§ Postponed Proceeding resumed on Amendment to Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—[Colonel Seely.]
§ Which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this clay six month s."—[Mr. Balfour.]
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Mr. EDWARD WOOD
I am sure that those of us who heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last will have listened to it with great interest and with a measure of agreement. Upon the part, with which I find myself in agreement, I will say a word presently. There are one or two other points to which I should like to call attention first. I confess that I am quite unable to follow all the niceties and subtleties that we find ourselves compelled to attempt if we are to appreciate all the various interpretations which right hon. and hon. Members opposite have put upon the White Paper issued to-day. To my mind, all the subtleties to which we have listened this afternoon may be reduced to one comparatively simple question, and that is, in what sense, if any, are we to understand that the two paragraphs in the final communication in the White Paper, or anything like them, will stand in the minds of General Gough and the other officers? That really is the one point of this discussion, and that is the point upon which I think the House is still unenlightened, even after the speeches of three right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. I draw attention to the point for this reason. It would appear to be quite clear that on this matter either the policy of His Majesty's Government has undergone a change or the officers who felt it their duty to do a certain thing three days ago have changed their minds to-day. I think we have a right to be told whether those officers have changed their minds or whether the Government has changed its 460 policy. The right hon. Gentleman drew a considerable distinction between the two letters from General Gough. I do not wish to pursue that point beyond saying that to my mind and to the minds of ninny of my hon. Friends the distinction exists only in the right hon. Gentleman's imagination. As far as I can understand it, the position of these officers, be it right or be it wrong, has been identical throughout. As far as I can judge, their position has been unchanged, and for aught I know it remains unchanged at this moment. That is a mere statement of fact.
I want now to come to one or two rather more general considerations. The Debate yesterday, to most of which I listened, seemed to me to proceed upon two main lines of thought. The first, which was a perfectly intelligible one from the point of view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, was that it was necessary for them to find somewhere a scapegoat for these proceedings. In the first place, they attempted to find as their scapegoat the various officers concerned. But the officers concerned, I think, have been absolutely exonerated by the conditions under which they were affected by the proceedings. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite will take the "Westminster Gazette" as an impartial witness in this matter. Here is what that journal said last night with regard to the principles which ought to govern the relations of the Government to the Army:—The first of these is that there can be no argument with officers in the Army about the orders issued to them, and from this it follows that to ask officers what they would do in conceivable circumstances which has not yet arisen is to put both them and the Government in a radically false position. If an officer's private judgment is thus challenged, we cannot complain because he claims to exercise it, or appeals to his conscience against an order which he is asked not merely to execute but to endorse.I confess that that is actually my view. I presume that that is the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite. If so, I think that they will be unjust to place the blame on the shoulders of the officers in this matter. Then they will blame us, the Opposition. As one right hon. Gentleman below me said this afternoon, it is really difficult to take that kind of accusation seriously. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite mean to say seriously that sixty out of seventy-two officers are really prepared to resign their commissions, their careers, and their pensions at the instigation of a few political wirepullers? No! that, I think, is a sort of statement that hon. Members themselves would be ashamed to make when 461 they have had time to consider it more. This afternoon we have seen a scapegoat chosen in the person of the War Minister. I think he has been treated a little bit harshly. I think, if he felt it his duty to resign, that there were perhaps others who might have felt it equally their duty to share that course with him. If Ministers on the whole, as I understand, do disapprove absolutely of the course that he permitted himself to pursue, I can hardly conceive how, in a vital matter like this, he can be thought to retain the confidence of those with whom he has habitually worked.
There is another matter that is even more important. It is that line of thought that hon. Members opposite have had up till now. We have heard a great deal this afternoon of this, namely, that the question of Ulster and the Ulster difficulty is indistinguishable from the ordinary questions which may be involved in a strike or a trade disturbance. I do not wish to argue that beyond saying that the real difficulty surely consists in the fact that in strikes the Army, or the soldiers, are sent to keep order, and are only sent when order has been interfered with, and they only use force if force on the other side has been used so that property and life are in danger. That is not what right hon. Gentlemen have been doing in this case of Ulster. There they took the earliest opportunity, as we have heard, and as has been admitted, to send troops into the province. I will draw the attention of hon. Members to the difference in practice which exists in the way the right hon. Gentlemen opposite deal with labour disputes and with Ulster. In the case of a labour dispute in South Wales, as I remember very well, the First Lord of the Admiralty sent soldiers down. He was, however, careful to keep the soldiers out of sight, and what I may call out of harm's way, in order to avoid any possible danger of collision between the military and the civilian portion of the population.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
With all respect to the hon. Member who interrupts me, I heard the First Lord of the Admiralty say that in this House when he was blamed. I remember very well hon. Members on this side of the House, and, indeed, in every quarter of the House, blame him because it was supposed that he had held back the military a longer time than was wise in the interests of the preservation of order.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
If the position of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr Tydvil is that he knows more as to what was the disposition of the military than the First Lord, who was then Home Secretary, and responsible, of course, I have no more to say.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
I heard it on the highest authority, namely, that of a Minister of the Crown, who was responsible for these movements. There is a marked distinction between the way in which the Government treats Ulster and the way in which they treat labour disputes in this country. I have only one more word to say. It is in the nature of one or two general observations along the line of thought suggested by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. I adhere, and shall be willing to subscribe—and, indeed, I believe all my hon. and right hon. Friends will do the same—to those doctrines as to the obedience and allegiance of the armed forces of the Crown that were laid down by my Noble Friend (Lord C. Beresford) who spoke a short time ago. It is, I conceive, the undoubted duty of officers and men to obey orders. If they cannot obey orders, they must resign their commissions and take the consequences. It is perfectly true, as my Noble Friend pointed out, that the whole of this muddle, which everybody who has any imagination to look beyond the immediate result must deplore—is due to the way in which it has been handled by the Government, and, of course, principally by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. While saying that I would go a step further. I would say that wise statesmen will always avoid bringing those matters in when these questions may be raised to the test, and for the reason that, as the right hon. Gentleman has just said, these matters are grave, are indeed graver than any others that we are usually called upon to discuss in this House.
It is because I feel that the average man in the country is feeling at the present moment—I do not draw a distinction between either party very much in this matter, for I feel that both parties have in this Irish controversy mismanaged and bungled it for the last two years—and will be disposed to lay a greater share of the responsibility for that upon the shoulders 463 of the Government—because they are, of course, primarily responsible—because I feel that, because I feel that the Foreign Secretary who preceded me, I think really felt something of that too, that I and others who feel with me would welcome—if it is not yet too late—those sentiments and those advances towards consent that I was able to notice in his speech. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lloyd George) must surely by now admit this: whether the Government Bill be good or bad, you cannot get a settlement of the question by any scheme that involves anything like the coercion of Ulster. If that be true, as you—I speak to the right hon. Gentlemen opposit—know in your hearts it is true, why not put your pride on one side and come down into the arena and set to work frankly with us? I think I can say that there are lots of goodwill on these benches. Why will you not set to work to seek to make a national settlement, which will, not only be a settlement, but really national, and, because it is national, have the best and fairest chance of being permanent. If the right hon. Gentleman is going to take part in this Debate, let him use time arts at his disposal to persuade hon. Members on all sides of the House to set to work, to put their heads together in no party spirit, but in that spirit which I have hinted at, and I venture to think he will then do a better day's work for his country than he would if he toured the country making speeches, one a week, like those he made last week at Huddersfield. Really, the right hon. Gentleman cannot be pleased with his speech at that moment. I do not suppose he is really very pleased with it now, but the right hon. Gentleman would have something to boast about in years to come if he was able to point back to a national settlement of this Irish question and to say that that was largely his work. I hope he will attempt to do that, and that he will forgive my impertinence in saying that that is the feeling of a great many people who are tired and sick unto death of these party squabbles on questions that ought not to be party questions, and that if he did suggest such a settlement there are many on this side of the House who would be only too ready and willing and glad to consider it.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
I am glad to hear from the lips of the hon. Member who has just sat down that he is agreed that it is the duty of Army officers to obey the orders 464 of their superiors. That is rather reflecting upon the statement made by the Front Bench opposite that in certain circumstances officers may pick and choose as to whether they will obey or not. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition only a few minutes ago told us that in his opinion the Army is not obeying because it thinks the Government have no mandate. That is conditioning the obedience of the Army. I do not understand that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down does that.
§ Mr. MOLTENO
And of taking the consequences of disobeying and making trouble in the Army. I did not rise really to deal with that question, but I want to deal with the question as a whole, because it appears to me we are really face to face with the gravest issue this Parliament has had to deal with, and indeed, which any Parliament in this generation has had to deal with, because it takes us back to the fundamental principle upon which our Constitution and Army is based. Let me say at once how much I welcome the language of the Prime Minister and of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs upon this subject. They have laid down principles which are the principles we wish to see adhered to in these matters. As I said, we are face to face with this very great and fundamental question. Are we, the representatives of the people in this country, to be free, without any interference whatever, to make such laws as we may think best for the peace, order and good government of this country? That is really the fundamental question with which we are faced to-day. This is not a new question. It is quite true, in this House, we thought it was settled almost centuries ago, and that this House had that liberty and freedom. What is the position to-day? The position really is this, that we have officers in the Army—I will not say the Army itself—but officers of the Army claiming to decide what measures of ours it will carry out and what it will refuse to obey. That is absolutely clear from the second letter of General Gough, in which he asked that if the Home Rule Bill becomes law he wants to make a condition. I say we are challenged by this section of the Army as regards our right 465 to make laws which we consider right and proper for the peace and good government of this country. We understand these Army officers are under the impression that they have gone back on conditions. We see it stated in the morning papers that General Gough has stated that the object of his journey to London has been achieved. I should like to quote his words; they are very serious indeed. He is reported to have said:—The object of our journey to London is performed. We have brought hack the written assurance that the troops under my command shall not be used to enforce the present Home Rule Bill.That is the impression General Gough apparently is under and conveyed to the troops under his command, and, indeed, we see that there has been a triumphal progress on the part of General Gough. That is a very serious state of affairs. It is a state of affairs which cannot be allowed to continue, and must be put an end to in everybody's interest as soon as possible. What is the position of the Army? Ever since the Revolution it has been laid down that no army can be maintained without, the consent of Parliament. The Army is considered as the instrument of the House of Commons. It is entirely controlled by the House of Commons, and it cannot be maintained by any other authority in this country, and we cannot consent, consistently with our duty to our constituents, to any terms short of implicit obedience to orders and absolute obedience to the orders of superior officers. These are the terms on which the officers of the Army have accepted service in the Army and have obligations to the Government of this country. It is only necessary to look at the Army (Annual) Act—the very foundation of the Army—in order to understand that control over a standing Army which this House has always jealously guarded since the time of the Revolution. I should like to remind the House of the language—and I do not think it is unmeaning language—of the Army Act. Section 9 says:—
"(1) Every person subjected to military law"—
and I should like to mention that the term "subject to military law" includes officers as well as men—
"who commits the following offences: that is to say, disobeys in such manner as to show a wilful defiance of the authority of any lawful command given personally by his superior officer, in the execution of his office, whether the same is given orally, or in writing, or by signal, or 466 otherwise, shall, on conviction by court-martial, be liable to suffer death, or such less punishment as in this Act mentioned; and
(2) Every person subject to military law who commits the following offence: that is to say, disobeys any lawful command given by his superior officer, shall, on conviction by court-martial, if he commits such offence on active service, be liable to suffer penal servitude, or such less punishment as in this Act mentioned, and if he commits such offence not on active service, be liable, if an officer, to be cashiered, or to suffer such less punishment as in this Act mentioned, and if a soldier to suffer imprisonment, or such less punishment as in this Act mentioned."
It ought not to be necessary to refer to this Army Act, but the reading of it enforces the serious offence committed if Army officers disobey orders, and proves the serious position in which these officers place themselves if they refuse to obey orders. The Army officers are bound in duty to carry out orders given to them. If they have been put in a false position on account of the questions put to them, I suggest that that option ought to be withdrawn, and there should be no option of the kind left to them. it ought to be assumed that an officer will do his duty. I understand this alternative has now been withdrawn, and yet this fundamental position is challenged by the Leader of the Opposition. I was glad to hear him considerably modify the attitude he adopted on Monday, when he gave an unqualified support to the argument that a soldier had a right if he thought fit to disobey the orders of his superior officer. [An HON. MEMBER: "And take the consequences."] The Leader of the Opposition said:—The House knows that we on this side have from the first held the view that to coerce Ulster is an operation which no Government under existing conditions has a right to ask the Army to undertake, and in our view, of course, it is not necessary to say that any officer who refuses is only fulfilling his duty.That is a very serious statement to make, and if that is not an inducement to officers not to obey their superior officers, I do not know what is. The party opposite has attempted to seduce the Army from their obedience. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] The language which has been used by hon. Members opposite could have no other meaning. The Leader of the Opposition says these men are actually doing their duty by refusing to obey the orders of their superior officers. The right hon. Gentle- 467 man has read two statements to us made by officers, which could only have been made by those officers under the seal of confidence. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] These letters had been used for political purposes, and hon. Members had been able to produce statements made by officers in the Army in regard to matters of the most confidential character affecting the discipline of the Army. I will refer again to the Army Act. There it is clearly laid down that this is a very serious offence not lightly to be committed. The 7th Section of the Army Act, which deals with mutiny and insubordination, provides thatEvery person subject to military law who commits any of the following offences; that is to say (1) causes or conspires with any other person to cause any mutiny or sedition in any forces belonging to His Majesty's Regular Reserve, or Auxiliary Forces, or Navy; or (2) endeavours to seduce any person in His Majesty's Regular Reserve, or Auxiliary Forces, or Navy, from allegiance to His Majesty, or to persuade any person in His Majesty's Regular, Reserve, or Auxiliary Forces, or Navy, to join in any mutiny or sedition shall, on conviction by court-martial, be liable to suffer death, or such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned.Therefore the offence which these officers have committed is a most serious one, punishable in some cases, by death. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members jeer at that remark, but I say it is a very formidable matter that communications of that sort should be made to Members of the Opposition to be used for political purposes. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is the whole object, intention, and use. The attempt to use the Army in this way, as has been done so frequently by hon. Members opposite, is utterly unconstitutional, and in other times what the Leader of the Opposition has said might easily have cost him his head. Why was Strafford condemned and executed? Simply because he urged the King to appeal from Members of Parliament to the Army, and that is the very offence for which he suffered death. In other times the right hon. Gentleman would have been impeached for conduct of this character. The House of Commons is the authority which pays the Army, and we want to be assured that the Army is ready and prepared to do its duty. There is no such dispensing power known 468 to our Constitution as the right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to put before us, that the Army should decide whether the country has been consulted. The House of Lords told us that we have not consulted the country, and now this is exactly the language used in regard to the Army. If the Army is to decide, then we are back to the old Pretorian Guard state of things, which one would have thought was absolutely intolerable at this time of day. Our Constitution is not a mere welter of changing opinions which anybody may set aside when he thinks he can get support to do so. Our Constitution is laid down pretty clearly and distinctly by Statute law, and I should like to read the language of a Statute which is still the law of the land on these matters. It says:—
"The laws of England are the birthright of the people thereof and all the Kings and Queens who shall ascend the throne of this realm ought to administer the Government of the same according to the said laws."
Naturally, if Kings and Queens are subject to the laws which we make, smaller people in the Army are obliged to obey those laws. The Statute law further says:—
"And all their officers and Ministers ought to serve them respectively according to the same."
That is the Statute of William III., 12 and 13, chapter II. There it is clearly stated that it is the duty of every person in the realm to obey the laws of the land. Only recently we settled the succession to the Throne of England in this House. All are subject to the laws duly passed by Parliament, and yet here we have four generals questioning the authority of Parliament and setting themselves up as a junta to decide whether the laws of the land are binding upon them. In the past there have been occasions when there might have been some danger of a successful general being in a position to defy the law, but even the most successful general has never made an attempt of that kind. What happened to the Duke of Marlborough? He was promptly dismissed. The great Duke of Wellington when he came back from Waterloo took his place as a civilian in the subordinate ranks of the Cabinet. When the Army in the time of William III. showed signs of restiveness, this House actually disbanded them. The King pleaded that his own veteran guards 469 might be retained, but Parliament said "No," and the Army was reduced to 7,000 men, and this was done at a time when Louis XIV. had 450,000 men under arms, and twice attempted the invasion of England. That is what our ancestors did, and they would not tolerate anything of this kind. Surely we are not going to be any the less courageous in asserting the authority of this House. We have recently had on the Continent the great Zabern affair, but this case is much worse, because that occurred in a little village. This is an attempt by our political opponents through the Army to seize the Empire by the throat and dictate to this Imperial Parliament what laws it may or may not pass. I said before that no question ought to have been put to any officer, and I say the situation in which we now find ourselves is really an impossible one. We cannot agree that it should go on for an instant longer, and we ask that it should be set right at once, and that this should take precedence of everything, the Home Rule Bill and every other question. We can no longer sit in this House and do justice to our constituents if we are subjected to the dictation of military officers. I say that our duty has never been more clear than it is to-day as the representatives of the people of this country. In the language of the Statute to which I have already alluded, it is to see that:—The laws of England are the birthright of the people thereof, and all the Kings and Queens who shall ascend the throne of this Realm ought to administer the Government of the same according to the said laws, and all their officers and ministers ought to serve them respectively according to the same.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Whilst I agree for the most part with the constitutional maxims laid down by the hon. Gentleman opposite and absolutely agree that this House and the civil power cannot, and must not, be dictated to by a military authority in this country, I do indignantly repudiate two of his main arguments and two accusations which he made. The first was that these officers had disobeyed orders. These officers have not disobeyed orders. If they have, then it is absolutely criminal on the part of the Government that they have not court-martialled them. It is being thrown about the country in the Radical Press that these officers have disobeyed orders. If they have, why is it that they have not been court-martialled or brought before a civil court. I think that 470 the character of these officers ought to be cleared in more certain language than it has been cleared, and that this stain that is being cast upon their character, especially by hon. Members below the Gangway, should be removed. We, on this side of the House, are represented as anxious for officers, non-commissioned officers, and men to disobey the orders of their superiors. I say that is an absolute misrepresentation. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said that if they do so, and he thought it might be their duty to do so under certain circumstances, they will be shot. I feel the position. I am in the Territorial Army, and I am subject to military law. If I am called out by the Government I shall either have to receive the bullets of my fellow countrymen in Ulster or be shot by the troopers in my own regiment. That is the alternative I have put before me. That is the position in which the Government places the soldiers of this country. We have either to go and be shot in the streets of Belfast in an attempt to carry out their policy, or else we have got to be shot under the Army (Annual) Act, which, of course, must always remain part of the fundamental constitutional principles of this realm. We have got to face those two alternatives. It shows the position in which we are. The Government, by one of the worst blunders that has ever been made in administration, has not only produced all this rhetoric and all these columns in the Press on both sides, and has not only imperilled the chances of a peaceful settlement, which last Thursday looked nearer than it had ever looked before, but it has brought about this grave crisis in the history of the British Army and in the history of this country. I say that the blame must fall upon whoever is responsible for these blunders. Take the general question. Was it not a criminal blunder to order a Battle Squadron from Spain, to put the whole of the Infantry Brigade of Ireland under question and answer, and to summon generals over from Ireland for conference at the War Office, and to tell them to go back and instruct regiments of Cavalry, Horse Artillery, and the like? Was not that a blunder, an administrative blunder, of the very worst kind? They say it was not meant to be provocative; but the plain man would say that it was obviously provocative to call out this vast mass of force. Was 471 this force wanted? Was there any possibility of wanting a Battle Squadron in order to protect four magazines of stores and rifles in the North of Ireland. It is absurd on the face of it. It is one of the greatest blunders that have ever been committed by any Board of Admiralty or any War Office in this country. It has led to this great misrepresentation, and it has quite rightly brought the Secretary for War to his knees in this House this afternoon. Of course, it was a ridiculous spectacle—
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
He comes down and announces to the House of Commons that he resigns, and then, of course, his resignation is not accepted. Is there any precedent for that? Usually, if a Cabinet Minister resigns and he is immediately reinstated, the country and the House are not told. The matter is quite rightly kept quiet. All this was done simply for window-dressing purposes in order to divert attention from the gross blunders that the Secretary of State for War has committed in the last week, and to endeavour to stir up a little rather cheap sympathy for the position of a Minister who resigns, and who is at once reinstated.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The Prime Minister said so. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes he did; he said he was still a Minister of the Crown.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
We were told this afternoon that he was still Secretary of State for War. How he can accept reinstatement, saying, as he does, that he stands by those two paragraphs the Government have just thrown over, I cannot possibly understand. No doubt the standards of Ministerial uniformity and Cabinet agreement are not the same in this Government as in former Governments. The most serious thing in the whole of this crisis has been this cross-examination of officers. Nothing has done more harm to the Army than that. The first training I ever underwent I remember being given a general order by my superior officer and 472 thinking that, as I did not know very much about it, I had better leave it to my sergeant to do very much as he liked. I put to him one or two questions, and he told me it was not his business but mine. It got round to the superior officer that I had not given explicit orders, and I was had up and given a good talking to. Is it not absolutely iniquitous, in dealing with matters of this kind, to have officers of regiments in Ireland cross-examined as to where they live, and where they are willing to serve in a particular direction under certain circumstances. These hypothetical questions were put to colonels, majors, captains, and subalterns. Two instances in which they were asked were quoted in this House on Monday by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition; one was a quotation from a letter from an officer in a Line regiment stationed at Curragh. Hon. Members must have seen, in the Press, that the officers of the Norfolk Regiment were questioned at Holywood Barracks, and that those of the Suffolk Regiment were questioned at the Curragh. Certain alternatives were put before them. I say alternatives ought not to be put to officers. Orders should be given them, and, if they did not obey, they should abide by the consequences. But that is not the attitude of the Government, and the course they have taken is the one thing that will ruin the British Army. They had no right to cross-examine officers as to where they agreed with their policy, and as to what they would do, or not do, in the event of certain things happening. The only result of such a policy is to ruin discipline in the Army, to ruin, in fact, the traditions of the British Army, and if that is the way in which the affairs of the Army are to be conducted I can only say it is the very worst thing that could have happened. I understand that this examination of officers is going on to-day in this country, and that in various brigades and divisions these questions are being asked. It is absolutely unfair to the officers.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
That is what 1 should like to know. If they are not being asked by such orders, the person who is to blame for putting them should be brought to book at the earliest possible moment. I want to ask some representative of the Government if General Gough's letter asking a hypothetical question—I profoundly 473 regret he wrote asking such a question—stands alone? I believe there is some explanation of it. Was it written in answer to letters previously sent to General Gough? If we could get the whole correspondence which gave rise to that letter it would afford some explanation not yet forthcoming. Here you have in General Gough, one of the most thoroughly disciplined and most highly-respected officers in the Army, who, in the last few days, has been as much worried as the Secretary for War. When hon. Members opposite jeer at him, and talk about him as being a Tory partisan, they should remember the position in which he has been placed in the last few days. We ought, in fairness to him, to find out the exact circumstances in which he wrote that letter. Was he asked to write the letter, in order that he might get an assurance?
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
He himself states the circumstances in his letter, for he says:—On thinking over the points raised by the Secretary of State this morning, a question has arisen in my mind"—
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Yes, but what were those points? What took place at the interview with the Secretary for War? That is what we want to get at, and it is what we have been trying to find out. It is clear he wrote that letter because he understood from the Secretary for War that he would get the sort of answer that has been given by the right hon. Gentleman. He wrote it so that he might get an answer which he could take back to his troops, and which, of course, justified him in using the language which he did use. It is perfectly clear that the language used by General Gough to his officers in Ireland was justified by the last two paragraphs of the Memorandum given to him by the Secretary of State. There is one very serious result of this blunder which has been somewhat overlooked. A General commanding a brigade has communicated to his officers a document signed by three members of the Army Council, including the Secretary for War and Sir John French, telling him a thing which has to be withdrawn two days later. Is not that disastrous to the discipline of the Army? Is it not utterly destructive of the discipline and traditions of the Army? What will be thought in future of documents signed by the Army Council, of orders sent by it, or of communications received from it? It is hardly possible to exaggerate the magnitude of this blunder 474 which the Government have committed, and I think the Government, if only on that ground, deserve a Vote of Censure from this House and from every lawful authority in the country for the way in which it has behaved. I want to deal with the second great blunder they have committed in the extensive movements of troops and battleships, and in the orders issued in regard to sending troops over from this country. Of that we have had an utterly inadequate explanation, and it looks exactly as if a coup d'état had been contemplated without the Cabinet's knowledge.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
It seems to me this movement of troops was contemplated without the sanction of the Cabinet. We have yet to learn that the Board of Admiralty as a whole ever sanctioned the sending of battleships from Spain to Ireland. Taking the speeches of the First Lord of the Admiralty and all his movements during the past week, is there not ground for grave apprehension which ought to be allayed by him or by some authoritative Member of the Government? There has been more going on in this matter than has yet appeared. These large movements of troops which were contemplated were obviously of a provocative nature. If they were not of a provocative nature they, at any rate, must have had some other purpose than merely supporting and strengthening the garrisons of the four towns where there are stores. It is utterly inexplicable why it was done. Was it done in order to create a demonstration? In this House a more moderate tone prevailed last Thursday, and hon. Members on both sides were endeavouring to come to a peaceful settlement. But that did not suit the extremists on those benches; it did not suit the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is well known to be a most extreme man, and who is known throughout the country as the man who wanted to be revenged for not being allowed to speak in the Ulster Hall. It is perfectly well known that the First Lord of the Admiralty, acting with the extremists of the parties in this House, has been longing for some demonstration of this kind, so that the agreement, which looked as if it were within measurable distance of being accomplished, should be done away with altogether, and that the full policy should be proceeded with. What was it he said?:It is time to put these matters to the proof.475 The bringing of the Battleship Squadron from Spain to the North of Ireland was putting these matters to the proof. It is perfectly clear that the blunder is a criminal one. As a matter of policy, it has been a most disastrous thing in the interests of the Army, in the interests of the Constitution, and in the interests of a peaceful settlement of this question. I hope the House will not calmly acquiesce in the blunders of the Government over this incident, but will censure them heavily.
§ Mr. M'CURDY
I desire to deal with only one point raised by the speeches of the hon. Members who have preceded me. The hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) commenced his speech by referring to what he was pleased to call "the basest slander" upon the officers in this matter, which was the statement that they had disobeyed orders. Whether or not they disobeyed depends upon a point which may be regarded either as a point of law or a point of conscience, and which is this: It is common ground between everybody in this House that an officer in the Army is not entitled to disobey the lawful orders of the Government. Is he then entitled to accept service, and, when a lawful order is given, to defeat the object for which his commission was conferred upon him by immediately resigning? The first two material documents that appear in the correspondence laid before the House are those of the 14th March, which details instructions given to the forces in Ireland, and the telegram of the 20th March, which shows the action taken by certain officers upon the receipt of those instructions:—Officer commanding 5th Lancers states that all officers except two, and one doubtful, are resigning their commissions to-day. I much fear same conditions in the 16th Lancers. Fear men will refuse to move.If there is one thing that to my mind is wholly satisfactory in this somewhat unsatisfactory business, it is the perfectly frank and straightforward character of the communication of General Gough, dated 23rd March. He asked in a perfectly blunt and straightforward way one question. He said, "You have explained to us that it is our duty to maintain law and order. We do not intend to be used to enforce the Home Rule Bill, and we ask, if that Bill becomes law, is that one of the laws we shall have to enforce under the head of law and order?" I do not for one moment think that that letter is the letter 476 of a man who would accept the position implied in the argument of the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs, that while it would be mutiny, punishable with death, for an officer to say "I decline to obey orders," yet, with his tongue in his cheek, he could wait until the disliked order is given, and then, by prompt resignation, defeat the order so given. If it were the case of an officer in the Navy, there would be no difficulty about the matter at all. It is some comfort to my mind, when I consider what I regard as a spirit of the most gross disaffection which appears to be prevalent among the military forces of the Crown, to think that the same thing does not apply to the Navy.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
The same thing would occur in the Navy to-morrow if the Government were to ask the officers their opinion as to what they would do.
§ Mr. M'CURDY
I am much obliged to the Noble Lord. I will deal with that point in a moment. The point I am dealing with is with regard to the right of an officer to resign. So far as the Navy is concerned, it is not merely a question of what is honourable; it is a plain question of law which was decided so recently as the year 1892, when the Lords of Appeal considered the very question whether, in any circumstances, a naval officer was entitled to resign his commission except by permission of His Majesty. One of the Lord Justices said:—Under the Naval Discipline Act, under no circumstances is a naval officer entitled to resign his commission except by permission of His Majesty. Any other view would, in my opinion, be destructive of the discipline and of the efficiency of the Service.
§ Mr. M'CURDY
I am very glad indeed to hear that the Noble Lord agrees with my view as to the duty of an officer in the Army. It is not quite accurate to say that it is the same in the Army, because the case of a naval officer depends upon the language of the Naval Discipline Act, and for a corresponding provision with regard to the Army we should have to go upon some other ground. We have had it now laid down by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and if I may respectfully say so, most justly and admirably laid down, that it is not right or fitting that questions should be asked of officers either in the Army or the Navy with regard to their views either as 477 to the present or future policy of the Government, or as to what their action would be if the future policy of the Government were this or that, and, further, that if such questions are asked it is fit and proper that no answer should be given. With that I agree. The object of my rising has been attained, if General Gough, when he reads the speech of the Foreign Secretary to-morrow, and considers his position in view of the interpretation now placed by the Government upon the letter which he received from the Secretary of State for War—
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)
May I interrupt my hon. Friend and point out to the hon. and gallant Member that it was particularly stated, both by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War and by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that no one was responsible for this document dated 23rd March except the Secretary of State for War, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and the Adjutant-General.
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
As this is a very important point, may I ask the hon. Member if it is not the case that the Secretary of State for War said that anything which was signed by the Secretary of State for War and two members of the Army Council was the dictum of the Army Council itself?
§ Mr. TENNANT
It is perfectly true, as is stated by my right hon. Friend, that it is within the power of the Secretary of State and two members of the Army Council to give Army Council decisions, but my right hon. Friend was careful enough and chivalrous enough to say that he alone with the two officers who signed this letter were responsible for it.
§ Mr. M'CURDY
I am very glad that the Noble Lord (Lord C. Beresford) agrees with the proposition I have put forward, that it would neither be lawful nor honourable for officers, either of the Navy or the Army, to continue in service with in his mind a mental reservation that as soon as he was called upon to perform a lawful order he intended to evade it by resignation. My object in rising will have been fully performed if, when General Gough and the other officers, who have now seriously to consider their position as 478 officers in the light of the statement made by the Government today, take, as I am sure they will take, the same honourable view as that taken by the Noble Lord of the duties of an officer under these circumstances, and the country and this House may feel confident that if General Gough and his officers, on full reflection, and after considering the speeches which have been made by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to-day, decide to retain their commissions in the Army, they do so, not merely as men who are prepared to obey all lawful orders which may in future be given them, but as men who have no intention of evading that responsibility whenever orders, owing to any Act of Parliament which may hereafter be passed, and which may be now within reasonable contemplation of parties, turn out to be orders which are against their judgment or their conscience.
§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
I think the House is left in a state of very grave perplexity by the Ministerial declarations today. We have been told quite frankly that the Cabinet have thrown over the War Secretary. We have not been told quite how far they have thrown him over. This has put the officers in a very unfair position. I think we all sympathise with the letter which was read out from General Gough, that he was a soldier and not a lawyer, and I really do not know how a soldier is to be able to make up his mind on this question if the Government change their opinions every twenty-four hours, and if they go back on their written and signed word. We know that the Cabinet has gone back on the decision of the Secretary of State for War and General French. There is very strong evidence that they have gone back on their own opinion, because I understand that in another place this afternoon the Lord President of the Council said that the last two paragraphs of the letter of 23rd March were drafted by the Secretary of State for War in consultation with him, and these two paragraphs summed up what was believed apparently by the President of the Council, who was present at the Cabinet meeting, to be the opinion of the Council. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can say whether it was in consultation.
§ Colonel SEELY
The situation is for me a very difficult one, and I throw myself on the indulgence of the whole House. I shall be asked a great many questions, no doubt, 479 in the course of this Debate, and I think surely it would be better if I asked the House to accept that from me in this peculiarly difficult position, and if I make no statement until I have fully considered the full bearing of the case. I think it will be better.
§ Mr. W. GUINNESS
It really is not an outrageous question to ask the right hon. Gentleman to answer "Yes" or "No" on a question of fact. I hope he will think the matter over, and be able to give his answer on the question of fact, which is all I ask, during the course of this evening. The Government have thrown over the last two paragraphs of the letter of the 23rd March, the opinion of the Army Council, and apparently of the Lord President of the Council. How much more have they thrown over? Have they thrown over the contents of the Memorandum of 16th December, because, after all, the subsequent correspondence really bears out the maxims laid down in that original Memorandum? That original Memorandum said that the troops were "justified in contemplating refusal to obey" orders under certain circumstances. That meant that soldiers were entitled to use their minds, and to argue whether an order was to be carried out or not. Has that position been thrown over? Has that letter been repudiated by the Army Council. I think that letter absolutely justified the action of the officers. I think it is fair to ask what opportunities now will be given to them to resign. It was distinctly laid down in that first letter that they were to have an opportunity of tendering their resignation and at the cost of their career, for their conscience sake, being dismissed the service, and I think they are entitled to a definite answer in view of the repudiation of the solemnly signed decision of the Army Council as to what their position is at the present moment. These officers, after all, thought after the language which was used to them, not that they were to be used to suppress disorder but to provoke disorder. The right hon. Gentleman clearly recognised the distinction between suppressing disorder and provoking disorder in his original Memorandum. He said that soldiers would be justified in contemplating refusal to obey, if it was a matter of massacring a demonstration of Orangemen who were causing no danger to the lives of their neighbours, so he said they would be justified in refusing to provoke 480 disorder. Is that still the position? I think it was very natural that they should ask for a definition of "active operations." They knew there was no question of protecting life in Ulster which was likely to arise in the present time because, owing to the splendid discipline of the Ulster volunteers, no life was threatened. The officers stated distinctly that they did not mind doing police duty, and therefore there was no question of their contemplating disobedience to those orders which could lawfully be given to them.
I think we ought also to have some statement as to the position of the noncommissioned officers and men. If officers are to have the right of resignation or dismissal, obviously that same right ought to be extended to the rank and file. This correspondence is manifestly incomplete. We find references in the latter part of it to letters or to interviews of which no details are printed in the earlier portion. We find, for instance, references not only here, but admitted references in the statement of General Gough to these officers, references to the willingness of the Army Council to allow officers to disappear if they are domiciled in Ulster. How did these instructions originate? There is not a single word in regard to leave or the opportunity of disappearing, to use the expression of the War Secretary, being given to the non-commissioned officers and men, according to domicile, in this correspondence, or any statement in the interview given by the right hon. Gentleman. That is not the only discrepancy and gap. What was the object of asking the Cavalry if they would obey orders if, in truth, there was no intention of sending anything but Infantry up to Ulster? The Government surely cannot be so foolish as to ask these fishing questions if there was no intention of using the Cavalry, and if the whole military operations were to be carried out by these Infantry companies they were sending up to guard the arsenals in Ulster. Hon. Members opposite have rather evaded, if I may say so, the details of this White Paper as to the position in this particular case, and they have tried to enlarge the Debate on general principles. I do not think that we on this side are in the least afraid of these general principles, because we have pointed out the distinction between civil war and war against a foreign enemy for years past.
The argument which has been brought forward from the other side has been that 481 troops must be used in aid of the civil power to maintain order in the case of trade disputes and the riots which occasionally arise therefrom, and that if you are justified in using troops in such riots, you are therefore equally justified in using them in Ulster. I think that that is an example of sophism which, I believe, is known as a sorites. You get somebody to admit something which is obviously true, and you lead up by imperceptible steps to something which is manifestly false. In this case the difference between a riot from political motive and civil war is quite frankly only a matter of degree. If in this country you ever had a strike which was backed by a considerable portion of the people, say, one-half, however much you might theorise about the use of the Army, it would be absolutely impossible to use it, and that is exactly the case to-day in Ulster. You cannot theorise. You have to face the facts. You have got to recognise that the Army are citizens, and that when people are equally divided on any question, you must allow them to use their rights as citizens and to stand out if their conscience will not allow them to perform military service. The duty of the Government, if they wish to coerce Ulster, was to do it long ago, and the reason they did not do so was that it did not suit their political speeches. They liked to go up and down the country and say that Ulster was bluffing, and that people there were cowards. The trouble has recoiled on their own heads, and I think the country will see that this difficult and disastrous state of affairs is due to the action of the Government in sacrificing public safety to their own party convenience.
Sir G. PARKER
I rise to a point of Order. I beg to ask whether in the circumstances we ought not to expect a Member of the Cabinet to be present who can answer questions of such great gravity as are being addressed to them. The Secretary of State for War has asked the consideration of the House, which we willingly give to him in the circumstances. He thinks that he should not be expected to answer a question such as has been asked by my hon. Friend (Mr. R. Guinness) in relation to statements made in another place in direct contradiction of or, at any rate, supplementary to statements made by Members of the Cabinet here this afternoon. As the guardian of the liberties not only of the Front Benches, but of the back benches, I would ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether some 482 Member of the Cabinet able to answer the questions which are being put should be present at this time?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
That is not a matter of order. I have no doubt that the hon. Member will recognise that it is desirable that the Minister who replies should deal with questions together and not separately when they are asked.
§ Colonel SEELY
In the absence of my colleagues for the moment I will say at once that in order not to cause any inconvenience to the House, if any point arises in the Debate upon which I can properly answer I will answer it at once, but I still say with great respect that it would be desirable I should make no general statement at present.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Minister who replies is in the habit of taking notes of questions asked during Debate for the purpose of dealing with them when he replies.
§ Mr. W. GUINNESS
The right hon. Gentleman has just said that he will answer specific questions. He did not answer my question, and I am afraid it may be missed. I wish to know how the instructions came to be given as to officers disappearing?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It would obviously make regular Debate impossible if an hon. Member, when he puts a question, were to expect an answer at once.
§ Mr. HOLT
There are one or two points I wish to put before the House. First of all, with regard to the position of General Gough. I think it is perfectly clear that he might reasonably suppose that the last letter in the Paper was an answer to his letter. I hope also it will be made perfectly clear to General Gough what the view of the House of Commons is, so that he should not retain his commission under any misapprehension. I am sure that, whatever our views may be on the subject, we shall all like to be fair to that officer. We do not wish him to retain his commission under any misapprehension of what the conditions are. If he does not wish to retain his commission on the conditions laid down, I am sure we 483 should all be glad to hear that he has resigned. General Gough describes himself as a soldier who knows nothing about law, but I would point out that the first thing he did when he got the letter was to deposit it with his own lawyer. Is it not a rather curious thing that the plain, blunt gentleman who knows nothing about lawyers or legal phraseology goes straight off to his solicitor as soon as he gets the document? It is quite unnecessary to disclaim any knowledge of law when you are in immediate communication with your solicitor. I turn to another point, which is the more general aspect of this case, as to what can actually happen in Ulster. The first possibility—I do not speak of it as a probability, because I quite believe that it will not happen—is that the Ulster volunteers will make an unprovoked attack upon their Nationalist, fellow citizens. I understand from the Leader of the Opposition, and I think that everybody will agree that he made his point, quite clear, that if an event of that sort took place it would be the duty of the Army to resist it by force, to support the civil power and to put down unprovoked aggression oil the Catholics. That, I think, is admitted.
Putting- that aside what is the next thing that the Ulster volunteers can do? The first act that will take place next in Ulster after the passing of the Home Rule Bill, assuming now that the concessions offered by the Government are not accepted and that the Bill passes as it stands, is the erection of polling booths at which the elections shall take place. What is going to happen? Is there going to be an attack upon the working men by the Ulster volunteers, and if an attack is made upon these working men, are the military to come to the aid of the police in stopping it? And if it is the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite that they ought not, then it appears to be the case, according to them, that any mob in the country which disapproves of the holding of an election may at any time prohibit the holding of that election. It is either one thing or the other. I submit that no serious people will say that the police and the Army are to stand by and see a mob preventing the holding of an election. We are not going to permit anything of that sort. I do not understand that hon. Gentlemen opposite seriously contend that. If they do, let us understand how far they go. Let us understand the position—a mob of violent 484 people may prohibit at any time the holding of an election in any place where they do not approve of it. A great many small boroughs might be disfranchised under that system. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down told us that the distinction between a political disturbance and a. strike disturbance is very fine. The distinction is perfectly simple. It is civil war when the object of the disturbance is favourable to the party opposite, and it is all the other thing when the object is not favourable to that party. That is the whole point, and every consideration submitted to the House always leads to the same conclusion, that it is possible to use armed forces in their interests, but it is-not possible for the armed forces to be used in somebody else's interests if they do not approve. That is the whole thing.
We are not going to put up with this doctrine. They must see that that doctrine is a challenge to the existence of ourselves and of every progressive party in this country. If we are going to submit to that we might just as well give up being in politics altogether, let every single election go uncontested, save them the trouble and expense, and be their humble and obedient servants. We are not going to be anything of the sort. We are going to have an equal position before the law. We are going to have an Army which will obey the orders of Liberal and Conservative Governments equally. We are going to have an Army which will operate against Ulster precisely as it would operate against Munster. If we cannot have an Army of that character we will have no Army at all. If we arc told that we have got to choose between an Army which will obey the Conservative party in a different spirit and manner from that in which it obeys the Liberal party or have. no Army at all, we will take the risk of no Army. I do not believe myself that there is very much risk in that, and there are certain solid advantages when you come to the Budget which we should have in the shape of remission of taxation. But hon. Gentlemen opposite may as well understand this, that no section of the Liberal party in this House or in the country will put up with an Army which is not going to act for our side precisely as it acts for them.. This is all part of the same plan. The party opposite have been beaten at the poll. They used to rely upon the House of Lords. The House of Lords was crushed because it was not prepared to, accept the verdict of the electors. Hon. 485 Members opposite have been latterly thinking that possibly the Army might make a second string to their bow. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"]
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member in order in grossly insulting the armed forces of His Majesty's Government in this way?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member is entitled to state his opinion. Hon. Members may strongly disagree with it. We are here to listen to the different opinions.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If the hon. Gentleman had said that in his opinion hon. Members on this side had done certain things, we should have nothing to say. That would be only his opinion, to which we would not pay much attention. But he did not say so. He stated it as a fact.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Hon. Members are constantly stating things without stating in each case "this is my opinion," but we must be prepared to take it as the opinion of hon. Members.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I ask whether the hon. Member made his statement as a fact or merely as his own personal belief?
§ Mr. HOLT
I will make the point quite plain to the hon. Baronet. I have listened to a great many speeches made by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches. From those, I and a great many of my hon. Friends cannot deduce any conclusions other than that it was the intention of the hon. Gentlemen opposite to use the Army as a means of preventing us— [Interruption].
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I cannot have hon. Members constantly interrupting and rising to points of Order when they do not agree with the opinon that is expressed. The hon. Member is entitled to express his opinion.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
On a point of Order, Sir. May I ask if the exceedingly offensive remark made by the hon. Gentleman opposite reached your ears in which he suggested that we on this side were not in a fit state to conduct these Debates? I ask whether that can be allowed?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The interjection of the hon. Gentleman did reach my ears, and I at once corrected him.
§ Mr. G. D. FABER
On a point of Order, Sir. Is the hon. Member prepared to withdraw his offensive observation?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is for me, if I think fit, to ask the hon. Member to withdraw. It was an interjection which he made without rising, and which I met with a distinct rebuke that such an interjection should not be made.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOLT
I was just coming to the conclusion of my remarks. The House of Lords has failed hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I think the second string to their bow has cracked. I think they had better make up their minds finally to the fact that the decision of the majority of this House, determined by the will of the people, must be accepted. What is their position? The House of Lords was to decide whether we had a mandate from the constituencies. Next, the Leader of the Opposition comes and says quite clearly to-day that it was for the Army to decide whether we have a mandate from our constituencies or not, I always thought that, at any time, nobody except the representatives of the constituencies had to decide what is to be done. That is a most constitutional doctrine. It will be impossible to govern this country as a constitutional country until the party opposite have made up their minds that the persons duly and lawfully elected to represent given constituencies are entitled to act and speak on their behalf. That doctrine has got to be accepted by the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, and whether it is the institution at the end of the corridor, or 487 whether it is the Army you choose to break down that doctrine, I am quite sure that they will be severely beaten at the poll.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman, in his concluding observations, has laid down a doctrine which, I think, is scarcely in accordance with the practice of our Constitution. I am not one of those who have ever supported the view that Gentlemen sent here by the constituencies to take part in this great council of the nation were to act in respect of every question submitted to them on direct instructions from their constituencies as to the manner in which they should vote. I do not think that is true. Our Constituents, no doubt, form their judgment on broad principles, but the application of those principles is often a matter of great difficulty, sometimes a matter of insuperable difficulty, and a thing which, stated as a broad principle, appears to be reasonable, is shown to be unreasonable when you find it in the form of an enactment on the Statute Book. I do not press the doctrine of the mandate to such an extreme length as hon. Members opposite very often do. The hon. Member's contention is that once we are returned here, we are to be masters, without check or control. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Yes, I correctly state the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite There is a difference of opinion, but the majority agree that I am correctly stating their view of the Constitution, which is, that once we are returned here, for the term of our existence, what we say is to be law without check or control by any other chamber, and without reference to any change of opinion, or any movement of opinion, or any opinion at all that is made manifest in the country. No Member on this side of the House has ever claimed such a right as that. [An HON. MEMBER: "You exercise it."] You may say, and if you propose a solution of the difficulty, we shall listen to your argument, and consider fairly the solution you offer us. You may say that the check, when we are in power, is insufficient, or has been insufficient, or you may say did not exist, but you never have said that it ought not to exist. But now we have the hon. Gentleman seeking amidst the cheers and with the approval of his party, to claim not that that exists by accident if it be, but they claim that ought to be our Constitution, and that is the true interpretation of the Constitution. 488 That is a claim for single-Chamber Government, carried to its extreme, and the hon. Member who put it forward agrees with it. He followed the right hon. Gentleman on the Government Bench who declared that single-chamber Government was "death, damnation, and destruction."
We are getting on, as the Prime Minister said the other day. The idea approved by Gentlemen sitting opposite is that once they get to this House, they ought to act in the most solemn manner, the most far reaching manner, without any regard either to opinion in any other branch of the Legislature, or the opinion in the country outside. That is not all that the hon. Gentleman claimed. The hon. Gentleman said that it was the determination of every part and every section of the party with which he is connected not to tolerate an Army which will not act for one side as it will act for the other. He could not in a single sentence more clearly have expressed the view which separates himself and his friends from us. We have never asked, we have never expected, we never desired, or could desire, that the Army should act for a party. [An HON. MEMBER: "Neither do we."] The Army has had, and ought to have, nothing to do with parties, and the earnest object of my friends and myself has been in all these anxious months to prevent the question arising of any party question affecting the discipline of the Army. The hon. Member went on to say, and we were told, Mr. Speaker, by your Deputy, that when he stated things as a fact we were to understand he was expressing an opinion, the hon. Member went on to state as a fact, but expressing in reality only an opinion, that it had been the hope and the intention of the Opposition to use the Army for some party purpose. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I knew that hon. Gentlemen opposite would cheer that statement, and I suppose that some of those who cheered it believed it, and I have not the hope that anything that I can say will do away with that misconception. An hon. Gentleman opposite very baldly at once informs me that nothing that I can say will do so. He refuses to accept my word in advance. Those are not the courtesies to which we have been accustomed in a House in which the hon. Member's ancestor was so distinguished and so generous an ornament as I, above all men, have reason to know. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name!"] I almost regret that I was led into this statement, but I 489 could only think of the kindness which the hon. Member's ancestor showed to me on my first appearance in this House. I regret, however, that I entered into controversy with him at all, and I hope that he will forgive me.
The hon. Member opposite said that it had been our hope to use the Army. I say it solemnly, and for my Friends here, as well as myself, that the danger which has oppressed us and which has been never absent from our minds in these last months of controversy was that the Army might be brought into our Debate, and if I myself and others and my right hon. Friend the other day have made proposals which might involve the sacrifice of something which we held dear, and the abandonment of much that we were unwilling to give up, and if we have sought to find some task of compromise and some solution which all could accept, what influenced us most in every suggestion that we have made in every sacrifice that we have offered, and in every risk that we have taken for ourselves, has been the desire and the hope that out of our suggestions some solution might come which would prevent this question of the Army or the opinions of the Army, either as individuals or as an Army, ever being raised, as it has been raised, in an acute form, and ever becoming the subject of discussion, of public discussion, here or in the Army itself. So much I have felt bound to say because of the observations of the hon. Member, but I do not desire to follow him further. I, and I think all my Friends, welcomed the intervention this evening in our Debate of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He is a man who deals gravely with grave things and never unnecessarily stirs passion, and I would desire to follow in his footsteps as far as I can. He said, and I agree with him—who cannot?—and it must be apparent to any man who gives a moment's thought to it, how wide and far-reaching are the issues which our discussions and recent events have raised, how great the injury already done to our country without distinction of party, and no man will desire, any more than we will, to widen the area of that discussion or to raise delicate and difficult points where every word should be weighed in a passing debate, where we speak without careful preparation, and without the possibility of exactly measuring our language.
I do not desire to travel outside the facts which are germane to the statement made 490 by the Secretary of State for War and to the debate which arises directly out of it. I must just comment on one observation of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He said that he was reluctant. to resort to coercion even of a minority. I do not quite know why he said "even of a minority." For my part, I would say frankly I am always reluctant to resort to coercion, although sometimes a Government has no choice as to whether they do so or not. He went on to say, with special reference to the observations of my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour), that for those who, like himself, remembered past history, my right hon. Friend's position in regard to Ulster and the coercion of Ulster was difficult to follow. Does the Secretary of State mean for one moment to suggest that there is anything comparable in the coercion that he admits he contemplates, in certain eventualities, of the great mass of people of all classes in the North-East of Ireland, with what is called coercion as practised by my right hon. Friend when Chief Secretary or by his successors? [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] I will tell the hon. Member why not. You may quote the example of my right hon. Friend when the Ulstermen fire into the houses of those who disagree with them. You may quote the example of my right hon. Friend when they tar and feather women who disagree with them. You may quote the example of my right hon. Friend when they maim cattle. But until you can accuse the Ulstermen of these crimes—
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Until you can accuse Ulstermen of these crimes—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the shipyards?"]—and prove that they have committed them—because some men fling accusations about very lightly—you cannot cite the action of my right hon. Friend as any precedent for the coercion that you are contemplating. I come now to the real subject-matter of our Debate. The Government profess that they have placed before the House a full and complete story of all that has taken place, that they have made a clean breast of everything that has passed, and that in the light of that confession their attitude is shown to be one wholly innocent of any provocation, and the measures which they contemplated to be what I might almost call peace 491 measures, or measures of precaution. They allege that all that they desired to do was to secure the protection of certain military depots in Ireland. If they had been civil establishments, that would have been a police duty and would have been discharged by the police. But being military depots, they naturally fell to the charge of the military, and the Government case is that they moved the military, the military being the natural force to employ in this case, just as they would have moved policemen to protect a town hall or a Government office. I cannot, in spite of what has been said, reconcile that with the statement which we have heard from the Government and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who said that the Government had a reason for grave apprehension. He said that in habitual and constant speeches, not from my right hon. Friend the Member for Trinity College, but from other Members of the Opposition, they had been warned during the autumn and winter that "the sands were running out." That is a phrase which I happened to use, and the Foreign Secretary took notice of it in a speech which he made shortly after. What I had in my mind was that feeling showed a growing and perilous state of tension, and that any blunder on the part of anyone, even the least responsible person in the world, might fire the train that was already there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who laid it?"] I will answer that question if necessary. I am endeavouring to put a serious argument. It is difficult when a man feels as strongly as we all feel to speak calmly, and I do not want to be led away by interruptions into something which may anger and render more difficult the calm consideration of what has occurred.
I had in my mind that a blunder on the part of anyone in that state of tension in connection with proceedings we have all witnessed might produce grave disaster. Was I wrong? Can it be said that when I used that phrase I was threatening? What right had I to threaten as to what action Ulster would take? No, I looked at all sides, and I said from this side, from the side of the Government, and from the side of Ulster, a single mistake by anyone might fire this train. Was I wrong? Somebody has blundered. The Government do not profess to know who—though we may think we know after their admission— somebody has blundered on the Government side, and that train has been fired— 492 [HON. MEMBERS: "What has happened?" and "A squib"]—and the grave circumstances which my Friends and I feared, have been produced, and these Debates are the consequence. That is not all. When the Secretary of State tells the House what he contemplated, I accept his word, as every Member of this House would do, but I find his descriptions of the intentions of the Government irreconcilable with the action which was taken by the Government. If he correctly interpreted the considered opinion of the Cabinet, then someone in high quarters has betrayed the Cabinet by taking action not sanctioned by them behind their backs. Here I must again say that the Government profess to have given us the whole truth. There is one essential part—essential as they have constantly said in their speeches to any appreciation of what has happened—for which they have been asked, not merely to-day, but previously. and which they have refused or neglected to give. What is General Paget's version of what he said to the officers of the Curragh?
We are told, and we are asked to believe, that the only instruction given to General Paget are those contained in the documents of the 16th December and the letter of the 14th March. Where, in these instructions, did General Paget find the right to offer to the officers domiciled in Ulster, and desiring to be excused the Service, the opportunity of disappearing until the operations in Ulster were over? The Prime Minister said on Monday, I think, that that was the decision of the Cabinet. He said that a was intended to apply to all officers in all circumstances Where the troops acted within the United Kingdom, and yet when the Government professed to give us the whole of the instructions on which their servants and officers have acted, there is not one word about it in this document to show what the Government said to General Paget or what General Paget said to his officers. If the Government had merely contemplated the making secure against raids by irresponsible persons of certain magazines and stores in Ulster, they never would have told the general that he was to excuse from service officers domiciled in Ulster, and no officer domiciled in Ulster would have asked to be excused from such service. But that is not all. The First Lord of the Admiralty interjected an observation when the Prime Minister was speaking. He 493 said the instructions to General Paget had reference, not merely to the North of Ireland, but to the South of Ireland, and that troops might be required to move to the South as well as to the North.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I said the contingency might arise and might occur in any part of Ireland, in the South as well as in the North.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
That was not the observation which the right hon. Gentleman interjected in the midst of the speech of his Leader. If that were the case, if General Paget had been told to prepare to move his troops in all directions, and that officers domiciled where the troops were to be moved were to be excused the service, why was Ulster, and Ulster alone, mentioned by General Paget to his officers, and why was it only officers domiciled in Ulster who were offered the excuse from service? Another point on which I am wholly unable to reconcile the statements made by the Cabinet with the opinion of General Paget is this: The Prime Minister on Sunday, the 22nd, at some late hour of the night, apparently sent for the representative of the "Times" and conveyed to him for publication a message intended to reassure the public. In the course of that message he denied the rumours of extensive naval preparation, and said that the whole foundation for them was that two cruisers had been ordered to Ireland. We now know, and we have not to guess, on the authority of the First Lord of the Admiralty himself, that that statement was inaccurate at the time it was made. I say at once that I do not bring a charge. I do not complain, but I am sorry that the Prime Minister is not here. Nevertheless I cannot refrain because he is absent from commenting on these things. I do not accuse the Prime Minister of wilfully misleading the country in that statement. My inference is that he did not know, and that is the most serious thing of all.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I have already told the House that the movement of the Third Battle Squadron was the result of a Cabinet decision taken more than ten days before.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I can conceive that he knew more than ten days before that certain proposals had been made for the disposition of the Fleet, but I say that it is not conceivable that when he 494 gave that statement to the Press on Sunday he knew what had actually occurred. What has actually occurred? He made his statement on the 22nd. On the 19th the First Lord of the Admiralty had issued orders for a Battle Squadron to proceed to Lamlash. Does the First Lord of the Admiralty tell me that when the Prime Minister said on Sunday that no movement of ships in connection with Ulster had taken place, or was contemplated, he knew that the First Lord of the Admiralty had on the 19th ordered a Battle Squadron to Lamlash to be in proximity to the coast of Ireland in case of serious disturbance occurring in Ulster? Did he know, when he spoke on the 22nd, that these orders, having been issued on the 19th, had been countermanded on the 21st by the First Lord because, as he said, the movement of troops had taken place without disturbance in Ulster? The honour of the Prime Minister is at stake, and it is the First Lord who staked it. [The PRIME MINISTER here entered the House.] Perhaps now I had better repeat my statement. I was dealing with the statement as to what were the intentions of the Government in the statement issued by the Prime Minister to the Press on Sunday. The Prime Minister communicated that statement to the Press on Sunday, and in it he said that there was no foundation for the rumours of naval movements in connection with Ulster having any foundation except that two cruisers had been sent to Belfast. I said that I was not for a moment suggesting that when the Prime Minister issued that statement he was trying to mislead anybody, but I said that was the gravity of the position, because it showed that the Prime Minister did not know what was being done. I asked: Did the Prime Minister know when he made that statement on Sunday, the 22nd, that on the 19th the First Lord, in pursuance it may be of a decision taken some little time before, ordered a Battle Squadron to proceed to Lamlash so that they would be in proximity to the coast of Ireland in case of serious disorders occurring.
No, of Ireland. I am quoting the exact words of the answer of the First Lord. And whether he knew, when he made that statement, that on the 21st, the day before he disclaimed any movements of ships, except those two cruisers, in connection with affairs in 495 Ulster, those orders had been countermanded by the First Lord, because, as he said, the reinforcement of the positions in Ulster had been carried out without disorder? I said that in this matter the honour of the Prime Minister was at stake, and that it was his colleague sitting beside him who had staked it. I am reminded that to make my story complete, I should say that the First Lord stated that when the Prime Minister said no movements of the Fleet had taken place in connection with events in Ulster, except that of two cruisers, he knew both of the facts which we now know on the strength of the First Lord's answer to-day. I turn from that, which is an argument, in facts as known to us and as disclosed by the Government themselves, facts which are irreconcilable with the intentions of the Government given by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and with the statement of the Prime Minister as to what had actually occurred; and I come to that part of the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State which dealt with the actions of the officers who had been concerned in this matter.
The Prime Minister said that in his opinion no one should ask of an officer in advance what would be his course of action in a future contingency, and no officer should ask of the Government what they would expect of them in regard to a future contingency. That is a statement which I do not think anyone in this House would dispute; and if in this case unhappy, most unhappy results have followed from the breach of the rule, as they have done, the blame must lie upon and must be accepted with all its consequences, by the party who has asked the question. The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State spoke of General Gough in terms of respect for his military services and character, but with a harshness, which, I think, was wholly undeserved, and an injustice which they will regret when they themselves come to consider calmly what has really happened. I know no more of General Hubert Gough than the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I have never set eyes upon him, and my only knowledge of him is such as is common to all the world as to both his own record in the Army and the distinguished records of the family from which he springs. The officers did not receive an order to ask no questions before they 496 decided what they would do; on the contrary, the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, fresh from conversations with the Secretary for War, and with the Army Council, acting on verbal instructions which have never been reduced to writing, went over to Ireland, called his brigadiers and commanding officers together, and asked them what they would do in certain eventualities. And he did not merely ask then what they would do. He gave them three choices: "You may agree to do whatever is required, or if you are domiciled in Ulster you may disappear until this is over, or you may send in your commission, and in that case you will be dismissed." Does any one allege—[a laugh]—Why do you laugh?
§ Sir G. SCOTT ROBERTSON
I was not laughing at the right hon. Gentleman at all, but simply at a remark made by some one behind me.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Does anyone suggest that General Paget, fresh from the War Office and from his conversations with the Secretary of State for War, and with the Army Council, put these questions without any authority? It cannot be suggested, because the Prime Minister alleged on Monday that the officers were to have this choice, not merely in Ulster, but always, and thus General Paget had authority for them. Are you going to disown General Paget when he claims authority for the other questions? Arc you going to pick and choose? You cannot. When fresh from consultations with the Government and with the military authorities he carried their message to his troops—and their message to the troops was: "Are you prepared to act, or are you not?"—he invited their opinion and asked their judgment. He gave them a choice. You cannot blame the officers after that for asking exactly what their choice is. The Government say that General Paget's observations were misunderstood by his officers. They disclaimed, while refusing to tell us what he did say, certain phrases. But they have never claimed General Paget's authority to deny that he asked his officers whether they were prepared. to undertake active operations in Ulster. They say that all they wanted was an ordinary measure of precaution to protect Government stores. The officers concerned replied to General Paget, by General Gough's letter of the 20th, that if that were all they would do it. If General Paget had thought that his instructions 497 from the Government entitled him to say that that was all, he would have said so. There would have been no question of resignations—nothing that would ever have come before this House. But the fact that General Paget did not answer that question, but referred it to the Government for an answer, shows that he knew that the Government had commanded him to undertake something which was more than the mere protection of magazines, and forced him to require from his officers an assurance that they would undertake, not the protection of a magazine, but military operations, if they were called upon to do so, against the people of Ulster. I say this, in the first place, that I accept the Prime Minister's principle that no questions as to future contingencies ought to be put. I go further, and say that no questions ought to be put to officers under any circumstances as to future or immediate contingencies as to what men would do when they get an order, and I agree with the Prime Minister that officers ought not spontaneously and without invitation to ask the Government for explanations of its intentions in certain future contingencies. Now I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite who said very hard things of gentlemen in Ireland. Be fair. You cannot say, in the light of the facts that are known to us all, that they first asked questions. They were asked what they would do in certain contingencies. They asked to have those contingencies more particularly defined. They said that, being given a choice, if one thing was meant, they would be happy to do it; if another thing was meant, they would sooner take the ruin of their careers—dismissal from the Army, which you know is dearer to them than any party cry. They had that choice put to them. They tried to define it. They sent in their papers. If there was any mistake about what was asked of them, General Paget could have removed it at once, and the fact that he did not remove it shows that he was labouring under the same mistake, if mistake there was, as the Secretary of State. Then we come to the letter of 23rd March, on which the Prime Minister commented with very great severity. What is the origin of that letter? Is it a spontaneous, unprovoked question from General Gough? On the contrary, if you read the first words, he says:—On thinking over the points raised by the Secretary of State"—The Secretary of State had summoned him to his presence. He had there spoken to 498 him, and he had raised points in conversation with him, and General Gough asked, as an officer who had gone through so much, and been so hardly tried, had surely a right to ask that he should know exactly what the Secretary of State meant by what he had said. That brings us to the last document. That is the document about which there is still a great deal of mystery. The draft of it, the House will observe, was prepared by the Adjutant-General, who had been present at the interview between the Secretary of State and General Gough. That draft, therefore, embodied the Adjutant-General's impression of what the Secretary of State had said, and it was subsequently taken to the Cabinet and rejected by them. Was General Gough not justified in desiring to have things made quite clear, and not he alone but the Adjutant-General? He drew up the draft, which was submitted to the Cabinet, which was the Adjutant-General's account of what the Secretary of State for War had said. I think General Gough was amply justified in asking to know exactly what the Secretary of State meant by the words which he had used.
But that is not all. The Prime Minister' refused to produce, even while claiming to let the House fully into his confidence, the document which the Adjutant-General prepared as embodying what the Secretary of State had said. I think the House-and the country are entitled to know what was the Adjutant-General's impression of the conversation. We do not know either, because the Government have not produced it, what exactly were the amendments which the Cabinet made in it. The Prime Minister says they were substantially the first three paragraphs. But substantially is a blessed word which may cover a great deal, and, considering the whole history of this matter, we should like to see not substantially but exactly what it was. But even yet we are not at the end of the matter. What is the case with which the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State opened our proceedings to-day? It was that the Cabinet had set out the document which was given to these officers substantially in the form in the first three paragraphs of that which is published in the White Paper. Unhappily the Secretary of State had been, called away from the Cabinet and had therefore not known that this was a Cabinet decision, and after committing a grave error, for which he took full 499 responsibility, he had added two paragraphs on his own sole responsibility, and had accordingly, when the error was pointed out to him, offered his resignation. That is the account which the Prime Minister endorsed in a complete and ample record of all that occurred in regard to this momentous document. When I listened to the Secretary of State, I listened with the emotion which I think every one of us feels when in the opening sentences of his speech a Gentleman who occupies a prominent position in this House and in the Government intimates that he is going to conclude by announcing that he has ceased to be a Member of the Government, and that for some error that he has committed, or through some difference with his colleagues, he must resign the position that he fills. I listened not without emotion to the right hon. Gentleman's speech under that impression. When it was all finished, and when after the Prime Minister had spoken, what did we find? That the whole thing was a put-up job, and that it was a hollow comedy played by the Secretary of State, who, if he had asked to resign, knew while he was speaking that his resignation was not accepted.
I have never seen a spectacle more humiliating than this drama of sentiment played out before a credulous and deceived House of Commons. I have to carry the story one step further. We now know from other sources of information that these paragraphs which two Ministers stated to-day to be the sole work of the Secretary of State for War and inserted by him only because he had not been able to be present during the proceedings of the Cabinet, were prepared by him in consultation with another member of the Cabinet who, I believe, was present throughout the proceedings. The Secretary of State, we are asked to believe, put this in because he was not present, and did not know what had passed. What about the other member of the Cabinet, Lord Morley, who has announced that he collaborated, and that he was present at the Cabinet? He could not have consented to put these paragraphs in unless they were, in his opinion, a fair interpretation of what the Cabinet had decided. We do not hear that he has resigned, and we know now that the Prime Minister does not accept the resignation of the Secretary of State. There are some things which no Prime Minister can afford to do, and if the present Prime Minister will permit me 500 to say so, I would say that he least of all, or. as little as anybody. They will not throw over a colleague for doing what they themselves had, in fact, if not in words, assented to. The Secretary of State for War and Lord Morley are pledged by the Paper which they gave. The Government may throw them over if they like, but if they are thrown over, if the word that they pledged is repudiated, as men of honour they cannot stay with the Government a day longer. And if they stay, then the Paper which they approve, and one of them initials, and the interpretation of that Paper which the Chief of the General Staff gave to General Gough and authorised him to read to his officers at the Curragh is a binding obligation alike on them and on their colleagues.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
[who, on rising, was received with cries of "Resign!" and interruption from the Opposition Benches]: In ordinary circumstances in the regular course of our Parliamentary Debates succeeding one another from day to day, there is very little opportunity of judging of the character of individuals or of parties. But there are occasions when the temperature is raised. I dare say it may be raised very soon, so that you may, as you have so often done, interrupt the reply from the Government Benches.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
It is my earnest hope that my hon. Friends will hear what the right hon. Gentleman wishes to say; but when he makes that observation I beg to recall to his memory that he pointedly interrupted me in the midst of my speech.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman got a singularly fair hearing. I was met, on rising to answer him, after he had made the most insulting charges that he could think, of—[Interruption.] Surely he would not deny that they were the most insulting charges. When I rose—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on!"]—I am going to go on—from this bench to offer, not at undue length I hope, but with what I claim ought to be the fair liberty of debate in this House. [Interruption.] Hon Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite always have this idea 501 that they ran bully the party on this side. When I rise to make the reply, which is proper and only courteous to the view which they represent, I am received with cries of "Divide!" If I am given full liberty of debate, I am going, in a few minutes, to make some observations in reply. I am going to take full advantage of fair liberty of debate in this House, but if I am shouted down it would not be for the first time. Let me draw the attention of the House to two of the charges of the right. hon. Gentleman. The first is an open charge of mendacity against those who sit on this bench. He said that whereas the Prime Minister stated on behalf of the Government that we never saw the letter of General Gough referred to, and never assented to the two last paragraphs of the statement, as a matter of fact we had all assented to it, and are now unable to get rid of the Secretary of State because we are involved. We have not only lied, but are unable to art fairly and in a straightforward manner because of the lie we have told. The right hon. Gentleman does not believe that charge. He knows perfectly well what are the conditions under which public life is carried on in this country, what are the decent—[Interruption.] I presume the right hon. Gentleman knows his own party; I presume he knows the extreme limits of what is right, fair, and proper in political affairs. He does not believe the charge for a minute. He said it in order to get a cheap party cheer, and in order to work up the feeling on an issue on which there has been quite feeling enough, and he so makes this charge that the Government have told a deliberate lie about this spatter. That brings me to his second charge. [HON. MEMBERS "Answer it!"]
His second statement was also remarkable. He said that the resignation of my right hon. Friend was a put-up job. The two standing together, the accusation and the answer, furnish in combination what one may call a study in chivalry—alternative forms of chivalry. Here is the position. I quite admit that between one party and another they have plenty of right to be angry and vexed with us, especially this last day or two. They push party recriminations to extreme limits, to the utmost limits, but when a Minister or a Member of the House is, in his personal affairs and personal situation deeply concerned and deeply engaged, the House always shows a special attention and consideration. The personal action of my right 502 hon. Friend, apart from what was assented to by his colleagues, has been very accurately delimited in this Debate, and we are confident that though they indicated a divergence and a difference which we had not been able in all respects to cover, they are not such as should require him, or justify him, in this critical juncture to sever his connection with the Government, who trust him, and who are proud to work with him. Of course, one may expect a certain amount of sneers from Gentlemen who are our political opponents, but I think when the right hon. Gentleman described what took place to-day, after my right hon. Friend— we know his character here—made his frank and manly statement, as a "put up job," he shows one of the forms of chivalry as practised by the Opposition at the present time. I think for a right hon. Gentleman in the position of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Conservative Ministry, a man who dealt with great affairs year after year, I think a rather snore refined and guarded manner of speech, when a question of the personal reputation and conduct of a Minister is engaged, would have been more becoming. He does no harm to my right hon. Friend, but the right hon. Gentleman might have taken a little higher ground.
Let us compare the chivalry of the right hon. Gentleman in saying that this is a put-up job with the action of Lord Morley. Lord Morley's reputation in this House is well-known. For many a year he was an ornament of our Debates, and. his learning and intellectual elevation, his brilliancy of phrasing, and the range of his experience, constitute assets and qualifications which the Government value in the highest degree. Lord Morley came into the room while the Secretary of State was opening for the first time the box in which the letter of General Gough was contained. Lord Morley came into the Cabinet Room, deserted by the Cabinet, who had repaired to luncheon, to find out from my right hon. Friend what were the exact terms, the precise terms of the declaration he had to make in a few hours to the House of Lords. The difficulties which exist between the two Chambers are well known to the House at large, and the Government know the difficulties of ensuring that exactly the same declaration is made in every minute particular at one end of the corridor and the 503 other. We are practical men here, and we know the House of Commons very well. We know the conditions of public life here very well, and everyone knows that there are always possibilities of minor discrepancies which it is not really worth while importing into a serious argument or discussion. That is one of the great defects of the right hon. Gentleman's style of political argument. I read some time ago a description of it in which it was said that his method of argument was always trying to beat a very small bird out of a very large bush. Let me go on with my narrative. Lord Morley was present asking my right hon. Friend for what was actually to be stated in the House of Lords as a consequence of the Cabinet decision. He never revised or examined those paragraphs or took any decision upon them, and my right hon. Friend takes the sole responsibility upon himself, but Lord Morley at the other end of the passage, as he happened to be there when the box was opened, and when the case was raised—
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bonar Law) laughs. Sir, I dare say we shall yet see him the head of a Government in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!" and "Never!"] I am young yet, and must not exclude that possibility. I can only wish for him in that day a colleague as loyal and as chivalrous as Lord Morley. Although he had not in any direct or effective manner been connected with the decision taken by my right hon. Friend, and although my right hon. Friend takes full responsibility for it, Lord Morley, as he was indirectly and remotely brought into contact with it, considered it right and proper to say that he takes full responsibility for it. I think the House will agree that these alternative studies in chivalry are not to the profit. of the right hon. Gentleman. Further, the right hon. Gentleman expects us to lay before him all the confidential correspondence and confidential documents in the possession of the Army Council and of the Cabinet. He expects that he should be provided, for the sole purpose of party controversy, with every detail of the discussions which go on within the secret circles—or semi-secret circles, I may say—of the Government and of the Army Council. We have gone to the fullest possible length in the documents we have 504 published. We have brutally selected the documents which most clearly reveal the position, concealing nothing because it was damaging, but laying before Parliament the whole of the material facts, of which Parliament has, I think, taken full note. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to make a formidable charge of breach of personal honour against my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
No. Twice over, before the Prime Minister came in and again in his presence, I said that I did not make any charge against him of wilfully deceiving.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
What I said was that it was inconceivable that the Prime Minister had this information which is now known to the House at the time he made that statement. It is the First Lord who alleged that the Prime Minister had it.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am quite sure that I should be wrong if I tried to found an argument on saying that the right hon. Gentleman charged the Prime Minister with a breach of honour, because I am sure that he did not intend to do so. Therefore, I will not take advantage of the. verbal terms which he used to found any charge upon them at all. As to this Battle Squadron; on the 11th, this day fortnight, the Cabinet decided that a Battle Squadron with its attendant ships should be stationed at Lamlash, because that is a good place for them to be at to do their work, and also —I make no concealment—because they would be conveniently situated in case of grave disorder arising. Battleship squadrons go about their work in the ordinary and regular way. This particular squadron was at Arosa Bay. There was no urgency in the matter. This movement was not in any way directly connected with the special precautionary moves that have been described to the House; but, still, it did happen that the Battle Squadron was coming home—. [Laughter.] I hope. that that laughter does not base itself upon the assumption that I should be afraid to say that it was connected with them if that was the case. It happened that during the time that this Battle Squadron was on its passage these movements were taking place. The squadron was certainly allowed to hold 505 on its course steadily so long as it was not certain whether the movements would be effected, as we hoped and expected they would be, without bloodshed or serious military opposition. As soon as it was clear that there was no serious opposition and that the movements had been safely conducted, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who knew exactly what had been happening—though I do not say that he kept the exact position of the squadron in his mind —suggested to me that it would be a good thing, as all had passed off satisfactorily, and there was great excitement and a great many sensational and lying rumours in the Press, to delay the movements of the Battle Squadron for another fortnight. Then it will go to Lamlash. There it will stay during the continuance of this crisis. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the destroyers?"] They are merely an incidental feature. A Battle Squadron has its attendant destroyers and cruisers. As to a question put by the Noble Lord about field guns, if the vice-admiral on his own account desired to have this Artillery on board, these guns, which are usually taken when they are cruising in order that the men may work the guns on shore if the weather is too bad to put the ships to sea—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Noble Lord has a great deal of information, and more than I have on the subject. I can quite believe that there must be somebody who is giving him information. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
If the right hon. Gentleman will read the Press he will be able to get the same information.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am going to examine the statements in the Press, and see whether they bear out the Noble Lord's statement, and when I have done so I will take the opportunity of making a statement in the House which will, I am sure, be very gratifying to the Noble Lord. I do not understand the position of the Conservative party in being so squeamish over these naval and military movements. Their complaint during the last two years has been: "You are not taking the great Ulster rebellion seriously enough." Over and over again we have been reproached in the harshest terms for not paying suffi- 506 cent attention to what is going on. We have been told: "Here is an army being drilled, here we are rebelling, and at any moment we may go off in a frightful explosion." Nobody more than the Leader of the Opposition has adopted this attitude. He said: "We have not a minute to lose." They could not wait till the financial business had been concluded. "If," he said, "a policeman had gone into the lines of the Ulster volunteers and had asked to count the number of rifles he would have precipitated a ghastly catastrophe that would have riven the British Empire to its utmost foundations!" Sir, we have never taken these statements at their full value. Still, very serious steps are on foot. Large forces have been raised, and every kind of assertion has been made as to their employment.
When movements, however limited, however precautionary, however reasonable, however non-provocative in themselves, have to be made, it is necessary that contingent preparations should also be taken into account in case what we all hope and trust will be avoided were suddenly to break out upon us. That is the explanation of a great deal that you will read in the next few days in the newspapers of stores, and ships, and men, and guns, and ambulances, and pontoon sections, and so forth, that were taken into general consideration in case contingent movements should be necessary. That is the only explanation. I am not going to go back upon the subject which has been already dealt with. I have already spoken for twenty-five minutes, and in five minutes I shall conclude. But I should like before the House goes to a Division on the Consolidated Fund Bill to put before the House the great issues which have been raised by these dramatic and very remarkable events. As to the officers, I hope my hon. Friends on this side will not throw themselves into a mood which is in any way unfair to these young Cavalry officers in the difficult position in which they found themselves placed. If the alternative with which these officers conceived themselves to be confronted, and which they conceived themselves bound to decide upon in a few hours, had been put to Members of the present Government there would have been a mixed answer, and I think most people would have fallen back upon that truly Ministerial answer, "I decline 507 to answer hypothetical questions." I hope it will not be too readily. assumed that those officers were animated by a wrong spirit or by a base political or party spirit in discharging duties which must be removed, and which it ought and must he a point of honour with them to remove from the area of party politics. But when that question of the officers has been put aside and everything said that may be fairly said to reduce that action to its proper proportions, the fact remains that a great issue has been raised—of the Army versus Parliament. Well, we are content to let that issue, in so far as it has been raised, move forward steadily to its ultimate conclusion. Another issue has broken upon this issue—I mean the Army versus the People. Every effort has been made with the greatest dialectical skill by the right hon. Gentleman the Senior Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) and by the Leader of the Opposition, who emulates his dialectical force without his dialectical subtlety, to show that it is always right for soldiers to shoot down a Radical or a labour man—[HON. MEMBERS: "Liar!" "Withdraw!" and Interruption]—and always wrong—[Interruption and HON. MEMBERS: "Rub it in!" and "With draw!"]
I quite understand, of course, hon. Gentlemen opposite do not agree. If I were shouted down now there could be no greater tribute paid to me. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is what you were waiting for!"] As I say, great efforts have been made to show that when it is a Tory quarrel then the Army ought to act. But in any matter where Liberals are concerned, then, of course, no gentleman would ever demean himself by doing his duty to the Crown and Parliament. That, again, is an issue far-reaching, profound, unsettling in its evolution and in its presentment which I should have thought the party of property, law, and order would have been most ill-advised to raise in this country of the very rich, and of the large
§ classes of moderately rich, and of the enormous overwhelming masses of the miserably poor. Those are the two great issues which have emerged at the present time, and they far overshadow and outweigh the actual local issues in Ulster, and require the special delicate consideration of the House. If those great issues are raised we, on this side of the House, are prepared at ally time, in any way, by any method, and at whatever cost, to meet them. I most earnestly ask, not only the party opposite, but the House at large, to end this Debate by considering for one second where it is we are actually drifting to-clay. It is a question which ought to be at the back of the mind of every Member of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman said he thought politics were a game. At any rate, the stakes have been enormously increased in the last few weeks. I earnestly suggest that when we have got to a point when rebellion, organised, avowed, applauded, and stimulated is set on foot against the ordinary workings of our Legislature; when attempts to deal with that rebellious movement, if it should be necessary, are to be countered—sometimes by exciting speeches, sometimes by newspaper articles, and sometimes by social influences—when attempts are made to paralyse the Executive in dealing with rebellion by fomenting, stimulating, or suggesting mutinies or resistance in the Fleet and Army—[An. HON. MEMBER: "Never."]—I welcome anyone who says "Never"—when that has actually been reached in our sober, humdrum, prosaic British politics, it is about time for serious, responsible people in all parts of the House, and all parties, to see if they cannot do something to make the situation a little better.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 314; Noes, 222.513
|Division No. 55.]||AYES.||[11.35 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Booth, Frederick Handel|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Bowerman, Charles W.|
|Adamson, William||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Brace, William|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Barnes, George N.||Brady, Patrick Joseph|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Brocklehurst, William B.|
|Alden, Percy||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Brunner, John F. L.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Bentham, George Jackson||Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.|
|Armitage, Robert||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Arnold, Sydney||Black, Arthur W.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Boland, John Plus||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Henry, Sir Charles||Nuttall, Harry|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Hewart, Gordon||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Higham, John Sharp||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hinds, John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hodge, John||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Clough, William||Hogge, James Myles||O'Dowd, John|
|Clynes, John R.||Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Malley, William|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hudson, Walter||O'Shee, James John|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Cowan, W. H.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||John, Edward Thomas||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Crooks, William||Johnson, W.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Cullinan, John||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eilion)||Jones, Leit (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jowett, Frederick William||Pointer, Joseph|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||Joyce, Michael||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Kellaway, Frederick George||Pratt, J. W.|
|De Forest, Baron||Kelly, Edward||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Delany, William||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Kenyon, Barnet||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon G. (Devon, S. Molten)||Radford, G. H.|
|Dillon, John||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lardner, James C. R.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Doris, William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Duffy, William J.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Leach, Charles||Reddy, Michael|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Edwards, John, Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Randall, Atheistan|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Richards, Thomas|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lundon, Thomas||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lyeil, Charles Henry||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Lynch, A. A.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Falconer, James||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||McGhee, Richard||Robertson, Sir G Scott (Bradford)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Maclean, Donald||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Robinson, Sidney|
|Ffrench, Peter||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Field, William||Macpherson, James Ian||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Fitzgibbon, John||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Curdy, C. A.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Gelder, Sir William Alfred||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-an-Tees)|
|Gill, A. H.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Manfield, Harry||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Glanville, H. J.||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Sheehy, David|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Middlebrook, William||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Molloy, Michael||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Sutton, John E.|
|Hackett, John||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hancock, John George||Mooney, John J.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Morgan, George Hay||Tennant, Harold John|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Morrell, Philip||Thomas, James Henry|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Morison, Hector||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Muldoon, John||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Murphy, Martin J.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Hayward, Evan||Needham, Christopher Thomas||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Hazleton, Richard||Neilson, Francis||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Nolan, Joseph||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Wardle, George J.|
|Waring, Walter||Wiles, Thomas||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||Wilkie, Alexander||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Webb, H.||Williams, John (Glamorgan)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|White, Patrick (Meath, North)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Whitehouse, John Howard||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Whyte, A. F. (Perth)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Macmaster, Donald|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Falle, B. G.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Fell, Arthur||Malcolm, Ian|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Meysey-Thompson E. C.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Fleming, Valentine||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Forster, Henry William||Mount, William Arthur|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Gibbs, G. A.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Baring, Major Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Gilmour, Captain John||Newman, John R. P.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Barnston, Harry||Goldman, C. S.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Goldsmith, Frank||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Grant, J. A.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Gretton, John||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Beresford. Lord C.||Haddock, George Bahr||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bird, Alfred||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Blair, Reginald||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boyton, James||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Harris, Henry Percy||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Royds, Edmund|
|Butcher, John George||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Campion, W. R.||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Cassel, Felix||Hills, John Waller||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Cater, John||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hoare, S. J. G.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Cave, George||Hohler, G. F.||Sandys, G. J.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l., Walton)|
|Chaloner Col. R. G. W.||Horner, Andrew Long||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r)||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hunt, Rowland||Stanier, Beville|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hunter, Sir C. R.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Ingleby, Holcombe||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Jackson, Sir John||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Swift, Rigby|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Kerry, Earl of||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Keswick, Henry||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Larmor, Sir J.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Croft, H. P.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Currie, George W.||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Lewisham, Viscount||Touche George Alexander|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Locker-Lampson, G. (Sallsbury)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dixon, C. H.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lyttelton, Mon. J. C.||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Duncannon, Viscount||MacCaw, Wm J. MacGeagh||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Du Pre, W. Baring||Mackinder, Halford J.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)||Wilson, Maj. Sir M. (Bethnal Green, S.W.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)||Wolmer, Viscount||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud||Wood, Hon. E. F. L, (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)||Worthington-Evans, L.||Edmund Talbot and Mr. Pike Pease.|
Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for to-morrow (Thursday).
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.514
§ It being after Half-past Eleven of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Thirteen minutes before Twelve o'clock.