HC Deb 24 February 1914 vol 58 cc1691-727

I beg to move, That this House considers that it is imperative, in the interests of public peace, that the Prime Minister should without delay submit to the House his proposals for the alteration of the Government of Ireland Bill. This is a matter which has excited, and will excite, very considerable feeling. Personally, I shall endeavour to state my case as moderately as I can, but my moderation will not, I trust, be taken as an indication that I do not feel exceedingly strongly. The Government of Ireland Bill proposes to place Ireland, now in a position of absolute equality in the United Kingdom, in a position of inferiority; to-put her in a subordinate position—at any rate, on paper—and to ask a proud people to accept this position and bring about thereby lasting contentment and peace. I would rather give absolute independence to Ireland—keeping control of her foreign policy—than accept this Bill, which is to place her in a position she cannot, and will not, accept, except as a jumping-off ground to ask for more and for further concessions. To my mind there is no more ridiculous proposition than that because a majority, real or supposed, in Ireland asks for Home Rule, therefore Home Rule should be granted. To break up our Constitution—the Constitution of these islands—there must be a majority, not in one particular place, but in the United Kingdom and Ireland. We did not as a nation undertake the various conquests of Ireland to lay down our government at the demand of a relatively small and disloyal faction, and in, addition to pay them, as this Bill proposes to pay them, to undertake the government themselves. We have put our hands to the plough, and we have no intention of turning back. We are in Ireland, and Ireland is equally a part of us with Scotland and with Wales—we are in Ireland for the good of Ireland. We propose to remain there, and to keep her in the Union.

Perhaps it was not a model of courteous action on the part of the leader of a great party, or what was once a great party with a great Parliamentary record, to say to the leader of the strongest party in this House, "Wait and see." But at that time no particular harm was done. Now, delay is very dangerous, and the patience of many strong men is being strained to the breaking point. It is when we consider this Bill that every man, every honest man, is affrighted. When we turn to the period when this Government came into power, and remember what was said by the then Chief Secretary for Ireland—that Ireland never was so peaceful, never so prosperous, never so free from crime—and when we look at her now, after this Government have tried their hands for eight years, we see the proof of the old saying, that it is the weak people of this world, and not the strong, who do the harm. Has the Government the courage to face the position of its own making today? This Government represents what was once a great party—a party whose boast it was that it was of the people and for the people. Will the Government now, even at the eleventh hour, set up the old principles of Liberalism which it is violating and tramping upon. The Premier has attempted to prove that he has a mandate for Home Rule by quoting speeches and extracts from the election addresses of our leaders, rather than from those of the leaders of his own party.

What an argument! What a travesty of argument! It is useful only to show the exceedingly tight place into which this old Parliamentary hand has been driven. If the Premier thinks he has a mandate for Home Rule, he cannot say, and no one can pretend that he has a mandate for this preposterous Bill which he has forced through the House, and which he seeks to force on the country by methods akin to the methods of barbarism—the methods of a barbarous State like Costa Rica. And if he has a mandate for this Bill, which I personally look upon as a very gross injustice to Ireland, still less has he a mandate to coerce any part of Ireland—to coerce Ulster, to force her out of the Parliament she has chosen, and out of the United Kingdom, of which she is so great an ornament—to seek to force her, at the point of the bayonet, into a Parliament which she despises and repudiates; and that after a long and bitter experience of the men she would have to work with, men whose protestations of friendship she distrusts, whose very acquaintance she declines, and whose proposals, if they are proposals of the disloyal, she, and not she alone, will fight against, and will win that light. It is imperative that the Premier should tell us at the earliest possible opportunity—and that, is now—his new suggestions, proposals, or alterations, whatever he may wish to call them. It seems to me we are in the position, as a kingdom, of children playing with matches in a powder magazine. We are courting a hideous disaster the magnitude of which no man can measure and no man can gauge. The right hon. Gentleman who sits on our Front Bench delivered a marvellous speech the other day beside which almost all the other speeches I have listened to in this House became ineffective and commonplace. He impressed this House and this country with his earnestness, his conviction, his eloquence, and, above all, with his restraint. The right hon. Gentleman has now, and has had for some time the most difficult task of restraining the natural indignation and the passions of a brave, intelligent, loyal, and God-fearing people. Fortunately for us that people has absolute confidence and trust in him, but, even so, there is a point beyond which even human affection, human trust and human patience cannot safely be tried, and no attempt has been made on the Benches opposite or in the country to assist him. On the contrary, no single opportunity for insult has been allowed to pass—insult to him as leader of the cause, insult to the men, to their arms, to their drill, to their preparations to defend the right, and to their determination to remain in the United Kingdom and in this Parliament. If ever Ulster despairs of British justice a conflagration will ensue such as will devastate all Ireland, and possibly not Ireland alone. It will cause untold misery and ruin; it will put the clock of civilisation back fifty years at the least, and it will involve a reconquest of Ireland. It may possibly be true that the Union was carried by bribery—


So was the. Parliament Act.


The bribery of a few debased creatures who sold their principles for peerages, but will history relate that this break-up of the Union was not attempted by sheer unabashed and naked bribery—the bribery of a great party, or what was once a great party, by the bribery of office and all that that means and entails, of which we have heard a good deal recently. The sands, I say, are running out, and running out very fast. The time at the Premier's disposal is very short. His personal responsibility is very great. If the betrayed Ulstermen come to Downing Street they will not come bearing gifts, and they will not leave without accomplishing the object of their visit. [HON. MEMBEBS: "What is it?"] It appears to me, as a humble Member, that there are three ways only of ending this trouble. The first is to drop the Bill, the second is the exclusion of Ulster, and the third is an appeal to the country. No other plan has any chance of success. For myself there are only two plans, the first and the last, for I, for one, could not and will not be a party to the exclusion of Ulster. That, to my mind, would involve the betrayal of the rest of loyal Ireland. I am pledged against Home Rule in any shape or form. How could I even assist in giving Home Rule to the three provinces of Ireland where the Protestants and loyalists are less able to help themselves and to make themselves feared and respected? Ulster is the only province which can, and which, with God's help, will look after herself and look after her people. This could not be peace. Burke speaks of a "regicide's peace." This would be a suicide peace, and I would rather see war—yes, what Mulvaney asked for—"bloody war, north, east, south, and west," as such a war must be—than a disgraceful peace.

There remains an appeal to the country. Why not, if you Liberals are sincere and honest? You must have a General Election within the year. If you have it now, on this great question, you will regain at least some of the respect you have lost, some of the respect which was once the possession of your party, and you will avoid what I believe will be an appalling catastrophe. You can avoid this catastrophe by a step which you should be only too glad, too ready, and too proud to take—that is, if any of your protestations as to believing in the voice of the people are anything but a base deception of the people. On the other hand, you possibly let go of office, of salary, of patronage, and the rest, for eight or ten months sooner than you wish. I wish I could pledge the party to which I belong to indemnify you if you so wish. It would be worth the cost. If not, you must pass your Bill, a Bill you admit to be imperfect, and admit should be altered and amended. You must pass it through this House, and must seek to force it on Ulster and coerce her—you, the Liberal party—if she declines to accept, your base-born law. How do you propose to do this? You know that if you attempt it the loyalists of Ulster will have the whole force and strength of the Unionists of this country behind them. You know it, because our leader has warned you in so many words. I should like to hear him assure the Services that if in your blindness you seek to employ those Services to coerce the Protestants and the loyalists, and to fire on their own folk and their own flag—I should like to hear him assure them that those who decline to obey such impossible, unjust, and disloyal orders shall, so soon as we regain power, be indemnified by us, be reinstated in their positions and their pensions, and receive the loyal thanks of the Parliament of this country. There are hundreds, I should say thousands, of officers and men who will have to consider, on the one hand, their pay and their pensions, and, on the other, their position in a fighting force. That consideration should be made easy for them, and their positions, their pay, and their pensions should be guaranteed by us. [HON. MEMBERS: "Bribery!"] If you will not appeal to the people, then go your way. Go it headlong down your particular steep place. I know no word will stop you. I know that no counsel will restrain you, and that fear alone will not have any effect upon you. Go your way, and get your reward. You shall get it, and you shall find it in the words of your Foreign Secretary—the reward of disaster, death, and damnation.

9.0 P.M.


The governing point of the whole Motion centres on the word delay. That is the point to which I wish to draw the attention of the House, the danger of the long protracted delay that has attended on this particular question. I believe myself that a physician administering to the necessities of a patient will find that in one thing one particular remedy is good, but if we observe the physician for every case and for every disease always administering the same one remedy, we lose faith in him as a physician and we wonder whether he is a legitimate practitioner or no. But the trouble has been, in my opinion, through these long drawn-out years that we have had one remedy applied, not once or twice, but continuously right through, no matter what the disease of the body politic has been—the remedy of "Wait and see." I do not think that the pupils of Do-the-Boys Hall ever had with greater regularity and persistency the brimstone and treacle treatment than we have had the wait and see treatment, and I think it is well worth while, even at this late hour, that delays should cease, and that we should get to know something about the remedy for what we all believe to be the very serious condition of the body politic, especially in relation to Ireland. We are labouring under trouble that arises very largely in consequence of the Parliament Act. The Parliament Act itself is wait and see in excelsis. We must parry our minds back to the genesis of this. In 1906 Ireland was prosperous and growing in contentment, and the same state of affairs lasted until 1910, and it was only after the Budget Election of 1910, when the life of the Government was hanging on a thread, when we were waiting, and the Budget was hung up from day to day and week to week before arrangements were made by which men who did not like the Budget, men who if left to themselves would probably have voted against the Budget, but who, for certain very well understood and, from their point of view, quite legitimate reasons, sacrificed what they thought to be the lesser to secure the greater, and ever since that arrangement, by which the Government retains its political life, we have been waiting and seeing, and waiting to see a state of affairs to arrive that the United Kingdom has not known for many, many generations past.

Ireland itself is in a very different state to-day from its state when the Government found it and took it over from their predecessors. We hear sometimes words of peace, words which are intended to smooth out and make the way easier; but even so recently as within the last week or two we have been reading, not certainly, I am quite sure, by the will of the Member for the City, of espionage in Waterford, where men who attend the services of a church for the purpose of prayer are watched and their names published in the local paper to bring damage to their material interests as tradesmen and citizens of that place. If we read the speeches which were antecedent to the election in Cork, we should find that only second to the dislike of Ulster is the dislike of Cork for the prospect of being placed under what they call the Molly Maguires. The Society of Hibernians presents as great a terror to the people of Cork, perhaps, as to the people of Belfast; but, at any rate, the condition of Ireland is such that there are armed men in Ulster, men ostensibly drilling for certain purposes. The Government is trifling almost with that movement, prohibiting the importation of arms but doing nothing much besides, for there is no strong man about the place to guide and direct. A strong man, even if his policy is entirely repugnant, commands a certain respect. What respect have the people of Ireland to-day for their Government? When all this long-drawn-out story, which is a torture to many of our fellow subjects, has been running, and they have witnessed what they have thought to be the huckstering of their rights, of their liberties, and of their very birthright, how can we be surprised if the condition of affairs is very unhappy, and that we may well look for some considered proposal which shall put an end to this unhappy state of affairs. When this story began we could not see the effect; it was to remote. Through the Sessions of Parliament, the Bill that was discussed may have seemed to be remote. The Debates themselves lacked reality and actuality; they seemed to be almost sham Debates. They almost seemed to be in another world. But it was the business of statesmen to forsee whereunto this would grow, and the time is ripening now when hard facts have to be faced, and when we have a very difficult, a very serious, and what may be a very disastrous position to deal with; so I think we are doing nothing but our duty in asking that the Prime Minister, without any further delay whatever, having acquiesced in the common consent of all that this Bill, as we now have it, should be altered, at any rate in some respects, whether it be by what are called concessions or guarantees, or exclusion, or anything else, whatever the remedy is, do let us know what it is. Let us put an end to this state of affairs which is doing the country harm, and which is disastrous to many of our best citizens.

It was the fashion a while ago for hon. Gentlemen on the other side to regard the people of Ulster as ignorant people who only needed to be told what was good for them, and it was thought that as soon as they understood it they would welcome it. That day has gone. Then we had the time when they were content to describe it as "bluff." It was said that Ulster was bluffing, and that we need not take much notice. It was all bluff, and things would right themselves. That time has gone. Now, perhaps, we are told that there are a lot of fanatics in Ulster—a kind of mad men who would rush to death without rhyme or reason. That stage will also pass, and it will be found that these are sane men, basing themselves upon an intelligent appreciation of hard facts, fortified by all the best qualities of generations of free men. If it so be that the Prime Minister to-night can tell us that he will attempt to win Ulster, and will tell us what his proposals are, a great sigh of relief will go up. But if he is not going to do that, men will know what they have to face, and they will prepare themselves accordingly, and the task will not be done in a hurry. If the Government are going to win Ulster, let us know how they are going to win her. Surely they have a plan. Surely they are not bluffing. They should have a plan, a well-considered scheme, matured during the weeks, the months, and the years that have gone by since their life was hanging on a thread. I wish that we may have it to-night. If we do not have it soon, I think I may continue the metaphor in a stronger form and say that, instead of hanging on a thread, their life will be hanging on a rope. That will be the result. If they would only ask what the electors would value their political lives at, the answer might be, "The value of a rope." It is because they thoroughly appreciate that fact that the remedy we suggest is disregarded—the remedy of going to the people who have a right to say what shall be done in this scheme, and asking them at a General Election what they really want done. If that was done, and if the electors say, "Take Ulster," then we have got to set about taking it. If the electors are willing and wishful that Ulster should be won, let us set about winning Ulster. Rut if the electors say, "We are tired of this prolonged torture of the people of Ulster, and desire to see a termination of this state of affairs," make way, and let us have men strong in will who will strive to heal and to bind and not yield.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

I am very glad that the fortunes of the ballot have been favourable to this Motion, as I think its discussion, brief as that dis- cussion must necessarily be, may perhaps lead to the dispersion of some clouds and mists which seem at the present moment to obscure the political atmosphere. A fortnight ago, on the first night of the Session, I indicated in plain language what was and what would be the attitude of the Government in response to the grave appeal to men of all parties which was contained in the Speech from the Throne. I do not think that either the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down or the Mover addressed one single word of his speech to the Motion before the House, and they are not singular in this respect. They have strangely misconceived the attitude of the Government—I mean the attitude of the Government and the party the Government represents. They seem to think that we here are to be likened to a beleaguered garrison, driven under stress of warfare into an untenable position——[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—Yes, the right hon. Gentleman opposite thinks so—with failing supplies, with exhausted ammunition, and with shaken nerves, and that it is for them, the minority of this House, to dictate the terms of capitulation, or to determine whether we are to be allowed to surrender with or without the honours of war. That is a singular inversion, or rather perversion, of the actual situation. What are the real facts? The Government of Ireland Bill has been carried through this House in two successive Sessions with undiminished majorities. We believe in the measure, amended, as we think it has been, in the process of Parliamentary discussion.


made a remark which was inaudible in the Press Gallery.


I hope the right hon. Gentleman will restrain himself.


All I said was, "As much as was allowed to be discussed."


My appeal was not addressed to the right hon. Gentleman. It was addressed to the right hon. Gentleman who is sitting beside him. I only asked him to restrain himself.


The right hon. Gentleman is singularly unfortunate, for my right hon. Friend had made a remark. I had made none. Perhaps the Prime Minister will say in what respect he desires me to accept his advice?


If I was mistaken, I apologise to the right hon. Gentle- man. I was going to say we still consider, and we have not changed our opinion in the very least degree, that the Government of Ireland Bill is a sound and a statesmanlike measure—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is dead."]—which at the same time satisfies a national demand and provides ample securities for the rights and liberties of minorities. It is not only a misconception, but it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the language which I used on the first night of the Session, to say that any suggestions which we may put forward in the direction of peace are an admission on our part that the Bill as it stands is bad or unjust; nor is there any indication, so far as I can see, that it is so regarded by public opinion outside.

When the Parliament Act was under discussion I argued frequently that the delay of two years and three Sessions, which it interposes between the first approval of a Bill by the House of Commons and its final passage into law, would be found an absolute security not only against precipitate legislation, but against legislation in regard to which opinion outside, as developed by time and by discussion, showed itself hostile to the original decision of the House of Commons. No fair-minded observer can say that that has been the case with reference to this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "Masterman."] I am going to give my reasons for saying that. I pointed out on the first night of the Session that the by-elections during the Recess, though, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, they involved on balance a loss to the Government of two seats, showed an increase instead of a decrease in the aggregate of votes for the Home Rule candidates. Since then, during the last week, we have had three more election contests. In the one case, and the only case, in which there was what I may call a fair-and-square contest between a Liberal candidate and a Tory candidate, the Unionist majority was substantially reduced. In the two other cases where there were three-cornered contests, the Liberal and Labour candidate—[An HON. MEMBER: "All Home Rulers."]—I quite agree that while the Labour candidates on many points were quite as hostile to the Government as their Tory opponents, they were united and indeed strong in their support of Home Rule—but the Liberal candidate and the Labour candidate polled in each of these constituencies a considerable majority of the total electorate. I say that it is idle in face of these facts to contend that there is any indications of a set of British electoral opinion in a direction adverse to Home Rule. Incidentally, I may add that these elections show that in the General Election which is so constantly demanded by the party opposite, Home Rule, however much they might like to make it the chief issue—and I am not disputing their desire to do so—would not be the decisive or even dominant factor.


Why did you funk it?


The truth is, and it is perfectly true, that the average British elector in regard to this matter is neither excited nor anxious. He has made up his mind that Home Rule has got to come. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] He believes with a reasonable amount of give and take the obstacles that stand in its way may be surmounted, and meantime, he is much more interested in the future conduct of his own domestic policy. I see, therefore, neither from the Parliamentary nor from the electoral point of view, any reason on our part to supplicate for a truce, and still less to hoist the white flag of surrender.


Toe the line!


If, then, His Majesty's Government take on themselves, as they have done, the responsibility of initiating proposals which may lead to a peaceful settlement, it is not because we feel in any sense driven to abandon the proposals which we have put forward, and which this House has passed through twice, and still less is it because we are disposed to concede to the menace of physical force what we would not concede to policy. I have never said—and the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), who has been present at all these Debates, I am sure will not contradict what I am going to say—I have never from the very first moment that the Bill came before this House, said a word disparaging either the intensity or the sincerity of the feeling in Ulster.


Hear, hear.


indicated assent.


I never have, for the very good reason that I have never had any such feeling of disparagement. I have never said it, and I do not say it now. I have a clear conscience on this matter. You may search my speeches in vain to find one word or phrase which, I will not say is insulting, but which is not respectful and sympathetic to the people of Ulster.

What was the use of proposing specific concessions—call those concessions by whatever term you like to use—when we are told, as we were told over and over again in the plainest possible terms, that no concession of any sort or kind, not even the total and permanent exclusion of Ulster, would in the least degree mitigate the hostility of opponents to Home Rule? I am not misrepresenting what took place, The facts are recorded in the journals and annals of the House. What, then, is the alteration in the position now? It is this. So at least it seems to us who sit on these benches, and who have the primary responsibility. After all that has been said and written, both on one side and upon the other, during the months of the autumn and the winter, we have been led not to doubt the wisdom or justice of the proposals that were laid before Parliament, and we have been led to entertain the hope that it may be found possible to avoid the double risk of civil disappointment and turmoil on one side and national disappointment arid despair on the other by some concerted and agreed attempt at a specific settlement. That is the whole length, and breadth, and depth of the change. I said on the first night of the Session that we wanted peace, not—though that, I agree, is most important—to avert anything in the nature of forcible resistence, but that we might secure for any new departure made in Irish government such an atmosphere and such conditions as would give it from the first a real, and a fruitful, and a lasting chance.

With that end in view, and solely with that end in view, as I said then and repeat now, as the price of peace so understood, the Government are prepared to make suggestions which, as they hope, without a sacrifice of principles either upon one side or upon the other, may open the road to an agreed settlement. This Motion demands that we should produce our suggestion without delay. If by delay is meant anything in the nature of deliberate procrastination, nothing is or can be further from our intentions. We have no interest of any sort or kind in what are called dilatory tactics; but, on the other hand, we do think it to be of the highest importance that our proposals should be put forward under such conditions that from the first they can be fully and clearly explained, and by this House promptly and adequately discussed. Those conditions, as everyone acquainted with the law and practice of Parliament is aware, cannot be satisfied at this stage of the Session until the necessary financial business that has to be done before the 31st March has been got through. That has to be done. We do not desire, and we do not contemplate, and never have contemplated, any further delay. The Irish Bill can then, before the Easter Recess, be again presented for Second Reading, and that appears to us to be the proper occasion for the presentation of our suggestions, and for their consideration by this House. I am well aware—no one knows it better—that such a situation makes exceptional, even though they be inevitable, demands upon the patience of the House, upon the patience of our supporters quite as much as upon the patience of our opponents—upon the patience of those who view, who are naturally inclined to view, with dislike and suspicion anything that even looks like a momentary lowering of the flag, as well as of those, I am afraid—there are some on the benches, I see, opposite—who suspect the sincerity of our intentions, or, at any rate, demand that they should be brought to an immediate test.


I do not believe in your sincerity.


Nobody cares whether you do or not.


To those hon. Friends who sit behind us here, I say, if any such assurance is needed—I do not think it is needed—that we are not going at the eleventh hour to betray a great cause. To those who sit opposite, and who do not entertain either of the views to which I have referred, I say that we cannot allow ourselves to be brow-beaten or buffeted into a course which in our judgment will not promote, but will embarrass the purpose which men of all parties ought at such a moment to keep in view. Was it that purpose? I have explained it already—the purpose which I say that men of all parties ought at such a moment to keep in view. That purpose is, in my judgment, to base Irish self-government if it can be done, upon a foundation of consent and good will. For my part I have not said I hope, and I will not willingly say a word that would make that task more difficult to pursue or more impossible to achieve.


In substance, the speech to which we have just listened is exactly the speech which I expected. It shows that the right hon. Gentleman is pursuing a policy which has made his Administrations famous. He is still drifting. Every now and then he shows an inclination to take hold of the rudder of the ship for the navigation of which he is responsible, but whenever he feels the wind of hostile criticism whistling about his head, the habit which has become second nature asserts itself—he drops the rudder, and allows the ship to drift at the will of wind or tide. In substance, the speech is what I expected, but in form it is different. The right hon. Gentleman showed by referring to it that he had read the Speech from the Throne, but if we had judged by what I may call the utterly trivial nature of the speech which he delivered to us now, one would have thought that he had never seen it. Just think of what the argument of the right hon. Gentleman was. He tells us that the three by-elections give no indication of hostility to Home Rule. What is the argument? It is this: "The country is quite evidently hostile to us, but it loves our policy." If the right hon. Gentleman really wished to know what was the real effect of those elections he had only to be present in this House when the Members took their seats and to watch the hangdog looks of that small number of his supporters who had the courage to show themselves. Why even take his own arguments. He says the country is apathetic, and does he really say that he has the right to force through a Bill which will be resisted by force when all he has behind him is the apathy of the electorate. I do think the occasion deserves to be more seriously treated than it was treated by the Prime Minister.

The object of the Motion which we are now considering is to convince, if we can, the House and the country that the policy of drift has become dangerous, and may be disastrous. Let the House consider what the position is. For two years the population of Protestant Ulster has been engaged night and day in drilling, in arming, in organising themselves for the avowed purpose of resisting the action of the Government. Such a state of things cannot continue without creating a feeling of excitement which is all the stronger because it is restrained. In such circumstances, everybody knows some accident entirely unforeseen might produce an explosion the effect of which no one could see the end. Only the other day, as an illustration of the danger, I was informed and I am told it has appeared in the Press, a number of policemen visited one of the volunteer camps in Ulster, and asked to see their arms. They came, fortunately, in numbers so small that they were politely told to go and mind their own business, and they went, but if they had come in force sufficient to suggest that they had meant to enforce their demand, then undoubtedly a collision would have taken place then, of which no one could foresee what would be the end. But the danger is fully recognised by the Government themselves. In the autumn, in at least one speech, and, I think, in two, the Foreign Secretary alluded to the danger. He spoke of fanatical outbursts, and of the danger of an outbreak of disorder, and he said, "We shall, of course, put it down." That suggested something which is not pleasant to think of. It showed that the Government had that contingency clearly in their minds, and it showed, I fear, that they had got into such a condition that they looked to that as a possible method of escape, and that they thought it possible that the people of Ulster might put themselves in the wrong, and that then they might put them down without alienating the sympathy of the people. If there is such a view in the minds of the Government, or of any Member of the Government, anything more abominable it is impossible to imagine.

At all events, they will admit that the danger is real. Evidence reaches me every day, and I am sure it comes with even greater certainty to the Government, that in the rest of Ireland a feeling of unrest is growing up, and which is becoming daily more serious. An indication of it was given to me to-day by an hon. Friend of the action of constituents of the hon. Gentleman who leads the Nationalist party. There was to be a service of prayer of peace. Anywhere, except in Ireland, one would have thought that was harmless, but by those constituents of the hon. Member it was regarded as an offence, and steps were taken to mark those who were there, and to indicate them. But it is not only so in Ireland. In my belief, and I intend to dwell on this because I do not think I did so before, the position in Great Britain is scarcely less serious than it is in Ireland. [Laughter.] I shall give my reasons, and perhaps when I have done so, the hon. Gentlemen who laugh will change their minds. For the first time for more than two hundred and fifty years, one of the great political parties in this country has solemnly declared that it will assist Ulster in resisting by force what the Government mean to do. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] The party which has given that declaration—I am going to speak quite frankly about it—the party which has made that declaration is, as it happens, the largest party in this House, and when you are teaching us to divide the United Kingdom into nationalities it is well to remember that that party has a majority of more than thirty of the representatives of England, the nationality which comprises three-fourths of the population, and raises more than three-fourths of the revenue of the United Kingdom. Whatever hon. Gentlemen opposite may think, I consider that that is serious.

We have heard a great deal about the incitement to lawlessness what that means. I admit every word of it. It has been in no degree exaggerated. On the contrary, in my belief, whatever happens now, however favourable the event may be, the fact that the Government have been arrested in their course by the knowledge that they will be resisted by force has struck a blow at constitutional government which will leave its effect for many a long year to come. I say that right hon. Gentlemen on that bench do not differ from me as to the seriousness of the situation; they do differ as to the responsibility. That is the sole question: on whom does the responsibility rest? That is a question which, if they get the chance, will be decided by the people of this country now; and if you succeed in preventing a reference to the people, and the calamities which we dread come in consequence, on the answer to that question the verdict of history will depend. I am not afraid of that verdict. Never have political parties in this country faced each other on an issue clearer or more serious. Your contention is that you have authority for what you propose to do. You claim that you are a constitutional Government, carrying out your functions in a legitimate way, and that you have a right to demand the obedience of all loyal subjects. That is your opinion. We take a different view. In the words of the late Lord Salisbury:— The title, both of Kings and of Parliaments, to the obedience of their subjects is that Kings and Parliaments should observe the fundamental understanding of the compact by which they rule. We hold that by attempting to drive a great community out of the Union, after you have deprived them—and deprived them by methods of which you ought to be ashamed—of the right of appeal to their countrymen, you have broken that compact, you are exceeding the powers which have been entrusted to you by the nation, and all loyal subjects are in duty bound, not to obey, but to resist. That is a plain issue. Which of us is right? You have, at all events, not shown by your action that you are very confident that you are in the right. Do you suppose that any Government of sane men would have allowed this organisation in Ulster to grow up year after year if they thought they had the right to put it down? And in the Debate on the first two days of the Session nothing seemed to me more utterly amazing than the reception which was given to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) by the two Members of the Government who spoke after him. They became almost lyrical in praise of that speech. That showed, I admit, some generosity of mind. But it shows something else. What was the nature of that speech? It was a clear declaration, in the plainest language, that if you go on he will raise the standard of resistance against you. If you are right, then, instead of falling on his neck and gushing over him, you should have held him up to reprobation as one of the worst of criminals. [Laughter.] You may laugh, but surely that is true. What greater crime can any man commit than to risk the lives of others in a rebellion which you say is unjustified. You yourselves, I think, are not very confident of the justice of your cause. Conscience has made cowards of you.

That is the position in Great Britain. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to use smooth words about the desire of peace. If words would have helped us, we have had plenty of them. The Government have shown that words have no effect upon them. They have taught us, by the treatment which they have given to Ulster, that arguments based on reason and justice are directed to deaf ears. For two years the people of Ulster have urged their claims upon them, in season and out of season. The Government have turned a deaf ear to them, and treated them with contempt. The justice of their cause is not greater to-day than it was when the Members for Ulster wrote a letter to the Prime Minister pointing out what the effect of his policy would be. He put it, I suppose, in the waste-paper basket. He is listening now; but why? Not because of the justice of the claims of Ulster, but because of the way by which he knows those claims will be enforced. They have taught us a lesson. For us to represent the Unionism of Great Britain, what is the best hope of peace? It is not by reciprocating words which mean nothing; it is by convincing the Government that we are in earnest as they are convinced now that Ulster is in earnest. When they realise that—I have not an exalted opinion of them, but they are not fools, and they know that without the express sanction of the people they cannot force through a policy which is actively opposed by more than half the nation. So long, therefore, as they are drifting; so long as we do not know what they mean to do, the clear duty of the whole of the Unionist party in this House and out of it is to use any means, so long as we think they will be effective, to make it impossible for them to commit what we believe to be a great crime.

10.0 P.M

In conditions such as I have described—I do not think the conditions are exaggerated—if the Prime Minister has any proposals to make which will bring peace, or which he even thinks will bring peace, is it not a folly and a crime to delay the production of them? What is the ground given for the delay? It was given again to-night. In a crisis like this the financial business must be done first! It is quite true, and I recognise it, that the right hon. Gentleman must have the right to explain his proposals as well as to produce them. Why not? But are the rules of this House so rigid, and is the common sense of the Members of this House so lacking, that for a purpose like this we could not give him the time to enable him to make his explanation? Every section of this House—I, for the Opposition, say it—we shall facilitate your financial business and give you every opportunity of taking up and making your statement to us. But you do not need to depend upon us. What a farce it is! [An HON. MEMBER: "What about obstruction yesterday?"] Yes, but he did not promise his proposal then. What a farce it is. The right hon. Gentleman has closured financial business before; why could he not closure it again? That reason is not meant for a reason. It is an excuse, and the fact that he could make such an excuse is proof, I am afraid, that there is not much sincerity in his professions. To make it is an insult to the intelligence of the House. On the first day of the Session, to which he has referred so often, the Prime Minister told us that it would be inexcusable to delay for the sake of gaining time, or in the hope that something would turn up. He told us that. And at the very same time one of his colleagues, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, told us that that was precisely what the Government was doing! [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] I beg your pardon, he did. He said the six weeks delay was necessary because now we were met together something might happen which would bring about a settlement. That is precisely what the right hon. Gentleman has himself been doing for months. Not that he wished to do it. He cannot, I suppose, help himself. He knows perfectly well that he can secure peace at any moment without any regard to the Opposition by taking one of two courses. If he has proposals to make which, though they may not satisfy Ulster, and would convince the people of this country that Ulster is in the wrong, then all that is necessary is to table those proposals and, at the same time, promise that they will not be enforced till he has received the sanction of the people of this country. Why not? If he is afraid of a General Election for any reason, for the sake of his Parliament Act, or anything else, let him submit the whole, question by itself directly to the electors, and we shall abide by the result. That is a course so simple, and I should have thought so inevitable, that it is difficult to understand why the right hon. Gentleman does not adopt it. Does he really maintain that he is right in the face of this opposition to force through a Home Rule Bill unless he is sure that the people of this country are behind him? If he is sure, why not put it to the test and end all their trouble? If he does not do so, it is for one reason, and one reason only: that is, because he knows that the verdict of the country would be against him. But he can secure peace in another way, and in that way also may be independent of the Opposition. He can secure it by excluding that part of Ireland which is determined to offer resistance. It would not satisfy him, but he is not in the fighting line. Every-' one knows that it is Ulster that threatens armed resistance. If you satisfy Ulster armed resistance will stop. With that question the right hon. Gentleman has been playing for four months at least. More than four months ago, at Ladybank, he made a speech which was carefully worded, as I believed then and believe now, to suggest the exclusion of Ulster. One of his colleagues, the right hon. Gentleman who sits beside him (Mr. Churchill), who we were told by the Press, had just left him, made a speech definitely suggesting that solution, and it was never contradicted by the Prime Minister. He came up to the fence, looked as if he were going to jump it, and shied! We had the speech at Leeds, like the speech to-night; going back again completely to the position of docility to the Nationalist leader. On the first night of the Session the same thing happened. He came up to the fence once more. On this occasion I think everyone in the House thought he would jump. I did, for one. He shied again. A Minister cannot play fast and loose with a great question like this. In that Debate both the Prime Minister and the Irish Secretary clearly showed that so far as the Government are concerned they are prepared to exclude Ulster. They showed it.

The Prime Minister said he would do anything for the sake of peace which was not against the fundamental principles of the Bill, and he admitted that exclusion was not against. The Chief Secretary did the same thing. He pointed to us and said: "You talk of exclusion. Well, that means the inclusion of three-quarters of Ireland." It is quite evident they were willing to take that course for the sake of peace. After that, after such declarations, for the Government to make any other proposal to Ulster, any proposal of Home Rule within Home Rule, whatever the condition, if it be accompanied by suggesting that it is to be carried without the express sanction of the people, such a declaration would be regarded by Ulster, and ought to be regarded by Ulster, simply as a declaration for war. Now, what does it mean? It means simply this—that the people of Ulster in that case would say, and say with truth, "This great injustice is inflicted upon us, not by a majority of our fellow countrymen, not even by the British Government—it is to be inflicted upon us at the dictation of the masters of the British Government." We know the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman quite well—almost as well as he knows them himself. It is not merely that these hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have over him the power of life and death—I think now, in the bog in which he finds himself, he would be glad to find any honourable means of escape— it is not that, but another consideration, and one which does the Government greater credit. For eight years these hon. Gentlemen have loyally supported him. For four years they have kept the Government in office, not only by constant attendance, which has saved them on many a Division, but by the sacrifice of what they believe to be the interests of Ireland. They have paid their price; they expect, and with some reason, their reward. This, then, is the message of peace which the right hon. Gentleman sends to Ulster: We have incurred a debt of honour, and you, the people of Ulster, are the price by which alone we can redeem that debt. That is the position, and everyone in the House knows it is the position. Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise even yet that though the Nationalist vote may save this Government from defeat, it cannot save the country from disaster, nor can it save him from dishonour. He holds in his hands alone the issue of peace or war. Surely the time for trifling has gone. If he means war, if he agrees with his supporters who put down these Amendments, as his speech seemed to indicate, but he changed—if he means war, then the sooner we and the country know it the better. If, on the other hand, as I believe, he still hopes for peace, why this blowing hot and cold? Why this constant halting between two opinions? Why cannot he say what he means? In my belief, whether I am right or wrong, this country to-day, not from any intentional weakness on the part of the Government, but from weakness which will not face the actual facts, is in face of a graver danger than that with which we were threatened when Lord Chatham, in connection with the American war, used the words with which I shall now close:— I wish, my Lords, not to lose a day in this urgent, pressing crisis. One hour now lost in allaying the ferment in America may produce years of calamity. I will knock at the door of this sleeping and confounded Ministry, and will rouse them to a sense of their impending danger. Chatham knocked in vain—I hope the result will be different now.


I listened to the-speech of the Prime Minister, as I always do, with profound respect, and with every allowance. I do wish, if being an Irishman, it is possible for me, to avoid entering into the arena of party controversy, which I daresay quite naturally figured so largely in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. My colleagues and myself have the mis- fortune, for the moment at all events, to be more or less in conflict with the party machine of every party in this House. That is no reason, perhaps quite the contrary, why by and by we should not bring the bulk of sensible, non-official Members of all parties into agreement with us. The course, unpopular as it has been, and as I dare say still is that we have taken, and the essential principle we have held out for in the last ten years is that Ireland has no quarrel with either of the British Parties. Both of them, in their time, have done splendid work for Ireland, and our whole aim, humbly, has been to endeavour to combine them both in endeavouring to complete the work which will bring honour and glory to both of them, and which is not proper in the sphere of party warfare. I do not wish to criticise harshly the Prime Minister for pleading to-night for more time—I do not wish at all to criticise his proposals "with one vital reservation. We are ready to support the Government in any concession, and the more generous and far-reaching the concessions the more willing we are to support them.

I want to avoid expressing, except as mildly as I can, our disappointment that these proposals have been delayed so long, and if negotiations there were to be at all, perhaps the worst way has been taken of bringing them to a happy issue. If I do not to-night lay more emphasis upon that part of the obstruction to a settlement by consent, which unquestionably has come from powerful parts of the Opposition in this House, it is because the Government now recognise that what we respectfully pressed upon them again and again in this House for the last two years, that this Bill as it stands does not contain any substantial attraction, and that it is the duty of the Government to take the initiative. They have taken in a certain sense the initiative as to these negotiations. I have said already that I am afraid they have done so in a way that is least calculated to make these negotiations successful. I do not blame the Prime Minister personally. I believe intensely his declaration of to-night that he does not intend to betray the national policy. I believe throughout these transactions the right hon. Gentleman has had as great liberty of action as he has broad-mindedness. Our view of this situation not only now but all along, for the past ten years, is the view which, if I may presume respectfully to say so, was ex- pressed in more exalted language in the recent historic speech from the Throne. In that speech His Majesty said:— "In a matter in which the hopes and the fears of so many of My subjects are keenly concerned, and which unless handled now with foresight, judgment, and in the spirit of mutual concession, threatens grave future difficulties, it is My most earnest wish that the good will and co-operation of men of all parties and creeds may heal dissension and tag the foundations of a lasting settlement." I am afraid that not very much has been done by party men on either side of this House or the other House to give practical effect to that solemn adjuration. What was wanted was not words but deeds, and we have had nothing but words. The first practical step towards coining in the direction indicated in the King's Speech, was taken six months ago by Lord Lore-burn, one of the most respected of Liberal Ministers, and one of the best tried Home Rulers. We believe that that proposal of Lord Loreburn six months ago for a peace conference ought to have been frankly closed with by his own colleagues in the Ministry. We believe that they ought to-have immediately summoned a peace conference, and an unconditional peace conference, and they ought to have gone into that conference with their minds made up for large and generous concessions. And then, if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College and the Ulster party had proved to be hopelessly intractable, then they ought to have published their own terms to the world, and they ought manfully to have appealed to the people for their verdict upon those terms either by way of a Referendum or a General Election. If they had taken that course they would have prevented any interference with the progress of their other measures under the Parliament Act. And if their appeal had been successful six months ago, I believe the chances would have been at least ten to one that it would have been successful now. I notice that the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) is absolutely confident still that it will be successful. He stated, in York I think it was, on Saturday night, that he was absolutely confident that if a General Election were fought to-morrow, and could be fought on Home Rule, it would sweep the country. I should think that is a very convincing argument for an immediate Referendum, which, if I understood the speech of the Leader of the Opposition just now, the Opposition would not attempt to obstruct.

If the appeal, either by a Referendum or through a General Election, had been successful, the Government would have accomplished two results of supreme importance. In the first place, they would have detached the English Unionist party from any policy of civil war in Ulster, and we know that is the beginning and the ending of civil war, and they would have furnished themselves with the authority which I am sorry I must agree with the Leader of the Opposition they do not possess of the people of this country to gently but firmly enforce the law against all comers, whether the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) or anyone else. Nothing of the kind has been done. I dare say there is not much use in crying over spilt milk, but there is some use in trying to prevent that which remains from being spilt. I am quite aware that the Government were not entirely their own masters. No, none of us are in this perverse world, not even the hon. Gentleman whom their leaders follow. But we cannot forget—it would be idle to forget—what the course of events has been. The moment Lord Loreburn's proposal was published "we had declarations from the leaders of the party which sits behind me that "Conference; there must be none," except upon the condition that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University should throw up the sponge beforehand, and should enter the conference as a Home Ruler. Next the official organ of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) in Dublin, the "Freeman's Journal," boasted that his party and certain elements of the Radical party had succeeded in giving the coup de grace to Lord Loreburn's proposal of an unconditional peace conference; and, finally, we had the order, "Full steam ahead into the harbour."

If I understand rightly, that unfortunate condition has now been withdrawn, and the Government have consented to make an offer without imposing any preliminary condition whatever on the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College. But they have taken the course rather late, and in a way that is open to two criticisms. In the first place, six invaluable months have been lost; six months during which preparations for armed rebellion in Ulster have been going on unmolested and with every possible encouragement. In the second place, instead of having, what Lord Loreburn suggested, a friendly gathering of a dozen responsible representative men around the council table—the best of all ways of softening asperities and getting at the best side of men—we have nothing in the way of conferences. We have only had certain assignations with the Leader of the Opposition, the fact being that neither the Prime Minister nor the Leader of the Opposition is an Irishman, and neither has any first-hand knowledge of Ireland at all.

We are told that the whole question is, some weeks hence, to be thrown into conflict for a general party battle in this House, and I am afraid it is not too much to say that the worst side, and not the best side, of everybody is likely to be shown. This is one of those emergencies in which, in the words of a great Englishman, the truest wisdom and the highest expediency is to tell the truth and shame the devil. I dare say the harm is now done, but I would humbly press on the Government that, whatever proposals they may be contemplating—and I am one of those who have been cast into the outer darkness—I do not complain in the least of that, for I am not entitled to any personal consideration from the Government, or any other party in this House—I would earnestly beg of the Government to bear in mind that the more sweeping and the more lavish the concessions they make, both for the purpose of satisfying the reasonable fears of Protestants in Ireland and of federalising their Bill, the better it will be for Ireland and for their chances of carrying the measure through. We have never criticised without being prepared with counter-suggestions of our own. Even if I were permitted to do so, however, I would not enter to-night on our own peace proposals. We have laid them before this House on more than one occasion, and I will merely say that I have an unshaken belief that if the concessions we have suggested, or any tantamount to them, were offered with all the authority of the Government, they would carry all before them, if not in this House, at any rate in the country, and would convince all sensible people that this Bill, if so amended, would, instead of doing wrong to the Protestants of Ireland, prove the biggest blessing that could be conferred on them. We have no bigoted fondness for any suggestion of our own. We are ready for any concessions that would make the Protestant minority in Ireland an invulnerable power; that would make them the governing power, because, after all, the Northern and the Southern minority might easily become the majority. At all events, I say it here deliberately, that I know of no body of Irish Nationalists that could succeed in defeating such concessions, if they would purchase the goodwill of our Protestant fellow-countrymen.

There is only one point more upon which I wish to say a word, and I commend it above all other things to the Prime Minister and the deliberations of the Cabinet, if their deliberations are not yet completed. I think there is less necessity for dwelling upon it to-night than there would undoubtedly have been eight or ten days ago. I lament that we have not heard some reassuring words from the Prime Minister upon the subject. If we are to have Ireland a nation, I implore him do not stultify yourself and us by giving us three-fourths of a nation, and lopping off its right hand. Do not, for the sake of keeping this Bill alive, destroy the only reason for its existence. Do not begin the rending asunder of the country again as it was rent asunder 200 years ago. Do not begin by shutting up two Belfasts—which are really the secret of the whole of this trouble—shutting them up in the same narrow compound, shutting them up, as it were, in the same sack, and forcing them to fly at one another's throats, and to revive the old animosities and passions. On the contrary, I ask the Prime Minister to take the risk of it, to make the two Belfasts feel the healing influence of the generous and inspiring atmosphere of common interests and common patriotism which, believe me, is every year more and more permeating the country. It is quite intelligible to me that certain Gentlemen above the Gangway should coquette with this notion of the exclusion of Ulster, with the knowledge that it is the one concession they will not get. I say respectfully that I can conceive no other motive why any one body of men, English or Irish, Protestant or Catholic, Munstermen or Ulstermen, could entertain a proposal which, so far from leading to the peace or the unification of Ireland, would for generations produce results as evil as if you were to attempt the confiscation of Ulster.

It would be equally hateful to all Irishmen, Catholic and Protestant. The whole thing is so absolutely insane as a peace of statesmanship, that I really apologise to the House for dwelling upon it, although unquestionably certain more than doubtful utterances emitted during the Debate on the King's Speech, both from the front Treasury Bench, and those behind them, make it absolutely necessary that we should make our position perfectly plain. At all events, I for one will not shirk the duty of declaring as plainly and clearly as words can do it that, tragic beyond words as would be any shipwreck of the present unparalleled opportunity for a genuine and permanent reconciliation between these countries, if we were forced to choose between the loss of this Bill and consenting to the exclusion of Ulster or any part of Ulster, under any disguise or makeshift whatever, hard and bitter though the choice would be, Irishmen of my way of thinking will prefer to go out into the wilderness again and even if it cannot be in our lifetime, to hand down to other men in other times, if it must be so, the duty of vindicating a cause which, believe me, will haunt you as long as your Empire remains an Empire.




I understand my hon. Friend is going to move an Amendment. I have to submit that I have given you to-day an Amendment which takes priority of the one on the Paper in the hon. Member's name.


I understand the hon. Member does not intend to move his Amendment.


I hope I may ask the indulgence of the House to address a few words to-day as a perfectly ordinary common-place Englishman, to endeavour to put before the House what I believe to be the views of ordinary Liberal supporters of the Government. I and my hon. Friends sitting around me listened with the greatest indignation to the speech made by the leader of the Opposition. I do not think it would have been possible to make a much more discreditable speech. If the position is anything like as serious as he told us in his judgment it was, no person of his acuteness could possibly have made the speech he did unless he had deliberately intended to shut the door to all friendly negotiations and had deliberately intended and desired the catastrophe of civil war. That speech was based throughout on two themes, that the whole Front Bench and the whole of the hon. Gentlemen who support them were, first of all, cowards, and, secondly, dishonest. If that is really the opinion of hon. Members opposite, if they believe that we are cowardly and dishonest, of course, accommodation is quite impossible. It is quite impossible that any set of men with the least bit of spirit could be induced to come into agreement on the basis that they must be cowards and must be dishonest. We, after all, have, I believe as much courage as hon. Members opposite, and we are as sincere. We are not going to doubt their sincerity, but we must ask them respectfully to give us credit for an equal amount of sincerity. I placed an Amendment upon the Paper, and my reason for doing so was that it is very doubtful whether hon. Members sitting on the Back Benches will have an opportunity of making their voices heard, and we wish to express, by the means open to us, on broad lines our opinion on this crisis. We have supported the Government of Ireland Bill because it is the actual expression of the policy of self-government for Ireland, which most of us have supported for very nearly thirty years, and most of us believe it to be for the advantage of Ireland, for the advantage of Great Britain, and for the advantage of the whole Empire. That is our honest and sincere conviction, and if hon. Gentlemen wish to get any further in the government of this country, they must give us credit for this honest conviction. They are perfectly entitled to say that we are utterly wrong and mistaken, but nothing can be done if they insist that we are dishonest. We have as much sincerity as anybody on the benches opposite. That being so, we attach the greatest possible importance to the passage of that Bill into law. We emphasise in our Amendment—which I am not going to move—the necessity for the Government of Ireland Bill. We are not indisposed in this House to accept alterations in the Bill which may make it more acceptable to the people of Ulster, but on the main principles of the measure we are united, and we should be untrue to ourselves, and to every political opinion we have expressed in the past, if we hesitated to pass it into law.

I come now to the second point to which reference is made in the Resolution before the House—the peace of Ireland. I am not unfriendly to the people of Ulster. I admit that I know very little about Ireland. I have scarcely ever been there, but I happen to have very considerable commercial relations with the town of Belfast. One of the most prominent Unionists in Belfast, who is against this Bill, is a personal friend of my own, and I no more doubt his sincerity than I doubt my own. I give the Protestants of Ulster as much credit for honesty as I claim for myself. I am entitled to doubt their judgment and wisdom, just as they are entitled to doubt mine. Let us look at this question and see what is really the danger to the peace of Ireland. It appears to consist in this, that a number, probably a very large number, of the citizens of Ulster have armed themselves with the encouragement of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, they have worked themselves up into a state of mad fury, and they may apparently, on the slightest provocation, such as being visited by a large number of policemen, commence murders and outrages, and attacks upon these policemen. That is what we have been told on the best authority is the state of mind of the inhabitants of Ulster. I should like to know what hon. Members opposite would have said if the leaders of a trade union during a strike had told us, "We are now in the same state of mind." What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

If right hon. Gentlemen think it right to encourage their friends in Ulster to prepare for murderous assaults on policemen because they resent their appearance, how are we to blame people in a state of excitement, not less artificial, if they prepare for murders of policemen, if the visits of policemen happen to be inconvenient. That is the danger of civil war. That is the danger of Ulster at the present time. The danger is that persons shall be worked up for political purposes into a state of mind to commit murderous outrages. We are told that there is to be a civil war. I think that if the hon. Member who moved this Resolution had had the advantage of hearing his leader's speech first, he might have included the whole United Kingdom in his threat, because, as I understand it, is contemplated that the civil war shall break out in England, too. Then the right hon. Gentleman went further than civil war. He told us that he would stop at no means which he thought likely to be efficient. Any means! Would murdering the Prime Minister be part of it? [An HON. MEMBER: "They would do that, too."] The right hon. Gentleman's words clearly cover that. I take it that he did really mean that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Propose your Amendment."] What about this threat of civil war? What is it all about?

There is nothing in this Bill which will do the slightest injury to any person. The most that can be said of this Bill is that it will set up a state of affairs under which it is possible that a majority in Ireland may oppress the minority. The minority could not be oppressed as an immediate result of the Bill. I submit to the House that to talk of civil war, the most appalling calamity which you can possibly conceive, to destroy your Empire, to have friend shooting friend and brother fighting against brother, to talk of that before any person has been injured, because a measure is going to be passed which may conceivably, contrary to the expectation and the belief of its promoters, do an injury, is most disgraceful and wicked. I am certain of one thing. Whatever may be said about mandates, hon. Gentlemen opposite have got no mandate for civil war. If they are going to fight an election the issue we will fight it on is whether hon. Gentlemen have a mandate for destroying the country or not. We are not going to give way to threats of violence. If we give way to one set of gentlemen why not to another? And why not to another then? It would be the destruction of civilisation in this country if we listened to threats of civil war. If that be the argument, then we had better face it at once. I do not believe myself, however sincere we think them, that hon. Gentlemen will really raise the issue which they propose, or that if they do they will get any sort of support among the people of England. We are going to proceed with this policy; we are going to pass the Bill into Jaw under the Parliament Act., The hon. Member who seconded the Resolution let the cat out of the bag, because he told us plainly that the whole trouble arose from the Parliament Act. We know that what it really all means is that hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to destroy the Parliament Act. They wish to put us back into the position from which we have rescued ourselves, which was that a Liberal majority in this House had not the same power as a Conservative majority. The present position is one which we mean to maintain at whatever cost. If hon. Members wish to live under a peaceful constitution in this country they will have to recognise that we are honest, that we are not cowards and that we intend to have the same rights in the State as they have themselves.


I beg to move as an Amendment to leave out all after the word "That," and to insert instead thereof, the words, In view of the Prime Minister's stated intention of submitting suggestions for the better solution of the difficulties attending the passage of the Government of Ireland Bill, this House awaits with confidence such proposals, and trusts that they may lead to the peace and contentment of Ireland, and to the permanent settlement of the problem of the extension of national self-government. Unlike the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, I move an Amendment. If this House has any respect for itself and this great country, I think it will admit that the Amendment I move is better than that standing on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. Holt). Every Member of Parliament and every citizen of this country ought to have in view the special words of charity which were contained in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. The efforts of this House ought to be directed to the permanent settlement of this great question. I venture to say, echoing the words of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), that the only possible settlement that can retain any element of permanency is one by consent. At the present moment there are two proud sections of the Irish people at serious variance with each other, and naturally neither party will admit defeat. The only way for statesmen to deal with the situation, therefore, is to act so that neither party may feel that their ideals are shattered, and to build up by wise diplomacy a national ideal in which both those great parties can act. I go further. I look upon this question not only as an Irish question alone, but as an Imperial question, and again I echo the words of the hon. Member for Cork when he said that the real solution of the question would be a federalising Bill in the interests of the United Kingdom and the Empire as a whole. I confess that with great regret I do take a different view from some of my colleagues on this side of the House, and I take a much more serious view of the state of affairs in the North of Ireland than some of my hon. Friends do. I really believe that at the present moment the leaders of the Ulster party are exercising a restraining influence on the inhabitants of the district. It is not for me at this present moment to argue or reason about the state of affairs that has arisen. It is sufficient for the House to know that what has been described in the Press, and otherwise, represents, according to my belief, the real facts. You are dealing to a large extent with a not very highly educated working class and agricultural population, to whom beliefs are a question of life and death. I think the House ought to put aside for a moment to a large extent all ideas as to the leaders themselves, and concentrate attention upon the people who are led by those leaders. It is for them that I am pleading at the

present moment, and I feel sure that the House will respect its dignity in every way if it passes the Amendment which I put before it.


I beg to second the Amendment.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 238; Noes, 311.

Division No. 22.] AYES. [10.56 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Denniss, E. R. B. Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Aitken, Sir William Max Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Knight, Captain E. A.
Amery, L. C. M. S. Dixon, C. H. Kyffin-Taylor, G.
Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R. Doughty, Sir George Lane-Fox, G. R.
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Du Pre, W. Baring Larmor, Sir J.
Archer-Shee, Major Martin Duncannon, Viscount Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Eyres-Monseil, Bolton M. Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)
Astor, Waldorf Faile, Bertram Godfray Lee, Arthur H.
Baird, John Lawrence Fell, Arthur Lewisham, Viscount
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)
Baldwin, Stanley Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Baring, Major Hon. Guy V. (Winchester) Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.
Barnston, Harry Fleming, Valentine Long, Rt. Hon. Walter
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Forster, Henry William Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)
Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks Gardner, Ernest MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Mackinder, H. J.
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Gibbs, G. A. Macmaster, Donald
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Gilmour, Captain John M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish Glazebrook, Captain Philip K. M'Mordie, Robert James
Bigland, Alfred Goldman, C. S. M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)
Bird, Alfred Goldsmith, Frank Magnus, Sir Philip
Blair, Reginald Gordon, John (Londonderry, South) Malcolm, Ian
Boles, Lieut-Colonel Dennis Fortescue Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Goulding, Edward Alfred Meysey-Thompson, E. C.
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid) Grant, J. A. Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Boyton, James Greene, W. R. Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas
Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell Gretton, John Moore, William
Bridgeman, William Clive Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.) Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)
Bull, Sir William James Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury St. Edmunds) Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)
Burgoyne, A. H. Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Mount, William Arthur
Burn, Colonel C. R. Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Neville, Reginald J. N.
Butcher, John George Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Newdegate, F. A.
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Newman, John R. P.
Campion, W. R. Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Newton, Harry Kottingham
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Harris, Henry Percy Nield, Herbert
Cassel, Felix Harrison-Broadley, H. B. O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)
Castlereagh, Viscount Helmsley, Viscount Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Cator, John Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Cautley, H. S. Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.) Paget, Almeric Hugh
Cave, George Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hewins, William Albert Samuel Parkes, Ebenezer
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Hibbert, Sir Henry F. Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Hickman, Colonel T. E. Perkins, Walter F.
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Hills, John Waller Peto, Basil Edward
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.) Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Pole-Carew, Sir R.
Chambers, J. Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Pollock, Ernest Murray
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Hope, Harry (Bute) Pretyman, Ernest George
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Home, E. (Surrey, Guildford) Quilter, Sir William Eley C.
Coates, Major Sir Edward Fectham Horner, Andrew Long Randles, Sir John S.
Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole Houston, Robert Paterson Ratcliff, R. F.
Cory, Sir Clifford John Hume-Williams, William Ellis Rawlinson, Sir John Frederick Peel
Courthope, George Loyd Hunt, Rowland Rawson, Colonel R. H.
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Rees, Sir J. D.
Craig, Captain J. (Down, E.) Ingleby, Holcombe Remnant, James Farquharson
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Jackson, Sir John Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Craik, Sir Henry Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Rothschild, Lionel de
Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian Jessel, Captain H. M. Rutherford, John (Lanes., Darwen)
Croft, H. P. Joynson-Hicks, William Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Dairymple, Viscount Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Salter, Arthur Clavell
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Kerry, Earl of Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Denison-Pender, J. C. Keswick, Henry Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)
Sanders, Robert Arthur Thomson, W. Mitchell (Down, North) Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)
Sanderson, Lancelot Thynne, Lord Alexander Wills, Sir Gilbert
Sandys, G. J. Tobin, Alfred Aspinall Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)
Sassoon, Sir Philip Touche, George Alexander Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)
Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Tryon, Captain George Clement Wilson, Maj. Sir M. (Bethnal Green, S. W.).
Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton) Tullibardine, Marquess of Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk) Valentia, Viscount Wood, John (Staiybridge)
Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston) Walker, Colonel William Hall Worthington-Evans, L.
Starkey, John R. Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart
Staveley-Hill, Henry Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid) Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Stewart, Gershom Watson, Hon. W. Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North) Weigall, Captain A. G. Younger, Sir George
Swift, Rigby Weston, Colonel J. W.
Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford) Wheler, Granville C. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord
Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central) White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport) Edmund Talbot and Mr. Pike Pease,
Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Devlin, Joseph Hope, John Deans (Haddington)
Acland, Francis Dyke Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H. Home, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)
Adamson, William Dillon, John Howard, Hon. Geoffrey
Addison, Dr. Christopher Donelan, Captain A. Hudson, Walter
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Doris, William Hughes, Spencer Leigh
Agnew, Sir George William Duffy, William J. Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) John, Edward Thomas
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) Johnson, W.
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)
Armitage, Robert Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)
Arnold, Sydney Elverston, Sir Harold Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Esmonde, Dr. John (Tippcrary, N.) Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Essex, Sir Richard Walter Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Falconer, James Jowett, Frederick William
Barnes, George N. Fanell, James Patrick Joyce, Michael
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Keating, Matthew
Beale, Sir William Phipson Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Kellaway, Frederick George
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Ffrench, Peter Kelly, Edward
Beck, Arthur Cecil Field, William Kennedy, Vincent Paul
Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Kenyon, Barnet
Bentham, G. J. Fitzgibbon, John Kilbride, Denis
Bethell, Sir J. H. Flavin, Michael Joseph Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine France, Gerald Ashburner Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Black, Arthur W Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson Lardner, James C. R.
Boland, John Plus Gelder, Sir W. A. Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)
Booth, Frederick Handel George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)
Bowerman, Charles W. Gill, A. H. Leach, Charles
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Ginnell, Laurence Levy, Sir Maurice
Brace, William Gladstone, W. G. C. Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert
Brady, Patrick Joseph Glanville, H. J. Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Brocklehurst, W. B. Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)
Brunner, John F. L. Goldstone, Frank Lundon, Thomas
Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O. Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) Lyeil, Charles Henry
Burke, E. Haviland Greig, Colonel J. W. Lynch, A. A.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Buxton. Noel (Norfolk, North) Griffith, Ellis Jones McGhee, Richard
Byles, Sir William Pollard Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Maclean, Donald
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Hackett, John MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)
Cawley, Harold T. (Lanes., Heywood) Hancock, John George Macpherson, James Ian
Chancellor, Henry George Harcourt, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Rossendale) MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) M'Callum, Sir John M.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S, Hardie, J. Keir M'Curdy, Charles Albert
Clancy, John Joseph Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton) M'Kean, John
Clough, William Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Clynes, John R. Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lines., Spalding)
Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.) M'Micking, Major Gilbert
Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Manfield, Harry
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Markham, Sir Arthur Basil
Condon, Thomas Joseph Hayden, John Patrick Marks, Sir George Croydon
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Hayward, Evan Mason, David M. (Coventry)
Cotton, William Francis Hazleton, Richard Meagher, Michael
Cowan, W. H. Hemmerde, Edward George Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)
Crooks, William Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Millar, James Duncan
Crumley, Patrick Henry, Sir Charles Molloy, Michael
Cullinan, John Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred
Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Hewart, Gordon Money, L. G. Chiozza
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Higham, John Sharp Montagu, Hon. E. S.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Hinds, John Mooney, John J.
Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth) Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Morrell, Philip
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Hodge, John Morison, Hector
Delany, William Holmes, Daniel Turner Morton, Alpheus Cleophs
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Holt, Richard Durning Muldoon, John
Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Murphy, Martin, J. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Verney, Sir Harry
Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Reddy, Michael Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)
Nannetti, Joseph p. Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Walters, Sir John Tudor
Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.) Walton, Sir Joseph
Nolan, Joseph Rendall, Athelstan Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Norman, Sir Henry Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Norton, Captain Cecil W. Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Wardle, George J.
Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Waring, Walter
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.
O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Robertson, John M. (Tyneside) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
O'Doherty, Philip Robinson, Sidney Watt, Henry A.
O'Donnell, Thomas Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Webb, H.
O'Dowd, John Roche, Augustine (Louth) Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Ogden, Fred Roe, Sir Thomas White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
O'Keily, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.) Rowlands, James White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
O'Keily, James (Roscommon, N.) Rowntree, Arnold White, Patrick (Meath, North)
O'Malley, William Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W. Whitehouse, John Howard
O'Neill, Or. Charles (Armagh, S.) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Whyte, Alexander F.
O'Shee, James John Scanlan, Thomas Wiles, Thomas
O'Sullivan, Timothy Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton) Wilkie, Alexander
Outhwaite, R. L. Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B. Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)
Palmer, Godfrey Mark Sheehy, David Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Parker, James (Halifax) Sherwell, Arthur James Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Pearce, William (Limehouse) Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe) Williamson, Sir Archibald
Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton) Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West) Winfrey, Sir Richard
Pirie, Duncan V. Sutton, John E. Wing, Thomas Edward
Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Swann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Pratt, J. W. Taylor, John W. (Durham) Yeo, Alfred William
Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Taylor, Theodore c. (Radcliffe) Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Taylor, Thomas (Bolton) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Primrose, Hon. Nell James Tennant, Harold John
Radford, G. H. Thomas, J. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Rattan, Peter Wilson Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton) Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Raphael, Sir Herbert H. Thorne, William (West Ham)

Proposed words added.

Main Question, as amended, put—

"That, in view of the Prime Minister's stated intention of submitting suggestions for the better solution of the difficulties attending the passage of the Government of Ireland Bill, this House awaits with confidence such proposals, and trusts that they may lead to the peace and contentment of Ireland and to the permanent settlement of the problem of the extension of national self-government."

It being after Eleven of the clock, and objection being taken to further proceeding, the Debate stood Adjourned.

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