§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Ordered, "That the Proceedings on the Motion relating to Government of Ireland Bill, Established Church (Wales) Bill, and Plural Voting Bill Procedure, if under discussion at Eleven o'clock this night, be not interrupted under the Standing Order 949 (Sittings of the House)."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "1. That on the Committee stage of the Government of Ireland Bill and the Established Church (Wales) Bill and the Plural Voting Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question that he do report the Bill, without Amendment, to the House without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate, and when an Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into Committee on any of those Bills, Mr. Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any Question, notwithstanding that Notice of an Instruction bas been given.
§ 2. On the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Government of Ireland Bill or to the Estabtablished Church (Wales) Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question upon the Resolution without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate; and on the Report stage of any such Financial Resolution the Speaker shall forthwith put the Question that the House doth agree with the Committee in the Resolution without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate."
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
(who was imperfectly heard): The Motion which stands in my name which I am about to move follows, with two slight exceptions, the precedent of last year. It deals only with the Committee and Report stages of three Bills, the Government of Ireland Bill, the Established Church (Wales) Bill, and the Plural Voting Bill. I need not repeat at length the reasons given last year, and accepted by a majority of the House for dispensing with these stages in the case of Bills which are passing through the second or third Sessions under the operation of the Parliament Act. To take advantage of that Act a Bill which goes up to the House of Lords at the second or third Session must be, in all material respects, identical with that which was rejected in the previous year. A Committee stage, if it is to be of any use, and if it is not to be a mere farce, implies the possibility, and even the probability, of the introduction of changes by way either 950 of additions or Amendments which must have the effect, if they are introduced, of destroying the identity of the Bill. The Committee stage, therefore, as we said last year, and as the House then agreed with regard to Bills of this character, would be a pure waste of time and energy. The Motion I am now submitting differs from that of last year in two incidental points. The first is this: Last year in the case of the Irish Government Bill and the Established Church (Wales) Bill, we gave a very short time for discussion, not for Report, but for the discussion of the Committee stage of the Financial Resolution. I doubt, however, from what then took place whether that discussion proved to be of any real value. At any rate, in this third Session, when the Financial Resolution has already been twice previously debated, we think it may be treated as ripe for a decision "Aye" or "No."
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It was withdrawn and then set up again. The second point in regard to which the Motion I am now making differs from its predecessor of last year is a very small one. We have supplied now what I confess was a casus omissus in the Resolution of last year by ruling out Instructions. I observe the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. James Hope) grimly smiles at that. I am not surprised. We made a mistake, and we committed a lapse in that respect, but it is perfectly clear that if there is to be no effective Committee stage the discussion of Instructions which cannot be acted upon is a nugatory proceeding. That is all the Resolution actually proposes. It says nothing about the time that is to be given for the Third Reading, nor docs it ask the House to pronounce upon the expediency in the case of any of these Bills of proceeding by way of what is called suggestion. Suggestion is not a very accurate term, and suggested amendment would be more correct. Although the Resolution is silent upon those points, the House, in considering this matter, is entitled to know, especially in view of the large number of suggested Amendments which have been placed on the Notice Paper, what advice the Government is prepared to give on this point. The matter, I think, is only of practical importance in regard to the Irish Government Bill and the Welsh Church Bill. I think, however, it would be convenient to point out to the House at this 951 stage what under the Parliament Act is contemplated by that Act as the normal procedure in the case of Bills sent up under its operation from the House of Commons to the House of Lords. In the first place, to take advantage of the Act, a Bill which goes to the House of Lords in the second or the third Session must, as I have already said, be unchanged and identical with the Bill already passed by this House. If it is accepted by the House of Lords, of course there is an end of the matter. If it is rejected by the House of Lords on the Second Reading, there is the same end of the matter, though it is attained by a different and a rather more devious route. The third course, which is clearly contemplated as possible, and even in some instances as the probable course by the Parliament Act, is in the second or the third Session, the House of Lords passing the Second Reading of the Bill and inserting Amendments in it, and then the Bill coming back to this House.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am assuming that—inserting Amendments after the Second Reading, and then on the Third Reading affirming them. The Bill would thereupon come back to this House with the Amendments so inserted by the House of Lords. What happens then? If those Amendments are accepted by this House in the form in which they come back, or if after the intervention of discussion, and possibly of negotiation, they are not accepted in their original form, but some modified and accommodating form of Amendment is agreed to between them, they become part of the Bill, and it then passes into law in the ordinary way. I wish to point out that under that procedure contemplated by the Parliament Act as the normal procedure in relation to Bills of this kind this House retains, and must retain, the complete ultimate mastery of the situation. It is rather important to make this clear. If Amendments come back in the Bill from the House of Lords, which, after discussion and after possible negotiation we find ourselves here unable to accept, then the Bill remains as it was when it left this House, and though rejected by the House of Lords under the operation of the Parliament Act it receives the Royal Assent and becomes law in the ordinary way. Therefore, from the point of view of the ultimate authority of this 952 House in the matter, it makes very little difference whether Amendments are suggested in this House or whether Amendments are introduced in the other House in a Bill and then considered by this House, and either accepted, modified or rejected, as the case may be. That was the original scheme of the Parliament Act, and if anybody looks to the Resolutions upon which it was founded they will see that that, and that only, was affirmed in those Resolutions.
What is called the Suggestion stage is not really a stage at all, but it is a power which is reserved to this House by the proviso in the Sub-section, the effect of which I have already stated. The suggestion of Amendments was intended to deal, and to deal only, with exceptional cases. What are those exceptional cases? In the first place, there might be possibly, there may be, cases in which subsequent consideration of the Bill, as originally passed by this House and rejected by the House of Lords, shows some patent mistake or error. Of course, it would be absurd that this House should be required to pass over the Veto of the House of Lords, a Bill in which such an error appears, on the face of it, without the opportunity of correcting it. That is a possible case, and a case which was intended to be provided for. But there is another case in which, I think, the proviso with regard to Suggestions was intended to apply. It was intended, I think, to apply to Amendments suggested here consistent with the principle and the governing purpose of the Bill, having regard to which time and discussion have shown that there was something, at any rate, in the nature of general agreement. I should like to quote on this point—a very important point in regard to our procedure—what was said both by myself and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain). It was on the 23rd June, 1913, when I introduced the Motion which is the precedent for the present Motion. After saying that a Committee stage in the ordinary sense, except for agreed Amendments, cannot have been contemplated as part of the normal procedure on Bills to come under the operation of the Act, I went on to say:—This Suggestion Clause was intended to provide aft opportunity, if the House desired, both in the second and in the third Session, for submitting and discussing, and it might be for Divisions, in the House of Commons, changes in the Bill consistent with its governing purpose, and seen upon reflection to be improvements 953 either as correcting inadvertencies and mistakes, or as mollifying and making more acceptable its substantial provision."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1913, col. 818–819, Vol. LIV.]The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, in replying to me on the same day, said:—The right hon. Gentleman justified himself by saying that it gives us the opportunity of a new stage of Suggestions. I do not thank him. It is worthless. I should have said it was worthless under any circumstances, but his declarations to-day abundantly prove it to be worthless. It is worthless under any circumstances as applied to such Bills as the Home Rule Rill or the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, because the right hon. Gentleman considers it to be applicable only to Amendments propounded by Gentlemen who accept the principle of the Bill. I do not think there is any Amendment of the Home Rule Bill that would make me accept its principle as I understand it. That is not to say that if there is to be a Home Rule Bill "founded on that principle, there are not Amendments which might make it something less grievous to those who will suffer under it, something less intolerable than it will be now. But do you think that I am going to make Suggestions under your procedure on that condition? No. You announce that you will accept no Suggestions from anyone who is not prepared to accept the principle of the Bill. You state that as the basis upon which yon will act."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1918, col. 831, Vol. LIV.]If I accept that interpretation, there is complete agreement on that point between the right hon. Gentleman and myself.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I think the right hon. Gentleman added, and I proceeded to comment upon it, that we should put our Suggestions down first, and the Government would then consider which among them it would permit us to move. If we did put down our Suggestions, it would be in the choice of the Government to allow us to move them or not. That was the second part of my objection to the procedure.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That being so, let us see how we stand in regard to the Government of Ireland Bill. We have been told on very high authority, the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long) what the position is. On the 31st of March this year, in this House, he said:—On a previous occasion my right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Sir Edward Carson) made it perfectly clear that in our view there is an immense difference between amending this particular Hill in another place at the suggestion of the Government, and bringing in another Bill to carry out the suggested alterations. The first course involves the acceptance of this Bill in its amended form by those who represent the Unionist party in another place. That is a policy to which I do not believe any Member of the Unionist party will, under any possible conditions, submit. That Bill must be and will be opposed by us. If you have made up your mind to improve it, as we think you would by certain alterations, your only policy under the Parliament Act is to do that by a separate Bill carried at the same time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st March, 1914, col. 1046, Vol. LX.]954 That quotation, I suppose, must be taken as representing the settled policy of the party for which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. Let us see how it works out in regard to the proposed Suggestion stage for the Government of Ireland Bill. In the first place, as I have already pointed out, apart from this declaration, no suggested Amendment to this Bill would satisfy the first condition—that it dealt with any question of correcting a patent error in this Bill. The second condition I laid down, which the right hon. Gentleman opposite said made the Suggestion stage nugatory, was that the Amendments should be consistent with the broad governing purpose of the Bill. That is clearly inapplicable.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Now the right hon. Gentleman is misrepresenting my words, I do not mean intentionally. It is not the true sense of my words. The question was, "Should we make any Suggestions," and he said, "If you make any Suggestions and wish them to be considered you must first accept the principle of the Bill." I said we could not accept the principle of the Bill. That is very different from what he has just said.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
There is no substantial difference between the right hon. Gentleman and myself, and I will not argue the point. What is really conclusive is the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division, speaking for his colleagues and those who sit behind him. He says—and I would take the same view if I were in his place—"in order to show that we have no act or part in the acceptance of the principle of this Bill, we shall divide against the Third Reading of the Bill, and our Friends in another place who hold our views"—he gave nothing in the nature of a hint or direction, he knows their minds—in order to show that they wash their hands of all responsibility for acceptance of the principle of Home Rule, will reject the Bill on the Second Reading.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I heard that. Could anything be more futile and nugatory under these conditions than that this House should spend time in considering Suggestions? I am not in the least complaining of the attitude taken up by right 955 hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is perfectly logical and consistent, but I am going further, a great deal further. I am going to say on behalf of the Government that we agree with the right hon. Gentleman that if there is to be, as I hope there may be, something in the nature of an agreed settlement in regard to this matter, the proper, the only proper, way of carrying out that purpose is by means of an amending Bill. I do not think the Suggestion stage is of any use, and we do not propose to adopt it in regard to this Bill.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am coming to that. Now, Sir, I speak under a grave sense of responsibility in dealing with this matter. If, as I hope, more than hope, as I trust, we may by bringing diverse ideas with a common object into a concerted discussion, not perhaps across the floor of the House, if we can arrive at a settlement of this matter, I am sure as a matter of Parliamentary procedure, that settlement must take, as the right hon. Gentleman said, the form of an amending or supplementary Bill. The House knows very well that I myself, not only speaking for myself, but speaking for my colleagues, and I believe for my Friends, have said we shall never close any door to the possibility of a settlement, and I am going a step further now, I think, than I have ever gone before, when I say as I do say, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that while we shall ask the House to give this Bill, this Government of Ireland Bill, a Third Reading before we separate for the Whitsuntide Recess, we shall make ourselves responsible for introducing an amending proposal—[Mr. JAMES HOPE: "In this House?"]—in the hope that a settlement by agreement may be arrived at in regard to the points which have immediate and outstanding importance. I do not say more for the moment—I hope I shall not be pressed—than that the Government will make themselves responsible for such proposals. Our object is that if, as we hope and believe, that Amending Bill, possibly not in the shape in which it is originally introduced, by the result of concerted and co-operative action by persons in all quarters of the House who desire a settlement of this matter, if that Amending Bill can be brought into shape so as to pass this House, the two Bills shall become law practically at the 956 same time. Now, I have stated quite frankly our position in regard to this matter. I think I have shown conclusive reasons against a Suggestion stage with regard to the Irish Government Bill, and I hope also I hold out as much hope and expectation as I can of our being able to attain before the end of the Session some settlement by agreement.
I will say a word now about the Established Church (Wales) Bill. It stands on a rather different footing, because I do not know, and I do not think anybody knows at this moment what the action of the House of Lords may be when the Bill comes up for Second Beading. There has been no declaration, as far as I know, no authentic or official declaration, on the part of anyone competent to speak with responsibility for the Opposition, in the same uncompromising sense. Therefore, I leave that point, for I really do not know what the intention of the House of Lords may be, or, indeed, whether they have any settled intention at this moment at all. But I must point out with regard to that point that there appear here on this Notice Paper something like ten or twelve pages of Amendments under the heading of "Suggested Amendments for the consideration of the House of Lords." Anybody who goes through the Amendments on the Paper will find that they deal with practically every contentious point in the Bill, both as regards Disestablishment and as regards Disendowment. I do not think there is a single thing which was raised in Committee, or which could have been raised, that is not raised again, or raised for the first time, in the course of these Amendments. In other words, looking at the Amendments as a whole, and taking them as a whole, the proposal is to reconstruct the Bill from top to bottom, so as to present to the House of Lords, under the guise of Suggestions, a Bill totally different in purpose and character, as well as in detail, from the Bill which has twice received the assent of a large majority of this House. That has not and never can be regarded as within the proper purview of a Suggestion stage.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I imagine they have been put down as part of one concerted policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] They would transform this Bill 957 from a Bill to which the House of Commons assented into a Bill to which the House of Commons would never give its assent. It would be a totally different Bill, and would not carry out the objects we have in view. The true function, as contemplated by the Parliament Act, of the Suggestion stage, is either to correct palpable and patent errors or to incorporate in the Bill Amendments consistent with its purposes on which there is something like general agreement. These Amendments fall within neither of these categories. The Noble Lord has asked, "Why look at them as a whole?" What else are we to do?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Even so, but I say frankly, on behalf of the Government, there is not a single one of these Amendments on the Paper which we are prepared to recommend the House to accept.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
At the time the Bill was originally in Committee, I stated I would then accept an Amendment, if such an Amendment were presented to me on behalf of the Church. No such Amendment was presented, and I, therefore, had no opportunity of considering it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I think that is really the case, but the whole point, as I am observing, is this, that there is no one of these Amendments which the Government, as at present advised, are prepared to ask the House to assent to. What is the task you propose to cast upon us? Under the ruling which has been given by Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that in any Suggestion stage—the stage being, as it is, an occupation of time appropriate to the Government—the Government must be responsible for asking the House to consider this or that particular proposal. I would ask the Noble Lord this: Is it really seriously proposed that the Government should sift and winnow amongst these various Amendments, none of which they are in the least degree disposed to advise the House to accept—is it suggested that they should sift and winnow among them and select particular 958 topics for academic discussions which can only have one ending? [An HON. MEMBER: '"It is a farce!"]
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The Bill will go to the House of Lords, and that House will debate the Second Reading. If they put in Amendments of their own, the Bill will come back to the House of Commons, which will have the fullest possible chance of expressing its opinions upon them, and will have the fullest jurisdiction over them. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will you take off the Whips?"] The House of Commons will have the fullest possible opportunity of discussing them, and there is no question of any interference with the powers of the House of Commons. [An HON. MEMBER: "But you have done so!"] The question is whether we ought to give the Suggestion stage consideration here and now, before the Bill goes to the House of Lords; whether we should consider Amendments, none of which we can recommend for acceptance by the House, Amendments which are ten in number, and which, in a most ingenious manner, cover every possible Committee point. The question is whether we ourselves are, on our own responsibility, as the right hon. Gentleman said last year, to point out to the House of Commons which they should or should not discuss. [An HON. MEMBER: "Some are by your own independent Members!"] I say it would be a gross and grievous abuse of Parliamentary procedure. Although I agree that the case as between the two Bills, the Irish Government Bill and the Welsh Church Bill, rests in this matter on somewhat different considerations in regard to both, in the view of the Government no advantage would be gained by having a Suggestion stage.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Will the House of Commons itself have an opportunity of deciding whether there will or not be a Suggestion stage?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, Sir. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Cabinet has settled it!"] The Suggestion stage is not a stage of the Bill at all. I want, before I sit down, once more to make it perfectly clear to the House that the failure to make what is called a Motion for Suggested Amendments in regard to either of these Bills, does not in any way detract from the ultimate power of the House of Commons to 959 amend the Acts—not the least in the world. The Bills go to the House of Lords. If that House rejects them, well and good; they will then pass into law; but if the House chooses to amend them, they come back, and we shall consider all their Amendments. [An HON. MEMBER: "And those you do not like you do not pass!"] Their ultimate fate; the, majority of this House must decide. That, and that only, in our view, is the ultimate arbiter in all these matters. Although my Resolution deals not only with the Irish Bill and the Welsh Bill, but with the Plural Voting Bill, there is no special point, so far as I am aware, connected with the last-named Bill. I have not seen put down on the Paper any suggested Amendments with regard to it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
We must see what they are like. So far as the Resolution itself is concerned, none of these questions, of course, arise. The Resolution is really concerned with the Committee and Report stages of these Bills, but I thought it right that the House should clearly understand what the ultimate indentions of the Government are, and I have therefore stated them without reserve.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman has had great experience in moving Resolutions of this kind, for I am sure I am right in saying that during the present Parliament alone he has moved a greater number of them than the total number for which all his predecessors were responsible from the time the Closure was first introduced. I listened, as the House did, to the earlier part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with very much the same amount of interest which he gave to it himself. He felt it was perfunctory, and we regarded it in the same light, and the only moral to be drawn from it is the moral which the House did draw, that if all the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman are sound, then to introduce these Bills at all in the second and third Sessions is a pure waste of time, and if, under the Parliament Act, it is necessary to do it at all, he might have each year one Resolution to dispose of the whole lot of them in half a day. I remember Mr. Gladstone in, I think, the speech in which he introduced the first Closure Resolution, said that "the protec- 960 tion of the minority must always depend on the sense of justice and fair play of the majority." I believe that is true. I think there is no other protection, though I venture to say this, that in my belief, if the same encroachment had been made on the privileges of au Opposition in any Parliament in the world except this, it would have been followed by constant scenes of violent outbreak, and I am not sure, though this, of course, is a matter of doubt, that if by any possibility parties had been reversed we should not have had scenes of that kind, even in this House. We have not adopted that course, because in our belief—at least in mine—Mr. Gladstone was right. It does not protect the minority, whose only protection is the sense of fair play of the House of Commons as a whole. The Resolution which we are now discussing, the culmination of so many threats, and the speech the right hon. Gentleman just delivered, is the standard by which we can gauge this sense of justice and fair play. Last year we thought that the right hon. Gentleman had reached the limit of repression of speech in the House of Commons. We were mistaken, as his speech just now has shown us, and the difference in this Resolution, as I hope to show, with regard to the Suggestion stage, is much more vital even than the point to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded.
I happened to read in a Government paper the day after this Resolution appeared on the Notice Paper an account of it, which, although concise, was comprehensive and, perhaps, accurate. The writer said, "It is new in form; it is simple; and it is exactly suited to the present situation." Well, it is new in form, it is certainly simple, and it is perhaps suited to government under the Parliament Act as the right hon. Gentleman interprets it, but, being so, it is not a good situation, either for the House of Commons or for the country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, as they were bound to do, cheered every point made by the right hon. Gentleman. I wonder how many Members there are in this House who are really interested in the House of Commons who are satisfied with the working of the Parliament Act, now that we have had experience of it! I think it has entirely changed the House of Commons, even since I entered it, and not to the advantage of the House of Commons. I do not think that anybody will question the truth of what I say—that never have 961 Members taken so little interest in the proceedings of the House as in this Parliament.
But the real test of the change is to be found on the Treasury Bench. It is rare, even when a Cabinet Minister is speaking, to find any Cabinet colleague on the bench beside him. We had also last Session, and to a greater extent this Session, a new phenomenon. When a Minister is compelled to make a speech the regular habit is for him to come in a few minutes before his speech, to wait a short time after he has spoken, and then to disappear, and the House of Commons sees him no more. The change is still more marked in the attitude of the Prime Minister. I am not going to make an attack upon him in regard to this, because I think it is the result of the system. Every predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman, including even the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, looked upon the Leadership of the House of Commons as the duty which came before every other. They were constant in their attendance in the House. The Prime Minister does not regard the apportionment of his different duties in that way. That represents a real change in the condition of the House of Commons. It means this—indeed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is enjoying my remarks, gave a proof of it in a speech he made in the country not long ago, when he described the House of Commons as a place where time was wasted by people waiting to speak. It really means this: That in the view of Ministers the majority of this House has only one function—and the majority have exercised it—and that function is to register obediently decrees and decisions which have been taken outside the House of Commons. The effect upon the House of Commons was described in advance by the Prime Minister, in a speech made not so long ago—I think just before he entered office, although I am not sure of the date. He said:—Once the House of Commons became a mere automatic machine for recording the fiat of the Government, not only would legislation go forth to the country without respect and authority, but it would destroy the best safeguard for the permanence of that legislation.That prophecy has been fulfilled, and the right hon. Gentleman has the honour of having fulfilled his own prophecy. Great as is the evil—and quite apart from party considerations it is a great evil—which has been done to the House of Commons, it is small, in my opinion, in comparison with the damage which has been done to the 962 whole system of representative government in this country. The Parliament Act, as the Government have interpreted it and worked it, means single-Chamber Government, and single-Chamber Government in the worst of all possible forms. In my belief, the dangers—and nobody feels them more than the Prime Minister—with which the country is confronted to-day are due to this, that the Government have not redeemed the pledge and have not paid the debt of honour which was in the Preamble of the Parliament Bill. I do not think that in the way I am going to put this there are many hon. Members in any part of the House who will differ from what I say. The result has been that on the subject which, whatever we may be discussing, fills all our minds, which was certainly uppermost and almost alone in the mind of the Prime Minister—the question of Ireland; on that subject the issue has undoubtedly been transferred from the House of Commons to a wider arena outside. It is the fact—I do not think anyone will doubt it—that nothing that can happen here, and no majority, however large or in whatever way it is worked, can get over the fundamental difficulties with which the Government are faced. The forces which are going to decide this question, whatever the ultimate solution may be, and whether it be for good or evil, are not within these walls, but are outside, and that is due to the change of system which you have introduced.
Before I deal, as I shall do very briefly on this occasion, with the Irish question, I should like to say a word or two about the effect of this Resolution on the other Bills. I must say that I listened with great amazement to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Suggestion stage. I happen to have read this morning the speech which he made last year and part of which he quoted, and I am right in saying that the whole tenor of that speech was that not only would the Government give the House opportunities for the Suggestion stage if they wanted it, but it went far beyond that and showed that it was in the minds of the Government, not only at the time he was speaking, but at the time the Parliament Act was going through, that the Suggestion stage was an essential and necessary feature for the whole working of the Parliament Act. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman wishes me to prove that. It is easily done. Here is an example. My right hon. Friend the Mem- 963 ber for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) quoted the words which the right hon. Gentleman used about the Parliament Act:—It—the procedure—under the Parliament Act will at the same time ensure an ample Opportunity for the reconsideration and revision of hasty or slovenly legislation.And the Prime Minister said, when my right hon. Friend was commenting on the opportunity they had given:—I referred to the Suggestion stage in regard to that.How can that change of front be justified? It was an essential part, in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, in the working of the Parliament Act, and now he tells us we may still have the Suggestion stage, but by a method which is entirely beyond the control of the House of Commons. If the House of Lords do not read the Bill a second time, then there can be no Suggestion stage, and this essential feature of the Parliament Act must fall to the ground by the action of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think this matters in regard to the Plural Voting Bill. Everyone knows that is simply a partisan measure, brought forward to improve the prospects of Gentlemen on the opposite benches at the next election, and its fate depends altogether on other issues. Personally, I do not care how much or how little time is given to its consideration in the present Session of the House of Commons. But the Welsh Bill is on an entirely different footing. What is the use of discussion in the House of Commons at all? It serves two purposes. The main purpose is to effect legislation, but there is a second purpose, which is to influence opinion outside. Both these purposes, at this stage, might be served and ought to be served by a discussion of some of the Amendments which have been put down as Suggestions to this Bill. When the Bill was going through Committee we found by discussions in this House, and, still more, by Divisions when the Government majority fell far below its normal level, that there were certain Members of the party opposite—I do not know how many, but there were certain Members—who, while they supported the Government and while they were prepared to vote for this Bill, did consider that it was unnecessarily harsh to the Church, and were anxious to mitigate in some way that harshness to the Church. Could anything be more unfair than now, when we are reaching the last stage of this Bill, to make it impossible for 964 that expression of opinion to find vent in any shape or form in the House of Commons? I do not think that I am uncharitable in suggesting that it is the Government's knowledge that there is that feeling among their own supporters which makes them unwilling to run the gauntlet of free discussion on this subject. There is absolutely nothing in the contention of the right hon. Gentleman that there are so many Amendments and that the Government would have to select them. If they want to deal fairly with the opponents of the Church Bill, all they have to do is to set aside a certain amount of time—it will not be very generous, if we are to judge by past experience—for the consideration of the suggested Amendments, then what is to prevent the course being adopted, which has been adopted over and over again, of leaving it to the Chair to select which of those Amendments should be discussed, and thus to give the House of Commons some opportunity of expressing its opinion upon them.
I come, very briefly, to the serious part of the Resolution which the right hon. Gentleman has introduced. So far as I understood him, he has made an advance, and a distinct advance to-day. Until he had spoken this afternoon I was in doubt as to what the attitude of the Government was going to be. From their speeches it seemed to me not improbable that they would take the view that they had made us an offer which was to be taken or left, and that, as we had not assented to it, they reverted simply to the Bill as it is. The Prime Minister has shown that that is not the view he is going to take, and that he is, in any case, going to introduce an amending Bill, which will fundamentally alter the Bill which is now before the House of Commons. [HON. MEMBERS:"No!"] If there is any exclusion of Ulster in any shape or form, it must be a fundamental alteration. The right hon. Gentleman went further. He expressed the hope that that Bill in some shape or form would bring peace. I do not know on what grounds he bases that hope, but so far as I can judge by any knowledge I possess, I see no reason to share it. It is now six months—I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not mind my saying this, because it is public property—since I had the first conversation with him on the subject. At that time every fact in the situation was known, or ought to have been known, as clearly to 965 the Government as it is known to-day, and every alternative that is open to them ought to have been as clearly before them as it is to-day. For six months they have refused to recognise the fact and have refused to face the difficulties which must ultimately be faced. They have simply drifted, and, in my belief, the course which the right hon. Gentleman is taking to-day shows that they are drifting still. Indeed, it is my belief, whether right or wrong, that whatever the ultimate decision of the Government is going to be, if they had taken that decision six months ago, there would have been more prospect of its being carried out successfully than there is of its being carried out successfully to-day. That is my belief. I may be right or wrong.
What is the position? As far as I can judge—and I do not think I am leaving out anything—the Government have now only three alternatives before them, as they have had for months. They must either submit their proposals to the judgment of the people of the country. That is the proposal which, under all circumstances, I think it is their duty to adopt, and—no one will question this—we have certainly done everything in our power to make it easy for the Government to take that course, and to prevent them, if the people are behind them, from losing any advantages which they now enjoy under the Parliament Act. That is one alternative. Leaving it out, if the Government decline to take it, as I think they will unless they are compelled, there are only two alternatives left. One is to coerce Ulster, and the other is to exclude Ulster. There is no other possibility. I am not going into the merits of that or discussing what we have discussed so often. In any case, I do not think coercion will be very easy, but, apart from that, the Government have told us—the Foreign Secretary told us in the most explicit language—that they would not coerce Ulster until they have received the sanction of the people of this country. Under present circumstances, therefore, that alternative is blotted out for the moment, and I think it ought to be blotted out always until there has been an election, for really if the Government admit, as they do admit, that they have no right to coerce Ulster until the people have given them their authority, I can imagine no course more unprofitable, or, from every point of view, more unpatriotic, than, with the knowledge that the people 966 are to be the ultimate Court of Appeal, to put the Bill on the Statute Book and then submit it for the judgment of the people.
If we leave out coercion, the only other alternative is the exclusion of Ulster. The position of the Unionist party on that question has never been in doubt, and has never changed. We have always said—it has been said by many of my colleagues and by myself more than once—that we are utterly opposed to Home Rule, with or without exclusion, and that we will not in any shape or form and to no degree accept any responsibility for any kind of Home Rule. That has not only been our attitude, but the Prime Minister more than once has recognised that it was the only possible attitude for us. We have held it throughout. But we have recognised the facts. We have recognised that the Government have the power under the Parliament Act to carry this Bill through in spite of us. We have recognised also that they have the power, also without our Help, to carry a Home Rule Bill which, by satisfying Ulster, will not create civil war. We have regarded civil war as the greatest of all possible calamities, and our position has been, and is to-day, as strong as ever that if Home Rule can be carried in spite of us, we shall do everything in our power to make it easy for the Government to carry it without, rather than with, civil strife as a consequence. That is our position. Under these circumstances the real crux of the question is between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond). This is the point I should wish to put to the House and to the right hon. Gentleman. He has told us that he is going to introduce an amending Bill. Surely from every point of view, not only of Parliamentary convenience, but of national interest, it is essential that before the House of Commons parts with this Bill for the third and last time, it should know and should have an opportunity of discussing what the real proposals are that the Government have in view. That is the only natural course—it is the obvious course, and it is the proper course. Why have they not adopted it? The right hon. Gentleman has not told us, but I think we can guess. The hon. and learned Gentleman has made it a point that the Bill has to go through as it stands, and the Government obey him. That is the only explanation.
I have never all through these discussions—at least, I have tried not—spoken 967 with any undue bitterness of the Nationalist Members. If my speeches are examined, I think it will be found that that is true. I have recognised their position—that it is natural for them, after working for a generation to get control of the Parliamentary machine by holding the balance of power, to extract the utmost they can out of that situation when they have secured it. But does it come down really to this: that in a vital question like this, when the whole fate of our country is at stake, the relations between the two parties are to be the sole consideration, and that hon. Members on the opposite side who belong to the Government party are to have no say whatever in the solution of this matter to which the Nationalist Members will not consent? That seems to be the position. In that case, why have the Nationalists insisted on getting the Bill through now? I suppose they have done it because they think it will improve their position and will make it stronger. If the position is, as I believe it, that the only hope of peace is the influence which the Government are able to bring to bear upon the Nationalists to get them to agree to a reasonable proposal, to whatever extent their position is made stronger by this arrangement to that precise extent the position of the Government in negotiating with them is made weaker. And it must be so. When this Bill has left the House of Commons the Nationalists in Ireland will regard it as almost having reached the goal. It is inevitable that they should take that view. They will be less willing to consider any reason for any alteration, and their views will react inevitably upon the Nationalist Members themselves, and will make it more difficult, and not less difficult for them to make some concessions to the wishes of the Government than would be the case to-day. I think that is the position.
But there is more than that. Do the Government realise—or are they willing to let the knowledge influence their action—the great danger they are running—a danger which, I think, is quite unnecessary if they have any real hope of securing a final settlement. The moment this Bill passes there is bound to be rejoicing in Nationalist Ireland, and what about the position of Unionists in Ulster? What about them? They see that this Bill has reached a position when, by the express view of the Government, nothing but an automatic 968 stage lies between it and becoming law. The Government has promised an amending Bill, but I do not think the people of Ulster have much faith in the Government, and I do not think; after their experience, they have any right to expect that they should have much faith. They have no guarantee that this amending Bill will ever become law in any shape or form. They see the position steadily getting worse for them, and though I am sure my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Carson) will do what he can, as he has done up to now, to prevent disorder, I really honestly believe that by the course which you are taking there is a real risk—and, if you hope for peace, an unnecessary risk—of bloodshed in Ireland which might easily have been avoided. That is all I wish to say. We Unionists have very little power in this matter. We cannot prevent the Bill becoming law; we cannot prevent the Government taking the course they like. All that we can do is to try to warn them, as we have done over and over again, that in taking, as they are taking to-day, the course which for the moment is the easiest which gets over the difficulty, if only for a few weeks, they are taking the worst possible course for this country, and a course which is fraught with danger which it is impossible to exaggerate.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
It would be very convenient to have your ruling as to the range of this discussion—whether you rule that we shall be allowed to go, throughout the sitting, into detail as to the Suggestion stage, which is not included at all in the Resolution—if the discussion extends to the desirability of having a Suggestion stage—for instance, on the Welsh Bill—whether it will be in order to take up the various suggested Amendments which have been put down and deal with those as illustration for or against a Suggestion stage? It would be convenient if you would indicate now how wide the discussion may go.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is almost impossible to foresee to what limits the ingenuity of hon. Members may carry that, but the Prime Minister having opened, I think very properly, the question of the Suggestion stage, the Debate may very fairly cover the same ground; but the idea that hon. Members are entitled to take up and argue suggestions on the Paper would be going too far.
§ Mr. W. G. C. GLADSTONE
I resent this denial of a Suggestion stage for the Welsh Bill. To ray mind that arbitrary proceeding does not carry out the spirit of the Parliament Act. We understood that an opportunity was to be provided for the reconsideration of different points, and I should be very much surprised if a single speech could be produced from a Cabinet Minister upon the Parliament Act in which he did not promise that during the suspensory period of two years ample opportunity would be provided for reconsideration, and further consideration. I have two suggested Amendments on the Paper. It is not for me to say whether they are worthy of the acceptance of the House, but I ask that the Government should not debar the House from at least giving both these suggested Amendments their consideration. After all, the reason why there is to be no Suggestion stage for the Irish Bill is tolerably obvious. It is a pity that there should be no such stage perhaps, because it will be a bad precedent, as the amending Bill will years hence probably be forgotten. But the practice we are going to adopt for the Welsh Bill, if the Government have their way, will stereotype that practice. By voting for the Prime Minister's Motion we will stereotype the practice, and there will be no Suggestion stage on the third passage of a Bill through this House. To my mind, the Parliament Act already confers sufficient powers—excessive powers—upon the Government of the day. For the space of two years, while a Bill of paramount importance is going through this House, we cease to be independent, and we cannot do as we might desire without fear of injuring a Bill of paramount importance. For my part, I cannot bring myself to vote for any reduction of freedom of thought or liberty of speech in this House as the result of the Parliament Act. It is said that the Lords can amend the Bill, and that we can consider their Amendments when they come down here. That gives up the right of the House of Commons to initiate Suggestions. The Prime Minister says that this House should retain complete mastery of the situation. How are we to retain complete mastery of 970 the situation if we are to give up the right of initiating Suggestions? When the Bill comes down from the House of Lords amended, I presume we shall only be able to consider those Amendments which it has pleased the Lords to make in the Bill. I recollect that the other day the junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil speaking on behalf of the Labour party indicated very clearly—
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
I thought he was speaking on behalf of the Labour party, but I accept the hon. Member's correction. The junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil, speaking the other day for himself, said quite clearly that he for one—probably there may be others among the Labour party who agree with him—was in favour of compensation for curates. I want to know whether he and those who think with him on that point are to be debarred from reconsidering that matter on the third passage of the Bill through this House? For these reasons, I ask the Government to give two days for a "Suggestion stage."
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I listened with very great sympathy to the earlier observations of the hon. Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs (Mr. Gladstone), because he spoke for those in this House who are steadily diminishing in importance, namely, private Members. I have always had great sympathy with the rights of private Members, and it may be that some hon. Members on the other side of the House are beginning to recognise how much evil the present Government have done with respect to the rights of private. Members, and by no means more than by the Parliament Act. This proposal of the Government is, I quite agree, a byproduct of the Parliament Act, but in itself is not of so far-reaching importance as the speech of the Prime Minister. I agree that under our present conditions it is probably useless to go into Committee on these Bills, because the Government have already explained that they will not accept any Amendment, and we know perfectly well that their followers would not vote against them if they once make that declaration. The speech of the Prime Minister was far more important than the Motion he has proposed, and I do feel—I think every Member who heard it must feel—that the House of Commons has really reached the lowest depths of 971 degradation in listening to that speech. Every single proposal he made, every single sentence he uttered, showed us how utterly under the heel of the Cabinet the present House of Commons is.
Take two of the proposals. Take first the Irish proposal. The Government say, "We will not give you a Suggestion stage, because we are going to introduce an amending Bill." Just conceive what that means. The Government contemplate that this House is to pass the Home Rule Bill as it stands, admitting and stating that in their judgment an amendment of the Bill ought to be carried into law before the Bill is effectively placed on the Statute Book. But we are not to be told what the Amendment is, what the nature of the amending Bill is, but we are asked to pass the Home Rule Bill which, on the showing of the Government, is an imperfect measure, and we are going to be asked to pass whatever measures may be proposed in order to remedy its imperfections. I cannot conceive anyone treating—I will not say the House of Commons, but treating—well, I really can scarcely call to mind any image which would show more complete slavery than the position to which the Government propose to subject the House of Commons. That is the formal proposal, but we know quite well what the real proposal is. We know that the Government contemplate secret conclaves with the hon. and learned Member for Water-ford (Mr. J. Redmond). They are to settle what the House of Commons is to agree to. Then, when they have settled the matter, and agreed with the hon. and learned Member what they are to propose to the House of Commons, that is to be proposed as a cut and dried scheme to be passed by the House of Commons without any possibility of amendment. I venture to say that is a scandalous proposal—even from the present Government.
So far as I am concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that I distrust altogether this method of settling a grave constitutional question by secret conclaves to which no reference is made by this House. I believe in the principle of open discussion before the face of the people. Let us know who it is that is obstructing a peaceful settlement. We have tried conversations. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman tried perfectly honestly the system of private negotiations, and yet, though they continued for some months, he has not succeeded. Why not revert to 972 the old constitutional practice? Why should you set aside what the wisdom of the ages has decreed—and that is the real fundamental greatness of the House of Commons—that the House has always arrogated to itself—and rightly arrogated to itself—the right to discuss every subject of interest affecting the Empire? Why should that be set aside? Why, in order to meet the miserable difficulties of the coalition majority, abandon one of the great principles of our Constitution? It is because the right hon. Gentleman thinks that in that way he will more certainly arrive at a conclusion. It is because, unless he proceeds in that way, he is fearful of losing his place and his position.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
As to the Welsh Bill the right hon. Gentleman says, "I am not going to give any time to this question." He says, among other things, that he takes that course because there are such a large number of suggestions. What a ridiculous objection to a Suggestion stage! I quite agree that my hon. Friends have put down Amendments. I have put down one and other hon. Gentlemen have put down others. It is said that we suggest Amendments of every kind. It is quite true that the Amendments deal with a large number of topics, but I do not agree that they deal with all the objections to the Bill. Some of them are of vital importance, and I admit that some of them are of much less importance. There is the suggestion of the hon. Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs for the rearrangement of commutation. No one can say that that goes against the principle of the Bill. There is a suggestion as to compensation for curates, a suggestion dealing with churchyards, a suggestion dealing with glebe, and there are other suggestions of more far-reaching character. We are told that because there are all these suggestions on the Paper, therefore the House of Commons shall not consider any of them. Just see what that leads to. It means this: Supposing we did desire to prevent the suggestion of the hon. Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs being considered, we have nothing to do but put down a large number of Amendments, and then the Prime Minister would say that there are so many suggestions that we will not consider the hon. Member's suggestion. We are asked why we should not consider the suggestions as a whole. I would point out that the suggestions deal 973 with different parts of the Bill. They deal with Disestablishment, Dismemberment, and Disendowment It is perfectly true that if they were all considered, they would take a large amount of time, but there is no conceivable answer to the proposal that the Government should allow reasonable time for a Suggestion stage of the Bill and then allow the Amendments which should be considered to be selected either by the Chair or in some other way by agreement between the parties. It is impossible to regard what the right hon. Gentleman has said as an honest objection to a Suggestion stage. What the honest objection may be I do not know. It may well be that the right hon. Gentleman is not quite certain, even under present conditions, that his party might not vote according to their consciences. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he is not in the least danger. I am quite sure they will never vote according to their consciences against him.
This proposal of the Prime Minister throws a very lurid light on the whole course of procedure in reference to the Bill. I remember very well in the earlier stages of the Bill that the Home Secretary—I give him credit for his attitude; it is not very often that I have been able to agree with him in anything—never held out any hope that he would grant any compromise or concession unless compelled to do so by force majeure. The Prime Minister never made any promises, but he always held himself out as a reasonable man, anxious to arrive at a settlement of the question, and there was always a kind of nod and wink to the more restive of his followers that some time or other the Government were going to make concessions, and deal with the grievances they felt. I cannot pretend that I am disappointed, for I never thought that the Government would risk offending the Welsh Members in order to conciliate Liberal Churchmen. It is not easy to weigh the two forces against each other; but, on the whole, though I have not a very high opinion of Welsh Radicals, they are, perhaps, rather superior to Liberal Churchmen. To my mind, this is the worst of all the things which the Government have done towards the degradation of the House of Commons. I cannot help feeling that the fate of the Prime Minister has been rather a strange one in his administration. When he came into office, I believe that if he had 974 been asked he would have said quite genuinely that one of the things which he desired most was not to increase the bitterness of political warfare. Yet under his administration the bitterness of political warfare has grown to an extent which was unknown in recent years of English Parliamentary government. He came in pledged to uphold Free Trade. I believe that no Government could possibly have done more to destroy the foundations on which Free Trade rests. He came in pledged to retrenchment, yet the expenditure of this country has gone up yearly during his administration by leaps and bounds. He came in pledged above everything to restore the position of the House of Commons, to improve its prestige and particularly to limit the authority of the Front Bench over its proceedings, yet he has utterly degraded it, and made it merely the slave of the Front Bench, and he shall go down to history unquestionably as the Prime Minister who destroyed the liberties of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. WHYTE
The Noble Lord and the Noble Lord's relative below the Gangway are two of the most interesting speakers in this House. They are also two of the most offensive speakers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"]—I certainly will not withdraw that expression. [An HON. MEMBER: "No doubt it is a compliment."] The Noble Lord tells us that none of the votes or speeches on this side of the House are dictated by judgment or conviction.
§ Mr. WHYTE
He tells us that while we claim Parliamentary liberty, we never use it. I rise as a supporter of the Motion moved from the Front Bench this afternoon, because I am one of those Members who in the earlier stage of all the Bills under the Parliament Act made such use of my Parliamentary liberty as, if I may say so with the Noble Lord's permission, my judgment and conscience dictated. My right hon. Friends on the Front Bench know quite well that I made as free use of that liberty as I chose. I voted, and I did not vote according as my judgment dictated in the earlier stages of these Bills. But now that we have come to the later stages, the Noble Lord complains that he is not going to have this alliance. But what is it we are faced with? What kind of alliance does he offer? Are we offered any sort of assistance in making the legislation of this House better than 975 it has been or in improving the legislation so as to make it better than it was when it was first introduced? Nothing of the kind. The sole and avowed aim of the modern Opposition is to make use of the right of moving Amendments in this House in order to damage and destroy the prestige of the Government and, if necessary, to drive us from office. That being the case, the Opposition being an organised body of Members in this House, deliberately aiming at that and practically aiming at nothing else, at all events as respects the larger measures of policy which are introduced, it necessarily follows that the ranks of those who support the Ministry, who support these measures in question, are closed up and that we become absolutely impervious to appeals such as the Noble Lord is accustomed to make in this House.
He asks us for a settlement by Parliament. He says, "Why should we settle the Irish question behind closed doors?" I agree with him. I detest and loathe settlements which are arrived at behind closed doors. But is there any other method open when you have admittedly both sides of the House in the hands of a Party caucus? If the Noble Lord could assure us that we should have free discussion in this House, does he suppose for one moment that a settlement would not be arrived at in this House? And can he pledge his word at this moment that the policy which was announced from his own Front Bench this afternoon himself receives the absolute and unconditional support of every one of the two hundred Members who sit beside him? He knows perfectly well that he can do nothing of the kind, and, further, we know that unless a very determined move is made by the Back Benches on both sides, nothing whatever will happen. The Noble Lord comes forward and pretends this afternoon that it is possible in the House of Commons as at present constituted, with party passion running as it does, to arrive at a settlement such as both he and I no doubt would desire. He jeers us as being Members of a Coalition who are prepared to support such a Motion as the Prime Minister moved, and it is a common jeer that we are a Coalition. I have never been afraid of that word. The measures which this Coalition has carried into law, the measures which it is now engaged in carrying into law, have all of them my hearty approval. And if I have sometimes 976 co-operated with hon. Members on the other side of the House in opposing one detail or another in these particular Bills, that was because in my innocence I still believed that we could use the House of Commons as a means of amending measures without striking at the heart of those measures themselves.
We know quite well, I frankly admit, that as long as affairs are conducted in this way, so long as the ranks of the Government supporters are driven to close themselves up by the uncompromising attitude of the Opposition, for so long will it be impossible for the Noble Lord's ideal House of Commons to be realised. In the course of his speech, the Leader of the Opposition quoted the words of the late Mr. Gladstone, in which he said that the protection of the minority in a Parliamentary assembly must rest on the sense of justice in the minds of the majority. I think that there is a complementary word to be added to that, from our own not very small experience of this Parliament itself. What is the protection of the majority in this House as long as there was a House at the other end of the Lobby to which one party in the State, and one party in the State alone, could appeal, both in time of victory and in time of defeat? I ask the Noble Lord to strip his mind for a moment of any partisanship, and I ask him what protection was there for a Liberal majority, and still more for a Liberal minority, in this House? Was there any? He knows perfectly well—and it has been freely admitted by many Members of the Tory party—that there was no such protection and that there could be none. Is he surprised, then, that the Members of the Coalition at which he sneered should close their ranks in carrying their measures into law under a procedure admittedly imperfect, but which is not so imperfect that it fails to achieve its main object? It is because it succeeds in achieving its main object that I have been prepared to swallow all the minor inconveniences, which I regret as much as any Member of this House, and if anything has been done to deprive us of the liberties which we would like to see practised, it is because under the Parliament Act, and even if you like to describe it so, the harsh procedure under the Parliament Act which is the only means at present by which one party, or a coalition of parties, in the State is enabled to receive Parliamentary justice for its measures, that such Motions as the Prime Minister has moved this afternoon are necessary.
977 The kind of speech which I have made on former occasions when the Prime Minister has moved a Motion of this kind is different somewhat from the speech which I have made this afternoon. On every one of those occasions I have pleaded with all the emphasis which I possess for a greater degree of Parliamentary freedom for Members in this House. I still maintain that it is possible for a greater degree of freedom to be accorded to individual Members of this House without in any way infringing upon the liberty of the Executive or in any way endangering the permanence or continuity of the Executive. I am quite sure that the more we study the question of the position of this Parliament as a legislature, the more it will be found that the only way to freedom is by dissolving the close association of the functions of legislature and Executive in this country; and I believe that that could be done without in any way introducing the chaos and incoherence of many foreign parliaments, and that it could be done without entirely severing the Executive from the legislature. That is a final remark which relates to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. He said that no foreign parliament would tolerate such a proposal as that of the Prime Minister, without breaking it to atoms. The right hon. Gentleman is very fond of quoting the experience of foreign countries. I ask him to point to a single foreign country in which the constitutional position of Parliament and the constitutional position of the Executive of the day stand in the same relation to one another as they do in this country. Why, we all know quite well that the transiency of French government is entirely due to the fact that the French Parliament can dismiss an Executive without throwing itself open to the countervailing threat of a dissolution of Parliament. We know quite well that in the case of the Austrian Parliament, for instance, the Imperial Chancellor in Austria is enabled to legislate by the Imperial Decree, and that in a country which enjoys universal suffrage. We know very well that the right hon. Gentleman's remarks cannot apply to Germany, nor to the United States, where the Government does not ever appear in Parliament.
It is no use bringing in these analogies from foreign affairs unless you are prepared to examine them to the full, and surely if the right hon. Gentleman had paused to think before flinging that hasty 978 challenge across the floor of the House he would never have flung such a challenge down. We are suffering at this moment, if we are suffering from anything, from an excess of virtue—that remark may possibly arouse jeers to-day from those who have not taken much trouble to consider really the urgency of the present position—that Parliamentary virtue which has given us continuity and security of government, so that every foreign nation, especially the French, holds up the discipline of British politics as a thing to be admired, because they say that it enables a British Government to remain long enough in power to discharge the most difficult and complicated task. I earnestly appeal to any of my hon. Friends who, like the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, for the moment feel aggrieved because the Prime Minister has pushed aside the Suggestion stage, to remember that these inconveniences are none the less far outweighed by the substantial benefit which the system under which we live confers upon us, and as to the pushing aside of that stage for suggested amendments, nobody who listened to the early portion of the Prime Minister's speech can pretend that a case has been made out for any Suggestion stage. The quotations which he read from speeches delivered by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, coupled with the consideration of the kind of amendments which have been put down for the proposed Suggestion stage, show quite clearly that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite would make exactly the same use of the suggested Amendment stage, as they are in the common habit of making of an ordinary Committee stage. I need not go back on the early portion of my argument to illustrate what I mean, but it must be perfectly clear, from an impartial consideration, that what is really wrong is not that the Prime Minister is suppressing any stage by the course which he is now taking, but that this House has reached a position in which party passion runs to such heights that any Suggestion stage, or even any Committee stage, in this House cannot be the substantial legislative stage which it ought to be.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
As the Prime Minister announced, the Government propose, in the first place, to reduce the Committee stage on these three Bills to a pure formality; and, in the second place, to deprive the House of Commons of the possibility of discussing and, if they did, of passing any Amendment to any of those three Bills. 979 I ask the House to mark that the effect of this new muzzling order is to deprive the House of Commons of even that small residuum of the right of discussion which was left them by the Parliament Act, and to prevent them from discussing, in the manner provided by that Act, any Amendments to these Bills. The framers of the Parliament Act were sparing in their infringements upon ancient constitutional rights. They had no hesitation in depriving the other Chamber of their right of sending measures to the people for consideration, and they had, perhaps, still less hesitation in depriving the people of their right to decide upon great new constitutional measures like these. But there was one thing which the framers of the Parliament Act did not do, and that was to deprive the House of Commons itself of its right retained under the provisions of that Act. It is an express provision in the Parliament Act that the House of Commons shall have the absolute right, if it thinks fit, to consider and discuss Amendments—Amendments, it is true, which do not get incorporated in the Bill until they are accepted by the House of Lords. The provision to which I refer is Sub-section (4) of Section 2. I ask the Prime Minister's attention to it, because I do urge upon him that to deprive the House of Commons of this right of proposing Amendments, as he is doing, is really depriving them of a right given to them by his own Act. The Section says:—Provided that the House of Commons may, if they think fit, on the passage of such a Bill through the House in the second or third Session, suggest any further Amendments "—that is Amendments beside purely formal Amendments—without inserting the Amendments in the Bill, and any such suggested Amendments shall be considered by the House of Lords, and, if agreed to by the House, shall be treated as Amendments made by the House of Lords and agreed to by the House of Commons.It is not a question whether the Government is to give the House this privilege; it is a privilege given to the House by the Act itself, and I submit to the Government that they have no right to deprive the House of Commons of the benefit of this proviso. I asked the Prime Minister whether the House of Commons was to be given an opportunity of saying 980 "Aye" or "No" as to whether we should discuss Amendments, and he answered me that they were not to be given that right. Have the Government any more right to deprive the House of Commons of this statutory right to discuss Amendments under the Parliament Act than they have to deprive the House of Commons of the right of discussing Amendments in the ordinary Committee stage of the Bill? It is true that the Prime Minister said that those Amendments to be discussed under that proviso, to which I have referred, were Amendments of a particular class. There is not one syllable in the Act which confines the Amendments which can be so discussed by the House of Commons to Amendments of any class whatsoever. So long as they are in order I think that any private Member of the House is entitled, unless the House otherwise decides, to bring forward Amendments and have them discussed, and, if necessary, passed by the House of Commons. There is another point which arises on the proviso, and it is this: The very words of this Section imply that these Amendments were to be suggested by the House, and to be brought forward in the Committee stage for discussion in every respect like Amendments to any other Bill, subject to this one exception, that they are not to be inserted in the Bill until the House of Lords has accepted them. If that be so, why are we treated to this merely formal Committee stage of the Bill?
The Sub-section of the Parliament Act provides that Amendments are to be considered by the House of Commons, and, if necessary, accepted by the House of Lords; and I submit that the only proper way in which those Amendments can be brought forward and considered will be in the Committee stage, just as in regard to any other Bill which comes under the consideration of this House. This vital proviso was referred to by the Prime Minister himself when the Parliament Bill was going through Committee. A suggestion was made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) that the other House should have the same power of suggesting Amendments to a Bill as was proposed to be given to the House of Commons, and the Prime Minister, in opposing that Amendment, pointed to this very proviso as being a valuable and an essential mode of bringing forward Amendments in the House of Commons. He further pointed out that it would be open to Members to bring for- 981 ward Amendments under that proviso, and then send them to the other House for acceptance. The right hon. Gentleman now comes down to the House and throws aside that proviso, and says that the House is to have no opportunity whatsoever, nor any Member of the House, to make the suggested Amendments under that proviso. The Government ought to do one of two things. They ought to allow us to propose these Amendments in Committee in the ordinary way, subject, no doubt, it might be, to some special order which would have to be passed, to the effect that Amendments, if carried, should not be inserted in the Bill in the ordinary way, but should, as the Parliament Act provides, be sent to the other House and inserted there, if they thought fit.
If the Government will not do that, I would suggest that they ought—and indeed they are bound—unless the House otherwise directs, to give proper and reasonable facilities, at some time before the Third Reading of the Bill, for Suggestions to be considered by the House of Commons. The Prime Minister says, "Oh, but there are so many of them!" That indeed is the only reason that I can gather why Suggestions on the Welsh Church Bill should not be put forward, namely, that there are so many of them. He has found, I am afraid, methods, very drastic methods, on other Bills of dealing with the number of Amendments. He has had no hesitation in proposing Closure Resolutions of a drastic type—the Kangaroo and the Guillotine—as a means of getting rid of what appeared to be superfluous Amendments. But the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government could not have accepted these Amendments. Surely that is a very grave stigma on the House of Commons. Surely the House of Commons have the right of considering Amendments even though the Government do not like them. Is it really the view of the Prime Minister that unless the Government are prepared to assent to any Amendments the House should not even be allowed to consider them? Are they so certain that their followers are so submissive, so pledged to the Government Whip, and so subject to Government control that they dare not vote, even if they thought fit, for Amendments of which the Government disapprove? It is a very bad compliment to pay to the intelligence and possible independence of his followers. If the Government can do neither of these two things, if they will not allow us to consider 982 Amendments in Committee, if they will not allow a reasonable time to discuss them on another occasion, then I say they are embarking on a new, a dangerous, and a violent course. It may be very well for them to deprive the people of the right to express their opinion upon measures of new and of great constitutional importance, but, by acting as they are now, they are going one step further, and depriving the House of Commons of their right to consider Amendments of Bills, and I think they are pursuing an extreme and dangerous course in reducing the already largely reduced rights and liberties of discussion in this House of Commons.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. JAMES HOGGE
The hon. Member who has just sat down has described the Prime Minister's proposal as new, dangerous, and violent. If he thinks that about the simple suggestion with regard to the procedure of this House, probably he may begin to arrive at some appreciation of the feeling of most people outside this House who are in favour of this Bill, with regard to this matter. The Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) told us that the Prime Minister had dragged us to the last depths of degradation by the proposals that we should give up this Suggestion stage; and he told us that the reason why this stage ought to be given up was that the Prime Minister was going to hold certain conversations with the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, and that he objected very strongly to the matter being settled in that particular way. A great many others of us object to those conversations. I understand that such conversations as have taken place have been between the Noble Lord's own Leader on that side of the House, and the Prime Minister, and I do not know how many other Members of the Cabinet. I should like to ask the Noble Lord how much he was informed about the conversations which took place on the part of his Leader, because I know that so far as we on this side are concerned, we certainly get no hint of what takes place from our Leader. There is one thing we cannot extract from the Leader on this side of the House, and that is anything he does not desire to tell us. And I imagine that the Noble Lord on the other side knows just about as much of the conversations which took place through his Leader as we on this side know of what took place through our Leader. If it is objectionable that conversations should be held between the Prime Minister and the hon. and learned Member 983 for Waterford, surely it is equally objectionable, from the private Member's standpoint—and it is from that standpoint I am looking at it—that there should be conversations between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. I do not see therefore any great merit in the point. What was with point in the Noble Lord's speech was the question that he put. He said, "Let us know who it is that is obstructing a peaceful settlement." I understand that there are two parties to a settlement, and I take it that the Prime Minister ought to understand—and I think he does understand—that a great many of us who sit behind him on these benches are of opinion, and strongly of opinion, that the Government has yielded as much as ever they ought to yield to the Opposition in the way of settlement, and that if that point were put to the country outside probably the Prime Minister would be given to understand that, although they trust the Prime Minister to make an adequate and fair settlement, yet that those who sent us here and who support us are rather wondering how far the Prime Minister is to be expected to make further concessions. I think that it ought to be understood, and I think it ought also to be understood on the other side, that the country has a right to expect some positive suggestion from the Members of the Opposition who have been the recipients of those concessions. What do we find this afternoon? We find that instead of there being any suggestion from any speaker opposite of a positive nature with regard to a settlement, that we have thrown into the discussion by the Prime Minister the rather startling fact that the Government is going to make itself responsible for an amending Bill which, I take it, is to be introduced into this House actually before the Irish Home Rule Bill is on the Statute Book.
§ Mr. J. HOGGE
That it is to be introduced into one or other of the two Houses before the Irish Home Rule Bill is actually on the Statute Book. Most of us, after all, on this side were sent here, despite what hon. Members opposite say, to put the Irish Home Rule Bill on the Statute Book. Members opposite do not seem quite to appreciate that fact They would 984 have appreciated it had they been our opponents in our constituencies. There is no doubt at all of the reason why we were returned, and I think those of us who sit behind the Prime Minister are entitled to know a little more about these new proposals which are to be embodied in the amending Bill to make the Irish Home Rule Bill more palatable to the Opposition. After all, what was the reception given to the Prime Minister's suggestion? The Leader of the Opposition got up, and what did he say? Like Oliver Twist, he asked for more. He said, "Let us know. We are entitled to know everything that you are going to put into this amending Bill before we make up our minds what we are going to do about the original Bill." I have said we ought to know, and that we are more entitled to know than hon. Members opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because they are our proposals, given to the House through the mouth of the Prime Minister, and surely the men who support the Prime Minister and support Home Rule are entitled to know what is to be in that Bill more than hon. Members opposite. The Leader of the Opposition simply took up the ground that he so frequently takes and asked for more. What does that mean? It means that there is going to be no finality in these concessions. We on this side who, rightly or wrongly, and we assume rightly, represent the certain considered opinion in the country, are entitled to have our way, and, at any rate, to be considered to the extent that we do represent the majority for the time being, which I think hon. Members opposite seem to forget.
There is one other point I desire to refer to—because, so far as I am concerned, the sooner the Irish Home Rule Bill is on the Statute Book, the sooner we get on to other measures in which we are interested the better—and that is, the obiter dicta of the Leader of the Opposition with regard to the change that had taken place in this House since he entered it. He suggested that the House had changed for the worse since he entered it. I have not the same experience as the Leader of the Opposition. My Parliamentary career has been so far short, and it has been concurrent practically with the progress of the Irish Home Rule Bill through this House. I came into this House in time to vote for the first Second Reading of the Irish Bill, and what has been my experience as a new Member of this House? Every year since, and every 985 Session since, as a new Member coming up to this Parliament, expecting it, as the Mother of Parliaments, to be able to discuss all subjects with infinite variety, we have been assured by the Leader of the Opposition, when he got up to make his own speeches, that he had nothing new to say, and that nobody else had anything new to say, and that he would have to repeat the speech he made last year. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) frequently apologised to the House for using arguments used over and over again. Can you conceive what this means to those of us who are Liberals, to be required to sit here for three years, and to have rediscussed each year, with wearisome reiteration, the arguments that have been adduced in the first year of the Parliament dealing with those particular measures? If I had been a Conservative, and had come into this House with a Conservative party in power, I would have been done with those measures in the first Session, and the next Session I would have got on to consider with them other Bills, but we Liberals have got to put up with this wearisome reiteration for three years.
What the Prime Minister wants to do is not to bring in Resolutions disposing of Suggestion stages, but to bring in a Resolution knocking two years off the Parliament Act. That would, in my opinion, be effective business, and would allow the Liberals the opportunity that the Conservatives take to themselves in passing their legislation. Really, what they think is that when we are in power we cannot think nearly so quickly as they do, and that we require three years to think a matter over. I think, after all, that is not so. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City is Chancellor of my University, and has often sat in authority over me. In that university he has never insisted on anything in connection with that university being hung up for three years before the Court or Senate of the University has come to a decision, and I do not see why he cannot trust to the Imperial Parliament, which represents the people of the country, what he is prepared to accept in a business capacity as the head of a great university. I do suggest that the sooner we get to business and we get this Bill put on the Statute Book, after these three years' delay, the better the country will be pleased. We at the moment represent the country, until the country 986 says otherwise, despite any protestations of those of our Friends on the other side who, instead of attending to the registers, are running guns into Ulster.
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken certainly has the courage of his convictions. Instead of one-Chamber government, qualified in the manner which is embodied in the Parliament Act, he wants one-Chamber government carried out by the most rapid and summary process, so that those who he says represent the people for the moment shall be able to put on the Statute Book any legislation, however crude, however rapid, however contrary, to the wishes of their constituents, within a year.
I beg hon. Gentlemen's pardon. I am not going into that point, I do not in the least agree with that view. I do not believe, and I never have believed, that if the Unionist party did take to this sort of legislation, favoured by the Radical party, and embodied as far-reaching alterations—I will not say more than that—as suggest themselves to the Radical party, I do not believe that we should find the present Second Chamber acting in conformity with the views expressed by this Chamber any more than hon. Members opposite have found in their experience. Do not let us quarrel about that. Let us carry out the honourable understanding. If you do not like the House of Lords, and that Second Chamber, have a Second Chamber that you do like. Have a Second Chamber which you do think will carry out that check on hasty legislation which every Legislature in the world, which we need seriously consider within these walls, has found necessary in order to prevent violent changes which in the end are very apt to defeat themselves. I do not wish to go back upon the fundamental arguments of the Parliament Act. I should like, rather, to make some observations upon the Parliament Act as: we see it actually in operation. The Prime Minister to-day has practically told us, has in effect told us, that the stage for Suggestion is to be abandoned. He has brought in three Bills under the Parliament Act, and the Suggestion stage is to be abandoned for each one of them, that is as near as possible abandoning the whole of that part of the original Bill. I want to point out to the House that the 987 Prime Minister, in taking that course has really entirely reversed the policy which he recommended to the House when he brought in the Parliament Bill, and which he has, at intervals, repeated with qualifications to the House in subsequent years.
If the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister will look back at his own speeches, firstly his speech in introducing the Bill, secondly his speeches when under that Bill measures had been brought forward for the second time he will see, and every candid reader will see, that he did intend the House to have the opportunity of discussing the details of the measures on the Suggestion stage. I think everybody, even the Prime Minister himself, will admit that is so. Is it to be pretended that the House has an opportunity of discussing details on the Suggestion stage, when for the House you have to read the Government or even the majority behind the Government? That is not what in Parliamentary language is called the House at all. When you say that the House has the opportunity of doing this or that, you always mean the minority of the House, and necessarily mean the minority. A majority naturally, is not over enamoured of discussions initiated and carried on by a minority. Therefore, when the Leader of the House gets up and says on his responsibility that he is proposing a stage on which the details of a Bill can be discussed, if the House wishes it, he meant at the time, and must have meant, that whether the Government liked it or not, it was in the power of a minority of the House to deal with the details. I do not think that anybody who candidly reads the Prime Minister's speeches. I do not think that even the Prime Minister himself wall think that that is a strained interpretation to put upon his words. What has happened is that the Suggestion stage was very ill-thought out by the framers of the Parliament Act, and as experience has matured their views they see what is undoubtedly the fact, that that is an excessively difficult stage to work. No machinery was embodied in the original Bill; no machinery was proposed by the Government. Mr. Speaker has had to improvise a machinery, so to speak, based on the old practice of the House with regard to Resolutions; and, having no guidance, he had absolutely no choice but to say that Suggestions must come before the House just like any ordinary Resolutions 988 moved by the Government or by a private Member. That carries with it that it must be done in Government time, that the Government can say what are the Resolutions to be brought forward, and that this stage is not to be governed by any of the arrangements which make it possible, on the Committee stage or on Report, for the minority to bring forward their proposals and compel the majority, not indeed to listen to their arguments, because that the majority do not always do, but, at any rate, to vote on their proposals. It carries that with it; and I so far agree with the Prime Minister that the more you look into the working of the Suggestion stage in the case of a great controversial measure the more you will see that it was ill-thought out at the beginning, and is excessively difficult to work in practice. I do not think that that conclusion carries with it any justification for the procedure adopted by the Government to-night. I heartily agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Gladstone) that the House have really been cheated of an opportunity of dealing with points which, after the declarations of the Prime Minister, they had every right to expect, they would be able to discuss and vote upon.
I pass from that to what I think is a much more pressing and more important point, and that is the course which the Government mean to take about the Irish Bill. In other words, I leave the general consideration of business under the Parliament Act for the particular course which the Government, in their wisdom, have determined to pursue. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. James Hogge) described himself as having been sent here to get the Irish Bill put upon the Statute Book, and he represents the conversations which the Prime Minister has had, or proposes to have, as being with a view to make that Bill more palatable to the Opposition. To any such yielding to the Opposition the hon. Member is essentially opposed. He has told us that he strongly objects to it. He wants what he calls "the settlement of Ireland." I thought that that was a singularly infelicitous phrase which he used with regard to a Bill which everybody now, except himself, I believe, on both sides of the House, is of opinion will, if passed in its present shape, settle Ireland only after the horrors of civil war have been experienced, after blood has been shed and prosperity destroyed, and ulterior consequences far greater than any destruction 989 of life, or any destruction of property, have been undergone. That is what he calls the settlement of Ireland. In my opinion, the history of Ireland would have been happier than it is if there had not been other British statesmen who, in bygone centuries, had used the words "settlement of Ireland" very much in the way in which the hon. Gentleman has used them this afternoon. Ireland would not be settled by this Bill were it put on the Statute Book with all the rapidity which the hon. Gentleman desires. If his view had been carried out, and this Bill had been passed in one Session instead of in three Sessions, all hope of avoiding civil war would have been lost; it would have been impossible.
That is the hon. Gentleman's view of a satisfactory settlement. His real quarrel with the Parliament Act is that it has enabled those in Ulster who detest the policy which he thinks is going to settle Ireland to take measures which will prevent its being carried into effect. Has the Prime Minister really considered what his proposal means in the light of our general Parliamentary practice and procedure? Do mark the position of the Government. The Parliament Act was originally devised in order that a measure, after having run the gauntlet of three years' discussion, should be put on the Statute Book in a perfect form, or as perfect as the majority could make it. That was the object. And yet the Government admit now, at the end of the third year, that they cannot put that Bill on the Statute Book unamended. That is the fundamental, all important admission made none too early by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House this afternoon. In other words, this Bill, which we are not allowed to amend by way of suggestion, is going to be amended by way of a separate measure. I do not quarrel with the Prime Minister in thinking that that is a more convenient method. I think that probably he is right there. The whole procedure is so clumsy that I cannot even imagine how he would proceed to deal with this Bill were he confined to the method of suggestion.
Therefore, for my own part, I do not make the smallest criticism with regard to his proposal of bringing in an amending Bill. What I do complain of is that we are asked to force through under the Parliament Act a Bill which by hypothesis requires 990 amendment. And what really is worse than that is that we are going to be compelled to read it a third time—this House is to be required to pass it, knowing that it is going to be amended, while we have not the smallest conception in what respects or in what way it is going to be amended. How can that be? The Third Heading is supposed to put the final seal of approval upon a measure. This House is going to put its final seal of approval on a measure when those who devised the measure, those who brought it forward, admit publicly that it is perfectly impossible to carry it in the shape in which they are forcing it through. I would appeal to the Prime Minister. Let us grant, we are all ready to grant with him—all except the hon. Member for East Edinburgh—that this Bill must be amended. It is quite true, as he himself most candidly allowed, and as my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) has most emphatically stated, that no Amendment which leaves in the Bill an Executive in Dublin can receive any measure of support from us. That is quite true. But that does not touch the substance of the point that I wish to bring before the House. My point is based on the general principle which must underlie legislation, namely, that when the Government propose legislation to this House, when they force that legislation through all its stages in this House, and when at the same time they say "this is not final legislation; this is legislation which cannot be put upon the Statute Book without some amending and qualifying provisions," they ought, before we part with the Bill, to let us know what those amending and qualifying conditions are.
My right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law), speaking earlier this afternoon, stated that, from the point of view of Parliamentary diplomacy, of Parliamentary arrangements between the various parties in the House, that was probably by far the best method. But I am not dealing with that aspect of the question. I am not touching either, nearly or remotely, on any conversations which the Prime Minister is going to have with Gentlemen responsible for the policy of the Irish party. I am not going to prophesy as to how those conversations may issue. I am not dealing with the subterranean aspect of contemporary politics at all. I am dealing now with the plain and above-board House of Commons aspect of the question. I put it to everybody—I do not care what their 991 opinions may be upon Home Rule. Nor does my argument depend upon the merits of Home Rule; I should urge the same argument if I approved of Home Rule. My argument is simply this: that to use the admittedly novel and admittedly temporary machinery of the Parliament Act to force through a Bill which you not only do not say is a Bill which ought to be on the Statute Book, but which you say is a Bill which ought not to be on the Statute Book, seems to me to be a paradox wholly incapable of rational defence. The suggestion I earnestly press upon the Government does not really touch the fundamentals of their policy at all. I am not suggesting that the Home Rule Bill should be taken out of the grip of the Parliament Act, I am still less suggesting that it should be amended by another and a qualifying Bill, but I do earnestly beg the Government, and the Prime Minister in particular, to consider whether they cannot, and whether they ought not to refer the final reading of this Bill until we see the other Bill.
Whom would that hurt? In what way would the delay imperil the final coercive action of the Parliament Act in respect of Home Rule? It would not affect it in the least. I presume that the Government are far advanced in the preparation of their amending Bill. At any rate, I hope they are, because really we have gone on drifting so long and to such a point that nobody can doubt that we are in a position of peril, and that the perils are gathering more thickly around us day by day. I presume, therefore, that they have got on with their Bill, and that it does not involve any prolonged delay to bring it forward. Nor does it matter; for what does the Prime Minister say? He told us in the course of his speech not, indeed, that the amending Bill and the original Bill would receive the Royal Assent or be forced through the House of Lords at exactly the same time, but that they would be practically contemporaneous Measures. I did not take down his words, but everybody who heard him will agree that that was so. How, then, could it either delay Government business or injure the success of the Government policy if they were to do what all the traditions of this House and all the fundamental common sense of a legislative Chamber require them to do—namely, that before passing what is now practically only half the Bill, knowing that the other 992 half will profoundly qualify the half which they are prepared to pass, they should bring forward their amending Bill. How can the House pass that half without knowing, at all events, what it is that the Government propose in the second half? I must honestly say that such a policy seems to be perfectly unarguable. I hope that the Government will see that the reversal of their policy in this respect will in no way imperil the general success of the concession, and does not add a day to our labours. It does not give to the House of Lords the smallest advantage, and it does not even do anything to please the Opposition as an Opposition. It does not carry out any of those objects which the hon. Gentleman regards as so unfortunate, and so much to be avoided. But if it does not do any of these things, it does, at all events, keep up our own self-respect in our own Debates. We are all, under this Resolution, going to vote for a Bill on the Third Reading, not knowing for what it is we are voting. When the hon. Gentleman goes into the Lobby, as he will, in support of this Bill on the Third Reading, thinking that he is voting for the settlement of Ireland, he does not in the least know what he is voting for; nor do any of his Friends, nor do any of his opponents. All of us, Irish, British, Unionists, Radicals, and the Labour party will go into the Lobby under this Motion of the right hon. Gentleman in total ignorance as to what is the real measure which, under the Parliament Act, they are forcing through this House of Commons.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I have, for a good many years, been a very close student of the Parliamentary methods of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but after listening to his speech—to every word of it—frankly, I am perplexed as to what he is really after. In so far as I think I understand, or do understand it, I am little impressed by the conclusion I have come to. Let us see what he has been doing. What is the amending Bill? The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well what the general character of the amending Bill is that has been suggested by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!" and "What is it?"]
Do not let us fence about that. If the right hon. Gentleman means that I am in doubt myself—without having any information—that the Prime 993 Minister means the exclusion of Ulster in some way, with or without limitations, of course that is true. Ulster must be somehow dealt with. That is what I mean.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Very well. My right hon. Friend made a certain offer in the course of the discussion a little earlier in the Session. He has come to the conclusion—I think that is a conclusion which everybody in the House has come to—that it is infinitely better to embody that in the form of an amending Bill rather than that it should be in the form of a Suggestion. I should have thought that men of all parties were anxious at any rate to settle this matter without any serious disturbance. How does the right hon. Gentleman promote that? How does he encourage the Government to go on pressing their Suggestions? This is what he says: "Every time you make any offer with a view to peace I will treat that as an admission on your own part that your Bill is wrong."
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman is one of the most adroit Parliamentarians that the House has ever seen. He knows perfectly well what the effect of that must be, and what the meaning of it is. This proposal which my right hon. Friend proposes to embody in a Bill has been put forward as an offer for the purpose of peace.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman does not think it goes far enough, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University does not think so. But there it is as a Bill for discussion. Surely I should have thought that the very least thing— [HON. MEMBERS: "Let us have it," and "That is not the point."] You will have it. [An HON. MEMBER: "When?"] That is not the point. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, yes, it is!"] That is not the point which I am seeking to establish at the moment. The point I am seeking for the moment to establish is this: That if every offer the Government puts forward is to be treated as an admission on their part that their Bill is defective, what an encouragement it is for the Government to come forward with any proposals at all! The right hon. Gentleman himself must know that criticism of that kind is the most mischievous criticism that could be put for- 994 ward in the interests of peace. Frankly, I deplore it, and should be very much surprised if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University would ever have treated any offer of that kind in that spirit.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
May I say that all I understood my right hon. Friend to say was that before the Bill left this House on the Third Reading we ought to have the proposals, which are several months old, put in the Bill.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is a singularly clever advocate, and he is clever at trying to cover up the tracks—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
What I was going to say was this—I thought the right hon. Gentleman admitted it. His argument was divided into two parts. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about covering up the tracks?"] The first part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech consisted of trying to impress upon the House of Commons that the fact of our proposing an Amending Bill was in itself an admission that our own Bill was defective. He said so repeatedly. The second part of his argument, it is true, was an argument put by the right hon. Gentleman, and which I will deal with, but I want first of all to deal with his arguments in the order in which he himself put them. I am entitled to do so!
The right hon. Gentleman, of course, is entitled to deal with any argument I used, but I did not use that argument. I did say, of course, not with a view of dwelling upon it, or rubbing it into the Government, or basing anything upon it—I did say that your bringing forward an amending Bill did imply that the other Bill was defective.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is exactly what I said. If every offer put forward by the Government is to be treated in that spirit, that is the way to promote civil war. [Interruption; HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!" "Liar!" "Disgraceful!" "That is an insult!" and "Shame!"]
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman— [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!" and Interruption.]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am afraid hon. Members opposite have somewhat misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman's meaning.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If Members of the Opposition understood that what the Chancellor of the Exchequer was stating was that the argument used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London was one which was likely to promote civil war—[AN HON. MEMBER: "That is what he said!"]—and that they were used for that purpose, then I think hon. Members misunderstood the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think it will be right for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have an opportunity of explaining that.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is exactly, Mr. Speaker, what I was going to put to the House. If the right hon. Gentleman was under the impression that I said that he was deliberately promoting civil war by this argument, I unhesitatingly say that nothing of the kind ever entered my head. Certainly what I did say was exactly what you, Mr. Speaker, said just now—that arguments of the kind that made it difficult for the Government to put forward proposals of peace would have the effect of promoting civil war.
I think perhaps I may settle this without much difficulty. Apparently it all arose from an unfortunate expression of mine, namely, that the Government thought the Bill was defective because it had to be amended. I entirely withdraw that, and say, for the sake of argument, that the new Bill is to be an added perfection.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I again say that if every time the Government put forward proposals in the interests of peace, they are to be jeered at that that certainly is not the method of promoting peace. Proposals were put forward not because we admit that this is a defective Bill; we put them forward at the invitation of men of all parties, invitations coming from every quarter, that we should go to the very limit of concession with a view to averting civil disturbances. I say what I said here before: that if we put forward proposals of that character they must not be construed into an admission of the deficiencies of our Bill.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right hon. Gentleman put forward a second proposition. He said these Amendments ought to be embodied in the Bill before the third reading is taken in this House. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I will give the reason why. It is this: It is put forward purely as an offer for the settlement of a question. It is not put forward as the Amendment of a Bill, but rather as an offer for the settlement of a controversy, which is a totally different thing. The first thing is to send the Bill from the House of Commons up to the House of Lords. We will embody these proposals to the House of Lords, who represent the party opposite, in the form of a Bill for their consideration. [An HON. MEMBER: "Let us have it!"] Hon. Members know perfectly well what the proposals are. They have already been stated. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London assumed that they were of the character of the proposals which the Prime Minister has already detailed to the House of Commons. There they are, and these Suggestions will be put in the form of an amending Bill. They will be embodied in the form of a Bill instead of being submitted as Suggestions to the House of Commons.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
They were the proposals made by the Prime Minister, and dealt with by him—I forget the date—the proposals he made for settlement.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
He made no proposals. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!" and "He did!"] The right hon. Gentleman complained that we were not getting a Suggestion stage either for this or for the Welsh Bill, and he seems to think that it is a departure from some pledge given by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister gave no pledge of the kind. What would be the effect of giving a Suggestion stage when the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the Bill is going to be rejected in another place I If there had been any statement authoritatively made by the Leaders of the Opposition who command the other House, that any of those Bills would be given a Second Beading, and that any of these Suggestions would even 997 be considered, there might be something to be said for it. What happened in regard to the Welsh Bill? There was a paragraph, evidently of a communicated character, in the "Times," of a meeting of the Church Members in this House. It contained two statements. The first was that certain suggestions were to be proposed in this House, and the second was that the House of Lords meant to reject the Bill on Second Reading.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman refers to me. I may say that the statement was absolutely unauthorised and, I believe, was put in by Members of his own side.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The Noble Lord evidently knows what the House of Lords is going to do. Hon. Gentlemen seem to suggest that that statement is not accurate.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The House of Lords had never met to discuss this question, and there was no communication with the Press upon the point. I think it was absolutely wrong of the "Times" to put that in.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
At any rate, the Noble Lord cannot complain that this was something that appeared in a Liberal newspaper. The Noble Lord says he knows it was communicated by someone on our side—
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I did not say that. Perhaps I had better explain. The only reason I have to believe it is that I am quite sure it did not emanate from anybody on this side.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It is a fact which will be established one way or the other in a very short time when the Bill goes up to the House of Lords. One thing is clear, if the House of Lords is not going to give a Second Heading to the Bill, it cannot consider the Suggestions of the House of Commons, and therefore it would be perfect waste of time to pass these Suggestions. The Noble Lord himself has said in the speech in which he moved the rejection of the Bill on Second Heading that, so far as he was concerned, he felt it his duty to oppose and resist this Bill to the very last moment, and this is one of his modes of doing so. Why do they want a Suggestion stage? There are two reasons why a Suggestion stage would suit the Opposition. The first is that it would be a great waste of time, 998 and I have been in Opposition long enough to know that that is one of the most effective weapons of an Opposition. Therefore, I hope the Noble Lord will not consider I am casting any unfair imputation when I say he would not be sorry for any cause which would waste a week or a fortnight of the Government's time. There can be no more effective way than by giving the Suggestion stages in these Bills—Suggestion stages which would not carry the slightest weight with them when they went up to the House of Lords. What is the second reason? The Noble Lord believes it might cause a good deal of embarrassment to His Majesty's Government. Some of these Amendments have been discussed before repeatedly, and he thinks it would rather embarrass the Government. He naturally wants to resist to the last moment, and, being an inveterate opponent of the Government, he naturally wants a Suggestion stage. But how foolish we would be to play into the hands of the Noble Lord.
The Noble Lord says Parliament has reached the lowest depths of degradation. Let us see what the lowest depths of degradation are compared with the Noble Lord's idea of the reconstruction of the Constitution. The lowest depths of degradation in connection with the Welsh Bill are that when it was first introduced you had a First and Second Reading stage, a Committee stage, and a Report stage, and a Third Reading. [HON. MEMBRES: "Under the Guillotine!"] You had the Guillotine in connection with the Education Bill and the Licensing Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "But how long?"] In connection with the Licensing Bill only a day or two. That is a practice we learned from the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour). In the second Session on the Welsh Bill we had a discussion on Second Reading, a discussion on Third Reading. In the third Session there was a discussion on Second Reading, and a discussion on Third Reading. Now that is the lowest depths of degradation; but the Noble Lord is one of those who thinks that when his party comes into power there will be a Bill for the re-endowment of the Welsh Church. We have been told that. Let us see how that will go through. It will go through in a single Session, I will guarantee, if there is a Tory majority. Will you guarantee there will be no Guillotine? There will be no second Session, there will be no third Session. A discussion in three Sessions is a degradation, but a 999 single Session discussion on a Bill which is then sent to the House of Lords is to be the height of liberty. The right hon. Gentleman says, "We are settling things in secret conclave between the Prime Minister and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford." Are there no secret conclaves between hon. Gentlemen from Ireland on the Opposition Benches and the Leaders of the Opposition, and between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College and the Leader of the Opposition? And, after all, are there not many Bills settled in secret conclave at Lansdowne House? The right hon. Gentleman says, "Let us get rid of these secret conclaves and settle things here openly among ourselves, and get back" to what he calls "the wisdom of the ages"—the "wisdom of the ages" being a conference at Lansdowne House, where the fate of Bills is to be settled. The reason the Noble Lord is so angry, and he is very angry—he was so very angry as to be unusually offensive—is because there is an end of that old method of legislation and of destroying legislation. He is not sorry for the departed liberties of the House of Commons. He is sorry for the departed licence of the House of Lords for destroying. He is angry because he knows that when the Welsh Bill leaves this House it is leaving for the Statute Book, and his anger is entirely attributable to that fact. He wants to have as many flings at it as he can before it goes.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I assure the Noble Lord I am not angry. On the contrary, I am very cheery and optimistic in view of the prospect that this Bill is at last going through, after we have returned Members for generations to ask for it, without any threats of rebellion against the Crown, just by constitutional means, to impress upon the House of Commons this one request relating to our own religion. The Noble Lord simply wants to add to those difficulties, and we do not propose to help him.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
The Government have to-night received another lesson of the inevitable effect of making advances to the Opposition. Every advance, as far as my recollection goes, that the Government has made on the floor of the House to the Opposition in the interests of peace 1000 upon the Irish question has led directly to increased bitterness and recrimination, and our experience is the same to-night. Now, in what I have to say, and it will be very little, I will naturally confine myself to the Irish Bill, and the Irish Bill alone. And let me say, first, that with the decision of the Government on the Suggestion stage I am in heary agreement. If the Opposition would come forward, as I think myself it is their duty to come forward, and officially put upon the Paper suggestions for peace, then I venture to submit it would be the duty of the Government and the House to afford facilities for the consideration of that proposal. But the attitude of the Opposition is entirely different. They have never for a moment consented to put forward any proposal for peace in this House which would justify them in agreeing to this Bill. It seems to me that under these circumstances—and with the knowledge that when this Bill goes to another place it is going to be rejected—to spend days in this House in the consideration of irresponsible proposals from various quarters would be futile, irritating, and, in my opinion, from the point of view of ultimate peace, most mischievous. I have heard the statement of the Prime Minister that it is the intention of the Government to take the Third Reading of this Bill before we separate at Whitsuntide. I am glad that we are so near the Third Reading of this Bill, because the Third Reading means its virtual enactment. After it has been read a third time this year, then, unless the Session ends within a month after the Bill goes to the House of Lords, or unless this House of Commons passes a Resolution that the measure shall not go to the Throne—unless either of these contingencies arises, then automatically the Bill becomes law. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] And therefore I, for my own part, rejoice that we are arriving in a few days now at what is the ultimate decision of Parliament on the passage of this Bill. As I have said more than once in this House, I sympathise most sincerely with the hopes of the Prime Minister about an ultimate settlement on the basis of peace. We on these benches share that hope. No men in this House or out of this House have as much reason as we have to desire a peaceful settlement.
I know what I am going to say will not gain universal assent, but I do submit to the fair-minded judgment of the House 1001 of Commons that we have proved our desire for peace by the concessions which we have agreed shall be put into this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "What are they?"] If the Prime Minister's hope of peace and our hope of peace is to be realised, then I quite admit that the best course is the introduction of what is called an amending Bill. Probably, indeed, it is the only course which is possible. I recognise that the House of Lords can perhaps from many points of view be scarcely expected, after all that has happened, to pass the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill. The Unionist party will not make themselves in any sense, even in a technical sense, responsible for the passage of Home Rule, and therefore, if peace is to be ultimately brought about and enacted, the best, the easiest, and I think I am justified in saying the only way that that can be enacted is by an amending Bill.
The Prime Minister went further than that, and announced this afternoon, if I understood him correctly, that even if all the efforts to arrive at a peaceful solution failed, if all the conversations and negotiations came to an end, and there is finally no hope of a peaceful solution, that even then it is his intention to introduce an amending Bill. I must be allowed to say that I think that is a very serious decision to announce to the House, and for my part I cannot commit myself to the approval of this course, and certainly not to any approval of the announcement of that course at this moment when these peace pourparlers are supposed to be going on, and when there is still some hope of reaching a peaceful settlement. I sincerely hope those circumstances will never arise, and I hope if an amending Bill is introduced it will be to give effect to an agreement come to; but if an amending Bill is introduced after the failure of peace, and after failure to come to an agreement, then I must say that I hold myself absolutely free to deal with it when it arises. Let me put one very prosaic but very serious consideration to the House: Even from the point of view of the business of Parliament the introduction of an amending Bill under these conditions opens up a very serious prospect indeed. With no prospect of agreement, how can we contemplate with equanimity long, bitter, contentious and futile Debates on an amending Bill introduced after the failure of peace. No such Bill can be passed except by agreement, and if all efforts at peace between now and the introduction of the Bill had failed, what hope is there 1002 from any point of view for the fate of the new contentious Bill introduced under those circumstances? I say again, let the Government and let the Liberal party note how this fresh advance has been met today. The moment the Prime Minister made this fresh advance—
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I hope the Noble Lord will listen with courtesy to my speech and hear what I have to say. The Prime Minister used the phrase that he was making an advance, and I am only using the same phrase. The moment the Prime Minister made that advance—
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
The moment the Prime Minister made that advance the Leader of the Opposition rose and informed the House that he saw no prospect of peace. He informed the House, as I understood him, that his conversations, which were held for the purpose of bringing about peace, had ended in failure. I say that every fresh offer made by the Government only hardens the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition said that this matter rested with us, the Nationalist party. I deeply resent that statement. It means, if it means anything, that we are the obstructionists, that where other parties desire a compromise we are unyielding and have refused to make any concession. Is that truthful or is it fair? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Everyone knows that we have made large concessions, and everyone who is acquainted with Ireland—and I say this of the hon. Gentlemen from Ireland who disagree with us on this matter as well as others—everyone knows that in going to the length we did in agreeing to these concessions we ran great political risks amongst our own people in Ireland, and I do say it is not true and it is not fair of the Leader of the Opposition to say to us that we are the opposing parties to anything in the nature of compromise. I can retort more truthfully and more fairly on the Opposition. What move have they made in the direction of peace? They stand to-day exactly at the spot at which they have stood from the very first. [An HON. MEMBER: "So do you."] Their position has been from the very first and down to this moment "exclude Ulster, and you will avoid civil war." From the very commencement, two years ago, unto this moment that has been their 1003 position, and I say they have not budged by a hair's breadth, and yet they say to us who have agreed to the temporary exclusion of Ulster, which is hateful to all those we represent in Ireland, that we have made no concessions, and they declare practically—because that is what it comes to—that their idea of compromise is to give them everything that they ask and to give nothing in return.
In the last Debate on this question it was said by the Attorney-General that in fairness we ought now to admit that, after all, we ought to make this admission, that the Opposition had made a great advance, because to-day they admit that the Home Rule Bill must pass. What concession is that? They have avowedly and openly done their very best to kill that Bill, and they avowedly and openly declare that they will still do their best to kill that Bill. They will not even make tie technical concession of allowing the Bill to be read a second time in the House of Lords for the purpose of seeing whether it could be amended. They make no Amendment upon it, and they try to kill it if they can. And yet we are now told that because they admit that the Bill is becoming law that they have made a concession. No, Sir, the Bill will become law in spite of them. Our position is, that while we desire—no men so earnestly—that this matter shall ultimately be settled peacefully, and while we declare that we are ready and willing, and always have been, to consider reasonable suggestions from the other side, we say that we are in the position of men to whom no concessions have been offered, to whom no suggestions have been made, and who yet are told that when a compromise is in the air that we are the people who are obstructionists and stand in the way.
What has happened will not influence our position in the smallest degree—not in the smallest degree. I rather fancy the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson) will believe the truth of what I say when I declare that I have as high an interest as he has, no more and no less, in a peaceful settlement, and that I am prepared to run great risks and make great sacrifices to carry that out. But, Sir, the position which it is sought to put us in is not a fair position, and it is not a possible position, and to us it is an intolerable position. I have the consolation, at any rate, of 1004 knowing, just like the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he spoke about his Welsh Bill—I and my colleagues have the consolation of knowing that, having spent our whole lives in this work, our fathers having done the same; having gone through the wilderness and suffered in the most tender feelings of our beings; having suffered in the prison cell; coming here without any hope in our hearts, but all the time sustained by the vision of a coming day we could not then see; to-day we have the consolation of knowing that the vision that sustained us through hopelessness and darkness, through suffering and oppression in the past, is about to be realised, and that not next year, or in the year after, nor in the coming generation, but in this year, and in a few weeks, the triumph of our cause will be consummated
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The hon. and learned Gentleman has concluded a very eloquent speech with a natural note of exultation in the prospect of what lies before him. I do not desire to diminish from anything that he has said as to his desire of achieving a peaceful settlement. He would be a very foolish man if he contemplated a Home Rule Parliament founded upon resistance in Ulster. But I do criticise what fell from him and from the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the conditions of a peaceful settlement. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said not once, but over and over again, and language of that kind is constantly used, that this matter of a peaceful settlement turns upon making efforts of compromise and arrangement between the Home Rule party and the Unionist party. I criticise that assumption on the ground that it indicates a complete misconception of the realities of the situation, and therefore cannot serve any good purpose. The prospect of settling the Irish question or the Ulster difficulty depends upon the facts of the case, and not upon something offered by one side in this House and accepted by the other. It can neither be retarded nor promoted by speeches from right hon. Gentlemen sitting on this side in a particular vein which may please or displease the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Neither one nor the other advances or retards a settlement. It depends upon the facts of the case. The hon. and learned Gentleman behind me (Mr. J. Redmond) says that for two years we have asked for the exclusion of Ulster, because it would avoid civil war. We did 1005 not say that would satisfy the Unionist party; it would not satisfy the Unionist party; but we pointed out that it would avoid civil war, and it would avoid civil war, because if you cut out Ulster there is nothing for Ulster to fight against, and it takes two parties to make civil war. The reason why it is impossible to diminish the demand, and the right, for the exclusion of Ulster is because it arises from the facts of the case, and not because we will or will not allow you to do so. We are not bargaining as between parties. If we were bargaining many of my hon. Friends would be reluctant to enter upon such negotiations, they would think it was not sincere and favourable to their freedom of action. We are not dealing with it in that way. We are trying to avoid a great national calamity having regard to the facts of the case.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was very indignant because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) said the Government in attempting to amend the Bill, admitted the Bill to be defective. We can all understand that the Government feel their Bill to be perfect in the abstract. If there were no Ulster, from their point of view, the Bill could not be improved upon, but it is clear that if you propose to alter the Bill you think it would be better for that alteration. It is not conceivable that the Government would propose to alter the Bill to make it worse, having regard to the circumstances of the case. The bitterest enemies of the Government do not imagine that they are deliberately going to do something which in their view is mischievous. They are going to do something which in the circumstances of the case they hope will be an improvement. They may deplore the circumstances of the case which change the conditions under which they have to legislate, and which make it necessary to modify the Bill in order to make the Bill more appropriate to the circumstances of the case. Before the House is asked to take the irrecoverable step referred to by the hon. and learned Member behind me, to read the Bill a third time, we should know the whole intention and purpose of the Government proposal. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell us what the proposals would be. We long to know what the Government proposals are; we are honestly ignorant of what they are. We know that they relate to some form of exclusion of Ulster, but we do not know, and we are not to know until 1006 the amending Bill is introduced, the precise conditions and machinery under which that is to be carried out. The difficulties which arose on the proposals of 9th March largely turned upon matters which, although exceedingly important, are in the nature of detail. I do not wish to use the word "controversial." They were points of discussion about detail, vital detail no doubt, and until we see the Bill we do not know how these important difficulties are dealt with, and we cannot judge of the efficiency of the Bill to meet the circumstances of the case.
We, the whole House, have to judge. It is not what would please or satisfy the Unionist party or the Government. The Government have never shown the slightest desire to satisfy the Unionist party. They have overridden them by the use of their majority, and no doubt will override them again. It is not possible for us to be grateful to them. They have been unconciliatory in their whole attitude, both the Government and their supporters, from the beginning. On the Irish Bill, on the Welsh Bill, and in all the controversies which have divided us they have been unconciliatory and unyielding. They have never yielded in the slightest point to the solicitations of the Opposition. We cannot be expected to be grateful, because the Government are not insane enough to desire civil war. It is no favour to us that they escape the imputation of lunacy. They are not so silly as some of their supporters are. You do require much more intelligence and statesmanship to sit upon the Treasury Bench than to represent one of the Divisions of Edinburgh.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I should be a very bad occupant of the Treasury Bench. I am sure no Member of the Government has any desire to see me in the office of Secretary of State for War.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I cannot avoid saying that it is a most astonishing doctrine, that we are all on this side supposed to answer for the whole body of the House of Lords. I do not know what the Lords are going to do, or what they are not going to do, but I am confident, as a general observer of politics and of 1007 the proceedings of that Assembly, that they would not allow any technical obstacles to stand between the Government and the achievement of peace or the avoidance of civil war. However bad hon. Members may think they may be, I think it would be very unlike the majority of that Assembly if the Government proposed by means of Suggestions, and brought forward Suggestions, these Suggestions would not be considered and debated. If they afforded a prospect of the avoidance of civil war, they would have been, I think, incorporated in the Bill in the House of Lords. Hon. Members seem to think there is no method of persistent opposition to the Bill to the end except by rejection on the Second Reading. As a matter of fact, it is possible to avoid that difficulty without rejecting the Bill on the Second Beading, and to make it still possible to reject the Bill ultimately. Let me also say—and this refers more to the Welsh Bill—if hon. Members put down these Suggestions, they meant them to be incorporated in the Bill, on the assumption that the Government accepted them, and they meant to show that the Government were unreasonable if they did not accept them. We proposed suggested Amendments which, in our judgment, would make the Bill less bad. If they were accepted, so much the better. If they were rejected, we were entitled to comment upon the unconciliatory attitude of mind of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension if he imagines that if any of these Suggestions were adopted in this House they would not be adopted in the House of Lords. It was certainly our hope that, if adopted in this House, they would be ultimately incorporated in a Bill. The Government have taken a great responsibility.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I do not know what view will be taken. If the Government put them in in this House the Bill would be carried in the House of Lords. At any rate, the Government have taken a great responsibility in shutting the door upon any Amendments initiated in this House. It is all nonsense to say that the Lords might reject the Bill. The whole plan of the Suggestion stage was that the House of Commons would have the power to amend the Bill, but the Government 1008 which set out to exalt this House is now preventing it from altering any Bill except on the suggestion of the House of Lords. We are told that that is congruous with the assurances and speeches made when the Parliament Act was passed. Surely the whole theme of the case for the Parliament Act which was made in the House and in the country was that there was to be abundant and free reconsideration, that all reasonable proposals would be permitted, and all reasonable alterations would be considered. That was the case made from every platform, and in every constituency in the country. Was it ever meant that in the course of two years the Unionists would be made converts to great Liberal measures? No; it was not the hope that our opposition would grow less; it was the hope that the wisdom of the House of Commons and the wisdom of the moderate supporters of the Government of the day would be sufficient to modify the Bill if it required modification, and with that view the Suggestion stage was put in. Now it is to be struck out. If ever there is to be a Suggestion stage, could you ever find a more proper occasion than this? I think we have every right to complain. This proposal of the Government falsifies the whole case they put before the country in respect to the Parliament Act. How are they treating the Liberal Churchmen who support them in this House? How are they treating those critics of the Bill who are prepared to give a certain measure of Disestablishment, but who feel that they can support the Bill as it stands? They are shutting them out even from a hearing. We, at any rate, have had an opportunity of urging the case for the rejection, but those hon. Gentlemen who want to see the Bill passed in an amended form are not to be allowed an opportunity to deliver their speeches. No Government could have treated moderate opinion in this House with more sublime contempt. We are injuring the reputation of the House of Commons by saying once again that it does not matter what the House of Commons thinks, so long as the Government get their way. It suits their purpose for the Irish Bill to pass that Bill through all its remaining stages without disclosing their concessions. I cannot conceive who it is they are going to cheat. Someone is going to be cheated. Someone is going to be induced to do something which they would not do if the proceedings were open.
1009 Somebody, I repeat, is going to be cheated, but whether it be the hon. and learned Member for Waterford or the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College I cannot say. There is evidently going to be what is vulgarly called a "ramp." The thing is to be kept dark till the last possible moment. The Prime Minister has been accustomed to say, "Wait and see." Now he asks us to wait until it is too late. This is not the way to improve the position of the House of Commons. It is not the way to achieve a rational settlement of this legislative problem. It does not give us free debate. It was the right hon. Gentleman, I think, who used to speak of the "august arena of the House of Commons." It hardly deserves that name now. It has reached such a point of development as was reached when the Emperor went down to the gladiators who had only leaden foils with which to defend themselves. Even the friendly critics of the Government, men who sit behind them, are to be massacred, and are to have no opportunity of defending themselves, and the only purpose is to carry out a party gag. First, the Constitution is destroyed, then the House of Commons is muzzled, all in order to carry out an ingenious intrigue; not to promote legislative changes, but to carry the Liberal party over the bar, and to enable it to put Home Rule on the Statute Book, and get rid of a stone which has hitherto hung round its neck.
Mr. J. HOPE
The right hon. Gentleman remarked that he had for a long time been a student of the Parliamentary methods of my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour). There are a good many Members on this side who have been for a long time students of his methods. I am one of them, and I think it may be said that when the right hon. Gentleman finds the weight of argument going against him, there is no one better at counter attack, always violent, sometimes effective, and always irrelevant. However, the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this occasion did make a weighty contribution to the Debate, because he gave the House a good deal more information than had been given by the Prime Minister. I 1010 want just to test that information, and to be sure whether the impression left by the Prime Minister or that by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the right one. The Prime Minister said that an amending Bill would be introduced on the responsibility of the Government, as soon as this House had passed the Third Beading of the Home Rule Bill, or after it. He made no limitation as to the nature of the Amending Bill. He simply said that there would be an Amending Bill. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to an interruption, said that that Bill would embody the concession foreshadowed in regard to the exclusion of counties in Ulster, by poll, for a limited period. May we take it that that is all that the Amending Bill is going to embody. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that that offer would be embodied in it. Will it be only that offer and nothing else?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
In the absence of agreement, as the Prime Minister said, that is what it will embody.
Mr. J. HOPE
The Prime Minister said the Amending Bill would be brought in, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that that Bill would embody provisions as to the exclusion of counties by poll for a limited period.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Yes, that is to be included in the Bill. The Bill will consist of that unless there is an agreement come to, and in that case the terms of the agreement will be embodied.
Mr. J. HOPE
Then we are to take it that if it does not embody the terms of agreement, it will embody what the right hon. Gentleman has said. Will such a Bill have anything to say about Customs?
Mr. J. HOPE
Then we may have detached counties in Ireland excluding themselves, and they will have to be dealt with under a different Customs system. What about the Post Office? I think it is incredible that we should have two separate Post Offices set up in Ireland.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member is now going rather far away from the subject under discussion.
Mr. J. HOPE
May we take it that, in the absence of agreement, the Bill will only embody exclusion of the four counties, and that there will be no provisions as to Customs or Excise?
§ Mr. DILLON
On the point of Order. Are we to be at liberty to discuss the provisions of a proposed Bill not yet introduced into the House?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member was seeking to discover what will be in the Bill. He has been answered, and it will probably be sufficient for his purpose.
Mr. J. HOPE
The Prime Minister undoubtedly talked of a Bill, whether there was agreement arrived at or not, and I took it that it will be open to Amendment by Parliamentary discussion. It is quite clear that the proposal as made will not be a final offer. I quite realise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in some difficulty.
Mr. J. HOPE
There is another point unconnected with the substance of the Bill, but one on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a statement totally different from what the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister said, in answer to an interruption, that he could not state in which House the amending Bill would be introduced, whereas the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it would be introduced in the other House.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Does the hon. Gentleman say that I stated that in this House? I certainly did not. I never made any statement on the subject.
Mr. J. HOPE
I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman may not have intended to have made such a statement, but he certainly did say that the amending Bill would be put before the other House. That undoubtedly was the impression he conveyed to me. I do not know that the point is a very material one, except it be from the point of view of this House having control, but that was very distinctly what he did say, whether he meant it or not. Of course, in the heat of debate, people do sometimes say what they do not intend. I will not pursue the matter further. I think the right hon. Gentleman was singularly unhappy in quoting the Education Bill of 1902 as having any bearing on this Debate. In the first place, the House had been engaged thirty-five days on that Bill before any guillotine was moved, and whenever any concessions were made to the Opposition on that Bill they 1012 were received in exactly the same spirit which the right hon. Gentleman imputes to us. The Kenyon-Slaney and other concessions produced not the slightest effect in modifying the fierce opposition to the Bill. And when the right hon. Gentleman talks about the Welsh Bill, if we now followed the precedent with regard to the Education Grant, all that would be necessary to do would be to announce a Vote in Committee of Supply and confirm it by a Clause in the Appropriation Act; then the Welsh Church would be re-endowed from that day, according to the precedent which the right hon. Gentleman and the Government have set.
Last year there was a discussion in this House upon a Committee set up to reform procedure, and a great deal was said in that discussion about the freedom of the House of Commons and the liberty of individual Members. I agree with a good deal that was said by the hon. Member for Perth as to the remedy being found in some slackening of the bonds between the Executive and the Legislature. If ever there was an example of the abuses which arise under the present system of Executive and legislative functions being confounded, it is to be found in the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon. He said, with regard to the Welsh Bill, "there are a number of Suggestions put down to that Bill, and, looking through them, we find there are none of them we can accept; therefore the discussion upon them must be academic." Was there ever a greater confession than that that the real control of the House of Commons has passed away, and apparently passed away for ever? It was not so much in the statement as in the assumption. "There are these Suggestions. We cannot accept them, and therefore it is no use discussing them." Is it quite out of the range of possibility that the force of logical argument advanced by supporters of the right hon. Gentleman might induce him to accept their amendment? If not it may be said that what is proposed to be done in connection with these Bills means that the Government have yielded to force in the case of the Irish Bill, what in the case of the Welsh Bill they have refused to reason.
I come to another rather technical point. Can we be quite sure that this amending Bill will cover the whole ground? It will be said that the House of Commons will be parting with some control. The answer of the Government is that this Bill will 1013 be brought in, and presumably at some stage of its career it will come before both Houses. But will the Bill be limited or will it offer full scope for discussion? Suppose that a Bill were brought in to exempt from the Government of Ireland Act the counties of Antrim and Down. Obviously the scope of that Bill would be limited. Unless we know it is a Bill on which the whole Debate may be raised, as upon the Government of Ireland Bill proper, we cannot be sure that by a technical device the real power of the House of Commons to discuss the amending Bill may not be taken away from it. I want to deal further with another technical point, and that is as regards the Suggestion stage. Anyone reading the Prime Minister's speech last year must see quite clearly that he regarded the Suggestion stage as a normal, ordinary, legitimate part of the procedure under the Parliament Act. The whole of his speech, from which I could quote largely, bears that out. For instance, he said:—There will be full opportunity to improve and correct the Bill consistently with its governing provisions.It is quite true that last year Members of the Opposition repudiated the Suggestion stage on two grounds. One was that it gave absolute control to the Government as to time, and also as to what kind of Amendments were to be allowed to be discussed. Time has passed, and the position I of both parties is not absolutely the same. The constitutional question for the moment is overshadowed by the fear of civil war, I and if we have to choose between seeing the Bill pass its Third Reading with provisions that make civil war certain, or with provisions that would avert it, we must choose the latter always without prejudice to the right to repeal or some other final solution. That makes our position somewhat different. That held by the Government is different, too. It is not by way of scoring a point, but by way of stating an acknowledged fact, that I say it is quite clear that the Government do admit the necessity of some Amendment. Therefore, they cannot refuse to discuss such a proposal as the exclusion of Ulster on the ground that it is inconsistent with the framework of their Bill. They would not say last year whether they were even prepared to discuss such a proposal. A question was put to the Prime Minister and he declined to answer it. This year it must be clear that such a proposal is not inconsistent with 1014 the principle of their Bill. So we say that, whatever the ultimate consequences may be, the House of Commons ought to have some power over both these Bills of making suggestions, which would at least, perhaps, narrow the difference which exists between the different sides of the House now. We do say that to eliminate the power of having a Suggestion stage at all takes away from the Parliament Act one of the main means whereby it was sought to be made acceptable to the House at large, and is a fatal precedent for future legislation. We were told only last year that while the Committee stage was inconsistent with the Parliament Act, the Suggestion stage was to take the place of the Committee stage. Quite apart from any argument that might be confined to these two particular Bills, we say that if we are to retain such an amount of liberty in this House as the Parliament Act was intended to leave us, we must enter our emphatic protest against being robbed of this particular opportunity for discussion and, apparently, for ever.
§ Mr. PIRIE
The House listened with great and very justifiable interest to the conclusion of the speech of the Leader of the Nationalist party in which he said that within a very short time—it was practically a question of days—we should see the consummation of the work, not only of this generation of Irishmen, but of the previous generation of Irishmen, and that what they had worked for so long and so patiently was at hand. I would venture to remind him and his party that unless forbearance is shown, and unless statesmanship takes the place which it has not hitherto occupied in the discussion of this great question, the consummation of the work of those two generations may be a more disunited Ireland than the imagination of man has thought of. It would, indeed, be a sad ending to all this work if, instead of a united Ireland, we see an Ireland wrecked from North to South and from East to West. With that fact staring us in the face, we cannot be too careful either of what we say or of how we act in this House. Everyone has admitted that there is a greater demand made by this Resolution upon private Members than certainly I, and I suppose the man of longest Parliamentary experience in this House, can remember. It is a demand made for the complete derogation of the private Member. Nothing surprised me more than to hear the speech of the hon. Member for 1015 Perth (Mr. Frederick Whyte) on the subject, for I remember that he, of all others, stood up last year in Debate for the rights of private Members as against the arrogance and autocracy of the Cabinet. With the exception of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Debate has hitherto been conducted from this side of the House by three of my Scottish colleagues. I entirely take the view of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs (Mr. Gladstone) in which he said that so far as the Bill in which he was interested was concerned—the Welsh Bill—he regretted exceedingly that the Committee stage was to be missed.
This is an omnibus Resolution comprising the Irish Bill, the Welsh Bill, and the Plural Voting Bill, and each Member refers to the particular Bill in which he is interested. I am interested more particularly in the Irish Bill. I differ entirely from the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. J. Hogge) when he spoke of the Suggestion stage being merely a wearisome reiteration of arguments already put forward. It is one of our duties, if it is only recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT, to bring before the House the actual state of affairs as regards the discussion of the Irish Bill, which is now at a critical stage, and the most important part of it, namely, whether or not Ulster is to be excluded. What has been the history of that question as regards Debates in this House? It was first brought before the House by the hon. Member for the St. Austell Division (Mr. Agar-Robartes), who moved that the four counties of Ulster should be excluded. That was the only occasion upon which that question has been thoroughly discussed in the House. I had the honour of placing on the Paper the following Amendment to his Amendment:—And the counties of Antrim. Armagh, Down, and Londonderry be given the power of deciding, either by popular vote or otherwise, that those counties shall be excluded from the Act.That was on 18th June, 1912. I was not able to get one minute's time for the discussion of that Amendment. From that time till now this question, which is of vital importance, has not been debated in the House. What is more, on the Report stage of the Bill, on 1st January, 1913, seven months later, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson) put down an Amendment providing that Ulster should be excluded from this Bill. I put down as 1016 an Amendment to his Amendment the following:—That until the majority of the representatives of the constituencies of this province in the Imperial Parliament have presented to His Majesty a petition in favour of this province being included in the provisions of this Act"—they should be excluded. That is the very point on which the amending Bill is to be framed. What were the conditions under which I was able to speak on that occasion? The discussion was held under the Closure. The Whips came to me and asked if I was going to vote for the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College. I told the Whips that I could not vote for it, and that I intended to vote against it unless I was given the chance of speaking. I was told that you, Sir, would call on me to speak, provided I undertook not to move my Amendment. You, Sir, of course, were certainly within your rights, because the time was limited. That was the condition under which the Member who had put the Amendment down on the Paper was able to speak. The country ought to know the absolutely farcical nature of our Debates, and the absolute derogation and degradation of the whole machine. As much as anything else, the facts that I have mentioned go to prove the necessity of some form of devolution. On the 1st January, 1913, I said:—I put forward that proposition not with the idea of wrecking the Bill but of saving the Bill, and of affording a bridge for the reconciliation of the different and contending views conscientiously held by the two sections of the population in Ireland.I trust the House will not think that I bring this forward merely for the purpose of saying it. I bring it forward to prove that those who think that this is a vital question have not had a real opportunity of discussing it. What is more, in the last three Debates on this Irish question I have put down successive Amendments, all to the effect that Ulster should be excluded from the provisions of this Bill until a federal solution has been arrived at for the United Kingdom, yet in each of the three successive Debates it was impossible for a direct Debate to be conducted solely on that Amendment. I asked the Prime Minister whether he would not afford time, seeing that that Amendment was on the Paper, for a special discussion of the question, but he told me there would be an indirect opportunity of discussing that question with all the other points of interest in the Bill. It is a most extraordinary reflection that on a vital subject connected with this Bill, which is of transcendent importance to our Constitution, at 1017 the last moment we should be prevented from discussing it in this House, and that we should be asked, simply on the Cabinet's own authority, to accept it without being able to discuss the matter or bring it forward. On my conscience I cannot vote for this Resolution. Therefore, I entirely join my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock Burghs, who is a true and worthy descendant of his great father, who would, I am sure, have been the first to stand up for the rights of private Members and resist to the last the proposition now before the House.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I beg to move, to leave out the words "on the Committee stage of the Government of Ireland Bill and the Established Church (Wales) Bill and the Plural Voting Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the question that he do report the Bill, without Amendment, to the House without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate, and when an Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into Committee on any of those Bills, Mr. Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any Question, notwithstanding that Notice of an Instruction has been given.
2. On the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Government of Ireland Bill or to the Established Church (Wales) Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question upon the Resolution without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate; and on the Report stage of any such Financial Resolution the Speaker shall forthwith put the Question that the House doth agree with the Committee in the Resolution without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate," and to insert instead thereof the words, "this House refuses to pass any Resolution restricting the time for the discussion of the remaining stages of the Government of Ireland Bill and of the Established Church (Wales) Bill until the Government has given to the House an opportunity of discussing fully suggestions made for their amendment in accordance with the terms of the Parliament Act."
After the speech which we have heard this afternoon we ought to bring the matter to a test, and in order to do so I propose this Amendment. It is a most outrageous position that the Government 1018 should at one and the same moment take away from the House the opportunity of discussing these Bills on the Committee and Report stages, and should also deny us the opportunity of a Suggestion stage. I really do not know why the Suggestion proposals were put into the Parliament Act if they were never to be used. What is the position we are in? We have two Bills before us which are now to be passed, if the Government have their way, for the third and last time. The first Bill is such a Bill that, if it is passed without Amendment, the Government practically admit it will lead to civil war. Therefore, in that case they propose that there shall be an amending Bill. The least the House of Commons has a right to demand is that we should know the terms of that amending Bill, and that before we part with the original Bill in its final form we should know what the Government really intend doing. I suppose it is intended to pass the Home Rule Bill as it stands straight away. When that is done, and when once it has been placed on the Statute Book, or, at all events, after it has left this House, then an amending Bill is to be brought in. It seems to me that it is not the proper way to do it. Certainly, it is not the way intended under the terms of the Parliament Act. The Suggestion stage was put in so that we might have an opportunity of amending the original Bill, and I cannot for the life of me understand why, in the case of the Home Rule Bill the Government cannot adopt the plan they intended themselves of a Suggestion stage, and I demand, at all events by this Amendment, that before we part with the Home Rule Bill altogether and allow the Government to take the whole time and prevent us discussing the remaining stages, they should tell us exactly what they intend to do.
The other Bill is the Welsh Church Bill. I am sure the Home Secretary will agree with me in this statement as a reason why we ought to have a Suggestion stage, that the Welsh Church Bill is the most unpopular Bill which has ever been brought in by the Government. We have every evidence that that is the case. We have people of all parties objecting to it, and only the other day we had 104,000 Nonconformists in Wales petitioning against certain Clauses of it. When it is clear that even in Wales and amongst that particular section of the Welsh community, for whom it is especially intended, a large number 1019 of them disapprove of a part of the Bill, surely that is a reason why we should have a Suggestion stage in order to see whether we cannot amend it. We have had a very remarkable circular sent to almost every Member of the House in the last few days by a lifelong Liberal. I mean the Dean of Lincoln. I do not know why the Home Secretary smiles. He has been a good Liberal a great many years longer than the Home Secretary. The Dean of Lincoln thinks it is a most unfair Bill, and he speaks for a large body of Liberal opinion in the country. He has urged that a large number of Amendments should be put down by way of Suggestion. Some of them have been put down by the hon. Member (Mr. Gladstone), and yet the Government absolutely refuses to give us any opportunity. There is one rather remarkable thing that the Dean of Lincoln says in his circular. He suggests that in the remaining stages of the Bill the party Whips should be taken off. If they were taken off, there is no doubt that the Welsh Church Bill would not get very much further. As a matter of fact, even with the party Whips on it have been very nearly defeated on a great many occasions.
Had it not been for the Irish the Welsh Church Bill would have been defeated on four separate occasions. On 13th December, 1912, if you deducted all the Irish on both sides, Unionists as well as Nationalists, on the question of leaving the Church everything except the tithe, there was a majority against the Government of 15. Again, on 19th December, the same year, when the question of leaving glebe to the Church was under suggestion, leaving out of account all the Irish on both sides, there would have been equality—no majority for the Government at all. Again, on 10th January, 1913, on the question whether curates were to be compensated, again leaving out of account entirely the Irish on both sides, the Government would have been defeated by 23, and on a fourth occasion—I admit what is technically called a snap Division, which the other three were not—the Government would have been defeated on 4th February, 1913, by 24. What would happen if the Government Whips were taken off? I see now why the Government do not want a Suggestion stage for the Bill. They know it is not only very unpopular, but it is growing in unpopularity. They know that certain parts of it are absolutely indefensible. They know they cannot defend 1020 the proposal with regard to churchyards. They know they cannot defend the proposals with regard to curates. They know perfectly well that if a fair vote was taken on either of these questions they would undoubtedly be defeated, and I think they are wise in their generation to smuggle the Bill through with as little discussion and with as little daylight as possible, and that is the reason why in the ease of the Welsh Church Bill, they refuse to have any Suggestion stage, and in their determination to ram the Bill through, irrespective of public opinion, they are flying straight in the face of what the Prime Minister has said time after time in the Debates on the Parliament Act. Let me quote one short statement. On the Third Reading of the Parliament Act on 15th May, 1911, he said:I have sufficient belief in the power of public opinion in this country in the ventilating and enlightening effect of Parliamentary and outside discussion and criticism, to feel confident that a measure which was really being forced through the House of Commons outstaying or misreading its mandate, and forcing legislation against the opinion of a large majority of the people, would never stand and could never stand the series of checks to which it would be exposed under the operation of this Bill.The Prime Minister meant by that that if a Bill was thoroughly unpopular, and there were particular Clauses which were indefensible, if Amendments were loudly demanded, as they are in this Bill, by public opinion, that Bill could never stand the repeated checks it would receive by public opinion and Parliamentary discussion. In other words, it was bound never to get to the Statue Book, at all events, in the shape in which it was brought in. If, therefore, we had this opportunity of a Suggestion stage, it would be impossible to pass this Bill into law in the shape in which it stands now, and probably in any shape whatever, and, therefore, they are trying to burke discussion to the very utmost. We are told this afternoon that the Suggestion stage is only intended for the Government to make Suggestions themselves, and it was never intended for private Members to do so, and this argument was further used. It is said, what is the good of having a Suggestion stage when we know that the House of Lords would reject the Bill altogether, and, therefore, any Suggestions made here would not have effect later on. But is not this the fact, that if the House of Lords make Suggestions, and subsequently throws out the Bill on Third Reading, as those Suggestions were agreed to by the Lords as having emanated from the House of Commons, they become part of the Bill as submitted to His Majesty, and, therefore, as 1021 the Lords have thrown it out on Third Reading, it would not be the original Bill, but the Bill as amended by the Suggestion. Is not that the right interpretation of the Parliamentary Act?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I cannot understand how that can be, having regard to what the Prime Minister said when the Parliament Act was going through. I have a long passage here which makes the matter clear. The Prime Minister was speaking on this point of what would happen if the House of Lords were to accept Suggestions and then throw the Bill out on Third Reading:—I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Cave) to say yon might have a Bill like the Home Rule Bill regarded as so objectionable to the House of Lords that even although a desirable Amendment might be sent up from the House of Commons, the House of Lords would not look at it, but would still persist in simply rejecting the Bill itself. I should like to measure the degree of reasonableness or unreasonableness which might characterise the conduct of a legislative body. I think it would be a very irrational attitude on the part of the Second Chamber if they were To refuse to insert an Amendment under such circumstances. Surely they would consider it their duty in the first place To accept an Amendment which ex hypothesi was a fair improvement in the provisions of the Bill, and Then when they came to the Third Reading of the measure, even as amended, it would still be open to them to declare that the Bill was so objectionable in principle that they would be bound to reject it. Is not that the course which would be taken by the House of Lords?What can that mean except that the House of Lords, if they were reasonable, would first of ail accept an Amendment and then reject the Bill, in which case the Amendment would become part of the Bill as submitted to His Majesty? What on earth would be the good of their doing that if, even after they had accepted the Amendment, by the fact that they subsequently rejected the Bill they destroyed the Amendment and the Bill went up as originally drafted? It is a matter of importance which ought to be brought forward later on in Debate as to what will be the position of these Bills if Suggestions are made here and accepted by the House of Lords. Would they then become part of the original Bill, so to speak, and would the Bill be submitted to the King in the amended form? If my contention is right, and I think it is—I have taken very high advice on the matter—perhaps that is another reason which explains the refusal of the Government to have a Suggestion stage. They are very much afraid that any reasonable Suggestion made here in the Welsh Church Bill, and possibly in the Home Rule Bill too, would be accepted by 1022 the House of Lords, and that the House of Lords would then proceed to reject it on Third Reading. In that case the Bill would go through in an amended form, and that is precisely what the Government do not want. But I think they are making a very big mistake. This Bill is intensely unpopular. From their point of view it is the biggest mistake they could make. The Bill is a vote loser for the Liberal party at every election, and it is going to be a much bigger vote loser at the next General Election, especially if they treat the Church in the way they are doing now, and refusing even to listen to reasonable Amendments which could be made by way of Suggestion. This proposal of a Suggestion stage must have been put into the Bill with the object of trying to amend Bills in such a way as public opinion has shown in the two years Amendments are required, and it is a most monstrous thing that you should at this moment, after all the evidence you have of the unpopularity of the Welsh Church Bill, proceed right away to take away entirely the power of discussing the Bill in Committee and on Report stage, and also to refuse a Suggestion stage at the same moment. The fact is that the Government want to rush it through without any discussion whatsoever. The Bill has never been properly discussed. What happened when it first got into the Committee two years ago? It was guillotined right away we before we had a single day in Committee. Some Bills have, at all events, what may be called a sort of free run, but the Welsh Church Bill never had a free run of a single day. It was guillotined by a singularly badly constructed guillotine, which had the effect that the House discussed a great many points which need not have been discussed and left undiscussed a great many points which ought to have been discussed.
Let me give some examples. I take Disestablishment. After all, the Disestablishment of a part of the Church of England is a very big question. How many days did we have in Committee for the discussion of Disestablishment? We had only one day, and a great part of Clause 1 was guillotined without discussion. Clause 2 was never discussed at all. Take Dismemberment. The principal provision with regard to that question is contained in Sub-section (5) of Clause 3. That is the Sub-section whereby the Church in Wales is cut off from the Convocation of Canterbury. By a most out- 1023 rageous use of Parliamentary power the clergy are no longer permitted to sit in Convocation. That was never discussed at all. Take the question of private benefactions. After all, nothing is more important. Private benefactions are the one thing that you really leave to the Church, and the question was discussed only one day. Now we are allowed no time whatever in the present Session for the discussion of that question. Take the whole question of Disendowment, which is dealt with in Clause 8. Only two days were given for the discussion of the whole question of Disendowment, and what was the result? The Home Secretary knows that one of the most important matters of all was never discussed. Neither in Committee nor on the Report stage was there any opportunity for discussing the alienation of tithe. The question of tithe is the biggest in the whole Bill. Practically four-fifths of the money taken away is tithe. We have never yet discussed tithe. I ventured myself to put down a Suggestion to raise the whole question of the alienation of tithe, and I have been told that it would be wasting the time of the House to discuss the matter. That is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us this afternoon in the unjust speech he made. Am I to be told that I am wasting time when I seek an opportunity on the Suggestion stage to raise the question of tithe? It is a monstrous thing that no opportunity has been given for discussing that question. You guillotined that entirely two years ago, you took away the Committee stage last year, you gave us no opportunity on the Report stage and at the present time you are doing precisely the same thing by not allowing us to make any Suggestions. Take the question of churchyards. I have already spoken of the great unpopularity of the provisions of the Bill in that matter. No time was given to discuss that in the House of Commons. The question was guillotined. The question of curates has been discussed for about a couple of hours.
Still, my contention is that from the beginning you sought to burke discussion on the Bill, you guillotined it from the start, and you arranged the Guillotine so badly that while an enormous number of unimportant questions were discussed, the big questions which really move public opinion outside were never discussed. This year you take away the opportunity of having a Suggestion stage. The Prime 1024 Minister made what I thought was a most extraordinary statement this afternoon when he said that the reason why he could not give a Suggestion stage for the Welsh Church Bill was because there were so many Amendments put down that he supposed they could stand or fall together, as they came from one block of Members. Some of them were put down by hon. Members on this side, and others were put down by hon. Members on the other side. Is it seriously contended that we who sit on this side are responsible for the Amendments put down by the hon. Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs (Mr. Gladstone). The thing is absolutely absurd. The fact that there are so many Amendments put down is a reason why there should be a Suggestion stage. It shows there are so many points in regard to which the Bill might be enormously improved that we are bound to put down a large number of Amendments. That is an extra reason why there should be a Suggestion stage at the present time.
It is perfectly obvious what the Government policy is. They are determined, if they can, to smuggle this Bill into law. They want to smuggle it through with the least possible discussion. They know it is absolutely indefensible. They know it is thoroughly hated in the country, and they are trying to smuggle it through in order to fulfil a dishonest bargain with the Welsh Members. The Welsh Members will vote for Home Rule, though they do not care twopence about it, and they know that the Nationalist Members will vote for Welsh Disestablishment, though they do not care about that subject. They know that if there was a plebiscite or Referendum upon it they could not carry it, and they wish to smuggle it through as quickly as possible. I have fought this battle for a great many years now. I know what the effect of your proposed treatment of the Church in Wales was twenty years ago, and I can well realise what it will be on the first occasion it comes again before the electors of the country. I know perfectly well that even though you close our mouths and prevent us from discussing the Bill now, even though you take away from us the very opportunity which you yourselves provided by the Parliament Act, you will live to regret the way you are treating the question in this House. I know that retribution will follow in the wake of the Government, and that if you succeed in passing the Bill—but after the speech of the Leader of the Nationalist party I am 1025 doubtful if you will succeed—we will have a chance of repealing it and restoring to the Church those funds which have been filched from her without proper discussion in this House, and without the support of the people outside.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I beg to second the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
What has struck me most in this Debate is the kind of arguments which have been brought forward from the Front Bench opposite for the passing of this Motion. I am not sure that the one which struck me most was not that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said that the Government had no time. It is quite true that from their point of view the Government have no time to allow a Suggestion stage. The Chancellor of the Exchequer added, with singular sarcasm, that he was well aware that the one weapon of an Opposition in a large minority was to waste the time of the House. I deny that the Opposition has any intention of wasting the time of the House in a matter so grave as this, but, if that were so, the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should come forward and plead as a reason why none of these Suggestions, some of which are of vital importance to the measure which we are discussing, should be discussed is because there is no time for them, is to treat the House with the utmost contempt. We might just as well have one single stage for the whole Bill. I think that that was suggested by one of my right hon. Friends this afternoon. It was met with characteristic cheers by hon. Members below the Gangway. That is the position to which the House has now been reduced. These are the cheers of those who call themselves democrats, and who desire that a fair hearing should be given all round.
I was astonished to see what a change had come over the old ideas and traditions of the Liberal party. I cannot believe that if there would have been any Motion of this kind on such a subject as this in the days of Gladstone, we, should have had any one of these followers, even in the remotest corners below the Gangway, cheering such a proposal as this. The Suggestion stage was really essential. It was understood to be essential when we discussed that provision in the Parliament Bill. It was admitted in effect to be essential when the Prime Minister spoke in June last year on the very same subject, and certainly I was always under the impression that when it came to the third Session under the Parliament Act 1026 this House would be given a fair chance of suggesting Amendments which seemed vital to the important minority who is opposing these Bills. The position now is—and it has created to some extent a precedent—that the Government of the day are to refuse all time for Suggestions. The plea of the Prime Minister was that we put in too many, and I cannot help thinking that, if we only put in one or two, he would have said that there were so few that it was not worth while discussing them. It certainly was not the intention, so far as I am aware, of any Members on this side of the House, when a considerable number of Suggestions in reference to the Welsh Bill was put down, that those Suggestions should be treated en bloc, and that we should be told, because we put down so many, that none of them were to be taken. There had been a ruling from the Chair that the Government could give what time it pleases, and we naturally assumed that they probably would give some time—it might be limited—but that at any rate they could give us some chance of discussing those vital questions upon which there has been some difference of opinion in this House.
I understand quite well that those particular questions, perhaps, are more awkward for them than those on which there is no division on their side, but it will create a very unpleasant feeling in the country when it is known that some of these matters, such as the questions of churchyards, glebe, and compensation to the curates, about which I have put down a Suggestion myself, are to be left out altogether at the decree of the Government. Those were all matters which the Members of moderate views, who were not strong adherents of any political party, felt to be of great urgency, and to send up this Bill without making any effort to consider these matters in the last final stage in this House seems to me to be insulting the House. The Radicals are forcing into law Bills which need serious amendment, and which in our belief need amendment in the opinion of the majority of the electorate of the country. We are firmly convinced that certainly as regards some of the measures the majority of the electors of the country would vote in favour of the Amendment, certainly as regards the Welsh Bill, and also as regards the Home Rule Bill. There may be a desire in some parts of the country to see the Irish question 1027 out of the way. There is an equally strong desire that the strong and loyal minority of Ulster should not be downtrodden, while, at the same time, some justice should be done to the Nationalists. Nothing of the kind is likely to occur if this Bill is sent up and passed into law in its present form. It only creates greater bitterness, and it is exactly the kind of bitterness which the Suggestion stage was intended to avoid. Why, then, give up all idea of the Suggestion stage? It makes even the Parliament Act itself a greater farce than we thought it at the time it was passed, and simply means that the decrees of the Cabinet are to be put through without any chance of reconsideration, and that it is simply a matter of sic volo sic jubco. I should have objected less if we had a real Second Chamber, with reasonable powers. I do not necessarily mean even the old House of Lords, as it was before, though I still remain of opinion that you will never get a second opinion that on the whole will fit in with the Constitution better and do its work better. But if the Preamble of the Bill had been carried out before this kind of Resolution came before the House, there would be less ground, perhaps, for opposing these Motions.
I do not mean for a moment that they are not deplorable, in any case, but when they are so drastic as they are under the auspices of the present Government they are simply intolerable for any country. I do wish, if these measures are to be passed, that we had some really proper revising Second Chamber with reasonable powers, which could reconsider these matters. It is taking away all chance of arrangement and of fair consideration from this House, and it is risking what may happen—and we do not know what will happen—in the other House. In the other House they may pass the Bills, they may propose Suggestions, or they not pass the Bills. But, even if they do pass the Bills, with Suggestions, we do not know that the Government will accept them. I protest to the utmost extent I can against this plan of letting us lose control of such Bills altogether in this House, without having any idea what the Government proposes to do, at any rate as regards the Irish Bill. I gather, as regards the Welsh Bill, although even that was not perfectly clear, that as the Prime Minister said to-night, the Government is not prepared to accept in the slightest 1028 degree one of the Welsh suggestions. It has quite made up its mind that it will not alter a comma of the Bill as it now stands. I can only say that if it persists in gagging and guillotining all its business through this House, even in such vital matters as this, even when it gets protests from all sides that some different procedure ought to be adopted, it will lose many votes in the country, and in the end will destroy the working of its own Parliament Act. It is indeed a fine testimonial to the Parliament Act to be able to say that it has brought us almost to the brink of civil war. If these Suggestion stages are to be curtailed or destroyed, it is even more likely that the Parliament Act will create a chaos in Government both now and in future, and when the electors fully realise it, I think they will register their votes accordingly.
§ Question proposed, "That the words of the Question to the end of line 8 [the end of the first paragraph], stand part of the Question."
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member for Dudley and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aston, both spoke with so much feeling to the Amendment that I very much regret that they should have had so small an audience to share the fervour of their sentiment. The main substance of their argument was directed against the proposal in relation to the Welsh Church Bill, and I have no doubt their feelings are equally strong with reference to the Home Rule Bill, but their argument was almost entirely confined to the former measure. The hon. Member for Aston informed the House that at the time the Parliament Act was passed it was understood that the Suggestion stage was an integral part of the Act.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I beg the hon. Member's pardon—that it was an "essential" part of this Act. It must come as a surprise to those who are not familiar with the Act to hear that there is no such thing in the Act as a Suggestion stage—that there was no such stage contemplated. There is nothing in the Act to imply that such a stage was ever in view.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am quite familiar with the Act. Let me finish my point. I say that no such stage was ever in contemplation, and it was never even argued that there ought to be such a stage. We are all familiar with the stages of a Bill—the First Reading, Second Reading, Committee, Report, and Third Reading, all definite stages—which must be gone through in order that a Bill may be passed through the House. That is the meaning of a stage of a Bill. In the proviso, which relates to suggested Amendments, the word "stage" never appears, and it was introduced so that there might be an opportunity, on appropriate occasion, to suggest Amendments. It was never contemplated, cither then or at any subsequent time, that there should be a Suggestion stage, and had it been in contemplation Amendments would have been moved to the Parliament Bill making an opportunity to suggesting Amendments in the second and third year of the Bill. That opportunity was never taken. The hon. Member for Aston is entirely deceiving himself when he thinks that the House ever had in view that there should be such a thing as a stage for suggested Amendments.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Prime Minister has already explained that the object of the proviso was a very simple one. It might appear in the second or third year that there was a mistake in the Bill in the form in which it had been passed through the House of Commons, and was rejected by the House of Lords. No Amendment could be made to the Bill, because, if an Amendment were made, the Bill would not be the same Bill, and consequently, on rejection by the House of Lords a second time, would not get the benefit of the Parliament Act. It was accordingly provided that there might be an Amendment or Amendments suggested to be made in the Bill, and, on the passing of the Bill through the other House, the other House would have cognisance of the fact that the House of Commons themselves had suggested Amendments to the Bill, and, if the Bill were then accepted with those Amendments in it, the Bill, in its amended form, would become law. It gave an opportunity to this House, if it so desired, 1030 not to incorporate Amendments in the Bill, but to suggest Amendments for incorporation by the House of Lords.
§ Mr. McKENNA
There is nothing in the proviso about a stage that there should be a Suggestion stage, and, if there were to be a Suggestion stage, as a stage of the Bill, it would have been necessary to in elude that principle in the proviso itself. It has been stated by the hon. Member for Dudley and by very nearly every speaker on the opposite side who has addressed the House this afternoon, and it has been said even by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Gladstone), that by refusing an opportunity to suggest Amendments in the third year of this Bill we are depriving the House of Commons of some opportunity of debate. It must be remembered what was the purpose of the Parliament Act. It was to curtail the privileges of the other House. No Bill can go up to the other House under the Parliament Act until it has passed through this House, and both the Bills named here have passed through the First and Second Readings, Committee, Report, and Third Reading, after the fullest Debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] I say, meaning it, after the fullest Debate that hon. Members opposite were willing to give to the Bill. The hon. Member said that the Bill was guillotined in going through the Committee. If my memory serves me aright, the Welsh Church Bill had seventeen days allowed for its discussion in Committee.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have not the figures by me with regard to the Home Rule Bill, but in regard to the Welsh Bill seventeen days were allowed in Committee. The House of Commons during those seventeen days, on Report again, and on Third Reading, had the full ordinary opportunities of debating this Bill, with every liberty which would occur in the case of a Bill introduced by hon. Members on the other side. Supposing that a Bill had been introduced by an hon. Gentleman sitting on the benches opposite, and the House of Commons had had such opportunities as were offered for the debating of this Bill when it was first introduced, if it passed through this House it would have gone up to the House of Lords and 1031 would have been passed the same year, and the House of Commons would have had no further opportunity or liberty of discussion. The hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock are asking for something, for some liberty for the House of Commons, which is to exist only when a Liberal Government is in office, and is never to be allowed when hon. Gentlemen opposite are in office. It was never intended that there should be any stage for free discussion on suggested Amendments, as has been said to be the case to-day, and I submit to the House that the fullest liberty has been given for the discussion of these measures in detail, and on the second and third occasions on which these Bills are passing through this House full liberty is being given for the discussion of these measures on their main principles. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock feels very strongly that his own suggested Amendments have not had the opportunity of being debated on this the third time the Bill is passing through the House. His suggested Amendments relate to commutation. When the Bill was in Committee on the first occasion my hon. Friend proposed an Amendment relating to commutation, and the Government accepted it. What possible grievance has he got? How can he claim that we are depriving him of a freedom of debate and a fair opportunity for discussion, because, this Bill having been rejected by the other House, we are forced for the second and for the third time to carry it again through the House of Commons?
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
The recollection of the right hon. Gentleman is surely not quite right. He never accepted, on behalf of the Government, the Amendment I moved. All he did was to put in a scheme of his own which in many respects differed from the scheme which I had proposed.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think my hon. Friend is not doing the Government quite justice in that statement. The substance of his Amendment was to introduce the principle of commutation. As regards the details of the scheme my recollection is that in some minor points they differed from those of my hon. Friend, but in substance it was the same proposal. The acceptance of the principle of commutation was the acceptance of the vital essential point of his Amendment. But I have looked at his suggested Amendments, and on examining 1032 them I find that what he proposes is, in fact, what will be done, and he has in substance suffered nothing by the failure, so far as I can gather the meaning of his Amendments, to obtain the opportunity of discussing those suggested Amendments in this House. It was said by the hon. Member for Dudley that on the Welsh Bill no fair opportunity had been given to discuss great questions relating to glebe, compensation to curates, and churchyards, and with regard to churchyards he said the subject had not been discussed at all. Surely his memory is at fault. Glebe was very fully discussed on two occasions, and with regard to compensation to curates, every opportunity for discussion was afforded to the other side, and the churchyards were discussed. His last point was that tithe rent charge was never the subject of debate, but that was not the fault of the Government. A whole day was wasted on Clause 8 on minor points, when not only was an opportunity afforded for the discussion of tithe rent charge, but I should have been most glad to have discussed tithe rent charge. What are the real facts about the discussion on Clause 8?
Hon. Gentlemen opposite thought they could get a better division on glebe and on churchyards than they could on tithes, and they deliberately, in my judgment, so far as I could observe in the course of that Debate, in order not to mar the effect of their good divisions on glebe and churchyards, avoided discussing tithe, and limited the discussion to those two other points. This whole claim that we are not allowing freedom of debate, to the knowledge of everybody who has followed the Debates in this House is absolutely unfounded. I do not blame hon. Gentlemen opposite. They do their best to defeat the Government, they bring forward such Amendments as they think are most likely to attract votes from our side, not because they want to discuss the question, not because the question has not been fully discussed, but because they think they have an appropriate opportunity for defeating the Government. We do not blame them for that, but hon. Members are very new to the procedure of the Opposition if they expect to attract votes from my hon. Friends by telling them that no fair opportunity has been given for full discussion of these measures, and to claim as a grievance that we do not give a Suggestion stage, a stage which was 1033 never contemplated by the Parliament Act, and which in the case of these two Bills would admittedly be a waste of time. We have been definitely told that the Home Rule Bill is to be rejected in another place on Second Reading, and consequently the ingenious point put forward by the hon. Member for Dudley that suggested Amendments might be incorporated on the Second Reading, and the Bill then rejected on Third Reading does not arise. We have been told definitely that that Bill will be rejected on Second Reading, and there is not an hon. Member opposite who does not believe that to be true. We have had no such definite statement with regard to the Welsh Bill, but the best information we have been able to obtain is to a similar effect, that the Welsh Bill will be rejected on Second Reading. But if it is not, and if the Welsh Bill is given a Second Reading in another place, then every one of those suggested Amendments which without exception have all been fully discussed in Committee may be incorporated in the Bill in another place, and the Bill will then come back in its amended form to us, and there will then be a stage of the Bill on which all those suggested Amendments made in the House of Lords can be discussed.
§ Mr. McKENNA
We will consider those Amendments when they come down to us from another place, but we are asked to offer compromise, to suggest Amendments, to accept suggested Amendments, while on the other hand we are told, "Whatever you do on this Bill we will have no terms with you, and you may humiliate yourselves by offering Amendments, but we will never accept them." We are not to be caught by those proposals. We shall send our Bill up to the House of Lords, I trust very shortly, in its existing form, and if hon. Gentlemen opposite in another place wish to propose Amendments to these Bills they must give these Bills a Second and Third Reading and send them back to this House to be considered.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I am bound to say I think the speech we have just heard is one of the most extraordinary I have ever heard in this House since I had the honour of sitting here. Without any disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman, the only point he has made about a Suggestion stage is nothing more or less than hair-splitting. Surely everybody will 1034 agree as to this passage in the Parliament Act with regard to Suggestions, that the idea was that the working of the Parliament Act was to be something like this. Supposing the Second Chamber did not agree to the Bill the first time, it should be presented here a second and a third time. The object of that was that if the conditions applicable to the particular Bill changed, or public opinion altered, this House might have an opportunity of making Suggestions which could be sent to the other House, so that even if that House rejected the Bill altogether, they could accept the Suggestions, and then when those Suggestions were accepted they would be treated as Suggestions made by the House of Commons and accepted by that House, and would become part of the Bill. To my mind, with the greatest possible respect to the right hon. Gentleman, it is really hair-splitting to say that the Act did not contemplate a Suggestion stage. Of course it did not! Nobody argues that it did. What I am contending seriously and earnestly, and not from any party point of view, is that of all times and of all the conditions you can imagine, that time and those conditions are now present when a Suggestion stage, or an opportunity for making Suggestions, would be most valuable. May I read to the House the words of the proviso in the Parliament Act:—
"Provided that the House of Commons may, if they think fit"—
It is not the Government, but the House of Commons—
"the House of Commons may, if they think fit, on the passage of such a Bill through the House in the second or third Session"—
It is not confined even to the second Session—
"suggest any further Amendments without inserting the Amendments in the Bill, and any such suggested Amendments shall be considered by the House of Lords, and if agreed to by that House, shall be treated as Amendments made by the House of Lords and agreed to by the House of Commons."
That proviso is not limited in any way. It is not limited to verbal Amendments. The Prime Minister in his speech recognised that, because he said that if it became plain that a different enactment would be more acceptable to the House of Commons it might be made in the form of a Suggestion. Any Suggestion is to be 1035 made by the House of Commons. It is not to be inserted in the Bill, but it is to go to the other place and is to be considered by that other place. The Act says that any such suggested Amendment shall be put before the other place, quite irrespective of the Bill.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
Yes. The proviso says
"without inserting the Amendments in the Bill, and any such suggested Amendments shall be considered by the House of Lords."
Even if the House of Lords reject the Bill they have still to consider the Amendments sent up by this House, and if they accept them they become part of the Bill. I submit that this is a time when the power expressly given by the Parliament Act ought to be made use of by this House. Take the Home Rule Bill. The conditions existing now are quite different from what they were when the Bill was first brought forward. They are quite different from when the Bill was in its second Session. What is the position to-day? Nobody will deny that the wish of the large majority of the House is that if possible we should find a way out of the very great difficulty which is facing us. That can only be done by way of the Home Rule Bill. I do not want to deal with the exact form of amendment, but it can only be done by amending that Bill. How is it to be done? It is said that the House of Lords are not going to give the Bill a Second Reading. The only way it can be done, other than by an Amending Bill, with which suggestion I will deal presently, is by this House openly discussing the point and coming to a conclusion as to what in their opinion is the form of the amendments which ought to be embodied in the Bill, and sending them to the other place under the Parliament Act. Yet the Government put up the Home Secretary to say that there is no Suggestion stage contemplated by the Parliament Act.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I submit that that is nothing more nor less than hairsplitting. The Parliament Act expressly says that this House is to have an opportunity—I do not care what you call it, whether a 1036 stage or a Session—of making Suggestions, and this Resolution deliberately takes away from this House the right and the opportunity conferred upon it by the Parliament Act. The object of this Amendment is to retain to the House that right. If you do not do this, what happens? Take the Home Rule Bill again. Look at the position. You are faced with as serious a crisis as this county can remember. A large majority of Members here are anxious to avoid it. The country is looking to this House to see if it cannot find some way out. Like most of us in this House, the people do not believe in what my right hon. Friend describes as this subterranean policy. They would rather see things discussed here openly. Here we are, ready to do it, and the Government deliberately deprive us of the only opportunity of dealing with the question. The Prime Minister then said. "Oh, but we are going to have an Amending Bill." That is probably a more extraordinary proposition than any of which, Sir, with all your experience of the practice and procedure of this House, have ever heard. I submit that it has never been proposed that a Bill should be brought in to amend something which is not an Act of Parliament. The proposal is to bring in a Bill to amend something which has never been passed into law. It may be, nobody knows, for "there's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip"—but suppose that the Home Rule Bill has passed its Third Reading? The hon. and learned Member for Waterford seems to think—and said so to-day—that as soon as the Home Rule Bill is read the third time by this House it is virtually enacted. I do not agree with him in the slightest degree. If it is a fact, of course it is very significant; but I do not agree. There are many things that might happen. The Bill has to receive the Royal Assent before it becomes an Act of Parliament, yet it is seriously suggested that before the Royal Assent is given to the Home Rule Bill, that another Bill is to be brought in to amend it! I submit that such a proposition has never previously been put before the House of Commons.
The next point I wish to urge upon the House is this: Is it reasonable that we should be asked to vote upon the Third Reading of the Home Rule Bill without having any idea whatsoever of what the amending Bill is to be? Without any idea, I say that advisedly, because it must have 1037 something to do with the exclusion of Ulster. We cannot deal, on a vague suggestion such as that, with an important matter such as this. I venture to support, with all my heart, what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London to-day, that really the Government, before the Third Reading of the Home Rule Bill, ought to print and publish the amending Bill which they propose. He said that he assumed the Government had got far in the drafting of this Bill. I do not believe, at the present moment, that the Government have the slightest idea of what the amending Bill is going to be. What has been said on the point is merely a means of getting the Home Rule Bill read for the third time; it is for this reason that the promise that an amending Bill will be brought in has been given. It must be common knowledge that certain hon. Members on the opposite side of the House are by no means ready to vote for the Third Reading of the Home Rule Bill as it stands. I suppose the Prime Minister wishes to get their support for the Third Reading, and so he promises that he is going to bring in an amending Bill. I only hope that those hon. Members on the opposite side who feel that the Home Rule Bill ought not to be passed into law in its present state will not be induced by a mere promise to bring in an amending Bill some time or another, to give their support to the Third Reading of the Home Rule Bill. I do not think that such a position as that taken up by the Government is dealing fairly by the House, or with the problem which is before the House.
Suppose the Home Rule Bill is, as a matter of fact, given a Third Reading, and then the Government bring in their amending Bill. Suppose the amending Bill is one which the House—I will not refer to any particular party, either to our side, or the Government side, or the Nationalist side—but suppose this Bill is a Bill which the House will not accept, what is then to happen? We are not told, except that the Home Rule Bill is to become law. If the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford is right when he says that as soon as this Bill gets the Third Reading in this House it is virtually enacted, then all those hon. Members who vote for the Third Reading on the understanding that it is not to be passed into law in the state in which it now is, and on the understanding that it is going to be amended by an amending Bill, 1038 to use plain and blunt language, will have been sold, because the amending Bill will not have been passed. They will have been induced to vote for a Bill which has not their approval, and which has been put on the Statute Book against their wishes. I speak in all earnestness, and not from a party point of view, in this matter, and I say if we do not have an opportunity—I am not saying we want an opportunity!—of putting forward what we think, and our Suggestions, which may solve this very difficult matter; if, I say, we do not get that opportunity this House is reduced to a state of degradation which I do not think anybody who ever voted for the Parliament Act ever anticipated. That Act was supposed to make this House more efficient. More efficient! And here we are with the greatest crisis which has ever faced any living man! We want-to agree. Each man in his own sphere wants to use his influence and brains to help to solve the question, and by the action of the Government of the day we are to be reduced actually to a state of impotence! We can do nothing except vote "Aye" or "No" for the Home Rule Bill as it stands at present. Instead of the Parliament Act making this House more efficient, and making it more efficient to carry out the wishes of the people, it has done the exact opposite. Everybody knows that if the Home Rule Bill and the Welsh Church Bill in their present state were submitted to the country you would not get a majority for them. That is admitted. But you have got this House, and that is even worse still, into a condition where it cannot register its own opinion, because we are deprived of the opportunity of making these Suggestions. This precious Parliament Act, which you are all so proud of, has resulted in tieing our hands, and making this House absolutely incapable of carrying out what many of us wish at the present time, a settlement of the Irish question. The people responsible for this state of things are the people who sit on the Front Bench opposite.
§ Mr. RENDALL
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the House seems to be under the impression that those of us who support this Resolution, and who later on will support the Third Reading of the Home Rule Bill, are likely to do so under a misapprehension. We shall vote, he suggests, for the Home Rule Bill on its Third Reading in the belief that there will be an amending Bill, 1039 and relying on that amending Bill, we shall give our vote for the Third Heading of the Home Rule Bill. Further, he says we shall be "sold" if the amending Bill never comes along, or never is made into an Act. I think I may say for myself and for, perhaps, others who sit on this side of the House, that we shall not be sold in the amending Bill, if it is fair in its terms when introduced, and, having been introduced, is offered to those who wanted it. After being introduced, if it is not accepted by those for whose benefit it is proposed, the responsibility for refusal would not rest on those who proposed it, but on those who refused it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman made one other statement. As I understood, he said that the Government by the Resolution which they have on the Paper are depriving the House of their right in regard to the Suggestion stage. I think it would be much more correct to say that the Government, or rather the majority of the House, who vote for this Resolution will deprive the House, not of a right but of an option—the option for a Suggestion stage; because the Suggestion stage, as the Home Secretary pointed out, is not a legal stage of a Bill under the Parliament Act at all, it is merely an optional method of dealing with a Bill which has first gone through all the old and regular Parliamentary stages, an option which can be exercised if desired.
The majority of the House have surely every right to say in regard to any particular Bill that under the circumstances in which we find ourselves that there can be no utility in going through a Suggestion period or stage. There can be no value in it when it is perfectly clear that no Suggestions that are made are likely to be accepted by the majority in the House. There was also one observation which the hon. and learned Gentleman made which I am bound to say he did not make quite clear to me, and I would like to ask him whether this is what he meant. He told us that if the suggested Amendment was carried in this House, and was sent up to the House of Lords, and supposing in the House of Lords the actual Bill is rejected on Second Reading, still that under the Parliament Act the Lords were bound to consider the Amendment, and if they did consider it, I understood him to say, and passed it, although they refused the Bill a Second Reading, it would come down here and become compulsorily 1040 a part of the Bill. If he did mean that, he did not construe the Act rightly, for if the House of Lords reject a Bill on Second Reading there is no procedure under which they can deal with a Bill already rejected, and therefore killed it in their own House. We upon this side of the House feel that the Suggestion stage is one only desirable if it is useful, and we have not seen in the Amendments which are on the Paper the smallest encouragement for the Suggestion stage. In regard to the Home Rule Bill, we have been clearly told by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Long) that no possible acceptance of Suggestions which might be moved will get the Unionist party to accept the Home Rule Bill. We, therefore, have the assurance from the highest quarters on the other side of the House that the Suggestion stage would be absolutely useless and futile with regard to the Home Rule Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, speaking on behalf of the Unionist party, thinks there is nothing to be done in regard to Home Rule, except to pass an amending Bill after it becomes an Act of Parliament. That gets rid of any argument in favour of a Suggestion stage with regard to Home Rule.
With regard to the Welsh Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Gladstone), and the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen), both made speeches in which they lament very much that they cannot make Suggestions with regard to that Bill. I think they have been told by the Home Secretary that they had full opportunity of pressing all Amendments that they required at the time when the Bill was in Committee. The Bill was many days in Committee, and they could have had as many Divisions as they desired, and after all that opportunity for discussion it is now unreasonable to come forward and ask for a Suggestion stage. That stage is only useful if there were some chance of the opposing party seeing some chance of agreeing upon some important improvement in the Bill. A Suggestion stage is desired by those who speak on the other side, and by some on this side, when they want to put something into the Bill which has already been rejected by the vast majority of the House over and over again. Some of those who want to get a Suggestion stage have an honest desire to improve the Bill, but the majority desire it in order to try once more to have a chance of tearing the Bill to shreds, and exposing what they think are its iniquities. They 1041 can hardly expect the majority of this House to play the game of the minority. It is asking more from human nature, and certainly from political human nature than it is likely to grant. If hon. Gentlemen opposite think that the Parliament Act is really unfair or harsh they have got to ask themselves why we have got a Parliament Act at all. They must remember that their own misdeeds are re-coiling upon their heads. Have they at all examined the constitutional form up to two years ago? They got their Bills through when they liked and how they liked. If the Liberal majority when it came into power with a large majority had been allowed to do what the Tory party was doing, there would be no need for a Parliament Act. Therefore, they complain of machinery which their own misdeed forged. In the present circumstances the Government only have to consider the speeding-up and saving of Government time and to carry out the dictates of the constituencies. That, I think, they are doing in not allowing a Suggestion stage at this time for these Bills.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I do not think the hon. Member who has just sat down quite realises the real grievance which we feel on this side of the House. I think I am not misrepresenting him—he said the Suggestion stage was always looked upon as optional. The Government, in the first instance, when they proposed the Suggestion stage, clearly gave us to understand that one of the reasons why the discussion of the various Amendments might be somewhat limited, was that when the Suggestion stage came along, we could lay our full case before the House and the country.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
Certainly we were given to understand over and over again—and I listened very carefully to the Debates—that although our discussion might be limited in Committee and on Report, we should have an opportunity later on of discussing the whole thing again in the more important points on the Suggestion stage. I think, to my mind, it is pretty clear that these Resolutions have been framed not so much with a view to passing Home Rule as with a view to passing the Budget the Government brought in the other day. The Government have just had a warning from the Irish Nationalist party. They have 1042 told the Government quite honestly and very firmly that unless they get their Home Rule Bill, the Government is not going to get its Budget. It is to be the Home Rule Bill first and the Budget afterwards.
I think I am right in saying that no less than sixty-five hon. Members below the Gangway, through their Leader, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, intimated to the Government that unless they got their Bill the Government would not get their Budget. In fact, the 9d. off the local rates in England, Scotland, and Wales at this moment really lie in the lap of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford. The relief of the English and Scottish ratepayers really depends upon the Government falling into line with respect to the Government of Ireland Bill. What a commentary is this Guillotine Motion proposed to-day by the Prime Minister upon the whole conduct of the Government in regard to this Irish question. They have tried to persuade the country over and over again in this House and in the Press that they are really honestly desirous of a compromise on the Irish question. They invite hon. Members on the Back Benches and right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench to come to terms. They have expressed themselves over and over again willing to negotiate and compromise. I understand that between eighty and ninety hon. Members opposite have signed a memorial expressing their willingness that the Home Rule Bill should be discussed on a nonparty basis. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I understand that is so, but, at any rate, a very large number of hon. Members opposite have signed the document expressing their willingness that the Home Rule Bill should be discussed on a non-party basis. The Prime Minister himself has assured the House several times during the last few weeks that he will not shut the door upon any overtures that hon. Members may make from these benches, and yet, when they get a real opportunity for discussing this question in all its bearings, when the whole financial provisions could be thrashed out in the light of recent overtures and events, hon. Members in all parts of the House who signed that document are to be deprived of all proper opportunity of discussing this question.
From one point of view, I think the Government are going on strictly logical lines. It is not the smallest good dis- 1043 cussing the financial provisions of this Bill, or any other of its provisions, until we know what the exact proposals of the Prime Minister are for a settlement. If the Government are determined to carry their Bill in its present state, and risk the dangers and calamities of civil disturbance, I can understand their position perfectly well, for then discussion will be absolutely futile in this House, as well as in the country, and arguments would make absolutely no difference with hon. Members. But if the Government are really anxious for a peaceful solution—and one must take it for granted that they are—what really is the use of proceeding with this Home Rule Bill in its present shape? It is a sheer waste of time. Surely the proper proceeding, and the only logical proceeding, is for the Prime Minister to place his proposals in proper shape upon the Paper, and allow us to see exactly how his offer is going to amend the present Home Rule Bill. We ought to see in black and white what his Amendments to the Bill are really going to be. I am quite sure that when the Prime Minister has placed his proposals upon the Paper it will be seen that they will necessitate enormous alterations in every single part of that measure. There will be alterations in principle, in substance, and in practically the whole of the machinery of the present Home Rule Bill. There is not the slightest use in discussing this Home Rule Bill without those Amendments before us. There is certainly not the smallest use in trying to discuss this very important measure in the extremely restricted time which is to be allotted to us under this Motion. If we are not to have the proposals before us, if we are not to know what the Amendments are to be in the body of the Bill, which I suppose one of these days will be laid on the Table by the Prime Minister, it is no use discussing the Bill at all. Discussion in the very restricted time we are going to be allotted is really a sheer waste of time. I am sure hon. Members on this side share my suspicion as to what is really in the mind of the Government on this subject. They are compelled by force of circumstances—by that I mean hon. Members below the Gangway.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, who probably signed that memorial, shakes his head.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The Government are compelled by force of circumstances to place their Bill upon the Statute Book in its present form. They have to do that or they know perfectly well that they will lose their Budget of the year. When they have done that, in order to save their face with respect to all the pledges they have made during the last few weeks, they are going to bring in a Home Rule Amending Bill. Whether that Bill will satisfy Ulster or the Unionist party as a whole nobody can possibly say until they really see it. But one thing is perfectly certain, that if it does satisfy Ulster to a certain extent, if it leaves North-East Ulster out until she agrees to come in. If it does this it is perfectly certain it will meet with unrelenting hostility from hon. Members below the Gangway. [An HON. MEMBER: "How do you know?"] We have been given to understand by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond), by the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin), and the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), that no further concession beyond the Prime Minister's offer is going to be accepted. Therefore, when the Government have brought in their Bill, and it has been rejected by the Irish party, they will say to the country they have done their best, and it will then be too late to negotiate any more. The Home Rule Bill will have got on the Statute Book, and it will have become the law of the land. The Government will have got their Budget, and those in favour of a peaceful solution will have been tricked again. I believe this Motion is being discussed merely from a tactical point of view, and it has only that object in view. I do not believe, and I never have believed, in the genuineness of the Government's offer to negotiate. If those offers had been genuine, I believe the Prime Minister would have tendered the olive-branch the other day instead of getting the First Lord of the Admiralty to do it. The character of the dove of peace suits the Prime Minister rather better than his colleague who usually sits beside him.
I do not believe in the genuineness of the offers of the Government to negotiate. The Irish party will allow the Government to enter into parleys with the Opposition as much as they like. They have no objection to the Government pretending to be in search of a settlement so long as 1045 they back out of that settlement before it comes to a head. They have no objection to these overtures which waste time, and consequently serve the very object the Government have in view. I do not believe that the Irish Nationalist party will ever allow the Government to come to a real compromise on this question. [An HON. MEMBER: "Let them speak for themselves."] The hon. and learned Member for Waterford is determined to get his due. I do not blame him, because he has paid for it over and over again during the last few years. I believe the aim of the Government is to keep the Irish Members in a good temper in order to stop in office till next year, if they are able to do it, and to get their Plural Voting Bill. If the Home Rule Bill once finds its way on to the Statute Book in its present shape I think hon. Members in every part of the House may whistle in vain for any alteration. Mow that we are discussing the allotment of time, to-day is our only chance, and I believe the hon. Member for Waterford knows that quite well, and so does the Prime Minister. The Home Rule Amending Bill, I believe, will be kept going for months in this House. It will be made to break down just in time to persuade hon. Members below the Gangway to vote for the Plural Voting Bill next year before they make their final bow to Westminster and the Government go to the country. I do not think the Prime Minister has any right to ask this House to discuss the Home Rule Bill before his further proposals are placed in black and white upon the Paper. To my mind, it is trifling with the House of Commons, and I think it is unfair not merely to hon. Members on this side of the House who have done their best to oppose the measure at every stage, but it is equally unfair, and possibly more unfair, to large numbers of hon. Members opposite who really want to see a final settlement of the whole of this thorny Irish question.
§ Colonel GREIG
The speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is the speech of a Gentleman who apparently knows a great deal more than anybody else about what is going on, and has not a good word to say for those who sit on this side of the House. If that is to be the spirit in which we approach the settlement of the Irish question, it is an hopeless question indeed. What is the position of statesmen, or those who at least claim to be statesmen on both sides? I hear the 1046 hon. Baronet, who sits for the City of London (Sir Frederick Banbury). I think he has done very little to help the settlement of this question. Let him and the hon. Member who has just resumed his seat realise how we on this side of the House look at the matter. For years and years we have come here with the idea of settling this Irish question. Year after year that has been refused, and now under circumstances which give full opportunity for the measure to be settled to the satisfaction of all parties, we are met with every kind of opposition solely on the ground that we do not throw ourselves entirely into the hands of hon. Members opposite. It has been urged that on a Suggestion stage, Suggestions could be made which would assist a settlement of the matter, but how can that be if the Home Rule Bill and the Welsh Bill are both going to be rejected by the House of Lords? If these Suggestions are put forward, if these pages upon pages of blue paper are to be thrown at our heads, is not the sole object to bring about further discussion, and renew the opposition to the Bills on all their details. One knows what would happen. If we were to admit this demand they would begin a discussion on some point just as they did when we were discussing the Bills in the Committee stage. They would discuss the first Amendment ad nauseam, and keep us up all night. When it had become so obviously mere tactics of delay, we should have to bring in what is called a Guillotine Resolution. Then hon. Members would complain that they had not had opportunities of discussing their Amendments. Here, they would say, are some of them which are really sagacious Suggestions to your Bill, and you have never given us an opportunity of discussion. I think we on this side are not likely to fall into that trap again.
We are willing to discuss any reasonable Amendment, and if the party opposite wish to put forward such Amendments let them go to their Friends at the other end of the corridor. Let the House of Lords, as they may do under the Parliament Act, accept the Second Reading, put their Suggestions down, and send these Suggestions to us. Then we shall be in a position to deal with the matter. On these Bills we have welcomed the movement which has been going on upon the other side to see if some sort of touch could be brought about among hon. Members on both sides, but we are here to represent the mass of 1047 our constituents and to get these Bills put upon the Statute Book. It has been thrown in our teeth that our constituents did not know what we were out for during the General Elections of 1910. My withers are unwrung, because in my election address Home Rule for Ireland and Welsh Disestablishment were as plain as anything could be. I am certain that every Member for Scotland put forward these two measures. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Prime Minister?"] Well, on that, I say to the hon. Baronet who sits for the City of London, let him come to Scotland and stand for a Scottish constituency, and put in his address nothing excepting the usual Conservative platitudes, and I will undertake to say that he will not be there three days before he will get such a heckling as will turn him inside out. What happened in the Prime Minister's case? On the first night at the meeting it was asked what was his view upon this particular subject?
§ Colonel GREIG
Let me put our position with regard to these Bills. We believe in getting a settlement if possible. We are willing, and I think I speak for my Friends on the Back Benches here, that Amendments should be put into the Home Rule Bill provided that the main principles of the Bill are maintained, and that the two sections of Irish opinion are satisfied. We are out for that first, that the principle of the Home Rule Bill should be put upon the Statute Book, because we regard it as a movement in the direction of the same thing for us and Scotland. But we are not going to be dictated to. A good deal has been said about dictation by the Cabinet. Yes; if there has been dictation by the Cabinet it is because they have the people of the country behind them. We are not going to be dictated to from outside the House or elsewhere by a minority. With reference to the amending Bill, from whom did the Suggestion come? It came from the right hon. Gentleman who sits for the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long). In the present circumstances it is the wisest way to settle the 1048 matter, because the Government have gone a long way by offering to put into black and white in a Bill what are their Suggestions. These Suggestions have been before the country since the 9th of March. They are well known to the senior Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson). If these Suggestions are put into a Bill they can be discussed here, and they can be discussed in the Second Chamber if the Second Chamber will accept them. That is much the simplest way of doing it. In the meantime, and I am certain that I speak for those who sit near me on the back benches, whilst we are willing to go as far as possible, and to support the Government in going as far as possible, we desire only to support them if they put these Bills on the Statute Book, and to put forward these Suggestions in such a way that the main principles of the Bill would be effective. We men on the back benches do not often get this opportunity of expressing our views. Why? Because certain Members on the other side occupy so much of the time of the House. It is a position which has the support of this side of the House. We are in favour of this limitation of discussion, because there is ample opportunity for the Second Chamber to accept the Bill, and to send down Suggestions which we can consider and give reasonable treatment to.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Gentleman has told us he is willing to support the Government. We all knew that beforehand. We know that all the hon. Members on those Back Benches will support the Government, whatever happens, and for the hon. Gentleman to accuse us of wasting time, why, he himself is wasting time by getting up simply to tell us an obvious fact. The hon. Gentleman, when he began his speech, told my hon. Friend (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson), who has just made a most excellent speech, that he had spoken as if he knew everything, and he rather cast cold water upon him for what he had claimed to know. But he himself told us that the House of Lords would reject the Home Rule Bill on the Second Reading. How on earth does he know that?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Never, on any occasion whatever, has any such statement been made. Hon. Members opposite, being put to very great straits for argu- 1049 ment, have suddenly developed the fact that in their opinion the House of Lords is going to do certain things. But we do not know what the House of Lords is going to do. The hon. Member asks what is the use of making Suggestions, seeing that the House is going to reject the Bill on the Second Reading. How does the hon. Member know, if Suggestions are made and carried in this House, that that will not alter the opinion of the House of Lords. Until the House of Lords knows what Suggestions are made here, how can the hon. Member say what is going to happen in the other place? Does the hon. Member think that the House of Lords is composed of men like himself, prepared to support the Government under any circumstances, whether right or not? The House of Lords is composed of reasonable men who are prepared to listen to argument. An hon. Member who spoke previously, and who in accordance with the usual practice of hon. Members opposite has left the House, made three assertions. He said, in the first place, that the Suggestion stage was only meant to be used if the Opposition saw eye to eye with those who sit behind the Treasury Bench. Now, I have got the Parliament Act here and I see nothing of that sort in it. The hon. Gentleman has given us his interpretation of the Act, but we have to consider, not what hon. Members opposite think is the meaning, but what the Act itself says. The words are quite clear. They are:—
"Provided that the House of Commons may, if they think fit on the passage of such a Bill through the House, in the second or third Session, suggest any further Amendment without inserting the Amendment in the Bill."
An hon. Gentleman interrupted me by repeating the word "may" with emphasis. What did he mean by that?
§ Mr. KING
I will tell the hon. Baronet. If he had listened to the speeches on his side—speeches made during his absence—he would know that one and all had united in urging that "may" means "shall," and that unless the Suggestions are made and go with the Bill to the Upper House, the provisions of the Parliament Act will not apply. Our contention is that "may" means "may" and not "shall."
§ Sir F. BANBURY
And that also is my contention. I say that "may" means "may," and it does not mean that a thing 1050 may only be done if the Government are willing. It does not mean that the House of Commons, before it may do something, must get the permission of the Treasury Bench; yet that is the new doctrine which is being put forward by hon. Members opposite. The real fact of the matter is this: Hon. Members opposite are afraid of the Suggestion stage, because they do not want the country to know that certain reasonable suggestions are put forward, and that they have voted against them. They therefore come down and say, "We will not have any Suggestion stage at all." Anyone who listened to the Debates which took place in 1911, when the Parliament Act was under discussion, knows perfectly well that very great emphasis was put, both by the Prime Minister and by other Members of the Government who spoke, upon the fact that we were to have two years and three Sessions before any Bill became law under the Parliament Act. We were told that over and over again, and I remember that I used to say to my hon. Friends around me, "Do not pay any attention to that; there is nothing in it." But at that time they would not believe it. They said, "If there are two years and three Sessions, the country will be able to see what is going on, and will express its opinion." I said—and it has since turned out to be true—"It does not matter what the country says outside; as long as a mechanical majority can be commanded by right hon. Gentlemen on that Bench, the country may go hang. All that will happen will be that some Gentlemen who have got a little bit of courage will say," like the hon. Member for Kilmarnock has just said, "that they do not agree with the proposals put forward, but they will be in the Lobby all right when the time comes."
I do not believe the Prime Minister will deny that he was one of those who said that the two years and three Sessions was a very valuable concession to the Opposition, as it did away, to a great extent, with the objection to the Parliament Bill on the ground that it meant single-Chamber government. I can remember over and over again that that statement was made, yet we have never been allowed to discuss—[An HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"]. It is easy to say "Oh," but it is quite as easy to prove my assertion. I say we have never been allowed to discuss anything since the first Session, and even in that first Session the greater part of the measure was guillotined—quite half 1051 of it. An hon. Friend near me say's that 80 per cent. of it was guillotined, that shows that in putting it at 50 per cent. I allowed a great margin for safety. I repeat we have never had an opportunity since of making any suggestions, and what is the use of putting into the Parliament Act a provision that Suggestions may be made if the Government will give no opportunity of making them? We have been told there is to be an amending Bill, but how do we know it? The hon. Gentleman opposite upbraided my hon. Friend for thinking that he knew something, but my hon. Friend, with the modesty which distinguishes everybody on this side of the House, did not claim to have as much knowledge as the hon. Member opposite claimed to possess. That hon. Gentleman told us what not one single right hon. Gentleman has told us to-night, and that is what is going to be put into the amending Bill. We have asked for the information, but we have never got it until it was vouchsafed by the hon. Gentleman. And what has he told us? That what is to be put in the amending Bill is a proposal which has already been made, and which we have already rejected. What is the use of an amending Bill which only gives us something we have already rejected? Those of us who have been in the House for any length of time and who have watched the proceedings of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, know perfectly well that this is part of the old game. It is exactly what took place upon the Parliament Bill. There was to be "death and damnation" if there was Single-Chamber Government, and, in order to cajole hon. Members opposite who had some little idea that Single-Chamber Government was not altogether an ideal form of Government, the Preamble was put in. As soon as the Bill was on the Statute Book, we heard nothing more of the Preamble, and as soon as this Bill is on the Statute Book, we shall hear very little of an amending Bill. What did the Prime Minister say? He will corect me if I am wrong, and he may not have meant it, but what he said was that he would introduce an amending Bill. He did not say he would pass it into law. When he was asked whether it was to be introduced in this House or in the other House, he declined to answer.
How often have we heard right hon. Gentlemen say that they will introduce a Bill, or an Amendment to do something 1052 of a particular kind, and when the time comes for the Bill to be introduced, they get up and say, "Oh, well, of course, that was so, and when we said it we meant it, but since then certain events have occurred, and although we are still willing and would be anxious to introduce this Bill if we could, something has occurred that we did not foresee, and the result is we cannot introduce the amending Bill." In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird who has been more than four years in the House of Commons. We have had too much of this sort of thing. Though I should be the last man to desire civil war or to do anything, if I could avoid it, to precipitate it, yet there comes a time when you have to make up your minds as to what you are going to do. We have waited for three years. During the first year all our Amendments were rejected; during the next year there seemed to be some sort of idea that possibly our Amendments would be accepted; and, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, six months ago he had an interview with the right hon. Gentleman, who knew all the facts of the case, and the only result of that interview has been for him to say day after day, whenever the subject has come up, "I have not closed the door." When he says that, he takes no steps to open it.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I listened to the First Lord of the Admiralty a few days ago, when he asked why my right hon. Friend the Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson) did not come forward and say that he was prepared to accept certain things. The Prime Minister then said that it was not the time to settle these matters across the floor of the House. But the First Lord had not suggested that it should be settled across the floor of the House. What he suggested was that my right hon. Friend should come forward and make suggestions. No suggestion was made by the Prime Minister that they would be acceded to; he merely said that the time had passed when the matter could be settled across the floor of the House, and there he left it. It means that the right hon. Gentleman is only manœuvring for position, and, in my humble opinion, I believe he has manœuvred very badly. It is impossible to suppose that this Amendment will be carried. We know very well that right hon. Gentlemen and hon Gentlemen opposite do not want their proposals 1053 to be put forward, for the very good reason that they know that no proposals which they make will be accepted. There is not a man in the House who knows anything about the House or its rules or habits who will say that to pass a Bill when you are at the same time saying that an amending Bill should be introduced, without telling the House what is in that amending Bill, is not treating the House as if it were a debating assembly and foolish enough to be cajoled by anything that may be said. Then cames the Chancellor of the Exchequer who actually has the effrontery to get up in this House and, while saying that we are not to discuss this Bill in the Committee stage, says that the amending Bill will not be introduced if we have the temerity to say that the Home Rule Bill is not perfect. I can hardly believe that any right hon. Gentleman could get up and say such a thing. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did not say it."] Is it to be supposed that His Majesty's Opposition is not to be allowed to say that any Bill brought in by the Government is not perfect, and that if they do say it, the Government will not have, to use a vulgar expression, any "truck" with them, and no Amendment is to be introduced, and no further proceedings taken? If the positions were reversed, and we were sitting on that side of the House and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were sitting here, I do not think we should find he would be very choice in his language in describing the Bills which my right hon. Friends would introduce. The fact is that the whole thing is a farce. I am not at all sure that the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) was not arranged with the right hon. Gentleman before he made it—one gets very sceptical in these days. Consequently, I am willing to confess that I am rather glad that the farce is at an end and that we know where we are.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
Hon. Members opposite seem to have a very strange idea of the attitude of Members on this side towards the Bill and towards the Suggestion stage—an idea which is very-remote from the fact. They seem to think that hon. Members on this side are bursting with anxiety for an opportunity of amending the Bill, and that we are all scrambling over one another for some opportunity of introducing changes into the provisions of the Bill as it stands at present. Nothing could be more remote 1054 from the fact. We believe that the Bill as it stands is a good Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] I am referring to all the Bills, but especially to the Irish Bill, upon which most of the discussion has taken place. We not only believe it is a good Bill, but we believe it is the best Bill which, under the circumstances of the case, it is possible to produce for dealing with the difficulty which all acknowledged to exist in Ireland. Believing that to be the best Bill, why is it that we have given our approval and support to the suggested Amendments and concessions which have been made by the Prime Minister. Hon. Members opposite think it is because the Bill is improved by these Amendments. On the contrary, we think that the Bill is worsened. [Interruption caused by circulation of result of Grimsby election.] I am glad to see the comfort which hon. Members draw on the fact that the number of their supporters has been reduced, but has not been wiped out entirely.
Hon. Members have another theory with regard to our reason for supporting the proposed Amendment. They think we have been terrorised. They think we are afraid of the Ulster Volunteers. They think we are in terror of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson). They have hypnotised themselves into a belief that is very contrary to the fact. I do not think there is a single Member of this House who is animated by any spirit of fear with regard to any development in Ulster. We are not afraid of any contingency which may arise there, and we have never had, and hon. Members opposite have never had, as they would admit in their more candid moments, any doubt as to the ability of the British Empire to deal with any resistance which might be offered by the right hon. Gentleman. It is not either because we think these Amendments are improvements, or because we have been induced to support them by fear. What is the reason then that we have given our support to them. It is because we hope to get something in return from hon. Members opposite. We have offered them as part of a settlement. We have never been so vain as to hope that hon. Members opposite would give their approval to the principle of a Bill of which they disapproved, but we hoped it might be possible by concessions on our part to obtain from them, if not their approval, at least their recognition of the fact that the majority of the elected representatives of this country had deter- 1055 mined that this Bill in some form must become law, and a willingness on their part to recognise the fact, and to endeavour to co-operate, after it had been passed, in trying to make the best of what they regard as a bad job. Co-operation in trying to make the best of it is what we hoped to get by concessions which we regarded as a diminution in the merits of the Bill. We objected to the Bill in an amended form. We thought it a worse Bill, and by giving our support to what we disliked we hoped that hon. Members opposite would do something they disliked also, and endeavour to co-operate after the Bill had been passed in making the best of it.
Hon. Members opposite, as far as their party is concerned, have absolutely refused to meet us in that way. They make no concessions, and when that is their attitude we are justified in refusing to submit, and to go on with the proposed Amendments. Why should we go on with them if a concession which was asked for on the other side was refused. It is like going on with one side only of a bargain and accepting the disavowal of the bargain on the other side. That being the case, hon. Members on this side give their enthusiastic support to the Motion which is now before the House, and to the proposal of the Prime Minister, that at the present stage, while the Bill is in this House, there should be no further discussion of concessions where there is no attempt to meet us. But that does not do away with all opportunity of considering Suggestions. There will still be two opportunities for hon. Members opposite securing Amendments to this Bill. In the first place, there will be the most important opportunity in the House of Lords. If the House of Lords, recognising that the passing of the Bill into law is now inevitable, and that it will now come to pass within a few weeks, passes the Second Reading, and seeks to amend it in Committee as drastically as they desire, and return it to this House in an amended form, this House will be forced to consider those Amendments. We shall have no option. We shall consider them first of all on their merits as Amendments to the Bill. If we are unable to accept them as Amendments to the Bill in the form in which they leave the House of Lords, we shall have to proceed to a Suggestion stage, and shall have to return the Bill to the Lords with those suggested Amend- 1056 ments, which we should accept, in place of the Amendments sent down in the Bill from the Lords. There will be a full opportunity of discussing the Suggestions in the manner desired by hon. Members opposite. I do not see that they can fairly claim a fuller and better opportunity than that which they will there obtain if they so desire.
Then, even if that fails, there is another opportunity. There is a proposal, which has been made by the Prime Minister to-day, after this Bill has been passed into law, to introduce an amending Bill. That is not a proposal which I look upon with any enthusiasm. I think it is a risky proposal from the point of view of the Government, and I do not think it is a hopeful proposal from the point of view of the Opposition. Once the Home Rule Bill has become law, it will be very difficult to secure for the amending Bill the same combination of forces which can be secured for the passing of the present Bill into law. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Irish Members may vote against it!"] That is possible, and it is possible that many Members of the Liberal party will vote against it. It is a truism that once Home Rule has become an established fact, it will be difficult to secure the same combination of forces in support of an amending Bill, the terms of which we do not know at present. Therefore, I see very little that is hopeful in the suggestion of an amending Bill, which, mark you, is put forward not merely by the Prime Minister, but by the Press of the Opposition. I say that if Members opposite are desirous of securing an opportunity of considering suggested Amendments to this Bill, I would advise them not to put too much reliance upon an amending Bill. But I would advise them to take the opportunity which their party—I do not say Members of this House—can secure by giving the Bill a Second Reading in the House of Lords, by proceeding to amend it, and by sending it back to this House in an amended form.
There is only one last feature of the Debate to which I wish to allude, and that is, the references to the inroads which have been made on the liberties of private Members. There is no one who can disguise for himself the fact that the rights of private Members have been seriously circumscribed, and that the dignity of this House has also been limited by the manner in which our freedom is gradually being curtailed, but I think 1057 Members must recognise that we are not in this matter subject to iron dictation from the Prime Minister, or from the Government, or from the Members of the Nationalist party, no matter who the dictators are. Sometimes the Opposition persuade themselves that the dictators sit on the Front Bench on this side and sometimes that they sit on the Back Bench. In this matter of the deprivation of the rights of private Members we are willing conscripts. When a country is threatened with great danger, when it is threatened with an attack upon its liberties, there is only one course open to the people of that country, and that is to consent to rigid discipline, to consent to become conscripts, and to consent to give a free hand to their leaders, in order that their strength may be concentrated to the utmost. It is only by such action, it is only by such voluntary consent to a diminution—a temporary diminution—of private liberties that great victories can be won, and that the liberties which have been attacked can be ultimately maintained and defended. In the same way in this House of Commons we have been subject to great attacks upon the liberty not of private Members, but the liberty of the House, and upon the constitutional position of the House. We have been subject to attack by the arrogation of power by the other Chamber. We have been subject to the attempts of some hon. Members opposite to dictate to this House by means of the attitude of a section, or an alleged section, of the Army, and we have found by long experience that the only way in which we can make the will of this House prevail is by means of the procedure outlined in the Parliament Act, and in order to carry out that procedure thoroughly and effectively, by giving our support to the Government in the Resolution which it has submitted limiting the individual liberty of Members for the time being.
§ Mr. ARNOLD WARD
The hon. and gallant Member who spoke about half an hour ago on the Government side made what I believe is a mistake, as I shall endeavour to show, and a mistake which is also made in the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon, and which is due to a misreading of the text of the Parliament Act. Our case against this Motion is not, and cannot be, that in itself it jeopardises the hopes of a peaceful 1058 settlement of the Irish controversy. I do not believe that it does that, and I am sure that we have no cause for complaint in the announcement made this afternoon by the Prime Minister that he would proceed by way of amending Bill and not by way of Suggestions. Our grievance is on much more general grounds—that it is a bad precedent, that it makes the Parliament Act something much worse than we had ever thought it was going to turn out, and that it takes away from us something that we thought we had a statutory right to expect—rights and privileges, meagre though they be, which did seem to be secured to us by the text of that Statute. This is done by the Primo Minister for a reason which I shall try to show the House is unfounded, namely, a fear that a discussion of Suggestions on the floor of this House would be a waste of time, because all these Bills are sure to be thrown out when they get to the House of Lords; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer even went so far as to say that he did not think that any Suggestions would be considered in the House of Lords. I am sure that he has not studied the text of the Parliament Act, because that text makes it a statutory duty for the House of Lords to consider Suggestions. The words are:—
"Any such suggested Amendments shall be considered by the House of Lords." There is no question of may there. It is an imperative duty, and they may discharge that duty either before or after the Second Reading. But those Suggestions must be considered, and it is reasonable to think that they would be adopted, because Suggestions would not be in the nature of making one of these Bills more Liberal or more Radical, but in the nature of things would be likely to be concessions to the Opposition.
If those Suggestions were adopted by the House of Lords it would not make the slightest difference whether the Bill itself were rejected or not, because if the Suggestions had been accepted, even if the Bill were rejected, the Bill that would pass into law under the Parliament Act would be the Bill with the Suggestions in it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] This is a vitally important matter. If the Suggestion which I put forward is true it makes a very strong case for allowing us to discuss Suggestions on the floor of this House, and it makes nonsense of the argument about waste of time. And if 1059 we can convert the Prime Minister on that point, I believe that he will admit that the policy of his Motion to-night is a mistake. There is only one more point I want to mention, and it has reference to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Water-ford (Mr. J. Redmond), in which he seemed to me to make rather an unfair attack upon the Leader of the Opposition, charging him with having made no concessions at all in these last stages of the Home Rule controversy. It does not seem to me to be fair, because the Leader of the Opposition has made tremendous concessions, but they have been on lines alternative to those of the Government. What could have been a greater concession than a General Election, to be followed, if the result was in favour of the Government, by the withdrawal of opposition in the House of Lords? What greater offer could there be than that? It is quite true that the Leader of the Opposition has not actually made concessions so far upon the lines of the Government's offer itself; but would not a fair-minded opponent recognise that the Leader of the Opposition has not set his face against the possibility of making concessions? You cannot quote to me any passage from a speech of the Leader of the Opposition or from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University in which either of them sets his face against accepting the exclusion of something less than the whole of Ulster. That in itself would be an enormous concession—dismemberment, to however small a degree, of that historic province. Secondly, you cannot point, in any speeches of the Leader of the Opposition, to any pledge on behalf of his party to repeal the Home Rule Bill in the event of our being returned to power. I think you will see in that action of the Leader of the Opposition great proof of moderation and statesmanship.
He has given a pledge on our behalf to repeal the most objectionable provisions of the Welsh Bill, but he has not given a pledge, even if we were returned by a great majority, to repeal the Home Rule Bill. May it not be that we can discern in that the germ of a policy—if Amendments are made that will absolutely satisfy Ulster and the right hon. Gentleman—that then, though we cannot be responsible in any way for any sort of Home Rule, even if we were returned, the Irish Parliament for the South of Ireland will be given a fair trial to show whether or not 1060 they can govern Ireland well? I do ask the Irish Nationalist Leader to recognise in those omissions rather than definite statements the moderation and restraint which the Unionist Leader has shown, and, in his position, I do ask him to realise that he is tremendously strong among his own countrymen, among his own people, and I do not believe he need fear much from the opposition of malcontents or die-hards in his own part of the country. We have seen some of the opposition he has to face from Cork. I do not wish to speak disrespectfully of anyone, but it is negligible opposition. The hon. Member for Cork sent all of us copies of the concessions he was prepared to make to Ulster, at the beginning of this Session, and they were ludicrous. The right hon. Gentleman would not have looked at them for a moment. They were infinitely inferior to the offer made by the Opposition. To quote only one more case, when the Prime Minister made his offer on the 9th March, which the hon. Member for Water-ford concurred in. The day after, or two or three days after, there appeared in the Irish press, in the "Freeman's Journal," telegram after telegram from prominent figures in America, telegram after telegram, not from obscure Americans, but from great men in the United States, Governors of some of the biggest States, congratulating the hon. Member for Waterford—on what. Not on victory, not on placing the Home Rule Bill on the Statute Book, but congratulating him on the part that he had played in joining with that offer. I venture to say that that shows there is a great feeling of moderation behind the Nationalist leader and among his supporters, both in Ireland and in America, and surely the history of great parties in this country in the last ten or fifteen years shows that the extremists in a party may be to a large extent ignored by the leaders and by the masses of that party. Therefore while everything depends upon the forbearance and statesmanship of the leaders of all parties, I believe that most of all at this crisis it depends upon the magnanimity of the Irish Nationalist leader, and I ask him to remember that upon his action may depend, not merely the fate of Ireland, but the welfare and stability of this realm and the destiny of the British Empire itself.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I wish for a moment to revert to the other Bill which 1061 is comprised in this Resolution. Before doing so, I should like to ask the Prime Minister if he ever heard a story about a distinguished foreigner who once sat in the Gallery and watched our proceedings. He was accompanied by a polite gentleman from the Foreign Office, who pointed out that on one side of the House sat the Government and their supporters and on the other the Opposition and their supporters. That distinguished foreigner, who was more accustomed to arbitrary and autocratic rule than Parliamentary government, said, "Have the Government got a majority?" and the Foreign Office gentleman replied, "Yes, they have," and the visitor remarked, "Why do they talk?"
And that is the exact attitude of the Liberal party to-day. On any question which is inconvenient to them, they come down and say, "Why talk," and they attempt to force the matter through by successive Closure Motions in the teeth of popular opposition in the country, outside this House, and in flagrant violation of the elementary rights of the minority in this House. The Prime Minister's most customary role nowadays is to come down and propose Closure Resolutions, each a little bit more drastic than the last. The question is never argued out from the beginning, when these drastic proposals are put. The Prime Minister says, "This is very much on the same lines as one we had last year, with two trifling additions." He deals with those additions, but he does not deal with the continual and flagrant violation of the ancient customs of this House and the violation of free debate in this House. The particular point I wish to deal with is about the Welsh Church Bill. It is common knowledge that on both sides of the House there is a strong feeling that more generous treatment should be given to the Welsh Church Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"] I think we have only to go out into the Lobby to find out this feeling. I should be wanting in generosity if I did not at once pay a tribute of gratitude to the courage of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. W. G. C. Gladstone) for his speech this afternoon, and also to the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Keir Hardie), who has championed the cause of the Welsh curates so flagrantly passed aside by the Prime Minister, who has care for the bishops, but none for the poor curates. On this particular question the record of 1062 the Government in the matter of Closure Resolutions is exceptionally bad. They have endeavoured on all possible occasions to avoid the consideration of what is just and generous to the Church. I use the epithet originally used by the Prime Minister. The question of the churchyards was guillotined out; it was never discussed. The only way in which a discussion was raised was on a consequential Clause when the whole thing was already decided. The Prime Minister this afternoon pooh-poohed our desire to insert a safeguard to prevent the incursion of Nonconformists in the future government of the Disestablished Church in Wales. We have been publicly threatened with it in Wales and elsewhere, and we wish to have only genuine Churchmen included in the laity of the Church. The Home Secretary definitely promised to accept a definition of "laymen" to be inserted in the Bill.
Only the other day I had a consultation with the four Welsh bishops; we drafted an Amendment, which was submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and put on the Paper of this House in my name. All the Prime Minister says is de minimis. That is all he cares about it. It is a small point, because Church people ask for it. If a Nonconformist body asked for an elementary right of that kind, to safeguard their future spiritual life and the future constitution of their Church, the Prime Minister would be on his knees to them. To the meanest Bill ever introduced by the Government there are added these small questions of persecution, and then you say Amendments must go by the board because they are de minimis. The speech of the Prime Minister this afternoon demonstrates the emptiness of his pompous claim that he is the friend of the Church of England, and shows that he is the enemy of the Church in Wales. That is perfectly clear. He knows that Nonconformists in Wales have protested against the Disendowment Clauses of the Bill. What answer are they going to get? There is profound dissatisfaction in some quarters.
The Closure Resolution is far worse with regard to the Welsh Bill than with regard to the Irish Bill, because in the latter case there is to be an amending Bill. You are going to consider proposals for Ireland, but none for the poor Welsh Church. Why? Because the only thing a Liberal Government fears is force. If it is only a Christian Church, it is not 1063 allowed even to put forward Suggestions. The Prime Minister says that there is a material difference between the position of the Irish Bill and that of the Welsh Bill. But the opposition to the Welsh Bill is none the less keen because it has not rifles to support it. But the Prime Minister thrusts it aside. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why have they not rifles?"] I, personally, would regret to see a Christian Church even when persecuted adopt that line. It is, however, flagrant persecution, and Liberalism stinks in our nostrils on account of it, just as much as if we were armed with rifles. Surely it is an extraordinarily mean thing, not only to have a Closure Resolution, cutting out the Committee and Report stages of the Bill, when it is well known that there is a considerable change of opinion on the details of the Bill, but also to say that you shall not have a Suggestion stage or an amending Bill. There is, apparently, to be no consideration of any sort or kind on the Welsh Church Bill, but there is to be on the question of Ireland. I hope Churchmen throughout the country will note and remember that—that the Government were prepared to be generous to Ulster, and to consider the feeling of Ulstermen, but that Welsh Churchmen were to receive no consideration at all at the hands of this Government. A point I wish to bring before the House in this matter is the Suggestion stage in relation to the Welsh Church Bill. It is perfectly clear from the Prime Minister's own speech on 1st May, 1911, that he contemplated the use of a Suggestion stage for the very purposes that I have indicated. He was perfectly open on that occasion. For the House of Lords, as he said, to act in a reasonable manner, as any Second Chamber would, would be to say, "This is a bad Bill; we would prefer a less bad Bill; we would give the Bill a Second Reading and vote against it on the Third Reading." The right hon. Gentleman definitely said that that would safeguard them voting against the principle of the Bill.
I venture to say that that is the attitude that ought to be adopted now—that the Government should give time for the discussion of the Suggestion stage of the Welsh Bill in this House. The House of Lords would, I am sure, certainly insert Suggestions that have received the assent of a majority of this House. More generous terms to the Welsh Church would 1064 be incorporated in the Bill, which would then go forward and receive the Royal Assent. That would be a fair and honest procedure for the Government to adopt. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil laughs at the idea. What is there unjust or unfair in that procedure? It is perfectly fair. Let us reconsider the Disendowment proposals in the Welsh Church Bill. Let there be a reconsideration of the question of convocation. Let the main points that divide us be reconsidered in this House, and then send them up to the House of Lords so that they may be incorporated, and make the Bill a less harsh Bill, and so mitigate to some extent the bitterness that is being aroused in Wales as a, result of this Bill. This bitterness will divide the whole of Wales into two camps, which will have nothing to do with each other, and so make the thing a running sore in the national life of Wales. There are terms in it which have never been proposed to be in any Disestablishment or Disendowment Bill. I believe that the result of this Bill can in the long run only be to perpetuate the evil of Church versus Chapel feeling that exists throughout Wales. It will serve to make that matter worse than it has been in the past. The Government are losing an opportunity by their ungenerous action this afternoon. By shutting the door against any further suggestions, any further fairness, any further consideration of what is fair and generous to the Church in Wales, they are shutting a door which would gladly be kept open by members of all religious denominations in the country, and who are acting more with a desire to create a Christian fellowship than to make a party score.
§ Mr. HEWINS
I shall not detain the House from the Division for more than a few moments, but I wish to take advantage of the presence of the Prime Minister to get a little nearer to his mind, if I can, by one or two questions which I propose to address to him on the subject of the Motion. I think it is very important that we should understand where we are. I do not see why England should be made the consenting party which this Motion implies. After all, England is against the Prime Minister. There is the further consideration that I am very loathe to believe that the Prime Minister of England would so trample upon the traditions of the British House of Commons unless he had a very much better reason than he has so far vouchsafed to us. What I really want to 1065 know is, in continuation of the question I addressed to the Prime Minister a short time ago, and which he promised to consider, is what we are to expect in this amending Bill which he now suggests. I should like to remark, first of all, that the Prime Minister appears to me upon his own authority and initiative to be amending the Parliament Act. There is no provision in the Parliament Act for amending Bills. It is certainly a new feature in the procedure of this House to pass a great Bill, and along with it to pass another Bill which may alter it in fundamental particulars. Where has the Prime Minister got his authority for it? Is it on his own initiative he proposes in this way to modify an Act of Parliament? I cannot help thinking that when the country realises the course of action on which he has embarked they will feel with stronger impression and emphasis than ever that there is some design on the part of the Government and the Prime Minister to subvert the institutions of the country.
On the 9th March the Prime Minister made these suggestions for peace. I understood him to say on that occasion that on behalf of the Government he undertook the responsibility of initiating and putting down proposals for securing peace in regard to the settlement of the Irish question. When he undertook that obligation I understood it was an obligation in the Parliamentary sense, and did not depend merely upon the speech he made on that occasion, but that he really undertook to put down those proposals in black and white on the Paper. When he was pressed upon that point by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, he took a course which seemed to imply that he was very much further off from us than we supposed. He said we had first to decide whether we accepted the principle and the proposals before he would set forth the details. It is surely a new departure that the Prime Minister regards such questions as the fiscal unity of the United Kingdom as a detail, not to speak with with other questions. We do not now even know what the Prime Minister meant by his proposals. He was asked numerous questions, but I think he never gave a satisfactory answer. A short time ago I put a supplementary question to him upon this point, and he was kind enough to say he would consider whether he would not issue a statement showing the detailed manner in which his own suggestions would require cones- 1066 quential Amendments in the Home Rule Bill. I want to know whether, in view of what he has now put before the House, he is prepared to take that course. Is he prepared to tell us before we come to a final decision upon the Home Rule Bill in this House—I am quite sure it is his duty to tell us—what is the precise proposal that he is going to make to settle the Irish question? It it optional exclusion of Ulster? Is it total exclusion of Ulster? Or is it some other arrangement? If it is any one of those solutions, what changes is he going to make in the several Clauses of the Home Rule Bill? The necessity of making these changes begins even with the title of the Bill, for I certainly do not know what you are going to call the new country across St. George's Channel, with part of it taken out. I do not know what name hon. Members from Ireland below the Gangway suggest for this new Parliament. What is it to be called? It cannot be called Ireland, at any rate. So the necessity for changes begins quite early. I do not want to run through all the Clauses of the Bill, but I will put one or two specific points to the Prime Minister, and I will ask him to instruct one of his lieutenants in the course of the Debate to give us perfectly definite replies. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking this afternoon all he could tell us about the contents of the amending Bill was that it was something about Ulster. The Prime Minister has no doubt worked it out, and he can tell us if he likes. What about the powers which are to be exercised by the Irish Parliament? I will take one subject. What is to be the effect of the proposal of the Prime Minister upon the powers over education exercised by the Irish governing authorities?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is going rather far in asking for the contents of a Bill which has not been introduced. He must remember that we are discussing a definite Motion and a definite Amendment to that Motion.
§ Mr. HEWINS
I only wish to adumbrate in the briefest manner these points in order to get information, not of the details of the Clauses, but of the general principles. First of all, will there be any changes with regard to the specific powers exercised by the Irish Parliament? With regard to the financial or the fiscal Clauses, will there be any changes in regard to the manner in which this new amending Bill affects the Constitution of 1067 the United Kingdom. I do not wish to go into any further details. I humbly suggest that it is quite impossible for us even to entertain the possibility of considerng the Prime Minister's Suggestions until we know a little more than we do now as to where we are. As far as I can see, what will happen is this: We pass the Home Rule Bill. Then the Prime Minister, in virtue of his pledge, brings in his amending Bill. As far as I can see it would be extremely difficult for the Prime Minister to come to an agreement with the Irish party about the contents of the Bill, and still more difficult to carry it through the House of Commons. In that case all that his suggestion comes to is that we should pass the Home Rule Bill as it stands, and take a very bad risk of an amending Bill which probably would please no party in this House. I do not think that is a proposition which I, for my part, am even willing to consider.
Mr. J. W. WILSON
In reply to what has been said by hon. Gentlemen opposite, may I point out that there is a great
§ deal of difference between the first, second, and third stages under the Parliament Act with regard to the Welsh Church Bill. We now look upon the question of Suggestions from the House of Commons differently to what we did at the earlier stages. Hon. Members on this side who did what they could to amend the Bill at its earlier stages have now closed their ranks, as hon. Members opposite have remarked, and no wonder we have, because we have received no encouragement from hon. Gentlemen opposite, and certainly none from Members of the other House, who are now quite capable of making Suggestions as to how the Bill might be amended. They had not even deigned to consider the Bill. It was, therefore, unreasonable to expect the Government to go out of their way now to do what would have been possible on the first or second stages of the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words of the Question to the end of line 8 [the end of the first paragraph] stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 293: Noes, 217.1071
|Division No. 98.]||AYES.||[10.56 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Clancy, John Joseph||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Clough, William||Gelder, Sir William Alfred|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Gill, A. H.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Ginnell, L.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Glanville, H. J.|
|Alden, Percy||Cotton, William Francis||Goldstone, Frank|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Cowan, W. H.||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Armitage, R.||Crooks, William||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Arnold, Sydney||Crumley, Patrick||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Cullinan, J.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hackett, J.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hancock, J. G.|
|Barnes, George N.||Dawes, James Arthur||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||De Forest, Baron||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Delany, William||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Barton, William||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Devlin, Joseph||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Dillon, John||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Donelan, Captain A.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Black, Arthur W.||Doris, W.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Boland, John Pius||Duffy, William J.||Hayward, Evan|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Hazleton, Richard|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, North)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Brady, P. J.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Eiverston, Sir Harold||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hinds, John|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Esmonde Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Hodge, John|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Falconer, James||Hogge, James Myles|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Farrell, James Patrick||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Ffrench, Peter||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Field, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||John, Edward Thomas|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Fitzgibbon, John||Johnson, W.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Murphy, Martin J.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Neilson, Francis||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Scott, A. MacCailum (Bridgeton)|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Nolan, Joseph||Seely, Colonel. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Sheehy, David|
|Joyce, Michael||Nuttail, Harry||Shortt, Edward|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Alisebrook|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||O'Doherty, Philip||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Kilbride, Denis.||O'Donnell, Thomas||Snowden, Philip|
|King, J.||O'Dowd, John||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Lardner, James C. R.||O'Malley, William||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Thomas, J. H.|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||O'Shee, James John||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Outhwaite, R. L.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Lundon, T.||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Parker, James (Halifax)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Lynch, A. A.||Parry, Thomas H.||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay. (Leicester)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|McGhee, Richard||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Wardle, George J.|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Phillips, John (Longford S.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Pratt, J. W.||Webb, H.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Radford, George Heynes||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wiles, Thomas|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Reddy, Michael||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Redmond, John (Waterford)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|Martin, J.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Meagher, Michael||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Rendail, Athelstan||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Middlebrook, William||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Millar, James Duncan||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Molloy, M.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Money, L. G. Chiczza||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. KcKinnon (Glas.)|
|Mooney, John J.||Robinson, Sidney||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Morgan, George Hay||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Young, William (Perthshire) East)|
|Morison, Hector||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Morrell, Philip||Roe, Sir Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rowlands, James||Illingworth and Mr. Guiland.|
|Muldoon, John||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Blair, Reginald||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Boyton, James||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Ashley, W. W.||Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian|
|Aster, Waldorf||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Croft, Henry Page|
|Baird, J. L.||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Currie, George W.|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Butcher, John George||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City. London)||Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Denison-Pender, J. C.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Denniss, E. R. B.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Campion, W. R.||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Dixon, C. H.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Du Cros, Arthur Philip|
|Barnston, Harry||Cassel, Felix||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Barrie, H. T.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Duncannon, Viscount|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Cator, John||Du Pre, W. Baring|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Cautley, H. S.||Eyres-Monseil, Bolton M.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cave, George||Faile, B. G.|
|Bend, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fell, Arthur|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Bird, A.||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Gardenr, Ernest||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Salter, Arthur Claveil|
|Gastreil, Major W. Houghton||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Lewisham, Viscount||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Goldman, Charles Sydney||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Greene, W. R.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Gretton, John||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C.||Stanier, Beville|
|Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Mackinder, H. J.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Starkey, John R.|
|Haddock, George Bahr||M'Neill. Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Malcolm, Ian||Swift, Rigby|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, N.)|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Touche, George Alexander|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Heimsley, Viscount||Mount, William Arthur||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Newdegate, F. A.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Newman, John R. P.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Hills, John Waller||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Weigail, Captain A. G.|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hohler, G. F.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Horner, Andrew Long||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Wilson, Maj. Sir M. (Bethnal Green. S. W.)|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Winterton, Earl|
|Hunt, Rowland||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hunter, Sir C. R.||Randles, Sir John S.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Ratcliff, R. F.||Worthington Evans, L.|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Remnant, James F.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesail)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Younger, Sir George|
|Knight, Capt. E. A.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Royds, Edmund||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Edmund Talbot and Mr. Pike Pease.|
|Larmor, Sir J.|
§ Mr. CASSEL
I beg to move to leave out—
"2. On the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Government of Ireland Bill or to the Established Church (Wales) Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question upon the Resolution without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate; and on the Report stage of any-such Financial Resolution the Speaker shall forthwith put the Question that the House doth agree with the Committee in the Resolution without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate."
This paragraph proposes to deprive the House of Commons of any opportunity of discussing the Financial Resolutions. Last Session we had the opportunity of discussing those Resolutions. When the Prime Minister moved this Motion he said there was only a slight difference 1072 between the Resolution of last Session and that of this Session. The fact that the deprivation of any opportunity to discuss a Financial Resolution is treated as a slight difference shows to what the liberties of the House of Commons have been reduced. The Financial Resolution stands in an entirely different position from the Committee stage. It is really part of the Second Reading. The Second Reading is really only passed subject to the condition that the Financial Resolution is also passed, and that before any Clause dealing with finance is proceeded with the necessary Resolution shall be passed. On that point I am going to quote the Prime Minister himself, and I hope he will give due weight to the plea that we should have an opportunity of discussing the-Financial Resolution after I quote to him what he himself said on this subject last Session. He first gave reasons why there should be no Committee stage on a Bill proceeded with under the Parliament Act, 1073 and then differentiated the case of a Financial Resolution, and said:—It may be said, why, after what you have said about the Committee, should it be proposed to give that.That is, an opportunity of discussing the Financial Resolution:—Is it not unnecessary? I think not When a Bill is read a second time in this House, the Clause cannot, according to our procedure, be embodied in an Act of Parliament unless they are founded at some stage or oilier on a Financial Resolution in Committee. The assent of the House to the Second Reading must always be taken subject to that qualification. In old days, I am not quite sure it is not so now, these Clauses would appear in italics, and it has always been the rule of the House, and is still part of the recognised and normal procedure of the House, that Clauses which depend upon a financial Resolution should not be considered until that Resolution has been passed. We, therefore, think it right in the Welsh Bill, where these financial Clauses are very few, and in the Irish Bill, where they are considerable and substantial, to give to the House on the financial Resolution in Committee an opportunity of what I may call a Second Reading Debate in reference to these financial Resolutions.If this be part of the Second Reading, and we were entitled to a Second Reading Debate last Session, why are we not entitled to a Second Reading Debate this Session? I give the right hon. Gentleman this further reason, that circumstances have changed in this way. Under the Budget the deficit has been largely increased. The Chancellor of the Exchequer this year promises a Grant to Ireland of £613,000, over which the Imperial Parliament is to have no control whatever. When we asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how that £613,000 was to be allocated, he said that would be left to the Irish Parliament. So we have an entirely new situation in finance to deal with. How much the revenue under the new taxes is to produce in Ireland we do not know. I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he said he did not know. I asked him if he would postpone the consideration of the Financial Resolution until we did know. His answer to that was, "We will not discuss the Financial Resolutions." Then I asked him, "Will you at least postpone voting on it until we know what the Irish revenue from these new taxes will be?" The House of Commons is entitled to discuss that Financial Resolution in the light of these new facts. I should estimate that the new taxes in Ireland would certainly not produce more than £100,000, so the deficit is increased by £500,000, and the day when Ireland makes a contribution to the Navy and Army, if it ever does, is postponed by £500,000. In the light of these facts, we are in fairness entitled to a discussion. Of, course, right hon. Gentlemen tyrannise over us by their votes to any extent they 1074 like; but I make an appeal to the Prime Minister, as an old Chancellor of the Exchequer who, while he was at the Exchequer, took more care about the increase of expenditure than his successor does. I appeal to him, as having been lately a Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a very cautious one. On finance we have more stages than on any other matter. We have Resolutions and Reported Resolutions before we proceed with a Bill. I appeal to the Prime Minister that he should give some opportunity for the discussion of the Financial Resolution in the light of the new facts which have accrued since last Session, and which have done away with the argument that we are cutting our loss under the Home Rule Bill. Under the Budget our loss is going to be increased by £500,000. In the light of that fact we are entitled to discuss the financial situation. What guarantee have we got that the Financial Resolution is going to be in the same form as the Financial Resolution of last year? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the Financial Resolution this Session is going to be in the same form as that of last year? Last year there was a very narrow Financial Resolution, but in the Motion for the setting up of the Committee on the Financial Resolution I notice that very wide and general words are used, and it does not follow that, under this Resolution, we may not have an entirely new Financial Resolution which might form the basis not merely of this Bill, but of the amending Bill as well. I say we are entitled to know that, under any circumstances. I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that, in the light of his own previous statement, and of the new facts which have occurred since we last discussed the matter, the House of Commons should in fairness have an opportunity of expressing its opinion.
§ Mr. HOARE
I beg to second the Amendment. I should like to put to the Prime Minister the need of a Financial Resolution for the Welsh Church Bill as well. He gave us an opportunity for a discussion last year, and it was the only opportunity we had for discussing the commutation scheme. It is peculiarly necessary that we should have another opportunity of discussion this year for this reason: The commutation scheme was based on the state of the money market a year and a half ago. During the last eighteen months the money market has considerably changed, and it is therefore 1075 quite reasonable to urge that what may have been a fair arrangement under the conditions which existed then are no longer a fair arrangement now. It is a very serious matter for the Welsh Church in view of that fact, and I do urge that we should have another opportunity of discussing the question, and that we should have a Financial Resolution, in order that we may have that opportunity. I hope, therefore, that the Prime Minister will see his way to withdraw from the position he has taken up in view of what my hon. Friend has said, and what I have ventured to urge.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I confess I am fully impressed by what fell from the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment. If things had remained exactly as they were, I should have said there was no necessity for further discussion of the Financial Resolution. It was discussed very amply and fully in the first year, and there was a discussion on the Financial Resolution last year. But the argument that weighs rather in my mind is that since the Bill was reintroduced—indeed, I think since the Second Reading—proposals have been made in the Budget which might be regarded as affecting the finance of Home Rule. I should have thought that the proper occasion for discussion was rather upon the Finance Bill than upon the Financial Resolution with reference to the Government of Ireland Bill, but I am not disposed to press that point. Whether I am, as has been stated, a cautious old Chancellor of the Exchequer or not, I have a great regard for the financial traditions of this House, and I have always taken, I think, very strict views, and am, therefore, rather disposed to accept the hon. Gentleman's suggestion in principle that there should be an opportunity of discussing this Financial Resolution on Report. Last year we had no Report stage. I do not think that the same arguments apply with anything like the same force in the case of the Welsh Bill. There there has been no change whatever.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The first part of the Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea deals with the Government of Ireland Bill, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would accept that. That provides for the case of an ordinary day and also for Friday.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I should like to provide also for the case of the day being Wednesday, and if the hon. Member will amend his Amendment by inserting the words, "or if the day is Wednesday at 8.15," I should be disposed to accept it.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I thank the right hon. Gentleman most gratefully, and accept his suggestion. I withdraw my Amendment in order to allow the hon. Member for Chelsea to move his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. HOARE
I beg to move, in paragraph 2, to omit the words after the word "On," and to insert thereafter the words,
"any day on which the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Government of Ireland Bill is put down as the first order of the day, the Chairman shall at 10.30 p.m. on that day, or if that day is a Wednesday, at 8.15, or a Friday, at 4.30, bring the proceedings on that stage (if not previously concluded) to a conclusion."
§ The PRIME MINISTER
On a point of Order. Paragraph 2 will remain on the Report stage. The last four lines will remain in any case to deal with the Report stage. I think the proper form, if I may respectfully say so, is after the word "on," to leave out the words down to and including the word "debate" ["without amendment or debate"], and then to insert these two paragraphs.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I do not think there is any real reason for it but as it is only a matter of three hours, I accept it.
§ Amendment made: After the word "On," leave out the words—
§ "the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Government of Ireland Bill or to the Established Church (Wales) Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question upon the Resolution without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate"
§ and insert instead thereof the words
§ "any day on which the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Government of Ireland Bill is 1077 put down as the first order of the day, the Chairman shall at 10.30 p.m. on that day, or if that day is a Wednesday, at 8.15, or a Friday, at 4.30, bring the proceedings on that stage (if not previously concluded) to a conclusion.
§ (3) If the proceedings on the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Established Church (Wales) Bill are not brought to a conclusion before the expiration of three hours after their being commenced the Chairman shall at the expiration of that time, bring those proceedings to a conclusion."—[Mr. Hoare.]
§ The PRIME MINISTER
There is one other point, and that is that the word "Resolution" ["Report stage of such Financial Resolution"] should be "Resolutions."
Further Amendment made: Leave out the word "Resolution" and insert instead thereof the word "Resolutions."
Mr. J. HOPE
Will the Amendments make any difference in the order of business for the next two days of this week?
§ Mr. CASSEL
The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us he could not immediately give us information of the amount of revenue which the new taxes would bring in in Ireland, that is the Death Duties, Super-tax and Income Tax. These produce very little indeed in Ireland, and it would only take him a day or two to find out the amount, and then we should be in a position to know what the increased deficit is. The point we really want is to estimate the increased deficit. I do think the House before the discussion ought to have that data before it.
§ Question put, "That this Resolution, as amended, be the Resolution of the House."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 276; Noes, 194.1081
|Division No. 99.]||AYES.||[11.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Field, William|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Clancy, John Joseph||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Clough, William||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Gelder, Sir William Alfred|
|Alden, Percy||Condon, Thomas Joseph||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gill, A. H.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Cotton, William Francis||Ginneil, L.|
|Armitage, R.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Glanville, H. J.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Crooks, William||Goldstone, Frank|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Crumley, Patrick||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Cullinan, John||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Barnes, George N.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Guest, Hon. Frederick (Dorset, E.)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Dawes, J. A||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||De Forest, Baron||Hackett, J.|
|Barton, William||Delany, William||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hancock, John George|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Devlin, Joseph||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Dillon, John||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Donelan, Captain A.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Doris, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Boland, John Plus||Duffy, William J.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Havelock-Allan. Sir Henry|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Brady, P. J.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Hayward, Evan|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Elverston, Sir Harold||Hazleton, Richard|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Higham, John Sharp|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Falconer, James||Hinds, John|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Farrell, James Patrick||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Hodge, John|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Ffrench, Peter||Hogge, James Myles|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Mooney, John J.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Morgan, George Hay||Rowlands, James|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Morison, Hector||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|John, Edward Thomas||Morrell, Philip||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Johnson, W.||Muldoon, John||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Murphy, Martin J.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Seely, Colonel Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Neilson, Francis||Sheehy, David|
|Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Nolan, Joseph||Shortt, Edward|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Ailsebrook|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||Nuttail, Harry||Smith, Albert (Lancs, Clitheroe)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Snowden, Philip|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Doherty, Philip||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Donnell, Thomas||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||O'Dowd, John||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|King, J.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Malley, William||Thomas, J. H.|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lardner, James C. R.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||O'Shee, James John||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Parry, Thomas H.||Ward, John (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Lundon, T.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Webb, H.|
|Lynch, A. A.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Pratt, J. W.||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|McGhee, Richard||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Wiles, Thomas|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Radford, G. H.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Reddy, M.||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Radmond, John E. (Waterford)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Rendail, Athelstan||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Martin, J.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Meagher, Michael||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Millar, James Duncan||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Molloy, Michael||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Robinson, Sidney||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Illingworth and Mr. Guiland.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Boyton, James||Denison-Pender, J. C.|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Denniss, E. R. B.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Bridegman, W. Clive||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Dixon, C. H.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Butcher, John George||Du Cros, Arthur Philip|
|Astor, Waldorf||Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Baird, J. L.||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Duncannon, Viscount|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Campion, W. R.||Eyres-Monseil, Bolton M.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Faite, B. G.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cassel, Felix||Fell, Arthur|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Castlereagh, Viscount||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Cator, John||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Cautley, H. S.||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Barnston, H.||Cave, George||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Barrie, H. T.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gibbs, G. A.|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Bathurst, C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Goldman, C. S.|
|Bonn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)|
|Bend, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Courthope, George Loyd||Gretton, John|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.)|
|Bird, A.||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)|
|Blair, Reginald||Craik, Sir Henry||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col Dennis Fortescue||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Currie, George W.||Halt, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Mackinder, Halford J.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Helmsley, Viscount||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Malcolm, Ian||Stanier, Beville|
|Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Starkey, John R.|
|Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Swift, Rigby|
|Hills, John Waller||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, N.)|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Hohler, G. F.||Mount, William Arthur||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Newdegate, F. A.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Hope, Major J. A.||Newman, John R. P.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Walker, Colonel William Hail|
|Horner, Andrew Long||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Hunter, Sir C. R.||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Parkes, Ebenezer||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Pirie, Duncan Vernon||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Pryce-Jones, Col. E. (M'tgom'y B'ghs)||Wilson, Maj. Sir M. (Bethnal Green. S. W.)|
|Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Randles, Sir John S.||Winterton, Earl|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Ratcliff, R. F.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Worthington Evans, L.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesail)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Royds, Edmund||Younger, Sir George|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworh)||Edmund Talbot and Mr. Pike Pease.|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Sanders, Robert A.|
§ Ordered, That on the Committee stage of the Government of Ireland Bill and the Established Church (Wales) Bill and the Plural Voting Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question that he do report the Bill, without Amendment, to the House without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate, and when an Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into Committee on any of those Bills, Mr. Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any Question, notwithstanding that Notice of an Instruction has been given.
§ On any day on which the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Government of Ireland Bill is put down as the first order of the day, the Chairman shall at 10.30 p.m. on that day, or if that day is a Wednesday at 8.15, or if a Friday at 4.30, bring the proceedings on that stage (if not previously concluded) to a conclusion.
§ If the proceedings on the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Established Church (Wales) Bill are not brought to a conclusion before the expiration of three hours after their being commenced the Chairman shall, at the ex- 1082 piration of that time, bring those proceedings to a conclusion.
§ On the Committee stage of any Financial Resolution relating to the Government of Ireland Bill or to the Established Church (Wales) Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question upon the Resolution without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate; and on the Report stage of any such Financial Resolutions the Speaker shall forthwith put the Question that the House doth agree with the Committee in the Resolution without-putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided without Amendment or Debate.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ It being after half-past Eleven o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Thirteen minutes before Twelve o'clock.