§ His Majesty may by Order in Council extend this Act to Ireland, and this Act if so extended shall, subject to such modifications and adaptations as may be made by the Order for the purpose of making it applicable to Ireland, have effect accordingly.
§ An Order in Council under this Section may, as respects the civil Court before which pro- 1886 ceedings in respect of any offence punishable on summary conviction under the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, the Army Act, the Military Service Acts, 1916 to 1918, or this Act, or any Orders or Regulations made there under, are to "be brought in Ireland—
- (a) make special provision with respect to the constitution of the Court; or
- (b) assign any such proceedings to such civil Court or Courts as may be specified in the Order.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
On a point of Order, Mr. Whitley. I notice that there are several other Amendments on the Paper coming before this one, dealing with a somewhat similar point, and i want to put to you the difficulty some of us are in. The Amendments which deal with a similar point suggest that the imposition of Conscription in Ireland should not take place until, in some form or other, Home Rule has been established in Ireland. There are a considerable number of Members who take that view, who regard it as vital to this Clause, and who desire an opportunity of expressing their view by a vote on the subject. We come subsequently to the Amendment which has just been called. That Amendment is not content with raising the point that Conscription should be postponed until a Home Rule Bill for Ireland has been passed, but it goes further, and says that not only should Home Rule for Ireland be passed, but that Conscription should be resolved upon by an Irish Parliament—a much narrower point. There are a considerable number of people who could not support the Amendment, because they regard this as a matter for the Imperial Parliament, but who are firmly convinced that Conscription should not be imposed until a measure of Home Rule has been passed. They cannot have any opportunity of expressing their views on this, and I want to ask you, without disputing your ruling in the slightest, whether you could allow a general discussion on the subject to be raised on the Amendment down in the name of my hon. Friend, and whether, after that general discussion has taken place, you could allow us, without discussion, to have an opportunity of taking a vote upon the other Amendment, which raises a much wider principle than is on the Paper?
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the first point, certainly it would be open to the hon. Member and to others to argue that on the Amendment now called, and it would be still open to me later on to call a modified form of Amendment. I must leave myself free on that matter until I see the progress of the Debate. but the Amendment I am now calling will enable that point of view, as well as the other, to be put before the Committee.
Will your ruling on that point depend to some extent on whether a considerable number of Members, in 1888 the course of the Debate, express a wish to have an opportunity of giving a vote on the wider issue?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid I cannot bind myself in advance. I only say I do not rule out on this occasion the possibility of it.
§ Mr. LARDNER
I beg to move, at the beginning of the Clause, to insert the words, "After the passing of a Resolution by an Irish Parliament set up under the provisions of the Government of Ireland Act, 1914, praying therefore."
I desire to make it perfectly clear that this Amendment is not moved for the purpose of academic discussion, or merely for Parliamentary tactics. It is moved for the purpose of directing the attention of the House and the country to the position of Ireland with regard to existing legislation, and the right of this House to impose Conscription upon Ireland against the will of the people of that country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the other night, claimed that under the Government of Ireland Bill the Army and Navy were reserved Services, and, therefore, the right to impose Conscription rested with this House, and this House alone. Technically, he is no doubt right, but when we come to examine the circumstances, I think that Members of this House will agree that he is hardly justified in coming down and claiming to impose Conscription in the present state of legislation in reference to Ireland. At the time the Government of Ireland Bill was introduced Conscription was never thought of for Ireland. or for England either, and I venture to think that no one in this House will suggest that if Conscription had been part of the settled policy of this country any Irish Member would have assented to the passing into law of a Government of Ireland Bill which did not reserve the right of the Irish Parliament to say whether the Imperial needs should be supplied or not by Conscription of men in Ireland. I go further. I say, that, assume that the Government of Ireland Rill was in operation to-day, and that a Parliament was actually sitting in Dublin, great as is your need for men, would you venture to come down to this House and impose Conscription upon Ireland without having first taken the opinion of the Irish House of Commons? You could not, because, as has been admitted from both Front Benches, the right to conscript is based 1889 upon consent. You have not got the consent of the Irish people to Conscription, and you can have no right to conscript them until you obtain that consent. When I say "consent," I do not mean the consent of every man who would be affected; I mean the substantial assent of the people or of the nation affected thereby.
What expression of opinion have you had in this House? On each occasion when Conscription for Ireland has been brought up it has been opposed by the vast majority of the representatives of Ireland in this House, and twice you have given it the go-by. If you have not got the consent of the people who are to be conscripted, what is your attitude? Your attitude must be that of a Government who are conscripting a people in servitude. I say that your right to-day is less when we bear in mind the fact that upon your Statute Book there is an Act of Parliament, a solemn Act of both Houses providing for the management of Irish affairs by the Irish people, and for the establishment of a Parliament in Dublin. With that there, how can this House claim any right, moral or legal, to impose Conscription upon a people to whom you have conceded the right by a promise—for what it was worth ! —to manage their own affairs and to control the destinies of their own people? Your Clause for the application of Conscription to Ireland is none the less infamous when we look at the way in which it is proposed to be applied. In this country your Military Service Bills provided numerous safeguards—for the erection of tribunals, for exemptions, and it was a gradual process, going on from day to day; it was spread over many weeks, and the effect of it came along gradually upon the people. In applying it to Ireland, however, in your attempt to apply it under this Bill, you sweep all this aside. You give no time for adjustment, or for consideration, no time for the provision of the many substitutes that must be made. The whole thing is done, or proposed to be done, by an Order in Council. I say that in dealing with any people that such a proposal is nothing short of tyranny. When we realise that to-day, and for weeks and months past, your Irish Convention has been considering the question of the government of Ireland, how can anybody justify the proposal contained in this Clause?
The Amendment which I am proposing is an Amendment which requires the 1890 assent of the Irish House of Commons to any proposal to conscript the manhood of Ireland. You say that the circumstances of the War and the needs of the moment justify you in embarking upon this unconstitutional, and—as I suggest—absolutely immoral course. Are our memories so short that we cannot recall to-day what was said in reference to Ireland in the month of August, 1914? It was referred to as the one bright spot in the situation. I venture to think that to-day there is no darker cloud upon your military horizon. What has made it so? Was it the ill-will of the Irish people? No, it was the stupidity and the blundering of your administration, the lack of sympathy of your Government, the want of the understanding of Irish conditions and Irish desires. That has continued up to the present moment. Those of us who have been living in Ireland and understand the position, and the conditions obtaining, know that this has brought home to the mind of the humblest individual in the country that the majority in Ireland are ruled by the minority, and in accordance with the wishes of the minority. If one wants proof of that, you have only to turn—and it is these small things which come home daily to the life of the people—you have only to turn to the War Department and to the temporary legislation which you have established. Every one of these Departments has been manned and staffed by people who were out of sympathy and out of touch with the vast majority of the people of Ireland. They have had no regard to local sympathy, local feeling, local requirements, or local desires. Everything that can be done has been done to make any feeling or effort in Ireland impossible, so far as this War is concerned.
There is also your procrastination in dealing with the whole Irish situation. There is your series of broken promises. Last of all, there is your seven months' Convention. What, after seven months of this Convention sitting in Dublin, and discussing affairs, do you know that you did not know before? For forty years this party has struggled in this House for the reconciliation of Ireland with Great Britain. They have struggled with might and main, in season and out of season, and their reward, after all that effort and all that struggle—and the members who had been broken in it! —has been the reward of promise after promise broken, 1891 and deception after deception imposed upon a people who were only anxious and willing, if they had been fairly met, to have co-operated with you in your every effort. To-day, when you attempt to impose Conscription upon Ireland, we find your Imperial duty to Ireland undischarged; we find your bond of honour on the Statute Book flouted and disregarded. I say confidently that the blame for the present situation does not rest upon the majority of the Irish people. It rests upon the Government, and those who have been responsible for the maladministration of Irish affairs since the outbreak of the War. You have exasperated the people. You have disappointed them. Now, having got them into that frame of mind, you propose to coerce them. A few years ago, in connection with the Government of Ireland Bill, it was stated from that very box opposite that the coercion of the minority was unthinkable. There is nothing unthinkable about the coercion of the majority! I should like to ask the Government this question, Will it pay?
§ Mr. LARDNER
I should like to turn for a moment to their side of the account, and ask them, What it is going to bring them? One of your greatest needs in this country has been, and is, food. You have appealed to the Irish farmer, and the Irish farmer has nobly responded. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. LARDNER
That spirit above the Gangway is typical. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to tell the House, when he comes to speak, what the Irish farmer has done.
§ Mr. LARDNER
To-day the main sources of supply of certain classes of food for the Army and for this country is Ireland. Are you going to paralyse that supply? Are you going to exempt 1892 the agriculturist from the operation of this Bill? Labour is short there to-day. It is only by the most extraordinary effort, early and late, that the agriculturists have been able to do what they have done. I doubt much if there will be sufficient labour for the purposes of the harvest this year, even as things are. The only other productive industry in the country is shipbuilding. Is that also to be paralysed? Will you take away the mechanics and artisans from the shipbuilding, and the labourers from the farms? If so, what have you left? Where is your pool to draw upon? Your pool then will be a few shop assistants, clerks, and others from the officers, and the nonproductive workers in the towns. Those are what you will have to draw upon. In these various ways you will paralyse the weakly industries which are in Ireland at the present time. That is your positive advantage. That is what you can hope to gain. What have you to face at the same time? To-day the county of Clare is under martial law. Any Member of this House going there by train may find when he gets to a certain point that he will be stopped and asked for his passport—as if he were going into an alien country! He will have to produce his photograph, signed and countersigned by the General Officer Commanding the Forces and the Inspector-General of Constabulary. If you go on with this proposal, what Clare is to-day, the rest of Ireland will be to-morrow. You know it is so. I do not know whether the Chief Secretary is aware or not of the fact, but the first earnest that Ireland got of the sincerity of the Government in putting this Bill into operation was the arrival of a cargo of armoured motor cars in Dublin the morning before yesterday. Are those to maintain peace? You also know from your insurance brokers and agents, who must have reported to you, what has happened inside the last twenty-four hours, namely, that the rate per cent. for the insurance of public buildings against civil commotion has risen from £3 3s. per cent. to £15.
§ Mr. LARDNER
Moreover, your officers staying in Ireland cannot be ignorant of the condition of affairs. Has the representative of the King in Ireland 1893 been consulted upon this point? Has the Chief Secretary expressed any opinion upon the application of Conscription to Ireland? Has the General Officer Commanding the Forces in Ireland been asked to express his opinion? We were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night that there had been consultations, and the Government were advised that this matter could be carried through. It can be carried through, but at what a cost! To-day you have in Ireland a garrison of 80,000. Can you do without them once this campaign starts, these 80,000 soldiers stationed there at the present time to keep the peace by reason of your own stupidity and your own maladministration? On top of that, you are going to infest the country with press gangs. Had the offer, which was originally made to the Government of the day in this House been accepted, there need never have been a single soldier in Ireland. There need never have been a disturbance, nor outbreak, nor would there have been the necessity for the angry controversy, and the terrible results which will follow from the passage of this Bill into law. That is the position in regard to your gains and the price you must pay for them. But how will you stand before the world? Ireland is the one country in the Empire in which any proposal has been made to conscript against the will of the people themselves. What do you think soldiers of Irish birth in the British and American Armies will think when they hear of your press gangs, and of your packed tribunals? I suppose none of these things will be allowed to get out. Are you going to censor all this? What is the legacy you will have left? You will have ended the possibility of conciliation between England and Ireland for all time. You have failed to trust Ireland in the past. Is it too late yet to trust her and allow your honour to come to your rescue and make some recompense to Ireland for the mistakes of the last three years? [HON. MEMBERS: "No honour!"] You may pass this Bill into law, and you may attempt to put it into operation, but I tell you if you do the price will be so steep that many in this House who are anxious to get help for the Army from Ireland will regret that they were ever parties to this proposal.
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
I rise for the purpose of very briefly supporting the Amendment 1894 which has just been proposed by my hon. and learned Friend. I desire, in the first place, to make quite clear to the House the standpoint from which we view this controversy. To begin with, we absolutely deny that you have any moral right to impose Conscription upon our country. You have no right to impose Conscription upon any country except with the free consent of a free people, and as the Irish people have not been given freedom, we deny your right to impose Conscription upon them. A few months ago the Germans imposed Conscription upon the Belgians. That was only industrial conscription, but it was Conscription, and what a cry of horror went up all over Great Britain! You held up your hands in horror. Your newspapers—from the "Daily Mail" downwards, or upwards, as the case may be, and all along the line—proclaimed this as one of the most horrible acts of barbarism ever known to civilisation. Your propaganda committees got out pictures showing gangs of Germans compelling the Belgians to serve the German Army against their will.
What are you doing now? You are proposing to apply to Ireland the very same methods you condemned the Germans for applying in Belgium, with this reservation, that the Germans were only imposing Conscription for industrial purposes, whereas you are now proposing to force to come out to fight for your freedom the men to whom you will not give freedom. It is the fashion for this country to be very respectful to everything that is ever said by an American. You were not always so considerate. Under the altered circumstances, may I quote from a great American, Abraham Lincoln? The Chancellor of the Exchequer is very fond of quoting Abraham Lincoln, and, therefore, I think we also might have a quotation from him. During the American War it was proposed to conscribe the negroes to help the American Government. I am not going to institute a comparison between my own country and the negroes, although the Noble Lord who is now sitting on the Treasury Bench opposite, and is a member of the Government (Lord Robert Cecil), had an ancestor who did not hesitate to call the Irish people Hottentots. This is what Abraham Lincoln had to say about the proposal to conscribe the negroes:Why should they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their 1895 lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motives, ever a promise of freedom.And here is the sting of it, which is in the tail—The promise, being made, must be kept.The promises that have been made to Ireland in the past have all been broken, and they have not been kept. The Government have come up year after year with promises for the settlement of the Irish question, but their courage has always failed them, and they have not succeeded yet in establishing in Ireland an Irish Parliament. You went into this War for the rights and the freedom of small nationalities. You proclaimed it. There is not a man sitting here who ever stood on a recruiting platform and did not in his peroration declare that your hearts were throbbing for the rights of small nations. What did you do with Ireland? The first thing you did was to suspend the Act which proposed to confer freedom on Ireland. You have kept it suspended ever since, and with all your enthusiasm for the rights of small nationalities, you have always succeeded in controlling amazingly well your enthusiasm as far as Ireland is concerned. You declare that you are only too anxious to do for Ireland as much as you do for any other part of the Empire and for your Colonies. May I point out that Australia has twice voted on the subject of Conscription, and they had a referendum? Will any man deny the services that Australia has rendered to the Empire in the present War? Do you not know that Australians have poured out their blood in rivers in France and on other fronts, where they have died in hundreds of thousands to save your Empire? They did not need any incitement to aid you, but yet they would not have Conscription. Even when Conscription was first proposed by themselves, they rejected it, although it was sought to force it upon them by the Lloyd George of Australia. But they would not have Conscription, and, if that attitude has been taken up by Australia, why should you be horrified to find it adopted by another part of your Empire?
When Australia refused to impose Conscription, you did not propose to compel her. You have the power to do so if you like, but you dare not exercise it. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have not the power!"] Yes, you have the power. The hon. Member apparently does not 1896 know much about constitutional history. We also oppose this proposal because we believe—I say this with a full sense of responsibility and not light-heartedly or thoughtlessly—that if you attempt to force this upon us, it will be violently resisted in every county and city in Ireland. You will turn the whole country into a veritable shambles, for whatever the. Irish people may do of their own free will, they will not allow any British Parliament to dictate to them how they shall serve the Empire. You may send out your Press-gangs, and shoot young Irishmen down on their own doorsteps, for they will never be forced into the Army. You may carry out that policy if you like; but I warn you, with ail solemnity, that you will turn the country into a shambles from one end to the other, and there will be an eye for an eye and a. tooth for a tooth.
It does not give us any pleasure to contemplate this result. There are many consequences. It will involve the destruction of our party for the time being, and the destruction of the constitutional movement in Ireland. Do not imagine that we view that outlook with composure or complacency. Do not imagine that we are uttering these warnings because we want them to be true. God knows nothing is further from our desire; but we know our country, and we warn you of the perilous course which you are embarking upon, and of the abyss towards which you are marching.
What will be the result on the War? We sometimes hear that tin; only thing we should think of is what we can do to win the War. Is this going to help on the War? If you get 50,000 unwilling recruits, are they going to help you to win the War? Do you think they will be a strength to your Army when you have got them? Ger them as volunteers, and you all know the fighting stuff that Irishmen are made of. and the sort of soldiers Irishmen turn out; but bring them in against their will, and you will regret the day you got them. Again, what is the effect going to be on public opinion all over the world? Ours is not the only country which has been told that this is a War for the rights of small nationalities. There is not a statesman living to-day who does not know that one of the most potent dangers to the Empire has always been the enormous Irish population in America.
There are millions of men of Irish race and Irish descent who, as long as the Irish question was left unsettled, were always 1897 a danger and a menace to the British Empire. They prevented for years any thing in the nature of friendly co-operation between the British Empire and America. Do you think that the Irish in America are any less powerful to-day than they were then? When America declared War, they threw themselves whole-heartedly into the War, because it was America's War. They sank all their hostility and bitterness against England and all their recollection of the past treatment of Ireland, and they went heart and soul into the War, because it was America's War. Take to-day any of the American ships coming over here. Take any of the drafts of American soldiers which have been landed in Great Britain, or upon the shores of France. Take any of your Australian contingents, and in every one of them you will find 50 per cent. are men of Irish birth or descent. Do you think these men are going to stand tamely by whilst this outrage is being perpetrated upon their country? Do you think they will be indifferent to an outrage of this kind in the only country which is for them the Mother Country? There is another point which I wish to put to the Government. There is not much faith placed in Ireland on the promises of this Government. Somebody the other day in Ireland 'described them as "following the methods of the country attorney." That was most unjust to the country attorney. The Government have given pledge after pledge which they have not carried out. The other day the Prime Minister stood at that box, and told the House of Commons and the country that the Government were determined to settle the Irish question, and were going to propose their own scheme for a settlement. Is it too much to ask somebody in the Government what the Prime Minister meant by that statement? When is the Home Rule Bill going to be produced, if it is going to be a new Bill, or, if it is to be an amendment of the old Bill, when are we going to hear something about the Amendment? If we are going to get an Irish Constitution, what sort of a Constitution is it going to be? If you are going to make an honest effort, and are going to establish friendly relations with the Irish people, upon what lines are you going to do it, and are you going to do it immediately or in the sweet by-and-by? There is no use in uttering pious opinions. We are sick of pious opinions. We want a definite pledge from the Government as to where they stand, 1898 and what they are going to do on the subject of Irish self-government. I am quite aware that there is a great danger that any pledge given will not be kept We have had painful experience of that; but, at any rate, let us have some definite pledge, and at the worst we shall have another broken pledge to add to the list.
There are many Members in this House, as I know from personal conversation with them, who hold very strong views about the method which the Government have adopted in endeavouring to force Conscription upon Ireland. They make no secret of their views. Some of them go as far as to say that the Government are going mad. But they are going to vote for them. Men who firmly believe that the Government are starting on a most perilous course are going to vote for them this evening in the Lobby. I do not quarrel with the reason that they give. They say, "We are in a terrible war. There is no other Government possible, and we have got to accept everything that the Government believe to be desirable or necessary." I would suggest to them that worse disasters could happen to the British Empire than the defeat of the British Government. I remember that the last Government stayed in power for a long time because everybody said that there was no alternative. But one day a little alternative appeared, a very pushful alternative, a Welsh alternative. Are we quite sure that we have no other latent Prime Ministers on the other side of the House, even on the benches' usually consecrated to Private Secretaries? You can form a very powerful Government to-day out of ex-Ministers alone. We have, I believe, about eighty Ministers in the present Government and about eighty ex-Ministers. There ought to be abundant material, and no Member need strain his conscience out of the fear that there is no possibility of an alternative Government. The fact of the matter is that the country is, to a large extent, sick of this Government. They have had too much of them. I might even go so far as to say that they are pretty well sick of the House of Commons also, and I doubt very much whether the electors of this country would be greatly horrified at the defeat of the Government. Hon. Members may be reassured on another point. The Government, whether they are beaten or not, have not the slightest intention of going out of office.
There is one other point to which I should like to call the attention of the 1899 Committee. My hon. and learned Friend told us about the Irish Convention, which met day after day or week after week for a period of seven months. It seems to be regarded now like the mountain in labour, as if it produced nothing. [An HON. MEMBER: "There was a mouse !"] The only mouse is this Report which is in our hands now, and which the Prime Minister has already declared shows nothing to him. He is, therefore, to produce a scheme of his own. This Convention was heralded by a most eloquent letter from the Prime Minister. Every sentence in the letter was a Welsh peroration about the magic possibilities of this Convention, and the enormous hopes that he based upon it. Week after week, as the Convention went upon its long career, similar tributes were paid to it by the Prime Minister and other members of the Government. Is it too much, therefore, to expect that the Government will pay some little attention to the recommendations of such a Commission? We have already heard from the Prime Minister that he himself has not read the Report. I hope that some other member of the Government will take the trouble to read a Report to which their, own Prime Minister attaches so much importance. The Convention appointed a Sub-committee to consider the question of Conscription in Ireland. Any hon. Member who has not got this Report can get it from the Vote Office. It is available to-day, after long and inexplicable delay. The recommendation will be found on page 118. This Sub-committee consisted of the Earl of Desart, the Duke of Abercorn, Captain Stephen Gwynn, Captain W. A. Doran, and Mr. J. B. Powell, K.C. In other words, it was a Committee of three Irish Unionists and two Nationalists, the majority of them being military members. It reported to the Convention as follows: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 that 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.That is exactly the Amendment which my hon. and learned Friend has proposed. The Report proceeds: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 1900 Islands, it is, we think, 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 the action and efficient co-operation of the Executive could not be secured. Indeed, it seems to us a 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 upon Ireland.Is there any respect for the findings of that Commission, or were all the declarations of friendship and of anxiety to obtain this Report so much flapdoodle and hypocrisy? If the Government meant all that they professed to mean—I refer now specially to the members of the War Cabinet, who kept in very close touch with that Convention throughout its whole career—they will take that Report very seriously to heart. I would urge upon private Members who are not in receipt of emoluments from the Government, directly or indirectly, that they should consider, and consider very seriously, the representations which we on these benches have made to them. We are not making these representations as your enemies in the War. You all know perfectly well that this party staked its political existence by supporting the cause of the Empire when this War broke out. It is not being said to you as enemies of your Empire or as enemies of the War, but it is as the sincere friends of the British people themselves, and as the sincere lovers of our own country that we implore you to think once, twice, and thrice before embarking upon a course which can only lead to disaster and humiliation for you and for us.
§ Mr. A. HENDERSON
I have kept silent so far during this Debate and, except on one occasion, since I ceased to have any connection with the present Government. The grave and the most menacing character of the present military situation justifies me, I think, in breaking my silence. We have before the Committee two separate and distinct policies in so far as the attempt to apply Conscription to Ireland is concerned. We have the policy set out in the Bill, and more particularly in Clause 2. That policy has been supported by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench with very strong and emphatic statements—statements which, having regard to the seriousness of the position, displayed more reckless courage than wisdom. The statement contained in the closing sentence of the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Second Reading of the Bill was one of the most 1901 surprising that I have ever heard. Ignoring the very long and painful history of the Irish question, ignoring his association with the Irish question, ignoring the mischievous lead which he and others occupying very responsible positions gave within quite recent times, he distinctly told us that the Government are staking their very existence not merely on the policy, but on almost the language of Clause 2 of this Bill. I again repeat, having regard to the circumstances, that statement appeared to me to be altogether too extravagant. Then there is the second policy. There is the policy in the Amendment just moved—an Amendment moved and supported already by two interesting speeches, speeches containing strong statements, I admit, but supported by no deeper conviction than the whole of the circumstances warrant. I do not remember, during the fifteen years I have had the honour to be a Member of this House, any single Clause of a Bill or any Amendment moved to a single Clause fraught with such danger, shall I say almost with such disastrous consequences, as are the decisions of the Committee on Clause 2 of this Bill and on the Amendment which has just been moved. I am bold enough to say that in these two alternatives the Committee is offered a choice which does not at all adequately or effectively meet the circumstances of the case. I shall endeavour to show why, in my opinion, neither the Clause nor the Amendment meets a situation that is so dangerous, if not positively disastrous.
Let me deal, first of all, with the policy of the Government. At the very outset I want to make two admissions: the first is that I know from experience that only the Government are in possession of all the information and all the facts necessary to know what are at this moment the military needs of this country. I am quite prepared to make them a present of that statement. The second general point I want to make is that I recognise, and I think most members of the Committee recognise, that this Government, with Parliament in its present frame of mind, always having pointed out to us, and rightly so, the seriousness of the situation—the Government are in a position to carry this Bill, and the Government are in a position, in spite of the protests opposite, to carry their Clause and defeat this Amendment. But I want to ask them, very firmly, does that meet the necessities of the case? Is it sufficient, having regard 1902 to the danger to which the country is exposed, having regard, as I have already hinted, to the past history of this great problem of the Government of Ireland—is it sufficient to come down to this House and use a majority, not a party majority I will admit, but shall I say a panicky majority? [HON. MEMBERS: "No! "] I say it quite deliberately and advisedly. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is not! "] I am reminded that that is not the case. Well, we have had two previous measures dealing with the question of Conscription, and neither of them were dealt with at the lightning speed with which the House of Commons and the Committee have been requested to deal with the present measure. [An HON MEMBER: "Quite right!"]I am not saying it is not right. I am trying to interpret the situation. I think there is a little panic about it. I have already admitted that the Government know the needs of the military situation better than any of the rest of us, but knowing the needs of the situation, it does not follow that you are compelled to come down to this House and within a few short hours, at any rate within a limited number of days, undertake that which two previous Governments in this country declined to undertake, namely, the responsibility of dealing with the Irish problem, not by increasing the liberty of the Irish people, but by destroying their liberty, and I have no hesitation in saying, doing it with such speed as to make it well-nigh impossible for the two extremes—the Government on the one hand and those who feel as strongly as they do, like my hon. Friends opposite and the great bulk of the Irish people—without permitting even the smallest amount of time for those two extremes to see if it is not possible for some accommodation to be found.
That, as I understand it, is so far the Government's position. As I read the speeches of the representatives of the Government, and so far as this Committee has been put in possession of any information, this Bill is to be carried, as it stands, so far as Ireland is concerned, and, what is more—this is the point to which I want to draw particular attention—it is to be put into immediate operation. I hope that, before the Debate closes this afternoon, in response to the very earnest appeal made by the previous speaker, the Government will say something that will modify the position. If they do not, then 1903 I regard the situation in Ireland—and not in Ireland alone, as I shall show presently —to contain all the elements of the greatest disaster that has befallen this country during the last four years. Let us try, very briefly, to visualise the position. I have admitted that the Government have the power to put their Clause on the Statute Book. Having done so, I suppose they will commence to put it into operation. We have no check or safeguard in Ireland to-day as we had, shall I say, two years ago and three years ago. We had in Ireland then a Nationalist party, a party constructed and carried on on sound constitutional lines, led by one of the ablest Parliamentarians who has been associated with this House during my time. I refer, of coursre, to their late lamented leader, Mr. Redmond. But that has gone, and where does the responsibility rest? I make bold to say that the responsibility for the transformation that has taken place in Ireland rests, not with our friends, who loyally in the first instance supported the War and did everything they conceivably could to get us thousands and tens of thousands of men, who have not only fought bravely and heroically for the cause of this country, for the cause of the country that they had been compelled to oppose year after year for decades past, but who have given their lives freely in order to try to bring that cause to a successful termination. It is not their fault. The fault rests very largely with the British House of Commons and with certain sections in the British House of Commons. However it was brought about, it is there.
I hope I may be permitted to say that there is only one analogy, in my humble judgment, to this position. A few months ago I ventured to issue a warning to this Government and to this country. I ventured to tell this country, as plainly as the English language spoken by a Scotsman could put it, that if they wanted to keep Russia as an ally there were certain things that would have to be done, and done quickly. The warning was ignored, and what did we get? We got Bolshevism, with all its disastrous consequences in a separate peace. The warnings of our friends have been ignored before. They may be ignored to-day. The warning that I am trying to give may be ignored, but it will only have the effect, if this Clause passes without the Government giving us some assurance, of placing 1904 Sinn Feinism in the ascendancy in Ireland as we have placed Bolshevism in the ascendancy in Russia, and, let me say, Sir, the consequences may he as disastrous m the second case as they have been in the first.
Having said this, may I suggest, in the first place, by making an appeal to the Government that a serious position may, before it is too late, be modified? I have more than once already admitted that they have the power to pass their Bill. If I could induce them to do it, I would ask them to withdraw their Clause. I do not mind saying that I honestly believe, as honestly as I ever believed anything in my political life, that that would be the sanest thing to do in the interests of this country. To withdraw their Clause would be the wisest and the safest course they could adopt. If they cannot see their way to do that, the minimum they ought to do is to tell this Committee frankly, in clear and unmistakable language, that if they keep their Clause in the Bill as it now stands it will not be put into operation, and—I am now going to appeal seriously to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary—that it will not be put into operation in any shape whatsoever until Home Rule absolutely is the law of the land in Ireland. In order to secure that—and it has a very close association with the appeal that I make—the Government ought to undertake before this Committee closes to bring in their Bill immediately. When I say immediately, I say it in the same sense as they told the country a week ago they were going to bring in a Conscription Bill. I do not mean it to be a mere figure of speech which may be interpreted to be complied with if the Bill is brought in in about six weeks' time. I want to make the appeal in all seriousness, in order to ease the situation, and I would like the Government to say that the First Reading of this Bill will be taken next week. What is more, I have been long enough in this House to know that Bills can be introduced and then almost forgotten. I want them not only to introduce it at once, but to commit themselves to a very definite statement that they intend to pass it through all its stages in both Houses with something of the same expedition that the House is now being treated to in connection with this third or fourth Military Service Bill. Only some such policy as I have outlined would meet the emergency through which this country is passing.
1905 The hon. Member who preceded me referred to the international aspect of this Irish question. It is a very serious aspect. May I remind the Committee how far the Government itself is committed with regard to the international question? For instance, the Prime Minister, speaking as recently as 5th January, made the following statement:Equality of right amongst nations, small as well as great, is one of the fundamental issues this country and our Allies are fighting to establish in this War.In the same speech he said:We agree with President Wilson that the break-up of Austria-Hungary is no part of our war aims. We feel that unless genuine self-government on true democratic principles is granted to these Austro-Hungarian nationalities, who have long desired it, it is impossible to hope for the removal of those causes of unrest in that part of Europe which have so long threatened its general peace.''What is more, he said:The same principles. should be applied to those of Italian and Roumanian blood under alien rule and to peoples outside Europe. Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, are entitled to a recognition of their separate national conditions.May I take this point a little further. President Wilson is very much interested in this international aspect so far as small nations are concerned. He said in his speech to Congress:We shall hope to secure for the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and the people of the Turkish Empire their right and opportunity to make their lives safe and their fortunes secure against aggression or injustice and from the dictation of foreign courts or parties.Then quite recently, in laying down four principles that ought to supply the foundations for a general peace, he said:All well-defined national aspirations shall be accorded the utmost satisfaction that can be accorded to them without introducing new or perpetuating old elements of discord and antagonism which would be likely in time to break the peace of Europe and, consequently, of the world.As I gather, the Government has accepted the principle of self-determination of nations. President Wilson, on behalf of the American people, has accepted it. The recent Inter-Allied Conference of Labour and Socialist organisations accepted it. Surely if it is right to apply it to all the countries I have named it is right to apply it to Ireland, but at present, so far as I can see, the only thing that is certain is Conscription for Ireland. The only thing that is doubtful is self-determination, or self-government. That is a very dangerous position and even now the Gov- 1906 ernment ought to be prepared to fall in with the suggestion and trust the people of Ireland to the extent that if they get their Bill they will not make it operative but will bring in Home Rule at once and they shall make it operative with all the speed and expedition possible and I believe by so doing they will save this country, as they will save Ireland, from a very disastrous situation.
That is not all. I have hitherto only spoken of its effect upon Ireland itself and. to some extent upon this country. Can we imagine the effect of any serious outbreak in Ireland at present upon America? Can we imagine the effect upon Australia? The hon. Member was quite right when he called our attention to the position of Australia. It is very difficult there. Parties have been very seriously divided on this question of Conscription. What will the Irish and Australians say? What will they do? What will the Irish in Canada say? In some parts of Canada the position is quite serious already. Many Members of this House do not know how within the past two months we have been on the very verge of the most serious disturbance amongst the working classes in our own country that we have had during the War. What is going to be the effect if we have a serious outbreak in Ireland upon the hundreds of thousands of Irishmen amongst the working classes of this country, and once we have this outbreak where may it not lead to? It may be like the letting out of water. The beginning 'we may know but the end we cannot at all foretell. We are told we have a shortage of men, and I believe it, but is it not possible that if this outbreak is as serious as I imagine it will be you will require more men to put the Act into operation than the Act will produce for you? You will bring into being in Ireland the strongest, the most cohesive political force that we have had for very many years. You have still the Nationalist party.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
It is not so strong as it was formerly, but it is there. We have the party led, I think, by the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just made an interjection. Then you have the Sinn Fein party. I believe that if this policy is put into operation you will only have one party and it will be rather a Sinn Fein party than a Constitutional party. I can imagine no greater disaster coming 1907 to this country at the present juncture than that we should be put into that unfortunate position.
There was one remark made by the previous speaker that I should like to take exception to. He told us of the protracted sittings of the Convention which has just issued its Report, and said it had toiled hard and long and produced nothing. I do not quite agree with that.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I have done my best to look through the Report. There are one or two lines which have struck me as being significant and worth quoting to the Committee, especially in view of the remark made by the preceding speaker. In the letter signed by the Chairman I find this statement:For the immediate object of the Government the Report tells all that needs to be told: it shows that in the Convention, whilst it was not found possible to overcome the objections of the Ulster Unionists, a majority of Nationalists, all the Southern Unionists, and five out of the seven. Labour representatives, were agreed that the scheme of Irish self-government set out in paragraph 42 of the Report should be immediately passed into law.It also says:The Convention has, therefore, laid a foundation of Irish agreement unprecedented in history.That is something. There is another line I should like to quote:The work of an Irish settlement, suspended at the outbreak of the War. is now felt to admit of no further postponement.These quotations are important. I think they create a new situation. I hope my hon. Friend opposite does not represent finally the mind of all those with whom he is associated in this House. To allow the impression to go abroad that there was nothing in this Report which would ever become acceptable to hon. Members opposite would only assist to make the present position more dangerous than it is. I want to make an appeal to hon. Members opposite. I cannot see at the moment how they can prevent the Government getting this Clause as part of the Bill, which will probably be the law of the land at the end of next week. I have no doubt they will offer it the most strenuous opposition.
1908 I should be surprised if they did other than that. But when it has been passed, if the Government could be induced to respond to the appeal I am making, and would produce their Home Rule Bill, based upon the finding of the Convention, next week, and give an undertaking that no time will be lost in making it the law of the land, I would appeal to them, not expecting them to accept everything that the Bill will contain, not to give the same amount of opposition to that Home Rule Bill as they are giving to the Military Service Bill. If they will take the proper course in regard to the Home Rule Bill, if the Government will bring it in at once, amend it where they can, get it into law as soon as possible and immediately it is passed into law get it into operation, and in the meantime let the Government stay their hand in regard to the question of Conscription in Ireland; this, I believe, is the way to prevent disaster. I want to appeal to the three parties concerned to assist to bring this about, the Government first, the Irish Members second, and the whole of this Committee third. I believe if we do that we shall yet see tremendous good arise out of this most difficult situation, and, what is more, we shall yet see Ireland providing some of those magnificent divisions that have done so nobly for the Allied cause during the whole period of the War, and we shall have set this country free to face its enemies in the International Peace Conference, when the time comes, without the stigma of having said that we are willing to apply principles to countries over which the Central Powers have control, but we are unwilling to apply the same principles to a country under our control, and which has manifested its grievances during decades past.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I have already, in the course of this week, spoken twice at some length on the questions raised by this Bill, and I can assure the Committee that it is with reluctance, and only under a strong sense of duty, that for a very few moments I ask them once more to listen to me. Two nights ago, on the Second Reading of the Bill, I made an appeal to the Government to see their way, if they could, to the omission from it of this Clause, which imposes, or which rather gives the power to impose, compulsory military service upon Ireland. That appeal was not conceived, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed, in any spirit of hostility to the general 1909 purposes of the measure. Quite to the contrary. Nor was it inspired by any sympathy on my part—for I expressly disclaimed that—with the widespread reluctance of the Irish people to submit in the stress of the War to compulsion. I said then, and I say again to-day, I wish they felt otherwise, though I think I understand some of the causes why they do not. If the Committee will allow me to say this, I stand in rather a special position in regard to this matter. I was the author, or, at any rate, the person mainly responsible for the introduction of the original Military Service Act. I will not go back upon that—I said something about it the other night—but being in that position, and with these antecedents, I feel that I might, and, indeed, that I ought, in the public interest, to state plainly to the Government the grave difficulties and objections which I see to the extension of the application of the Act to Ireland. I hoped—I cannot say that I expected—that that appeal which I made might have been responded to. At any rate it was in that hope that I made it, and certainly not with any desire to cripple or to fetter the provision of the amplest supply of man-power for the conduct of the War, because, as I then stated—and I think the some to-day—I thought that, as a matter of practical expediency, the addition to our military man-power which, upon the most sanguine estimate, we might expect to obtain from applying compulsion to Ireland for the essential purposes of the War, was offset, and possibly neutralised, by the difficulty—a difficulty greater now than it has ever been in the past—of applying to a community in a free Empire like ours a measure which, rightly or wrongly, is offensive to the predominant sentiment of the people. That was the ground of my appeal.
My right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law), who spoke for the Government with perfect courtesy, and at the same time, as was right, with complete outspokenness, told the House that the Government could not accept that view, and, indeed, that they attached so much importance to the matter that, although, as he freely admitted, there was a great deal to be said in the way of argument both on the one side and on the other, if the decision of the House on this particular point should be adverse, they would feel themselves compelled to decline further to discharge the responsibilities of office. I want to make it perfectly clear that in what I am about 1910 to say I am speaking entirely for myself. I do not claim or desire to dictate—that would be absurd—or even to influence the judgment or actions of others. If we were under normal conditions, or conditions which were anything like normal—and when I use the word "normal" I am not speaking of conditions of peace, but I am including conditions of war—if we were in conditions which, even in time of war, were normal, or anything like normal, I should not hesitate for a moment to support, and as far as I could, to give effect to the opinions which I expressed, by appropriate Parliamentary action. It is not, I hope I may be allowed to say, from slackness of conviction, or, I hope, from defect of courage, that I do not take that course. Not only are the conditions not normal, but they are conditions which are unexampled in the history of this country.
On the first night that we assembled—on Tuesday of this week—I ventured to impress as far as I could upon the House the jeopardy in which, on the field of battle, the cause which is dear to the hearts of all of us, and which we never intend to betray, stood. Grave as was the situation then, it is far graver to-day. I am not using the language either of pessimism or of panic. I feel, and I think the bulk of the House and the country feel, neither pessimism nor panic; but it would be the most criminal folly we could commit were we to blind our eyes to the extent and the urgency of the peril with which we are confronted at this moment.
I say—and I am speaking for myself—I could not be a party in this House to a proceeding, legitimate, and, indeed, imperative, under normal conditions, which, if it succeeded—and if it does not succeed, it is no use; it is merely an academic matter—must have the effect of preventing those who are, when every minute and every hour counts, for the time being responsible to this nation, to the Empire, to our Allies, and to the world, for extricating the greatest of causes from the gravest of perils. Whatever the effect, it must have the effect of preventing them for days, and possibly for weeks, from doing what it is, in the interests of this country and of the world, essential they should do, and that is continuously and unremittingly to concentrate every hour of their time, every faculty of their minds, every fibre of their being, to saving from disaster the cause of the Allies. I cannot take that responsibility.
1911 I am perfectly prepared to submit to any amount of criticism, and even of opprobium, rather than do it.
When I say that, I have not in the least degree modified my view as to the gravity and responsibility which the Government are taking upon themselves in regard to the application of compulsion to Ireland. I wish to associate myself with a great deal of what has fallen from my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Henderson). Let us assume that this Clause is going to be incorporated in the Bill. It is an empowering. Clause, a Clause which enacts that "His Majesty may, by Order in Council"—it is not mandatory; it is empowering—"extend this Act to Ireland," and so on. That is a process which, as my right hon. Friend has very properly pointed out, must take time. I have got here, and I think it is worth reading to the House, a quotation from the OFFICIAL REPORT of a speech made by the Minister of National Service not very long ago— on the 17th January in the present year. What did he say? Having stated that the Government, after fully investigating the matter, considered that to include the proposal to apply compulsory military service to Ireland would not help on the War, he proceeds in these terms:I wonder if hon. Members who suggest that some measure of compulsion for Ireland should be applied in this Bill have considered what such a proposal would mean after it became law in getting the machinery under way, and at what month the effects of such a measure would begin to show themselves in the field."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 17th January, 1918, col. 577, Vol. 10l.]That was a question put by the Minister for National Service more than two months ago, and I have no doubt that what he said then is equally true and appropriate now. Therefore, it is not a thing that can be done in a hurry, and if it be possible, even now, after all this embittered controversy, to bring about a condition, an atmosphere, in Ireland which shall not be fatal to the best hopes and the future of the United Kingdom and of the Empire, why should not the time which the Minister of National Service says must be occupied in this preparatory operation be given, as my right hon. Friend has suggested—and I heartily endorse his suggestion—to bringing in and pressing through this House, without a moment of unavoidable delay, a Bill for bringing into operation that which the 1912 Prime Minister only two nights ago, on the 9th April, referred to in these terms:As soon as arrangements are complete the Government will, by Order in Council, put this Act into immediate operation, and mean while—As I read it, that is during this preliminary stage, when the necessary adjustments of machinery are being made, which must take time—we intend to invite Parliament to pass a measure of self-government for Ireland." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th April, 1918, col. 1361–62.]Will the Government now make it perfectly plain that, if this Clause be added to the Bill, and the Bill receives the Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament, and this empowering Clause— it is, as I have pointed out, only an empowering Clause—is at the disposal of the Executive, will they state definitely and explicitly that the time shall be occupied, in priority to all other business—except, of course, what is indispensably necessary for the actual conduct of the War—in passing through this House and through another House, until it receives the Royal Assent, a generous and an unstinted measure of Irish self-government'' If so, I believe that even now we might, without prolongation of this embittered and most unhappy controversy, arrive at a satisfactory settlement.
§ Mr. DUKE
It is no easy thing for a man who comes, as I have done, late in life, to duties of great responsibility, to follow my right hon Friend on this occasion. This House can have rarely heard a speech of such gravity, and instinct with so much patriotism, as that to which we have just listened. May I say that whatever differences we may have on the details of these transactions, I cannot myself doubt that every man who has the great responsibility of sitting here to-day is thankful for the participation of my right hon. Friend in the counsels of the State? My right hon. Friend has brought this Debate to what I regard as its true level. I have not underestimated, and I do not believe any of my colleagues have underestimated, the tremendous gravity of the decision which it rests with the Government to take with regard to the two topics which inevitably become associated when you have to discuss this immediate question of the provision in Ireland of manpower for the prosecution of the War. I am very glad my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Henderson) made the observations he did with 1913 regard to the work of the Irish Convention. I cannot help thinking my hon. Friend the Member for Down (Mr. Mac-Veagh) has not had time really to appreciate how good a service the members of the Irish Convention have done for their country and for this country. I should like to say this: It seemed to me when, on the day that the order was given for the printing of the Report of the Convention, and His Majesty's Government found it its inexorable duty to make the proposal now before the House of Commons, as though there had come upon the scene of Irish life the bitterest of ail the ironies which have embittered the history of Ireland and that it transcended everything I had ever known. Hon. Members know that for twenty months or more I have devoted myself day in arid day out to finding a road to the solution of the Irish problem. What was the situation at the time when the momentous news came which made it necessary for His Majesty's Government to come to a decision with regard to this immediate question? It was a situation of unprecedented promise for the future of Ireland, as it seemed to me. It was not merely that the Convention had come to conclusions, the main characteristic of which is agreement and not disagreement. Any man who will read the several Reports with care will find that the main characteristic of the Reports is agreement. You have a provisional agreement in that widely representative and deeply-divided body as to what would be the possible constitution with fairness to all classes of a Parliament for Ireland. You have never had such a thing before. You had the possibility of accepting proposals establishing a Parliament, and those who supported the main proposals of the Irish Convention—and I regard the differences about finance as comparatively trifling—those who supported the main proposals represented the Nationalist, the Unionists, the Labour Members—with, I think, one exception—the representatives of the towns and of a good deal of opinion beyond, and you had secured on the introduction, it may be in another place, of a Bill for self-government in Ireland the support of some who in past times have been among the most powerful opponents' of Irish Nationalism.
You had that prospect with regard to the Lords, and with regard to the House of Commons every man here knows that we yearn to settle this question. I think 1914 there is not a man in this House—if there are any exceptions they are conspicuously few—but the great mass of us would think almost any sacrifice warranted if a permanent and safe solution of those difficulties which have harassed the relations of the two countries could be arrived at. And then came the necessity for His Majesty's Government to arrive at a decision on this question. I do not believe there is a man in Ireland—I do not believe there is any person who thinks that I readily acquiesced in that decision, but, as my right hon. Friend in his speech has said, we were under conditions unprecedented in the history of the country; every moment of time counted. My right hon. Friend has emphasised the gravity of the situation, to the Empire, to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and to the cause of freedom. There are perils ahead of us in the prosecution of this vast War to which Ireland, by her representatives, was solemnly committed before we entered upon it.
§ Mr. DUKE
I am obliged to my hon. Friend, but it makes no difference so far as Ireland is concerned. I had lost count, for the moment, of the point of time. There were months when we travelled together on that road, and travelled with pride in the new relationship between the two countries. Now we are engaged in the War. Let me remind the House how Ireland stands with regard to that War. Divisions of Irish troops, decimated by their valour, are fighting at the front. Every Irishman of military age in this country has been for two years subject to the law, as to which power is taken, as my right hon. Friend said, to extend it to the sister island. Every Irishman resident in the United States is in the same position, or under the same law, if not immediately in force, as the Irishmen in Great. Britain. And what is the position with regard to It eland itself? Why, Sir, you cross the Irish Sea at the peril of your life. Only last week two fishing vessels from the village of Howth were put down in the Irish Sea, and the crew of one of them went down with their vessel. I was proud to learn, on the authority of the local parish priest, that there was a man of the other crew, who had been a Sinn Feiner, and who joined His Majesty's Navy to take part in the defence of civilisation and humanity. It was a tremendous responsibility which fell upon us with the events of 1915 recent days. His Majesty's Government had to face the whole problem of the prosecution of the War, and they came to the conclusion at which they arrived with regard to Ireland not lightheartedly, certainly in no spirit of antagonism to Ireland, but because it seemed to my colleagues, as it was demonstrated to me, that we had a plain, inexorable duty to come to this decision.
From the decision so taken it is not possible to recede, and if in these days, when the only possibility of living with any composure in your mind is to do what you believe to be right, His Majesty's Government sees its duty clearly in this matter, as Members see their duty—well, do not, at any rate, let us among ourselves throw taunts at one another; do not let us be subject to endless reproaches because we have come to a conclusion which, painful to me as it certainly is, we believe to be a conclusion essential to the task in which we are engaged. With regard to Ireland some people have said—the right hon. Gentleman opposite, of course, did not —something about the right of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for Ireland in this matter. Why, if it exists, it is a duty. What is the first obligation of a Government? It is the defence of the State. What is the paramount obligation of the citizen? It is the defence of the State. What is the Government of Ireland? It is the Sovereign Legislature of King, Lords, and Commons sitting here?
§ Mr. DUKE
I must remind hon. Members—and I want Irishmen in Ireland and Irishmen in other places to bear these facts in mind—that this Government has a duty, and that the citizens of the State have a duty, and that as matters stand to-day Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom under the Government of the United Kingdom. [An HON. MEMBER: "By force!") What is the result of that? The result is that this Government has its duty to do in deciding with regard to citizens in Ireland—as to whom no other Legislature is capable of declaring their duty—what is their due contribution to the defence of the State.
§ Mr. DUKE
If that is the situation, it ought to be borne in mind that the obligation to secure public defence is upon the Government of the United Kingdom, and that when a law is enacted in this House for the purpose of securing public defence and measuring the duty of the citizen, it is a law entitled to the obedience of every man who recognises the restraints of civilised society.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
Was the Home Rule Act a law at that time? [Interruption, during which Mr. Scanlan remained standing and addressing the House]
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir Donald Maclean)
I hope the Debate will proceed upon a level which is worthy of this House. I am quite sure, that hon. Members in all parts of it, in the interests of the House of Commons, will continue to keep it upon that level, and I must ask the hon. Member who has interrupted, quite irregularly, as he knows, not to do so again.
§ Mr. DUKE
—only to emphasise the question whether there is not substance in these matters to which I desire to direct attention, not only of. Members here but all persons in Ireland, upon whom will fall, before long, as far as I can foresee, the question whether they are ready to follow the counsels which lead them, and are intended to lead them, to treason and to murder. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am not speaking of Members here.
§ Mr. DUKE
I am referring to speeches made in the course of the last few days on this subject. [HON. MEMBEBS: Quote them!?]I pass from that aspect of the matter. I want to say that I share with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle, and I share with my right hon. Friend opposite, and, I believe, with every friend of Ireland, the desire that a way shall be found of removing the grievance of the Irish people, as it was intended by His Majesty's Government to take steps to remove that grievance with regard to self-government at the time the question of to-day came to be necessary for consideration. Let me invite the attention of those Members who have not read the passages in the Report of the proceedings of the Convention. On the 21st January, when the proceedings of the Convention were at a critical stage, the Prime Minister wrote to the Chairman with regard to the then stage of the discussion:The Government are agreed, and determined that a solution must be found.A series of interviews between the Prime Minister and other members of the Government and delegates of the Convention took place between that period and the middle of February. When the proceedings of the Convention were resumed, the Prime Minister wrote again, and emphasised the extreme desirability, in the public interest, of a friendly settlement in the Convention of the questions which proved to be difficult questions, and the Prime Minister said this on the part of His Majesty's Government:The Convention has been brought together to endeavour to find a settlement by consent. If the Convention fails to secure this, the settlement of the question will be much more difficult, but it will be a task incumbent upon the Government.From that declaration the Government has never receded. It was followed up on Tuesday evening, when the Prime Minister made his speech to the House explaining what was the intention of the Government with regard to this Bill, and the Prime Minister then gave pledges to the House which I desire to amplify, and to which I 1918 shall refer at greater length. My right hon. Friend the late Prime Minister referred to the empowering character of the Clause which is proposed to be introduced into the Bill with regard to Ireland. He pointed out that His Majesty may, by Order in Council, take the necessary steps for the extension of this measure to Ireland. I think it was the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Lardner) who, in moving the Amendment, pointed out that in England there had been a gradual process, that in England there had been safeguards for industries, that in England there had been a variety of exemptions, and that there was the most careful provision to restrict the interference of military service with the national life of the country to such extent as it could be restricted. He said that there was no provision of that kind with regard to Ireland. The object of His Majesty's Government is not to arouse new disorder in Ireland, but, if it may be, to add to the defensive and offensive strength of the forces of the Crown. Obviously such steps as those to which my hon. and learned Friend referred must be taken before you could bring military service into operation for Ireland, and must be taken with all the more care, because of the time of day at which we have arrived at this decision. I think it a matter of the greatest consequence that the possible operation of that part of the empowering section should be as fully understood as may be at the present time.
§ Mr. DUKE
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will address that question to the Leader of the House. I am trying to present a consecutive statement to the Committee. The condition in Ireland obviously requires treatment with all the more care because of the stage at which the application of these powers is proposed to be made, and because of the conditions in that country. The industrial life, the social life, of the country, the agricultural and other pursuits, and not the least the religious life—all those matters will be the subject of special consideration.
§ Mr. DUKE
If that is the desire of His Majesty's Government, and the statement which I am able to make to the House satisfies hon. Members that there is a Home Rule Bill or a self-government Bill to be presented which is worthy of consideration, which offers the prospect of a settlement of the difficulties of this question, I am satisfied that the temper with which this matter will be regarded will be a totally different temper from that which exists at the present time.
§ Mr. DUKE
I was going to say, with regard to that matter, that in this country—this is one of the reasons for taking special powers—the young unmarried men were called first. Now the young unmarried men in Ireland ought, obviously, to be called first. In this country there was no call on married men with families until the latest possible time. In Ireland, obviously, no such call will be made, except under pressure of extreme necessity.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I thought that the matter was now of such urgency that you must pass the whole thing at once!
§ Mr. DUKE
I have been asked by an hon. Member with regard to the agriculture of Ireland. I think that the hon. Member for Monaghan said, "You will get no men because there is so much tillage going on." The maintenance of the tillage is as essential in Ireland as it is in Great Britain. The tillage is being maintained in Great Britain and the tillage will need to be maintained in Ireland. But the mode by which it will be best maintained will be by co-operation between those who are directly interested in the industry and those who have the most intimate acquaintance with Irish life.
I have been suggesting them for thirty-eight years. They are the representatives of the Irish people in Parliament assembled in Dublin.
§ Mr. DUKE
That is one of the matters which are provided for in Clause 2. To my mind, Clause 2 has much greater consequences than that. I share the view of my right hon. Friend opposite, that there is here a period of time during which proposals for self-government in Ireland can be presented at this House, and can be examined and determined by this House.
§ Mr. DUKE
His Majesty's Government regard the Irish question, in the language which I quoted from the Prime Minister's letter, as a question with regard to which, although the settlement may be difficult, it is a task incumbent upon the Government. Those Members who study the proceedings of the Convention will find in the proceedings of the Convention a degree of agreement, as I said, with regard to the essential elements of the case which will afford a great deal of guidance in the discussion of any Bill which may be presented, which will afford help, at any rate, in the framing of it; and, though there have been difficulties in the Convention, I cannot myself doubt that in Parliament, in this House and in the House of Lords, the parties who are concerned, who desire safeguards, who desire this or that protection of interests of one sort or another will present their proposals to the House of Commons, and submit them to the judgment of Parliament. If that takes place, what reason is there why, at an early date, there should not be upon the Statute Book a Bill for the establishment of self-government in Ireland?
§ Mr. DILLON
Carson is the reason. You know that. He has not the least notion of allowing you to do it. He walked out when you began.
§ Mr. DUKE
I do not assume that any patriotic citizen in Ireland is going wilfully to prevent any settlement of this question, which His Majesty's Government propose, with its responsibility of the conduct of public affairs in a time of crisis like the present, or that any man will withhold his best endeavours to arrive at a settlement.
I assure the right hon. Gentleman that when I said "you," I meant the Government. I assure him of my sorrow if he thinks that I said anything offensive to himself. The right hon. Gentleman is the last man in this House to whom I would say one offensive word.
§ Mr. DUKE
I may in the heat of the moment say words which will lead to retort, but I will say no word at this time which will embitter anyone. We are in a grave crisis of the life of the Empire. We have two great questions presented to us. The one is the immediate defence of the Empire. In the opinion of the Government, in its solemn conclusion with regard to its duty, it is bound to call upon Irishmen to take their part because no other Legislature is in a position to do it.
§ Mr. DUKE
On the other hand, it would be the worst disservice to the State to call into the ranks men who were suffering Under a historic sense of grievance. His Majesty's Government wants to remove it. It seeks the help of this House to remove it. It seeks the help of the country to remove it. It believes that here in this Chamber there will be the overwhelming force of public opinion—
§ Mr. DUKE
Without delay. I cannot name the day, because I should raise expectation which would be likely to be disappointed. I do, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, and on my own responsibility, assure the House that the intention of the Government is that this Bill shall be presented without delay and as an urgent matter, and that it shall be prosecuted with all the dispatch which His Majesty's Government can procure for it.
§ Mr. DUKE
I do not think that I should be asked to state a period of days. I am speaking of a, matter which affects, and must affect, all the relations of the peoples of these two Islands, which will affect our fortunes probably for generations to come. We ask for a little consideration of the difficulties which arc involved in such a task, and we ask that the House will believe, and that hon. Gentlemen from Ireland and the people of Ireland will believe, that nothing would be more satisfactory to His Majesty's Government than that the Parliament which is designed should be erected in Dublin before a man comes to the Colours. That is a broad, plain statement. I hope that it is a fair response to the challenge of my right hon. Friends. So far as I am concerned, I want to tell the House that if this Clause had been a Clause for applying military service to Ireland without the means for the course which I am explaining to the House, I could not have been a party to it.
§ Mr. DUKE
If my hon. and learned Friend will only recall the morning's news, or the afternoon's news, I am sure that it will bring home to his mind reasons for the haste in the provision of men. But I am not without hope that when the men in Ireland see that His Majesty's Government is resolved to settle what is called the Irish question, and that it is open to them, if, when the call comes to them, honourably, and as citizens, to take their part in the defence of the State, they will again rally to that great cause, as 1923 they rallied in the months of 1914 and a short period of 1915. We stand in a time of great peril. We have problems with which we have to deal in those domestic matters of our own which heighten the peril. It is for patriotism, statesmanship, and courage to pluck, in this, our hour of peril, the flower of safety for the future good of the people of this realm. I pray for my part, in spite of the difficulties of this crisis, that the House of Commons and the people of this country and the people of Ireland will feel that what is being done here is being done in the common interests of us all, and is being done honestly, and with the belief that, in the action for the general good, the people of Ireland will respond to the appeal we make to them. I pray that we may co-operate in settling these two questions—the question of the proper contribution of Ireland in manpower for the defence of her own shores, and her own interests, and the interests of the Empire, and the question of a permanent settlement to regulate the relationship of this Island and the sister Island, whose peoples ought to be bosom friends, but, for 700 years, have been in constant harassment, and dread, and care.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am sure that there is no one on these benches but will quite recognise that in every attempt to approach the Irish question the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has been inspired by splendid sincerity. May I say that so sincere a friend of Ireland, and one so animated by a desire to promote their interests as the right hon. Gentleman, stands as perhaps the most fitting monument of the failure of British rule in that country? He has told us that Ireland is ruled by the King, Lords, and Commons of this country, and that the King, Lords, and Commons are represented in Ireland by the Chief Secretary in the person of the right hon. Gentleman. I would put it to the right hon. Gentleman, Has he been able to govern Ireland; has he been able to apply a single part of his undoubted sympathy to the satisfaction of a single Irish claim and the promotion of a single Irish reform? Everybody knows that it is not the King, Lords, and Commons who govern Ireland; it is the permanent officials in Dublin Castle, controlled and inspired by a minority in Ireland, and between them they have managed to destroy every vital interest in Ireland for centuries, and 1924 when the moment of Imperial peril arises they make you a laughing-stock before the world. But the right hon. Gentleman laid down the principle that the King, Lords, and Commons in this country have the right to impose a blood pact on Ireland. They have no such right, and we recognise no such right. You say that if there was a Home Rule Bill on the Statute Book, or a Home Rule Act in operation, you would have a practical right to conscript Ireland, and force the Irish people into the Army. You have a similar right in Australia, in South Africa, and in Canada, and why do you not exercise it? The vast rally of Australia and South Africa to the Colours gives, I think, to the House the fair indication of how enthusiastic these great Colonial peoples are in favour of the War. But in Austraia they had a referendum; they would not be conscripted, and you do not attempt to conscript them. In South Africa they have not attempted Conscription even by themselves, and you do not attempt to conscript them: you do not enforce your powers on these great self-governing countries, although you have the power; yet you say you can do it in Ireland. Why? Because Ireland is disallowed the great free institutions and constitutional liberties which are enjoyed by the Colonies. Because we are not free, because we are denied the right of managing our own affairs, and because we are robbed of the constitutional right which belongs to every democratic community in the Empire, you are going to take advantage of your power to enforce upon Ireland Conscription. We take our stand as a people who believe in our souls that we are free, and ought to be free, and who will not accept Conscription. The right hon. Gentleman in the speech he has delivered has adumbrated proposals, or rather stated, that it is intended to submit proposals for the future government of Ireland that will give the country legislative independence. I wish he had told us what the character of those proposals is. I will tell him what we want, so that before he submits his proposals he will know what we want. We want the status and power of Canada and of Australia. The right hon. Gentleman says his proposals will satisfy the aspirations of the Irish people. I tell him that these are the aspirations of the Irish people, and we ought to know where we stand. Let me point out, secondly, that the right hon. Gentleman's method 1925 of dealing with the question is not only an unsatisfactory method, but I think it is an impolitic method. I want to tell him, here and now, that we want to have no bargain on this question.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Let the right hon. Gentleman introduce his self-governing proposals, let them be of a character satisfactory to us, let him pass them into operation, let the Irish Parliament be brought into existence, and let that Parliament decide whether Ireland is to have Conscription in Ireland or not, or allow us to have a referendum in Ireland, and let the people of Ireland by self-determination decide this question, and then we will be prepared to close the black and bitter chapter of the past and to start anew on more friendly, more cordial, and more harmonious relationships. There cannot be much misunderstanding as to that point. That is the position, so far as we are concerned. And is not that a wise policy? Do you mean to say that we have engaged in all these passionate conflicts with you because we differ from you on the War? We do not differ, so far as we are concerned, with you as to the justice of this War; we have never differed from you as to that. At the beginning of this War—no one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—we threw ourselves heart and soul into the great policy of voluntary recruiting. My friend, the late Mr. John Redmond, pledged his honour, and the interests, and the powers, and the resources, and the courage of Ireland to you in the great task which lay before you. We associated ourselves with Mr. Redmond. If he failed in his task, if, day after day, he grew weary and disheartened, and sickened and died, you are to blame for it. You never encouraged him in his work, you never strengthened his arm; your impotence, your incapacity to understand Ireland, the stupidity with which you handled the most delicate and intricate questions in a country where they required to be delicately handled, your army of recruiting sergeants, from Orange Ulster and from the landlord class, sent, not to recruit men, but to insult them, all tended to 1926 excite resentment in the minds of the Irish people. The House may think that I am using strong language, but go to the OFFICIAL REPORT and read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and what was his language about the War Office? I think he referred to their conduct as "malignant and iniquitous," and at the time he used that language he was the Minister for War. However we might differ from the Prime Minister, when he feels strongly he speaks courageously, and that was his description of how you tried to win Ireland, when Ireland, out of its limited resources, offered you every aid and assistance that she could give you in order to destroy Prussian militarism in the world, while Prussian militarists were trying to crush Irishmen in Ireland.
Let me refer to the fact that, if you take the Sixteenth Division, that has played so important and gallant a part in this War, you will find that 98 per cent. of them were Catholics and Nationalists, and over 4,000 of them Constituents of my own. They marched to Fermoy with green flags, and playing Irish airs, and they constitute a division which has shed luster once more on the Irish name. Practically every officer in that Sixteenth Division was either a Unionist or a Protestant, or both. I will tell the House something more. I remember, in one of the first discouraging moments of Mr. Redmond s life, he told me that for six months he had been attempting to get a commission for his son, my hon. Friend the Member for East Tyrone (Captain W. A. Redmond), but he could not succeed, and my Friend the Member for East Tyrone, with that gallantry of which his name is associated with—he was as sick as his father was angry with all these heart burnings arising from constant refusals to give a commission—himself went to Brunswick Street and joined as a private. He went into the Army, and, on his merits, he rose to be second lieutenant, then first lieutenant, and then captain, and there, upon his breast, you see evidence of the valour he displayed in the honour bestowed upon him.
I could recite to the House for hours similar and not less striking cases of the way the Irish people were treated in regard to recruiting. You set up recruiting committees in Dublin. I give any Member here the name of one of the most distinguished Englishmen who was sent over 1927 to the central recruiting office in Dublin, and he told me that he heard it said there, "We hope none of the Papists will join, because it will be a grand thing after the War is over, and it will be a splendid argument against Home Rule." This man came to me and he said, "In the name of Heaven, what sort of people are these who have charge of recruiting in Dublin, when observations of that character can be made?" And so those of us who were enthusiastic for the War, inspired by the lofty purposes for which we understood the War was being fought, bearing in many directions much misrepresentation for what we had done—do not imagine it was an easy thing for Irish Nationalists, after the way you had treated us; after the Curragh revolt it required some moral courage at all events to go on platforms and to invite our people to associate themselves and give their tribute to the Empire in this time of Imperial difficulty, but we did it—were gradually sickened and disheartened, one by one. We saw that we were good enough to die in the trenches, but were not good enough—our national university was not good enough—to produce officers, though our democratic manhood was good enough to die in the trenches. And then Englishmen cannot understand, it is a perfect enigma to Englishmen, why we are not rushing along to join you in this conflict. Why, the miracle is that we have done as well as we have.
I remember another instance. When my own Constituents were going to Fermoy to train for the Front, I usually provided a little complimentary entertainment on the evening before they left. I remember taking the chair at one of these, and round me were two or three hundred recruits. It was a merry gathering of young fellows of eighteen to twenty-two. They were like schoolboys leaving for a home holiday, enjoying themselves tremendously. I remember making a speech and saying, "This is the first time that Irishmen have gone willingly to help England in war. You are going not only to fight for England, but for Ireland and for freedom," and I tried to cheer them and add to their exuberance of spirit. As they were going out, perhaps never to come back again, a military officer who, in the middle of my speech, had flung open the door and entered, said, "May I say a few words?" I said. "If you like." He was the Provost-Marshal of the city of 1928 Belfast. He said to this merry audience, "Listen to me. We want no politics here, we want no religion here. Be at the barracks to-morrow at 8 o'clock, and not one of you be late. You are not going out to fight for anything but King and Country, and the less you have of politics the better." If someone had come along and poured buckets of water over this audience, it could not have been more depressing. He said to me when he sat down, "May I go?" I said, ''You may go, and I hope you will never come back." There was a young Unionist officer there who had come to Belfast to take recruits to Fermoy, and he told me he was almost ashamed of the uniform he wore.
I am entitled to speak on this question. Everybody knows there has been no more angry figure in our political controversies in this House than I, but I profoundly believed the War was just. and in that spirit I tried to give my support. I mention these matters simply in order that the House of Commons may clearly understand where we are. This is what we have got by voluntary effort. I think you have got over 130,000 men. That is not to speak of the countless Irishmen of Irish birth or blood in Great Britain—far better Irish Nationalists than we in Ireland. That is not to speak of the hundreds of thousands of men of Irish descent from Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and other parts of the world; and to-day I am informed on the best authority that 33½ per cent. of the soldiers of America, who are facing the dangers of the sea and the further dangers of France and Flanders, are Irish Catholics. I think, then, I may claim we have done our share. If we have not done as well as you think we ought to do, you bad better bear the burden and responsibility. I was astonished at one who is usually fair in controversy, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he said the other night that they were not responsible for that condition of affairs. I was surprised to hear it. I thought it was because he was in a bad temper. I detected in that speech the "new style," as it was described. We remember the "new style," when he used to stand on the Front Opposition Bench. I thought so completely had the new style returned that in quoting President Lincoln he talked something about shooting. That reminded me of a speech he delivered on one occasion, when he thumped the box most vigorously, and told the late Prime 1929 Minister that the time would come when public necessity would demand that he should be hanged on a lamppost in London. We, the representatives of the Irish people, I believe, are to be shot if we defend our people in any attempt made to enforce Conscription on them. But the right hon. Gentleman's threat to shoot us will be just as effective as that to hang the late Prime Minister on a lamppost in London, for what?—because the right hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to put a law into operation which they all universally admit now is of Imperial and national necessity.
There are two forces in Ireland. There is the moral, the spiritual, and the democratic power of the nation itself, and there is the voice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. You hearkened to his voice, and you have seen the fruits of it. We ask you now to hearken to our voice, and see how blessed will be the fruits of listening to us. The Leader of the House, in his speech, quoted from his favourite statesman, President Lincoln, as to what he was prepared to do if men were not prepared to conscript themselves into the American Army. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman does not understand the difference between the two situations. President Lincoln was conscripting Americans in America in defence of American rights. You are conscripting Irishmen, and Ireland is not your country. You have no moral control over Ireland. You rule her by the bayonet. Common-sense, logic, irresistible reasoning, the justice of her cause, democratic principles, do not count. You rest your whole power in Ireland upon brute force, and by brute force alone you will impose a blood tax upon Ireland. There are some other considerations. When you were introducing Conscription into this country you started the policy by consultation. First you had the Derby scheme, with registration. There is no Derby scheme in Ireland. It is not worth doing there. Press-gang will do there. You got the men registered. Then you called groups of political parties together and consulted. Has anybody in Ireland been consulted about these proposals? Here we are, the representatives of the people. You give us the power of making this House of Commons a platform, in order to denounce to the world the iniquities which you are perpetuating upon our countrymen.
That is all the value this House is to us. Here we are, and you are going to con- 1930 script the men whom we represent in Ireland. You have not asked a single one of us a question. You have not approached one of us. The right hon. Gentleman asked a question of the hon. Member for Cork, "Who does he recommend?" Have you ever consulted us about anything? Above all, have you consulted us about this? There are trades congresses and trades unions in Ireland. You consulted English trades unions before you conscripted them, but you did not consult trades unions in Ireland, or farmers' unions, or the representatives of the clergy. And you paid no attention to the solemn declaration made the other day by the Bishops of Ireland, in which they declared that it would be a fatal mistake, surpassing the worst blunders of the past four years to furnish a telling plea for desperate courses by attempting to enforce Conscription, and which concluded:With all the responsibility which attaches to our pastoral office, we feel bound to warn the Government against entering upon a policy so disastrous to the public interest and to all order, public and private.My hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo has received this morning the following telegram from Cardinal Logue:I have just received the following telegram from New York: 'Cardinal Logue, Armagh. Maynooth Union at annual meeting unaimously approve action of Irish bishops opposing Conscription until Ireland has power of self-determination. Maynooth Union, Hotel Astor. New York.'Do you understand the significance of that? I noticed that in America a pastoral letter was issued, signed by every cardinal and bishop in America, appealing to Catholics, to the whole Catholic race of over 20,000,000 people in America, to rally to the standard of the Stars and Stripes. Are you going to encourage those priests who have made this declaration and signed it by bringing your soldiers into our Irish villages and by creating an Irish massacre in order to secure a German holiday? Is that what you intend to do? You may have a universal strike in Ireland. The trade unions of this country would have had a universal strike if you had attempted to conscript them without consulting them. There is not a moral influence in that country that is not against this thing. How men in their senses could propose it is an absolute mystery to me. I wonder am the Government in their senses? But I wonder, further, is this a deep and well-designed game?
We saw the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition the day before 1931 yesterday make a solemn appeal to these benches, in which he stated the case, coldly detached as he is on this question. We saw the answer he got from the right hon. Gentleman- the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was a violent and bitter non possumus; but he added to it, "If you vote against us we will resign." Why, they have been playing for resignation for the last twelve months! They were itching for office for nearly two years. They moved heaven and earth to get the last Government out in order that they might successfully prosecute the War to a triumphant conclusion. They got that Government out. They took office, and they now want to get out of the difficulties they have created for themselves. if the right hon Gentleman, as they know, votes against the imposition of Conscription in Ireland they will resign and will hand over to him, or to someone else, the heritage of their bankrupt statesmanship. They may be mad, but we are not fools. There is not a man in the country who does not see through it all, and, therefore, I say that the wisest and best thing they can do is to withdraw this Clause at the earliest possible moment. I tell them that their conduct is fraught in the future with the greatest danger and peril this or any other Government have had to face. At one of the most dangerous moments in the fortunes of the War you want to create civil war in Ireland, and you want to do it not because you believe that Conscription can be of any service to you—because it cannot—but because you have been jockeyed into this position by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College. He told you yesterday what you will have to face if you endeavour to introduce a Home Rule scheme. He will fight it here, and I have no doubt he will fight it with the usual success which has attended his efforts in blackmailing the British public and in forcing his will on the House of Commons.
I have now again to repeat the offer I made. Bring in a broad measure of national self-government based upon lines that will satisfy the national aspirations; call together at the earliest moment a free Parliament representing Irish citizenship; give the best manifestation you can of trust in Ireland; and you will get from Ireland what you got from South Africa. Let that Parliament be brought into existence, and I make a further offer. At the beginning of this War I went to Mr. 1932 Redmond, and I asked him to allow me to join the Colours before I would ask anyone to do so myself. He put reasons before me, and pressed me with reasons which he thought best and which made it impossible for me to do so. Do this thing now, and I tell you this, that although to go to the War at the present moment means not only to gamble with your life but practically to lose it, I will be the first to go and join as a private or in any other capacity. I will constitute myself the leader of all the young and generous hearts which will be touched by the chivalry and justice of your act, and I will do my best to rally them to your support in this time of bitter trial for you. What more can a man offer than that? It is for you to say.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I desire to associate myself with my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Henderson) and with my right hon. colleague in the representation of Fife (Mr. Asquith) in pressing upon the Government the desirability of dealing quickly, generously, and tactfully with the present situation. I would appeal in particular to my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackfriars (Mr. Barnes), the representative of Labour in the Government, who, I understand, is to speak later in the evening, to give us a clear assurance that the empowering provision in this Bill will not be put into operation until a measure of Home Rule is placed upon the Statute Book. I think that the present moment affords another opportunity of settling this vexed question. I admit that it is not exactly the most favourable opportunity that anyone could have desired, but at the same time it affords us an opportunity which I do not think ought to be lost of settling this question. This is a question which, in my opinion, should have been settled long ago. It is one of those political issues which for long years has cut across the poltical life of our people. Not only has it cut across the political life of our people, interfering with social and remedial legislation of every kind, but it has at the same time been one of those questions which has seriously interfered with our international relations. It has also been one of those questions which has produced right at the centre of the Empire itself a festering sore which has been a danger to our national stability. If this opportunity is lost, you will be too late, I fear, in settling this question along the lines of conciliation between the two branches of 1933 the British people affected, and the possibility is that if this opportunity is lost you will have some force outside yourselves settling this question. I think that would have to be regretted, and I hope that this opportunity is going to be taken advantage of.
We have, as has been eloquently pointed out by my right hon. colleague in the representation of Fife, a big enough task on already in dealing with the common enemy without having anything in the nature of friction and trouble inside our own ranks. I am very strongly of the opinion that you cannot put into operation Conscription in Ireland. I do not think you will be able to get a single man by Conscription in Ireland unless you have first treated generously and fairly the Irish people, and have won the respect and the regard of the Irish people by treating them justly and fairly. The object of Conscription is to secure more men. If you apply it, as is proposed in this Bill, without first having won the Irish people by your generous treatment, you will not gain any men, but I fear you will have a condition of affairs created that will require some of the men you have already to put right. That would be a regrettable state of affairs. You cannot Conscript a majority of the people, and to conscript a nation against their will is an impossibility. It will certainly lead to all sorts of trouble. The right hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat was saying that members of his party had not been consulted on this matter, and that neither had the trade unionists nor any other section of the Irish people been consulted. I hold in my hand a telegram and a letter from the Secretary of the Irish Trade Union Congress drawing the attention of the Labour party to the serious trouble that will be likely to ensue if you attempt to put into operation your empowering provisions. The telegram is as follows:National Executive Irish Labour party warns British workmen that Conscription will be fiercely resisted by people of Ireland and will bring bitter hatred between the two democracies for generations to come.That is the message that has been conveyed from the Irish trade unionists to the Labour party in this country, and speaking on behalf of British labour I want, in conclusion, to make a strong appeal to the Government to have this question settled on sane and sensible lines. As I have already pointed out—and it has not taken the serious situation 1934 that has arisen, so far as my own individual opinion is concerned, to convince me of this, because I have been a convinced Home Ruler for the greater part of my life—I am of the opinion that this is a. question which should have been settled long ago. Better late Than never Better settle it now before it is too late. I feel that unless we can settle it along the lines of conciliation you will find that it will be too late, and I appeal strongly to the Government in the name of British labour to let us have this question settled now along generous, tactful, and expeditious lines.
§ Colonel AMERY
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has, as a convinced Home Ruler, made an earnest appeal to the Government to settle this question on lines that will meet with a degree of support from the whole House. As a convinced Unionist I should like to endorse that appeal. As a convinced Unionist I should like to support the appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Henderson) and by the Leader of the Opposition to the Government, that, while treating these two questions as separate questions, the finding of men for the defence of the Empire, and also the question of putting an end to this ancient Irish trouble—I would, I say, makes an appeal to the Government that as soon as possible they should introduce such measure as commends itself to them—after having studied the result of the Convention—and, having introduced that measure, should push it through this House as a measure of real urgency, giving whatever time is necessary for the discussion of it, with the intention, hope, and resolve that, so far as in them lies, the execution of those vital measures required for defence shall enjoy the co-operation of the people of Ireland and of the Irish Executive.
I should like to make an appeal to hon. Members opposite—for I know how strongly they feel—and I will say that their speeches, taken broadly, have risen to the height of this great theme, and have been speeches which moved deeply many of us—and I would ask them in considering the action they propose to take upon these measures, not only in this House, but in Ireland, to bear in mind all the time two things. First of all, the hope of securing an agreed permanent settlement in Ireland to-day, knowing that that is the only way by which can be achieved the fruition and abiding strength of the constitutional 1935 movement to which many of them have devoted their political lives, of promoting the true welfare of Ireland, and of fulfilling her destiny; and, on the other hand, bearing in mind all the time the tremendous danger to which we are exposed in a cause which is their cause as much as it is our cause.
It was said by the hon. Member for West Belfast to-day and strongly—and I know that he has confirmed his words by his own actions in the past—that he regards that cause as the cause of Ireland as well as that of England, and I know that many nearest and dearest to those opposite have made heavy sacrifices for that cause. I would appeal to those hon Members also to keep in mind that whatever the differences that have divided us in this House they are all small and trifling compared with those which divide us from the enemy. We in this House—Unionists, Nationalists, Liberals, and Labour men—do not differ about the fundamental principles of liberty, though we have differed seriously about their application. We all believe in the virtue of those free institutions whose future in the world is now at stake. We have differed profoundly in detail as to how those principles are to be applied. Take the position of the Unionist Members in this House. We have believed, rightly or wrongly, that the application of the free institutions of self-government to the United Kingdom as a whole meant the greatest possible measure both of economic prosperity to Ireland and of true freedom. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite have taken a somewhat different view. They have said that free institutions applied in that way were, in fact, a travesty of freedom; that to link up a small country like Ireland, with its peculiar economic interests and its peculiar political point of view, with a great and prosperous neighbour like Great Britain, in an absolutely identical form of government, was not true freedom: that true freedom could only be won for Ireland by applying those principles locally and giving institutions, not only free, but co-extensive with the boundaries of Ireland, regarded as a separate unit. I would, however, draw the attention of hon. Members opposite to the fact that certain Members in Ireland, representing a great community, have raised against the Nationalists pressing the same sort of argument that the Nationalists have raised against the United Kingdom.
1936 These are all real, true, vital difficulties, and they must be composed by conciliation, by common agreement. They can be composed, and I pray most earnestly that during the next few weeks they may be so composed.
Whatever these differences are they are as nothing to our differences with the enemy. And what would be the consequences of defeat by the enemy? Victory by the Germans in the field to-day would mean the destruction of all that Irishmen as well as Englishmen value most, and that Frenchmen and Americans value equally with us. What is the position? I cannot add to the grave words spoken by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The whole fabric of liberty is in peril. I ask the representatives of the Irish people in Parliament to-day, those responsible representatives who under the existing Constitution represent Ireland in this House, to do nothing in their opposition to this measure that will endanger our common cause, but to try and remember in all they do here and outside the imperative nature of the problem before us. After all, this measure has not been introduced—although it has been so suggested, I do not think it was seriously suggested—owing to some peculiar malignity of the present Government, or by some peculiarly subtle influence from Dublin Castle, or exerted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College. The Government of this country has striven with might and main, wisely or unwisely, to avoid dealing with thin matter. They hoped that the Convention would have come to definite conclusions upon which definite legislation might have been based long before the need for Conscription had arisen! The Government, indeed, are liable, from the military point of view at any rate, to the charge of having taken grave risks in regard to the situation in France by not having moved before. I am not going to dispute the wisdom of that charge. They may have run risks, but they ran them, I believe, with a desire to spare this controversy. There came a moment, however, and it came upon us with terrible suddenness, when no Government could refuse to face that responsibility.
It has been urged that the Government did not consult any of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Member who last spoke admitted that the Government had not consulted the trade unionists. Yet 1937 this present measure more vitally affects trade unionists than any of the measures that have been passed hitherto. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has pointed out here, this Bill, when finally through its various stages, sweeps away, or possibly will sweep away, all the safeguards laboriously discussed in this House, and in innumerable conferences outside. Nothing but absolute necessity would have forced the Government to deal with this question in the way they have done. Its urgency was uppermost in their minds. All I would ask hon. Members opposite to remember, in all they say on this subject, is never to lose sight of this absolute necessity. We acknowledge their loyalty to our common cause and their desire to serve that cause. We acknowledge the genuineness of their apprehensions, and anxiety for safeguards. Yet I would ask them equally to recognise that the Government in the action taken have been impelled by one motive, and one motive only.
Certain arguments have been raised in this connection which I think, and I hope, really do not represent the whole Nationalist view. They were used strongly by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Waterford. I quote him as a worthy and brave representative of Ireland. He, like others, dwelt upon the mistakes of the various Departments in their dealing with the matter of recruiting, etc. Good heavens ! have not there been mistakes in abundance in England by officials in trying to bring the fabric of this peace-loving country to war conditions? There was the question of the Volunteers. Anyone who has had to deal with the Volunteer question in England knows the difficulties the Volunteer movement had to encounter. After all, there are two sides even to that story. If I remember rightly, the question arose in a moment when the one pre-occupation of the overworked War Office was how to find, not only the men for the front in France, but even the clothes, rifles, boots, and equipments of all sorts. There were hundreds of thousands of men encamped in England at that moment, with practically nothing but the sheer necessities of life, let alone anything else. The War Office were asked to deal with the establishment of Volunteer forces in England and Ireland whose only duty was to be that of Home defence. The War Office were asked to supply them with the necessary equipment, and so on. From the business 1938 point of view of the Adjutant-General, at any rate, that was not a reasonable proposal. But let it pass! Let me assume that it would have been better if the officials of the War Office, those harassed officials, had been broad-minded states men looking to the future broadly and reasonably. Here and now the whole fate of civilisation is at stake. Has Ireland, when asked to help to-day, nothing better than to mumble excuses about the unsympathetic attitude of somebody at the War Office in 1914, or the foolish speech of a Provost-Marshal in Belfast, who long ago may have expiated whatever mistakes he made in that speech by his gallant death at the front? Is it useful to recall it? The hon. Member recalled the abortive negotiations at the settlement of 1916. I understand that the breakdown of those negotiations was not much regretted in Ireland, and that particular form of settlement has not since been attempted to be revived.
After all, there is only one question before us. We are fighting desperately against the odds that face us. The men who are available in this country can suffice to keep us going for a few weeks more. We know America has men who can be thrown into the breach during the summer. But we can only bear the supreme strain and succeed if we can get all this country can give by the autumn. When we have skimmed again our sorely-depleted industries we shall still have to have recourse to the splendid manhood of Ireland, which, whenever it has gone to the War, whether voluntarily in Ireland or under compulsion in Great Britain, has shown itself to be the worthy representative of our common cause.
We have been brought up against the constitutional objection. We were told by the hon. Member for West Belfast that until Ireland got the particular demand for Dominion Home Rule she would do nothing. I would ask hon. Members to consider the nature of the claim they are putting forward, because it is a new claim Bills were introduced in this House which the responsible leaders of the Nationalist party declared represented a satisfactory solution of the National aspirations in Ireland, and those Bills deliberately left the whole question of defence, the provision of men and ships, out of the purview of the Irish Government. In regard to that agreement, when some of us in this House used to express our doubts, we were 1939 always told that our suspicions were unworthy. By that agreement the leaders of Irish Nationalism recognised that, in addition to their Irish citizenship and nationality, they still regarded themselves for the purposes of defence, and the final and ultimate question of national existence, as citizens of a United Kingdom. The hon. Member for West Belfast referred to Australia, and said that Ireland desired to be treated in the same way as Australia and Canada. But she has never asked for that before, and it was not in the Bill which has been passed in this House and suspended, because of certain difficulties which are, after all, very real. Nor has it been demanded by any majority in the Convention, the work of which has been so gratefully recognised by several speakers. The hon. Member for Belfast also stated that this Parliament, had the fight to impose Conscription upon Australia. I am aware that this Parliament has a theoretical legal right to legislate for any subjects in the British Empire, and to override any Parliament even in regard to the functions which it has been specifically set up to perform. It is legally true that we have a right to pass a parish pump Bill for Melbourne.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is not a point of Order. The hon. Member must take the statement which has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for what it is worth.
§ Colonel AMERY
But may I point out that when the Constitutions of Australia, South Africa, and Canada were settled, questions affecting military defence were left within their purview, and this House, in the case of Australia and South Africa, deliberately contemplated that they should create their own Army by whatever means seemed to them best? This House has never acquiesced in any proposal of that kind for Ireland; in fact, we have always taken a very different view. After all, the Prime Minister who was mainly responsible throughout all those Debates, always took up the line that Home Rule was the creation of self-government within a United Kingdom citizenship that still remained. I want to press this point, because I want 1940 hon. Members opposite to recognise the danger of pushing the principle of nationality too far, to the exclusion of any possible compromise. It is quite true that we entered this War in defence of certain small nations against unjust aggression. But we have not fought, and are not fighting, for the principal of nationalism carried to all lengths. That is the principle of our enemies. Germany is fighting for the right of German nationalism to prevail over all other interests. Those who maintain that Ireland comes first and last and all the time, and that nothing else counts but the wishes of Nationalist Ireland, are adopting the same line as the Germans. Sinn Fein is simply "Deutschland uber Alles" writ small.
There is another small nation whose intense uncompromising nationalism provided the model which Sinn Feiners deliberately set before themselves.
What has the intense uncompromising nationalism of Hungary brought to the world? There was a time when Hungary stood, in our fathers' eyes, for the uplifting of small nationalities. But Magyar nationalism completely disregarded the rights of the minorities, the Ulsters, within the borders of Hungary, more particularly the rights of the Serbo-Croat minority, and so directly brought about the present war. I would ask hon. Members to remember that nationalism in Ireland has got to live by conciliation. I myself believe that there is a genuine desire among a great majority of the people of this country to find some means of satisfying Irish national aspirations. There is a great majority of people who want some form of self-government in Ireland. But there is also an equally great majority who in their hearts still regard the United Kingdom for the purposes of this War as one community and one country in which all citizens should bear their part I do not expect hon. Members opposite to support this Clause, but I do ask them, when this measure is passed and when it comes to be carried out, to do all they can for the great common cause of the War, and also for the sake of the future settlement of Irish affairs. I would like to draw attention to the words used by the leader of another small nationality in the British Empire, which were spoken by Sir Wilfrid Laurier when the measure for Conscription was under consideration in the Canadian Parliament. He said:Now that the measure has become law it becomes all good subjects to see that it is carried out harmoniously.
§ Colonel AMERY
Yes; and the hon. Member is also speaking as a Member of the Assembly which will pass this Bill. I would also remind him that the Province of Quebec has a self-governing Parliament of its own, and the Dominion of Canada stands in the same position towards Quebec as this Parliament must stand towards the Home Rule Parliament. The Dominion passed a Bill dealing with Conscription, and the Parliament of Quebec was not consulted. I appeal to hon. Members opposite to follow the wise example of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and do what they can to save not only the common fate of liberty, but to pluck the flower of a final and permanent settlement for Ireland out of these perilous times.
§ Mr. FITZGIBBON
After the speeches which have been made from these benches, protesting against imposing upon Ireland this measure, there is little need for me to add any argument to the many which have been so well and so forcibly put forward. I rise for the purpose of recording my protest against this measure. I really do not know and I cannot account for the motives that have prompted His Majesty's Government in introducing at this moment this contentious measure for Ireland.
It is repeating the history of this House in connection with Ireland. From the day of O'Connell up to the present the advice of the Constitutional party in this House representing the Irish Constituencies has been ignored. If you go over the pages of the history of this House, you will find that the turning of a deaf ear to the representations made by, as I contend, the best friends and the most loyal subjects of this Empire has resulted in producing in Ireland revolutionary movements from time to time. You have taught the Irish people that they cannot roach the ear of this House without an earthquake being caused in Ireland.
I claim that I have a right to speak on this question. My family has done its chare and is continuing to do its share in this War. My bravest and my best are there and have been there, and some of them have fallen through the admitted stupidity of their commanders. I therefore claim the right of putting forward 1942 my views on this question. I was also a member of the Convention, and it is really heartbreaking, to a man like myself that the fruits of the seven months' labour of that Convention in trying to bring together men who have hitherto been wide apart in Ireland should be now destroyed by men who do not recognise and who know nothing of the character of the Irish people. You cannot drive the Irish people. You may lead them by persuasion, but you can never coerce them against their will. They will never submit to your coercion. On what ground do you claim the right to impose this blood tax upon Ireland? It is simply a monument of your unnatural Government. You have been the unnatural parent of Ireland, and, as a consequence of your legislation and administration, Ireland to-day is left with merely a remnant of the Irish race. There is in Ireland merely the seed of a nation. After bleeding it almost to death by your legislation during the last 120 years, giving the landlords of Ireland facilities for clearing the plains and the valleys of that country of its best, and sending them abroad to build up other nations, you now want to draw further upon the mere remnant of the race left in Ireland, though there is not a man there who is not necessary to produce for this country and for the Irish people the food that is so necessary at this moment.
It is very hard to keep one's temper when dealing with this question. We know the consequences that will attend this measure if it is passed into law. You are giving joy to your enemies. There is no news which will be read with more gratification in Berlin than that you are trying to impose this blood tax upon Ireland. They understand much more than you do the temper of the Irish people, and they know full well that the Irish people will never submit to legislation of this sort. You have tried by many methods to destroy our country. I do not want to hold the men of to-day responsible for the things of the past, but in producing this measure and in trying to force it upon Ireland they are simply perpetuating the worse traditions of this country in the government of Ireland. I claim to be as loyal a subject as any hon. Member sitting on the benches opposite, and, when the impartial historian comes to record who was loyal during these trying times, it will be very questionable the amount of merit that he will give those 1943 who, instead of knitting the Irish people together throughout the world, are trying to poison the minds of Irishmen and to create a temper most undesirable at the present juncture of the War. Examine the regiments from Australia, Canada, America, South Africa, and from this country that are at present engaged at the front, and I venture to say that in many cases a third, in others a half, and in some instances four-fifths will be found to be either Irish or the descendants of Irishmen. Under a proper form of government Ireland, instead of having 4,250,000 population, as she has to-day, would be supporting a population of 20,000.000 people, and you would have sufficient recruiting ground at your door.
O'Connell warned this House of the consequences that would attend your treatment of Ireland. He predicted exactly what is occurring to-day. He stated that you would regret not having acted upon his advice. Has he not proved a true prophet? By your legislation you have driven Irishmen out of their country to seek homes in other parts of the world. Having done all that, and having perpetuated a long system of tyrannical government in Ireland, you are now going to drain it of the mere remnant of its people. I warn this Committee against doing such a thing. I know that men very much more eloquent than I have failed to make any impression on the Government, but it will be a satisfaction to me to know that I have done my duty as a loyal citizen of this Empire, and tried to save it from a catastrophe, which will be just as great, if it is persisted in, as any that is taking place on the front to-day.
§ Captain SHEEHAN
If any of the speeches made from these benches could carry weight with the Government, it would be the speech of the hon. Member who has just spoken, the sincerity of which cannot be doubted, because he, through his own family, has made sacrifices of the heaviest kind in connection with this War. I am afraid that all the arguments and warnings that are addressed to the Government from these benches are not going to bear fruit at the present time. However that may be, we have our duty to our own people and to our own country, and that duty is to assert our distinct and emphatic position in this matter. An hon. and gallant I Gentleman who spoke previously asked 1944 whether we on these benches had nothing better to do than to mumble excuses. My one reply to that is that we have the right and the duty to assert the nationhood of Ireland. I should have thought by this time that if there was one lesson beyond another which successive English Governments might have learned in their dealings with Ireland, it is that the application of coercion to Ireland will not bring them any good whatever. I listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson), who warned the Government that their course was induced more by a spirit of recklessness than one of wisdom. Even if the democracy of England issues these warnings in this respect, we do not see the least evidence of any change of attitude on the part of those who have spoken for the Government. I had hoped that the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who-must at least be aware of the strength, force and intensity of the opinion entertained in Ireland in regard to these proposals, would have, taken a different attitude from that which he adopted. The only crumb of comfort, and it was not a very big one, he gave us was that this Clause would not be brought into operation until a Home Rule Parliament was sitting in Dublin. That was not very definite. Nothing could be more unfortunate from the outset than that the question of self-government for Ireland should be coupled with the application of Conscription. You have, at this moment, absolutely killed all interest in Ireland in any question of self-government. Conscription is the only question with which Irishmen are concerned at the present moment. You have only to read the papers and the resolutions adopted by public bodies, north, east, south, and west, to see that the only question is that of resisting this proposal to the uttermost.
There can be only one solid excuse for going forward with Conscription in Ireland, namely, that you will find, within a reasonable time, a sufficient body of men to justify its application to that country. I tell you at once that you will not. I have told you already earlier in the course of these Debates that it will take at least three Army Corps to get one Army Corps out of Ireland, and I do not believe you will succeed even in getting one. If you want to get men out of Ireland, I will tell the Minister of 1945 National Service that there is a certain reservoir in Ireland which he is not tapping at the present time. I have most positive information in regard to it, and I challenge denial of the statement that there are at least 50,000 men of military age in Ireland who have gone across from England in order to evade military service. You cannot go to a seaside place or a city in Ireland, where these men are not to be found in their thousands. We had an assurance that they were going to be taken out of Ireland. We do not want them there. They are of no advantage to our country, because men who will not fight for their own country are not wanted anywhere. I only mention that in passing. I have received several letters within the past few days on this subject. I can assure the Government that feeling in this matter is growing in volume, and the opinion in Ireland is that you mean, since you have not succeeded in destroying nationality there, to decimate the population. One letter says:Since Cromwell's invasion, never was there such a determined attempt to exterminate the Irish nation.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle truly said that you are commencing our extermination while destroying our liberties. You state that you are fighting for justice, freedom and liberty. It was in the belief that this country was fighting for those principles that I and others offered our services in the earlier months of the War. I ask what freedom, what justice, or what liberty is the Irish conscript going to get? What are you going to do with the Irish conscript when you get him? You will raise him in Ireland. Are you going to keep him in Irish units, and train him in Ireland? If you do set up an Irish Legislature, elected by the Irish people, deriving its authority from the Irish voters, then the Irish authority should have the right to raise Irish regiments, to bring them together in Irish units, to put them under Irish officers, and, when they are sent to the front, put them under an Irish command. But what is the present proposal? It is a proposal made by the English War Cabinet, and made under conditions of ferocity unparalleled in history. You are exciting the fundamental hatreds of 700 years that were dying out, and you are throwing out the challenge of English power to the spirit of Irish nationality. I tell you that you may take our men at the point of the bayonet—you 1946 will not get them in any other way—but you will not succeed in killing the spirit of Irish nationality, and at the end you will find you have lit a name which is not likely to die out in our generation. If you get Irish conscripts, what are you going to do with them? You will divide them; you will disperse and scatter them among the English regiments. That is what Irishmen know is going to be their fate. Your intention is to brutally maim and manacle Irish nationhood, and forcibly incorporate Irishmen as part of your British Army. What happened in the case of the Irish Division? My hon. Friend (Mr. Devlin) told you how that division was officered. I know it of my own knowledge. The officers were a horde of English Cockneys, who never understood Irishmen, or how to treat them decently, although there was a distinct pledge given to the late Mr. Redmond, when it was about to be formed, that it was to be officered and manned by Irishmen. A similar pledge was given in the case of Carson's army, and it was observed; but it was not observed in the case of the Irish Brigade.
I warn the Government that they are heading for disaster in regard to this matter. Whilst there is one spark of manhood left in Ireland we will fight against this monstrous attempt to degrade our nation and disperse our people. I had a letter this morning from a gentleman of position and of principle in Ireland, who has given his continuous service since the outbreak of the War, and is serving in the Army at present. He says:God knows the Irish people have been dispersed enough and yet the remnant are to be led away into captivity under ferocious and shameful conditions, under a slavery and a tyranny unexampled since the Jews were marched off and dispersed in the days of Babylonian power.This is a loyal citizen of the Empire, who was a Unionist before the War broke out, but, under changing conditions, came to take a saner view of the Irish question. He goes on:What on earth is a loyal man to do, a man like myself who sees the naked horror of it all? One must not say a word or do anything which might aggravate the position or weaken the power of the Empire, and yet one must do what one can to save Ireland first.That is exactly the attitude that I take. We would wish to strengthen your arm, and to support the Allied cause, but we have a duty to our country, which is paramount to everything else in this crisis, and if we are to serve it must be 1947 under conditions which we can generously respond to. It must be in response to and in compliance with the demand of a Legislature sitting in Dublin. If this Government had not blundered, if the War Office had not grossly and malignantly mishandled the situation, you would have had Ireland at this moment as loyally on your side as any part of your wide Dominions. You have not trusted Irishmen. You have not dealt fairly with them since this War broke out. You have heaped insults and humiliations upon them. I was not in the country at the time, but I remember reading with horror what I regarded as the butchery of a Labour leader in Dublin in Easter week. Although he was not able to stand up to be shot, although he was wounded, if he had been a soldier serving in any other part of the world he would have received the honour due to a soldier, but he was brutally butchered, maimed and mangled.
You are teaching us once again that we cannot trust you, and that if we are to exist as a nation we must fight for our nationality. You will find when you start on this brutal and bloody campaign which you are inaugurating under this Clause, you will have united all Irish Nationalists in violent and vehement opposition to you. You have done this on good service for Ireland. You have already united all Irish Nationalists, and if it comes to take our stand more firmly or more sternly if the occasion should require it, I, and I believe I speak for every Nationalist Member, will be found standing by our people in the day of danger. You are playing Germany's game when you bring forward a proposal of this kind. Germany went to war because she believed there was going to be civil war in Ireland. You are now going to inaugurate an era of civil strife in Ireland. You are labouring under the wildest and maddest mistake of your lives if you think you will get a single Irishman worth his salt except at the point of the bayonet, and then he will be worth nothing whatever to you. Surely the Government cannot have listened to the Debates which have taken place in the past few days without being aware that they are pursuing an insane, wicked, and disastrous course. I know all the English arguments. I have read them in the papers, and have listened to them here. They only take account of England's position. It is quite natural, in the gravity of the circumstances, that they should only take 1948 account of England's position, but they are all founded upon this English delusion, that Ireland is a part of England. If there is one thing that Irishmen resent more than anything in the whole world, it is, that we, with all our pride and the traditions of an ancient Irish nation behind it, are going to be levelled down to a mere province. You cannot apply Conscription to Australia. You have power to do it under your Constitution, but you dare not; and when there was a referendum on the question of Australian Conscription, who voted most strongly against it? It was the Australian soldiers serving in the trenches who returned an overwhelming majority against the proposal to conscript their fellow countrymen who remained behind. I dare say they had very substantial reasons for the vote they gave. Only one thing could justify the application of this measure to Ireland—that is, that it should have the authority of an Irish Assembly behind it or the vote of the whole of the Irish people. You have neither the one nor the other.
I have been wondering all along why this attempt is being made. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henderson) said it was because the Government had a panicky majority behind it. I do not know that I entirely accept that explanation. It appears more reasonable to me that the Government finds itself, because of the accumulation of disasters on the Western Front, in a tight corner, and unscrupulously they want to switch off criticism on to the Irish difficulty. Further, I believe by this Machiavellian policy they want to get out of the Home Rule difficulty. They say they have only brought this proposal forward after giving it the fullest consideration. But what are we to say to a statement of that kind when we remember that three times previously they have considered these proposals and. after the fullest consideration on each occasion, negatived them I The necessity of the moment is no argument, because at the earliest you could not get these men ready under six months if you are going to train them properly, unless, indeed, you propose to put them into British regiments and ship them out just as they are. If you do the one, it is quite possible that you will also do the other. One of the lessons you should have learnt is that you cannot apply coercion to Ireland. This is a coercive measure, and if you proceed with it it can only culminate in scenes of bloodshed, violence, and ruthlessness up and down 1949 the country. You will make our villages shambles, you will convert our towns into places of riot and bloodshed, and you will leave behind you a legacy of hate for generations to come. You profess to have the welfare of small nationalities at heart. You are not treating an ancient nation in a spirit to justify your profession. This proposal will react upon the Irish cause the world over.
I ask the Government whether they have ever considered—and this specially appeals to myself—how this proposal is going to react upon the Irishmen who are now serving at the front when they come back. Do you think anything of that I Do you take into account what their position will be if you apply Conscription, with all its concomitants of bloodshed and riot upon their people at home? What will await them when they come back from the War? You are grossly unjust to them and their splendid sacrifice on your behalf. I sometimes hear people refer to the sacrifice of Ireland in this War, but they have little understanding of the, noble way in which the Irish nation responded to the call in the first two years of the War and how gloriously they have served you in many a trying battle in Gallipoli and on the Western Front. You are being brutally unjust to these men. You are destroying the worth of their sacrifice, and if you had taken their opinion you would find that they would not be behind in the course you have now adopted. You are purchasing a legacy of hate and pouring out for yourselves seas of trouble. You are not making the path of loyal men in Ireland, who wish you and your Empire well, any easier by this action. You are sowing your seed on a broad pathway of bloodshed and destruction. You will not kill or conquer or subdue the spirit of the Irish race. It may be too late to appeal to the sense of reason on the part of the Government because reason seems to have forsaken them; but I will tell them that they will get no good either for this country or for the Empire from the course they are pursuing. They are soiling the sanctity of the banner under which they profess to fight for the rights of small nationalities. That is a right which we Irishmen are asserting for our people against this infamous proposal, and if need should arise, we will be ready to seal it with our blood.
Colonel Sir MARK SYKES
I do not follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman in all the points he has raised, but there are certain aspects of what he has said to 1950 which I wish to draw attention. I would like to remind the hon. Members from Ireland that at such a time as this it is a very poor policy on the part of Irishmen and those who wish well to Ireland to attribute base motives to the Government in bringing forward this measure. I honestly warn hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway that, however their patience may have been tried, the patience of the English working classes, through one reason and another, have been severely tried in regard to Ireland. We on this side of the House bear recriminations of all sorts, criticisms of all sorts in exaggerated language, but many of us try to bear them in silence. But I warn hon. Members of the feeling among the working classes in this country. The greatest disaster that can befall Ireland would be that there should be a quarrel between the democracies of these two countries. As long as quarrels are merely political, quarrels between political leaders on one side and another, or between the Irish people and political leaders, it matters not; but if there came a real quarrel between the working classes on both sides, it would be a very serious matter for the Irish people.
Sir M. SYKES
I am not saying who is causing it; but I warn hon. Members opposite that this is a danger which they ought to bear in mind and try to avoid. [Interruption.] The interruptions of hon. Members make it difficult for me to say what I desire to say. The words I am going to use are in no way meant to be offensive to them. I am going to use words which it will be difficult for me to say from this side of the House. If we "play-up" from this side, it is up to them to "play-up" from that side of the House.
Sir M. SYKES
I think there have been some unhelpful remarks to-day from that side. The situation is serious, and, as has been said, it transcends political questions. You will not get the people of England to take any interest in Home Rule or anything else so long as the fate of this country is hanging in the balance. The situation is serious, and men must be found. The people of England will insist upon the men being found, and the people of England in moments of crisis like this will not care much what methods are employed.
Sir M. SYKES
I do not question that. I make this admission that Ireland has been in this matter infamously and wilfully mishandled. The hon. and gallant Member for Waterford (Captain W. A. Redmond), on the Second Reading, cited a case, but did not mention a fact of which I was aware—he was too modest to make it himself—and that was that he himself was not able at first to obtain an Irish commission. I should like to be able to give a little evidence of my own. It was easy enough to use any amount of Irish national sentiment or political sentiment in England to get into an Irish regiment such as the Liverpool-Irish, and so on, but for some reason or other—I prefer to think it was stupidity—it could not be done in Ireland. As a result of these errors and mistakes, we have now this situation: that the welfare of democracy and nationalism are at stake, and the cause of militarism, tyranny, and dominating Imperialism is for the moment in the field in the ascendant. And we see before us a tortured world, suffering horribly in a cause that is right. The English working classes, who abhor militarism, have laid themselves open to military service. The Dominions, either self-conscripted or voluntarily, have come, in their hundreds of thousands and in their millions. India has made a great contribution. Let no one imagine that the military contribution of India is small. In relation to the hundreds of millions of population in India, the contribution appears small, but in relation to the very small military population of India, the contribution is very large. The labouring masses of Egypt have given enormous bodies of labourers for work. The United States of America have made, I think, what we may call a supreme sacrifice, and that is to put their units under the command of another Nation. Yet with all these sacrifices there is on the Allied side —I am not calling it the English side, but the Allied side, the side of right in this War—there is one blot, and that is that Ireland—the land of poets, saints, and warriors, made by God and nature to be most responsive to the cause of right—is sullen and aloof at this time of crisis. Here you have a divinely-made weapon, rusting on the ground, unused and, as it looks, almost unusable.
I would remind the House that the late Prime Minister, at a moment of terrible crisis, said that if some composition could not be made, it would be something like the 1952 bankruptcy of statesmanship and patriots. I hope we are not going to make a declaration of failure. Yet what do we see? I am only examining the situation. The Irish Nationalist party, which made an initial success by the attitude it adopted at the beginning of this War, is opposing a Bill which is going to give us victory. At the beginning of the War, the people flocked to the recruiting office, but now they are entering into covenants not to serve. The priesthood surely have not forgotten what happened to the nuns of Belgium, and what is happening to-day in the cathedrals of France. The whole position is a ghastly farce—it is an infernal paradox—and, with all humiliation, I say a great deal of responsibility for it rests upon both English parties in this House. It is well we should remember certain things which have occurred.
There has been a weakness on one side and the other. They watched the covenant grow from the wooden gun stage, at which they laughed, to the real gun stage, at which they funked. An enormous responsibility rests on those who did that, and an equally heavy responsibility rests upon those who encourage illegality. Then alter events had paved the way for improved prospects, and chances were thrown away by sheer stupidity. The Government mishandled the recruiting, and watched sedition grow and grow in Ireland, where it was rehearsed and practised; they watched it with inertia and took no action, until at last the sedition culminated in an absurd and insane outbreak, which was repressed with a lumpish and idiotic violence, as abominable and as bad as the palsied inertia which preceded it. Thus chance after chance of a settlement has been lost. And even if the administration of this measure precipitated a. catastrophe, it would only be a fitting pinnacle to the modern monument we have seen built up in the last few years.
There are certain dangers. I do not pretend to know Ireland well, but, later on hon. Members opposite will say whether I am right. I do not believe there will be a great open resistance or a great rebellion. Some people may think this may drag us into an open rebellion, but one knows the history of the past. Vinegar Hill was very much like Easter Week in Dublin, but Ireland has been schooled in past years in another form of resistance. I am not giving any tips. We all know how that has been done—by means of mountain refuges, boycotting, sabotage, 1953 covenants, leagues, and so on. That is the sort of thing which no force can really destroy. You can keep it down, but you cannot destroy it. It is terrible from a military point of view, and the result must react on this House and on this country. It will react abroad—in America and in the Colonies. I fear very much the ultimate result. The Irish outside Ireland would like to see Conscription in Ireland; at any rate I believe many of them would. But there is an enormous Irish population outside Ireland, and if it sees these miserable events from day to day, week to week, and month to month, it will gradually become hostile. Further than that, we shall be constantly showing before the world something in a certain measure contradictory to our war aims.
Another danger is what will be the practical result? I have served with Irish soldiers both in British and in Irish regiments. A great many people in England, especially military officers, hold that the Irish peasant is a good fellow, who likes fighting, and who, if put under a certain amount of military pressure, will fight well. That is an ideal, but it shows a lack of understanding. When I was in the Con-naught Rangers, there was a reserve man who used to play the big drum in a certain Fenian band at Castle Bar. He came up for his training, and was asked by his officer what he was. His reply was that when in a red coat he was for the Queen, God bless her; when out of it he did not know what he was. In fact, if an Irishman voluntarily enlists, and takes the oath of loyalty, he will fight to his last breath, quite irrespective of his politics; but if he is impressed against his own moral sanction he is not the same man. I am afraid there may be two possible dangers ahead of us. We shall have to have large concentration camps of turbulent men, and I know how turbulent they can be; and, on the other hand, I see little bands of discontented men spread over the Army, sent to fighting regiments at the front, who, when these regiments are at rest, will get around them a number of their fellows, and prove a cause of anxiety to the officers, while, when the divisions are at the front, they will be a menace to discipline.
The Government has taken its decision. It stands or falls by this Bill. Men are wanted—cannot be refused. The Government thinks it can do it, must do it, and, to my mind—hon. Members opposite, of course, have their duty—our duty is to 1954 support the Government. But I do say that the Government has taken risks in this matter, and that now it can only minimise those risks by taking further risks. It has taken this Bill on the hypothesis that it lays it on the Table, sees it through, puts it into execution, and stands or falls by it. I submit that it has to bring a Home Rule Bill here in adequate time, put it on the Table, see it through, stand or fall by it, and put it into execution. That is the only line I can see which will stabilise our moral position. It is going to be a very difficult course. I do not believe that the Bill can be received with enthusiasm by hon. Members opposite. We cannot expect it. More than that, it will be a measure which will provoke violent annoyance in certain quarters in. Ireland, and the Government, if it is courageous, will have to face the fact that it will have, perhaps, to meet two quarrels in Ireland, as it was told from this side of the House the other day. It has to see it through. It has taken this step, and has to take the other. For those reasons, which are not only Irish reasons, I am certain that the English democracy will not be behind the Government if it takes these Conscription measures without taking self-government measures. I do not believe English labour will be behind them. There may be the exasperation I mentioned at the beginning, but it will not last. More than that, as we have taken the Conscription step, we must, as I say, take the other step to make our position clear, to show the sincerity of our War aims to the United States and to the Colonies.
When I come to the Irish situation, I submit that it will be a great step. There is no basis, except one of justice or violent physical force, on which Irish affairs can be managed until it has been proved to the Irish people that the law is equal for all— that it is not possible for one political party to break the law and not to be punished, while another political party is treated differently. That has lain at the root of our trouble. If he were here, there is one appeal that I would make to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Trinity College, Dublin (Sir E. Carson), and I would remind Unionist Members from Ireland that every crisis we have seen in this House in the last seven years in regard to Ireland has opened an avenue to settlement. After the crisis there has always been a feeling that there 1955 might have been a settlement—nearly a settlement, and then failure. After the Curragh incident, there was a moment when it looked like settlement. When the War broke out, it looked like settlement. After Easter week the happiest chance was missed by some cause, I know not what. Then again another opportunity opened. There was an offer made by the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) to-day. It is not, perhaps, for me, a stupid Englishman, to speak to two Irishmen—for it seems insolence to make the suggestion—but if my right hon. and learned Friend said, "If the Irish nation is in the War, Ulster is in the Irish nation"—if that offer were made, I believe that Sinn Fein would be dead, and I believe there would go such a wave of enthusiasm over Ireland that your Irish divisions would be filled to overflowing, that the Nationalist party and the Unionist party in Ireland would find themselves at the head of an Army far beyond the hopes of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for National Service.
England has a right on many counts to be grateful to Ulster—to the Ulster Division- for the splendid work it has done, and for the magnificent work done in the shipyards. No one would be more ready, I am sure, than hon. Gentlemen, opposite to admit the enormous work done by the people in Ulster. We have also many counts on which to be grateful to the Nationalists for what they have done in the War, and, if I may be permitted in that matter to use a Cromwellian phrase, it would, indeed, be "a crowning mercy" if action were taken now which gave us the means of settling the Irish question, for I really believe that if it were settled rightly, the War would he won, and that you would be able to say that Ulster had done it.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
Though in all the rest of my speech I shall speak only for myself, I feel sure that my colleagues would desire me to acknowledge on their behalf, as well as my own, the brave, courageous, and noble spirit which informed the speech to which we have just listened. Of course, all of us do not agree with everything which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, but his speech throughout was informed by that spirit and sense of equal justice which Sir John Davis many centuries ago told his contemporaries was the one thing that the 1956 Irish people most desired, and which, unhappily, is the one thing which they have the least enjoyed. We have been very fortunate, I think, to-day in the speeches which have been made from the English Benches. I think without exception, certainly with only negligible exceptions, the speech we have just heard from the hon. and gallant Gentleman, the speech a short while before from one of my hon. Friends who sits near me, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Henderson) and the speech of the Chairman of the Labour party—one and all were speeches which, if I may say so, not only redounded to the credit of the large-mindedness of those who made them, but showed that whatever our quarrels may be with particular parties on particular issues and with particular Governments, it is true that we have still, I venture to say, no quarrel with the people of Great Britain. I would assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke just now that in the opposition which we have felt it necessary to offer to this Bill, and particularly to this Clause, we are not insensible of the peculiar difficulties of the moment. We do not forget how tragic—more tragic than many of us realise at the moment—the military situation is. I agree with him quite frankly that the patience of the English people must have been strained for the past two years, particularly in relation to Ireland. I do recognise at this moment how difficult it would have been for any Government to have made the proposals which they have made with regard to raising the military age to fifty or fifty-five without bringing forward certain proposals for Ireland. Therefore, it is not in blindness to the point of view in Great Britain that we oppose this measure, nor is it from pro-Germanism. Among the people who have offered most determined resistance to the application of this measure to Ireland are some, at any rate, of those who have done most in Ireland for the cause of the Allies in this War.
There is my Friend the hon. Member for West Belfast. It was due solely to his exertions and his influence and eloquence and character that certainly more than a battalion of troops was added to the British Army from his own people in Belfast and in the North-East of Ulster. I remember, when I had the interesting experience early in 1916 of visiting some of the Irish regiments in France, being 1957 struck with the constant sounds of the well-known accent of Belfast among some of the troops whom I visited, who were recruited amongst the Catholics and Nationalists of the district. It was to the hon. Member for West Belfast above all other men, after my late lamented Friend and leader, Mr. Redmond, that the presence of those men in the British Army was due. I will mention only two others in passing—my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway (Captain Gwynn) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Waterford (Captain Redmond), both of whom have served in the trenches, and both of whom are in vehement opposition to the application of this measure to Ireland. Therefore it is not through indifference to English feeling that we oppose this, nor through blindness to the English point of view, and, above all, it is not through desire to show any favour to the enemy. This Amendment incorporates in the most concrete and definite form the point to which I, at any rate, attach importance in this controversy. I have never been, as some of my English Friends below me have been, opposed to Conscription in the abstract. I have never been opposed to the principle of Conscription whether in Ireland or elsewhere, but what I am opposed to is imposing it on a whole people who are not willing to accept it. The essence of the matter is consent.
Everybody remembers what happened in relation to England. We know how the late Prime Minister had to wait, month after month, before he could venture to bring in even the smallest measure of Conscription for this country. I have very little doubt that at that time the situation was almost as critical, if not quite as critical, as it is to-day. The need for men cannot have been much less great. I cannot imagine that the situation with regard to man-power was at that time much less grave. I know, from officers who served in the trenches at that time, how thinly our lines were held throughout the autumn of 1914 and 1915. Great pressure was brought on the Government not only in this House and in the Press of the country, but, I shrewdly suspect, even by our Allies, to impose Conscription. I ask Englishmen to ask themselves—because this helps them to understand our point of view—what would have happened in this country suppose it had been possible for the French Chamber to enact a measure of 1958 Conscription for this country and for French soldiers to be sent to this country to put it into force? You say that that is an impossible situation, but do not forget that the whole root of the Irish difficulty is that Irishmen feel that this is, in effect, a foreign country. That was the trouble after the Irish rebellion. You raised the issue there, after those men were shot, the definite issue of English versus Irish. The moment you did so you raised a devil which could not be laid. That is what I am afraid you are going to do to-day.
The other day the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, quite truly, that the Home Rule Act, and all the Home Rule Bills which he had ever seen, reserved the control of military power to this Parliament, and he seemed to infer there-fore that this argument about the consent of an Irish representative body was irrelevant, and that we were raising new issues. I would suggest to people who speak like that, that that is really pedantry. Nobody disputes that you have got the legal power, and, so far as I know, nobody proposes to make any alteration in that, but I turn again to what happened in this country. This House always had the power to enact Conscription in Great Britain. Why was it not done for so long a time? Because the Government felt that they had not got the moral power, and they could not do it unless and until there was evidence of consent on the part of the people of Great Britain. There is exactly the same position in Ireland. Reference has already been made to the Report of the Convention, who pointed out that assuming an Irish Parliament is brought into being it would be found impracticable to enforce Conscription in Ireland unless with the consent and co-operation of the Irish people. As a matter of fact, you are not any the better owing to your not having an Irish Assembly. Its existence would not alter the legal position. The legal position, whether you have got an Irish Assembly or not, under the terms of the Act of 1914 is the same, because the legal power undoubtedly remains here. But the moral power, whether you have a Parliament in Ireland or whether you have not, is there and not hero. Therefore, to my mind the argument which is directed to show that because this Parliament at Westminster has retained the power of military control the consent of the Irish people is, irrelevant, as I have said, is 1959 pedantry. One word about the operation of Conscription. I do not want to use extravagant language—that is not my way —but I am bound to say that everything I can learn from all sides, whether from my colleagues from different parts of Ireland, or the correspondence i receive from private persons, goes to show more and more, though I frankly confess I was not myself at first convinced of it, the intense feeling of opposition to Conscription and the dangerous situation which would be created by enforcing Conscription. say quite frankly that it was only comparatively recently that I realised the extraordinary intensity of feeling among the people on this point. I did not realise how desperately dangerous the situation really is, and I believe all that my hon. and learned Friend has said, and that he has hit the nail on the head.
I believe that if you attempt to enforce this Bill you will have the most appalling tragedies committed, probably in every parish. I have not the least idea whether there will be an organised physical resistance or not, or, if there should be, who will have the organisation of it. It has been said here that there are those even among us who are prepared to take their stand with their people in such resistance. I say, as I have said before, that I will be no party to that. The situation is already quite bad enough, without making it any worse. We have already quite sufficient tragedies. That Ireland should not be doing everything she mortally can in the cause of the liberty of the world is bad enough to my mind, without making matters worse by any action which would assist the enemy. Therefore, nothing would induce me to take any such course. But do not let the Government make any mistake There are people far more important than I am who may do so. They may be known to this House, or probably not, but I feel convinced that there will be no lack, from what I know of Ireland, and from what I remember of Land League days, of leaders of an active and desperate resistance. If that be true, I do suggest to the House that they may well pause.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other day that this was a duty which all countries imposed upon their peoples. Perhaps it is. But where is the analogy? Quote me a case of the imposition of military service upon a whole race or nation resisting it. Are there any cases?
I beg pardon; there are, and I will state what they are, but I doubt very much whether the Government will rejoice in the precedent—the Prussians in Alsace-Lorraine, Austria among the Czechs, Poles, Serbs, Italians. Is that the sort of example which this Government, that is fighting for liberty, is going to follow? That is, I believe, the only parallel they will find. If I am right in saying that you cannot justly do this thing without consent, if I am in right in saying and believing that you can only carry this through against the most desperate fighting in every part of Ireland, I trust you will pause. Think what it will mean, think what the effect will be in America, or in several neutral countries; in Scandinavia, for instance, where I happen to know that the Irish question is very closely studied. If the news goes out that in every parish in Ireland young men are being shot and bayonetted for resisting Conscription, what would be the effect? I think it will be seen that such action, to say the least, would be extremely unwise. As I said at the beginning, I fully realise the dangers and difficulties of the situation; I think I also understand the English point of view, and I do know how tempting it must be to take the short cut, but, believe me, it is the wrong road.
§ Sir W. DICKINSON
In this Debate, which has been one of the most remarkable that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to in this House, there were two speeches which made a very great impression upon the House. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife and the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland were both full of the most important matter. Speaking as a follower of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, I have to say I believe that if, instead of appealing 10 this House and advising Members to refrain from placing the Government in a difficulty on this occasion, he had taken the contrary course, he would, I believe, have been followed by a very large number of Members of this House. On the other hand, it is perfectly clear that, as lie has pointed out, the present military crisis is so great that it is impossible for many of us, who would have felt bound to vote against what they think is a most unwise proposal, to do so, compelling us to take another course and to support the Government in these circumstances. I believe no one can deny that it is most unfortunate that this pro- 1961 posal has to be made on this occasion. If I understood the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Irish Secretary ho would not contest that proposition. He evidently was brought to support it by the most serious circumstances and serious considerations of the present position of the Empire; and I cannot help thinking that even if it is necessary—and I would accept it from what he has said that it is necessary for us to take this step to get in the additional manpower of Ireland— it is a very lamentable thing that it has been necessary to do it in this particular way. I cannot help thinking it is rather a wrong way. The line taken is this, "Give us Conscription and we will give you Home Rule." I wish it had been possible, perhaps it is still possible, for the right hon. Gentleman to say, "We give you Home Rule and we ask you to give us Conscription."
I have listened to the speeches of my hon. Friends opposite, especially that of the hon. Member for West Belfast, and I cannot help holding the conviction that if he had had the opportunity of speaking either to a Parliament or Convention in Ireland, and asking them in these circumstances to accept compulsory service, he would have done so, and have done so with success, because I do not believe any Irishman, Englishman, or Scotsman would hesitate to adopt the most drastic remedies, the most drastic methods, in order to avert the present danger that threatens all of us in this country and in England. I wish he could have taken that course. I wish we could have had an appeal to Irishmen to accept it themselves, on their own responsibility, and then we should have found them, I am perfectly certain, coming forward with the same eagerness and readiness as has characterised the other subjects of this Empire in every part of the globe. But we are told, and I accept it, that we must accept the proposal of the Government or else render ourselves open to more serious results than even those we cannot help foreseeing if this particular method of procedure is adopted. Speaking for myself, and I believe for a great many Members of this House, we do so only upon the conditions which have been suggested by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He has very definitely stated—I believe in as definite terms as could have been used, and I followed them very closely—that the Government do intend to introduce and to carry through a Bill establishing a Home Rule 1962 Parliament in Ireland. I do not believe there is a single man in this House who does not place the most absolute confidence in the honesty of intention of my right hon. Friend, and I accept in all its fullness his assurance that this course is going to be followed, but I think we are entitled to ask him what guarantee can he give us at this moment, when we arc making up our minds to follow the Government under circumstances to which we ourselves greatly object, that this course will be adopted and will be carried out? I think we are entitled to ask this ourselves first of all, because ever since I have been a Member of the House of Commons, these last twelve years, we have had a considerable majority of Members who were in favour of establishing an Irish Parliament, but we have not achieved that object yet.
We know ourselves the difficulties that have attached to our programme; we know the pitfalls that we have had to avoid. We have seen this great subject, which after all has been one of the leading wishes of the Liberal party for many years, dangled before us, and we have never seen it brought into realisation. We know the difficulties of carrying out any proposals, and, as I say, I am not questioning the honesty of the intentions of my right hon. Friend or the Government, but I do question their capacity for carrying out their proposals, even with the best of intentions. We know in this House what a Bill to amend the Irish Government will mean. We have only to look at the Blue Book and read, as I have read as far as I have been able to to-day, the Report of the Convention, in order to see that it bristles with difficulties, that there are various questions which will afford opportunities to Members of this House to obstruct and to place difficulties in the way, and that nothing but the most resolute determination on the part of the Government will carry through an Irish Bill this Session. Then what is to happen at the other end of the corridor? What security have we at the present moment that even if the Government carry their Bill through this House—and I am sure they will carry it through—that the House of Lords will pass it? I venture with the greatest earnestness to press upon my right hon. Friend and the Government that they ought to give us some substantial guarantee, more than a mere promise, that this course will be pursued, and pursued to the end. Not only from our own 1963 point of view we have to have some guarantee, but I venture to submit it is important from the point of view of those outside. From this very moment a campaign will be raised, not only in Ireland but elsewhere, and it will be said, "The Government have got through Conscription for Ireland upon a promise, but are they going to keep that promise I "and there will be a very widespread feeling of distrust arising here and in Ireland. It is perfectly clear the Irish have been led seriously to distrust anything that has been promised by the present Government. That feeling of distrust will be a grave danger to the Empire at the present moment, and at this crisis we cannot afford to allow distrust to be rampant either in this country or in Ireland.
Is it possible to prevent this? I have asked for some definite guarantee. I believe there can be no guarantee unless it is put into this Bill in some shape or form. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Irish Secretary has considered the suggestion that I put into an Amendment which I had upon the Paper, but I will venture to submit to him that it is worth consideration, if it is only from the point of view of making it perfectly certain in the minds of Irishmen, and of everyone in this country, that their promises are bound to be carried into effect before this particular measure is made applicable to Ireland. It would be possible, I believe, to put the Irish Government Act into operation at a day's notice. There is nothing except the necessity to amend it in order to meet the requirements of the Convention. There is nothing that will prevent that Act, which stands as a Statute on our Statute Book, being put into operation. The only requirement is the Order in Council settling the appointed day. I have suggested in my Amendment that this House should lay down that the Conscription of Ireland should not take effect until that Order in Council was made. The Order in Council would of course be made in such a form that it would not preclude necessary Amendments in the Bill the Government were going to propose, and I believe that if the Government would accept that it would have the very dramatic effect we want to have. We want Irishmen in particular to realise that, even if they have had to submit to the superior force— because that is what it is—of this Parliament in respect to this particular measure 1964 of Conscription, at any rate, they know then that in a very short time at a particular day to be specified, a system of local administration in Ireland will be absolutely certain. They will also know that, unless the House of Lords agreed to that Bill, they were preventing Conscription taking place in Ireland.
I make that suggestion. I dare say it does not meet with the full approval of my hon. Friends who represent Ireland. It does not meet the principle of their opposition that there ought to be no Conscription applied to Ireland at all except with the consent of the elected representatives of Ireland. In that I sympathise with them, but, inasmuch as there is no such Parliament in existence, and inasmuch as this is going to pass into a Statute, even though they say it cannot be carried out, would it not be better to accept such a suggestion as I have made, that it should not come into operation until His Majesty in Council has definitely decided that Home Rule is to be made effective at a particular day? I cannot help believing that, although my suggestion would not moot the objection of those naturally opposed to this proposal, it would achieve a very great result, because it would once and for all have made it certain that we do mean to have a Home Rule Parliament established in Ireland.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
I would ask the Committee to allow me to say to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that if in the course of his speech to-day I seemed in any unwarrantable way to interrupt him, I offer my apology to the right hon. Gentleman, and I want to say here and now that in my experience of the Government of Ireland by England I have never known an Englishman who went to Ireland with better faith and with a stronger purpose of advancing and promoting a cordial intent and the best relationship between Ireland and England. The right hon. Gentleman from the beginning has been most sincere in his desire to help Ireland, but here we are confronted with a most curious position. We are not merely going through the stages of making a statutory enactment of this Parliament. We are going through a tragedy—a tragedy for Ireland, a tragedy for this country, a tragedy for the Allied nations, and a tragedy for humanity. In this measure the Government are seeking to enforce Conscription on an unwilling country, an un emancipated country. The 1965 Government are seeking to do in respect to Ireland what we would denounce the Germans for doing in respect to Belgium or Poland or Alsace-Lorraine, and the Government of this country have no better right to force Ireland to send her sons into this War than Germany has at this moment to force Belgium, which she has overrun, to send her sons into the fighting ranks of the Army of the Huns.
From any point of view, I imagine it will be admitted that the proposal of the Government in regard to Ireland is serious. This matter has admittedly been considered by the Government and by the Government Committees on three occasions. On each of the three occasions the Government came to the conclusion that not only in justice to Ireland, but in view of advancing the prospects of this country, of bringing the War to a speedy conclusion, it would be detrimental to this country to introduce Conscription in Ireland. I am going to ask the Chief Secretary a specific question which, I think, is of very serious consequence. Did the right hon. Gentleman advise the Government to introduce Conscription for Ireland? I listened to his speech with probably less patience than I should have exercised, and I did not gather from his speech that he had advised the Government to try to conscript Ireland. Are we, the representatives of five-sixths of the people of Ireland, entitled to know when the Government act? We know they do not act on our advice or with our concurrence. It is an extreme thing, as an Irish Nationalist Member with responsibility to my Constituency, to ask the right hon. Gentleman as the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Was it he who advised the Government at this particular stage to introduce this measure of Conscription?
There is a representative of the War Cabinet here (Mr. Barnes), and he is a very old friend of mine. He is a Labour Member. He was returned for his Constituency largely by the votes of Irish Nationalists. If the Chief Secretary is unable to tell me, I ask the right hon. Gentleman the present Labour Member in the Cabinet, Was the War Cabinet advised by anybody, with authority to speak in reference to Ireland, to put Conscription for Ireland into this Bill? If the Government have done it without seeking the advice and concurrence of the Chief Secretary of Ireland—the man above all others who is entitled to speak with information 1966 from any part of Ireland—then I say they are not only enacting a, tragedy, but are committing a crime of the grossest description that a Government ever committed. Let me consider this position —I am sure the Chief Secretary would like it to be considered a little. If the Government has not taken advice from anybody, that is criminal folly on the part of the Government. There has been sitting in Ireland for seven months, or a little longer, a Convention which was set up by the Government, which is the creature of the Government. Perhaps it was nothing more than a device of the Government in its inception; in any case, this Convention, amongst other things, considered the question of Conscription in Ireland. I have heard the findings of the Committee of this Convention, with which the Chief Secretary is acquainted, considered and discussed in this House. I have heard the present Chairman of the Ulster party, representing the Orangemen of Ireland, speak with reference to the decision of the Conference on Conscription. What did he say? He admitted that the Convention, by a majority, confirmed this Resolution. You had a warning from the hierarchy of Ireland. The Standing Committee of the bishops of Ireland plainly tell the Government that the adoption by the Government of Conscription for Ireland would end in untold disaster in its immediate effects in Ireland, and could not possibly bring any result which would help this country to win the War.
Who has advised the Government? I put that question to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackfriars, who is sitting now on the Treasury Bench, who is a member of the War Cabinet, who was formerly a respected member of the Labour party—and still is—and who was returned for his constituency largely by Irish votes. I ask him, Did the Government, on this occasion, act on the advice of the Chief Secretary for Ireland? The Chief Secretary, I think, has disclaimed, so far as he is concerned, any complicity in regard to Conscription. The Chief Secretary understands—is bound to understand—the situation. He is bound to have had advice from every parish in Ireland, from every section of the people, and he must know whether the introduction of Conscription into Ireland is going to help the Army and the Government or whether it is not. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, although we who sit on these benches are not seised with the knowledge 1967 which is communicated to the right hon. Gentleman and to Dublin Castle, that he cannot be unaware of the fact that from every source in Ireland the Government are warned that if it seeks to put Conscription into Ireland it can only do so through the most bloody scenes that have ever been perpetrated by an English Government in Ireland. I again ask the Chief Secretary, Is he the man responsible for advising the Government, so that now the Government is in the position of rushing Conscription on Ireland. I need not pause for an answer, because I am quite certain the right hon. Gentleman is not in a position to answer the question. If the right hon. Gentlemen has taken upon himself the responsibility of advising the Government, in face of the advice given to the Government by the Convention and by the bishops of Ireland in these resolutions which are published in the Press day after day, he has taken on himself a greater and much more serious responsibility than any Chief Secretary for Ireland has ever before undertaken.
Let me pass from that. Let me suppose the Government has acted without advice from anybody in introducing Conscription. There is still the locus penitentiœ. There is still time for the Government to repent— and to withdraw. Will the Government withdraw? The right hon. Gentleman says nothing. He has been spoken to from those benches by my friend and colleague the Member for West. Belfast who represents the youth, and manhood, and the industry of Ireland in a way that probably no Member of this House of Commons represents any section of the people of this country. He has warned the Government. The Government has had a warning from the Leader of the Nationalist party. Does that move the Government?
§ Mr. SCANLAN
Does the Government pay any attention to that? To the opinions expressed by the elected representatives of the great majority of the people of Ireland? If that does not avail, will the voice of those who represent Labour in this country have any effect upon the Government? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle, who was until quite recently a member of the War Cabinet, and who gave the Government advice in regard to Russia, which, if it had been acted upon, might have made the situation quite different from what it 1968 is to-day, but who had his advice flouted, he has spoken quite as emphatically to-day in regard to Ireland. He has spoken if the Act which may be as serious and vital in regard to winning or losing the War as your conduct in regard to Russia. Does his advice count for nothing? Is his advice to be treated as being quite as futile and idle as the advice which you may get from our benches? Neglect his advice if you will. The Government may continue in office, but be assured that on those benches the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle will take your place whenever the public of this country have an opportunity of coming to a decision. You flouted his advice, and you have flouted ours. We represent Irish democracy, while the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle represents the British democracy. What do you think you are as a Government? Will nothing move you? Are you going, in a spirit of stubbornness, to persist in a course against all the advice tendered to you? I suppose our advice is of no account, and you are prepared to say, although I defy you to say it, or anybody on the Treasury Bench, that you despise or condemn the Labour party in this country.
You have heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle, the present Chairman of the Labour party (Mr. Adamson), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) appeal to you. You have also heard, not only to-night, but on previous occasions, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, who led this country in the War and who made great sacrifices for the War. Is it going to be said by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, or by the Prime Minister, that the late Prime Minister thinks lightly on questions which affect, the welfare of this country and the Empire, and which enter into the vital matter to everybody concerned of winning the War? The former Prime Minister advised you, as strongly as you could be advised, that if you embark upon Conscription in Ireland you are not taking a step towards winning the War, but you are doing something which will weaken and imperil the Allies in the contest in which they are engaged. Against all this mass of evidence and advice the Government stand up and Say, "We will have none of it. We are inexorable, and we will carry out our views." What is the consequence of it?
1969 It is going to be that instead of having 70,000 British soldiers in Ireland away from the fighting line, you must reinforce their ranks and multiply them by probably double that number.
Do not think that the labour section of this country will thank you for the tragedy you are seeking to enact to-night. The labour democracy of this country will not thank you for it, and Ireland will curse you for it, and the great peoples of the Dominions of this Empire must feel, and they will find expression for their views, that this country is committing a suicidal act in trying to enforce Conscription upon Ireland by dangling, as you would dangle a carrot before an ass, Home Rule before them. Do you mean to put this Bill into operation before you set up Home Rule in Ireland? If you are merely promising Home Rule, do you expect, in view of the previous treatment of Ireland by this Government and by its predecessors, that the people of Ireland will believe you when you say you are introducing a measure of Home Rule which will settle all questions between Ireland and this country? I think the head of this Government will go down to the history with a reputation for the promises he has made.
Does the Government seriously mean to carry out Home Rule for Ireland? We ought not to be left in doubt about this point, and we ought to know before this Clause is passed from the Government whether it is their intention to defer the operation of Clause 2 until Home Rule is set up and in operation. I ask the Chief Secretary or some member of the Government to give us an assurance and a declaration on that point. I want to feel secure that no attempt will be made by the Government to carry out this Bill until Home Rule is set up and in operation. I ask if that is the view of the Government and the Chief Secretary? If that is so, what the Government's intention is must be merely to get an admission of the principle that Ireland can be conscripted. Then it is not men you want, but merely a principle. In the first place, we want you to put into effect a measure of self-government which will put Ireland in the same position and on an equal footing with Canada or South Africa, and then come forward and ask Ireland whether or not she is prepared to have Conscription enacted.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Colonel Lord HENRY CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
No one is more aware than myself of the extreme gravity of the 1970 present crisis, and no one is more unwilling than myself to do anything to embarrass the Government. No one is more aware of the great responsibility of doing so, but at the same time I do feel most acute responsibility in voting for what I consider to be a most unfortunate and ill-advised measure. I cannot help thinking that this proposal as a military measure is almost entirely valueless, and on the balance, if you count heads, you will be a very small gainer indeed, whereas as regards moral you will be a great loser. As regards the men you will get, your proposal will be regarded by every conscript as a declaration of war against their nationality and as a mark of subjection. Of what value will your conscripts be? If this measure is valueless from the military point of view, the political result probably will be simply disastrous. We have seen already that there is disunion here at a time when we most emphatically want all the union we can possibly get, and this is a peculiar act of faithlessness to those Nationalist Members who have defended the cause of Britain at the risk of their own Parliamentary popularity. It will destroy all hope of reconciliation. It will drive all moderate elements into the hands of the extremists. Not only that, but it will fatally prejudice us in the eyes of the world. The only advantage that I can possibly see is that it will give satisfaction to those elements who have always pursued the Irish nation with ill-will and whose only idea of governing Ireland is to govern it on the principle of Cromwell. It will turn Ireland, as Mr. Disraeli once said in this House, into the bane of England and the opprobium of Europe.
I do not want to do anything to embarrass the Government, but I would make this appeal to them with all the sincerity that I can possibly command, namely, to begin their operations in the right way. Let them begin their recruiting operations by first of all getting the goodwill of the Irish people. Let them bring in a measure of Home Rule and trust to the generosity of a generous, spirited, and high-minded people to do the rest, and I am sure that they will not be disappointed. If they must go forward with this measure, let them, at all events, hang it up until an Irish Parliament has had an opportunity of saying whether it is willing to agree to it or not. There is 1971 nobody who deplores more than I do that the Irish people are not standing on our aide more whole-heartedly than they are, but I would like to take this opportunity of protesting against taunts which I have heard made against the Irish people on the ground of lack of loyalty and of courage. I have had the opportunity of serving in the Dardanelles with some of the Irish regiments. I have served with them in the trenches, and I have followed them in attacks, and I know very well that they are not lacking either in courage or loyalty. I must say that it fills me with disgust to hear these taunts levelled at them. I know perfectly well that there is intense irritation on the part of large sections of Englishmen that the Irish people are not doing more for us in this titanic struggle in which we are engaged, and it is a monstrous thing really that young Irishmen are not serving when we have to recruit men up to the age of fifty. I do not think that the British democracy, however, is prepared to take up an attitude so devoid of understanding and sympathy as to impute the whole and entire blame for this state of things to the Irish people. They remember—at least, I think so—that the Irish people for generations have had a passionate longing to govern themselves. The fact that that passionate longing has been thwarted has not only coloured all their thinking, but has twisted and distorted it, so that they cannot look upon anything from the same point of view as ourselves. I really think that the British democracy are not prepared to throw the whole blame upon the Irish people, but that they remember that if our Government had had the courage at the beginning of this War to put the Home Rule Bill into operation things would have been very different. I hope I may not be thought to be a hopeless idealist if I say that I really sincerely believe that our success in this War depends upon the measure in which we are true to our ideals and our principles. I really believe that the mission of Great Britain in the world is to enlarge, not power and dominion, but liberty and justice. I really believe if we set up the standard of liberty and justice in Ireland that the Irish people will flock to our standard.
§ Mr. DONNELLY
I intervene, for the first time, in a Debate in this House, and I do so because I feel it my duty upon this grave matter to express what I know 1972 to be the views of the Constituents who elected me to an Ulster seat some time ago. What I have to say I will say shortly and with a full sense of the responsibility that is imposed upon me by the gravity of the situation. As a new Member, I listened with deep attention to the speech of the Prime Minister some nights ago when he introduced these proposals, and there was irresistibly borne in upon me the conclusion that I had never heard a more glaring example of the futility of Englishmen governing the destinies of Ireland. The suddenness of the proposal, the implied threats with which they were accompanied, the cynical brutality with which Irish responsible opinion was and is being ignored brand these proposals as one of the darkest pages in the history of the relations between England and Ireland. You suddenly, and without warning, attempt to inflict Conscription upon a people for the most part peacefully engaged in supporting you in this War in the best way that they can by supplying your nation with food and with War necessities. If a proposal to conscript the men of England and Scotland had been put forward in this House at any time during the War with the same disregard for the feelings of the people and had been carried out with the same indecent haste and without discussion, I venture to say that Britain and its Press would have been up in arms, that the hon. Members of this House would be indignant at the liberties of the people being imposed upon, and that any Government, however strong, would be swept out of office within twenty-four hours. But it is only Ireland with which we are dealing. It is only one of the little nations. When listening to the Prime Minister the other night I found it difficult to believe that he was the same Lloyd George who has raised his eloquent voice in paying tributes to the small nations. If I may, I will read an extract from a speech delivered by him at the Albert Hall, London, in 1914, at the beginning of the Armageddon that is convulsing the whole of Europe. He said:Their heroic deeds have thrilled through generations; the heroic deeds of little nations fighting for their freedom. God has chosen the little nations as the vessels by which he carries the choicest wines to the lips of humanity, to rejoice their hearts, to exalt their vision, to stimulate and strengthen their faith, and if we had stood by when the little nations were being smashed and broken by the brutal hands of barbarism, our shame would ring down through the everlasting ages.1973 What does he and his Government propose to do now to our little nation? Do they not propose to crush and to break us with the very militarism that they profess to take up arms to destroy on the Continent? Do you know to-day all Ireland, from North to South, is affirming and supporting the protest of the Irish Nationalists? Hon. Members may not be aware that every hour communications are coming from Unionists to every member of this party from every part of Ireland asking them to resist these proposals to the uttermost of their strength. Surely something ought to dissuade the Government from the fatal course they are pursuing. Does not the unanimous vote of the Sub-committee of the Convention they themselves created not carry any weight? The considered declarations of the Irish hierarchy, the practically unanimous declarations of every public body in Ireland—are they matters of indifference to the present Government? If so, you have made a dangerous miscalculation; you have miscalculated the temper and the steadfastness of the Irish race. If you pursue your present course you stand convicted before the world as a nation of hypocrites. [An Hon. Member: "That is what they are"! You ask Irishmen to bear equal responsibility with you and you deny them equal rights. I admit that citizenship of a nation carries with it responsibilities and duties, but for over thirty years the hon. Members of this party have come to this Chamber and have asked you for the rights of freedom, but you have denied them. How then do you expect them to ask their people to be unwilling slaves in this matter of Conscription? We are told in one of the Prime Minister's speeches that honour is a reality and that any nation that disregards it is doomed. Judged by this test, then the present Government is condemned. You have broken, not once but many times, your pledged words of honour to the Irish people. Perhaps the Government of the hour are prepared to follow the "Spectator's" advice and shoot and leave Ireland in a welter of blood. Perhaps you may be prepared to drive Irishmen at the chariot wheels of your war machine, but I say with all my heart that you are striking a blow at the very Empire of which you boast, and you are destroying for generations, if not for all time, the healing balm of reconciliation that was making for the end of the centuries of misunderstanding between the two nations.
§ Mr. D. BOYLE
I hope I may venture as a colleague to offer my congratulations to the last speaker. I am sure that for a calm, unimpassioned statement of the Irish case his speech could hardly be rivalled. I, like so many others who have spoken from these benches, have to proclaim at once that from the very start my whole sympathy was with the Government of this country and with this country in the War. At this moment no man can be oblivious to the critical situation in which the Army of this country is placed, and my disposition would be, so far as I possibly could, to help them to extricate themselves and to strengthen their arms against the common enemy. I have the greatest sympathy with the British people, among whom most of my life has been spent, in the sacrifices they have made and are making, and which this Bill calls upon them to make. I have the greatest admiration for the manner in which they have met those sacrifices. The only dilution in that feeling is that they deny to me the right to share in their hours of difficulty on equal terms. Until I feel that I am placed on equal terms there is a fly in the amber so far as I am concerned. The Government of this country have it in their power, and have had it in their power for a long time, to place Ireland on equal terms. Whatever the causes, they have failed to do that. As an Irishman, I feel that the Government of this country have no moral right to force the people of Ireland to enter their service compulsorily and to take up arms under compulsion in defence of the interests of this country. I want the Government of this country to make it possible for us to feel that your quarrel is in the truest sense of the word our quarrel, and that we can enter upon that defence with you upon equality of terms, but influences, from wherever they come, have prevented that measure of justice being done to Ireland which would ensure a ready and hearty response to any appeal which was made to enter upon a common defence. You had an illustration in 1914, when the War broke out, of what even at that stage the putting of a Home Rule Act upon the Statute Book meant and what it resulted in in the ready and enthusiastic response which was made by the Irish people even under very difficult and trying conditions. I remember visiting my Constituency soon after the War broke out. When I came back here the late Mr. Redmond asked me how 1975 I found feeling in my Constituency. I told him I found more war enthusiasm amongst the people of Mayo than amongst the people of this country and more of a genuine desire to see the arms of this country successful, and, what had never happened in the whole history of Ireland's association with this country since the Act of Union, bands of soldiers who had enlisted were being seen off on the railway stations, by Nationalist bands amidst the plaudits of the country. Then the Home Rule Act was hung up. Then promises were made that there must be amending Acts. Then distrust set in. One distrust followed another, until in the end the people of Ireland had no belief in the promises made by the Government of this country, and while we have no quarrel with the democracy of the country, who have not turned their back upon their principles or upon Ireland, we have a quarrel, and we have distrust in our hearts of the Government of the country. We do not believe what they say to us. No promises, however specious and however definite, from that bench will satisfy us. We must have a genuine measure of Home Rule, not a distrustful, hesitating, halting measure, but a real measure trusting the people of Ireland put into operation, and then trust to the response the people of Ireland will make.
My hon. Friend (Mr. Devlin) this afternoon said there must be no bargaining. There must be no bargaining. We do not offer to accept Conscription as a condition of getting that generous message of Home Rule that I have outlined, but we promise this, that you will have created an atmosphere which brought about the conditions of 1914 and the enthusiasm of 1914, and having created that atmosphere you need have no hesitation in trusting to its consequences. The young Irishmen are asked to go into this War by Conscription. Conscription by whom? Of course the British people have accepted Conscription, because it is the act of their duly elected representatives. It is all right for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to talk about what has happened in other places. It is all right for him to tell us what President Lincoln said. It is a most amusing picture to me to see him posing as the modern Lincoln. He did not look a bit like the picture, and we are not a bit afraid of his threats. I do not want either to utter any threat or to bring about a condition of feeling 1976 upon the Front Bench which will lead to the carrying out of threats. Ever since, as a boy, my blood was enthused by the movement inaugurated by the late Mr. Parnell and Mr. Davitt, my desire has been to see friendly relations established between the peoples of these two countries. I believe we were on the high road to this until the Government failed to perform the pledges which they had made to the people of Ireland. There is not the slightest use in members of the Government asking the people of Ireland to accept Conscription on condition that it is held up until a Home Rule Act is put on the Statute Book. The Prime Minister said it must be a Bill which is acceptable. To whom does he mean it is to be acceptable? The right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) very soon followed that up, uttering a note of warning as to what would be the likelihood of anything being introduced which might not be acceptable to him.
In this matter we Nationalists do not speak only for Ireland. There is a great deal of talk in this House about the British Empire. There is an Irish Empire as well, and Ireland itself is the least part of it. You have at this moment, surging over the Atlantic to your Western Front in France and in Flanders, hundreds of thousands of men of Irish birth, whose souls are as deeply centred with the ranks of Ireland as any man's on these benches. Are you going to meet them half-way on their journey by a wireless message to say that England's method of giving freedom to Ireland is by giving Conscription to Ireland? Do not think these men will go into the fight under these conditions with light hearts. Make no mistake about it. If you want to bring your British Empire wholeheartedly into this War you must bring your Irish Empire into it as well, by one act of kindness, one act of generous treatment, by putting into practice what you preach and putting the Home Rule Act into operation, and leaving some of us who are getting old men to see, before it is too late, that Irish Parliament for which we have striven doing the work of Ireland. Then Irishmen can turn their hearts and attention and their strong arms into supporting you in your hour of trouble in this War, making common cause with you; but if you expect that Irishmen, with the brand of inferiority on their brow, and the brand of distrust and the brand of being considered un- 1977 worthy of self-government still on their brow, to go out and take up arms for you, you are terribly mistaken.
I hate to think of the possibilities of what is going to follow unless the mind of England is wakened up, and unless the mind of the Government is wakened. I hate to think of the bloodshed, and I hate to think of the obstruction of the law; you are offering us no alternative. The people of Ireland will not accept promises. They must have performances, visible to their eyes, an Irish Parliament meeting in their own country and making laws for their own country. If you trust to their generosity to respond to your appeal in your hour of difficulty I think you will have no reason to regret your trust. The hon. Member for West Belfast made a proposal this afternoon. He said that if you would give Ireland a generous measure of Colonial Home Rule, not having provisions in every line that the Irish Parliament shall do this and shall not do that, he will himself don the uniform of an Army which in the opinion of Ireland will then be fighting for liberty, and he will do everything to get his countrymen to take the same view. That is a generous offer, but I have not heard from the Government Bench any reciprocation of that offer. I have not heard any acceptance of it. Are you again going to allow the generosity of Ireland, the offer of the hand of friendship of Ireland to be spurned, or are you going to accept that generous offer with all its consequences: freedom for us, the craving of our souls satisfied, the brand of inferiority removed from us, and the strong right arms of a virile people ungrudgingly given to help you in your hour of difficulty?
This Clause, like most of the parts of the Bill, has been submitted to the House on the grounds of expediency. The Prime Minister and every subsequent speaker from the Government Bench have clearly laid it down that so far as they are concerned it is not a question of principle but pure expediency that necessitates at this time the introduction of this measure. Therefore, I am going to examine the two grounds upon which the Government are justifying this expediency. First they say that they are compelled to introduce this Clause for the Conscription of Ireland in order to justify the remaining proposals of the Bill. Certain sections of the Press for days prior to the introduction of the Bill endeavoured to prejudice the Irish position by the unfair 1978 suggestion that single men in Ireland are going free and men of fifty are being taken in this country. I want to meet that challenge and see exactly how much value can be attached to it, because unless the Government really mean that, Ireland is to be conscripted on the same terms and the same conditions and the same time as the remainder of the United Kingdom then the first argument to justify this Bill absolutely falls to the ground, and they have then to justify their conduct to the people they have deceived. It is no use saying to the British people, "We want you to accept Conscription because it is applied to Ireland," and then round when it has not been applied and try to justify it on some other grounds.
The Chief Secretary this afternoon said that it was going to be applied in precisely the same way as it was applied in this country, and went on to refer to the fact that in this country it was single men first, and so on. Clearly he could not have had this Clause in his mind, because he entirely forgot the fact that the single man justification of the first Conscription Bill in this country was a Bill applied to single men alone and had no reference to married men whatever. In other words what is contained in this Clause was contained in two Bills of Conscription in this country. If it is to be applied in Ireland you have to consider what was the method of applying it in this country, because if the object is the immediate crisis I want to ask how it is going to be applied. First we had in this country a Registration Bill and when that Bill had gone through the various stages in this House a Special Committee was set up to give effect to it. Lord Lansdowne was Chairman and two Members of this House sat on that Committee. I was a member and we sat eleven weeks with mutual good will, in order to put into operation the Registration Bill. The whole of the teaching staff of this country voluntarily gave their efforts, and in the summer of that year they voluntarily gave up their holidays in order to put that measure into operation. If it took eleven weeks in this country, with mutual good will, with co-operation and with every kind of assistance, are we not justified in assuming that at least three months will be required to set up that situation which is the first essential before Conscription can be introduced in Ireland.
I take the second point. The basis of the first Conscription Act, and of every subsequent Conscription Act, and indeed 1979 of certain provisions in this Bill, is that there should be a right of appeal. That right of appeal is determined by the tribunal system as we have it in this country. Again I submit that it is going to take some time to set up the tribunals in Ireland. I am assuming for the moment, for the purposes of my argument, good will. Speakers from the benches opposite are best able to judge the validity of that assumption. I am endeavouring to show that with the most generous consideration given to it, it will be practically impossible to get any real effect from this measure under four months. Therefore, I ask what becomes of the justification on the ground of expediency? Certain other things follow. If there is any truth—and I believe there is truth—in the statement that this will be not only opposed, but bitterly resented, you have this curious situation created. At a time when men are essential, when soldiers are of vital necessity, when the Government tell us that man-power alone matters, you by this Act will have to maintain in Ireland trained men who might be used for the emergency we are faced with at this moment. Let us consider the next aspect of the question. Since the commencement of the War, and more especially following the introduction of Conscription into this country, there has been, and there are at this moment, thousands of Irishmen who have been brought over here at the Government request, and who are under contract in different parts of the country engaged in munitions and other kinds of work. The first effect of the passing of this Clause will be that these men will go back to Ireland, and you will lose in that way probaby more men from industrial work than you will be able to replace by raising the age from forty-one to fifty-one years. I submit, therefore, that on the ground of helping the Army, on the ground of helping to prosecute the War, on the ground of providing men, it would be absurd to give effect to this Clause as it now stands.
But I want to take an even broader aspect of the question. Something has been said about the American position. Anyone who has visited the States since the War began, or who knows anything about President Wilson's difficulties, must be aware that apart from the question of Home Rule the Irish influence is felt in every town and State in America, and speakers from this side of the Atlantic 1980 have to deal with it when they address any audiences there. Apart from that, the one danger and difficulty of the American Government is in what is called the I.W.W. It is no secret that the American Federation of Labour, with Mr. Samuel Gompers at the head of it, is in real conflict with what is called the I.W.W. The difficulty is so serious that the Australian Government on the recommendation of its present Premier, taking a very alarmist view of the situation, actually passed a motion expelling people attached to the I.W.W. I am not expressing any opinion upon their propaganda. I only want to point out the facts. The organiser in America for the I.W.W. is Larkin. We all know what he did in Ireland. He goes to America and is given an official post under the I.W.W. in Chicago, and from the day the War broke out he has done nothing but fight against the interests of this country. He has been arrested in America as an enemy to the country, and this is the man who at; this moment is one of the leaders of the I.W.W. What is going to happen? You are going to drive absolutely into his hands—into the hands of the enemy of this country and of America people who at this moment look upon that propaganda as absolutely dangerous to the best interests of the country. Surely we are entitled to ask the Government to seriously consider the effect of this kind of thing in the connection I have indicated.
It is known that the situation at Quebec has been serious for months and it was never more serious than it is at this moment. Can you conceive of anything that is going to help to aggravate that situation and to render it more difficult for the Canadian Government than the knowledge that the malcontents there have comrades in the same situation rebelling in Ireland against this country? These things ought to have been seriously considered by the Government. I think one of the greatest mistakes in connection with the introduction of this Bill was to have associated it in any way with the question of Home Rule for Ireland—Ireland which has felt grievances for years, which has been claiming justice for years, and whose claim has been recognised by the democracy of this country. To say in the midst of this crisis that you are going to meet that claim, long overdue and which we now recognise, by a bargain of another kind, was a great mistake. I know it was urged 1981 from that bench that it was not a bargain. It has been urged through the whole of these Debates that there is practically no connection between the two, but anyone who can try and visualise the atmosphere in Ireland to-day knows perfectly well that in spite of all the statements and all the speeches the great mass of the Irish people will look upon it as a bargain, and an unworthy bargain at that. We heard this evening something of the unfortunate history of Ireland so far as recruiting is concerned. I do not associate myself with the suggestion that Ireland has not been willing to do her part. I think the military interference and the military blunders are largely responsible. After the Easter riot, after all the atmosphere that was created by that uprising, my own union in Ireland was invited to get a thousand men for the Army in France. They approached my organisation, and the organiser there made it a condition that if the military kept out he would make an effort to obtain the men. The military were kept out, one of my own staff took up the work himself, got the thousand men in four weeks, and went to France with them. We are absolutely in dependent of the military, and we are sure that it only requires a spirit of mutual good will, co-operation, and confidence to win over the Irish people. I say that, as the appeal for Belgium and the issues of this War brought forward the sympathy and assistance of the Irish people in 1914, and in parts of 1915, the Irish people to day still recognise that Germany is no friend of ours, one may feel that England has not proved herself a friend. This Clause and this Bill justifies her feeling, but that does not prove that she is a friend of Germany. I do not believe, from my knowledge of the Irish people, that they want to be friends with Germany. I believe they recognise to the full that Germany is the enemy —
—and they have abundant evidence to make them suspicious. What I would say to the Government is this; Before the first Conscription Act was introduced into this country Lord Kitchener and the late Prime Minister called together the whole of the Labour forces in this country, and at that conference the position, serious as it, was then, but not nearly as serious as it is to-day, was put before the organised 1982 workers of this country. They said to them, "It is absolutely imperative that Conscription shall be introduced unless a certain number of men is obtained." I disagreed even with the threat of Conscription, but, at all events, every effort was made to consult, ascertain, and to get the opinions of those represented by the workers of this country. This proposal, was made, "We appeal to you to make an effort, a voluntary effort, in order to secure men in this hour of crisis." How much, better it would have been if the Government had consulted the representatives of the Irish people, had taken their opinion, had asked them for their advice and their co-operation ! I am quite sure the answer they would have got would have been the very natural and very right one—"Yes; help us and help yourselves by first trusting the Irish people."
The hon. Gentleman who has just arrived asks, "What about Sinn Fein?" [An HON. MEMBER: "What about his lost dispatch box? "] And my answer is, "What about the people who made them Sinn Feiners?"] You cannot, therefore, deal with opinions of this kind without going right deep down to the cause. Instead of interrupting, it would be better to ask yourself what your responsibility in the matter was. At all events I would put this proposition as well: I believe that when the full history of this War is written one of the governing factors that determined Germany in her mad plan will be found to have been a belief that Ireland was a danger spot, and would be a source of weakness to this country. We all know how proud we were when her anticipation was not justified then, but I am afraid that, by this action the Government are likely to create in 1918 what Germany anticipated in 1914. For all these reasons I would first say to the Government, Recognise that in regard to Conscription in this country, whatever may have been said about the merits of it, you had the advantage that organised Labour, having fought the battle in this House, pledged themselves that they would not make it uncomfortable in the country. Keep that fact in mind. When you talk about Conscription running smoothly in this country, it is due absolutely to the fact that everyone gave an absolute guarantee that whatever the opposition was in this House advantage of it would not be taken outside. You are 1983 meeting a different situation in Ireland, and you ought to take note of that fact. In the second place, I would ask you to remember that, so far as the Irish people are concerned, at this moment it is not true that the English point of view is merely "Because we are conscripted, you ought to be conscripted." The English democracy is more educated to it, and the English democracy says that you cannot fight with your best blood and treasure to obtain for Belgium what you are denying other people with whom you are more closely associated. Then I would also say that I am quite sure my Friends on the Irish Benches will not minimise the gravity of the situation. Those of us who had lads there—every home that is suffering in this country and is anxious at this moment—
§ 10.0 P.M.
Exactly! I am speaking at the moment from the English point of view. We ask that that should not be lost sight of. Equally also the Government ought not to have lost sight of it themselves, and Is till believe that if they were to withdraw this, if they were to show that it is not a bargain with them, and then proceed with the measure of sell-government, they would have shown to the Irish people that at last they are prepared to trust them, and the Irish would show that that trust and confidence were not misplaced.
§ Mr. FIELD
Every Member of this House, whether he was formerly a Tory, a Liberal, or a Labour Member, now declares that he is a democrat. If there is any reality about the democratic pretensions of the House of Commons, then this Bill is a direct violation of the principles of democracy. We are not pro-Germans. Every member of the Irish party has had someone, either in his own family or among his relations or friends, who have been killed in this War. Most of us went on recruiting platforms. I myself, as a Member for the City of Dublin, know that thousands enlisted voluntarily in the City of Dublin. I am a member of the Urban District Council of Black rock, and in that small district 400 soldiers enlisted voluntarily, and I think that not forty of these men are alive to-day, and yet we are told lay some Members that the Irish party have not taken their due part in the War. I deny that entirely. I heard the late Prime 1984 Minister speak on this question, and I think that he gave very wise advice to the Government. I am certain that the Government will not take heed of what I say or of what Irish Members say, but the late Prime Minister advised that caution should be used and time should be taken. An old Latin proverb says, "Festina lente"—hasten slowly. The manner in which the Government has proceeded in this particular matter is entirely opposed to the way in which it acted in the case of England. The right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas), and other Members from different portions of Scotland and England, have spoken in a manner encouraging to Ireland.
It is true that Irish opinion has been and is being ignored, and it would almost appear, such is the condition of affairs, that it is not desired to know it. Surely, in such a matter as this, one so gravely interfering with the liberty of the Irish people, and of such vast importance, the representatives of that, people should have been consulted before the step was taken of introducing into the Bill this Clause affecting Ireland. Commonsense should have dictated that course, and I do not regard it as improbable that, some commonsense does exist on that bench. [An Hon. Member: "Very little!"]I May I offer the suggestion, in the interest,? of the Government, as well as in the interests of Ireland, that this Clause should be withdrawn from the Bill? I submit that should be done in the interests of bringing about reconciliation between the two countries, of bringing the two peoples together, and for the attainment of that object I hope that at least more time will be given to the consideration of the Government proposal, especially in view of what is likely to happen if it is proceeded with. The Bill is opposed to all constitutional law, for it forces upon Ireland the principle of Conscription, to which she is wholly opposed. Anyone who reads the Irish papers will see that the bishops and public bodies all over Ireland have declared their opposition to this measure, and, in the face of such resistance, I appeal to right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench, if they desire to obtain the co-operation of the Irish people and of brave Irish soldiers, to withdraw this Clause. The hon. Member for Sligo put several questions to the Chief Secretary which evoked from the right hon. Gentleman an expression of his sympathy; but 1985 while we all recognise his sincerity, I would point out to him that a certain place is paved with good intentions. What we want is some effort at conciliation of Ireland, and thus give effect to the speeches we have heard from hon. Members opposite, that have afforded Members on these benches some measure of encouragement. It is not going too far to say that this Bill has been sprung upon the House, and that we really scarcely realise the situation. That being so, more time ought to be given for reconsideration, which, I hope, will lead to the abandonment of a project fraught with such enormous and evil consequences. As one hon. Member said a little while since, you have not only an English Empire but an Irish Empire. I have had occasion to travel backwards and forwards between England and Ireland many times, and I have met many soldiers from Australia, Canada and New Zealand, men of Irish descent who have come over to fight your battles and have gone to visit Ireland. All that is a proof that the Irish race all over the world have come to the front and endeavoured to help you. I have no wish to detain the House any longer, but I would forcibly appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his decision. Give us Home Rule first, and after that you will have the co-operation of the Irish people.
Mr. H. SAMUEL
We are approaching the end of a Debate of great interest and importance, and the moment has come when we can take stock of what has occurred this afternoon and when each of us must decide the course he will take when the Division is called. We have had from the Irish Benches a series of speeches of outspoken and uncompromising hostility to the proposal of the Government for the immediate application of Conscription to Ireland. With the general substance of the arguments that have been expressed from those benches I desire whole-heartedly to associate myself. It seems to me that the measure proposed by the Government is indeed one of grave political wisdom. Superficially, it would appear that the argument is a very strong one for applying to Ireland the same measures of compulsory service which have so long been borne by the people of Great Britain, and are now to be greatly increased and strengthened. The inequality in the treatment of the young men of the two isles is indeed obvious and glaring. Logically the case, may be con 1986 sidered to be a strong one—as strong indeed, as Professor Pollard pointed out only a day or two ago, as was the case for taxing the American colonies for the payment of a war which had been waged largely in their own defence. That measure, like this measure, appealed forcibly to large sections of opinion in this country. It may be said that in that case it was a question of imposing taxation while you denied representation, and my hon. Friend opposite, who is disposed to criticise the point I am making, evidently concurs there. But what is the use of the representation of the Irish people in this House if you pay no more attention to what they say when they come here than if they had not spoken? Representation is only of value if the expressions of opinion of the representatives are accepted as being the voice of the people who sent them, and if in matters affecting their constituents it is followed as a guide.
I have no doubt we shall all agree that it would have been far better for both countries if the Irish people could in this War have risen to this height of magnanimity and could have said, "True we have been misgoverned in many ways for many long centuries; true that even now you disappoint our hopes of the self-government which you had promised us by failing to put into operation the Home Rule Act which now stands on the Statute Book; true that your methods of recruiting in Ireland offend the sentiments of the people and are out of sympathy with their desires; still, in spite of all this, the cause in which the British Empire is now engaged is supreme and just, and we will throw our strength whole-heartedly into this War on your side. The leaders of the Irish people, headed by Mr. Redmond, did indeed endeavour to induce them to take that course, but perhaps it was too much to have expected from any nation, and so it has proved. For centuries we in this Parliament have governed the Irish people against their will, and by methods against which they have protested, and we are now bearing the inevitable nemesis. Of the speeches which have been made from the Irish Benches this afternoon, I am sure that one in particular deeply impressed all those who heard it—I mean the speech of the hon. Member for West Belfast—and the conclusion of that speech profoundly moved all those who were present in the House at the time. "Give us," he said, "at least the full self-government for which we ask, and even now we will 1987 throw ourselves whole-heartedly into this conflict. I will be the first to don khaki and to lead my fellow-countrymen into the field by your side." That is what anyone who has studied history would know would have been the inevitable result of granting liberty. Deny liberty and you will not get loyalty. The moment you concede it the loyalty comes of itself. There is precedent even in the history of Ireland. When, after long controversy and dispute, at last a self-governing Parliament was set up in Ireland in Grattan's day, almost the first action that Parliament took was, not to cause embarrassment to the Parliament of Great Britain, not to put a spoke in the wheel of British policy, but to vote 20,000 men for the British Fleet.
We have had to-day many appeals from different quarters of the House to the Government to adopt a policy of conciliation in this matter. My right hon. Friend the Member for Fife from one standpoint, the right hon. Member for Barnard Castle from another, and, not less noteworthy, three members of the Unionist party—the Members for South Birmingham, Central Hull, and South Nottingham—have all urgently appealed to the Government, not to attempt to dragoon the Irish people in this matter, not in this time of international conflict to endeavour to govern Ireland merely by means of coercion, with the defects it must inevitably have upon the opinion of Irish soldiers already serving in our Army, upon Irish working-men in Great Britain, upon Irishmen throughout the Dominions and in America, holding the whole British Empire up to scandal in the eyes of the world. I feel certain that the whole House welcomes cordially certain expressions in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and one sentence in particular, of great significance and importance, and by far, I venture to suggest, the most important thing that has been said to-day in any quarter. The Chief Secretary, the Minister responsible for Irish administration, speaking to-day on behalf of the Government, used these words:It is designed that, an Act for the establishment of a self-governing Parliament should be placed upon the Statute Root before any Irishman is called to the Colours under this Rill.
I have heard the words that have just been said by the Chief Secretary with equal surprise and disappointment.
Surprise, because not only was it my own recollection, but what I have stated is my recollection, fortified by a note I made at the moment.
I understood the right hon. Gentleman in the same sense. I say "disappointment" because I felt when I heard that sentence—or thought I heard it from the right hon. Gentleman—that there was a possibility of escape from the grave situation in which this House now finds itself in respect to Ireland. I still hope that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer speaks he may be able to tell us, not merely that he will introduce a Bill for self-government for Ireland—we have been told that already—not merely that he will press it forward with all speed —because that, also, we have been assured—but that that process will continue simultaneously with the preliminaries, which will necessarily take some time—as we have been told by the Minister of National Service—before any com- 1989 pulsory measure can be put into operation in Ireland, and that it is the hope, desire, and intention of the Government that the Bill shall reach the Statute Book before it is necessary actually to apply the effect of compulsory military service in Ireland. We need an assurance, not merely that the Bill will be introduced, and introduced soon, but that it will be pressed through Parliament with, at least, the same resolution as the Bill which is now before this House of Commons. We need an assurance, too, that if from any quarter of the Houses—I do not want to be 3, prophet of evil—I am not at all assuming that it will be the case—that if my light hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dublin University were to raise some objection to the provisions of the Bill that the Government would not, therefore, regard that as a fatal objection to proceeding with it.
I speak as one who has supported the Government in every one of their measures for the prosecution of this War. I have voted both for the First and Second Readings of this Bill, although many of its provisions are distasteful to me. If I have criticised—as I have criticised—the Government in speeches at the beginning of this Session, I have criticised them, not for doing too much for the successful prosecution of the War, but for having done what, in my judgment, was too little with respect to shipbuilding and other matters, or for not having taken measures calculated to secure our success in the War. For our success in the War we have to consider not only one factor; we have to consider not only our military strength. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was a question of men, and we must have them, and he said that the Government must press forward this Clause for that reason and for no other reason commensurate with it. On that doctrine we should take every young man engaged in shipbuilding, agriculture, and what not.
1990 The Minister of National Service has told us that that would be the surest and the quickest way of losing the War. There is not only the military and the economic factors to be considered, but there is a third factor which is of supreme importance in our strength, and ft is the moral factor. We have a cause which is right and methods which are clean, and let us make sure that we are practising at home the policy which we are preaching as our aim in this War. Hon. Members are very short-sighted if they think that the strength of the Empire consists in the size of its Army or the size of its Fleet, because its real strength consists in the fact that it stands all over the world for liberty. That is what has given us the moral position in this War, and has attracted the support and sympathy of neutrals throughout the world. That fact must not be forgotten in this connection with respect to the matter which is now before the House. We have to show the whole world that we practise what we preach, and if we embark upon a policy of mere coercion in Ireland and attempt to dragoon the people, and if we have to send our soldiers to hunt down men in the mountains will that raise our prestige in the eyes of the world?
For my part, I cannot in any circumstances vote for this Clause against the unanimous representations of the great majority of the Irish people. In normal circumstances I should, without hesitation, vote against it, but in view of the considerations expressed by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, I find it indeed hard to go into the Lobby against the Government at this moment. Anyone who heard the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon, whose lofty patriotism both of speech and of action ought to make even his detractors blush for shame, will realise the motives which lead some of us much against our will not to go into the Lobby on this occasion. No doubt it is expected in Germany that the blows which they are aiming at our Armies at this moment will have a repercussion here and will lead to a period of political disturbance and turmoil. I think they are likely to have precisely the opposite effect, in fact they are more likely to hammer the Nation into closer cohesion. There will be an examination of responsibility for what has occurred, but that is a matter for to-morrow and not for to-day, and none of us would assume to take any action which would 1991 be likely to lead to a political crisis now. I warn the Government, and I do so as one who has supported all their measures for the prosecution of the War, that this unity cannot be maintained if they neglect the importance of a speedy settlement of this political question in Ireland, and merely use naked force to impose Conscription upon the people there against their almost unanimous protest.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)
I did not intend to take any part in. this Debate, for the very simple reason that I have nothing to add, so far as I can think, to what I said two nights ago, and there is never any advantage in repeating the same arguments in different words, but, after what has been said, and after the Debate this afternoon, I feel that it is necessary for me to say a few words. I do not wish, I need not tell the Committee or my right hon. Friend, to enter into any controversy which can be avoided. The very same motives which influence my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) must be weighing on the minds of every Member of this House to-night. Therefore, though we differ, and though the Government have taken decisions which have consequences—not the consequence, as we hope, which my right hon. Friend (Mr. H. Samuel) foresees, but one consequence which we would have avoided if we could, the consequence of Parliamentary fighting here and perhaps, fighting in other fields—I am sure that every Member of the House will give to the members of the Government the same credit which I give to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife, and will believe that we are doing what we think is our duty to the country. I say that I do not wish to have any controversy with my right hon. Friend, but he entirely misunderstood what I said about commensurate values. I never for a moment suggested that the men you are putting into the fighting line is the only element in fighting strength. What I said was that it was idle to move Amendments or make speeches on the lines that by putting men into the trenches you are depriving us of values in other ways. You cannot do that. There are times when you have to weigh the immediate danger in front of you, and when it is quite impossible to make any calculation as to what is best in the long 1992 run. You have to meet a given difficulty with which you are faced at the moment. I do not altogether agree with what my right hon. Friend has just said about the value of liberty in a fight like this. I do recognise that the moral force behind the Armies of this country and of all our Allies is the force which, in the long run, will prove the strongest. It is on that we rely. But we are faced with a foe which thinks of nothing but brute force. We know how much the desire for liberty, very nobly talked about, helped in Russia against the German Armies which were advancing in that country. The moral force we must have, but we would be criminals to this generation, to the past history of this country, and to the future of the world, if we failed to put in at the vital hour every item of force, not moral force. I do not say that means that we have the right to do anything which is in itself unjust, even in such an extremity. I do not say that. I claim—I have argued it before, and I suppose that I shall argue it briefly tonight—that we are doing nothing of the kind now. I recognise the motives which actuated my right hon. Friend the late Prime Minister, and I sympathise deeply with what he said, that in the course that he takes to-day he does what he himself thinks right, and is not going to be driven on by pressure from others or by opprobium which comes from others. I entirely agree with that, and, if I may say so, I go further—I say that it is a vain idea to imagine that strength consists in saying you are going to do a particular thing and doing it at all costs. Moral strength is often shown in political life when a man is ready to do what he knows will be condemned by his own friends. I take that view. Therefore, I understand thoroughly the principles of my right hon. Friend, and I am sure he will act up to them. I am not certain that I entirely agree with his conclusions. I am not certain, if he thinks us my right hon. Friend has just said, that we are taking a course so bad that, it may be fatal to the War he is right in the conclusion to which he has come. I am certain that he is influenced by the best of motives. But I say something more about that, and if my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife were here he would agree with me, I am certain. What he said carries something else with it. If those who think, like my right hon. Friend who has just spoken, that, while we are wrong, 1993 they are not prepared at this crisis to take the responsibility of challenging our Action—if they take that view, then another duty follows. It is that when the thing is done they are bound to support even the Government they thought wrong.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I say at once that I would not support or take the action that we are taking if I thought otherwise. I say that in our view we are doing nothing which we have not a moral right to do. HON. MEMBERS: "Humbug!"]
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
If hon. Members will permit me I will do my best to explain. I would ask the Committee to remember that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife carefully excluded the idea that we had not the right to do it. He put it only on the ground of expediency and on that ground alone. I said the other day, and I say now, that it is quite open to honest men and sane men and even men of common sense—and many of them are left on this bench, as seems to be doubted —
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
It is open to men of common sense to take a different view on this subject, but a Government responsible for the life of this country has to take a decision. We have weighed the advantages and the disadvantages, and we have come to the conclusion, right or wrong, that, from the military point of view, and in the crisis in which we stand now—and that is the only point of view we can consider—there is an advantage in the course we are pursuing, and, holding that view, we would be cravens if we failed to carry it through to action. That is our view. We have the moral right. This is the position as it was pointed out by the Chief Secretary. This is the only authority which now can secure the services of those Irishmen who are available.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
We will leave that to be decided by the result. As he pointed out, there is no other constituted authority which can do it. I really was rather amazed at the argument of the hon. Member (Mr. Devlin). I will say something of his speech in another 1994 sense in a minute. We were told to-day that though the subject was not discussed when the Home Rule Bill was going through, if this had been realised no Irishman would have agreed to it. He went through these controversies as I did. Does he not remember that we who opposed Home Rule over and over again pointed to the very fact to which he alluded to-day, that we have on paper the right to enforce our will on Australia and Canada, and that we said that once you establish an Irish Parliament it will be the same. It will be a nominal right, and we shall never be able to exercise it. Every one of them told us that was nonsense. I never heard anything to the contrary, and I heard a great deal in the sense I have just stated. We are referred to Australia. There, again, that is an admission that on the Home Rule controversy we mean right, and those who opposed us were wrong, for they claim now that in a matter of this kind the defence of the Realm, the defence of this United Kingdom, Ireland is to be in precisely the same position as Australia—I do not know how many thousands of miles away.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Is that the real analogy 2 The Australians, it is true, can only have Conscription if imposed by themselves, but the Australians have not Members continually here, and they have not Members—and this shows the cruelty and tyranny of the English people—out of all proportion to their population. They have not Members here who take part in all our discussions, and often have a deciding influence on things which are vital to the rest of the United Kingdom. Surely if we had been discussing this matter before the crisis had actually arisen, would not everyone on that bench, would not hon. Members opposite have said the case is like the difficulty of the same kind that exists in Canada to-day? There is Quebec, It has its Home Rule. They are dead against Conscription just as much so as hon. Members below the Gangway. But the Canadian Government says, "This is not a question for Home Rule in a Federal State. It is a question for the central Government," and we are imposing it through the same kind of difficulties which face us as in Quebec in spite of an opinion as unanimous as that in Ireland against it in the Province of Quebec.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
They are getting them. We made inquiry about that before tins inquiry was undertaken. I do not ask hon. Members below the Gangway to take this into account. We are proposing, and we intend to carry out, this legislation for one reason only, because in no other way that we can see can we get the men who are vital it this nation is to do everything it can to face the most deadly peril that has ever confronted it. That is our reason, and our sole reason. This Government made an urgent appeal to the President of the United States the other day that they should allow their regiments to be brigaded with our divisions. We would not have dared to make the same requisition, unless the peril were the same, to either Australia or Canada. It is a very great thing to ask, and we are told that one result of the American Government acceding to that appeal is that they have to conscript at once a larger number of men sooner than they would have conscripted them otherwise. I ask hon. Members opposite to look at the position. Here is the American Government at our request, in the peril in which we stand, conscripting its citizens, many of whom are Irishmen, and are you going to say to us that we have the right to urge the United States to conscript Irishmen in the United States when Irishmen at home are to be left free? No, Sir. We say that we have the moral right to do this.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
It is not any freer than ours. I say we have the moral right to do it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Try it!"] I know hon. Members below the Gangway will oppose it. We count on that. I say this, that the speeches we have heard to-day from those hon. Members make it all the greater tragedy that this controversy should have arisen. They show that the Gentlemen sitting on those benches are enemies of our enemies. If that is true, if they feel— and from the moving words of the hon. Member for West Belfast we know that they do—that it is a danger not to England, not to the Empire only but to the world, and everything that every man who loves liberty holds dear, are they going to say that because of the stupidity of the War Office, if it be stupidity —
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Admit stupidity if you like. Are they going to say that, because of our stupidity now they are going to take no further part in a war which they themselves think just, and when they know that the peril is more deadly than ever before. The justification for this Bill is the need for it. I said the other day, when the subject came up earlier, that we were not influenced purely by military considerations.
We do not take that only into account. We realise as strongly as anyone in this House that we have to live with Ireland after the War. We remember what has happened in the past, and I for one, while I rejoice in the spirit which was shown by the late Mr. John Redmond, and so many others should have been willing to refrain from doing what we have the right to do in my judgment, and what it would have been a military advantage to do looking to the future, and believing, perhaps, that by refraining from doing it the future of this country and the freedom of Ireland would have been secure. But we have reached a position, and I ask every Member of the House to realise it—for it is our justification—when there is a danger that there will be no future. We have to think of the deadly peril which is in front of us; we have to weigh everything from the military standpoint.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
In regard to the other Bill—the question of Home Rule— I can add nothing to what; was said by the Prime Minister himself, and what he said does not disagree, as far as I understood, with what was said by the late Prime Minister. We have said, and the Prime Minister said that more plainly than I do—that the two Bills do not stand together. We are imposing Conscription—if you like to call it imposing it on Ireland— because military needs require it, and for no other reason. But that does not take away the other consideration. It is quite true that when the War began there was an agreement all round that this subject should not be dealt with until the War was over. That was agreed to, although there was bitter controversy about it. It was agreed by everybody, including those who represented 1997 hon. Members opposite, that the subject should remain a closed book until the War was over. But the War has lasted longer than we expected. Some of us, although we had not changed our views, thought there was a chance during the War itself of arriving at a settlement which could not be got at any other time. We tried it in one way last year, and that failed. Then this Government agreed to set up the Convention, and by doing that we meant, and meant it sincerely and honestly, that we hoped that a settlement might be come to. Then we were faced with the closing of the Convention. If this crisis had not arisen, we would not have brought forward the Bill for Conscription, but we should still have had to deal with the other question. I can only repeat the words used by the Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] told you I was not going to say anything new. We do intend at the earliest moment we can—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
—to introduce a Bill which we hope will give Home Rule for Ireland, or a measure of local government for Ireland. We will introduce a Bill—it is now being prepared—as soon as we can. It will be a Government Bill like any other. It will be a Bill which we think in all the circumstances—and I would say this to all Members of the House, and to my Unionist Friends in particular, that part of the circumstances are the War and the conditions in connection with it. The Bill will be brought forward like any other Government Bill.
§ [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] As soon as it can be got ready, and it will certainly be dealt with in the way suggested by the late Prime Minister, and by my right hon. Friend. It shall be introduced into the House, and we shall try to carry it through simultaneously with the preparations for carrying out the Bill which we are discussing to-day. That is all that I can say. It represents the policy of the Government, and the policy which we mean to carry through. And I say this: Do not let there be any misunderstanding with political friends or foes. We are introducing this Bill— [HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] —we are discussing to-night because we think it is necessary for the life of the country. We are going, if we can, as a Government to carry it, and in spite of what is said by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway— in spite of what they have said to us—I believe there is more common sense, even in Ireland, than hon. Gentlemen give us credit for. When they say there is no common sense on the Front Bench, I may be permitted to make the suggestion that there is common sense in Ireland. I cannot believe that a party which, by every one of their speeches to-night, has shown that they will oppose the German successes as strongly as we will, and that their feelings to our enemies are as strong as ours, will take action which will do everything in their power that will tend to help that enemy to obtain victory.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 108; Noes, 280.2001
|Division No. 18.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Alden, Percy||Esmonde, Capt. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Keating, Matthew|
|Anderson, William C.||Esmonde, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)||Kelly, Edward|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Farrell, James Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Ffrench, Peter||Kilbride, Denis|
|Boland, John Pius||Field, William||Kiley, James Daniel|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Fitzgibbon, John||King, Joseph|
|Bryce, John Annan||Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Lambert, Richard (Cricklade)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John (Battersea)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Buxton, Noel||Glanville, Harold James||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Guiney, John||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Lundon, Thomas|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hackett, John||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Clough, William||Harbison, T. J. S.||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Cosgrave, James (Galway, E.)||Healy, Maurice (Cork City)||M'Ghee, Richard|
|Crean, Eugene||Healy, Timothy M. (Cork, N.E.)||M'Kean, John|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hearn, Michael L. (Dublin, S.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Cullinan, John||Henderson J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Maden, Sir John Henry|
|Devlin, Joseph||Hogge, J. M.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Dillon, John||Holt, Richard Durning||Meagher, Michael|
|Donovan, John Thomas||Hudson, Walter||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Donnelly, Patrick||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Rushcliffe)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co.)|
|Doris, William||Jowett, Frederick William||Molloy, Michael|
|Duffy, William J.||Joyce, Michael|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||O'Shee, James John||Sheehy, David|
|Morrell, Philip||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Northampton)|
|Muldoon, John||Outhwaite, R. L,||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leltrim, S.)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Snowden, Philip|
|Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Walsh, J. (Cork, S.)|
|Nugent, Sir W. R. (Westmeath, S.)||Pringie, William M. R.||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|O'Brien, William (Cork)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Reddy, Michael||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Redmond, Capt. W. A.||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|O'Dowd, John||Roch, Walter F.|
|O'Leary, Daniel||Scanlan, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Donelan and Mr. Thomas|
|O'Malley, William||Shcehan, Daniel Daniel|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, E.)||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Agnew, Sir George||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Lt.-Col. Wm.||Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Archdale, Lt. Edward M||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Horne, Edgar|
|Archer-Shee, Lt.-Col. Martin||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis|
|Astor, Major Hon. Waldori||Denison-Pender, Capt. J.||Hunter, Maj. Sir Chas. Rodk.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Denman, Hon Richard Douglas||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Baker, Maj. Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Denniss, Edmund R. Bartley||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Dixon, Charles Harvey||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City London)||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Duncannon, Viscount||Jessel, Colonel Sir Herbert M.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South)||Du Pre, Maj W. B.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Barnett, Capt. Richard W.||Edwards, A. Clement (Glam., E.)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.)||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Barran, Sir Rowland H. (Leeds, N.)||Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Barrie, H. T.||Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray||Kerry, Col. Earl of|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc. E.)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Keswick, Henry|
|Bathurst, Capt. Sir C. (Wilts)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)||Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Fisher, Rt. Hon. William Hayes||Lane-Fox, Major G R.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||FitzRoy, Hon. Edward A.||Larmor, Sir Joseph|
|Beckett, Hon Gervase||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Fleming, Sir John (Aberdeen, S.)||Layland-Barratt, Sir F.|
|Benn, Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Fletcher, John S||Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton|
|Bigland, Alfred||Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Bird, Alfred||Foster, Philip Staveley||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Blair, Reginald||Ganzoni, Francis J. C.||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. Fortescue||Gardner, Ernest||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Gastrell, Lt.-Col. Sir W. H.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Geddes, Sir A. C. (Hants, North)||Lonsdale, James R.|
|Bowden, Major George R. H.||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Lowe, Sir F. W.|
|Boyle, William L. (Norfolk, Mid.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Boyton, Sir James||Goldman, Charles Sydney||McCalmont, Brig-Gen. R. C. A.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Goldsmith, Frank||MacCaw, Wm J. MacGeagh|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Grant, James Augustus||M'Laren, Hon. H. (Leics., Bosworth)|
|Brookes, Warwick||Greene, Walter Raymond||Macleod, John M.|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Macmaster, Donald|
|Bull, Sir William James||Greig, Colonel James William||McMicking, Major Gilbert|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Gretton, John||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Butcher, J. G.||Haddock, George Bahr||McNeill, R. (Kent. St. Augustine's)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Maitland, Sir A. D. steel-|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Malcolm, Ian|
|Carnegie, Lt.-Col. Douglas G.||Hamersley, Lt.-Col. A. St. George||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Altrincham)||Marriott, John A. R.|
|Cator, John||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hanson, Charles Augustin||Meux, Admiral Hon. Sir Hedworth|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Meysey-Thompson, Col. E. C.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence (Ashford)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S.||Mills, Lieut. Hon. Arthur R.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds)||Mitchell-Thomson, W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Cheyne, Sir William W||Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Harris. Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Haslam, Lewis||Morrison-Bell, Col. E. (Ashburton)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart (Wimbledon)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Mount, William Arthur|
|Collins, Sir William (Derby)||Henry, Sir Charles||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Colvin, Col.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Newman, Major John R. P.|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Newton, Major Harry Kottingham|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, S.)||Hewins, William Albert S.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hickman, Brig-Gen. Thomas E.||Nield, Herbert|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Courthope, Maj. George Loyd||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles, E. H.||Parker, Rt. Hon. Sir G. (Gravesend)|
|Cowan, Sir William Henry||Hodge, Rt. Hon John||Pease, Rt. Hon. H. P. (Darlington)|
|Craig, Ernest (Crewe)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Spear, Sir John Ward||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark, S.)|
|Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Aston)||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir Henry|
|Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Stanton, Charles Butt||Weston, John W.|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Starkey, John Ralph||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Prothero, Rt. Hon. Roland Edmund||Staveley-Hill, Lt.-Col. Henry||Whiteley, Sir H. J. (Droitwich)|
|Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Stewart, Gershom||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert||Stirling, Lt.-Col. Archibald||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Randles, Sir John||Strauses, E. A. (Southwark W.)||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Knutsford)||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (York)|
|Ratcliff, Lt.-Col. R. F.||Sykes, Col. Sir Mark (Hull, Central)||Wilson, Col. Leslie (Reading)|
|Rees, G C. (Carnarvon, Arfon)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)||Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)|
|Rees, Sir J. D.||Thomso-Stanford, Chas. (Brighton).||Winfrey, Sir R.|
|Remnant, Col. Sir James F.||Thompson, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. Geo. H. (Norwich)||Tickler, Thomas George||Wood, Hon. E. F L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Roberts, Sir Herbert (Denbighs.)||Tryon, Capt. George Clement||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|Rothschild, Major Lionel de||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Wood, S. Hill. (Derbyshire)|
|Royds, Major Edmund||Walker, Col. W. H..||Worthington Evans, Sir L.|
|Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancashire, Ince)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Walton, Sir Joseph||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Sarders, Col. Robert Arthur||Ward, W Dudley (Southampton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Scott, A. MacCallum (Bridgeton)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Wardle, George J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Sharman-Crawford, Col. R. G.|
§ It being after Eleven of the clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 11th April, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at Eleven of the clock this day.2002
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 281; Noes, 116.2005
|Division No. 19.]||AYES.||[11.7 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Agnew, Sir George||Carnegie, Lt.-Col. Douglas G.||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Lt.-Col. Wm.||Cator, John||Fisher, Rt. Hon. William Hayes|
|Archdale, Lt. Edward M.||Cautley, Henry Strother||FitzRoy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Archer-Shee, Lt.-Col. Martin||Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fleming, Sir John (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Fletcher, John S.|
|Baker, Maj. Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Cecil, Rt Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Foster, Rt. Hon. Henry William|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City London)||Cheyne, Sir William W||Ganzoni, Francis J. C.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gardner, Ernest|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, S.)||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Gastrell, Lt.-Col. Sir W. H.|
|Burnett, Capt. Richard W.||Coats, Sir Stuart (Wimbledon)||Geddes, Sir A. C. (Hants, North)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Colvin, Col.||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.)||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John|
|Barran, Sir Rowland H. (Leeds, N.)||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Goldman, Charles Sydney|
|Barrie, H. T.||Coote, William (Tyrone, S.)||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc. E.)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred|
|Bathurst, Capt. Sir C. (Wilts)||Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Grant, James Augustus|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Greene, Walter Raymond|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Courthope, Maj. George Loyd||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cowan, Sir William Henry||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Craig, Ernest (Crewe)||Gretton, John|
|Benn, Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, E.)||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Bigland, Alfred||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)|
|Bird, Alfred||Craik, Rt. Hon Sir Henry||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Blair, Reginald||Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Hamersley, Lt.-Col. A. St. George|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. Fortescue||Dalziel, Davison. (Brixton)||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Altrincham)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Davies, David (Montgomery Co,)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Davies, Timothy (Louth)||Hanson, Charles Augustin|
|Bowden, Major George R. H.||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Boyle, William L. (Norfolk, Mid.)||Denison-Pender, Capt. J.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence (Ashford)|
|Boyton, Sir James||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Denniss, Edmund R. Bartley||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Dixon, Charles Harvey||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Duke, Rt Hon. Henry Edward||Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)|
|Brookes, Warwick||Duncannon, Viscount||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Du Pre, Maj. W. B.||Haslam, Lewis|
|Bull, Sir William James||Edwards, A. Clement (Glam., E.)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Butcher, J. G.||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Faber, G. D. (Clapham)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.|
|Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Malcolm, Ian||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Hewins, William Albert S.||Marks, sir George Croydon||Spear, Sir John Ward.|
|Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.||Marriott, John A. R.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Aston)|
|Hinds, John||Meux, Admiral Hon. Sir Hedworth||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney||Meysey-Thompson, Col. E.C||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Staveley-Hill, Lt.-Col. Henry.|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Mills, Lieut. Hon. Arthur R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Mitchell-Thomson, W.||Stirling, Lt.-Col. Archibald|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Morgan, George Ray||Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian)||Morison,, Thomas B. (Inverness)||Sykes, Col. Sir Mark (Hull. Central).|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Morrison-Bell. Col, E. (Ashburton)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Horne, Edgar||Mount, William Arthur||Thomas-Stanford, Chas. (Brighton)|
|Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thompson, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Hunter, Maj. Sir Chas. Rodk.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Newman, Major John R. P.||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Newton, Major Harry Kottingham||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Walker, Col. W. H.|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Walsh, Stephen (Lancashire, Ince)|
|Jessel, Colonel Sir Herbert M.||Norman, Rt Hon. Sir Henry||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)||Parker, Rt. Hon. Sir G. (Gravesend)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Pease, Rt. Hon. H. P. (Darlington)||Wardle, George J.|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Waring, Major Walter|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Perkins, Walter Frank||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Kerry, Lieut.-Col. Earl of||Peto, Basil Edward||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan).|
|Keswick, Henry||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark S.)|
|Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford||Pretyman, Rt. Hot. Ernest G.||Webb, Lieut-Col. Sir Henry|
|Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E)||Weston, John W.|
|Larmor; Sir Joseph||Prothero, Rt. Hon. Roland Edmund||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E||Whiteley, Sir H. J. (Droitwich)|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir F.||Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton||Randles, Sir John.||Williamson. Sir Archibald|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Willoughby. Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Ratcliff, Lt.-Col. R. F.||Wilson, Captain A. Stanley (York)|
|Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Rees, G. C (Carnarvon, Arfon)||Wilson, Col Leslie (Reading)|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Rees, Sir J. D.||Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Remnant, Col. Sir James F.||Winfrey, Sir R.|
|Lansdale, James R.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. Geo. H. (Norwich)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lowe, Sir F. W.||Roberts, Sir Herbert (Denbighs.)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rothschild, Major Lionel de||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. R. C. A.||Royds, Major Edmund||Wood, S. Hill- (Derbyshire)|
|MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen)||Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. (Leics., Bosworth)||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Macleod, John M.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Younger, Sir George|
|Macmaster, Donald||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|McMicking, Major Gilbert||Sharman-Crawlord, Col. R. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain Guest and Lord E. Talbot.|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool)|
|McNeill, R. (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-|
|Alden, Percy||Ffrench, Peter||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Alien, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Field, William||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Anderson, William C.||Fitzgibbon, John||Lundon, Thomas|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Bliss, Joseph||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Boland, John Pius||Glanville, Harold James||M'Ghee, Richard|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Guiney, John||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Bryce, John Annan||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Maden, Sir John Henry|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hackett, John||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Buxton, Noel||Harbison, T. J. S.||Meagher, Michael|
|Byrne, Alfred||Hayden, John Patrick||Meehan, Francis E. (Leifrim, N.)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Healy, Maurice (Cork City)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Healy, Timothy M. (Cork, N.E.)|
|Clough, William||Hearn, Michael L. (Dublin, S.)||Molloy, Michael|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Durham)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Cosgrave, James (Galway, E.)||Hogge, J. M.||Morrell, Philip|
|Crean, Eugens||Holt, Richard Durning||Muldoon, John|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hudson, Walter||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cullinan, John||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Rushcliffe)||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jowett, Frederick William||Nugent, Sir W. R. (Westmeath, S.)|
|Dillon, John||Joyce, Michael||Nuttall, Harry|
|Donovan, John Thomas||Keating, Matthew||O'Brien, William (Cork)|
|Donnelly, Patrick||Kelly, Edward||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Doris, William||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Duffy, William J.||Kilbride, Denis||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Kiley, James Daniel||O'Dowd, John|
|Esmonde, Capt. J. (Tipperary, N.)||King, Joseph||O'Leary, Daniel|
|Esmonde, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)||Lambert, Richard (Cricklade)||O'Malley, William|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lardner, Jame Carrige Rushe||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|O'Shee, James John||Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M.||Walsh, J. (Cork, S.)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Roch, Walter F.||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Scanlan, Thomas||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Bridgeton)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Sheehy, David||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham)|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Reddy, Michael||Snowden, Philip|
|Redmond, Capt. W. A.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain Donelan and Mr. Thomas.|
|Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Toulmin, Sir George|
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-one minutes after Eleven o'clock till To-morrow, pursuant to the Order of the House this day.