HC Deb 09 April 1918 vol 104 cc1364-449

—it is important they should feel that they are not fighting to establish a right and a principle abroad which is denied to the land in which they live. I ought to say that the appeals we have addressed to the Dominions —


We know it is all nonsense !


—have produced a fine response. The Dominions have already furnished the Empire with something like 1,000,000 magnificent fighting men. They are each and all taking the necessary steps to send more. The proposals in the Bill which I am submitting to the House, and to which I ask the House to give a First Reading, I hope it will be possible to get through the House this week. [HON MEMBERS: "No!"] Time presses. Every day is a matter of importance.


The House will have to get us out first


We regret having to propose such extremely drastic recommendations, which will injure so many trades; but, having regard to the emergency, I say that no Government could accept the responsibility of proposing less. If, by any chance or mischance this colossal battle went against us, I do not say the War would be over, any more than it was in the days when Britain fought against another attempt at military dominancy —when Napoleon, having overthrown the armies of Europe, had the Continent at his mercy. As long as we have a ship afloat, we shall not accept a German peace. But if the battle be won, as I believe it will be, the doom of Prussianism is sealed. [An HON. MEMBER: "Except in Ireland!"] The enemy has attacked at the height of his strength. We have been deserted by one powerful Ally. Another, and a more powerful, Ally is not yet ready to put forth one-tenth of his might. But, on the other hand, this battle must exhaust the German reserves. The enemy's last call must be thrown in before this battle is over, and America is only now putting in the first instalment of her first call. If we wish to avoid a war lasting for years, this battle must be won now, and, to win it, we must be ready to throw in all our resources. The men we propose taking to-day may well be the means of winning the decisive victory of the War, and with these measures, and with the promise of America, we have no fear of the ultimate issue. We shall pass through many fluctuations of hope and despondency, perhaps, even in this battle Let us go through the vicissitudes of this tremendous struggle with a stout and a steady heart. We have had critical days.


There are worse to come


In those days we had no ground for panic. We have had days when the outlook was brighter. Make no mistake —there is no cause yet for exultation, except in the valour of our troops. For a long time there will be cause, grave cause, for deep anxiety. There will always be, to the end, cause for exertion and for sacrifice, and if these be given with the unstinted devotion with which our brave men in France are affording, there will be cause for confidence in this country.


Mr. Speaker —

Mr. DEVLIN rose —


I saw the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition first, and he is entitled to address the House.


I am sorry to intervene, Mr. Speaker, even for a moment, between my hon. Friend and the privilege of catching your eye, but I shall not intervene very long between this moment and his opportunity of addressing the House. I desire to reserve —and I think hon. Members in every quarter of the House will do well in that respect to follow my example —I desire to reserve judgment in regard to the specific proposals of this measure, which has just been explained to the House, until we see it in print, and are able maturely and deliberately to consider its provisions. I would only say in general terms that from the beginning of the War I have always regarded the various proposals either submitted to or submitted by successive Governments by one test —not a test of principle, because these are expedients in regard to which principle hardly applies, but of whether or not they were calculated, as I am sure they were intended, to promote the prosecution of the War to a successful issue. I myself, as is known to many of my old colleagues —and I never made any concealment of it —was strongly indisposed to the application of compulsion in any shape or form. Some of my colleagues from the first took a different view, and others shared my view. I am not in the least ashamed of it, because I repeat it to-night as my conviction —the question of compulsion is not a question of principle but of expediency, and I myself, gradually, I admit, came to the conclusion that it was possible and practicable to apply compulsion in this country without producing more evils than the benefits which would result from it. It is in the recollection of the House that we carried the Military Service Act of 1916 —which was preceded by much consultation with all sections of opinion —with something like practical unanimity. That is the test I always apply, which I applied then, which I have applied since to subsequent proposals, and which I apply to-day. The only test I apply is this: Will the military results —I use the word "military" in its largest and widest sense —to be secured by the measures proposed outweigh such considerations as can be set on the other side of the balance —dislocation of industry, and whatever other considerations there may be? I strike a balance. If I am satisfied that the balance is in favour of the proposals in the sense that, subtracting all the disadvantages from the advantages, you get a net result which will facilitate the progress of the War, then I am with you. That I believe to be the only real common-sense, practical and patriotic action. I say that in general terms, reserving my right of judgment in regard to the specific proposals.

There is one point I should like —and here I think I am in agreement with the Prime Minister —very strongly to emphasise, and to press upon the House. Never, in my judgment, since the War broke out, has this country been face to face with anything like so grave a situation as that which at this moment confronts us. The collapse of Russia, and the consequent release of hundreds of thousands of German soldiers, who thereupon became available for employment in any of the other theatres of War, made it certain, in the opinion I think, not only of strategists and experts, but of all intelligent people, that by far the most probable direction in which that enormous accession of the effective strength of our enemy would be employed would be the Western Front. So it turned out to be, and the great attack which began the battle that is still going on was fore seen, and ought to have been, and we hope it was, prepared for by all the means that strategic foresight could adopt — co-ordination of command, proper control, distribution of reserves, and so forth. And yet, as we all know —it is no good in the least hiding it from ourselves any more than from the rest of the world —that attack, in its earlier stages, came within a measurable and perilous distance of success. A large area of territory, which only eighteen months ago, at infinite cost and sacrifice, we had rescued from the German invader, has been re-occupied by him. and is held by him at this moment. The amount of our casualties, my right hon. Friend says, it ! would not be expedient to disclose. I dare say he is right, and I am quite prepared to believe also that as regards the estimate of the number of prisoners and guns captured by the enemy, the state: ments put forward by them are exaggerated. But when all that is allowed for and discounted, unquestionably it is the most serious casualty list in the whole of this War.

These are the conditions under which we meet to-day. Here, again, I am not saying anything which it, not obvious to the whole world. Amiens, and all that Amiens means to Great Britain and to France, is seriously menaced, and if, as I not only confidently hope but firmly believe, the cause of the Allies, never so seriously imperilled, can hold out and prevail, it can only be by a supreme and sustained effort. We cannot discuss the question of responsibility in the middle of a great battle. It would be idle and futile to do so, and in the highest degree inexpedient. Whatever may be the verdict which, when the time for investigation comes, will have to be arrived at in this matter, I desire to say —and I am sure I am expressing the opinion of the whole House, and I believe of the whole country —that that gigantic onrush in which our men were confronted by three, four, five, sometimes even ten to one —very nearly that in some cases, and three or four constantly —was stemmed, and is at this moment stemmed by the indomitable tenacity of the British soldier. I had a letter just before I came to the House from a near relative of mine, in fact, one of my own sons, who is an officer in the Artillery, and he tells me that from 21st March, when he was at St. Quentin, for twelve successive days his battery, covering the retirement of our troops, took part in no fewer than twenty-one engagements. That is only a sample of the work which the Artillery has been doing all along the line. I doubt very much whether, in the glorious history of that illustrious corps, the Royal Artillery, there is a more splendid page than that which will recount how. in this retreat, they deliberately covered the Infantry, exposing themselves to capture and to destruction. As long as that spirit of self-sacrifice, discipline, devotion, and courage animates the humblest of our rank and file and our officers, I for one will never despair of our prospects of victory.

That is the sole reason why I wished to say a word or two on the First Reading of the Bill, reserving all criticism of detail until the Second Reading. If we be confronted, as I believe we are, at this moment with the gravest peril which has ever menaced our Empire —and through our Empire, and through our Allies something that is greater than any Empire or any material fabric that man has ever built up, namely, the fortunes of liberty and humanity —there is no sacrifice which this House, representing the people of this country, ought not and is not prepared to make to preserve the world from the worst catastrophe which could ever befall it. As one who has been as responsible as any man during the initiation and the early part of this War, I should like to appeal to the House to approach the consideration of this measure from that point of view, and I make a similar appeal to the Government. At a time like this, and in a crisis like this, agreement, as far as it can be obtained without the sacrifice of the ends we have in view —concord, give and take — are all important.

I am not going into the question of Ireland to-day, but take the question —I am not going into the merits of the question —of the men between forty-two and fifty. They are among the most patriotic men in the country. They have given their sons —vast numbers of them —freely and ungrudgingly to the service of the State, and have seen them shed their blood in the course of the conflict. They have seen the disappearance, first under voluntary enlistment, and afterwards under the Military Service Acts, of the younger men employed in their own businesses, and upon them has fallen, as it lies every day, the stress and burden of carrying on, really as my right hon. Friend said, the economic side of our task. Do not suppose, therefore, that it is from any lack of patriotism, any spirit of lethargy, any sense of indifference or self-indulgence that these men look with the gravest, I will not say suspicion, but with the gravest apprehension upon the application of compulsory service to them. I am not for a moment expressing any opinion. I do not say it is not right; but do let us have a perfectly free and frank interchange of opinion, and let us —I am now especially addressing myself to the Government —keep our ears and our minds accessible to reasonable arguments. When that has taken place —and I believe it is only in an atmosphere of that kind that legislation such as this can really be carried through efficiently —I appeal to my right hon. Friend to give a little more time for the consideration of this measure.

It is quite right to say that time is of the essence of the matter. No one is more alive to that than I am, but after all, any reservoir of reserves upon which you propose to draw cannot be made effectively available for the purpose of this great battle for weeks, and possibly for months. I speak as a very old Parliamentarian, and as one who has had a great deal of experience in the conduct and management of the business of this House, when I say that I believe that it is found in the long run best to give sufficient time for consideration. I speak only from the point of view of getting legislation through in a form in which the country will be satisfied that all reasonable objections and arguments have had a full opportunity for debate. I should, therefore, strongly advise the Government, in the interests of their measure and, of what is much more important, in the interests of the country and of the War, if possible, to give us a little more time for the fullest consideration of the details of the Bill.

I finish as I began, by urging upon the House, with all the earnestness, and, indeed, almost with all the solemnity of which I am capable, to realise that never before in the experience of any man within these walls, or of his fathers and his forefathers, has this country and all the great traditions and ideals which are embodied in our history —never has this the most splendid inheritance ever bequeathed to a people been in greater peril. or in more need of united safeguarding than at this present time.


I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

I ought to apologise to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for having stood for a moment in his way when he wished to address the House. I rose simply in accordance with the ruling of Mr. Speaker, that at the close of the Prime Minister's speech I would be in order in moving the Adjournment of the Debate. Therefore, in accordance with that ruling, and accepting that ruling, I rose to discharge what I thought was a responsibility and an obligation which I owed to my country. I do not propose at this stage to enter into the merits of Conscription as applied to Ireland. That will be a matter that will be fully and freely discussed from these benches before any decision is arrived at. The Prime Minister adopted the somewhat characteristic and subtle course, not of proposing his policy of Conscription in all its nakedness, but of proposing it concurrently with some suggestion about the decision of the National Convention which has lately been held in Dublin. There is only one particular recommendation of that Convention which is germane to this discussion, and that is the recommendation of the Convention in regard to the application of Conscription to Ireland. That matter was referred to a Committee of five of the most distinguished of its members, the Duke of Abercorn, Lord Desart, and Mr. Powell, three Unionists, and Captain Gwynn and Captain Doran, two Nationalists, who are soldier members of the Convention. To that Convention they made this recommendation: We have already submitted an ad interim Report, which it will be convenient to produce here on the practical aspect of Conscription in the event of the establishment of a separate Parliament and Executive for Ireland. As none of the Gentlemen on the Front Bench has read the Report of the Convention, I would ask them respectfully to listen to the recommendations of that Committee, and I would also ask the House to remember that this was a Committee not of Nationalists, but that three of them were the most important and some of them the most anti-Home Rulers in Ireland when in this country, and two of them were Nationalists who are serving in the Army. They say: Assuming that a scheme of self-government for Ireland be adopted, including the establishment of an Irish Parliament and an Irish Executive Government responsible thereto, we think it would in practice be impossible to impose a system of compulsory service in Ireland without the assent and co-operation of the Irish Parliament. As to whether as an abstract proposition it would be desirable by vesting these powers in the Imperial Parliament to secure united and simultaneous action in this direction in both Islands, we think it unnecessary for us to express an opinion, as we think it would be impracticable effectively to enforce such a demand except with the approval of the Irish Parliament, without which action the efficient co-operation of the Executive could not be secured. Indeed, it seems to us the direct consequence of the creation of an Irish Parliament that any measure of this character must be submitted to the Irish Parliament before it can be enforced in Ireland. When Conscription was applied to this country every Member representing English constituencies was consulted as to whether it should be applied or not. We felt in the position of men who were representatives of another nation, that we ought not to interfere, and we left it for English Members to decide whether Conscription should be applied to their country or not. Have we been consulted about these proposals which have been submitted from the Front Bench? Has the Prime Minister ever taken into consultation a single representative from Ireland upon this question, as to whether an unemancipated race should pay its blood tax to another. If we had our self government, as they have in Australia and as they have in Canada, we should be consulted through the agency of our representatives in that self-elected Parliament. You put upon us a dual insult. You deny to us the right of self-government and then you will not allow us to determine whether the sons of our nation are to be conscripted into your army to fight your battles. I tell you that such an insult will not be put upon Ireland and such a stigma will not be borne upon our brow. I say further that we are entitled here and now to have this discussion concluded and this matter raised again when the Government have gathered not merely Irish opinion, but when they have taken into consideration the Report which has been issued by some of their own chief supporters and some of the pillars of Unionist strength in Ireland and here.

6.0 P.M.

The ex-Prime Minister has just said that this is not a matter to be rushed through in a spirit of frantic determination on the part of the Government. You will not be allowed to rush it through. It has come to a nice condition of affairs in a nation and in a Parliament fighting for civil and national liberties and rights, that you are going to impose Conscription on people under the guillotine, and that you are going to adopt in this Parliament the methods of Prussia and that the Prime Minister is to set himself up as a Parliamentary Kaiser. So for as we are concerned we will not stand it The right hon. Gentleman was quite right when he said that at the commencement of the War we were in its favour. We believed it a just War. I have never changed my mind since. I have never changed my mind about the merits of the War, but I have changed my mind about the standard bearers of liberty. How do I know, and what guarantee have we that when the War is over, and when the fields of Europe and France are red with Irish blood, that your declaration of devotion to small nationalities is anything more but a scrap of paper, like that which has caused this War. Yes, Sir, we are in favour of this War. We believe it a just War. We believe it a War for small nations in every part of Europe, except that small nation that you control. We believe it is a War for human liberties and against the worst despotism the world has ever known, but if you expect us to go out and fight for these things, you expect us to be fools. We want a guarantee of your good faith. At the commencement of the War our word was not only our bond. We went out and we did the most unpopular thing that Irish politicians could do in a country that had borne the whips and scorpions of your misrule. There was not a Sunday for nearly two years that I did not stand on Irish platforms, appealing not for recruits, because there was not any need for it, but appealing to the sense of chivalry, the love of liberty and the fighting spirit of our race, to take their stand. The response was magnificent. You cannot deny it. The rally to the flag was greater in Ireland I believe, comparatively, than in England, Scotland or Wales. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It was — comparatively. If you remember that Ireland is a pastoral country and that from a pastoral country you do not gather such legions of soldiers in time of war as you do from great industrial communities, it was ten times better than in the agricultural parts of England, but you mishandled it. You want to conscript Ireland because you poisoned the national life of the country by the methods by which you handled the question of voluntary recruiting.

We offered you then, and we will give you now if you do justice to Ireland, the free gift of a free people. That is what the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister asked Ireland to give, and that is what Ireland offered. But I tell you frankly, as your friend in this War, that in this matter of Ireland, who has contributed so much out of her splendid manhood and her insuperable courage, which has played so glorious a part for the cause of the Allies, you are entering on a course of madness if you endeavour to enforce Conscription on Ireland, and I can only come to one conclusion. Those whom the Gods intend to destroy they first make mad, and you will be mad if you enforce Conscription in Ireland. I will not go into the logical reasons. I will not state any of the irresistible points that I could make against this policy which you are attempting to impose upon us in a moment of panic, without thought or consideration of this House. I shall have other opportunities of doing it. But I ask you to harken to the appeal that has been made from that bench, by a statesman who has wisely given you the advice, that you had better think, not once but twenty times, before you attempt this thing, and you had better make sure that instead of getting Ireland on your side you will not organise Ireland against you.


I beg to second the Motion for Adjournment of the Debate.


As an independent Member of this House I welcome the speech that has just been made by the hon. Member for West Belfast. I have sat in this House now for some years, and I have seen England bullied by Ireland during the whole of that time. I have watched the proceedings of this House during the last three and a half years. I have watched the condition of affairs in England and in her Colonies. I have seen the sacrifices which have been made by England, Scotland, and Wales. I have seen the way in which Ireland has refused to bear her fair part in this great War, and I am pleased that at last she has thrown off any idea of being loyal to this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame'"] She has. come out in her true colours.


How dare you say that? How dare you insult us?


May I remind the hon. Member that the question now before the House is the adjournment of the Debate?


I was endeavouring, and I hope that I was in order in doing so, to answer the speech of the hon. Member for West Belfast, who went fully into the reasons why there should not be Conscription for Ireland.


The hon. Member did not speak on the main question in moving the adjournment of the Debate, and speeches must now be confined to the question of the adjournment.


By this Bill certain obligations are being placed on the men of the United Kingdom, and the hon. Member for West Belfast now comes and asks that the whole question should be adjourned, apparently because the same obligation which is being placed on Great Britain is also being imposed on the men in Ireland. As an independent Member I hope that the Government will be no party to the adjournment of this Debate, and in carrying through this Bill, as it has been outlined by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, he will have the full support of the people of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England, and with that support I ask him to go forward, to pay no respect whatever to those who desire this Debate to be adjourned. This is merely an attempt to get out of the provisions of the Bill, to whittle down in this grave hour of the crisis of our country what the right hon. Gentleman said we absolutely need in order to win the War. I ask him. to make a definite statement that the Government will decline this adjournment and that the Bill as it has been outlined will be carried through successfully.


May I say one word in answer to my hon. Friend. This Is purely asking leave to introduce the Bill. Unless that leave is given the Bill cannot be printed, and I earnestly hope that my hon. Friend will see his way not to press the Motion for Adjournment, because the only effect will be to prevent the Bill being printed.


In response to that invitation, I am quite prepared to agree, provided that the right hon. Gentleman takes out the Clauses referring to Ireland.

Captain GWYNN

I do not think that the Prime Minister need have troubled to explain. We understand perfectly well what we are doing. We are offering all the opposition we can to this Bill, from the start, and those who are offering it are Nationalists of every sort and every group in Ireland, and not least those Nationalists who have served. I have spent the last eight months or more practically away from this House on the business to which I was sent by the Irish party at the Prime Minister's invitation, in taking part in the proceedings of the Irish Convention. The Prime Minister has made allusion to that Convention. He has coupled in his speech the proposals in the Report of the Convention with the proposals in this Bill. I admire the skill with which the Government synchronise their movements. You have to-day heard that after some eight months of labour this body of Irishmen had reached what you might call the heads of a Bill for the better government of Ireland, not unanimously, but, still, in a manner to give guidance. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I saw that this was coupled with the announcement that the Government were going to introduce Conscription in Ireland. Were they so much afraid of what the Convention had been doing or that they might really have done some good and that the Government might have had to take their courage in their hands and say what they were going to do about this Irish question? The Report will be in the hands of this House to-morrow, as I understand.


I am afraid not.

Captain GWYNN

To-morrow or this week, and when the Report comes into the hands of this House, if this is done, it will be no more than waste paper. That is the result which I see after working at it in a manner in which I never worked at anything in my life and working with more hope than I ever worked at anything for Ireland.


I desire to ask your ruling as to whether this speech is in order on the question that this House do now adjourn? I submit that I was only answering the hon. Member for West Belfast when you ruled me out of order, and that the hon. Member is now arguing on the main question.


I do not think that the hon. Member was arguing on the main question. I dare say that his remarks might have been slightly more relevant. The hon. Member, as I understand, is giving reasons why it is desirable to postpone the consideration of this Bill until the.Report of the Convention has been submitted.

Captain GWYNN

I am much obliged to you for your explanation. I think that my remarks had as much relevance to the Motion for the Adjournment as those of the hon. Member, who was, I think, chiefly occupied in accusing my countrymen of cowardice. —


Hear, hear!

Captain GWYNN

—and of neglecting their duty. But there is little to say on this matter. One has little heart to say anything. I have only to add my voice to the appeal which came from the Leader of the Opposition, the late Prime Minister. This is a matter for consideration, and I think that it is evident from the Prime Minister's attitude that, although he attached importance to the document which comes from this Convention —and it would, perhaps, be singular if he did not attach importance to it —he has not read it. I doubt whether he has read one page of it. I am quite certain that he has not read that part of it which deals with this particular matter, and does not know how the deliberations of the Convention on that matter stood. All I have to say is that the Committee, on which I served, was a Committee, as my hon. Friend has said, in majority Unionist, in majority consisting of soldiers, and there was not a shadow of disagreement among us. Setting aside altogether the academic question whether Great Britain had or had not the right to impose Conscription in Ireland and in Australia and in Canada, we dealt with the matter simply as a practical proposition, and we accepted the view that if there was an Irish Parliament it would be impossible to impose Conscription without the consent of that Parliament, and therefore it would be insane to attempt it, and I should like especially, since these two issues have been so strangely coupled in the Prime Minister's speech —the promise of liberation for a nation, the promise of the right of self-determination with the determination to settle for that nation that question of all others which cuts most deeply into the vitals of a people, the question which if determined would sweep away the whole tablet of freedom —that before these things are considered, since our Report has been brought into question, at least the House should have time to consider it, and for that reason as a member of the Convention, as an Irish Nationalist and as an Irish soldier, I support this Motion.


In supporting this Motion I do not think, in all my long experience, that there has been a more glaring illustration of the methods by which Ireland has been governed, or the methods which have made Ireland so terrible and insoluble a problem to this country, than that which is presented to us to-night. I was in the House during the whole of the discussion in connection with the application of Conscription to Great Britain. I remember it well. I heard all the speeches. I heard the speech made by the ex-Prime Minister, now the Leader of the Opposition, in which he laid down this principle, which I have never forgotten. He said: In my judgment, when it comes to be a question of applying Conscription or forced military service to a free nation, you must have practical unanimity, or the thing is impossible. That was universally accepted in this House, and how did the ex-Prime Minister proceed? I remember well at the time, stating to some of his Friends, who perhaps may recollect it, that if the then Prime Minister passed Conscription, he being the only man alive in this country who could have done it, the War Office, and certain Gentlemen in this House, would kick him out. And the intrigue began the day after the Conscription Act was passed. However, that is another matter. The point I wish to put is this, that when the late Prime Minister laid down this principle he said that circumstances did not justify the Government in applying Conscription to Ireland. Now the Government have decided to apply it to Ireland. I want to ask the Prime Minister this question, Whom should he consult before he came to this decision? Have the War Cabinet consulted one single Irish representative? If so, let him name the man. Is that his idea of liberty, that he is to apply Conscription to Ireland, and the War Cabinet are to decide on that question, without consultsting one solitary representative of the people of Ireland? That is worse than Prussianism. No Prussian Government would dare to embark on such a course as that; and I say that if anything could add to the force of this illustration of the methods which have made, the situation, in Ireland what it is to-day, this would do it. I have never known in my long experience of public life, which now extends to nearly forty years, the position of Ireland to be so serious as it is to-day. If anything could add to the force of this illustration of the methods which have been adopted by Governments in the past, and are being improved on by the present War Cabinet, it is the fact that the Government appointed a Convention about which they have talked a great deal, which sat for a very long time, and was undoubtedly a very remarkable body. The Government nominated members of that body, and they attached very great importance to its decisions. Here we have it admitted, from the mouth of the Prime Minister himself, that this supreme and important decision affecting Ireland, in a way of which I clearly see he has not the faintest idea, was come to by the War Cabinet without taking the trouble of reading the decision of their own Convention.

Was there ever, in human history, such a method of governments You take a decision which plunges Ireland into bloodshed and confusion, and opens up a new war front, in addition to the Eastern and Western Fronts. You do that with a light heart, without consulting one solitary representative of Ireland or without reading the Report of your own Convention, composed not only of Nationalists but of representatives of every section and in- terest in Ireland —a Convention which has sat for a year, or ten months, and has debated every aspect of the Irish question. You do not take the trouble to read their special Report on this matter which is to decide this question. And that is what is called government, I hope that for the sake of the country, and for the sake of this Empire, that the methods of the War Cabinet are somewhat different, in dealing with the War, from their methods in dealing with Ireland. I strongly support this Motion. If the Prime Minister had the courage and the manliness to deal with this Bill, which in my opinion is a preposterous Bill; if he had the courage and the manliness to deal with the Bill on its merits, I dare say he would get it rapidly through the House, though I do not think he deserves to pass it at all. But that is another matter. If the Prime Minister had really considered the Report of the Irish Convention and had informed himself, which apparently he has not done, or had taken the smallest trouble to inform himself, of the state of Irish opinion on this whole question, and then had come down like a man and said, "I have decided with a full sense of responsibility, and a full knowledge of the facts, to apply Conscription to Ireland," we could then have fought it out on the floor of this House on its merits. But he sneaks it into an English Bill. He proposes, so far as I can gather, not to pass it forthwith, but to hang it like the sword of Damocles over the Irish people for an indefinite period, during which the poison will work, and every hope of Irish settlement will vanish. In the long history of the fatuous mistakes which have cursed the connection between these two countries, and embittered our race, in the long history of the blunders which have destroyed good feeling in Ireland, and which have brought out the rebellion and all the troubles which followed from that unhappy enterprise, nothing has been done more silly, more unthinkable, more unworthy, than the proposal which we are now considering.


I rise to express the hope that the Government will begin as they mean to go on in the matter of their proposals, and will not listen to the appeal, however wordy, from below the Gangway, or imagine for one monment that this House is composed entirely of Irish members. Representatives of interests of all kinds, English, Scottish, and Welsh, in this House, have got to support proposals which are essential if we are to succeed in this War. We have got to see even handed justice; we have to make clear to the country that this is the day when the Government have a chance of showing that they mean to do something like even-handed justice. I do hope that the Government will not listen either to-day or any other day to pleas for delay, no matter how worded, no matter where they come from, whether from the right hon. Member for East Fife or from below the Gangway and the Irish benches, but that they will go straight and take all the steps necessary to ensure that these proposals will be passed before the week is out, as the Prime Minister asked, and the Bill actually carried into law. This is a dilatory Motion which, frankly, the Irish Members only intend as part of the tactics of delay, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that this measure goes through, and so make it clear to the country that the Government intend to stand by proposals which are essential to the successful carrying on of the War.


I think that hon. Members opposite should agree to the appeal of the Prime Minister by allowing the introduction of this Bill. I am in favour of that course, as are others, because by voting for the introduction of the measure we do not commit ourselves to any particular part of the Bill. We will have an opportunity on the Second Reading to study its details, and, for myself, I do not see how I could pursue the course of refusing the First Reading of a Bill whose details I wish to consider. The measure contains a good many other Clauses than those relating to Ireland, and by accepting the introduction of the Bill we are not committed to any specific method of dealing with the Irish question. I think it is. desirable that the Government should not be refused leave to introduce the Bill; otherwise we should not be able to see the. contents of the measure and be in a position the better to discuss it. There is.. however, a question which I wish to put to the Government in regard to certain figures, which I trust they will give us. Whenever we ask for figures we are liable to be told that to give them would be conveying information to the Germans; then, the next moment—


The hon. Member is now proceeding to discuss a subject which has no relation to the Motion before the-House.


If the Debate be adjourned, I should not have an opportunity of getting those figures for which I ask?


The demand of the hon. Member for figures is only a specious one, which he uses as an expedient, and he must confine his observations to the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate. He will have a further opportunity to ask for the figures he wants.


I rely upon that then, and will not pursue the matter further.


In supporting the Motion I desire to denounce the incredible meanness of the Government in coupling the introduction of a measure of self-government for Ireland with the question of Conscription for Ireland. It is taking an unworthy advantage of the situation. I can only say that at present, throughout Ireland, there is a feeling, commonly expressed, that the Government in all its dealings with Ireland since this War broke out have followed the same mean and contemptible course. In connection with this matter let me recall the speech made in this House on the 3rd August, 1914, by my late leader, Mr. Redmond, who on that evening ranged his country, speaking for, us, on the side of Great Britain in the War which is now taking place. I ask the Government to consider this: Did Mr. Redmond make any condition? No. Was his loyalty and support expressed that night made conditional upon granting Home Rule to Ireland? No. He never mentioned the words "self-government for Ireland" that night. He never huckstered, he never bargained; and this is his return! My late leader, Mr. Redmond, made himself unpopular in Ireland by not striking a bargain. He had been denounced in Ireland by men in high places, men of great learning but with inferior morale, for not making a bargain, for not taking advantage of the position in which he found himself placed, and, as it were, seizing the enemy. No, Sir, he made no bargain. He did not huckster. He spoke for us He spoke for a nation, and an honourable nation, and he made no bargain. He made a pure offer. He made a voluntary offer; and this is how he is rewarded ! I have reason to comment upon the mean, the ineffably mean, conduct of the Government here to-day. I rose to denounce it, and I will do so also in their own interest. I was walking through the streets of Dublin last week and I met a Constituent of mine, a man of considerable influence and importance in the county which I have represented here some fourteen or fifteen years, and I asked him how his district was politically. He said, "Our district is becoming all right. It will become all right if the Government will not, by some act of stupidity, drive them back again into chaos." Such-and-such principles are on the wane, said he. They have been on the wane before, but they have been pushed forward always by the stupid acts of the Government. Here is another. It is an ungenerous act. It is a mean act. It is worse; it is a stupid act. I was engaged—


The hon. Member's speech is relevant to the main question. It is not relevant to the question of Adjournment, which is now the one before the House.


I will endeavour to follow your suggestion. The Motion for the introduction of this Bill is coupled with the suggestion from the Prime Minister that it will be accompanied by a measure of amelioration of the condition of Ireland. I would like to know, Sir, whether I am wrong in alluding to another occasion when, as I have stated, Mr. Redmond made an offer to this country, which was accepted, which was not accompanied by any condition whatever. However, Mr. Speaker, I shall not detain the House any longer. I can scarcely express the indignation that I feel. I complain that the Government is playing us false every time. We have tried fairly and honourably to keep our country in the straight path of constitutional agitation, and by the sinister conduct of the Government our hands are constantly being weakened. It is for that reason that I have risen to support this Motion, so that I may be able to express to the Government and to this House and to the whole people my indignation at the unworthy and ignoble conduct that is exemplified by the conduct of the Government here to-day.


I do not think the indignation is entirely on one side. Personally, I feel indignation that at a moment like this a Motion to adjourn the House should be moved. Do the hon. Members who desire to delay our legislation by moving the Adjournment of the House suppose that the Germans are going to adjourn the offensive on the Western Front? And, if not, if the Germans are not going to adjourn their offensive against us, surely it would be criminal for any Member in this House to delay the passage of legislation that is necessary for the Government of this country to take any means and every means in their power to meet and avert the threatened danger. Complaint has been made that the Government have not consulted Irish opinion. Not; but,, in my humble opinion, the Government have done better than that, for they have consulted the facts of the case. They have consulted the necessities which face the nation, and those facts and those necessities must have a greater effect than any opinions of any section of the country. For these reasons I would urge, the Government also not to falter, not to listen to any suggestions of delay, with whatever motive they may be made, but to press forward, remembering that necessity sometimes teaches stern lessons and that there are times when necessity must take precedence to speeches. I do hope every Member of this House will remember that the Germans are not going to adjourn their offensive, that they are not going to delay, and that anything that we do to delay the Government is in its small way a betrayal of this country, a direct playing into the hands of the enemy.


It may be presumptuous on the part of one who must describe himself as a Parliamentary youngster to charge the hon. Member for East Mayo with a tactical error. I am convinced that in putting this Motion before the House he has committed a tactical error, and that when we come to discuss the merits of the application of Conscription to Ireland he will not receive the same support which he might have received had he not taken this action at this moment. The Motion to adjourn is an expression of disgust, if you like, at the action of the Government, but it has no relation to the merits of the case. The House as a whole is every bit as anxious to see the whole measure in print as the Irish party can possibly be to see that part which specially concerns them and while my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife has warned us not to jump to conclusions, not to commit ourselves in advance before we have seen the specific proposals of the Government in print, I think that applies equally to the attitude which the Irish Nationalist party have taken up in relation to this Motion for Adjournment. I sympathise with them in a very large degree. I should be out of order if I proceeded to argue my own par- ticular convictions in relation to the application of Conscription to Ireland, but I for one do not feel that anything is to be gained by obstructing the Motion to see this measure in print by a Motion for the Adjournment of this House.

It may be that the Government has mishandled the situation in Ireland. It probably has. But, I think, if the Irish party had realised the temper in which the House as a whole proposes to approach this new Military Service Act they would not have taken the particular action they have taken and moved this Motion for Adjournment. They will not lack support, I can assure them when it comes to arguing the case of the application of compulsory military service to Ireland on the merits of the case and on the facts of the case; but they do tend to alienate a certain amount of support in this House by the action they have taken this afternoon. After all, it is not action on the merits of the case. It is action taken very largely as an expression of feeling and not; based on the true merits of the case at issue. Therefore, I hope the Irish party will see their way to reconsider the action they have taken and to allow the Motion for the introduction of the Bill to pass early this evening in order that we may get to the real business to-morrow.


I would like to recall the attention of the House to what the hon. Member who has just sat down called the facts of the case. My hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast intervened in the course of the Prime Minister's speech, and called attention to a certain decision of the Convention. The Prime Minister admitted that he had not. read the Report containing that decision, and the hon. Member for West Belfast said, and said fairly, I think, that the Debate on the application of Conscription to Ireland should not proceed until Members of the House werein possession of the decision of the National Convention on this question. It was for that reason that the hon. Gentleman moved the Adjournment of the Debate, and I think it is perfectly reasonable. We have been treated to-night by the Prime Minister to a speech the ferocity of which I have never seen equalled in this House before, so far as Ireland is concerned. It makes one despair of any hope of any relief of any kind from this House when a subject of that kind is launched suddenly, and is received in certain quarters of the House as it was received this afternoon with what I may call uproarious applause. This War has lasted nearly four years, and at the end of four years the Prime Minister thinks that the situation is so critical for the Empire that unless he gets 200,000 —which, I think, is the maximum he hopes to get —young Irishmen conscripted, the cause is lost, I read in a newspaper coming down from Holyhead last night that the Government admit that they have 7,500,000 men under arms. Of what material assistance, supposing you get the 200,000 Irishmen, would they be to the 7,500,000 men already under arms?


That argument does not seem to be relevant to the Adjournment of the Debate. It seems to be more applicable to the main question.


Of course, that is the way we are faced here, constantly, with points of Order; but I say that the Motion made by the hon. Member for West Belfast is a Motion really in the interests of this House, for the members to inform themselves of an important decision arrived at by a Sub-committee of the Convention which did not consist of Nationalists, which had a minority of Nationalists on it, and those two both Service members, who, therefore, may be assumed to be at least able to give expert opinion on the question. That my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast wants the House to be seised of, because he thinks —and, I believe, rightly thinks —that it would lead to a more favourable consideration when this question of Conscription for Ireland comes up again. I have listened to all the speeches in the Debate. The late Prime Minister, in a temperate, statesmanlike speech, made an appeal for delay. He has been sneered at by some hon. Members. At least two of them went out of their way to sneer at him for making that suggestion. I think anyone who listened to the speech dispassionately will admit that his was the better way to carry this measure into law with the most speed; but if the tactics of forcing it down our throats, whether we like it or not, is persisted in, it can only lead to fierce resentment on the part of those who represent Ireland in this House. We are only a small fragment of this House —sixty or seventy votes out of 670 —and, of course, you will vote us down, but that will not settle the question. If you want this Bill to apply, and with effect, you are going the very worst way you can possibly go to see it have any effect at all, except one of fierce and bitter resentment in our country. I entirely endorse everything that has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Kildare. I think the way in which our late lamented leader, Mr. Redmond, was treated during his life, and is even being treated after his death, is a shocking commentary on any dealings whatsoever by Irishmen with the British Government. It justifies everything said in Ireland against the Constitutional movement which we have been supporting. I do not know whether the Government or Members of this House above the Gangway really understand the efforts that the Irish Parliamentary party have been making to keep the people in the Constitutional movement, and to prevent those scenes, which, we fear, this Bill will very much more exasperate, which, unfortunately, have occurred in other parts of Ireland during the last four or five months.

I should like to hear the honest, candid opinion of the Chief Secretary on this question, whether he approves of this policy of madness —because it is nothing but a policy of madness —whether he faces the situation with the same calmness: as the Prime Minister, who is far away from the scene, and who has not yet visited Ireland and will take precious good care not to go there to enforce his Conscription Act? But if the policy outlined by the right hon. Gentleman is pursued, we at all events in this House representing Ireland will take advantage of all the forms of the House to obstruct word by word, and line by line, the passage of the Bill. [A laugh.] You may laugh. You can force your measure through by weight of numbers, just as the Germans forced you back on the Western Front, but you will not touch the hearts or the minds of Irishmen by such a policy. You will only exasperate and create worse feelings than those feelings which our late leader, Mr. Redmond, did so much to-allay as between Ireland and England You will only create far worse feelings in the future than have even existed in the past if you pursue this policy, and if you persist in applying this unwarranted, unworkable, and, I believe, wholly illusory Act in Ireland against the. wishes of the Irish people.


Since this War began, so far as one humble Member of the House could go, I felt it was my duty to assist in my own country to do everything in my power to beat the German ambition. I felt at the time, in August, 1914, when the German hordes invaded Belgium and tried to enslave Europe, that Ireland would be acting a brave and an honourable part in sending her sons in the great struggle for liberty. At that time we were practically finishing the old struggle between this country and Ireland. After many and toilsome years an Act was placed on the Statute Book by which we felt that our liberty was going to be a reality, and that a free Ireland was ready to take her part in defending the Empire, into which for the first time she was to be allowed to enter. Ever since that time Ireland undoubtedly has sent her men. She did for the first year send them freely and cheerfully. I stood on many a platform, and the enthusiasm and the spirit of the people was something glorious. It was damped and destroyed by the misconduct and the folly of the men you sent to Ireland. You sent over to our country men who were dug-outs, hopelessly incompetent for any work in any capacity whatever, devoid of any sense of real, true patriotism.


Those arguments do not really apply to the question of the Adjournment. If the hon. Gentleman would allow the question of Adjournment to be got out of the way, then all the arguments he is bringing forward would be relevant.


I wish to say to the House, if I may, that this proposal, applying Conscription in its full force and to my country, instead of assisting the War, will be one of the worst strokes this Government has ever done.


Those arguments, as I pointed out, will be relevant on the main question, but they are not relevant. to the question of Adjournment


I understand the difficulty of dealing solely with the question of Adjournment, and the sole point which I wish to bring before the House is this: I say that Ireland for the first time is being conscripted, although she has not been consulted. The hon. Member who introduced this Motion stated that a body of Irishmen sat for seven months repre-

sentative of all parties, all classes, and all interests in Ireland. They know Ireland well; they know what can be done by Ireland to assist in this War, and they are most anxious to assist. That body of men has reported to this House. That Report is not before the House. The Prime Minister has not read that Report, and, without reading that Report, without consulting Irish opinion of any kind whatever, he comes to this House, he disregards Ireland, he disregards Irish opinion, and he tells us here and now that Conscription is to be applied without any consultation. I say it is absolutely essential that this question should be adjourned until there is full consideration, until this House has some idea of the effect of this in Ireland, and the feeling that will be aroused of indignation and disgust. Why, Sir, what is the War for? Have we not been told ad nauseam that it is to free Europe from tyranny and Prussianism. I say deliberately this act of the Prime Minister is one of the worst acts of tyranny and Prussianism. I would appeal most earnestly, as one who would be most anxious to assist in this War, and to see Ireland take her part, that this is not the way to do it, that this is not the way to appeal to the sentiments and devotion of Irishmen. Were you to appeal to the Australians and Canadians in this way, what would be the answer? Give us our native Parliament and the right to manage our own affairs, but do not attach the degrading and insulting condition that we shall not get it unless we send our men to fight side by side with you. I would beg and implore this House, before it rushes into this most fatuous and foolish policy, to realise that they are not serving the War, but are playing the game of Germany. They are not assisting England, though they might have the satisfaction of seeing Ireland strewn with blood, and worse scenes enacted in Ireland than could be enacted by the Germans in Belgium or Poland.


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. 310; Noes, 85.

Division No. 3.] AYES [6.57 p.m.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Amery, Capt. L. C. M. S. Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf
Agnew, Sir George William Anstruther-Gray, Lieut.-Col. William Baird, John Lawrence
Ainsworth, John Stirling Archdale, Lieut. Edward M. Baker, Maj. Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)
Baldwin, Stanley Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London) Fleming, Sir J. (Aberdeen, S.) Lonsdale, James R.
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Fletcher, John Samuel Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G. Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Barlow, Sir M. (Salford, S.) Foster, Philip Staveley M'Callum, Sir John M.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N. Ganzoni, Francis J. C. McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. Robert C. A.
Barnston, Major Harry Gardner, Ernest MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh
Barran, Sir Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Gastrell, Lieut.-Col. Sir W. Houghton Mackinder, Halford J.
Barrie, H. T. Geddes, Sir A. C. (Hants, N.) Macleod, John Macintosh
Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.) George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Macmaster, Donald
Beach, William F. H. Gibbs, Col. George Abraham Macnamara Rt. Hon Dr. T. J.
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Gilbert, J. D. McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)
Beck, Arthur Cecil Gilmour, Lieut.-Col. John Macpherson, James Ian
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Goldman, C. S. Maden, Sir John Henry
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred Magnus, Sir Philip
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Grant, J. A. Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-
Bentham, George Jackson Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough) Malcolm, Ian
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland) Mallalieu, Frederick William
Bigland, Alfred Greig, Col. J. W. Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Black, Sir Arthur W. Gretton, Col. John Meux, Admi. Hon. Sir Hedworth
Blair, Reginald Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis J. Meysey-Thompson, Col. E. C.
Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue Haddock, George Bahr Middlebrook, Sir William
Booth, Frederick Handel Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fredk. (Dulwich) Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Hambro, Angus Valdemar Mills, Lieut. Hon. Arthur R.
Bowden, Major G. R. Harland Hamersley, Lt.-Col. Alfred St. George Mitchell-Thomson, W.
Boyle, William L. (Norfolk, Mid) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred
Boyton, Sir James Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J. Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Morgan, George Hay
Brassey, Major H. Leonard Campbell Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Morison, Hector (Hackney, S.)
Bridgeman, William Clive Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S. Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)
Brookes, Warwick Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.) Morton, Sir Alpheus Cleophas
Broughton, Urban Hanlon Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Mount, William Arthur
Brunner, John F. L. Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.) Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert
Bull, Sir William James Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.) Neville, Reginald J. N.
Burdett-Coutts, W. Haslam, Lewis Newton, Major Harry Kottingham
Burn, Col. C. R Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)
Butcher, John George Helme, Sir Norval Watson Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Carew, C. R. S. Henry, Sir Charles (Shropshire) Norman, Rt. Hon. Major Sir H.
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.) Ogden, Fred
Carnegie, Lieut.-Colonel D. G. Hermon-Hodge, Sir R. T. Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Hewins, William Albert Samuel Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Cator, John Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E, Parker, James (Halifax)
Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George Higham, John Sharp Parkes, Sir Edward E.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh (Oxford U.) Hill, Sir James (Bradford, C.) Parrott, Sir James Edward
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin) Hills, Major John Walter Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. Hinds, John Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Pike (Darlington)
Cheyne, Sir W. W. Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Clynes, John R. Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Perkins, Walter F.
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Peto, Basil Edward
Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Hope, Harry (Bute) Philipps, Maj.-Gen. Sir Ivor (S'ampton)
Cochrane, Cecil Algernon Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)
Collins, Sir W. (Derby) Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Edin. Midlothian Pollard, Sir George H.
Colvin, Col. Richard Beale Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest George
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Horne, E. Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole Hughes, Spencer Leigh Prothero, Rt. Hon. Roland Edmund
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Hunter, Major Sir Charles Rodk. Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives) Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H. Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert
Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff) Ingleby, Holcombe Randles, Sir John S.
Cowan, Sir W. H. Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York) Raphael, Major Sir Herbert H.
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Jackson, Sir John (Devonport) Ratcliff, Lieut.-Col. R. F.
Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, E.) Jacobsen, Thomas Owen Rawson, Col. R. H,
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh) Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)
Dalrymple, Hon. H. H. Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Remnant, Col. Sir James Farquharson
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey) Roberts, Rt. Hon. George H. (Norwich)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Joynson-Hicks, William Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Denison-pender, Capt. J. C. Kellaway, Frederick George Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Dennies, E. R. B. Kenyon, Barnet Robinson, Sidney
Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Sir Willoughby H. Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr Rothschild, Major Lionel de
Dixon, C. H. Kerry, Lieut.-Col., Earl of Rowlands, James
Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward Keswick, Henry Royds, Major Edmund
Du Pre, Major W. Baring Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen)
Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Knight, Capt. E. A. Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby)
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Lane-Fox, Major G. R. Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Larmor, Sir J. Sassoon, Sir Philip
Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Falconer, James Layland-Barratt, Sir F. Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Fell, Sir Arthur Levy, Sir Maurice Sharman-Crawford, Colonel R. G.
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Smallwood, Edward
Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam) Lindsay, William Arthur Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham) Lloyd, Captain G. A. (Stafford, W.) Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Spear, Sir John Ward
Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert Turton, Edmund Russborough Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)
Stanier, Captain Sir Beville Verney, Sir Harry Williamson, Sir Archibald
Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. H.(Ashton-u-Lyne) Walker, Colonel William Hall Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud
Stanton, Charles Butt Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince) Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)
Starkey, Capt. John R. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton) Wilson, Col. Leslie G. (Reading)
Staveley-Hill, Lieut.-Col. Henry Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent. Mid) Winfrey, Sir Richard
Stewart, Gershom Waring, Major Walter Wolmer, Viscount
Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T. Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)
Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan) Wood, S. Hill- (Derbyshire, High Peak)
Swift, Rigby Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark, S.) Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.
Sykes, Col. sir Alan John (Knutsford) Watson, J. B. (Stockton) Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Sykes, Col. Sir Mark (Hull, Central) Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. Younger, Sir George
Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John Weigall, Lieut.-Col. W. E. G. A. Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.) Weston, J. W.
Thomas, Sir A. G. (Menmouth, S.) Wheler, Major Granville C. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord Edmund Talbot and Capt. Guest.
Thomas-Stanford, Charles Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)
Tryon, Capt. George Clement
Anderson, W. C. Galbraith, Samuel Morrell, Philip
Arnold, Sydney Glanville, Harold James Muldoon, John
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Guiney, John Nolan, Joseph
Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Nugent, J. D. (College Green)
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Hackett, John O'Brien, William (Cork, N.E.)
Bryce, J. Annan Harbison, T. J. S. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hayden, John Patrick O'Doherty, Philip
Buxton, Noel Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.) O'Donnell, Thomas
Byrne, Alfred John, Edward Thomas O'Dowd, John
Chancellor, Henry George Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe) O'Malley, William
Clough, William Jowett, Frederick William O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Condon, Thomas Joseph Joyce, Michael O'Shee, James John
Cosgrave, James Keating, Matthew O'Sullivan, Timothy
Crean, Eugene Kelly, Edward Outhwalte, R. L.
Crumley, Patrick Kilbride, Denis Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Cullinan, John King, Joseph Reddy, Michael
Devlin, Joseph Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Redmond, Capt. W. A.
Dillon, John Lardner, James C. R. Rowntree, Arnold
Donovan, John Thomas Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Scanlan, Thomas
Donnelly, Patrick Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Sheehan, Colonel Daniel Daniel
Doris, William Lundon, Thomas Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Duffy, William J. Lynch, Arthur Alfred Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Esmonde, Capt. John (Tipperary, N.) McGhee, Richard Walsh, J. (Cork, South)
Essex, Sir Richard Walter MacVeagh, Jeremiah White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Farrell, James Patrick Mason, David M. (Coventry) Whitehouse, John Howard
Ffrench, Peter Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Field, William Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)
Fitzpatrick, John Lalor Molloy, Michael TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain Donelan and Mr. Boland
Flavin, Michael Joseph Mooney, John J.

Question put accordingly, "That the Debate be now adjourned.

The House divided: Ayes, 80; Noes., 323.

Division No. 4.] AYES. [7.9 p.m.
Anderson, William C. Guiney, John Muldoon, John
Arnold, Sydney Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Nolan, Joseph
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Hackett, John Nugent, J. D. (College Green)
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Harbison, T. J. S. O'Brien, William (Cork)
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Hayden, John Patrick O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Bryce, J. Annan Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork. N.E.) O'Doherty, Philip
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Holt, Richard Durning O'Donnell, Thomas
Buxton, Noel John, Edward Thomas O'Dowd, John
Byrne, Alfred Joyce, Michael O'Malley, William
Chancellor, Henry George Keating, Matthew O'Shaughnessy, P.J.
Clough, William Kelly, Edward O'Shee, James John
Condon, Thomas Joseph Kilbride, Denis O'Sullivan, Timothy
Crean, Eugene King, Joseph Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Crumley, Patrick Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Reddy, Michael
Cullinan, John Lardner, James C. R. Redmond, Capt. W. A.
Devlin, Joseph Law. Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Rowntree. Arnold
Dillon, John Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Scanlan, Thomas
Donovan, John Thomas Lundon, Thomas Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Donnelly, Patrick Lynch, Arthur Alfred Smith, H. B. Lees- (Northampton)
Doris, William McGhee, Richard Snowden, Philip
Duffy, William J. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Walsh, J. (Cork, South)
Esmonde, Capt. John (Tipperary, N.) Mason, David M. (Coventry) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Farrell, James Patrick Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Whitehouse, John Howard
Ffrench, Peter Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Field, William Molloy, Michael
Fitzpatrick, John Lalor Mooney, John J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Donelan and Mr. Boland.
Flavin, Michael Joseph Morrell, Philip
Glanville, Harold James
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol S.) Jacobsen, Thomas Owen
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Denison-Pender, Capt. J. C. Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)
Agnew, Sir George William Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)
Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling Denniss, E. R. B. Jones, Sir Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Sir Willoughby H Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)
Amery, Capt. L. C. M. S. Dixon, C. H. Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey)
Anstruther-Gray, Lieut.-Col. William Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward Joynson-Hicks, William
Archdale, Lieut. E. M. Du Pre, Major W. Baring Kellaway, Frederick George
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Kenyon, Barnet
Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr
Baird, John Lawrence Elverston, Sir Harold Kerry, Lieut.-Col. Earl of
Baker, Maj. Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Baldwin, Stanley Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Knight, Capt. E. A.
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London) Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Fell, Sir Arthur Lane-Fox, Major G. R.
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G. Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Larmor, Sir J.
Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South) Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam) Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N. Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham) Layland-Barratt, Sir F.
Barnston, Major Harry Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Levy, Sir Maurice
Barran, Sir Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Fleming, Sir John (Aberdeen, S.) Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert
Barrie, H. T. Fletcher, John Samuel Lindsay, William Arthur
Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.) Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W,)
Beach, William F. H. Foster, Philip Staveley Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Galbraith, Samuel Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Beck, Arthur Cecil Ganzoni, Francis John C. Lonsdale, James R.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Gardner, Ernest Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Gastrell, Lieut.-Col. Sir W. Houghton Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Geddes, Sir A. C. (Hants, N.) M'Callum, Sir John M.
Bentham, George Jackson George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd M'Calmont, Brig.-Gen. Robert C. A.
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish. Gibbs, Col. George Abraham MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh
Bigland, Alfred Gilbert, J. D. Mackinder, Halford J.
Black, Sir Arthur W. Gilmour, Lieut.-Col. John Macleod, John Macintosh
Blair, Reginald Goldman, C. S. Macmaster, Donald
Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.
Booth, Frederick Handel Grant, J. A. McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S.T. Griffith- Greenwood Sir G. G. (Peterborough) Macpherson, James Ian
Bowden, Major G. R. Harland Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland) Maden, Sir John Henry
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W. Greig, Col. J. W. Magnus, Sir Philip
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid) Gretton, John Maitland, Sir A. G. Steel-
Boyton, Sir James Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis. Malcolm, Ian
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Haddock, George Bahr Mallalieu, Frederick William
Brassey, H. L. C. Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich) Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Bridgeman, William Clive Hambro, Angus Valdemar Meux, Adml. Hon. Sir Hedworth
Brookes, Warwick Hamersley, Lt.-Col. Alfred St. George Meysey-Thompson, Colonel E. C.
Broughton, Urban Hanlon Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Middlebrook, Sir William
Brunner, John F. L. Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J. Middleman, John Throgmorton
Bull, Sir William James Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Millar, James Duncan
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Mills, Lieut. Hon. Arthur R.
Burn, Colonel C. R. Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S. Mitchell-Thomson, W.
Butcher, John George Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred
Carew, C. R. S. Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.) Morgan, George Hay
Carnegie, Lieut.-Col. D. G. Harris, Sir Henry P, (Paddington, S.) Morison, Hector (Hackney, S.)
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Haslam, Lewis Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)
Cator, John Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Morton, Sir Alpheus Cleophas
Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George Helme, Sir Norval Watson Mount, William Arthur
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh (Oxford U.) Henry, Sir Charles Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert(Herts, Hitchin) Henry, Denis S. Neville, Reginald J. N.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. Hermon-Hodge, Sir R. T. Newton, Major Harry Kottingham
Cheyne, Sir W. W. Hewins, William Albert Samuel Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E. Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Clynes, John R. Higham, John Sharp Nield, Sir Herbert
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Hill, Sir James (Bradford, C.) Norman, Rt. Hon. Major Sir H.
Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Hills, Major John Waller Ogden, Fred
Cochrane, Cecil Algernon Hinds, John Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Collins, Sir W. (Derby) Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Colvin, Col. Richard Beale Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Parker, James (Halifax)
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Parkes, Sir Edward E.
Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole Hope, Harry (Bute) Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Pease, Rt. Hon. H. Pike (Darlington)
Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives) Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian) Peel, Major Hon. G. (Spalding)
Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff) Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Cowan, Sir W. H. Horne, E. Perkins, Walter F.
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Peto, Basil Edward
Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, E.) Hudson, Walter Philipps, Maj.-Gen. Sir Ivor (S'hampton)
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Hughes, Spencer Leigh Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Hunter, Major Sir Charles Rodk. Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest George
Dalrymple, Hon. H. H. Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H. Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Ingleby, Holcombe Prothero, Rt. Hon. Rowland Edmund
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York) Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert Smith, Harold (Warrington) Waring, Major Walter
Randles, Sir John S. Spear, Sir John Ward Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.
Raphael, Sir Herbert H. Splcer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Ratcliff, Lieut.-Col. B. F. Stanler, Capt. Sir Beville Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark, S.)
Rawson, Col. R. H. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. H. (Ashton-u-Lyne) Watson, J. B. (Stockton)
Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Stanton, Charles Butt Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H.
Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.) Starkey, John R. Weigall, Lieut.-Col. W. E. G. A.
Remnant, Col. Sir James Farquharson Staveley-Hill, Lieut.-Col. Henry Weston, J. W.
Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Stewart, Gershom Wheler, Major Granville C.
Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham) Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Roberts, Rt. Hon. George H. (Norwich) Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West) Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Swift, Rigby Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)
Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Sykes, Col. Sir Alan John (Knutsford) Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)
Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M. Sykes, Col. Sir Mark (Hull, Central) Williamson, Sir Archibald
Robinson, Sidney Taylor, John W. (Durham) Willoughby, Lieut.-Col Hon Claud
Rothschild, Major Lionel lie Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)
Rowlands, James Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.) Wilson, Col. Leslie C. (Reading)
Royds, Major Edmund Thomas, Sir A. G. (Monmouth, S.) Winfrey, Sir Richard
Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen) Thomas-Stanford, Charles Wolmer, Viscount
Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby) Toulmin, Sir George Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)
Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Tryon, Captain George Clement Wood, S. Hill- (Derbyshire)
Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur Turton, Edmund Russborough Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.
Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton) Verney, Sir Harry Young William (Perthshire, East)
Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange) Walker, Col. William Hall Younger, Sir George
Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain F. Guest and Lord Edmund Talbot.
Sharman-Crawford. Col. R. G. Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid.)
Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool)

Original Question again proposed.


Whether wisely or unwisely, politicians, both English and Irish, have done their worst to deprive my friends and myself of any very effectual power of interfering in Irish affairs, but so long as I retain my seat in this House I shall not shrink from the duty of making my protest, no matter how powerless it may be, against the mad and wicked crime which you are proposing to-night to perpetrate on Ireland. For forty years now Ireland has been pleading and hungering for peace with England upon the most moderate terms. For the last eight years the Irish people have had sovereign power of life and death over this Parliament under two successive Governments, and the only fault to be found with the Irish people was, perhaps, that they trusted you too much, and they allowed their representatives in this House to use their tremendous powers, the greatest powers that Irishmen over had, only too feebly and only too mercifully in your interests. Even when this War broke out Ireland could have destroyed you. One of your own statesmen then acknowledged that Ireland was the one bright spot on the horizon. What is Ireland's reward? Now, when in your wild ignorance of Irish affairs, you have taken it into your heads that the three latest Irish elections show that the spirit of Sinn Fein is dying away; now, when you have disarmed the country, and when you are holding it only under martial law and suppressing Irish newspapers in every part of the country; when you have your gaols packed with political prisoners, whom you are treating as common felons for the self-same offence of drilling volunteers, two of the most distinguished soldiers of the Ulster Volunteers have been promoted to be Cabinet Ministers. This is disgusting treatment.

We have witnessed to-night the mixing up of a sham milk and water Home Rule with a brutal military coercion proposal. You offer us a shadow of a sham Home Rule and the reality of a naked military despotism presented to us at the points of your bayonets and the muzzles of your machine guns, and it is to be enforced in Ireland by the self-same methods by which the Germans have endeared themselves to the people of Belgium, and which, when they are the acts of the Germans, you are able so eloquently to denounce. One thing I admired about the speech of the Prime Minister to-day is that at last he has thrown off the mask. I have no hesitation in saying after his speech to-night that his Conscription measure is at best an attempt to pick a quarrel with Ireland in order to drop Home Rule, and the right hon. Gentleman has had the audacity to ask the Irish people to shed torrents of their blood by way of expressing their gratitude to him for flinging to the winds, as he did to-night, another violated treaty of their liberties. If you expect anything like co-operation or gratitude from Ireland for this proposal for your sham attempt to deal with Home Rule, coupled with your coercion sequel, all I can say is that you will receive nothing and deserve nothing but the detestation of people, who only a few months ago were down upon their knees proffering you their friendship and their allegiance.

I say this with bitter regret, because I find myself compelled to renounce those dreams of a true and permanent reconciliation between those two countries with which I can truly say my thoughts have been occupied night and day for the past fifteen years. It may be an unpopular thing to say, but at the time when the War broke out I made a proposal to my hon. and gallant Friend who sits behind me to suggest to Mr. Redmond's most influential supporters in Cork that we should have joint action by every party in Ireland, Nationalist and Unionist, in order to raise an Irish Army Corps by voluntary methods upon the one condition that if you really meant business with Ireland we should have some solid guarantee that the Home Rule we should get would be something worth fighting for. There would be no use now in recalling the fate of that proposal. The result has been, instead of one great united national policy, that we have had a policy of vacillation and of contradiction, combined with all the disadvantages of co-operation with England.

I do not want on an occasion of this kind to accentuate differences amongst Irishmen. You have perhaps by this proposal to-night done something to lessen those differences. You may rest satisfied of one thing. Whatever our differences have been and are—and they are most serious —on this one question of resistance to Conscription you will find all Irish Nationalists all over the world who are worth their salt standing shoulder to shoulder. You are proposing to do this thing against Ireland because she is a weak and small country when you dare not do it against Australia or Canada or South Africa without their consent. I dare say that you have machine guns enough to beat down armed resistance, but you may depend upon it that as soon as you have beaten it down, and it may not be quite so easy as the Prime Minister imagines, your troubles with Ireland will be only beginning. Your own experience ought to have taught it you. You have spent 800 or 900 years at it, but you have never completely conquered Ireland yet, and you never will. What you will do I am afraid will be to drive resistance into other channels, with which, with all your military power, you will never be able to deal, and you will all the time be digging a gulf between the two countries that no living man will ever see bridged over again. I hate to say it in your presence, but in my solemn belief it is the truth. By this Bill you are calling down upon your heads the execrations of the entire Irish race in America, in Australia, and in Canada as well as in every honest Irish home, if not possibly in your own military camps. You are driving and you will drive millions of the best men of our race to turn away their eyes for ever from this Parliament to a Peace Congress, and it is just perfectly possible that from this tribunal they will not look to a Peace Congress in vain.


I hope the House will agree that the speech to which we have just listened, spoken from the heart, gives some idea how the proposals of the Government will be viewed by Irishmen. It is insanity that in this time of stress and, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) and the Prime Minister himself have told us, in this period of crisis, the Government should ask the House of Commons to subscribe to a measure to carry out which will entail the sending of a large number of troops to Ireland. It is an insane proposal, and it takes one's breath away. It does really seem, as one hon. Gentleman has said, that "Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad." We are asked to subscribe to a measure which, as the hon. Gentleman in a most eloquent speech has just emphasised, will turn Irishmen against us all over the world. Irishmen, whatever their political opinions, are clannish, and if there is a cause of quarrel it will be duplicated in America, and the very troubles which President Wilson has warned us against will be accentuated by this act of folly. An Irishman is entitled to look at the matter from a national and perhaps from a more selfish point of view, but we English Members who look at it from an impartial point of view appeal to the Government to pause before going forward with this most insane and absurd proposal. We who represent constituencies in this country are entitled to offer some opinion with regard to this Bill as it is likely to affect England. After all, it is not only a measure for Ireland. It is a measure which, at this late hour, proposes that men of fifty should be brought in to redress the balance. It really makes one wonder if this Government have any sense of humour. Imagine middle-aged gentlemen of fifty redressing the balance ! One admits that we have suffered one of the most severe reverses that we have had in this War, but the bringing in of this 7 per cent. of middle-aged gentlemen is not going to redress the balance. In the nature of things they cannot be fit for the fighting line for some weeks and possibly months. We know that we are strained in our economic relations, and these very gentlemen, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife has pointed out, are giving their brains and their lives—I know hundreds of cases of men in the City who have seen all their young men go off to the War —slaving and undermining their health in order to maintain their businesses. These men are to be called into the Army and made to give up the support of these businesses which constitute, surely, some of the most important parts of the fabric of industry and of trade and of commerce upon which the success of the War depends. There has been no case for the Bill made out by the Government. I wanted to move a Resolution which in a sense has been anticipated by the Irish Motion. It was to the following effect: That this House declines to proceed with a Bill which gives to a Government in which it has lost confidence the power to control an additional number of men for military purposes. I base that appeal —and I make it to many Unionist Friends—on the ground that we decline any longer, apart altogether from the question of Conscription in Ireland, or of the merits or demerits of this particular measure, to give this Government, any further power We have come, to this pass, that we have lost confidence in the Gentlemen on the Front. Bench. We decline to give them any further credit either in men or money. ['An HON. MEMBER: "What do you mean by 'we'?"] I say many Friends for whom I speak. I have not the honour to speak for the hon. and gallant Gentleman. There are many of us who decline, and the Division Lobby has already demonstrated it, any longer to grant this Government any further power. I am appealing, as I hope, to many Unionists. They may very properly feel strongly that Conscription should be applied to Ireland equally as to England. It is a feeling which I can appreciate and with which in a sense I am prepared to sympathise. Apart altogether whether that is right or wrong, those who do not support this. Government decline to give them any further powers. It may be asked why this House of Commons or a large number of Members have lost confidence in the Government. I appeal to my hon. and gallant Friend whether he will not be honest enough to confess that many of his Unionist Friends support this Government because it is the Government? But this is not the only possible Government. There are other Governments. and I suggest that we should not grant these additional powers without a reconstruction or a change of the Government.

Take the record of the Government in any Department over the last three or four years. It is always said that something is going to happen. If we go back on the tragic record of these three or four years, we shall see that there was always something fundamental which was going to enable us to smash our way through to victory. Here we are in the fourth year of the War, and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister comes down and tells us that the Americans are not quite in but that they are coming in, and that when they come in in strength and force, then something is going to happen. What is going to happen? What can happen? I have never been a pessimist, and have never in the darkest hour believed in our overthrow. We have not been defeated by Germany. We have had to retire, and I admit that we have suffered a very severe reverse, but I do not for a moment believe that we are going to be overwhelmed by Germany. Equally, I do not believe that we are going to overwhelm and crush the Central Powers. Is there any man who believes Is there any man who believes that this Bill is going to enable us to do it? It is ludicrous to suppose so. When shall we ever take a true measure of the position, not being unduly pessimistic or optimistic? I say that there has been no case made out for this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, can deceive us, as he has deceived and humbugged us, and he. can put us off with these wonderful things that are going to happen. I think it was Lincoln "who said, "You can deceive part of the people part of the time, and possibly part of the people all of the time, but you cannot deceive all the people all the time. Neither can the right hon. Gentleman the Prim Minister. He has been able by wonderful gifts to persuade this House, in the interests, as he says, of liberty and justice, to grant him money and men, but I decline to grant him any more. We have come to the time when we refuse to grant these additional powers to this particular Ministry, and I say that they have got to give us some cause for increased confidence.

It does not follow that because we vote against this particular measure we are not prepared to support some other measure. I am prepared to do that if brought forward by a Government in which I have some confidence and if they tell me they think it to be a right and proper sacrifice called for in the interests of this country. But the measure which it is proposed to bring in to-day has been demonstrated by the speeches we have heard from hon. Members from Ireland to be the reverse of that. I think even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) will admit there is a considerable section in Ulster opposed to Conscription. If he were prepared to come down here and, speaking with his knowledge of Ireland, tell us this is a good and wise measure, he would be entitled to be listened to on the subject, occupying the distinguished position he docs. But I believe there is no voice from Ireland that recommends this Bill. No one suggests that it is in the interest of the country or that it is just to call upon Ireland to submit to Conscription. It is incredible that we should be asked to support such a measure as is now proposed. Let me recall a few of the political crises with which the present Prime Minister has dealt from time to time. At one period there was a lack of shells, and he appealed to us to enable him to provide those munitions which were going to bring the War to an end. On another occasion he came down and told us that our lack of success was due to the drinking habits of the working classes, and he advocated a measure for curtailing opportunities for drinking. On another occasion he complained of the loss of time in various works. Then when he wanted a Corn Bill introduced he emphasised the terrible menace of the submarine. Yet shortly after that he came here again and declared that we had overcome the submarine menace, because five submarines had been sunk in one day; and when one of my hon. Friends taxed the right hon. Gentleman with the inconsistency of his speeches ho actually treated it as a joke that he should be able to make speeches to fit in with particular cases.

This is the man in whom we are asked to place our confidence—a man who is prepared to play any part, to turn political somersaults, to make a speech at one moment describing the submarine menace as a terrible thing and at the next moment telling us we have overcome the trouble, and all because the Government are afraid of the unpopularity which would reflect upon it in the event of disaster. We have proof upon proof that this Government does not deserve the confidence of the people. Some reference has been made to the expeditions we have undertaken in outlying portions of the world, thereby frittering away our resources. At a moment when the country is distressed with regard to the position on the Western Front the right hon. Gentleman seeks to console it by telling us our troops have crossed the Jordan. One of our most distinguished soldiers. Sir William Robertson, told us that this War would be decided on the Western Front. The right hon. Gentleman, in his versatile manner, at once declared it was necessary to have co-ordination, and set up the Versailles Conference. The result has been the reverse we have just sustained. We have lost the services of one of the greatest seamen of the Empire, Lord Jellicoe; and Sir William Robertson is kicking his heels in an Eastern Command. On the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith), Sir William is the greatest soldier we possess. He, at any rate, understood strategy, and would probably have been able to prevent the reverse which we have just suffered. We have lost the services of these two great men at a period when great men are scarce and when brains are scarce, and the right hon. Gentleman now seeks to console us by proposing to conscript men of fifty years of age! God help a country which is governed by such men—men who have no statesmanship and who are without appreciation of the real problem to be solved!

I congratulate my hon. Friends from Ireland on jumping into the fray on the introduction of this Bill. If they believe the Bill to be a bad one it is their duty to oppose its introduction, and I think they have shown political genius in at once starting their opposition. But I have an appeal to make to hon. Members of this House. This is not an Irish Bill. This is a question which the whole United Kingdom must consider. Is this a wise and statesmanlike proposal? No case has been made out from the Government Bench to show that it is. It has not been proved to be either politic or statesmanlike. Why should not the right hon. Gentleman, after all his failures, proceed to conscript his own Government? Certainly the members of it would make a very goodly company, and when the right hon. Gentleman appeared on the field of battle as the leader of that company I can imagine the Prussian Guards, when face to face with him and his followers, asking "What have we here?" The right hon. Gentleman will reply, "I am the commander of the knock-out brigade. I have Lord Northcliffe on my right and Lord Beaverbrook on my left. Beware of the newspaper circulation of these gentlemen. It runs into millions." That is the sort of argument with which critics of the Government are faced to-day, when they complain that men like these are placed in responsible positions, men who are not statesmen, men who have had no training as statesmen, yet who are placed in positions of high repute and given access to valuable information. I say this House of Commons and the country have a right to complain of these things, and hon. Members will be false to their traditions if they continue to support this Government for another moment after the experience of the past three or four years.

There is no justification whatever for giving it further carte blanche as regards either men or money. I hope I have said sufficient to show that we are justified in looking upon this Bill as a most grave departure from statesmanship and true policy. Many of us differ from other Members of the House with regard to what we believe to be an honourable way out of the tragedy which exists to-day in Europe. We differ as to the methods which should be adopted, but up to the present we have never refused to give the Government both men and money. This and the previous Government have been treated generously in these matters in the past. But we now feel there should be an end to this. Opportunity after opportunity for negotiation has been lost. We find in the Department of Foreign Affairs that the Secretary of State comes down to this House and shows that he has not even troubled to read certain important dispatches. Members of the Government time after time have proved that they are incapable of making themselves acquainted with the affairs of their own particular Department. I submit there is no case for this Bill. I do not for a moment suggest we should give way on the primary objects with which this country entered upon the War. But when we find Count Czernin making advances, when we find Count Hertling also making advances, we do ask ourselves whether it is not possible for us to discover from these statesmen whether there is not some common ground between us. Is our statesmanship bankrupt? Are we driven to this childish policy of accepting a Bill of this character as the remedy for a position which seems to have arrived at a deadlock?

I believe we shall carry on this War. No doubt America will come in, and in the late autumn we may have another offensive, and probably do as well as Germany has just done. But how much more forward shall we then be? What is the end to be? Do you imagine we are going to crush Germany or that Germany is going to crush us? Are we to have this experience repeated time and again? Are we going to have the same sort of Bill brought in, at subsequent stages, and the same procedure adopted? Are we to have another offensive in another six months and then a repetition of the same thing? Are we not capable of visualising the whole problem for ourselves? No one suggests that there should be any giving way with regard to Belgium and the claim that she shall be fully restored. But when we come to the problem of the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France and the Trentino to Italy, then I suggest that these are questions which ought to be settled in another way. Cannot we imagine, for instance, that the Germans may regard these demands as examples of aggression and annexation? I deplore, as we all do, the foolish settlement by which Alsace-Lorraine was torn from France in 1870. But we must not forget that these provinces were torn from Germany in the time of Louis XIV. Can we not imagine that Germany in pursuing her aggresive policy in the East has had in mind the secret treaties with regard to giving the Trentino to Italy and Alsace-Lorraine to France? Cannot, we imagine her saying, "If I am to be forced to give way in the West, I will make sure of compensation in the East." I do ask this House to look at this problem as a whole. There are certain things for which we must stand. One is the complete restora- tion of Belgium. But these other problems to which I have referred, could they not be dealt with on lines other than the lines of this Bill? Is it not within the possibilities of statesmanship to produce the, true solution in other directions?

8.0 P.M.


I cannot let this occasion pass without registering the most solemn protest that it is in my power to make against the proposal to apply Conscription to Ireland. I think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in laying this proposal before Parliament was brutal in its frankness and absolutely ferocious in its terms, and I agree with the hon. Member for Cork in stating that the one thing above all others which he is succeeding in doing is in uniting all Nationalist opinion in Ireland in resistance against this proposal. I speak myself with some feeling in this matter as one who, with his family, have humbly borne our part in this War, because we believed the principle for which the Allied side were fighting was righteous and just. Conscription cannot apply to me. Every grown-up member of my family has served. I have lost one son, another has been wounded, a third is at this moment in hospital in France, a brother-in-law has been killed, a nephew-in-law is a prisoner in Germany, and a brother of mine is serving in the Irish Guards. Therefore, I am able to speak with some earnestness and solemnity when I tell the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister that he is heading, absolutely heading, for disaster if he attempts to apply Conscription to Ireland. There is not an Irishman worthy of his salt who will not resist it, and I say that any service we give in this War for this cause will be voluntarily given—it will flow from conscience and never from compulsion.

We heard that because you applied Conscription to England, Scotland, and Wales there is no reason also why it should not be applied to Ireland. There is every reason in the world. You have never applied to Ireland in the past the same treatment that you have applied to those other countries, and therefore the same argument cannot apply to Ireland as to them. You are not attempting the same treatment to the Dominions that you are attempting to apply to Ireland, and I should like the Government, if they had the power, to attempt Conscription over the Australian people as they propose to do over the Irish. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the reason why he is introducing these man-power proposals is to enable him more vigorously to prosecute the War. I can conceive that if he had given a moment's thought or consideration to the subject, or if he had-taken any well-informed opinion in Ireland, he would have come to the conclusion that the proposals in regard to Conscription, so far from helping him in the least in the prosecution of the War, would have the contrary effect. It would take him three Army Corps in Ireland to get one Army Corps out of it. I wish to see this War ended victoriously for the Allied side as earnestly as any human being, but you are not going to get any men out of Ireland by the methods you are adopting. I think it is a diabolical method on the part of the Government for trying to get out of their responsibilities in regard to Home Rule for Ireland. That is my conviction, and I am afraid that if the Government go ahead with this scheme they will be pursuing a policy of exasperation which must lead to the most disastrous consequences.

You may, as the senior Member for Cork said, bayonet our people; you may shoot them down with your machine guns, but you will never conquer the spirit of the Irish people by any such means as that, and in the last result you will get far less by your scheme of Conscription than you ever bargained for. You will fill your gaols, you will maintain your standing in the country by martial law, but by no means will you be able to maintain your supremacy over the Irish people, and if you wanted to lose the friendship of Ireland, if you wanted to sever whatever links of loyalty were growing up between the Irish people and this country before the War broke out, you could not possibly go a better way about it. I have never regretted the part which my family and myself have played in this War, but if I ever was disposed to do so it was when I listened to the speech the right hon. Gentleman delivered to us to-day. I did my own part in supporting recruiting in Ireland in 1914–15, and it was at one time one of my proud boasts that I got thousands of recruits for the Irish regiments. If recruiting became impossible in Ireland, as unfortunately it did, it was not due to any cause of temperamental disloyalty on the part of the Irish people; it was due to the blundering and to the mishandling of the situation from this side of the Channel You filled the Irish regiments with English officers, who did not understand the Irish or know how to handle them decently. Why, I remember myself, when we were training with the 9th Munster Battalion, which was raised by myself almost to a man, that the adjutant, an English officer, who was a mere insurance clerk in London before the War, declared, because four cadets were sent to our battalion from the 7th Leinsters, "Four more bloody Irishmen coming to your regiment!"

That was the way in which recruiting was killed in Ireland. There was a want of understanding. There was a want of proper treatment of the Irish soldier, and so it became impossible for us, with the best intentions in the world, to do all we wished to help you along. Now you are going to commit the greatest blunder of all. I speak with feeling, and with some degree of passion. All the sacrifices which we have made in the past will, by your blundering methods, by your incapacity to understand the country, be rendered nugatory and vain, and you are going to render them more futile than ever. Those of us who have lost our boys believed in the War, and we believed that Ireland deserved better treatment than you are meting out to us in this matter, that we deserved consideration for our national demands. The hon. Member said that the Irish Members looked upon this question from a selfish point of view. I do not look at it from that point of view, but I do regard it from the national point of view, and I say that, as one Member, I will stoutly resist any attempt to impose Conscription upon my fellow countrymen. Give us national self-government. Give us equal treatment with the treatment you give to your Dominions. We demand that at the very least. Give us these things and we will do the rest, for the Irish instinct never failed to respond to generous treatment. Leave Irishmen to make their own contribution to this War, and as it is a just War, and as we are fighting for great and noble causes and the freedom of the world, I do not hesitate to say that Irishmen would then make sacrifices equal to your proud record in this country, and to the record of every righteous war in the history of the world.


On the last occasion when I spoke in this House it was on the Third Reading of the Military Service Act in January last—I spoke as representing my colleagues on this subject of Conscription in Ireland, and urged with all the force at my command that the Government should then and there take this step, because I was convinced that they had got to take it sooner or later. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for National Service was in charge of the Bill, and he informed us on that occasion that the Government could not take this step then because it was not expedient to do so. I am not sure what has arisen since then that has made the Government realise that it now is expedient. In my belief it was a pressing expedient in January last, because it was always clear to me that after the military force of Russia was lost to us the enemy must have an enormous number of additional reserves which we of the Allies between us had got to take steps to counteract by additions to our own force. But when in January last I urged so strongly Conscription for Ireland I must confess that it never occurred to me that the step when it was taken, as we knew it would be, would be taken in so unfortunate a manner as has been the case this afternoon. I cannot conceive that any Minister could present a case in a manner that was more calculated to create the resentment of the Irish Nationalists.

While I am saying this, let me also say that I am one of those who to-day am absolutely opposed to any form of Home Rule which is not equitable to Scotland, Wales, and England. That is my personal view at this moment, and I want to make it clear that I am only doing justice to a very important body of people in this crisis when I say that it is a very great misfortune indeed that this matter has not been put forward in a very different manner. We have learnt to-night to ray surprise, and I think to the surprise of everyone in the House, that to-morrow there will be presented to us an important document bearing very closely on this subject. I do not believe, that fact would justify the Government in giving way this afternoon to the Adjournment which the Irish Nationalists desired, but if they are going to force to-morrow the Second Reading of this Bill they are going to make one of the greatest tactical errors which is in their power. It has been said that it can only be pressed upon us to-morrow and that the First Reading has only been taken to-day, instead of the Foreign Office Vote, because something has arisen which we do not know about—some- thing which has suddenly created a fearful urgency. I do not know of it, and I think that we are entitled to know if there is something more than the right hon. Gentleman has put before us. If there is not, and I think we may safely assume there is not, there is not all this haste for a day or a week. I do not want this matter to be delayed longer than can possibly be helped, and when we are asked to take the Second Reading to-morrow before we understand what this Report is, I do beg His Majesty's Government to change their programme and give us some little opportunity for considering the situation and for finding out, if possible, if there is not some escape from the predicament into which the country is unfortunately being placed by what has transpired this afternoon.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in strong but carefully chosen words has urged upon the Government also that a reasonable time shall be given. I do feel that in this matter the Government will make a mistake if they do not show strength and determination in carrying through the policy on which they have embarked—a policy which I believe is absolutely necessitated by circumstances—but I cannot understand how they have come to this conclusion and brought it before us this afternoon without adopting the most elementary principle in diplomacy or tact in dealing with a delicate situation by consulting some of the loaders among the Irish Nationalists. With these men, or a considerable number of them, with us we can get a force which, Heaven knows, we so badly need. We know that amongst the Irish Nationalists there are a considerable number who have proved their patriotism, and I do not think we have any right to assume that these others who may not have had the opportunity of giving decisive proof, would not have shown a right spirit to respond and help the country. At any rate we in this country should have this enormous advantage: that if it is going to be suggested by His Majesty's Government that it was a waste of time to consult them, then I should like to know if they are the friends of our enemies and not the friends of their own kith and kin in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England? We should then at least know where we were. I have no such thought in my mind.

I feel that the Government is placing itself in an impossible position by the way in which it is acting. Even now I think they must wait and take the best steps in their power to find out if they cannot get some reasonable support and assistance from the Irish Nationalist party. If they cannot, then in my judgment they are creating, totally unnecessarily, a situation in Ireland infinitely worse than anything that has happened before. Several hon. Gentlemen in the Irish Nationalist party have this afternoon complained that this Bill is a betrayal of Ireland. I cannot understand their attitude on that point, because it is really a betrayal of Scotland, Wales, and England that an equality of sacrifice was not demanded in the earlier days from all parts of the Union. The fact that this step was not taken—whether the reason was good or bad—has meant that every day that has passed since has increased the difficulty of applying the principle to Ireland. I am sure that the Irish Nationalists are, I know they are, at heart loyal to the cause of the Allies in this War, and if in return for proper treatment they are willing to do their full share in helping us through our task, they will all recognise the great injustice to masses of the people, not the rich and not the middle class, but especially the masses of the workers in Britain itself, if Ireland is right through this War exempted from military service.


An Irish Parliament would remedy that injustice.


I was on the Clyde several days last week, and I know for a fact that not the most important but one important cause of industrial trouble on the Clyde arises from the fact that Scottish workmen in the shipyards, in the torpedo factories, and in the machine shops are disgusted at the fact that their sons and brothers have gone to fight and, it may be, are suffering in the present campaign in France, while their places are to-day being taken by burly young Irishmen coming over from Ireland to the Clyde and taking £8 or £10 a week in wages. [Hon. Members: "No!"] I can prove that absolutely. I will not argue it now. I make this definite statement, that these burly young Irishmen are coming to Glasgow and the Clyde at the present time and are taking at high wages, let us say, the places that have been so readily given up by the sons or brothers of the Scottish workmen on the Clyde. There is one other suggestion that has occurred to me, and, for what it may be worth, I am going to express it. I hope that when the Second Reading of this Bill comes on very careful consideration will be given as to the Minister in whose hands the Bill is placed to be carried through the House. The Government has taken this step. It has shown to-night by its action—which is very much to its credit—its determination to carry it through, in spite of the unfortunate way in which it has been done. Having done that, I trust they are going through with it firmly. They have the people of the country with them. The Prime Minister, in the earlier part of his speech this afternoon, emphasised the importance of having public opinion behind the Government in taking a step such as is here contemplated. The trouble has always been that public opinion has been behind the Government months before they have taken action Certainly in this particular matter the British public have been behind, or rather before, the Government some months in recognising the justice of the step which the Government are taking at this late hour, when the country is threatened with considerable danger. I hope that moderate counsels are going to prevail in His Majesty's Government. If this is a sample of British diplomacy or British tact, I begin to understand some of the mysteries of the early days of the War. It is not too late for the Government to adopt a course totally different from that they have taken this afternoon. I pray fervently that such a course will be taken, that an opportunity will be given to the patriotism and best feelings of the representatives of the Irish people to show what they are, and I believe that we and our Allies, who are fighting for our very existence in this War, will not be disappointed in the result.


I wish to associate myself with the opposition to the application of the principle of military Conscription to Ireland, because I know that the people whom I have the honour to represent will resist its application to Ireland In my judgment, they will resist it successfully. The spirit which has been manifested by the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Cooper) is one in which there is some hope for the belief that the Government will be induced to reconsider their position. The hon. Baronet is one whom we all know to be one of the most active and, in some respects, one of the most influential opponents we have in the country and in this House. The spirit of protest which he has uttered this afternoon against the measure coming at this time and in such circumstances should have its weight with the Government in reconsidering their position in this matter. I have been in this House some nine or ten years. I know England fairly well. I have-lived in this country a good many years, and I have the honour to be an Irish representative. Therefore, I think I can give a fairly balanced opinion as to what is likely to happen if this Bill is carried through We are not opposed to the War. When the War broke out, in conjunction with my colleagues, I argued among my fellow countrymen that, for all practical purposes, we, having achieved a measure of liberty which is enshrined in the Statute Book of the realm, and being for all practical purposes a sister nation in a community of nations, that community of independent States which is called the British Empire—I prefer the term used by General Smuts, "the Commonwealth of nations"—therefore it was our duty, our honour, and our interest to be associated with the successful prosecution of this War.

The spirit that existed for about twelve months was as successful as that which existed in this country, but it has disappeared because the officials at the War Office put forward their malignant stupidities—I think that was the term used by the present Prime Minister. They prevented the Irish flag being utilised for the purpose of recruiting for fear that the Irish Nationalists would get too much kudos in the winning of the War. They put every obstacle in the way which prejudiced stupidity could suggest in order to prevent Irish Nationalists from having too much credit in organising their forces for the successful prosecution of the War. Then the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) joined the Cabinet, and I know men in my Constituency who said, "We know his influence in England, we know his skill as a politician, we know his feeling with regard to Home Rule, and we know very well that that is the end of the Home Rule Act," and consequently they began to suspect both the ability and the patriotism of their representatives. The young men of the country preached the gospel that the Irish representatives were no longer entitled to their confidence, and, like an avalanche, Sinn Fein, which was a mere doctrinaire idea held by a very small number of the community, suddenly developed a giant's strength, and it has been followed by an anti-British sentiment. If that sentiment has been developed to such a strength, who is responsible for it? I say the Government themselves. So you have the position now that, instead of having Ireland the one bright spot in the Empire, it is one of the most doubtful and difficult spots that ever coloured the Empire. As I heard it put once, Ireland might be the brightest gem in the crown of the Empire, but you are making it the dullest piece of stone which is supposed to be embedded in that crown.

You forget the point of view of an Irish Nationalist. I have had an opportunity of studying Englishmen at close quarters. I have no objection at all to Englishmen. As a matter of fact, I think Englishmen are as good as Irishmen. They are no better. Consequently, there is no prejudice in my mind against the English people. I recognise that our interests are practically identical with yours, but you should remember that we regard our association with England from an entirely different point of view from the way you regard it. We regard ourselves as fashioned by Providence, by nature and by environment, in every way you can examine it, as an independent community and an independent nation. Our history will show you that. We had a Parliament of our own which was co-equal with yours until it was abolished by an Act of this Parliament. We have never acquiesced in that. We still assert our nationality and our independence as a community, and although Irishmen send representatives here to fight for the restoration of their Parliament, they do not send them here to endorse Acts of Parliament passed by this Parliament unless they have the undoubted sanction of the great majority of the Irish people. At all events, I think this question of military service for Ireland can only be settled by an Irish Parliament. We are entitled to that Irish Parliament. We intend to get it, and we have the power to get it, because Governments in this House are like Tennyson's brook. Men may come and men may go, but the Irish cause goes on for ever. If this Government does not settle the Irish question in our way we will get some other Government which will, and I am not at all afraid of the spirit of fair play and the intelligence and justice of the British democracy. I have addressed meetings in this country ever since the Sinn Fein rebellion, and I have got them to see that the attitude which we Irishmen have expressed is one which can be understood, and to some extent sympathised with. The only blame British democracy attaches is that which undoubtedly rests upon the Ministry, which is solely responsible for having changed the spirit of comradeship and friendship and determination to fight shoulder to shoulder which manifested itself for a considerable period in the country to the present sullen, rather suspicious, and certainly hostile attitude which is expressed to anything in the shape of compulsion.

The British Government can do whatever it likes, or at least whatever it thinks it likes. Put this compulsion Bill into operation and see what happens. You will never get a bigger surprise in your life. In the first place, it will unite every section in Ireland: Sinn Feiners, Constitutionalists, and the various sections of men who are not identified with the big bulk of their representatives. I can speak with some knowledge. I have just come back from East Tyrone, one of the counties which was sought to be excluded. Try Conscription up there, not only amongst the Nationalists, but amongst the Unionists themselves. You will unite a considerable section of the Unionists against you. You will have all the women, who are a very great instrument in every community but especially in Ireland. A woman said that if her boy was going to die she would rather he died fighting for Ireland, where she could bury him in her backyard, than for the British, where he would be buried in some unknown grave in Flanders. The results of this Military Act will be very different from what you think or profess to think. You will get no men, except a very few, and you will have to seize them at once and put them on the railway train and send them across out of the way before any of their friends are aware of it. Try to conscribe men on anything like a large scale. Seventy per cent. of the Irish people live in isolated farms and houses amongst the hills and in remote parts of the country, and if any corporal's guard, representing the British Army, comes to any of these places to conscribe any of these men it will not exactly be an excursion for that corporal's guard. From the purely practical point of view I prophesy that your military Conscription in Ireland will be a complete failure, an abject failure. Look at the moral effect it will have. I am not talking about Ireland at the moment. Every section of Nationalist opinion in Ireland will unite to defeat this military Act, and you are bound to fail if you put it into operation. I do not say that as a debating point in the House of Commons—I speak as a man who is firmly convinced of the certain realisation of the prophecy which I have made, and I warn the Government of the certain effect which is bound to follow the Conscription principle as applied to Ireland. Look at it from your own point of view. What, about the championing of small nationalities that is evidenced in regard to Belgium, Poland, Serbia, and other parts of the world? The only reason that the champions can venture to make such a claim is that they have given some evidence that they have the right to make that claim. I am not denying that they have given evidence to assert that claim. I am not going into the question of whether the British Empire and the Allied Armies are entitled to that claim. I believe that the great bulk of the people are entitled to that claim. But if the Government are misled by the hatred of liberty for Ireland into a false position, and if you have martial law and vain and futile attempts to conscribe the people in Ireland, what becomes of your claim to pose before the world as a disinterested arbiter in the interests of small nations? In the unprejudiced judgment of impartial minds you will appear to be something in the nature of a hypocrite. That is not the position in which a proud and powerful community like this should be placed, and I warn the Government that the people who are forcing them into this position, who contributed very largely to the outbreak of this War, the men who successfully threatened rebellion against law and the Constitution: these are the men who, in order to create and revive the old animosities between England and Ireland, are forcing you into this false position. Men like ourselves, who are animated by feelings of friendship, have given hostages to fortune. I have had several close relatives fighting in this War, some of whom have paid the extreme penalty. We heard the eloquent speech made by one of the Members for Cork who does not belong to our party, in which he recited the services which he and his family have given in this War. They gave them willingly, and we have done it willingly and will continue to do it willingly, but never under compulsion.

What is the remedy for military Conscription and for re-establishing the friendship that ought to have existed between this country and Ireland? I have never understood why the Irish people and the English people allowed themselves by the craft of interested politicians to be kept apart. The friendship and the community of interests between Great Britain and Ireland ought to exist, and ought never to have been separated but for the malignant stupidities of British statesmen in the past. I very seldom address this House, and on this occasion I do appeal to British statesmen not to repeat the tragedy and the crime of British statesmen in the past. You have the opportunity now. You have had a Convention sitting, and I understand that the Report of that Convention is not at all unfavourable to a basis of union between the Nationalists and Unionists in Ireland, men of good will, so that they might at any rate consider the possibility of a settlement. And at this very moment you commit the greatest crime and the most profound stupidity that any British statesmen were ever capable of by introducing this question of compulsory military service. On that point I do not appeal to you; I defy you. I know what I am talking about; I do not express vague and threatening language with no meaning in it. I never do that, and I never will. I tell you the honest facts. We defy you. You might as well send a party of sportsmen to Ireland to try to shoot partridges. You would get as many partridges as you will get soldiers by Conscription in Ireland. You will entirely fail. The net result will be that you will drive all of us into a sort of intensive opposition. The Government will never be able to live with the Irish party always on the spot, because there are those who will always support the Irish party for their own purposes. I am not afraid of a General Election. Prussianism is not dead in this country.


It is very much alive.


There is much more affinity between Irish Nationalists and British democracy in this country than the Government and their friends are aware of. In your own interests you should not go on with this military Conscription. If you do, then we in Ireland will know how to meet it.


I do not suppose that anyone who has listened to the Debate this afternoon has done so without a feeling of disquietude and apprehension. What is the position that faces the country? Sixteen months ago a great Government was thrown out of power and the greatest brain in England was dispossessed of supreme power in the State in order that we might succeed with a Government which was called the "Win the War Government." Sixteen months have elapsed and no miracle has happened, no achievement has been made, and to-day, as my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) in that memorable speech said, we are confronted with a crisis such as neither we nor our forefathers have ever had to meet before. At this moment it may be that a blow has been struck at Amiens, which may mean the destruction of the British Empire itself, and if that be so, then it will be the greatest calamity to humanity that has ever befallen it. Sixteen months of this new "Win the War Government!" Yet to night there is not a man in this House who does not feel the gravity of the position, and who does not long and yearn for the time to come when some other Government will be in power, some "Wait and See Government." That, at all events, would allow us to sleep peacefully in our beds without thinking that some General Gough would let us down at the front, or that the removal of Sir William Robertson from the War Office or of Admiral Jellicoe from the Navy might bring about disaster to the cause which we all have at heart. Then see the Prime Minister, wielding supreme power in the most powerful Empire the world has ever seen, coming down this afternoon to read a speech which, as I listened to him, suggested that he had never read it before—


He admitted he had not.


—a speech not in his old diction, not couched in his old phrases, not informed with his old spell—a manufactured speech, a typewritten speech, a speech dead, lifeless, soulless, not the speech of the great advocate my right hon. Friend is. I do not know what clerk in Whitehall wrote it—the speech in which he admitted that he had not read the Report of the Irish Convention, and yet upon that Report he was founding his promise to the people of Ireland that they would be some day satisfied in their national aspirations on the lines of a Report which he had never read himself. No Prime Minister ever came so light-heartedly to the House of Commons to propose a measure fraught with so much dislocation of social amenities—yea, it may be, fraught with so much national disaster! Then think for a moment what it means. As far as we are able to understand from the statement which was read out by the Prime Minister—and I am perfectly convinced that he did not understand all that he was reading himself—every man from the age of forty-two to fifty-one is to be called up.

Sir J. D. REESdissented.


Is liable to be called up. My hon. Friend here corrects me perfectly properly, because it is only a question of liability to be called up. But how many of these men from forty-two to fifty-one are going to be called up? Is there a single Member here who understood what the Prime Minister meant when he said that 7 per cent. of these men from forty-two to fifty-one were going to be called up to join the Colours or were they going to call them up to go to the front? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was pressed by several people to explain what he meant by that provision. He failed to make that provision plain, because I am perfectly certain that he never understood it himself. What does it mean? Does it mean that small shopkeepers who have already given their sons to the Army, who are doing the work that their sons would have been doing had it not been for the War—that all these small shopkeepers, small holders, small farmers, and labourers between those years are going to be called up? We are left in the dark. That is why I have not voted against the introduction of the Bill. I want to see what the Bill means, but I may tell my right hon. Friend (Sir A. Geddes) who, I suppose, will be in charge of this Bill when it comes into the Committee stage, that he is up against a very strong mass of opinion in this country. Conscription in the first instance was only carried through this House by stages. It was never raised properly in this House. Ireland was left out. The conscientious objector was to be liberated. The single-man business was going to be respected. The only son of the widow was going to be exempted from the operation of the Act. It was whittled down to the very smallest possible point in order that the House of Commons might be induced by such methods as those to pass the principle of compulsion in military service.

That day in January, 1916, will be remembered by generations yet to come as the most fatal day in the history of the liberty of this country. No member of the Cabinet, except one, wanted Conscription. There was no military necessity then. Lord Kitchener was against it. I believe that the then Prime Minister was against it. The only man in the Cabinet who was in favour of Conscription was my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. The "Daily Mail" said in Christmas week of 1915 that the Prime Minister had threatened to resign his office of Minister of Munitions—in the middle of a great war, he, the man who had supplied the sinews of the Army—unless he could get his. Conscription Bill introduced in January, 1916. And the fatal thing that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife did was to succumb to that threat.

I believe every word that the hon. Member for East Mayo said this afternoon. He said that he told a friend of his immediately that the then Prime Minister, having done this work of carrying Conscription through—the only man in this country who could have done it—there was no further use for him. Lord Northcliffe and the other people had no further use for him. Within a very short time the campaign against him started, and before the end of 1916 the Member for East Fife was relieved of his office. That was a fatal error on his part. Let me tell my hon. Friends from Ireland that it was a fatal error on their part not to back us up then. They were purposely left out of the first Conscription Bill. Why? Because the Government knew, or, rather, my right hon. Friend the ex-Prime Minister knew from old experience what formidable Parliamentary fighters the Irish party had been. We were a poor remnant of people fighting for the liberty of the subject in this country, for the traditional freedom of our old land. Yet the voice of Ireland in January, 1916, was mute. I remember well that my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), now Leader of the Irish party—and who is the best Liberal leader we have at present, if he will permit me to say so—did his utmost when the Bill was introduced in January, 1916, to get the Irish party to support our protest. I know not by what unhappy circumstance it occurred, but it was the fact that Irishmen apparently had begun to think that this matter had nothing to do with them, and that they were an independent nation; at all events, no Irish voice was raised to help the protest which we were making on behalf of liberty.

9.0 P.M.

If there had been military necessity for that Bill, and if that necessity had been proved, then, in spite of oar own belief in liberty and freedom, and in spite of our hatred of Conscription, we would have submitted to that evil rather than see the enemy successful. But everyone knows now that the Derby Report, upon which this first Conscription Bill was based, was a vague Report. The figures were not ascertained figures, and we were treated with vague estimates. It was a case of camouflage for this House, and to the Irish Members of to-day the chickens have come home to roost. [An Hon. Member: "We will roast them!"] I am not sure; I do not pretend to know Ireland; I have not the intimate knowledge regarding it that is possessed by my hon. Friends opposite, but I do say that it was a misfortune, a grave calamity, that they should have abstained from supporting our protest against Conscription to be applied to the democracy of this country. For my part, I do not believe that the first Conscription Act was required by military necessity. I do not believe that this Bill is required by military necessity, and if there be necessity it should be proved. Who can pretend that anything that is to be done under this Bill can be effective within six months? Who can pretend, if the great struggle which is going on now is to be the last desperate throw of the Germans, that it will not be finished before six months are over? The Prime Minister in his speech stated, with regard to the miners, that there were 50,000 already obtained, and that there was another 50,000 miners to be got, making 100,000 men. He mentioned other industries which are to be combed out, and I think he again gave the figure of 50,000, so that there fire 150.000 new men provided for our forces. I very much question, whatever may be the number of casualties in this terrible struggle during the last fortnight, whether 200,000 would be sufficient to make good the casualties. Then, in addition, we know that our gallant Allies from America are being brigaded with our troops—that is to say, whatever may be the number of American soldiers—and we have had various estimates—in France, they are at the present moment brigaded with our troops. Yet at this very time, when these new sources have been tapped in this country, and when there will be a growing influx of American soldiers, we are told that men of forty to fifty-one, and even fifty-five, are to be conscripted. All I can say is that if what the right hon. Gentleman says is accurate, then it is the greatest condemnation possible of the Government of which he is the head. I do not believe that it is as bad as that.

I may have become sceptical and over suspicions owing to my experience of the last two or three years, but I believe in my heart that what has really happened is that the Government, having regard to the disaster which we now know has befallen our Army, have brought in a. Bill to throw dust in the eyes of the people, and in order to make their own shortcomings disappear—trying to make any excuse, create any sort of controversy, so that the people of this country may not see that the real danger does not lie in a lack of public spirit on the part of our people—our people have responded nobly when any appeal has been made to them—or in the fact that the British soldier has lost his traditional courage and perseverance. That is not the peril. [An Hon. Member: "Who said it was?"] No one has said so, and no one will dare say so in this House. That is not the peril. The peril lies in the incompetence of the men who are at the head of affairs. It is because they are trying to hide their incompetence that they have introduced this Bill, a Bill which they will rue, and rue the very, day they brought it in—a Bill ill-considered—as the Prime Minister has said, he has not even read the Report of the Irish Convention before bringing in the Bill—a Bill ill-considered, ill-conceived, and a Bill which will come to a bad end.


The remarks which I am about to make on the question now before the House will not detain Members many minutes. I am speaking as one of the younger members of the party to which I have the honour to belong, and anything that I am going to say I will say with full responsibility and I will say it from my heart. There are times when, in moments of excitement, young men in political life may say things which they do not mean, but on a question such as the one we are now discussing I think nobody has a right to make any assertion except one he is prepared to stand or fall by. As a member of the Convention I challenge the statement of the Prime Minister himself that he had never read the Report of the Irish Convention and that he was not aware that any agreement was come to between the two parties as to the question of Conscription for Ireland. It is a very hard thing to say, but I will not hesitate in calling a spade a spade; and I say, as a member of that Convention, that I do not believe a single word of the statement he made at that box this afternoon, because I am personally aware that day after day and week after week he and the members of his Cabinet were informed of every single act and word that was carried on inside the precincts of the Regent House. Therefore, I say that he was as well aware of the decision of the Convention on the question of Conscription for Ireland as any Member in this House, including those of us who are members of the Convention. The conclusion I come to is this, that when he saw ten days ago the chance of an agreement being come to on 95 per cent. of the various heads on which an Irish Parliament would be constituted, he made up his mind that "after all these men are going to settle between themselves, and it is our duty now to do once again what we have done before so often, and that is to lay our plans for the crushing of the hopes of the Irish people and for the downfall of the decisions of the Convention."

I do not know what is to be the policy of the Government. I do not know whether they intend to pursue the tactics which were unfolded at that box this afternoon; but this much I do know, and it has been stated here by three or four of my colleagues and by others who have not been for years members of the Nationalist party, that all sections of Nationalists in Ireland will unite in one body and offer their most vigorous protest against the enforcement of Conscription. What is more than that, only three months ago a meeting of the engineers of the City of Belfast was held in St. Mary's Hall, at which 1,800 Orangemen were present, and out of 1,800 Orange engineeer workers, eleven voted in favour of Conscription and 1,789 voted against it. So when the hypocrites go back to their own Constituents they will find they will have men to deal with who will be as good in their opposition to Conscription as the Nationalists from Cork, Galway, or Clare. We have been accused of being disloyal. Some Members, notably the Member for North-West—I do not know what part of Manchester he represents—taunted us to-day with being cowards, and practically with being Allies of Germany, because we refuse to accept the doctrine of Prussian militarism for Ireland. Well, as I said at the outset, I am of military age myself. I have numbers of my own friends in the Army, serving at this moment, and I, too, would be in it were it not for the fact that the Bill of 1914, instead of being put into operation, was hung in suspense, like Mahomet's coffin. But I say now, even at this hour, that if the Government set up an Irish Parliament I would on the following day—and thousands of other young Irishmen would follow my example—rally to the Colours, because then we would know that we would be fighting not on behalf of the plutocrats and tyrants of this country, but on behalf of the liberties of our own land. I am not a pro-German. I repeat what I said a moment ago. Give us the chance of fighting on behalf of the liberties of our own country, and, believe me, you will get more men by such an effort on your part than you will get by the enforcement of Conscription in our unfortunate country.

On the other hand, you may bring your legions from France to carry this Bill in this House. You may force it down our throats. You may force it upon us in Ireland with your machine guns or tanks and your armoured motor cars. But remember Irish history. Remember that for the last seven hundred years you have kept up British rule in Ireland at the point of the bayonet, and that the disloyal elements are as disloyal in Ireland to-day because of British misrule as they were in the days of Queen Bess or in the days of Henry VIII. If you are going to put Conscription into force in Ireland, then I for one shall return to my own Constituency and tell the young men who have stood loyally by me during the last three years that it is better for them to die on their own doorstep than on the plains of France and Belgium on behalf of a gang of traitors and hypocrites. It is not the first time that you have shown us, "Don't argue, but shoot." Remember Mitchels-town, when the present Member for the City of London telegraphed to the forces of the town, when the Irish peasantry were fighting for their lives against the tyrannical system of landlordism, "Don't hesi- tate to shoot!" Well, they did not hesitate to shoot, but the landlords are gone, the Irish peasantry are redeemed, and we are here to-day as determined to tell you to shoot, shoot, but, by God, we shall shoot, too, when the time comes


You are getting into bad company, old chap—Bolo !


I prefer to be in the company of my fellow countrymen, fighting for the liberty of my own country, than to be allied with renegade Labour men, with tricksters, and with traitors who tell us that they are fighting for the rights of small nationalities, whilst they deny those rights to the nationality which is near at home.


Have I the right to reply, Mr. Deputy-Speaker?


Sit down!


Well, let him withdraw what he said.


I do not care two pence during this Debate whom I offend here. I conclude by saying that I trust, in the end, the spirit of honesty, the spirit of patriotism, will prevail, and that, instead of the harbinger of evil being sent to spread its wings over our distracted country, we will have the angel of peace. If you choose to send the harbinger of evil, then remember that you will have to meet a united Ireland, and an appeal will go from those sons of Ireland to their kith and kin in your regiments in France and elsewhere, asking that, instead of turning their guns or their bayonets upon the Germans, they should turn them on the traitors who have once again betrayed their country.




The hon. and gallant Gentleman says "Shame!" What have you done for Ireland? You are always in this House dragging down the name and fame of Ireland.


Never! [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down !"]

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)

Would hon. Members be good enough to remember to address me in the Chair, and not one another across the House?


The hon. and gallant Member longs for a chance when he possibly would be able to take revenge upon those who have carried the national flag during the years he has been in public life. I tell him, and the military men who come to Ireland to put Conscription into force, that those of us who are prepared to resist it may not have machine guns and armoured motor cars, but we will have the courage to face them and, as we often said before, we shall have an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.


I think it rather unfortunate if, when we are faced with big issues which this Bill raises, there should be recrimination. The more we can examine this Bill with cool judgment and without introducing personalities, the more likely we are to get a satisfactory judgment. After all, at the present moment the guns are booming at the front. Men are faced with death—men from all parts of the United Kingdom—and, whatever views hon. Members have to give, I venture to suggest they should be put forward with coolness and without introducing personal feeling in the matter. I think myself it is very unfortunate that the Irish question has been dragged into this Bill at all. It would have been far better, if the Prime Minister desired to reopen the Irish controversy, to have dealt with it in a separate Bill. The Bill as outlined by the Prime Minister deals with quite enough questions, affecting a very large number of sections of the community, without putting into it the very large question of the application of Conscription to Ireland. Personally, I feel that if you are going to force men into the Army in a country that country ought to have self-government. The majority of the people in Canada willingly have com plied with Conscription. The Dominion of New Zealand has done the same. Australia, on the other hand, which is a self-governing Dominion, has chosen the other course, and, after testing the opinion of the electorate by a referendum, has stuck to the voluntary system. If the Prime Minister decides to set up some form of self-government in Ireland, we could safely have left this question of applying compulsion to Ireland to the Irish people themselves, and I venture to say the tradition of Ireland is always rather on the fighting side; as a rule they are always ready to take part in a scrap, and certainly would not object to take part in a scrap on behalf of their traditional friend, France—


Certainly not!


—or to free the people of Belgium and Serbia from the German, yoke. But it is not with the Irish question that I want to deal. The Bill raises very big issues affecting, I think I can rightly say, millions of our fellow countrymen in the United Kingdom. I was very sorry that the Prime Minister, in the very long preamble to his outline of the Bill, did not see his way to give us a little more intimate history of what had taken place. I could not help feeling that his statement seemed to be largely an attempt to defend his Government, rather than to explain to the House what had happened in. France and what had brought about the present position. I would be the last person to suggest that the names of generals should be mentioned in this House. On the contrary, nothing could be more unsatisfactory and more unfair than to bandy across the floor of this House the names of officers who are not in a position to defend themselves. It is the Government to which we must look. If there is failure, on the Government must come the blame. If there is success, they are justified in claiming the credit for it. That is the more so in this particular War, for, for some reason or another—no doubt public policy—the various dispatches from the front are reticent of the names of successful officers commanding the various regiments. So, if there is failure, the Government must take the full responsibility, and admit that any want of success is due to themselves, and not to the officers; because, if a general fails, it is their business to replace him. No fear of wounding susceptibilities should prevent them. There should be no hesitation in replacing men whom they should replace, and who do not succeed in their undertakings. I say the fault is not with the generals, but with the Government, for it is the Government's business to see that the right officers are put in charge of the troops that fight our battles

Nor can I think that Parliament is to be blamed for any failures that have taken place. The House of Commons has granted every demand that the Government has made, from the very early days when Lord Kitchener asked for his first 100,000, through the times when the age was raised, past Lord Derby's scheme, down to the Military Service Act and its various Amendments. The House of Commons, I say, has always, by overwhelming majorities, given the Government, and the Army, everything for which they have asked. The House of Commons can face this question with clean hands. The House of Commons, indeed, has been so willing to oblige the Government that it is liable to the criticism that hon. Members have become merely the register of the decisions of the Government. When the Government come down with a proposal of this kind, complicated and involved, drawing in a very large new class of citizens into the net of military service, I think the House is bound, in the interest of the people concerned, to give it a very searching criticism. When the Bill comes up for Second Reading I do hope the Government will listen to the demand of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, and give ample time for proper criticism and for Amendments in detail. If there was any need for undue haste the House of Commons could have been called together at an earlier date, a week ago, say, so that the Government could have explained the Bill. It is unfair, either to Parliament or the nation behind Parliament, to rush this Bill through. Nor, I venture to suggest, must we be influenced too much by sloppy sentimentalism. I understand it is seriously put forward as a reason for raising the age to fifty that the French age is fifty. The condition of affairs in France, however, are very different to what they are here. To commence with, every Frenchman has been accustomed to the whole idea of compulsory service. Every French citizen has been through the Army, and has been subjected to military training, so that if a war took place every citizen knew from the start he was liable to be called up, and in regard to his business or trade had already made arrangements for it.

Matters are quite different in this country. We have always had the voluntary system. Business men and tradesmen have always assumed they could launch out on their own, because there was no idea that at any time they would be liable by compulsion to be called into the Army. I would, therefore, venture to suggest to the Government to consider whether it is a practical proposal to apply compulsion to men as old as fifty. Unless it is going to bring in large additional numbers, is it wisdom to be influenced by the fact that the military age in France is fifty? The Americans have shown more science in this matter. They have faced the question from the purely practical point of view. They have not con- sidered what is the age in this country or in France. They have gone in for the classes of men likely to prove of the greatest fighting value, and have made all their arrangements accordingly. The Prime Minister suggested that the result of raising the age to fifty was not likely to give us more than 7 per cent. of men likely to come inside the military net. Out of an estimated number of 1,500,000 this would give 100,000 men to be added to the Army. This, to my mind, would provoke the maximum of irritation with the minimum result. Every man between the age of forty-two and fifty will begin to think that he is going to be taken. He will not know when he makes an appeal whether or not he will be exempt. He will not know, under the scheme outlined by the Prime Minister, whether his occupation will be considered one of national importance. I am afraid—and I say this with some hesitation, but it is so, I think—I am afraid that the result will be not to increase the war Cover, but rather to decrease it. When you are going to affect a man's livelihood, when he has already reached middle age, he begins to cool in his enthusiasm, and to lose his full ardour in the War. Certainly it is going to upset his business. He cannot carry on his business or trade with skill and efficiency when ho knows that at any moment the military authorities can swoop down upon him, take him from his trade, and bring him into the Army.

Nor am I certain that the military gain is going to be commensurate with the disorganisation of business that will result. There was a time, not long ago, when it was the custom to say, in relation to the industrial classes, that a man was "too old at forty." Many men after forty found it difficult to get a new job; but, though at forty a man may be all right in his present occupation, if he is at home going on with his trade and practising his craft, it is quite a different thing when you uproot him from the occupation of a lifetime, take him from his regular surroundings, and put him into a camp. The shock to the system and the change in his life may mean his physical breakdown or a serious decrease in his efficiency. I am very doubtful as to how many men between the ages of forty and fifty will stand the strain. Besides, you are bound to admit a very large percentage of claims. A man, when he has reached that age, has usually got personal liabilities and financial engagements, and it is almost certain that he will feel justified in putting a claim before the tribunal. The result will be that men will not be forthcoming very quickly, and there will be a series of very long delays before you get the large numbers of men into the Army to justify your policy. There is another and more serious point of view. Industries are very nearly down to the bedrock in regard to labour. The combing has been going on drastically for the last two years. The present Minister of National Service was specially appointed to that particular job, and he has been very diligent in his work. There are a hundred and one trades that have diluted their staff with women, and resorted to all sorts of means to keep their trades going, and to take another single man from those trades would mean the closing of the doors and the complete bankruptcy of that particular trade. I very much doubt if the industries of the country, not only shipbuilding and munitions, but all staple trades like the cotton trade, will be able to afford a very much larger contribution of manpower than they have already made. This essentially applies to the older men, who are usually the lynch-pin of their trade. They have come to the prime of their industrial efficiency, and to move them now would mean the disorganisation of their trade.

I hope the House will not think that I am putting unnecessary obstacles in the way, seeing the insurmountable difficulties of providing the necessary men to meet the demands of the Army, but I think there is a better way. I know I put it before the House on several occasions, and I believe that if the Government will survey the field from my point of view they will see a practical solution of the problem without disorganising trades and without causing unnecessary friction. I understand that the older men are mainly required for Home service, and are not to be taken overseas, and that they are going to be used rather to release the present Home Service Army for service in France. There is in existence now a Volunteer Force organised on the basis of spare-time training, and it has now reached a very high standard of efficiency. The men have been well organised, and their training has been done under general officers commanding the districts where they are located; and it is generally admitted by the inspecting officers that these battalions known as the Volunteer Force compare not unfavourably with the Territorials at the outbreak of the War.

I know during the three and a half years that this force has been in existence that the Army Council has not viewed with great favour spare-time training, and would naturally prefer to have their services for the full time. I can understand that being so, but I suggest that this is not the time for taking such a course. As the Prime Minister admitted, we have come very near to the bedrock of our man-power, and we have to cut our coat according to our cloth, and, if there are not enough men to go round, it seems only common wisdom to see if we can apply different methods more suited to our old traditions. The Volunteer Force has always been the pride of this country, and when there has been a national emergency these men have sprung to arms; but the military authorities, who are too much inspired by German ideas and theory, do not view this kind of force in the light which they ought to do, and if they had been allowed to have their own way this force would not have been in existence. Time after time obstacles have been put in its way, and the War Office has made it clear that it has only permitted this force to be organised because of political pressure. I can tell the House that during the last two or three weeks the military authorities were very thankful to have this Volunteer Force in existence, because, properly organised and in being, it was possible at short notice to rush every available battalion overseas to relieve the pressure on the Western Front.

I put it to the House and to the Government that if, instead of trying to drag away from their homes every man of fifty years of age, taking them away from industries and upsetting the whole industrial system of the country and seriously depleting the ranks of labour, it would be better to appeal to the whole nation to train in their spare time in the Volunteer Force. They are now required to do fourteen drills per month, and the result has been the creation of a very efficient force, and the men would be likely to suffer far less physically by training in this way than if they were taken into camp with an uncertainty as to what will happen when they return. By these means I believe we could raise, not 100,000 men, as is contemplated by the Government, but from 500,000 to 1,000,000 soldiers, ready to take their place in the fighting line to prevent the enemy from effecting a landing on these shores. If necessary, it would not be an unreasonable thing to ask employers to give opportunities during business hours for men to do the necessary training. I believe on the whole that if men were offered the alternative of spare-time training to joining the Army the population would respond like one man and join this force. After all, we must not forget that there is still the Navy, and an invasion on a large scale I believe if it is not impossible is very improbable. It is true that the submarine has seriously affected the position at sea, and just as the submarine has proved effective against our mercantile marine, a transport near our shores would have a very rough time indeed from submarines, torpedo boats and other small craft. As success in war depends upon taking reasonable risks, I think we are justified in depending upon a part-time service force for the safety of these realms and in putting our trust in the Navy to give us security. I would therefore ask the Government to take this proposal into their consideration. If we are to see this War through to a successful end, it is necessary to take a large view, and not only look at one point at a time. I was glad that the Prime Minister stated that whatever proposals were put forward to-day it would be folly to interfere with the fundamental condition that the Navy and mercantile marine must be maintained. We cannot effectively maintain our mercantile marine and our Navy if we still further on a large scale comb out men from our industrial army. It is because I think this proposal of mine is a practical solution that I put it forward for the consideration of the Government. We are told that the Americans will soon be ready to come over and lend a hand to our hard-pressed soldiers. If the Americans are to come over, we must have ships, and if we are to have ships we must have the men to build them. Therefore, I hope that this House, while accepting the Bill in principle, will criticise it in detail, and, if necessary, amend it, and that the Government will view with favour such a proposal as I have outlined to depend for Home defence on part-time service in preference to taking men from their occupations and putting them into the Army.


Before considering the proposal of the Government, we first need to ask ourselves: Why is America in the War? America is a nation of 100,000,000 people bound by treaties which exclude her from entangling alliances and from interfering in European affairs, and in any considerations of man-power the first thing that a deliberative assembly of a mixed kind, representing mixed races such as this, should ask itself is, Why did America after three years of war throw in her fortunes with the Allies? Is it not evident that America is lighting for issues that have arisen out of the War, and not for any issue which caused the War? America is fighting for her right of way. She is fighting for the freedom of the seas and for a free passage for her ships, and America, must, willy-nilly, continue that battle until it is settled. The green ocean and its liberties is what America is fighting for. She is not fighting for Belgium, she is not fighting for Serbia, she is not fighting for Britain; she is fighting for herself, for her own dignity and her own freedom. Superadded to the freedom of the seas for her ships, she is fighting for the maintenance of the Monroe Doctrine. Under these circumstances, whenever any Bill connected with manpower is brought forward in this House, the position of America should be in the very forefront of our thoughts. Accordingly, needlessly to drag the question of a small nationality like Ireland and its unfortunate children into a discussion of this kind seems to me to portend an utter want of imagination and an utter want of scope on the part of of the Government. Nearly half the American Army and nearly half the American Navy are Irish. How do I know it? I know it by the demand for chaplains for the American Army and American Navy. Accordingly, when you set men of Irish blood who hitherto have been in sympathy with you at variance with you in thought, it can only be justified by the most overwhelming necessity.

I should like, before I approach the Irish side of this thing, to offer some observations on the speech of the Prime Minister from the point of view of an ordinary Member of this House. For three years and eight months I have not criticised the conduct of the War or the conduct of the Government. When we are attacked, as a Welsh Member attacked some of us, for not opposing Conscription for England two years ago, I only say that we believed the War to be a just war, and one forced upon England. I do not think a more peaceful body of statesmen were ever brought together than the Asquith Government which declared war. I was in the House before any one of them entered it. I watched their career. I. watched the career of Sir Edward Grey and of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Asquith) for thirty years in this House, and a less aggressive, a less combative, and a more pacifist body of men could not have been brought together in any assembly which has honoured this House with its presence since the days of William the Conqueror. To suggest that they needlessly dabbled in blood or needlessly plunged this country into war is so absurd that anybody, looking at the matter from the point of view of a disinterested onlooker, must have sympathised with the Government in its then situation. Believing that this War was brutally and violently forced upon England by an unjust aggressor, for three years and eight months my voice has never been lifted in criticism of the various Administrations that have been formed. To-day for the first time you force us to examine your premises—you drive us to analytical criticism, and the first observation that I would make on the Prime Minister's speech—a very eloquent and able statement—is that it was a wholly unconstitutional statement in so far as it dealt with the late reverses. That defence of the soldiers in the field should, in my opinion have come not from the Prime Minister but in the form of a dispatch from the responsible Commander-in-Chief. Secondly, I consider that the demand for men should also have come in the form of a dispatch from the responsible Commander-in-Chief. For my part, as I am driven to criticism, I am bound to say I look with alarm on the "to"-ings and "fro"-ings of politicians across the Channel to the Army Chiefs, and I view with alarm the returning echoes which we get from those gentlemen, not in the form of dispatches duly signed by responsible generals, but in the form of tittle-tattle, Ministerial or political. Therefore, I think the right hon. Gentleman was ill-advised not to have insisted on a report from the Commander-in-Chief being laid before this House.

10.0 P.M.

I give very strong approval to the action of the Government in co-ordinating their strength with the French troops under General Foch. An abler man could not have been selected. His brilliancy, his ability, his good faith, his long experience, and I would add the fact that he was not ashamed to kneel down in the dust before his troops to honour Almighty God—all the facts of the man's long career in my opinion entirely justify the action of the Government in co-ordinating their forces under General Foch, and I feel the strongest assurance that in no sense racially, nationally, patriotically, or in any other way will the troops of this country fail in the most profound loyalty and most perfect obedience. I now come to the third branch of the Prime Minister's speech. He showed that in the year 1917 the strength of the Allies, as compared with that of the enemy, was three to two. He then went on to demonstrate that in the recent battles even with the withdrawal of the German troops from the Eastern Front, the numbers whether in men or in guns were almost at a parity, and that in the air the Allied strength was slightly the better. But, confronted by all those facts, he went on to show that the offensive had the greater value and that it was impossible for the defensive to concentrate the troops at a given area. The design of the offensive was well known, but, in view of the admitted slight superiority of the offensive I am led to wonder why, when the comparisons stood three to two, we did not take the offensive in the year 1917, if there was such a wonderful superiority on the side of those who conduct the offensive. We all know what Kinglake said. He spoke of British troops as lions led by jackasses. I do not desire to use any such phrase to men engaged in this campaign, but I do think that when a general—I am not referring to a Com-mander-in-Chief—has openly blundered and brought about most hideous losses, to put that man again in command of an Army is little better than manslaughter, if not assassination. There came a chaplain from the front to Ireland last summer. I will not mention the name of the general whom he denounced, but he showed that a Lancashire regiment, a Scottish regiment and an Irish regiment had been left practically with only ten or twelve men through the blustering of this particular general. This reverend gentleman went openly through Dublin proclaiming the general as a murderer, and, as Catholic soldiers think nothing of their priests unless they go into battle with them, this chaplain had a better opportunity of forming a judgment than other men could have had. What happened? He was speaking openly in the interests of the Army. The general was promoted; the chaplain was never allowed to go back again to that particular front: someone else was sent. When you are asking Irishmen—and, after all, when it suits you, you call them quick-witted, although at other times you say they are superstitious, and blatherers, and all sorts of things—you should remember that they have, after all, the instincts of soldiers, they are watching, and, when they believe they are thrown away they never forgive it, neither do their priests nor their members forget it. When I consider these facts in conjunction with the Bill as affecting Ireland, I cannot help feeling amazement that any Government should suppose it possible to enforce a Bill of this kind.

I have come to the conclusion that this Bill, so far as Ireland is concerned—to use the lately fashionable word—is merely camouflage. I believe it is the mere mask from which to stiletto Homo Rule. If you intended giving Homo Rule you would introduce this Clause in the Home Rule Bill; but what you are doing is, you are bringing in a Bill that is certain to pass on the promise of a Bill that is certain to be rejected by the House of Lords. That is what you are doing, and you are making this proposal in all its severity in regard to a measure that has been introduced into England by degrees. In, England, first you took the single men. Their places were filled in many cases, and wonderfully filled, by women. Then, under necessity, you took the married men, but you took them allowing all kinds of exemptions—medical exemptions, occupational exemptions, and a number of other exemptions of that kind. Now you declare that these exemptions are to disappear, and medical certificates are practically to be only regarded as scraps of paper. The tribunals are practically to go, and with one smash, with all its severity, it is the Bill in this drastic shape that is going to be applied to Ireland. I should have thought, of course, that the Government would first have said to themselves, "What has happened in the Convention?" What has happened? Nothing. There is no Report of the Contention, except a Minority Report. Sir Horace Plunkett has signed a document giving a narrative of events, the Orange party have signed a document which may be summed up simply as non possumus, twenty-two Nationalists have signed a Report asking for Colonial Home Rule. And the Prime Minister—who states that he has not read the most important portion of this body's proceedings, namely, that dealing with the matter in hand—says he is going to give us Home Rule as a result of the Convention which must be a blend, as I understand, of two negations and an objection.


Will he give any of them?


That is not a rude question, but the answer might be rude. I should like to ask the Government whether they think that anybody on this side of the House, or on that side of the House, is to be taken in by such a plain device as that? No Report from the Convention, two Minority Reports, and the Government declare they are going to bring in a Home Rule Bill. What occurred to me when I heard the astute proposal which has been made that a Privy Council Order is to put in force Conscription in Ireland was that it only requires a Privy Council Order to put the Home Rule Act of 1914 into force. Why not do that? The Privy Council is a most estimable body—I always bow down in reverence whenever I meet a Privy Councillor—and Home Rule is on the Statute Book. The fact is continually dinned into our ears. Even a deaf man could not deny some knowledge of the Home Rule Act being on the Statute Book. Why not, then, bring a Privy Council Order into existence for the purpose of putting that Act immediately into force? You could do it far quicker than you could pass this Bill. To-morrow you could set up on the Liffey a Parliament to which you could submit the question of whether they were willing to give Conscription to Ireland or Irish military forces—tomorrow! The Act is there. Where is the veto? The veto is in Trinity College, where the Convention Reports come from How is it that the Government, which in any ordinary relations, when they meet us in the Lobby, do not treat us as if we were tomfools, or lunatics, or any strange creatures out of menageries, treat us in this House as if we have not one scrap of political common sense?

That being so, I say that the pretence on which this Bill is to apply to Ireland is worse than an outrage. It is hypocrisy, and the proof of that hypocrisy is to be found in the speech of the Prime Minister, who introduced it. He had two arguments, both absolutely repugnant. His first argument was—and this was in his "Daily Mail" style—flow can we, when we are increasing the age up to fifty for the Britisher, allow fine strapping young Papists of twenty-one to idle about in Ireland? A splendid argument, and so convincing in this House—though not to the Irish portion—that what other argument do you want? What do you want with Home Rule if that is a good enough argument? If it is right and in accordance with the justice of things that before the Britisher of fifty is called out of his bed the young, strapping, lusty—whenever you want him for a soldier he is splendid—young Irishman of twenty-one should not be allowed to remain in Ireland—if that is so complete an argument, and if the case be a parity, what connection has it with Home Rule? If Ireland be an integral portion of this Kingdom, bearing equal burdens, sharing equal privileges, entitled to your loyalty—the men of Devon, the men of Cornwall, the men of Lancashire, are compelled to give you their loyalty—what is the need of Home Rule? But if Home Rule be a necessity to awaken the warlike spirit, the loyal spirit in the breasts of these young men, what is the value then of this false and delusive argument about the old man of fifty being called up in England and the young man of twenty being allowed to disport himself in Ireland? No, Sir, it is the uneasy conscience of the ex-Home Ruler that is at work. Nobody of Celtic blood, as the Prime Minister is, and I would add of Celtic courage—nobody who knows the Welsh case but must understand the Irish case. Nobody who knows the Irish case but must understand the Welsh case. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman used the argument of the Englishman of fifty and the Irishman of twenty-one, it was not an argument he believed in. He got it from the "Daily Mail."

Having discussed the case—I trust without heat or passion—I now come to look at it from a practical point of view. I am not without sympathy for certain members of the Government. They are in a most difficult position. I know that if they had their way, many of them would not be there. I know they are serving their country loyally and generously, and it is most unfair to make some of them the butt of needless attack in the middle of this War. But the Prime Minister has asked for it. He has turned out one Government and he has assumed the headship of another. He therefore must take upon himself the burdens and responsibilities of this proposal in a way that no other Minister can. I therefore ask him, Is this a practical proposal from the point of view of man-power? Let us consider it coldly. You have Ireland under martial law. You got it, at the beginning of the War, a perfectly loyal country thoroughly with you. I have had three nephews killed in this War;. I have plenty of other relatives serving. There is hardly a man who has not some member of his family either killed or wounded. I do not think that in the whole history of Ireland, were it understood, was there ever such a case of spiritual abnegation, generosity and forgiveness as Ireland showed at the beginning of this War. It was the one bright spot. Poor John Redmond! You killed him, and you are using the election of his son in Water-ford the other day practically to carry Conscription. Of course, had the election gone the other way you would never have dreamt of Conscription.

Let us take this question of man-power. Has the Chief Secretary been consulted? I believe he was no more consulted than when the newspapers made him Master of the Rolls. There was another Minister who retired on the ground that he read in the newspapers that his job was offered to Lord Northcliffe, and that was the first he had heard of it. Of course, that afforded a good precedent for Ireland. I have known the Chief Secretary now since I was a student, and I look upon him as a friend, as far as one can be friendly on opposite sides of the House, especially when a man becomes Irish Secretary. I should like to see his name at the foot of this Bill showing that he approves of it, and that he assures the Government that this demand for manpower which they are making will be fully warranted and implemented by the Irish people. There are military authorities in Ireland who are there for the purpose of what is called martial law. They have county Clare now at their mercy, and they are principally there for the purpose of staying there. They do not want to go to France. They have splendid dinners of three courses, with no Food Controller and—the teetotalers will be sorry to hear it—unlimited whisky. So for the remainder of this War county Clare will be a place out of which there will be no redemption for these gallant men. There is a little village in the county of Clare so small that its name is much longer than its population. It is called Carrigaholt. There were some twenty boys drilling in a little room not more than 20 feet square. Soldiers called on them to disperse for drilling. It was an illegal act. As they did not immediately disperse, having a great reverence for the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), a company of soldiers with fixed bayonets were sent into this little room. I do not say they all went in at once. Even the military genius of the Irish Commander-in-Chief is not equal to that. As the soldiers went in, the drilling men went out. This may be a matter of laughter for hon. Members, but the fact is that they bayoneted four of these men, killing one on the spot and left three seriously wounded. Their own evidence shows that there was no resistance and no attempt to combat them in any way. The men were stabbed in the back because, of course, being Papists, they are all cowards, except when they are put into British uniforms, they can stand that. The result in this little village is that you have four bayoneted Irishmen as a sort of overture to Conscription. All the letters of everybody entering the place are opened. The fairs have been practically abolished, beasts are unsaleable, and threats have been made to extend this system in order to popularise Conscription all over the country. Five weekly newspapers have been suppressed by the military within the last three weeks. In the town of Athlone, in the centre of Ireland, one of the most peaceful towns in the whole country, where there is a barracks where the Connaught Rangers are stationed—it has been a barrack town as long as my memory serves—there was a paper called the "Westmeath Independent," owned by an Irish Protestant Conservative called Chapman. I suppose his editor was a Nationalist. Mr. Chapman had the largest printing establishment in any country town in Ireland, and in open competition he used to take the printing contracts for the county council in Cork, in Wicklow, Dublin, and places far distant from Athlone. The military thought that as they were seizing his newspaper, it would be a good thing to seize all his job printing presses, and to throw 100 printers—that is the newspaper statement, I do not vouch for it—out of employment.

What I have told the House is going on deliberately in every town and county in Ireland. You have only to get Dublin Castle to twist the screw and the district inspectors, who were the chief allies of the right hon. Member for Trinity College, are ready to do the work. With a turn of the screw from Dublin Castle you can have a stage storm in any part of Ireland, with the assistance of the constabulary, at twenty-four hours' notice, just as on the stage you can have stage thunder or a stage storm. This is in a country where it took 30,000 of your soldiers to suppress a rebellion got up by 950 young boys, without machine guns and without cannon. You had to burn down Dublin and its principal streets and to bring 30,000 men over in order to put down these young boys, and you are going to multiply these instances a million times over in order to provide sport for the Germans and man-power for the British Army. What will be the effect upon the Protestants? Of course, as regards them—I use the religious term because it is short, though it is not strictly accurate—I did not notice any great enthusiasm from the Member for South Tyrone or the Member for South Derry, or the Members from Down, and all these other places where their hearts are throbbing for the Empire, when this Conscription Bill was announced. You are the British garrison. You have got all the benefit of the British connections for hundreds of years. You were in possession of all the spoils. You have had all the offices. You have had the Church for three centuries. You are the garrison. You boast of it. Why do not you garrison the British Army in France?

This brings me to the machinery of the Bill, and I say that the most infamous thing connected with this proposal is the suggestion of machinery. The priests of Ireland are to be called out to attend the hospitals, men who have protested again and again against some of these terrible hospitals being set up in their localities, hospitals connected with sexual diseases which were proposed in decent localities. You are to have priests going to these hospitals. Have you asked them? Have you asked their cardinals? Have you asked their bishops? The Prime Minister stated that he had consulted, I do not know whether it was some leading Nonconformists or the Archbishop of Canterbury—I do not know who is the head of the English Church at the moment. Has he consulted anybody connected with our Church? And remember this: It is the fixed opinion of common people in Ireland that the cause of your disasters in France is due to the fact that promotions have gone not by merit, but by Free- masonry. You do not like it. But if you are going to force this Bill down our throats you must hear what common fellows like myself think, and if you are going to put Catholic Irishmen under Orange and Freemason officers they will not believe that they will get fair play. [An HON. MEMBER: "Humbug!"] You have got to convince the people of that. I may tell you something of what is called in France Carson's Army. When it was drilling at a camp in county Down they sent over an English officer, and the moment it was found that he was a Catholic the War Office were compelled to withdraw him, for these soldiers would have no other than Protestant officers. I am not blaming them. We have heard of Rome on the rates. That was a grand cry during the Education Bill campaign. Are you going to provide for Catholic priests and Catholic soldiers the elementary principles of fair play? In England Freemasonry is the merest social organisation. It is untinged with politics. So far as I know there is nothing objectionable in the organisation as it exists in this country. But what is it in Ireland? There is no leading Orangeman who is not a Mason, and it is through Masonry that all the Curragh revolt was worked. And a nice job General Gough has made of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] Who provoked this Debate? You want here the representatives of the people to speak for the people, and tell you what they think. I am telling you what they think. Bead the "Daily Mail"; they know all about it. Where have we in any instance, in connection with this War, ventured on any criticism? The only criticism I have offered was that the Admiral who allowed the "Goeben" and the "Breslau" to escape should be tried and the facts should be published. I think if that were done there would be fewer blunders. Now, when thousands of our people are to be torn from their families, and we tell you what these people are thinking, we hear cries of "Shame!" at some elementary account of facts, because your ears have been plugged and your brains have been closed for the last three and a-half years through the operations of the Censor, and you know of what is going on in Ireland about as much as I know of what is going on in Japan. What will happen? I hope there will not be bloodshed. I have too many connected with me serving in this War, to see our people in Ireland needlessly conscripted. Much will depend upon the men whom you have recently had in your gaols. I always tell those men that they were mercifully treated, and that the Government had shown them clemency. I was afraid to offer to these men the language I hold in this House; but you have made a start with some three thousand criminals who are the most respected men in the country. You hanged men at Tyburn three centuries ago, and one of them has just been canonised at Rome. Forster, I remember, spoke of "village ruffians" and "criminals," and he put Mr. Parnell in Kilmamham University. You are now out to gather man-power in Ireland. I believe the mass of Sinn Feiners will refuse to be registered, will refuse to be drilled, will refuse to be conscripted; and you have not gaols enough to hold them. [An Hon. MEMBER: "They will fight!"] Some of them may fight. I do not know. I will not answer for that, but I think I can say there will be a strike en masse by the Irish people. One man may bring a horse to the water, but twenty men cannot make it drink; and if they should come to you, if by some subtle advice on the part of the Sinn Feiners, supposing De Valera said, "Join in; throw yourselves into the Army," can you rely on them when you have got them to the Front? [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes!"] You say "Yes."It is very painful to me after this long period of silence to have to tell you these home truths, but you ought to know them yourselves. It is as much your business to have known them as it was the business of the late Government to have known the strength of Germany before they declared war in August, 1914. Then what would happen? Irish-American soldiers, Irish-American sailors, would be affected. Irish troops at the Front would be affected. I touched a moment ago on the Irish Protestants. Will they go? How will they enjoy seeing all the Nationalists in gaol, refusing to go, when their children are being driven into this welter? [An HON. MEMBER: "What about our children?"] The Hon. Member is not the only one who has children.

It must be remembered that Englishmen are fighting for a free country. Are we to continue to fight for the enslavement of ours? What have I been doing in this House for thirty-eight years? I have been trying to convince Englishmen that the system under which my country was governed was bad for us and bad for them. We are here by compulsion. The Act of Union was an Act obtained by fraud, obtained by bribery—bribery as to which a parish council election could not stand in England to-day. And now, in a Parliament which has long overspent the seven years of its legal tenure, a revolutionary Bill of this kind—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"]—I quite agree. Perhaps I have detained the House too long, but, of course, I must be excused, as it is my first speech in three-and-a-half years, and in very exceptional circumstances. Therefore, I would only say in conclusion that, without the most overpowering necessity, which has not been demonstrated, without the signatures of the Commander-in-Chief abroad, the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—without their high approval, to bring in a measure of this kind is a mistake of the deepest kind. That being so, I would, even now, fondly hope that it is only brought in, not as a measure to work, but as a stiletto to be used for other purposes—the destruction of Home Rule. That you may succeed in. If so, we have only failed, as eight centuries of Irishmen before us have failed, and we have no regrets; but, at all events, those of us who would like, as ardently as you would, to see the monstrous power of militarism ended in Europe, are entitled when this country, to use a legal phrase, is "challenging the array," to tell you some measure of the truth as to the chasm into which you are precipitating the country.


I desire to offer only a very few observations upon this discussion. If I remained silent, having regard to many of the observations which have been made, the position of myself and those with whom I act in Ireland might be entirely misunderstood. The only thing that influences me on the present occasion is the present urgent necessities of this country in relation to the War. I am not going to refer to any of the observations that have been made either with reference to myself or to the party with whom I act in Ireland. I want to fight no one at the present moment except the common enemy—the Boche. We have had these Man-Power Bills before the House on various occasions. On every occasion on which the subject has come before the House I have felt it my duty to say that no distinction ought to be drawn between any part of the United Kingdom, and I have supported on every occasion the application of these Bills to Ireland as well as to other parts of the United Kingdom. I think it is a great misfortune that any distinction has ever been drawn throughout the whole of this War, and for reasons which I will state in a few moments. But when I am told that the enemy is at the gates, that the position of this country is one of peril and danger, that the whole structure of liberty and freedom in relation to the whole human race to which we belong is at stake, I ask myself what right have I as an Irish Member to give my adhesion to a Bill which calls for sacrifices of the most terrible and harassing character from the inhabitants of Great Britain, and ask that my own part of the United Kingdom should be absolved? If such a thing could happen, I would go about hanging my head in shame. After all, let us put aside our controversies for the moment. I can indulge in them quite as fiercely as anybody else, as the House knows. But, after all, what is the ambition of Members from my own country sitting opposite? They desire, just as much as I do, that the Germans should be defeated in this War. That is the only question before the House at present. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] It is the only question! What does Unionism matter? [Interruption.] What does Home Rule matter? What does Free Trade matter? What do all the other controversies matter in which we have been engaged? They matter nothing compared with the advance of the Germans, overrunning with their Prussianism the whole of the civilised nations.

The one thing I regret in this Bill is that the Government should have mixed up with it the question of Home Rule. I agree there with the Members from Ireland. I do not see why it was introduced—unless as camouflage. I will tell you why. No local Parliament that has ever been proposed has suggested, nor have hon. Members opposite ever suggested, that any local Parliament should undertake Imperial Defence. Therefore, I myself do not understand what was the object of introducing the question of Home Rule. Anyway, let us be honest with each other. Conscription for Ireland is either right or wrong. If it be right, it is not propped up by Home Rule. If it be wrong, it is no longer propped up by Home Rule. I warn the Government that they may be raising two agitations—one against Conscription and a second in regard to Home Rule—both of which may equally affect the operations of the Act which they have in mind. For my own part all I care about is that the country is in danger. No man who has equal privileges in the United Kingdom has the right to say, "I can shirk when my country is in danger." [HON. MEMBERS: "We are not doing it!"] Equal privileges! Has Ireland equal privileges? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Do not forget that the other day you passed a Franchise Bill in which you gave two votes to every Irishman for one vote that you gave to the Englishman; and is the man with two votes to do nothing to defend them?

I do not know what the opposition to this Bill may be in Ireland, but I say with all sincerity—and I think that they trust me—that the greatest contribution that they could make towards an Irish settlement is that the men in the trenches should learn to trust each other. My hon. Friend opposite, who has just spoken, talked of "Carson's Army." What you call "Carson's Army" has just gone into action for the fourth time, and many of them have paid the supreme sacrifice. They have covered themselves with glory, and, what is

more, they have covered Ireland with glory, and they have left behind sad homes throughout the small hamlets of Ulster, as I well know, losing three or four sons in many a home. You may, if you like, call it with contempt "Carson's Army," but at the commencement of the War I rode at the head of an army of 800 men at seven o'clock in the morning, when they went to the recruiting sergeant and left me, and I am more proud of that act than anything I have ever done. "Carson's Army," as you call it, went to France, and, Orangemen as they were, they fought for a great Catholic country, because there was a common freedom between them. They were told, "You must recollect that you are going to a Catholic country, and therefore you must take care of every word you say." What did they do? They attended Catholic worship at a Catholic church, and these are supposed to be bigoted Orangemen. For my own part, I am glad and proud to think that at last my country will take its proper place in the battle for freedom which we are waging.

Question put, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make further provision with respect to Military Service during the present year."

The House divided: Ayes, 299; Noes, 80.

Division No. 5.] AYES. [10.59 p.m.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Bowden, Major G. R. Harland Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W. Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry
Agnew, Sir George William Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid.) Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Boyton, Sir James Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)
Amery, Capt. L. C. M. S. Brace, Rt. Hon. William Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)
Anstruther-Gray, Lieut.-Col. William Brassey, H. L. C. Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)
Archdale, Lieut. Edward M. Bridgeman, William Clive Denison-Pender, Capt. J. C.
Archer-Shoe, Lieut.-Col. Martin Brookes, Warwick Denniss, E. R. B.
Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf Broughton, Urban Hanlon Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Sir Willoughby H
Baird, John Lawrence Brunner, John F. L. Dixon, Charles Harvey
Baker, Maj. Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Bryce, J. Annan Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward
Baldwin, Stanley Bull, Sir William James Du Pre, Major W. Baring
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London) Burdett-Coutts, W. Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Butcher, John George Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G. Carew, Charles R. S, (Tiverton) Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.
Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South) Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Faber, George Denison (Clapham)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N. Carnegie, Lieut.-Col. D. G. Fell, Sir Arthur
Barnston, Major Harry Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson
Barran, Sir Row. Hurst (Leeds, North) Cator, John Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)
Barrie, H. T. Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George Fisher, Rt. Hon, W. Hayes (Fulham)
Barton, Sir William Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh (Oxford U.) Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.
Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Gloucs., E.) Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robt. (Herts, Hitchin) Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue
Bathurst, Capt. Sir C. (Wilts, Wilton) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. Fletcher, John Samuel
Beale, Sir William Phipson Cheyne, Sir W. W. Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Foster, Philip Staveley
Beck, Arthur Cecil Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Ganzoni, Francis John C.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Collins, Major Godfrey P. (Greenock) Geddes, Sir A. C. (Hants, N.)
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Colvin, Col. Richard Beale Gibbs, Col. George Abraham
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Gilbert, James Daniel
Bigland, Alfred Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole Goldman, C. S.
Bird, Alfred Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred
Black, Sir Arthur W. Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives) Grant, J. A.
Blair, Reginald Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff) Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)
Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fertescue Cowan, Sir W. H. Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)
Booth, Frederick Handel Craig. Ernest (Cheshire, Crews) Greig, Col. James William
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, E.) Gretton, Col. John
Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis J. Loyd, Archie Kirkman Robinson, Sidney
Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) M'Callum, Sir John M. Rothschild, Major Lionel de
Haddock, George Bahr McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. Robert C. A. Rowlands, James
Hali, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich) MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh Royds, Major Edmund
Hambro, Angus Valdemar Mackinder, Halford J. Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen)
Hamersley, Lt.-Col. Alfred St. George Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby)
Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Macleod, John Mackintosh Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)
Hamilton, Rt Hon. Lord C. J. Macmaster, Major Gilbert Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur
Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S. Maden, Sir John Henry Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Magnus, Sir Philip Sharman-Crawford, Colonel R. G.
Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel. Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool)
Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.) Malcolm. Ian Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.) Mallalieu, Frederick William Spear, Sir John Ward
Haslam, Lewis Marks, Sir George Croydon Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Mason, James F. (Windsor) Stanier, Capt. Sir Beville
Helme, Sir Norval Watson Meysey-Thompson, Col. E. C. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. H. (Asht'n-u-Lyne)
Henry, Sir Charles (Shropshire) Middlemore, John Throgmorton Stanton, Charles Butt
Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.) Millar, James Duncan Starkey, Capt. John R.
Hermon-Hodge, Sir R. T. Mitchell-Thomson, W. Staveley-Hill Lieut.-Col. H.
Hewins, William Albert Samuel Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Stewart, Gershom
Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E. Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Higham, John Sharp Morgan, George Hay Swift, Rigby
Hill, Sir James (Bradford, C.) Morison, Hector (Hackney, S.) Sykes, Col. Sir Alan John (Knutsford)
Hills, Major John Waller Morton, Sir Alpheus Cleophas Sykes, Col. Sir Mark (Hull, Central)
Hinds, John Mount, William Arthur Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John
Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Needham, Christopher T. Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Neville, Reginald J. N. Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Hope, Harry (Bute) Newton, Major Harry Kottingham Toulmin, Sir George
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Tryon, Capt. George Cloment
Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Edin., Midlothian) Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Turton, Edmund Russborough
Horne, E. Nield, Sir Herbert Walker, Colonel William Hall
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Nuttall, Harry Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Hughes, Spencer Leigh Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Hume-Williams, William Ellis Palmer, Godfrey Mark Wards, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid.)
Hunter, Major Sir Charles Rodk. Parker, James (Halifax) Waring, Major Walter
Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H. Parkes, Sir Edward E. Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.
Ingleby, Holcombe Parrott, Sir James Edward Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark, S.)
Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York) Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse) Watson, J. B. (Stockton)
Jackson, Sir John (Devonport) Peace, Rt. Hon. Herbt. Pike (Darlington) Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H.
Jacobsen, Thomas Owen Pennefather, De Fonblanque Weston, Col. J. W.
Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Perkins, Walter Frank Wheler, Major Granville C. H.
Jones, Sir Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Peto, Basil Edward Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester) Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.,
Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) Pollard, Sir George H. Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)
Joynson-Hicks, William Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)
Kellaway, Frederick George Pretyman, Rt. Horn. Ernest George Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Wilson, Col. Leslie C. (Reading)
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Prothero, Rt. Hon. Rowland Edmund Wilson-Fox, Henry
Knight, Capt. E. A. Pryce-Jones, Col. E. Winfrey, Sir Richard
Lane-Fox. Major G. R. Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert Wolmer, Viscount
Larmor, Sir J. Randles, Sir John Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Raphael, Major Sir Herbert H. Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)
Layland-Barratt, Sir F. Ratcliff, Lieut.-Col. R. F. Wood, S. Hill- (High Peak)
Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton Rea, Walter Russell Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.
Levy, Sir Maurice Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.) Wright, Capt. Henry Fitzherbert
Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Remnant, Col. Sir James Farquharsen Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Lindsay, William Arthur Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Younger, Sir George
Lloyd, Captain G. A. (Stafford. W.) Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Roberts, Rt. Hon. Geo. H. (Norwich)
Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord Edmund Talbot and Capt. Gueet.
Lonsdale, James R. Roberts. Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.
Anderson, W. C. Doris, William Hoarn, Michael Louis
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Duffy, William J. Hogge, James Myles
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Esmonde, Capt. John (Tipperary, N.) Holt, Richard Durning
Buxton, Noel Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) John, Edward Thomas
Byrne, Alfred Farrell, James Patrick Joyce, Michael
Chancellor, Henry George Ffrench, Peter Keating, Matthew
Clough, William Field, William Kelly, Edward
Condon, Thomas Joseph Fitzpatrick, John Lalor Kilbride, Denis
Cosgrave, James Flavin, Michael Joseph King, Joseph
Crean, Eugene Glanville, Harold James Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Crumley, Patrick Guiney, John Lardner, James C. R.
Cullinan, John Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Lundon, Thomas
Devlin, Joseph Hackett, John Lynch, Arthur Alfred
Dillon, John Harbison, T. J. S. McGhee, Richard
Donovan, John Thomas Hayden, John Patrick MacVeagh, Jeremiah
Donnelly, Patrick Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork. N.E.) Mason, David M. (Coventry)
Meagher, Michael O'Donnell, Thomas Rowntree, Arnold
Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) O'Dowd, John Scanlan, Thomas
Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) O'Leary, Daniel Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Molloy, Michael O'Malley, William Snowden, Philip
Mooney, John J. O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Walsh, J. (Cork South)
Morrell, Philip O'Shee, James John White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Muldoon, John O'Sullivan, Timothy Whitehouse, John Howard
Nolan, Joseph Outhwaite, R. L. Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Nugent, J.D. (College Green) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
O'Brien, William (Cork) Pringle, William M. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain Donelan and Mr. Boland.
O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Reddy, Michael
O'Doherty, Philip Redmond, Capt W. A.

Bill ordered to be brought in by the Prime Minister, Mr. Bonar Law, Sir G. Cave, Mr. Barnes, Sir A. Geddes, and Mr. Hayes Fisher.