assented to these Acts, and now you have used them to convert Ireland into a foreign country. Simultaneously with the injury to our trade, which in the present year will amount at least to £1,000,000, we have the fact that your promises upon the Budget have all turned out to be false. Is it too much to ask of this House, when you have passed this Budget by a solemn statement endorsed by the representatives of Ireland, whose votes alone kept you in office, that you should make some slight redemption of your pledge to Ireland?
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer a question, arising out of the general interest felt in the progress of the inquiry of the Land Committee. Interest in this inquiry is not limited to the benches opposite. I do not raise this question with a view of proposing any legislative action, or any action under the Trade Boards Act, which does provide that any trade may be brought within the Schedules, but I wish to point out the increasing urgency of the question of agricultural wages and the position of the agricultural labourer. I refer to the increasing emigration, which is denuding the rural parts of England of their men, in many cases their best men. Very exact figures have been compiled by the National Agricultural Labourers' Union. We have only just heard from the hon. Member opposite of the stream of strong men pouring out of our country to 2281 the Colonies and elsewhere. Another reason for raising this question is that opinion is ripening, as the success of the Trade Boards Act has been confirmed by the passing of the Coal Mines Act, and people are beginning to feel that questions of wages are of interest to the Government. We are getting a little beyond the general assumption that wages are a mere matter of laissez-faire, and I submit that this class of wages is a fit subject for discussion in this House. Reviewing the general result of the Trade Boards Act, and the relation of agricultural wages to all other wages, the simple fact emerging is that agricultural wages are at the root of low wages in every part of the country.
It is very easy to arouse sympathy with the agricultural labourer by reference to his history. Everyone has read the very interesting revelations in Mr. Hammond's recent book on village labour. Merely to look into it is enough to arouse a certain emotional indignation. But I rather base myself on the firm ground of present-day economics. The Board of Trade has now put beyond dispute what are agricultural wages. It is not incorrect to say that they reveal the fact that agriculture is the sweated trade—in fact, agricultural wages are stated to average 17s. 6d., and that is including every form of remuneration. To compare with that we have the acknowledged subsistence standard elaborated by Mr. Rowntree and others a year or two ago, which was then 18s. 4d., but now, with the rise in prices, is considerably higher. In Norfolk the average of wages is 15s. 4d., and in Oxford it is considerably lower. But, in saying that, one must remember that a man may be employed for the larger part of the year and may be ill at harvest time, and his average for the year would then be an entirely different matter. On wet days, or where there is no fixity of tenure or wages, a man's weekly earning may be very much less than the so-called cash earnings of the winter. A very interesting statement has been compiled by Mr. Mann, which came out in his book on life in the English village. He points out that the labourer in his first stage is raised above the poverty line when he begins, or his brothers begin, to earn wages. He can then secure sufficient food, clothing, and shelter until he is a married man and has three children. After he has more than two children he again sinks below the line of subsistence, and does not rise again until some of his children leave school 2282 and begin to earn. But before all his children are provided for, old age comes on, and he sinks below the poverty line once more, probably never to rise above it again. That is simply a graphic way of expressing the life history of the agricultural labourer in the greater number of the counties of England.
Another interesting fact which is brought out is that in the case of a great many agricultural labourers, if you take their ordinary wages, apart from harvest remuneration, and you make a reasonable allowance for his club, etc., and his clothing, there is not more than enough, in the case of a man with a family of five, to allow for ¾d. per meal for each member of the family. That is sufficient to make one realise something of what the housekeepers' difficulties at all events are in farm labourers' houses of England. On the question of education, it is unnecessary to point out that owing to low wages the children of farm labourers are very often unfit to make the best of the lessons in school, and of course it is notorious that the housing problem is absolutely bound up with the wages question. No praise can be too great for the efforts which the rural districts are making to meet the housing difficulty, and progress has steadily been made, but not rapidly enough, and what economists can hope that the rural housing question will be solved until we solve the thing at the root of all others which is adequate remuneration, and which makes it possible for housing to be an economic investment. Then you have the incursion of the country labourer into the towns. Mr. Charles Booth pointed out that something like 30 per cent. of the employés in the large factories of the East-End are men country born. They continually keep wages down, and they notoriously undercut wages in the towns, and all this while prices have been rising to a certainly greater extent than wages have risen. The under-feeding of children is not merely as bad, but it is worse than it was, because the actual wage in many homes is certainly worse in point of purchasing power. Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer give us any assurance that inquiry is being made into these subjects, and also into the possible bearing of the Trade Board's system in its application to the economic difficulties of rural organisation.
Of course there are innumerable difficulties to be inquired into in the application of any such system, which bristles 2283 with complexities, and calls for very close inquiry, possibly a more detailed inquiry than a non-official body can carry out. It is certainly the case in rural England that the employer class is not at all taken with the idea of a rise in wages. I would submit one reflection upon that. You find in country life the strongest opposition expressed to the idea of a rise of wages, but sometimes you find that opposition is very inconsistent. You will hear a man inveigh generally against agitators who set class against class, and saying that it will ruin agriculture to demand a rise of wages. Or you will hear some farmer or landlord talk about appointing a gardener or a gamekeeper, and then the question of wages is viewed from another point of view, for they remark that of course they could not dream of paying a gardener or a gamekeeper less than 15s. a week, because they could not decently live on less. The opposition is very often not a reasoned opposition, and it might yield to inquiry. The same objection that we have now was experienced fifty years ago in regard to the fencing of machinery. John Bright himself said that the fencing of machinery would be the last straw to break the back of the manufacturer. We know what has happened. Again you have the fact that wages have very largely risen, and that agriculture and farming have not been in the least injured thereby. There is the farmer's point of view which I hope will be gone into very carefully. I think the farmers will be inconvenienced greatly by any disturbance, and I cannot help having sympathy with them. They cannot be expected to make allowance for economic friction or ultimate advantage, and the course of the first rearrangement would be very inconvenient to them.
I would like to point out, however, that the farmers in many cases have been raising wages, and are anxious to raise them further, but they are in great difficulty unless some general rise comes to their aid. Here is a very interesting illustration. In January of last year, Mr. Montague, of Linford Hall, one of the chief estates in Norfolk, paid his married labourers 17s. and his single labourers 15s. 6d., and the tradesmen in the adjoining towns and villages already feel the benefit of the increased custom. But mark the difficulty. Mr. Montague afterwards received a letter from a farmer who said he thought Mr. Montague might have met the labourers 2284 in some other way, so as not to make labourers on adjoining estates and farms dissatisfied. Unless there is a general levelling up, other employers are at a disadvantage. This is one of the chief difficulties in applying an agricultural rate. Perhaps the Chancellor will assure us that inquiry is being made into this subject. The variation in farm wages is so immense in England that it disposes of the theory that farm wages are based on value. The efficiency of work and labour is not in relation to the wages paid, and anybody who looks at the facts will not deny that. In general I would urge that this subject ought to be looked upon from a national point of view, and nobody can doubt that the wages now prevailing in many counties of England are a gigantic economic mistake. Everyone admits that in our rural machinery artificially low wages and artificially low rents are no public advantage, and almost prevent the solution of the housing question, which, while certainly being an economic, is also a moral and educational question. There are various remedies suggested, but they require very careful inquiry, and I do not know whether a private body is in a position to make it. I submit that the demand for better treatment for the agricultural labourer is a moderate and constitutional demand, and, if it is the aim of the Government to produce happiness and tranquillity, then the claim of the labourers should be very carefully considered. This is not merely a question which affects the largest body of men working in one industry in the country, but it is one the solution of which is at the very base of the national welfare and national health.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I will reply to my hon. Friend who has just sat down before I deal with the question of Irish finance. I could not possibly answer for the inquiry of an unofficial or private character which is being conducted. Although I am associated with that inquiry I am not associated with it as a Minister of the Crown, and the Government as a Government has nothing to do with it, though it is undertaken with their knowledge and sanction, and I have no doubt that they will benefit from the result of the inquiries which are being made. As my hon. Friend knows very well, the inquiry is of a very careful, systematic, and, I think I may say scientific character, by some of the ablest investigators in this 2285 country, men whose position as investigators is thoroughly established in this country; some of them have an international reputation as investigators. I am glad to think that the investigation is of a most impartial character into which the facts of the case are without any preconceived notions of what the remedies ought to be. My hon. Friend, I think, has rendered a service by calling attention to the very deplorable condition of the agricultural labourer in some parts of Great Britain—notably in some part of Great Britain. In fact, I am certain that there is no important industry in which those who are engaged in it are so miserably paid as that of the agricultural labourer. I think their wages and their housing conditions are a perfect scandal to this great country, and anybody who has taken the trouble to inquire for himself and to read up some of the reports which were prepared some time ago by Mr. Wilson Fox and others as to the condition of the agricultural labourer must come to that conclusion. My hon. Friend has also called attention to the fact that there has been a great deal of emigration, and, what is still more important, migration, from the rural districts during the last few years. Those who are acquainted with the facts will not be astonished at the numbers who have left those districts, and they must be surprised that many more have not left. When wages are so much better in the mining areas and other areas, it is marvellous that able-bodied men should be prepared to go on labouring at all seasons for that miserable reward which labour on the soil brings to them.
I also agree with my hon. Friend that there is no economic reason at all why wages should be so low in some of those areas. In fact, it always puzzles me why wages should be so very low in some districts, whereas in almost contiguous areas wages are very much higher. Take some of the districts, you might imagine it is because farming in certain districts is not as profitable a business as it is in districts where the wages are higher. There is no reason why it should not be, because the wages are lowest in some of the counties which are nearest to the biggest markets of the world. That is a most extraordinary phenomenon. If you go to Scotland, to even remote parts, and the North of England, though there are some good markets there, and to some parts of Wales which are completely removed from large markets, there you find that the wages in 2286 some cases amount to 20s. per week. Come to the Home Counties near London and the other great towns, where you have the biggest market for agricultural produce that the world can ever give any farmer, and the wages are less by a third at least than they are in the remotest parts of the mountains of Wales.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Certainly in some of the Home Counties they are less by sometimes a third than they are in the part of the world I come from, which is a purely mountainous district, where the soil is not particularly good and difficult of cultivation, and where you have not got a big market nearer than Liverpool, which is over a hundred miles away. Yet in the Home Counties, within easy access of this great market here, the wages are not to be compared with the wages which we pay in some parts of my own country. That shows that there must be some reasons which have nothing whatever to do with the profitable character of agriculture, and they must be reasons either of a social or political character, or reasons which may be of a trade-union character, but they are reasons which ought to be looked into very carefully. I think this House has[...] at any rate, some power to control, direct, and guide in that direction. I do not think any Government can abstain from taking cognisance of this question. We are losing our population in the rural areas, and in some respects the best part of our population. The land is under-cultivated in a good many districts for that very reason, owing to the scarcity of labour, because the conditions of labour are not sufficiently attractive to induce the men bred and born in those areas to remain there, apart from their not being sufficiently attractive to induce people from other districts to migrate to the rural areas. As a matter of fact, the natural attractions of country life ought to be so great that the migration ought to be from the towns to the country and not from the country to the towns. I am sure it is possible, by means which I am not in a position at the present moment to outline, and I am perfectly satisfied it is possible to divert the stream of migration and get your surplus population in the towns to that land, instead of getting, not the surplus population, but an inadequate population to migrate into the town.
My hon. Friend has said very truly that this is a national question, and I shall be 2287 very glad to see it treated from a national and not a partisan point of view, and I am sincere in that, because I do not know any question which more vitally affects the life of this country than the rural problem. I should be very glad to see real co-operation between the parties. I do not think it is a question of attacking any class or criticising any class. All classes have done their duty according to their own lights. I think it is a case for all parties to put their heads together and co-operate for the purpose of regenerating rural life in this country. You really cannot get a great country built up permanently on conditions which make rural life unpopular, putting it at its lowest, and that is really the case now. I am certain the landlord does not profit by that; I am sure he does not. I am equally certain that the farmer does not profit by that. I am sure the present system is a pecuniary loss to the landlord. It is certainly a pecuniary loss to the farmer who does not make the best of the land, and who does not make the best profit for himself, and who does not put himself in the position to pay even often an adequate rent for the land he has, and the agricultural labourer undoubtedly suffers. I do not want to disparage any agricultural labourer in any part of the country, but going about the country I noticed that there is a vast difference between the men in the well-paid districts and those in the underpaid districts. The man in the well paid districts has got the swing of life in every movement. He is full of vitality and go, well-built, strong, and vigorous. If you go to the underpaid districts the men look disheartened and discouraged, with no strength and no go, and no life in them. You cannot get any profit out of people under those conditions. I am quite sure it is to the profit of the farmer and of the landlord, and of the agricultural labourer too, and that it is for the profit of this country as a whole that you should get a thoroughly contented peasantry, well satisfied, because they are well fed and well clad, and well housed, and the conditions of life are pleasant for them.
I do hope no one will think that I am making any party appeal in the matter, but I do hope that all parties will just direct their minds to this, and, if necessary, make sacrifices, because each party has got its own sacrifices to make in this respect. One party can appeal to one class and another party to another class. It is 2288 well worth our while to appeal to all classes of the country in order to do something to recover the old position which rural life used to have, and which to a very large extent it has lost to-day. I was glad to see a Bill introduced yesterday by Unionist Members dealing with the matter, and I hope they will not be discouraged by Members on their own side. I was also glad to see in the Press recently some letters from prominent Unionists dealing with the subject. I am sure that if it is dealt with broadly in this way, without any party appeals, whichever party eventually has to deal with it, it will make an enormous difference in the course and destiny of the country. At the present moment that is all I can say in reply to my hon. Friend. The question is really receiving the attention of the Government. The facts are being collected. Those facts are very valuable. At any rate I hope that the reports will not be prejudged before they are seen. If it is found that they are purely partisan mutilated accounts of what happens in rural districts, let them be condemned then. For the moment I simply ask that they should receive fair consideration. I think it will be found that they are a very valuable contribution to the study of the problem, and that they will be of value, not merely to Members on this side of the House, but to those Members who are equally interested, equally zealous, and equally sincere on the other side.
I turn now to what has fallen from the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) about Irish finance. His speech was marked by that accuracy with respect to facts and figures, and I may add the high sense of chivalry which always characterises the hon. Member. What is his complaint? It is, as far as I can see, that we under-estimated the revenue that we should receive from Ireland under the Budget of 1909. It is perfectly true that we received more in respect of the new taxes than we expected to receive. That is true, not merely of Ireland, but of Great Britain as well. These taxes have yielded more than we thought they would yield. I am not here to apologise for that. It is a tribute to the wealth of the country. It is very difficult to estimate for a single year what a tax will yield. It is still more difficult to estimate the yield for two, three, or four years. The hon. Gentleman criticises us because we are not able to anticipate with accuracy what the taxes will yield three years ahead. If a tax is well and truly 2289 laid, if it is a sound tax, it is more likely to err on the side of exceeding the Estimate than on the other side. What has happened in Ireland? We have under-estimated the wealth of the country. Is that a thing for Irish Members to regret? I frankly admit that it has turned out that Ireland is more prosperous and wealthy than we thought she was. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman and his friends on that fact. But why does he attack the Treasury for that? If the Treasury are responsible for it, he ought to thank and not attack them. He says that the Death Duties have produced more than we expected. What does that mean? It means that people have more money than we thought they had. They have saved more money. They are wealthier. I am very glad of that. If the hon. Gentleman had said that we taxed Ireland differently from this country he would have had reason to complain; but the Death Duties, Tea Duty, Tobacco Duty, Spirit Duties are exactly the same in Ireland as in this country. It is said that we have taken more out of Ireland in respect of tobacco, spirits, and motor cars. I admit that I had no idea there were so many Irishmen with motor cars. I am glad that Ireland has so much more surplus wealth than I ever dreamt in 1909. Why do we not rejoice together instead of quarrelling about that? Instead of abusing me for that, the hon. Member ought to dance an Irish jig on the Floor of the House. The hon. Gentleman said, "You estimated that you would get only £602,000. Here is the Paper;" and he dramatically flourished the Paper over his head. If he had taken as much time to read the Paper as he did to flourish it he would have known that he had not quoted the Paper at all. Will it be believed that the hon. Gentleman, while pretending to give the House the estimate of the yield of Irish revenue, actually overlooked the fact that it was stated in the Paper that the Estimate in respect of spirits was not there at all.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Oh, no. What happened to-day? The hon. Gentleman, flourishing a Paper, said, "Here is a Paper 2290 which says that you are going to get only £600,000 additional duties out of Ireland." It does not say so. The hon. Gentleman has not given the House an accurate account of the Paper which he was flourishing. The Paper says £602,000 from the duties there mentioned. What we were going to get out of spirits we could not tell. What we were going to get out of Liquor Licences we could not tell. What we were going to get out of Land Value Duties we could not tell. The Paper says so. The hon. Gentleman deliberately kept that from the House. Something was said about a fraudulent Paper. What about the fraudulent use of a Paper? It is not a fair way of treating the House of Commons. The hon. and learned Gentleman must have known it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I listened very carefully and quietly to the hon. Member, and I hope he will do the same to me. I listened to him when he was misquoting the Paper deliberately—unless he tells me that he had not read it. If he had not read it, it was a shameful exercise of his power as a Member of Parliament. He knew that he was going to speak to-day. He prepared his speech. He prepared his invective. He prepared his insults. Why did he not spend just three minutes of the time which he devoted to the preparation of his invective and his insults to reading the document on which he professed to base his indictment? He kept from the House of Commons the fact that the Estimate in regard to spirits is not in the Paper at all. If he had read the document, the whole of his case would have vanished. But all this was done, not for the House of Commons, but for the "Cork Free Press," and for consumption in a row between himself and his friends in Ireland. That is a matter entirely for themselves. But I say that it is a disgraceful thing that in order to assist his friends in Ireland, he should make constant attacks upon officials in the Treasury and in the Inland Revenue Department, accusing them of fraud, blackmail, and all sorts of unmentioned crimes. He attacks upright honourable men who do their duty on a basis which if the hon. Member had only read the Paper, he would have known was grossly inaccurate and untrue. It is one of the most unjustifiable exercises of his power as a Member of Parliament that I have ever seen. So much for the document about which the hon. Member speaks.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It affects the question because the hon. Member says that we budgeted only for an increase of £600,000. That is not true, because we stated in our document that we were not including spirits at all, and the increase is very largely an increase in spirits.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I can give the figure, but that is not the point at the present moment. The point at the present moment is that the hon. and learned Gentleman deliberately withheld from the House of Commons and from his countrymen in Ireland a fact which must have been known to him.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that this document stated at the end that these taxes would produce £600,000.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
There is the document, and there are also the statements of four Ministers—Mr. McKenna, Mr. Hobhouse, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Mr. Herbert Samuel.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that this document—and I have listened to him carefully—stated——
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
He said that this document stated that in the first place we expected from Ireland an increase of £600,000. Not only is that not true, but the hon. and learned Gentleman would have discovered, had he taken two minutes to look over this document and consult it, that it was untrue.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
What does this document say? This document does not 2292 give the estimate of spirits, nor the estimate of liquor licences——
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Let me finish. It does not give an estimate of the Super-tax. It gives no estimate of land values. What it means is this: That in four out of the taxes we stated that we could not estimate at that time, so that to say that the only estimate we formed was that of an increase of £600,000 a year is untrue, and grossly untrue. If the hon. and learned Member did not know that a few minutes ago, I think he knows it now.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I do not accept your statement in any degree; I do not accept any of your statements.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and learned Gentleman has got to restrain himself within the decencies of Parliamentary debate. I know it requires a great effort on his part to do so. But I listened to him while he was abusing the Treasury, and whilst he was abusing me for over half an hour without interrupting him. I come to the other statement—that we are getting a little over half a million increase from Ireland—that is one-twenty-fifth of the increase we are getting from the United Kingdom—and the population of Ireland, I think, is one-tenth of the population of the United Kingdom. The increased taxation we are getting from Ireland is one-twenty-fifth, and the hon. and learned Gentleman said, "I quite admit there is a set-off, but what is the good of talking about that." He treats it with great contempt. He might have given the figures. After all, they are rather interesting. They are very interesting to this country. He might have been fairer, I think, to the House of Commons. What is Ireland getting out of this Budget of 1909, which the hon. and learned Member treats with such scorn, treats as a small set-off, as a matter of book-keeping? She is getting £2,600,000 for old age pensions alone. She is getting £250,000 for national health insurance, unemployment, and Labour Exchanges—all provided out of that Budget. Ireland has had more for road improvements per head of the population than any other part of the Kingdom—£146,000. Here is another item provided by the Budget of 1909: For agricultural developments Ireland has had far more than any other part of the United Kingdom. She has had £173,000.
2293 Apart from these grants, Ireland has got directly out of the finance of the Budget of 1909, £2,850,000 a year. She finds £1,114,000. She is over £1,700,000 a year to the good. And the hon. and learned Gentleman scornfully dismisses that as nothing but a little set-off—book-keeping! Why did he not give the facts? He said he had a suggestion to make to the House of Lords. My suggestion, he said, is this: "That the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be confined to his half-million out of the revenues that he is getting out of the Budget." I will make a bargain with him. Will he halve the expenditure involved in the Budget of 1909? In that case Ireland will get £1,425,000 instead of £2,850,000 a year. She will lose £1,425,000, and I would lose £500,000. The Treasury would be £900,000 a year to the good. Will he add that to his suggestion? If he will then the Treasury will benefit by it. I am perfectly certain that Ireland would not. The next time he makes these statements—because he was not making them for consumption here, but for consumption in Ireland—let him state the whole facts. Let him state not merely the truth, but the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Let him say in Ireland that you are abstracting, if you like—I forget the word—wringing out of the Irish taxpayer £1,100,000—out of this overtaxed country. Let him also say that for that £1,100,000 that is being wrung out of Ireland we are giving them by the same instrument £2,850,000 apart from road and development grants. When he tells the truth, and the whole truth, I will not be afraid of being judged by his countrymen on that issue.
§ Mr. W. O'BRIEN
I do not want to wind up the proceedings of this Debate on an angry note, but I must say that I am a little disappointed at—I do not like to say it—the ill-conditioned speech that we have just been listening to, a speech in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us such a pretty specimen of the courtesy and of that democratic equality which, according to the old traditions, at all events, ought to prevail amongst all the Members of this House, whether they sit upon this bench or upon that. Even Irish Nationalists who have the misfortune not to form part of the Ministerial household ought to have some right to some little toleration when they are discussing the most vital financial affairs of their country on one of the exceptionally few occasions when it is now 2294 possible to do so. We have to thank the right hon. Gentleman for one advance here to-day, and that is that he has stayed to listen to us. Upon the last occasion, while perhaps we were wrong in attaching too much importance to the fact, he absented himself from this House during the speech of my hon. Friend and colleague in the representation of Cork City—a speech that I venture to say anybody who heard it would admit was a speech worth listening to for anybody with a sense of responsibility in regard to the future relations between these two countries. Again, it may have been the merest accident that the Home Secretary, when he came to speak that night, omitted to say a single word on the subject which the right hon. Gentleman has not ventured to make any allusion to—the pledge that was brought home to him that the taxation of Ireland under this Budget would never exceed £500,000 a year. Again, of course it may have been another regrettable coincidence that the Home Secretary himself forgot to say a word in reply to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy), who, on the same occasion, spoke, and, I venture to say that such powerful and memorable speeches as those we have heard from our hon. and learned Friend will not readily be forgotten by those against whom they are directed.
We may be very crafty and suspicious, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Irish allies may, for all I know, be angels of innocence and of simplicity; but being poor, fallible human beings as we are, when we observe that the benches behind us suddenly were denuded of every single occupant the moment my hon. Friend began to speak it looked a little remarkable, as if on that occasion the sympathetic strike extended to the Treasury Benches, when we observed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself departed from the House and did not return until the Irish discussion had been safely switched off. It was a little queer that on that night neither he nor the Home Secretary, whose pledges were impugned, ventured to say a single word in reply to my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for North-East Cork, who forced the subject to the front, and I for one make not the smallest apology that we did come to the conclusion that the sympathetic boycott and silence on that occasion, if not actually concerted, was, at all events, the result of a system of secret telepathy 2295 between the Treasury, who quite naturally do not want to hear any more about unpleasant Irish subjects, although they will hear a great deal more of them, and their Irish allies, who, for reasons of their own, have still less reason to wish to hear the over-taxation of Ireland alluded to any more. We are bound by no such agreement in this House. In the days when we entered this House the Irish Nationalists who would aid and abet the English Treasury in smothering discussion upon the over-taxation of Ireland would have a very short life in this House and not a very merry one. If that was the case, then I hold there is far stronger reason now why the complaints and grievances of Ireland should be reiterated, because at that time even so long ago as 1896 the Childers' Royal Commission, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer took very good care to make no allusion, reported Ireland to be over-taxed to the extent of £2,750,000 a year of over-taxation, and since that time and since the right hon. Gentleman Came to be at the head of the Treasury, at least £4,000,000 have been added to the burdens of Ireland.
I assert that, in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said a little while ago, at least £4,000,000 a year has been added to the burdens of Ireland either through the Budget or the Insurance Act or through the damage to the cattle trade of Ireland, or through another source of loss which the right hon. Gentleman took very good care not to allude to, namely, the enormous loss to Ireland by the repudiation of the land purchase settlement of 1903. When we find that all that wrong and injustice to Ireland is left absolutely unremedied by the present Budget and not remedied, as it is suggested by the Government of Ireland Bill, except to the extent of this vanishing subsidy which in a few years will fall to £200,000 or £300,000, instead of our pleading here as criminals, I hold that my hon. and learned friend was not only justified but was bound by a sacred duty to his country to call attention to the facts which the right hon. Gentleman has not dared to controvert, the fact, namely, that at this present moment, according to the pledges given by himself and by three of his colleagues in the Ministry, Ireland stands entitled to be credited with at least £1,000,000 a year in reference to these pledges. My hon. and learned Friend put pledge after pledge from the right hon. Gentleman himself, and from the Home 2296 Secretary, and from the Postmaster-General, and from the Chancellor of the Duchy, all in the most definite terms, and terms which the right hon. Gentleman has not ventured to explain away. According to these pledges, beyond all manner of doubt you have broken your promises to Ireland to the extent of £1,000,000, and we are entitled to point out that it was on the strength of these pledges alone that you succeeded in getting your Budget passed, and it was on the representation to the Irish people by the hon. Member for East Mayo on the pledges of the Cabinet to the Irish party that the Irish people attended to the representations of the Irish party.
We heard from the right hon. Gentleman the old plea that forsooth we have no grievance because we are only taxed upon the same principle and to the same extent as the people of this mighty Empire, and we heard once more of the great advantages old age pensions have given to Ireland. I should like to give my answer to that. My answer is this: I have pointed out in this House again and again without contradiction that the Old Age Pensions Act was framed and introduced without the smallest consultation with the Irish party of the day. And why? Because we did not then hold the balance of power. We did not then hold the Ministry in the hollow of our hand. I venture to say that old age pensions was not passed in the remotest degree from any altruistic tenderness for the poor of Ireland. It was passed for your own British reasons. I do not care to say whether it was not largely passed for your own British electioneering reasons, but, at all events, it was passed as an operation like your vast armaments of the Army and the Navy, and as portion of the paraphernalia of this mighty and wealthy Empire. I say, without hesitation, that you ought to pay for the expensive habits in which you have forced Ireland to be your partner.
§ Mr. WILLIAM O'BRIEN
I say this to hon. Gentlemen opposite: If you yourselves paid every shilling of the old age pensions that are due to Ireland you would only be making restitution of the extortion which your own Childers Commission acknowledged. But on the contrary we say—and only that I do not want to detain the House, I could give a good many facts in proof of it—that you have recouped yourselves most amply for every shilling 2297 of the expenditure to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred, first by appropriating to yourselves at least a million of money out of the collected revenue of Ireland, and, secondly, by taking credit to yourselves for at least £1,000,000 more for charges which are as purely Imperial as the manufacture of Union Jacks for your ships or your fortresses. There is one thing that may be forgiven, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made it by his speech to-day difficult to do it, but there is one thing that at all events will never be forgotten by the Irishman of the present generation, and it is this. There were only three bargains between Ireland and the Treasury that were ever made in which Ireland got the best of the bargain. One was the land settlement of 1903, another was the great labourers settlement of 1906, and the other, as I hold is demonstrated, was the pledge which our opposition to the Budget wrung from the Ministry that Ireland's liability under the Budget would never exceed £500,000 a year. These were the only three bargains between these two countries in which Ireland was not cruelly wronged and robbed, and each of all these three bargains have now been repudiated by the Treasury under the guardianship of the right hon. Gentleman. Every one of them has been repudiated. I make that charge. It is a charge that has been made before, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made no answer to it and can make no answer to it, except his favourite device of talking as if were really some crime of lèse majesté for an Irish Nationalist to speak irreverently or uncomfortably on the subject to the man who is the autocrat of the finances of Ireland at the present moment, and who would be just as absolutely master of our finances and master of our taxation under the so-called Irish Parliament. I do not care to discuss the motives which I am sure from their own point of view are perfectly patriotic which have induced the majority of the representatives of Ireland to foreswear their old relations with the Treasury and their old theory about Irish over-taxation, but no matter whom we may offend we will keep that flag of over-taxation flying until some measure of remedy is afforded to us. However we may be boycotted or blackguarded, either in Ireland or from the Treasury Bench, we will prefer to accept the old fate of Irishmen in this House of being assailed and blackguarded by the 2298 Treasury rather than the new plan of being rewarded as Ministerial Nationalists for conniving at and complying with evil work such as the Treasury has been carrying on against Ireland, and such as the right hon. Gentleman has been carrying out against her.