HC Deb 12 March 1917 vol 91 cc813-65

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

We have had a Debate extending over three hours on the Clause which has been disposed of by the Vote just taken, and during that time we have listened to a great number of grievances, and a good many expressions of desire that the House of Commons should have a controlling voice over the Director-General of National Service. Most of the Members who have addressed the House have referred to the effect which this Bill would have on the industries of the country. I wish to deal with its effect on the industries of Ireland, and especially on the small industries. No doubt the larger industries will be affected, but then we in Ireland stand in a position altogether apart on this question. There we have no large industries unfortunately, except one, and that is the industry of the land. It will be conceded by every fair-minded Member of this House that, particularly at this time, when a claim is being made for more tillage and more food production, it would be an extremely dangerous thing to entrust the fate of agricultural Ireland to a gentleman who practically knows nothing whatever about it. I do not wish to reflect in any sense on the gentleman who has been appointed Director of National Service, but I do not think that he himself would claim that he knows anything of the special conditions which govern either our principal industry in Ireland or the minor industries, and for that reason, if for no other, we should claim exemption from the operation of this Act.

But there are special reasons this year why this Act should not apply to Ireland. Before I state some of those reasons, however, I would venture to offer a few observations on the general methods of the present Government in Ireland in relation to the War and in relation to the production of articles of food, and of other articles required in connection with the War. Here in England you have consented to a system which places every article practically in the hands of some Controller. You regulate the food supply, the coal supply, the beer supply, and the labour supply, and now I believe you are going to tackle cotton. You have inter fered domestically with every industry in the country, and, while the people may be very willing to assist you in every possible way in the prosecution of this unfortunate War, all these interferences are creating a very bitter feeling in the country. Do not let there be any mistake on that point. I spent the last week-end in the county of Norfolk. I met a number of people who have been hard hit by their sacrifices directly for the War, and they have been even harder hit in their businesses by the Regulations drawn up by your several Controllers. I do not think you have any special claim, therefore, at this time to impose what I would describe really as another form of coercion to Ireland. You have certainly bungled affairs as regards Great Britain. That cannot be denied. The overlapping of Departments and the complete want of sympathetic administration as between those Departments have produced chaos and confusion of the most extraordinary kind in England.

I am glad to see the Chief Secretary in his place. What I wish to point out is that if what I have stated is the case as regards England, it is much worse as regards Ireland, where nobody knows who is responsible, where one order given by one Department is upset by another order emanating from another Department. Let me take one little instance which alone will show how things are being bungled in Ireland. A few days ago a potato Order was issued by the Department of Agriculture, and enforced under the Defence of the Realm Act. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and his advisers the British Government, directed that potatoes were to be sold at £8 a ton in February, £9 per ton in March, and £10 per ton in April. You could not have had a better incentive for anyone who had potatoes to hold them up and not to sell them, for the longer they held them the more certain they were to get, by law, a better price. This was quite right from their point of view. What, however, was the result? The result was very much the same as we find to-night in the House of Commons, where there are no potatoes for the dinners of Members. The result was that there were no potatoes in the markets of Ireland, so that the remedy for the failure of the potato crop was infinitely worse than the disease. So far, then, from this action, which was no doubt well-intentioned, having any real effect in the direction desired, it had the very opposite effect. That is one little administrative bungle in Ireland. There are others, which no doubt show how utterly at sea is the right hon. Gentleman in his dealings with our country. I am one of those who do not wish in advance to dispraise the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. I believe he is well-intentioned. But he is surrounded by some of the old Castle gang, who have always in the past brought to naught the efforts of even the best-intentioned of Ministers who ever came to Ireland. So long as he leaves himself in their hands and does things according to their order he will not make the administration any better than did any of his predecessors.

We have a peculiarly strong case for asking the Government to assent to the elimination of Ireland from the operation of this Act. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman, in reply to questions today, pay a tribute to the manner in which the whole of Ireland had responded to the demand for increased food production. I myself come from the centre of the country, but I know that in every direction, and on the part of every class, from the humblest labourer to the richest landowner, everyone is doing all he possibly can, weather permitting, to put down a record crop in Ireland. The labourers in the towns have their little allotments, and in the country they are getting seeds from the district councils. The farmers, so far as it is humanly possible, are engaged in largely increasing their agricultural output. Under these circumstances how would it be possible to apply the operation of such an Act as this to Ireland? Suppose, for example, the Director-General of National Service sent over an order to Ireland to transfer to this country 5,000 or 10,000 agricultural labourers, which, I believe, under this Bill he would be empowered to do. Does anyone think that that could be accomplished, assuming that it was agreed to by the people—which it would not be—without dislocating the entire labour services of the country in all directions] The people have good reason to doubt the bona fides of the British Ministry. Labourers who have come over here in large numbers to enable you rear your harvest were seized by the military in defiance of Parliamentary promises, and were forced to join the Army. They were treated as though they were resident in this country. Three of them came from my own Constituency. On appeal, two were released. One is still serving. They were treated as though they were liable to be conscripted in this country. The feeling is strong in Ireland that if you impose this compulsory service on the country for labour that it means, in some way which at present is not defined, but which will be more clearly shown by and by, that you will impose other conditions than that of mere labour service for the production of food, or matters of that sort. That is the feeling of the country.

Apart, however, from that feeling there is another side to the question which I wish to bring to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. We have very few local industries in Ireland. Such as we have merely exist. They do not turn over enormous war profits for the Chancellor to take excess from. For years, perhaps, these industries have been struggling along under very great difficulties. If the Director of National Service comes along and interferes to the extent of two or three men, perhaps, in any of these industries, it strikes a blow at it which will undoubtedly cripple, if not destroy, that industry. If men who are trained to a particular industry are taken from it and put to something else, their capacity as labourers on the one side is lost, while if they commence training a new man is needed in their place, so that the injury will be in the smallest as well as the largest of our industries. It will, too, have no compensating effect on anything in this country, or on the progress of the War, or on other things in which you are interested. Therefore, I say that it is not alone the duty of us who represent Irish rural constituencies, such as I do—and who, in this matter, I can tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman, am speaking the direct sentiments and wishes of my Constituents—it is not alone a duty cast upon us to protest, as we do protest, against our country being placed under the operation of this National Service Act, but, if need be, by something beyond mere verbal protest, by carrying it into the Division Lobbies.

If it were possible to find a way of aggravating public opinion—and heaven knows you have done that most successfully, as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford told you in his speech last week—it would seem almost as if you were striving to upset the work of the constitutional movement, and to put in its place, for you and for us, a less desirable form in every way of public agitation. I say it will aggravate the position, which already is bad enough, if you insist upon enforcing this Act in Ireland. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman will, as many of his predecessors have done in times past, refuse to take advice from Ireland. Whatever advice was given in the earlier stages of the War fell upon deaf ears, because, I suppose, it came from these benches. I most earnestly appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to consider well whether any compensating gains he will get by imposing this Act on Ireland will make up for the loss of good feeling, and for the creation of bad and bitter feelings which this imposition will undoubtedly create in Ireland. This is the first time I have addressed this House since the beginning of the War. There was a time when I took a more active part in these Debates. None the less have I been filled with resentment at a great deal of the conduct of the Government towards our country; at the manner in which they have thwarted the efforts of the Leader of the Irish party, and other members of the party, to bring about a better feeling between the two countries; of the total disregard they have shown for Irish sentiment, and at the system of exaggerated attention which they have paid to the opinion expressed from hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway representing Irish seats. These men are they who protest all the loyalty, and display a great deal of the old Tory malice against not alone their own countrymen here on these Benches, but against the very soldiers who are fighting for their countrymen in the trenches in France. It would be well if the right hon. Gentleman takes stock of the position in Ireland before he decides to impose this Act upon the country. I tell him emphatically that the Irish people will not have it. The Irish people will not be driven either as conscriptionists for the Army, or as conscriptionists for labour; they will not be driven like slaves at the behest of any Minister or any Dictator, no matter who he may be. We believe we are doing, in our own way, in producing by our own labours in our own country the food that is requisite for the support of this country, as well as of our population at home—a national duty. It is a duty as much for the Empire as for our own country. You can lead an Irishman, but you cannot drive him. That is the last word I would say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in moving a Clause which I how have the honour to submit to the House.


I beg to second the Motion. Members of this House have for some time past been looking on at the vanishing of the democratic character of the Government of this country. They have seen the development of the tendency to a system of Prussianism in the Government and in departmental control. Members on these benches have looked on. When, however, it is proposed, as it is in this Bill, to apply such a system to Ireland, Irish Members are determined to resist it by al means in their power. We object to placing all our industries in Ireland under the control and absolute mercy of a dictator, who very probably knows nothing whatever of Irish circumstances, and who will be compelled to fall back on the permanent officials in Ireland for any information he requires regarding that country. As has been pointed out previously in the Debate, on how many occasions have our suggestions and our recommendations in many matters been turned down by these permanent officials' This aspect was elaborated by the hon. Member for North Galway, and I, therefore, do not intend to keep the House except merely to emphasise what was said at an earlier stage of the Debate. I wish to tell this House that the people of Ireland do not want this National Service Act applied to Ireland. We are here tonight to voice the opinions of the people of Ireland and to ask this House not to apply the Act to Ireland.

Why should this measure be forced on Ireland against its will? Why force one measure on the majority—on the whole—of Ireland when you are unwilling to force another measure on a small minority in Ireland? I ask the House, when considering this Clause, to take into account the principle that was laid down on Wednesday last by the Prime Minister, a principle with which I entirely disagree, but a principle to which I say the Government must pay due regard if they intend to persist in forcing this particular Bill on Ireland. The people of Ireland do not want this Bill, and we, as representing the vast majority of the Irish people, are determined to oppose it at every stage in this House, and to press it to a Division. I would appeal to the House, in conclusion, to remember that, although during the course of the War the Government has not been carried out in as democratic a manner as it ought to be, that although the voice of Ireland has been stifled on many occasions, this is not an occasion on which the voice of Ireland, as reflected by her representatives, should be ignored, and if the manner in which we have been treated on many occasions lately is persisted in in this, it will not be for the good of this country, or for the good of Ireland, and will probably have an effect on the Empire and the conduct of the War for which those who will advise the Government as to their action with reference to this matter will probably afterwards be very sorry.

Captain GWYNN

I just want to say in a word why I personally am anxious to oppose this measure. It certainly is not that I am against National Service but National Service which I have helped to invite Irishmen to render in the shape of military service, has been essentially voluntary service, and I am against this measure, because it is essentially the framework for industrial conscription. I say that conscription, whether military or industrial, is not a thing that one nation has the right to impose upon another nation. It is a thing essentially that every nation must settle for itself. This House would never think of imposing by a vote conscription, whether military or industrial, on any of the self-governing Dominions, and it is because I feel that the question is practically raised, although not actually raised, here that I shall vote against it. That is, in one word, the attitude of an Irish Nationalist who is a soldier, and who is against any conscription and against any imposition of National Service upon Ireland which does not come from an Irish Legislature.


I do not pretend in any shape or form to speak on behalf of Ireland, or to put an Irish point of view. I leave that to the very able representatives of Ireland who are here. But there are one or two points in regard to this question of the extension of this Act to Ireland which are worthy of consideration from a British point of view. It may be asked: How can any Irish Member object to a purely voluntary arrangement in Ireland which is going to try to secure a better organisation of the industrial and agricultural resources of the country? How can any Irish Member object to a volunteer scheme, by which a certain Director and certain commissioners in Ireland would be able to make better use of the available supplies of Irish labour? That, I am quite sure, is likely to be the question that will be asked by the Chief Secretary for Ireland when he rises. I say in reply to that, first of all, that this measure is undoubtedly an extension arising out of the Military Service Acts—that but for the Military Service Acts this question in this form would not have arisen in this country, and, therefore, it seems to me that the question of military service must be settled in Ireland first before this second question in regard to industrial service can arise. There are Members, I know, who are anxious to impose compulsory military service in Ireland, even against the wish of the great majority of the Irish representatives. That is a matter which, at any rate, will have to be settled, and, in my opinion, ought to be settled before the second question arises. I will give very practical reasons in support of that, not from the Irish point of view, but from the British point of view. Suppose, for example, this new scheme is applied to Ireland, what is going to happen? The moment the Irishmen become volunteers they are entirely at the disposal of the Director of National Service and can be sent anywhere he cares to send them. I can imagine nothing that is going to promote worse feeling between Irishmen and this country than that young men from Ireland who are not subject to military service themselves should be brought over under this scheme of National Service to this country in order to release men from this country who are going to the trenches. I say that is going to put Irishmen and Englishmen in an absolutely false position, and that is a point of view which ought to be very strongly taken in hand, and ought to be strongly faced by the Irish representatives as well as the members of the Government.

I think that, apart from that, as one who claims to be a democrat, it is very difficult indeed to impose a measure of this kind upon Ireland in face of the opposition of the great majority of the representatives of Ireland, and indeed, if we defer so much to one small part of Ireland—Ulster in regard to legislation, how can we in logic pretend to override the wishes of the remainder of Ireland on a matter of this kind? I will ask this question of the Chief Secretary, because it is one to which he will have to speak. This measure is going to begin on voluntary lines, but we have the definite assurance of the Prime Minister that if tins voluntary scheme does not succeed industrial compulsion is going to be introduced. If this voluntary scheme breaks down, is the same measure of compulsion going to be applied to Ireland that we are told is going to be applied to this country? That seems to me to be a matter that is entirely germane to the discussion, and I do not see, once you begin, how you can draw a line of distinction between Ireland and this country. Therefore, are you going to face the fact that this scheme is going to break down? I do not believe for a minute that, if you are looking for 500,000 effective male workers to act as substitutes, you are going to get them, and that for one very sufficient reason, which is that they are not there to be got. Therefore something else will follow. I have no doubt at all that compulsion will follow. Indeed, it will not matter very much what happens, because if there is a very small number of recruits brought in under this scheme the cry will be that the scheme has failed because of the smallness of the number, and that, therefore, we must have compulsion. If there is a very large number of recruits brought in the cry will be that, seeing that everybody has come in except the few shirkers and slackers, they ought not to be left out, and we must have compulsion. That will undoubtedly be the argument whatever happens, and therefore Ireland has a right to know now how much further this scheme is going to apply in case of failure. This is my last point. Heaven knows, in our dealings with this country, we are bungling sufficiently at the present time, and in certain directions we are creating a dangerous state of feeling in the country which seems to be appreciated everywhere except on the Front Bench opposite. If we bungle in our dealings with Britain, how much have we bungled in our dealings with Ireland? How much more have we failed to solve the difficult problems of Ireland? Therefore, from all those points of view, I think the Irish representatives, unless they get a far more definite assurance than they have got now—if they attach very much importance to Government assurance, which I very much doubt—I say they are absolutely justified in the attitude they are taking up.


Hon. Members from Ireland and the hon. Member who spoke last have been discussing two entirely different measures. The hon. Members from Ireland discussed a measure which they described as a gross piece of compulsion amounting to enslavement of Irish labour. That view was enlarged upon with a good deal of picturesque variety of phrase. We were told that men were going to be transferred against their wills to this country in thousands. We were told it was a conscription of labour. We were told it was an enslavement of labour. We were told that you might coax and persuade the Irish people, but you could not drive them—[An HON. MEMBER: "You try it on!"]—and that they would not have this system of conscription. Then the hon. Member for the Attercliffe Division (Mr. Anderson) gets up and throws them all overboard, and says, "This is not a compulsory measure at all, but I want to warn the people of Ireland that there will be a compulsory measure some day if this is introduced." Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. There are some states of political opinion in which nothing satisfies men, in which neither a boon nor a disadvantage is accepted, and when one has gone recently into pronounced political opposition one may come to that state of mind. I do not believe that that state of mind exists among the people of Ireland. [An HON. MEMBER;"HOW do you know?"] I will tell hon. Members why. When the people of Ireland have a view about matters of this kind they take care to make it known to this House, and by every means. So far as I have been able to learn, the view of Ireland at present is that if a man wants to come to England for work and can get good wages he ought not to be prevented from doing it. That is one view I have found very prevalent in Ireland. Another view I have found prevalent there is that it is desirable, in the interests of Irish agriculture, that the recruitment of labour in Ireland, and the removal from Ireland of what might be surplus labour, should be so conducted that it did not deplete the supply of labour which is available in Ireland. I find both those views very definitely represented in places where politics have far less effect than in this House, and to both those views the Government is ready to give the most absolute effect.

The view which is presented that this is some piece of oppression directed against the people of Ireland is the view of politicians, and it is not the view of the people of Ireland, nor is it the view of the rank and file of the people who have labour to dispose of. Hon. Members from Ireland have presented that false view which is condemned by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Anderson). This is not a Conscription Bill or a measure which compels any man to work anywhere against his will. It does not call upon any neighbour in Ireland or any man engaged in any industry in Ireland to leave Ireland or remove from one part of Ireland to another if he is not so disposed. The hon. Member for Sheffield has made that perfectly apparent in his speech. He deals with realities in these things, and he has presented views on this matter which have to be deal with. He has dealt with the real Bill, and has not set up an imaginary measure to be used as a bogey, and as a means of unjust condemnation and censure of the Government in Ireland which has sufficient difficulties without the creation of artificial and imaginary grounds of condemnation.

Now as to the Bill in its true effect. It will enable men in Ireland who are ready to volunteer on terms which will be made clear to them, either to migrate in Ireland to earn wages which they want to earn, or to migrate to England for labour to render service which they are willing to render and for larger wages which they are willing to earn, and which will enable those two classes to do what many of them prove to be anxious to do. To the extent of thousands the transfer of labour goes on, and no Member from Ireland proposes to put his fellow-countrymen under the statutory disability to prevent them coming to this country to earn the wages which may be got during war time On the contrary, during last summer it was a constant reproach against the Government that it placed obstacles in the way of the transit of labour from Ireland to England because a few men who came over here for temporary labour found themselves drawn into a compulsory system of military service.


I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to produce any quotation from any Member of the Irish party which would justify in the least the assertion which he has made.


It is not necessary to produce quotations upon the subject. When I became Chief Secretary that was the daily topic of cross-examination of the Chief Secretary and the daily topic of censure of the Government. The proposition I make is that hon. Members do not take upon themselves to dictate to their, countrymen and say, "You shall not migrate upon profitable terms and you shall not come to work in England upon profitable terms." They would not do it, because their fellow-countrymen, who have as much sense of independence as any other body of men I have become acquainted with, would tell them to mind their own business and that they were going to get the best earnings they could. With a Bill which takes accounts only of existing processes of migration of labour and existing machinery for the recruitment of labour, which is designed only to organise the existing ordinary processes so that they are withheld from being the cause of damage in Ireland and so that they produce a maximum of benefit to labour in Ireland, where is the ground of objection in anything that has been said against it by any hon. Members from Ireland who have spoken?

It will be time enough to discuss the aspect of compulsion and conscription and alleged enslavement of labour when any such proposal is presented to the House. No such proposal has been presented, and so far as I am aware no man who is not ready to introduce in Ireland compulsory military service would take upon himself to introduce in Ireland compulsory civil service. That is the answer to everything that was said in condemnation of the Bill by hon. Members from Ireland, and it is also the answer to the first of the objections made by the hon. Member for Sheffield. The two things are independent. The hon. Member for Galway (Captain Gwynn)—who has rendered services for which every one of his colleagues in this House is proud of him, military services of the greatest value, and who has set a most beneficial example—repudiated and opposed this Bill, and promised to vote against it because he had been an advocate of voluntary military service. I think I never came across a stronger condemnation in terms. The hon. Member is going to oppose this Bill, which provides for the organisation of voluntary civil service, because he is an advocate of voluntary military service. That is a strange state of things, and, apart from the circumstances of the hour, I should not have expected an argument of that kind from my hon. and gallant Friend. But there it is, and it leads me to suppose that there is a good deal more in this opposition than the benefit of the labourers of Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Let us be frank. Hon. Members can be frank with one another here. There is a great deal more in this than opposition to the organisation of voluntary labour in Ireland. It is an opposition upon political grounds, and let it be justified on political grounds. Let hon. Members say to their constituents, "For political reasons we intend to deprive you, if we can, of an organisation which will protect your right to emigrate in pursuit of your own interests; which will protect your right to go to England and be withheld from military service, and to earn wages which will be advantageous." Let hon. Members tell their constituents that this is what they desire. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have that right now!"] They have not the organisation, as I have pointed out. We have an organisation, a great active and comprehensive system against which the lack of organisation in Ireland will prove a fatal detriment to the interests of Irish labourers and to the immediate substantial and pecuniary interests of Irish labour.

What is the state of things now? Men are withdrawn from districts and this causes difficulties in local industries. Numbers of men are taken which under a properly organised scheme you would not take. What is proposed by this Bill? It is proposed that in Ireland there shall be a system operating side by side with the English system in co-operation with the operations of the Director-General of National Service. The first object of that organisation will be to secure men for that increased tillage of which the hon. Member for Long ford (Mr. Farrell) spoke, and to secure that the best possible supply of labour shall be forthcoming where it is wanted and when it is wanted, and that it shall not be depleted in advance by operations on this side, which are intended to procure enormous numbers of men for the special labour which has been spoken of by one or two hon. Members. How can that be anything but a benefit to Irishmen? It involves no conscription, but it provides a safeguard of the material interests of the individual labourer, and for the general interests of the community on the one great national industry in Ireland—that of agriculture. What more is there in it?


What about the increased food supply in Ireland?


I was referring to the increased food supply. I recognise with the hon. Member that increased tillage in Ireland necessitates some organisation to provide not only labour for the larger tillage, but for a larger harvest; in fact a bumper harvest—the largest harvest obtained within the memory of man, and considerably beyond the memory of the average man now living. If you get such a harvest, is it wise to leave the labour supply in Ireland in its present state in view of these facts'? My view is that the common interest and the interest of individuals require a better organisation, and when the hon. Member for Sheffield tells me that I must settle first the question of compulsory military service, I answer that that is not a question of practical politics at present. When he tells me that I create difficulties in this country and possibly difficulties in Ireland because this scheme will provide for the transference to England of men who will take the place of soldiers who have gone to the front, I say that you are transferring men here at the present time, but under this Bill you will transfer them upon a regular system which will be as advantageous to this country as may be and which will be no detriment to Ireland. As far as my interest in this Bill goes, the object I have in view has been, first, the well-being of Ireland and its industries and the Irish labourers, and, secondly, the well-being of the United Kingdom. If I am right in the view I have taken, and I put my view forward with considerable confidence that I am right, hon. Members are mistaken in their opposition, and as I have already pointed out they are opposing an imaginary measure which is not before the House, and they are opposing it upon entirely unsubstantial grounds and to the best of my belief the result will be if they succeed they will produce not benefits but detriment to their fellow countrymen.

8.0 P.M.


The House has just listened to as ill-informed and as insulting a speech as has ever been delivered to the representatives of Irish opinions from the Front Opposition Bench in this House. The Chief Secretary has had the audacity to say to this House that my hon. Friend below me, who has moved this Clause, and those who have supported him—and in that he must be taken to include the whole of the Nationalist representatives of Ireland —are actuated in proposing this Clause, not by any consideration for the well-being of the labourers of Ireland, but in order to achieve some political end. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] He also has the assurance, which in his case I must characterise as a piece of unblushing English ignorance of Ireland, to say that my hon. Friend who proposes this Clause, my hon. Friend who seconded it, and my hon. Friends who support it, do not understand what we are discussing here tonight. My right hon. Friend may think himself the prototype of English intelligence, and he is a man of considerable attainments, but surely none of his best friends will say that he is justified in saying to us on these benches that we no not understand the main underlying principle of a measure of this Kind. I will let that pass, because I think a reflection of that kind falls not so much on the Nationalists of Ireland as it does on a Gentleman occupying the position of Chief Secretary for Ireland, responsible for the Government of Ireland, and answerable in this House for the Government of Ireland to the overwhelming majority of the representatives of Ireland. He says that in moving this Clause and in objecting to the application of the Bill to Ireland we are not representing the feelings or the views of the people of Ireland. The views of Nationalist Ireland, forsooth, are hereafter to find their expression in this House, not from the elected representatives of Ireland, but from any casual Englishman who happens to be sent to Ireland and who occupies himself in misgoverning that country. He finds it consistent with his honour, with his sense of dignity, and with the respect which he has often expressed for the feelings of the people of Ireland to say to us that the views of Ireland are not represented by mere politicians. Who is he, the Member for Exeter by a majority of one, to refer to us the representatives of the great majority of the Irish people, whose elections for a quarter of a century have been unchallenged by any opposition in Ireland, as mere politicians? What is he but a mere politician—and an English politician at that—whose rights to speak for Ireland or for anybody in Ireland I emphatically deny?

The Chief Secretary for Ireland has said to us, "Oh you simple people, you simple Irish Nationalists, you have entirely misread this measure. Why, this is a volun- tary measure." Unless the Clause proposed by my hon. Friend is carried we are asked to link Ireland with England in this measure of compulsory service—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is not compulsory"]—in this measure of National Service. I assert without the slightest fear of contradiction that there is not an honest man on the Treasury Bench who is not convinced, and who has not stated publicly, that it is the intention of the Government, if this alleged voluntary measure does not produce for Mr. Neville Chamberlain the quota of men he thinks necessary, or that may be thought necessary by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Prime Minister to supply what they consider to be the needs of industry in this country, to follow it up by a measure of compulsion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson), who is at least as high and important a member of the administration as the Chief Secretary, and who has a much more important position in the Government, because he is in the Cabinet and the Chief Secretary is a long way outside the Cabinet, has told the people of this country frankly, whatever pledges the Prime Minister or any member of the Cabinet may have given either in the House of Commons or the country, that unless the men considered necessary for industrial purposes are forthcoming the Government will not hesitate to translate this into a measure of absolute industrial conscription and compulsion.

This is an English measure, and we are asked to adopt it for Ireland. It is a bad English measure, and we do not want English measures, good or bad, for Ireland. A large number of Members considerably underrate the amount of compulsion which is already contained in this measure. If Irishmen volunteer under this Bill and sign the forms sent out by the Director-General, it will certainly be open to the Director-General to send them to any industry in any part of England or Scotland. If it is thought necessary in the interests of the industrial concerns of this country engaged under the direction of the Government to make National Service compulsory, what is to protect Irishmen who may be brought over in those circumstances? I am not sure that even the Chief Secretary does not in his own mind believe that this measure already means compulsion, because in his last speech on this subject in the House he stated that there might be much stronger means adopted by the Government to attract labour from Ireland than by means of advertising through the agency of the Labour Exchanges in Ireland. I have no doubt in that speech he contemplated that the Government might at any time in the near future make this measure compulsory in its application to Ireland. We will not have military compulsion in Ireland, and we are certainly as much opposed to industrial compulsion. Apart altogether from the employment of men in particular industries, what is to happen to Ireland if the Director-General of National Service, appointed under this Bill and exercising the power conferred upon him, decides to shut up Irish industries? Ireland is a country whose main industries have been killed by its unfortunate connection with this country. Ireland has few industries except the industry of agriculture. Are we to be asked to submit the few industries we have to a gentleman from Birmingham who knows nothing about Ireland, perhaps even less than the Chief Secretary? We object to any interference with the industries of Ireland.

The best way in which Ireland can make a contribution to help this country to win the War is to make the scheme for increasing the food production of Ireland an efficient scheme, and to produce more food which will be available not only for the maintenance of the people of Ireland but for exportation to this country. How is our food scheme organized? It is very badly organised by the Chief Secretary. At the various meetings which we have had with him it was pointed out to him with absolute clearness that he had gone about the formation of his scheme and the preparation of his machinery in a way quite different from the method adopted by the Secretary for Scotland or the Minister in charge of the food production scheme for England. The Chief Secretary just consulted a few of the permanent officials in the various Departments of Government in Ireland. He decided on a scheme without taking any account of the needs of the country, the possibilities of the country, and the help which he could have got from the people of Ireland if he had taken the best means of consulting the views of practical agriculturists and those, responsible for county government. He did nothing of that kind. He launched his scheme without consideration, and, if it is successful, it will be so on account of the good will of the people of Ireland under a great desire to increase the production of food in Ireland rather than on account of any advantage that belongs to the scheme itself, or on account of any trouble which he took to make it popular in Ireland. Are we in the same way to have to submit all the industries of Ireland, every manufacture, every trade, every business, to the supervision and direction, not of the right hon. Gentleman whom, to a small extent, we have educated in regard to Irish matters, but to a gentleman from Birmingham, who does not know near enough to regulate the industries of this country, in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by this measure, and who, I assert without fear of contradiction, is absolutely in ignorance of the industries and the needs of Ireland. If my right hon. Friend wishes to make this measure a success in England, I would advise him to keep his hands off Ireland.


I would really appeal very earnestly to my hon. Friends below the Gangway not to press this new Clause, which, in spite of the protestations of the hon. Member for North Sligo (Mr. Scanlan), I do not really feel they have very much at heart. I do not know whether it is indiscreet of me to remind the House of what took place earlier in the evening, when a Division was called by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). There was a very small Division Lobby in favour of the new Clause then moved. I took particular care to observe those who voted in favour of that Clause, and not much more than half of the Members represented Irish constituencies. I was very sorry to hear the hon. Member for North Sligo refer in terms less than affectionate to the Chief Secretary. He talked of his ill-informed and insulting speech. He spoke of his unblushing English ignorance. He represented him as a casual Englishman misgoverning Ireland, but from what I know of the right hon. and learned Gentleman he has been a more frequent visitor to Ireland during his tenure of office than almost any Gentleman who has occupied it in past times. But I am quite sure that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Scanlan) really does not entertain these sentiments about the right hon. Gentleman.


I believe everything I said about him, but I have nothing against him personally.


I know that, and I have a sufficient knowledge of Ireland to know that my right hon. Friend opposite is quite the most popular Chief Secretary for Ireland—


No, no: nonsense!


Amongst all sections of public opinion in Ireland that has visited that country for some considerable time past.


The Chief Secretary is never popular.


Coming to the serious aspect of the question, a great deal of complaint has been made about the question of compulsion. If I may respectfully represent it to my hon. Friends, there is nothing in their arguments whatever unless this measure either is compulsory in itself or inevitably leads to compulsion. I am prepared to say that this House, whether the Members belong to Irish constituencies or to any other, would never submit to this measure being transformed or translated into a compulsory measure without its full sanction. I cannot conceive that even the present Government—and I am glad to have the assurance of the Chief Secretary on this—that even the present Government, charged as it is with prerogatives that have never belonged to any Government in this country before, would dare to impose compulsion on this country in the matter of labour without the consent of the House of Commons.

May I refer once again, and I say it with great respect, to the extreme undesirability of excluding Ireland from what I may properly describe as Imperial measures. There are measures that in my judgment, having regard to the present position of Ireland this House should not seek to impose upon Ireland against the express wish and opinion of those who represent the majority of the people of Ireland. But I venture to submit that this is not a case in point. And I venture to remind my hon. Friends that it would be very greatly to their disadvantage—I was going to say very much to the discredit of Ireland, and of Irishmen in England—if they seek to exclude themselves from this measure. I said the other evening that, for the first time in my life, a feeling of some resentment was growing up in this country against Irishmen. My hon. Friend the Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) corrected me by saying that in this House Irishmen were so unpopular at one time that there was only one Member of the House, the late Mr. Labouchere, who would speak to an Irish Member. But I was not speaking of politicians. We have our squabbles in this House, some of them very often of a somewhat histrionic character, but I am talking about an ill-feeling that might arise as between the mass of the people of Great Britain and the mass of the people of Ireland. I venture to think that if Irish Members of their own motion try to exclude themselves, and much more if they succeed in excluding themselves, from this measure, it might tend very largely to ill-feeling as between the Irish people and the people of Great Britain, and I venture to submit that that would be a misfortune of the gravest character.


I only propose to intervene for a few moments to strengthen the position, or to add to the strength of the case which has been made by my hon. Friends against the application of this measure to Ireland, and incidentally, perhaps, I may be permitted to say that I regret that we cannot find ourselves in agreement with my hon. Friend who has just sat down. No one knows better than I do the long and consistent and generous and unselfish support which my hon. Friend has given to all the causes for which we stand in this House, and, therefore, I am quite sure he will agree that in any observations I may make upon his speech I quite recognise the sincerity of the position which he occupies. But, if he will permit me to say so, I cannot regard the application of this measure to Ireland as the great boon which he conceives it to be. In the first place, I may say that, broadly speaking, apart from Ireland altogether, I regard this National Service Bill as one of the most indefensible proposals ever submitted to any democratic assembly. We are told that it is for the purpose of organising the industrial forces of this country. I have not examined its development very closely, but I can say this, that in my opinion it is the greatest jumble that was ever known in the history of any country. You introduce a system for the purpose of organising and coordinating industries in this country, and the first thing you do is to draw men away from their employment, and you do not know what to do with them when you have got them away. You get them to proffer their services in that spirit of unselfishness which has guided so many of the citizens of this island in the great task in which they are engaged in the prosecution of this War, and you leave them there. I do not propose to enter into the merits of the question at all, though if I cared to address myself to the matter itself, I would say that any ordinary untutored Member of Parliament could tear this measure to tatters.

I come, then, to the question, Is it for the good of Ireland? I am quite sure that my hon. Friend believes that it is for the good of Ireland, but are you imposing it upon us because it is for the good of Ireland? Is that the spirit that inspires any of those who constitute the present Government of our country? You can keep your boons and you can reserve your favours until you give us the liberty which will enable us to be partners in your glory as well as being victims of your administration, and I, for my part, as a Member of this House, must state here, representing my Constituency, that even if this measure were a measure tending to materially improve Ireland, given to us without consideration of Irish needs and necessities, I would not regard it as any boon at all. There was a discussion in the House to-night to which I listened with very great interest, and I tried to intervene in it, upon the question of an advisory committee to the Director-General (Mr. Neville Chamberlain). It was proposed by English Members that a Committee of the House should be appointed to be an advisory council to Mr. Neville Chamberlain. I am afraid you are getting to a position in England similar to that to which we have got in Ireland. You have repudiated all constitutional government in Ireland, and you are seeking now by the same methods to rob the people of England of all those democratic rights and constitutional liberties of which this House is the symbol and the authority.

Let me take a case in point. When first the question of food production was raised in this House and on the platforms of this country—the necessity for larger food production—a number of my colleagues and myself were formed into a committee of the Irish party, of which I was the chairman, to endeavour to secure larger food production in Ireland. We sat from day to day for four or five hours, in the House when the House was sitting and outside the House, in Dublin, when the House was not sitting, and I venture to say that the report which we drafted, containing the proposals we made, was the result of careful and well-considered and well-informed opinion. It was approved of by the "Irish Times," the organ of the Unionist party in Ireland. Our conclusions were based on opinions gathered from the representatives of the farming and labouring classes and of all sections in Ireland. We put forward those results of our deliberations with experienced men in Ireland, by which we could have obtained a large increase of food. We sent our report to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who, no doubt, considered it. But he brought it over to Ireland to one of the most narrow of the Irish bureaucracies that guide and control the destinies of Ireland, and they practically rejected all our proposals. What happened a fortnight afterwards? The Prime Minister of this country stood at the Treasury Box, before a large House, which was moved and impressed by the wonderful genius he displayed in dealing with the food problem, and five-sixths of the proposals contained in his statement were proposals that might have been taken holus bolus from the report of the Irish party. Yet our report was turned down by one of the bureaucracies that run Ireland, giving us another indication that if everyone of us were a Solomon and gathered together to give any advice or information or assistance in any matter affecting our country, because it came from the representatives of the people it was despised and trampled upon. These are some of the considerations which ran through my mind when I came here shocked, pained, and bewildered at the conduct of the Government in refusing to transfer to Ireland the responsibility of guiding and controlling her own affairs. There are some minutiae and detail which were mentioned here which are of no consequence and make no impression on the public mind in Ireland.

We are now as a party in opposition to this Government. We want no favours of the character described by my hon. Friend (Mr. C. Harmsworth). We offered you friendship, co-operation, union, patriotism, vitality, strength, and Irish heroism, and you rejected them all. You sent us, first cajoled and then dis- appointed, back to our country. Now you ask us to be further partners in whatever schemes you choose to devise for this country, while you treat us like helots and, in your persuasive and dulcet tones, adopt the attitude of the late Lord Salisbury, that we are not freeborn citizens but Hottentots. That is my position in regard to this measure, which you have proposed in a patronising way to apply to Ireland. We are not going to be dragged at the chariot wheels of any system that is built up to despise the Irish nation. We will vote against the application of this measure in order to let English people see what has been hidden from them already, that you do not want Irish help, that you would rather see the Empire at the bottom of the sea than give to Ireland the right which Ireland has longed for and the satisfaction of whose aspirations would alone give you strength and power where you are weak and defenceless in your Imperial armour. I for one helped, as I did for nearly a year, with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) and other of my colleagues. We were good enough to help you, or you thought that we were good enough to help you, but now you think you are free enough not to reciprocate what we did. All I have to say is that if the good will, kindness, generosity and desire to co-operate are to be despised, then we will try those other methods with the strength and vitality of our own race here and in Ireland.


I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) in what he has just said to the House, because I do not think it would do any good. To add bitterness to this or any other Debate is not going to help us to win the War. It is a pity that it should go forth that the views which have been expressed by my fellow-countrymen on the other side of the House are those of the whole of Ireland. It has been clearly stated on previous occasions that the position of Ulster in regard to this measure is one of contentment in that, I hope, the vast majority of her citizens are anxious to do what they can to win the War. I should like to refer to one point mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Gwynn). I am one of those who have the greatest admiration not only for him, but for others, including the hon. and gallant Member for East Clare (Major William Redmond) who have sacrificed themselves and entered His Majesty's service, and are still, so far as I know, serving His Majesty in France. It was a great disappointment to me as an Irish soldier, also and as one who has had the honour of commanding for something like eighteen months, a battalion composed almost entirely of fellow-countrymen coming from those parts of Ireland represented by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, to find that the hon. and gallant Member for Galway should get up in this House to oppose this measure. What is the object of this measure? It is to win the War, and win it as soon as possible. He has left behind him in France thousands of Irish soldiers, his own friends, whose great desire is to get the War finished at the earliest possible moment. Despite that, he elects to tell this House that he is against the measure, and to do his little bit—I do not say it is a very large thing, but rather a small thing—to delay the Government in bringing forward the measure, which we believe is likely to bring about a successful and early conclusion of the War.

I am not able to speak with intimate knowledge of the views of my own Constituents, because I have only found it possible to go there once in the last eighteen or nineteen months, therefore I cannot voice their opinions with the strength I should be able to command if I had been in close contact with them. I can only voice the opinions, and I think I am entitled to do so, of Irish soldiers, whether they come from the North or any other part of Ireland. I am perfectly satisfied, despite what the hon. and gallant Members for East Clare and Galway say, that the Irish soldier is just as determined to see this War through as any other soldier. If those hon. Members who, as they so often tell us, represent the vast majority of the Irish people, are determined to prevent and delay the Government on every possible occasion when they bring forward and pass measures designed to win the War and which the vast majority of hon. Members of this House believe to be conducive to winning this War, then I contend that the best of the manhood of Ireland is not being represented in this House. I know that many hon. Members opposite have taken great pride in the doings of Irish soldiers. Many of them have assisted in recruiting. They believe they represent these men, but I contend that in this and in all matters connected with the winning of the War they are doing not only a disservice but insulting not only the soldiers themselves but the memories of those who have been killed in this War by opposing measures which after all are nothing more or less than war measures. I was a little surprised to hear the Mover of this new Clause say there were no important industries in Ireland, and I was very surprised not to hear the hon. Member (Mr. Devlin) correct him in that statement. I should have thought he would be the first to claim that even in West Belfast certain industries were represented.


I was not in for my hon. Friend's speech, but most of my Constituents, who were engaged in industries in West Belfast, have gone to the front.


I am well aware that a great many of the hon. Member's constituents have gone and I am very glad to hear him infer that he would disagree with his hon. Friend if he had been in the House at the time. The munitions question is an important question in Ireland just as it is in this country. It is important in my judgment that this Bill should apply to Ireland and, apart from any other point of view, from the munitions point of view. There are most important industries, mostly in the North of Ireland, and I believe this measure, as it is designed to do, will assist very materially in the proper distribution of labour in those important industries, and that in that way, as well as in other ways, it will assist in carrying on the War, which ought to be, and which I honestly believe is, the great desire of the mass of Irish opinion.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman has once more made a strong appeal to us on this matter. He recalled to the House the small number of Irish Members in the Division Lobby when I moved an Amendment in Committee similar to that which we are now discussing. I will ask him to examine the Division List to-morrow morning. That Bill came on without due notice to the Irish Members and most of our party were absent, but every Nationalist Member then in the House voted with me. I think, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman examines the Division List to-morrow he will find that the vote of Ireland will be given somewhat in the following proportion: about 65 in favour of this Clause, and 4 against. I think that will satisfy him at least as to what the view of Ireland is. It has been said that we do not represent Ireland. That is a common thing nowadays. I have always endeavoured to be very frank on this matter. We do not represent Ireland as we used to, but the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Harmsworth) and the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel M'Calmont) I do not think can draw very much comfort from that.


I did not suggest for a moment that hon. Members below the Gangway did not represent the majority.


I do not think I said so either. I said in this matter. I certainly did not intend to say that Nationalist Members did not represent the opinion of Ireland. If I said so, I withdraw it.


I think we do represent Ireland in this matter. I know the very honourable reason why the hon. and gallant Gentleman has not been able to visit his constituents, but I think when he has leisure to visit Ireland he will find that we not only represent Ireland, but those whom we do not for the moment represent go far beyond our views. It is not really in this and other matters that we have recently been taking action in the House and that we do not represent Ireland, but that we do not go far enough for Ireland, and that is a very common criticism. But really when the hon. and gallant Gentleman made the appeal that he has just made, and said we did not, at all events, speak for the best manhood in Ireland, he alluded to the gallant regiment of Ireland of which we are just as proud as he is, because the rank and file come from our constituencies and it has covered itself with glory from the very outset of the War. He seems to assume that our views would be condemned unanimously by the soldiers at the front. I think he is going a little too far. I would ask him to recall this fact, that when a similar assumption was made in regard to the Australian soldiers the Australian Government met with rather a strange surprise, because when they put the vote for Conscription to the Australian soldiers in the trenches a heavy majority was recorded against it. That shows that men may be fighting gallantly at the front and differ from this all-wise Government.

Our objection to this measure being applied to Ireland is two-fold. In the first place, we object to it because we have been fully and frankly told that in the course of a few weeks it would be turned into a compulsory measure, and we should be false to our position as representatives of Ireland if we submitted, or gave the Government to understand that Ireland would submit, to compulsion in this matter any more than to military compulsion. The feeling in Ireland on this subject is intense, and any attempt to inflict compulsion on Ireland in the matter of labour or employment or business will be resisted almost as bitterly as any attempt to inflict military compulsion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman assumes, as if it were an axiom in mathematics about which there could be no difference of opinion, that because this measure is introduced by this all-wise Government therefore it must be a good measure and good for the country. I do not accept that at all. I am convinced that it is not a wise measure. I am convinced that this country is rapidly drifting to that view, and that even for this country it will be found that this measure of National Service is a failure and has been conceived in ignorance of the true condition of the country. I do not believe it will be a success, though I am sure we shall be told it is a success. But if you take up the Press of this country, even already the most vehement, frantic, violent, almost hysterical pro-war Press is already beginning to throw cold water on the scheme and to ridicule Mr. Chamberlain, against whom I do not want to say a word, because my own opinion is that, in his zeal for the public service, being asked to undertake this job he undertook it without sufficient thought. It was not his task, but he felt called upon to undertake it when the Government put it on his shoulders. I believe from all I have been able to hear that Mr. Chamberlain himself by this time is thoroughly sick of the whole thing, and would give anything in the world to get out of it, because I believe he is already up against the realities of the situation and is beginning to realise that it is going to be not only a very troublesome job, but very unproductive of results. That is our first reason for objecting to having this measure applied to Ireland, because we are informed, and we know it is only the preliminary to a compulsory measure. Coming to the second objection—that is, to its merits as a voluntary measure—I traverse absolutely the whole position taken up by the Chief Secretary, as it has been reported to me by my colleagues. I did not happen to hear his speech. I cannot conceive that this measure is necessary in Ireland or is likely to be productive of good results. Labour is scarce in Ireland to-day. There is abundant occupation for all the labour in Ireland. You have obtained a considerable quantity of labour from Ireland for munition works, building and dock works in this country. I stated frankly when you commenced recruiting for this work in Ireland that we were prepared, as representatives of the Irish people, to take either one course or the other. We were prepared to advise our people to come over here if you wanted them, but if you did not want them we asked you to tell us, so that we could frankly tell them to stay at home. You told us, you told me, and gave me positive pledges, which I had not only across the floor of the House, but in private from the right hon. Gentleman who was then President of the Local Government Board, and from other Ministers, that if Irish labourers came over here they would not be interfered with. You broke that promise. They were not only interfered with, but they were arrested and hauled up, and several of them forcibly put into the Army. They were also grossly insulted, and in some parts of the country they were pelted with mud, because they came over to work. We did not want them to come over; they were invited and urged to come.

Not only is that a fact, but in order to try to bring home to Members of this House the persistent stupidity with which these things are worked in Ireland, and to enable hon. Members, if I can, to understand the jealousy with which we look upon all these proposals, I would point out that in the autumn of 1915 the then Lord Lieutenant, who is Lord Lieutenant at the present time, and Captain Kelly, who was then at the head of the Recruiting Department in Ireland, set about instituting a new recruiting campaign for the Army, which was strongly supported by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. Captain Kelly came to me two or three times and complained bitterly, saying, "How am I expected to get Irish recruits when I go down to the country to get Irish recruits at a shilling a day to fight in the trenches, and I find another Government agent across the road recruiting men and offering them £2 10s. a week for work at Gretna, with the assurance that they will not be asked to serve in the Army?" That is the condition of things which prevailed in Ireland for a long time, so that from the very beginning you were carrying on this kind of incredible stupidity, attempting with one hand to get recruits, and, on the other hand, doing everything you can suggest to defeat your own purposes. You have taken away from Ireland thousands of labourers. I do not complain now, because, although I made the suggestion a year ago, we have, after a long struggle, succeeded in setting up a system by which these Irish labourers get passports on the production of which the military cannot touch them. You are bringing them over now in thousands. I believe there are 8,000 or 10,000 at Gretna, and 8,000 or 15,000 in various other places throughout the country, whore they are so numerous that no one dares to molest them. They are getting exceedingly good pay, and, of course; it is a great attraction, because they are much higher wages than they get at home. The consequence is that at the present time one of the great obstacles to any food scheme in Ireland is the scarcity of labour, just as it is in this country. Now you propose to apply this system of National Service to Ireland. I want to know for what purpose? The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel M'Calmont) said there were great munition works there, and it was desirable to have National Service for the munition works. Has he considered the nature of the work in those works? Although there are a few munition factories in Ireland there are not half as many as there ought to be.




You can get plenty of women to work there, and they are the best women workers they have been able to get in any part of the United Kingdom. So munition experts have reported. There is an abundance of female work in Dublin, but the wages are perfectly disgraceful. The munition works can get all the labour they desire. We have comparatively little munition work in Ireland. What are you going to do with National Service in Ireland? The people of the country are employed, labour is scarce, everybody is at work, and, in my opinion, in Ireland, which is not a country much addicted to what are called luxury trades or nonessential work, nine-tenths or nineteen-twentieths of the people of Ireland, are employed in very essential work. There- fore the whole of this scheme is, in my opinion, not likely to have a beneficial application in Ireland. If there be extra labour at the present moment you want it exceedingly badly in England, and the worst way you can get it in England is to attempt to put pressure upon the Irish people or to attempt to bring them over by force. If you attempt that you will get no more labour. You are getting more labour now than we can well spare. So long as you treat them decently, as they are now treated decently, we raise no difficulty. You are getting them freely now, and there is no need to have this great machine applied. One thing I object to about this Government is that it appears to make quite a fetish of departments and of bureaucracies and of machines. They are not content if everything is going on well to leave well alone and to leave people to find out their own department of employment and do it. They must create enormously expensive machines and take everybody by the scruff of the neck and drive them into some employment, not the employment that the person naturally selects, but the employment which the Department or the officials think is best for him. I honestly do not believe that this plan of National Service will produce any real and practical results in Ireland.

Now I come to a point I raised the other day by a question in the House. Supposing you do decide to apply this Bill to Ireland or supposing you persist in applying it to Ireland, how are you going to work it? That is a point we have a right to be perfectly clear about. I did not hear the Chief Secretary, and I do not know whether he dealt with that matter. You cannot for a single moment—and I am sure the Chief Secretary knows enough about Ireland to know that I am speaking the truth—dream of allowing Mr. Neville Chamberlain from Birmingham to rule the Irish people.


The hon. Member did not hear my speech. I tried to make it clear that there shall be a separate organisation in Ireland, planned in Ireland and controlled in Ireland, merely working in co-operation with the organisation under Mr. Chamberlain's control. That is the intention. The precise constitution of that body must be a matter to be adjusted as nearly as possible to meet the wishes of the population or the sections of population in the different parts of the country, and with the object of securing that the control is Irish control and that the work is done in such a manner as shall meet with the approval of the whole body of Irishmen.


Is it to be independent? Is it to be controlled from England, or is it to be thoroughly independent? Is it to be a new department of the Irish Government, and if so, will it be introduced by a separate Estimate? Is the Irish Controller to be a salaried officer, and is he to be represented in this House, and if not, why not? Are we to have no one whom we can catechise and criticise in this House just as the English will have? Is the Controller to be a wholly separate Minister? If not, is he to be subordinate to Mr. Chamberlain? Are Mr. Chamberlain and his representative the Parliamentary Secretary to be responsible for the control of the Irish Department?


The intention is that the Chief Secretary, or sombody speaking on his behalf, shall answer in this House for the Irish Department of National Service.


Presumably, from that, the Irish Controller will be totally independent of Mr. Chamberlain, because otherwise there is no meaning in it. Therefore, what you propose to do is not to apply this Bill to Ireland, but to set up an Irish Department wholly separate, and therefore you ought to put this on the Irish Estimates and start an Irish Ministry of Control, as otherwise the Irish party will be under the impression—and I do not see how they can get rid of it—that this man in Ireland is to be a subordinate to Mr. Chamberlain. That is a matter which I commend to the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman, because it is a very serious matter indeed. I need hardly say that before this Bill passes out of the House he ought to inform us who is to-be the Irish Controller. The Irish Controller is a gentleman whom I do not envy in any way. I think he will find that he has got a difficult job. I am told that Mr. Chamberlain has already come to the conclusion that he would have been a much wiser man if he had not tackled his job. But his job is much lighter than that of the Irish Controller. So, before this Bill passes its Third Reading, the right hon. Gentleman should state who is to be the Irish Controller, and give us an opportunity of expressing our views on this gentleman. I do not make any suggestion, nor do I intend to make any, but we are entitled to express our views before this Bill goes further. I take it as quite clear that what is intended to be done in Ireland is to set up a separate Department. Ireland is, unfortunately, overridden by a multiplicity of Boards and Departments, and we are now to have a new one, and the powers which that gentleman will have, as they have been elicited in the course of this Debate, are extremely formidable. That makes it all the more important that he should be a man upon whom the mass of the people can place some reliance, because he will have the power of turning down any Irish industry or struggling small trade.

9.0 P.M.

For instance, a good many people in Ireland say that the shopkeepers of that country are a public nuisance, and that there ought to be some method, particularly in war-time, devised for distributing goods all over the country without the intervention of what are called middlemen. There is nothing to prevent the Irish Controller closing every shop in the whole country in order to set free all the assistants in the shops under this system, which is merely a system of concealed compulsion, and turning all these employés on to the streets, and saying, "Now you must go and look for your daily bread in some other industry, and I, as Controller, will tell you what you have got to do for the good of the country." If the man were an absolute despot, no man's property or living is secure once you set up the system even under the Bill as it stands, and without any compulsion at all. And you are inviting us in Ireland, a country which heaven knows is torn enough already with faction and trouble of every kind, to set up a despotism which may add immeasurably to the disturbance and bitterness which exist in that unhappy country, and create fresh trouble and fresh disorder, and the Chief Secretary may yet live to curse the day that he ever set it in motion. I am not one of those who have any feeling of bitterness whatever against the Chief Secretary. I sympathised deeply with him when the Prime Minister settled on him to offer him up on the sacrificial altar of the Irish Office. I cannot imagine a more horrible task for any man than to govern Ireland at the present moment under the present system of government, and to take up the fatal legacy of that system which the Prime Minister himself stated, only six months, ago had hopelessly broken down.

I should imagine that the Chief Secretary, even after the short experience which he has had, would have said to himself, "Ireland is sufficiently torn, sufficiently lacerated with passions and contentions, and I will not introduce into that unhappy country any fresh cause of disturbance." But instead of that, under the absurd idea of helping this country to carry on the War, you are going to force upon us, against the almost unanimous verdict of the representatives of Ireland, a system which is not wanted, which is wholly impracticable, which can do no good, and which may do a vast deal of mischief. That is a good illustration of how the affairs of Ireland are administered. An hon. Member made an appeal to us which moved me, coining from a genuine friend of our cause, and our country. He appealed to us not to separate ourselves from this country, and stand apart as it were, and refuse to aid her in this terrible hour of her trial. My answer is that we did our best to aid her, and that they struck down the hand which we held out. I myself, although I have been held up as an extremist, and a man who above all others represented the aloofness of Ireland, was the man who on the eve of the declaration of war pressed on my colleagues to go up to Lord Kitchener at the War Office, and offer the whole of our influence, and all the enthusiasm of our people, and we were turned out of the War Office, and the offer we made was treated with contempt and scorn. And yet in spite of that for months we struggled to bring the strength of Ireland to your back in this struggle. You despised and scorned us and met every effort we made with insult Our power is now paralysed, and my advice to you once more to-night is the same as I gave you the other night—In God's name let Ireland alone. Let the wounds you inflicted on her and the insults which are festering in her soul to-day heal, and perhaps time will bring a remedy.


I think that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that we find ourselves in a very extraordinary and, indeed, unprecedented position. In view of the statement of the Chief Secretary, during the Committee stage of this Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo-moved that Ireland should be excluded from its operations. The Chief Secretary, in his speech on that occasion, though he lectured the Irish members, and pointed out the errors of their ways, did not say-one single word with regard to what the plans of the Government were concerning Ireland. We have now been debating upon this Amendment since the start of the dinner-hour, and the Chief Secretary replied to the speeches that had been made in respect to the new Clause, but from the start to the finish of his speech he did not say one single word to the Irish Members of the House of Commons that gave them the smallest indication of what the proposals are with regard to our country. It was only in an interruption in the speech of my hon. Friend the hon. Member for East Mayo that he got up at that box, and in two words tells us that we are now to have a separate Controller and Director of National Service in Ireland. It is apparent that he has been revolving the whole subject in his mind, and that he has got a plan for Ireland cut and dried up his sleeve. I want to know why he has not produced that plan to Irish Members, why has he not produced it to the House of Commons, why has he allowed this Bill to be brought in here on the Report stage, knowing that this question was raised in Committee, knowing that it would be raised on the Report stage again, and why has he not put down his Amendments to make this Bill apply to Ireland according to the plans he has in his mind, and so give some indication to the House of Commons of what he has in view? In view of the extraordinary way in which we are proceeding, and of this Government muddle, we have the right to a postponement of this measure until the Chief Secretary comes down and lays his Amendment on the Table of the House.

It is all very well for the Chief Secretary to sneer at the Irish party and their opposition to this Bill, and to say that it is the opposition of politicians. If I may make a rejoinder to the Chief Secretary, I will tell him straight to his face that his speech to-night on this Bill is the speech not even of a politician or a statesman, but of a lawyer. My hon. Friend who moved the omission of this Clause and the exclusion of Ireland spoke about your driving Ireland in this direction. The Chief Secretary got up and said that all these speeches were wide of the mark, that there was no single inch of compulsion in this Bill at all, and that such speeches were outside the scope of the Bill before the House; yet he knew perfectly well that it was not to the terms of this Bill that those remarks were addressed at all, but to the action of the Government in forcing this Bill upon Ireland, in spite of the fact that Ireland does not want it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke from behind the Government Bench, while his language was of a most conciliatory character, adopted what I cannot help thinking was that attitude of eternal ascendancy towards Ireland that has prevailed for so long in this House. He spoke of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway City, and said he was sorry he had joined with his Irish colleagues in doing anything which would hamper, or injure, or delay the progress of the War. It is not we who are doing anything to hamper, or injure, or delay, the progress of the War; it is the Government, who are forcing this measure upon Ireland. I admire that extraordinary attitude of mind of the hon. Gentleman and his friends upon the Government Bench and in the Cabinet which thinks that everything which is done upon the Irish Benches is done to obstruct, to interfere, and delay the War, whilst they know in their own hearts and conscience that it is their own failure to deal straightly and fairly with Ireland which is the great bar to the progress of the War at this moment. I think the obvious duty of the Chief Secretary, in view of the conditions which prevail in Ireland, is to table the Amendments that will make this Bill apply to Ireland according to his intentions. I hope that he will be able, on the further Amendments that are to come up for discussion, to make his position in this respect perfectly clear. If he does not, I am afraid it may be necessary for us to ask the House to postpone the further consideration of this Bill until he is in a position to do so.


I am sorry I cannot congratulate the Chief Secretary on the manner and method of his speech. According to my view of that speech, I do not think that he ever in his professional career, marked his addresses to the jury with that policy of the strong hand which we have seen to-night. While we believe in his good intentions as regards Ireland, any attempt, any endeavour to adopt the policy of thrusting on Ireland a measure which has absolutely no enthusiasm whatever in that country will be a mistake. The right hon. Gentleman said the opposition was a political opposition. I make him a present of that argument; but, so far as this Bill is concerned, the policy underlying this Bill is doomed in Ireland by reason of past experience. One of the most dangerous things in this House is legislation by reference, and another most dangerous thing is the application of British measures to Irish conditions. We have had experience of that in social legislation in recent is years, connected with objects which were popular and which were desired and wanted in Ireland. Will anybody dare to suggest that the system established in this House for purely English conditions, even with the best will in the world, has been the success in Ireland which it ought to be? The Chief Secretary says, "Here is a Bill for Great Britain which establishes a. Director-General for National Service." I understand that he means there shall be a separate Director-General for Ireland. But that would not meet the conditions at all, for whoever is appointed as Director-General in Ireland will have to take his orders from the English Director-General. I cannot help thinking that the shibboleth of the party dealing with this question in Ireland is a very dangerous one, not only to that country but also to England, in regard to winning the War—and, of course, we all want to win the War. But we are determined to resist the passage through the House of unreasoned, ill-considered gimcrack legislation, and if you want to win the War it must be by good will, consideration for, and trust and confidence in, the Irish people.

There is no enthusiasm for this measure in Ireland, and I will go further and say in England. I am told that there is to be a meeting in the Albert Hall to consider the whole question after launching this measure. Will the Chief Secretary call a meeting in Ireland? The other day in connection with the Summer Time Bill he was very solicitous about the fact that he had got varying views from different Irish bodies in regard to that measure. Has he consulted various Irish bodies with reference to this Bill or the principle which underlies it? I think if he does that he will get a practically unanimous reply against it, for the reason that your Bill is a British measure for British conditions. It is not for a country which has been depleted of its skilled men, of its artizans, and of its tradesmen. Yet you are going to apply the same policy and the same principle to a country where, under the Old Age Pensions Act, there is a larger proportion of people over seventy years of age than in any other part of the three Kingdoms. In talking of the proposal to regulate labour in Ireland, I was surprised that the Chief Secretary should speak of surplus labour in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman pays many visits to Ireland, but it would be better if he spent more time in that country and if he did not cross to and fro so frequently. Does he not know that in the principle industry in Ireland—the agricultural industry—there is a shortage of labour? He talks about a well-regulated scheme. The conditions that now obtain of poor wages are by reason of a system to which the Prime Minister himself gave the go by, so far as this country is concerned, in his speech on food production. Why is it that you have got such a population of Irish people in America and Australia, and that Ireland is to-day depleted of labour, so that we cannot talk about surplus labour there? It is because of the policy you have pursued and the legislation you have passed with regard to Ireland, in spite of the opposition of the members of the party with whom I have the honour to sit and act. The Chief Secretary has sprung this proposal on the House of a separate Controller of National Service in Ireland. I suggest to him that he will be doing the best service possible to Ireland and to his own administration there by accepting this Motion for the exclusion of Ireland. If he can make out a case for this Bill and produce a well-reasoned scheme, which has been submitted to the people in Ireland and accepted by them, then he will have some hope of doing something to win the War.

I may tell the Chief Secretary, if he goes on with the present scheme under the cry raised by an hon. and gallant Member that we want to win the War, he will only be making trouble for himself and his own administration. All of us are anxious in Ireland to do what is best for Ireland and what is best in the interests of this country too, but I think the answer to his whole argument to-night is to be found in a reply which he gave to a question in regard to the 10 per cent. tillage scheme in Ireland. He said he expected to have a very big margin. That is not because the Government scheme is a good one. Everybody admits that, and even some of the Government officials are willing to admit that it is not workable. That great increase in agriculture will be produced by the good will of the Irish people. I ask the Chief Secretary if he persists in his refusal to accept this Amendment, how does he think he is going to compel workmen and tradesmen of all kinds in Ireland to wear badges? Does he think he will succeed in organising Ireland on those lines? He tells us this a purely voluntary scheme. If it is so, and if it is not the forerunner of something further at a later date, in view of the results which he has obtained from purely voluntary effort and good will with regard to tillage, what reason can be found for pressing on this Bill with reference to Ireland? I urge on him that he ought to take into consideration Irish opinion and Irish conditions. The same principle which applies to this country cannot possibly apply to Ireland, and Ireland will on its merits resist this proposal by every means in its power. Ireland has had experience of other measures of social legislation, which were brought in by this country and applied to Ireland, and which were carried out and directed in Ireland by officers appointed from outside, wholly out of touch with the Irish people and out of sympathy with their conditions, their needs and wants. I am certain of this. If a case can be made out, and I do not thing it can, for the establishment of some system of organised labour in Ireland by reason of her conditions, and a scheme prepared and submitted to the Irish people and to the local authorities, about whom the Chief Secretary was so solicitous recently, then I say there is some hope of doing some good. But if the right hon. Gentleman goes on with the present scheme I can promise him, and I do it not in the nature of a threat but merely by reason of the knowledge I have of affairs in Ireland, that, instead of helping matters, he will only injure them.


There is something anomalous in the conditions under which this Bill is being pressed forward by the Chief Secretary with the words of the Prime Minister still fresh upon our minds, that no legislation will be forced on Ireland where a minority object. We have this Bill, which is obnoxious to the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland, pushed forward with only the support of that small minority. I am sorry that the Chief Secretary intends to persist, and even now, if there is a place of repentance left open for him, I hope that he may avail himself of that chance, because if this Bill becomes law it seems to me to be fraught with much danger and much evil to the future. The Irish people will regard it as what is called the thin end of the wedge of a compulsory system, and they will have their suspicions aroused that compulsion in industrial matters may eventually be pushed forward, till it becomes compulsion also in military matters. Although any such intention may be disclaimed from the Front Bench, it is also fresh in our memories that when other important Bills were brought in, such as the Registration Act and the Defence of the Realm Act, we were also assured from that Front Bench that their scope would be limited as much as possible, and that it was never intended to use them in the way they have since been used, particularly in Ireland, where the Defence of the Realm Act has been applied in a manner never contemplated by any Member of this House when it was first introduced. This Bill is brought in on the false plea of raising the general efficiency of the whole country, but there is a much simpler way of raising the general efficiency of Ireland, and that method is to leave Irish affairs to be managed by Irish representatives. I will take one illustration, and that is with regard to the application of the system of increasing food production. When that was introduced it was to some extent mismanaged. Local people took it up with good will, examined it, studied it and with full knowledge of their local conditions presented from time to time a series of suggestions to the Department of Agriculture and to the Chief Secretary, each one of which, if applied, would have been beneficial to their own district. Every one of those suggestions were rejected from Dublin, without examination of the local conditions, and ignoring them, or not caring for them, and rejected on account of the uniformity of the scheme.

If it is thought to increase the productivity of Ireland and the general efficiency of the country, speaking of my own Constituency, I believe it would be possible to map out productive works which, if the labour supply were sufficient, would increase the total efficiency by 100 per cent. No doubt what I say of my own Constituency applies to Ireland generally, and that it would be possible to point out productive works, such, for instance, as the utilisation of waterfalls, drainage and the exploitation of mines, which were once worked and abandoned because the methods of those times were not efficient. If all these methods, which have for centuries been in the hands of the British Government, had been employed and developed, it is possible that the population of Ireland, instead of being a little over 4,000,000, would now be double that number, and the people would be happier, more contented, and more prosperous. This Bill has been brought in on the same principle as was a small Bill introduced into this House with regard to summer time, not because the Irish people want it, not because it has any application to the needs of the Irish people, not because it accords with their desire or will be to their advantage, but simply on a general plan of a sort of conformity in the laws of the two countries.

When this new Government first came into power I was one of those who rather hailed its advent as being likely to produce a new era—an era of efficiency, not only in matters such as this Bill deals with, but in regard to the general conduct of the War. Up to the present day I must say I have been greatly disappointed in all that I have seen. There seems to be a prevalent idea in Government circles that efficiency is synonomous with fuss, agitation and newspaper puffing—with newspaper flummery, boosting and boasting. And when one sees that carried on in the newspapers on a crescendo scale, not merely at the beginning, but week after week after they have settled down to work, one is forced to ask this question, very deliberately and very keenly, How much useful, solid and valid organisation will all this fuss, flummery and newspaper fussery precipitate?


I think the hon. Member's observations are not very relevant to the question before the House.


I think they have a very intimate bearing on the question, and I hope to be able to show that they have. You are asking us in Ireland to adopt a scheme of organisation and to hand over to the Controller of that scheme powers of a character such as have never before been given to any ruler in any country except an absolute dictator. We have a right to examine into the consequences of such a scheme and to ask what are the proofs given by the Government that it will be advantageous to Ireland. Still I will not attempt to press that point further, or, indeed, any other point, as so much has been said about the scheme by previous speakers on almost every aspect of the question. I will, however, give a warning to the House. Although there may be great work and a valid organisation proceeding from the present Government, I have seen a tendency which is alarming and dangerous to multiply offices indefinitely and to set up new organisations and to flood those organisations with office-bearers and bureaucrats of every kind with an outward show of organisation, but no real efficiency. There is one question of great importance to this country. What is to become of these office-bearers when the War is ended? What is to become of that great legion of bureaucrats and office-holders when there is no useful productive work for them to do? I hope that even now the Government may reconsider the whole scheme and find a way to exclude Ireland. I ask them to pay attention to their own declared principles about forcing any scheme of legislation upon a people who object to it even though they be a minority. Greater force attaches, of course, to that argument when the objection is entertained by the majority. I think they will find that, so far from the Irish party not representing the Irish people in this particular matter, when they are face to face with actual events and with realities they will discover that the views that have been put forward with special force have not stated with sufficient vividness the real dangers with which they will subsequently have to cope.


Perhaps I may be allowed to offer a few observations on the effect of this proposal on the ordinary English Member. I confess that when one has regard to the effect of a speech recently made by the Prime Minister, in which he refused to put into force an Act which is now on the Statute Book, and when one sees him coming forward and asking for voluntary service from Ireland it does seem to amount to an insult to Ireland itself. The idea of expecting that you are going to get an enthusiastic support from Ireland when the policy of the Government is calculated to almost antagonise what was once its enthusiastic support is ironical in the extreme. I understand the Chief Secretary has suggested that he is prepared to agree to the appointment of a Director of National Service for Ireland. We would like to know who this gentleman is to be. Is he someone that Ireland would care to accept? Just conceive for a moment what that must mean to the Irish Members and even to the average Member of Parliament.


They will take over the Shelborne Hotel.


What I want to point out is the absurdity of asking the ordinary Member of Parliament to agree to such a proposal at a moment when the Government are acting in a way calculated to antagonise every section of the people in this country and in Ireland in order to secure, as they suggest, the satisfactory conduct of the War. We know what they have done with regard to Lancashire. We shall probably hear more about that on Wednesday. We have heard to-night a good deal about this being a measure for inviting voluntary service, yet this invitation is sent out when you have already antagonised services that were once loyally offered. Is it not farcical to make such a proposal as this? Can it in common sense be anticipated that you are going to get a response from people whom you have antagonised by your policy? The Chief Secretary has stated that it is proposed to appoint a Director of National Service for Ireland; but may I point out that there is no Amendment put down to the Bill to carry out such a proposal, which entirely alters the whole Bill? We want to know who the, Director is to be. It is not right to ask that this measure should be extended to Ireland unless we know whether the scheme is likely to get the support of Irish as well as English and Scottish Members. I for one believe that this is only on a par with many of the other proposals made by the Government. It is not in accordance with either reason or common sense, and I hope that, before we go any further, some member of the Government will state whom it is intended to appoint and whether it is to be a gentleman likely to be acceptable to the Irish Members. I protest against this haphazard method. We English Members of Parliament had been told, and certainly some of us knew, who was to be Director-General of National Service for England. The Irish Members, I think, have made out a very strong case for another cause of dissatisfaction on their part that this Director- General, of whom they do not know, in whom they may not have any confidence, is to be given these enormous powers. It is to be given these enormous powers. It is ludicrous. It is absurd to expect Irish Members of the House of Commons to agree to the appointment of an officer whom they do not know. I never in all my experience heard of a proposal so absolutely hopeless. I hope some Member of the Government will give us the necessary information as to who this is to be; or, will it be that at the eleventh hour some proposal may be made by the Government for delaying the extension of this Bill to Ireland until conditions have been satisfactorily concluded for an agreement?


The arguments against the application of this Bill to Ireland have been so admirably expressed, and so fully dealt with, that I do not propose to take up the time of the House in recapitulating them. In fact, I would not have ventured to trespass upon this Debate but for the purpose of dealing with an aspect of the question which has been overlooked both by the Government and by the English Members. We have only had one or two speeches from English Members, and one from the Chief Secretary, whom, of course, we cannot look upon as an Irishman. It is quite evident to me—and I trust the hon. Member opposite (Mr. D. Mason) will forgive me if I put it this way—that English Members have quite made up their minds that our opposition here is not based upon any substantial grounds, but is rather the sheer perversity of the Irish politician. I dare say that when we go to a Division that hon. Members will troop into the Lobby to vote in the most casual and light-hearted manner for the application of this Bill to Ireland, without considering the objections that we really have to it, and, I very much fear, the strong objections which will be raised by the people of Ireland themselves. These in the near future will take a very formidable form. The application of this Bill to Ireland is a great mistake—for several very important reasons I think so. It is not necessary even for the purpose that the Government themselves have in view. I have had opportunities of discussing what will be the practical effect of this National Service Bill when it is in operation, and, to my mind, it will have two effects—I am not speaking now of Ireland alone. One of the effects will be that the National Service Directors will have to prevent businesses being carried on which they consider to be not necessary in the interests of the nation, and the other will be the mobilisation of labour for businesses which they consider to be in the interests of the nation. The Government have created a large Department for the purpose of dealing with this matter.

I asked a highly-placed official who has been engaged in the work several pointed questions, so that I might get at the root of the matter. I found it all amounts to this, that people who are willing to engage in National Service in this connection send their names to St. Ermin's Hotel, whence they are sent to the local Labour Exchange, so that anybody who wishes to participate in National Service can walk into the local Labour Exchange and achieve his purpose without all the other preliminaries. The thing is merely a reorganisation of the Employment Exchanges in order to perpetuate the farcical idea of doing something—it does not matter what—so long as it looks like doing something. Other powers will be taken if this Department is created which will enable those in charge, after men have enrolled, to take these men and to transfer them to any industry—I contend compulsorily. A man will have no choice at all. My argument against the extension of the Bill to Ireland really can be expressed in one or two sentences. There is no need for it, if you want to have voluntary labour for National Service. Voluntary labour will flow in the direction where its services will be most effective, and, of course, most highly paid. Therefore, unless you are wilfully bent upon challenging Irish public opinion upon a matter which will do you no good at all, I advise you not to press this upon Ireland, in view of the fact that it would not be of any practical value to you. Ail the practical value you can get out of voluntary service you can already get from Ireland by real voluntary service, not by means of this Bill. The Directors of the Ministry of Munitions, and the organisers of labour in this country—I mean the manufacturers who are organising labour for their own productions—have no difficulty at all in attracting labour here. In fact, they have attracted too much here. We want it in Ireland as much as you want it in England. We do not want a Bill to enable you to get Irish labour here; it will come so long as you have money to pay for it.

The Chief Secretary came up to-night and assumed the attitude of a benevolent stranger who knew very much more of the condition of the Irish people than did the Members of this House. He was concerned primarily for the Irish labourers, and he implied that we were not at all concerned for the Irish labourers? All I can say is, that, so far as I am concerned, if I was not more concerned for the welfare of the Irish labourer than is the Chief Secretary I would not be a Member of Parliament for Ireland. I think that it is a piece of—I will not say impertinence, because I do not think the right hon. Gentleman would be guilty of that—but it is a piece of forgetfulness at least which prompted him to get up, and deny our right to represent the Irish labourer, and to claim his right to do so—an English Member, returned by a constituency by a majority of one vote, who has only been in Ireland twelve months, and knows nothing at all about the country, and I suppose the development of political events will transfer him in due course from that sphere of action to another sphere of action, and Ireland will know him no more. In the meantime he has taken upon himself the responsibility of informing this House that really the Irish party do not speak for Ireland on this particular point, but that he speaks for it. I warn English Members against accepting that doctrine. The House of Commons will have to deal with the consequences if this measure is forced on the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman's reply to our argument is, "Oh, well now, you really are not doing justice to your own intelli-when you talk about compulsion. You are confusing a compulsory Bill with this Bill. This is not a compulsory Bill, and you can take my word for it, as representing the Government, that it will not become a compulsory Bill."

Well, I take the right hon. Gentleman's word upon many things that have nothing to do with politics, but I think I would limit the value of his word in politics to the measure of his strength in the Government, and I do not think his assurance would be enough to satisfy the Irish people that, once this Bill is passed, it might not in the very near future become a compulsory measure. What do we in Ireland care about the promises of British Ministers? I need not elaborate the point. We have had in the recent past too many evidences of the lack of responsibility to their own conceptions of their obligations in regard to their pledges, to expect us to believe that this particular pledge given by the Chief Secretary tonight will not develop into another of the broken pledges which have scattered the highway of Irish politics during the last two or three years. No, Sir, Ireland will render voluntary labour in the best way you can possibly expect if you leave Ireland alone. If you apply this Bill to Ireland, I am very much afraid that the Irish people will regard it as the thin end of the wedge for compulsion, and will not only give you less but a great deal more trouble in the application of this Bill than ever you bargained for. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Irish labourer will be in some vague and obscure way advantaged by this Bill. I would be very much interested, if he has an opportunity of speaking on the other stages of this Bill, to hear him develop that point. His reasons for making that statement appear to be that so much labour is wanted, and there is so much labour in Ireland. The local Labour Exchanges in Ireland are quite sufficient to meet the needs of employers in Ireland, and for those men in Ireland who want to come to England, it is not necessary to have the machinery of this Bill for that purpose. They can come without that, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman must really give better reasons than he has given.

The hon. and gallant Member for Antrim (Colonel M'Calmont) made a speech which I thought in very good taste, and of which, on the whole, I think no Member on these benches would complain. I was very glad he made it, because he has been identified with those members of the Irish race who have gone into the Army, who have covered themselves with glory, and have upheld the traditions of their race in the fighting in this War. But when the Chief Secretary was saying that in this matter the Irish party did not really represent Ireland, the hon. and gallant Member cheered that remark most markedly. In his speech the hon. and gallant Member repudiated the theory laid down by the Chief Secretary. He did not say we did not represent Ireland, but he thought we did not represent the views of the men fighting in the Army on this particular matter, because, according to his theory, this is a war measure, and therefore anybody who opposes this war measure is not represent- ing the views of the men at the front. I am not conscious of the fact that this is a war measure. I do not think it is a war measure at all. It is a measure which will, more or less, retard the real interest of the War than advance it, and, so far as Ireland is concerned, I am quite certain about it. Therefore, I welcome the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman because he made, it quite clear that he did not regard us as being merely perverse politicians who were anxious for political reasons to embarrass the Government, but he thought this was really a war measure which would assist the Government in the conduct of the War. I have told the House the reason I do not consider it to be true.

I think this measure, if it is applied to Ireland, will be a very great blunder. I see the Home Secretary in his place. He, I think, is primarily responsible for this, and I do not think he ought to take the responsibility of applying this measure to Ireland in view of the passionate protests that have been made by the representatives of Ireland to-night. If this measure is applied to Ireland against our will, and if it is repudiated and turmoil arises as the result of it, how can he expect to escape responsibility for the cause of that turmoil if he now takes the attitude of repudiating the wishes and the reasons and arguments of Members on these benches against applying the measure to Ireland? That seems to me a most extraordinary thing for the responsible English politicians to do, for they are ignoring such obvious considerations as those which have been put forward from these benches tonight. If you do not take into consideration the fact that this Bill will not assist you in Ireland and that it will be repudiated and resisted by the Irish representatives, and that it will naturally be followed by turmoil and possibly bloodshed in Ireland, how in the world can you reconcile that with your reputation—[An HON. MEMBER: "They have no reputation!"]—for being responsible and common-sense men. [HON. MEMBERS:" Order, order!"] At any rate, I give them credit for common sense.


It is want of common sense.


It seems to me that Ireland is the only place in the world where established principles must not be put into operation, and evidently the Government think that Ireland should be dealt with in a very special way. I am one of those who really believe there never was and never ought to have been any essential quarrel between the English and the Irish people. I believe no difference would have arisen if you could only get the English people to understand the point of view of the Irish people. I believe the Chief Secretary is responsible for nearly all the trouble that has arisen in Ireland. This is the sort of thing that happens. English politicians imagine that such and such a state of things exist in Ireland—

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)

I am afraid the hon. Member's remarks are too general for the Motion now before the House.


I think that the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill is typical of the kind of conduct which has been the cause of all the trouble between the two nations, and if I can fasten that responsibility upon him without transgressing the Rules of Order my object will have been achieved. That is my case. I think you are will fully and perversely doing what you ought not to do, either in the interests of England or of Ireland, and you have no excuse whatever for making the assertion that you are doing so with full knowledge of Ireland because you are not. You are doing this against the express wishes of hon. Members from Ireland who have that full knowledge. I do not know whether it is too late to argue the case, because the mind of the

right hon. Gentleman opposite seems to have been made up. I ask, is it too late to expect that this matter could be reconsidered? I beg the Chief Secretary as a friend of Ireland and England to prevent this injustice being done to the Irish people, and in consequence further trouble and possibly bloodshed in Ireland. Irish representatives during the whole of this War have not criticised the conduct of the War, and we have not done because we wish to render the best service we could in order to win the War; consequently we refrained in order to enable Ministers to conduct their business, and do the best they could according to their lights in connection with public affairs. In the future this will be one of the reasons why Irishmen will examine with a critical eye every action which Ministers perform which is not consistent with the principles of justice to small nations, the freedom of individuals, and the liberty of the subjects, when these principles are being outraged, and they are being outraged to-night by the indifference, if not the culpable ignorance, of willful and irresponsible Ministers who represent the Government in this House.

Sir G. CAVE rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 145; Noes, 73.

Division No. 8.] AYES. [10.2 p.m.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Collins, Sir W. (Derby) Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)
Archdale, Lieut. Edward M. Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)
Baird, John Lawrence Cowan, W. H. Haslam, Lewis
Baldwin, Stanley Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Helme Sir Norval Watson
Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N. Craig, Colonel James (Down. E.) Henry, Sir Charles
Barnett, Capt. R. W. Craik, Sir Henry Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)
Barton, William Croft, Lieut.-Col. Henry 'age Hewart, Sir Gordon
Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.) Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Hewins, William Albert Samuel
Beale, Sir William Phipson Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Hills, John Waller
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Denniss, E. R. B. Hinds, John
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H. Hodge, John
Bigland, Alfred Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward Illingworth, Albert Holden
Bird, Alfred Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Ingleby, Holcombe
Bliss. Joseph Duncannon, Viscount Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)
Boscawen. Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith Fell, Arthur Johnston, Christopher N.
Bowerman. Rt. Hon. C. W. Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)
Boyton, James Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)
Bridgeman, William Clive Fletcher, John Samuel Kellaway, Frederick George
Brookes, Warwick Gelder, Sir W. A. Kenyon, Barnet
Brunner. John F. L. Gilbert, J. D. Knight, Captain E. A.
Burn, Colonel C- R. Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough) Lloyd. George Butler (Shrewsbury)
Cave. Rt. Hon. Sir George Gretton, Col. John Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Cecil.Ht.Hon Lord Robert(Herts,Hitchin) Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William M'Calmont, Col. Robert C. A.
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh
Coates. Major Sir E. F. (Lewisham) Hambro, Angus Valdemar Mackinder, Halford J.
Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S. McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)
Macpherson, James Ian Pratt, J. W. Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Mallalieu, Frederick William Pretyman, Ernest George Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Marks, Sir George Croydon Primrose, Hon. Neil James Tickler, T. G.
Middlemore, John Throgmorton Pryce-Jones, Colonel E. Tootill, Robert
Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel Touche, Sir George Alexander
Money, L. G. Chiozza Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Toulmin, Sir George
Morison, Hector Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Turton, Edmund Russborough
Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Walker, Colonel William Hall
Neville, Reginald J. N. Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Newton, Harry Kottingham Robinson, Sidney Whiteley, Herbert James
Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Rowlands, James Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Nield, Herbert Rutherford, Sir John (Lancs., Darwen) Wilson, Lt.-Cl. Sir M.(Beth'l Green, S. W.)
Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A. Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby) Wilson-Fox, Henry
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Salter, Arthur Clavell Winfrey, Sir Richard
Paget, Almeric Hugh Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth) Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.
Parker, James (Halifax) Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton) Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington) Stanier, Captain Baville Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Perkins, Walter F. Stewart, Gershom
Pete, Basil Edward Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Pollock, Ernest Murray Talbot, Lord Edmund Mr. Beck and Mr. James Hope
Anderson, W. C. Jowett, Frederick William O'Doherty, Philip
Billing, Pemberton Joyce, Michael O'Dowd, John
Boland, John Plus Keating, Matthew O'Leary, Daniel
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Kilbride, Denis O'Malley, William
Burns, Rt. Hon. John King, Joseph O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Byrne, Alfred Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Clancy, John Joseph Lardner, James C. R. O'Sullivan, Timothy
Condon, Thomas Joseph Law. Hugh A. (Donegal, West Outhwaite, R. L.
Cosgrave, James Lundon, Thomas Pringle, William M. R.
Crumley, Patrick Lynch, Arthur Alfred Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Cullinan, John Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Scanlan, Thomas
Devlin, Joseph McGhee, Richard Sheehy, David
Dillon, John MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Donovan, John Thomas MacVeagh, Jeremiah Snowden, Philip
Doris, William Maden, Sir John Henry Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Duffy, William J Mason, David M. (Coventry) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Farrell, James Patrick Meagher, Michael. White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)
Ffrench, Peter Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Field, William Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Fitzpatrick, John Lalor Molloy, Michael Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Flavin, Michael Joseph Mooney, John J. Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Muldoon, John
Hackett, John Nolan, Joseph TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hayden, John Patrick Nugent, John Dillon (Dublin, Col. Gn.) Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick
Hazleton, Richard O'Connor John (Kildare, N.) O'Brien
Hogge, James Myles O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)

Question put accordingly, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 76; Noes,. 148.

Division No. 9.] AYES. 10. 11 p.m.
Boland, John Pius Keating, Matthew O'Dowd, John
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Kilbride, Denis O'Leary, Daniel
Burns, Rt. Hon. John King, Joseph O'Malley, William
Byrne, Alfred Lambert, Richard (Cricklade) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Clancy, John Joseph Lardner, James C. R. O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Condon, Thomas Joseph Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) O'Sullivan, Timothy
Cosgrave, James Lundon, Thomas Outhwaite, R. L.
Crumley, Patrick Lynch, Arthur Alfred Pringle, William M. R.
Cullinan, John Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Radford, Sir G. H.
Devlin, Joseph McGhee, Richard Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Dillon, John M'Kean, John Scanlan, Thomas
Donovan, John Thomas MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Sheehy, David
Doris, William MacVeagh, Jeremiah Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Duffy, William J. Mason, David M. Coventry) Snowden, Philip
Farrell, James Patrick Meagher, Michael Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Ffrench, Peter Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Tootill, Robert
Field, William Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Lelx.) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Fitzpatrick, John Lalor Molloy, Michael White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Mooney, John J. White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Goldstone, Frank Muldoon, John Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Nolan, Joseph Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Hackett, John Nugent, J. D. (College Green) Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Hayden, John Patrick O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wilson, W. T. (Westhougton)
Hazleton, Richard O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Hogge, James Myles O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Jowett, Frederick William O'Doherty, Philip Captain Donelan and Mr. Anderson
Joyce, Michael
Addison, Rt. Hon. Or. Christopher Gelder. Sir W. A Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred Ormsby-Gore, Hon, William
Archdale, Lieut. Edward M. Grant, James Augustus Paget, Almeric Hugh
Baird, John Lawrence Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough) Parker, James (Halifax)
Baldwin, Stanley Gretton, John Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs. Leek)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N. Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Barnett, Captain R. W. Hambro, Angus Valdemar Perkins, Walter F.
Barton, William Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Peto, Basil Edward
Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.) Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S. Philippe, Maj.-Gen. Ivor (Southampton)
Beale, Sir William Phipson Harmsworth,, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Pollock, Ernest Murray
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.) Pratt, J. W.
Bonn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.) Pretyman, Ernest George
Bigland, Alfred Haslam, Lewis Primrose, Hon. Neil James
Bird, Alfred Henry, Sir Charles Pryce Jones, Colonel E.
Bliss, Joseph Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith. Hewart, Sir Gordon Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W. Hewins, William Albert Samuel Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Boyton, James Hills, John Waller Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbigh)
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Hinds, John Robinson, Sidney
Bridgeman, William dive Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Rowlands, James
Brookes, Warwick Illingwerth, Albert H. Rutherford, Sir John (Lancs., Darwen)
Brunner, John F. L. Ingleby, Holcombe Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Burn, Colonel C. R. Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York) Salter, Arthur Clavell
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Johnston, Christopher N. Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)
Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)
Cecil, Rt.Hon.Lord Robert (Herts,Hitchin Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) Stanler, Captain Seville
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Kellaway, Frederick George Stewart, Gershom
Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Kenyon, Barnet Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Knight, Captain E. A. Talbot, Lord Edmund
Collins, Sir W. (Derby) Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Terrell, H. (Gloucester)
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A, Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Tickler, T. G.
Cowan, W. H. M'Calmont, Col. Robert C. A. Touche, Sir George Alexander
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Turton, Edmund Russborough
Craig, Col. James (Down, E.) Mackinder, H. J. Walker, Colonel William Hall
Craik, Sir Henry Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T, J. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Croft, Lieut.-Col. Henry Page McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Whiteley, Herbert James
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Macpherson, James Ian Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)
Denman. Hon. Richard Douglas Mallalieu, Frederick William Wilson-Fox, Henry
Denniss. E. R. B. Marks, Sir George Croydon Wilson, Lt.-Cl.Sir M.(Beth'l Green.S.W.)
Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H. Middlemore, John Throgmorton Winfrey, Sir Richard
Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward Mend, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Wing, Thomas Edward
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.
Duncannon, Viscount Morison. Hector Yate, Colonel C. E.
Fell, Arthur Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Young, William (Perth, E.)
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Neville, Reginald J. N. Younger, Sir George
Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. Newton, Harry Kottingham
Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Fletcher, John Samuel Nield, Herbert Mr. Beck and Mr. James Hope