§ Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. SHORTT (resuming)
The other point suggested was that in some way the Government of Ireland were responsible for putting the murderer of Mr. Sheehy-Skeffington on half-pay. That may have some connection with the Ministry of Propaganda. I do not know.
§ Mr. SHORTT
So far as Captain Bowen-Coulthurst was concerned, the Irish Government had nothing whatever to do with it. They did nothing at all. He was found—it may have been right or wrong—that he was a lunatic when he performed his atrocious deed. No one is going to attempt to suggest that the shooting of Mr. Sheehy-Skeffington and his companions was not a terrible crime, and the man was found to be a lunatic. What 1020 have the Irish Government got to do with that? Why point at me the finger of scorn, as I sit here, because somebody, over whom I have no control, allows Captain Bowen-Coulthurst, over whom I have no control, to be put on half-pay? I never had anything to do with it. The Irish Government had nothing to do with it, and I think my hon. and learned Friend has not attacked the right people. I could not help it any more than he could. But, if it comes to the question of dealing with Mrs. Sheehy-Skeffington, we must take into account of what she has been doing and saying in America; having regard to the position in Ireland, and the dangers we have seen there, we must have regard to what she has said and done in America when we come to the conclusion, a conclusion we had to form, as to whether we should advise the English Home Office that she was not a person whom it was desirable to have in Ireland. I am not going to be afraid of it. I have advised the Home Office that, as far as I am concerned, I would rather she were not in Ireland; I am not afraid to admit it. That was my view, and that is my view still. So far as the release of Captain Bowen-Coulthurst is concerned, it is not a fair argument to say that the Irish Government treat one person in one way and another in another way, and to point to Captain Bowen-Coulthurst, because people who do that know, as well as I do, that the Irish Government had nothing to do with him, or with his release, or with his being placed on half-pay in any shape or form.
The third point, as I understand it, was that we had imprisoned a certain number of people without trial, and the suggestion was apparently made that the only ground upon which these people were imprisoned was that they were the individuals who were concerned actively in the German plot; that we had relied, when they were arrested, upon evidence which was coming from Dowling, the person who landed in a collapsible boat, and that we had pledged ourselves that there were documents on Dowling which would prove the association. I never made any such pledge; I never had anything to do with his trial; I had no control over the evidence that was called; I had no control over what those who were prosecuting would think it was in the public interest should be told or not. I had no more to do with that—I did not know until I read in the papers what 1021 evidence was going to be given—than the hon. and learned Member himself. Sufficient evidence was given for the man to be convicted and to be sentenced to death; the man knew sufficient himself to take precious good care that he did not go into the witness box; and I have no doubt whatever, when certain individuals learnt that he had not gone into the witness box and had not been cross-examined and made to explain certain things, that a sigh of relief went up. I have no doubt whatever about that, but I never pledged myself that I was going to depend for the proof of this plot upon Dowling. It was not necessary. Everybody knows perfectly well, who has any connection with Ireland, that the Germans have always looked upon Ireland as fair ground, ripe ground, both before and since the War, for the embarrassment of England.
§ Mr. SHORTT
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that my predecessor, Lord Justice Duke, had no information of this plot, and that Lord Wimborne had denied its existence. Neither of those statements has a word of truth in it. Lord Justice Duke not only knew of the plot, but he was responsible for having the Regulation so altered that we were able to secure these people. The necessary steps for these arrests were taken by Lord Justice Duke himself, and, as far as Lord Wimborne was concerned, he did not say there was no such plot. All he did say was that he had never heard of it. That may be true, but he has taken precious good care that he has never said a plot did not exist.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Surely the Lord Lieutenant of the country would know of a German plot if there was one. Surely you do not mean to say that we had a Lord Lieutenant of the country who did not know if there was a German plot.
§ Mr. SHORTT
The hon. Member never rises to interrupt for any useful purpose at all when I am speaking. I really think I have given way to him and shown him a great deal more courtesy than he has shown to me.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I have listened without interruption to the hon. Gentleman's abuse of me. I do not mind it. He has abused me on all sorts and descriptions of things, but I really do not think I will waste the time of the House by giving way to matters which have no useful purpose. He may hold a brief for Lord Wimborne. Lord Wimborne has never denied the existence of a plot. The fact remains that it was known, and Lord Justice Duke was the person who took the first necessary steps, namely, the alteration of the wording of the Regulation to enable these arrests to be made. The arrests were made on the ground that these people were suspected of acting to the danger of this country in time of war, and when you are dealing with these arrests I do ask the House to recollect that we are at war and that it is not an ordinary peace time when we can run risks with safety. We cannot run risks of this character which are calculated to be, and would certainly be, of assistance to the enemy. We cannot run these risks and, so far as the Irish Government is concerned, we do not intend to run these risks. What did we do? These men were all arrested under this Regulation, the Defence of the Realm Regulation. Every single man and woman amongst them who was arrested was told definitely that he or she had an absolute right to appeal to an Advisory Committee, the chairman of which was to be a judge of the High Court. They were told that they might give notice and appeal to that Committee to show ground why the suspicion was unreasonable. Two out of the whole lot—no, one alone out of those arrested—has taken advantage of that. There has boon a second man, one of the Cotters, who was arrested in a boat at Dublin, who has done the same.
I have made arrangements that instead of having an ordinary lay tribunal, two judges of the High Court, Mr. Justice Sankey and Mr. Justice Younger, should hear these appeals. I have made further arrangements that any man who appeals should have notice given to him of the description of evidence that he would have to meet in time for him to call anybody he chose. I have done my best to make it as fair to them as possible. Those two have appealed. I have not yet had a report from the learned judges as to what the result of that appeal is, but only two have taken advantage of that appeal. The others are there under suspicion. They know that they may 1023 appeal, but they have not done so. Now I am asked why is there not a Royal Commission appointed to inquire whether they are the persons who were actively engaged in treasonable correspondence with the Germans? What is the object of that? We knew perfectly well that messages were going out in some way from Ireland to Germany. It is not so easy to find out who is the individual. If you had found out and tried them, there would be only one result, but it is not so easy. Supposing you had made up your mind and said that A, B, C, or D of these prisoners was the actual individual who was sending out wireless messages, or the actual individual who had been prepared through American and other sources to receive this man and other men besides Dowling, and supposing they were found innocent of that, do you imagine for an instant that would let them out? Do you imagine for an instant in these cases that the fact that they were not the individual would let them out? Of course, it would not. They may not be the individuals, but they may be equally dangerous to the State. The position is this: The one thing Germany wants is trouble in Ireland.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I appear to have annoyed the hon. Member the other night. I am sorry. I am not going to repeat what I said. You will not annoy me. The Germans want trouble in Ireland. They want that species of trouble which will keep our troops in Ireland instead of our sending them to the front. The very thing that would suit Germany to-day would be an outbreak of physical force, another rising in Ireland. [An HON. MEMBER: "It would suit you, too!"] Any man—I do not care what his views are, who would lend himself to a rising and to the use of physical force is playing the German game, is doing that which Germany wants and is in consequence a danger to this country. I do not care if a man says to me, "I do not love Germany, I do not condone Belgium, I do not condone the horrors of Serbia, but I hate England, and am going to do anything I can to destroy England"—that man is just as dangerous as the man who says, 1024 "I love Germany and I am going to work for Germany." So far as danger is concerned there is not one iota of difference between them. The man who in Ireland to-day is prepared to stir up physical force and physical strife is playing the German game, is a danger to this country, and as long as I am in control he is not going to be at large if I can help it-That is the position so far as I am concerned. I do not propose to give way at all in regard to any Commission of Inquiry to inquire into these arrests. Every one of the individuals has an opportunity of testing the matter. They have refused to do so, and I cannot help thinking have refused on very good ground. I am perfectly content, indeed, I had already intended to have a proper judicial inquiry into the allegation made by Mr. Kenny in regard to the Belfast prisoners, and I ask my hon. and learned Friend—
§ Mr. SHORTT
I do not think so. If my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. King), who is always as reasonable and courteous as any man could be, thinks I treated him at all unfairly, I very much regret it. On Thursday I had not made up my mind one way or the other. I wanted to see what the answers were, and who exactly had given the answers. I found there was such a grave difference between the two that I felt the only proper thing to do was to have a really proper inquiry to decide which of the two was right. Of course, whichever side is right and whichever side is wrong, the natural consequences of what is grave perjury on one side or the other must follow. That is the position. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend, with his great knowledge of both the Irish and the English Bars, will assist me in deciding whom I should ask to conduct the inquiry, in order that the tribunal, whatever it is, may command the widest possible respect both in Ireland and in England.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I shall be very glad to afford any assistance I can. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the prisoners who are in England are to be deprived of the advice of counsel, or, if application is made by counsel to visit them, will that application be granted; and will he take steps, provided the counsel be a man who is considered not unworthy of the trust, to see that the interview be allowed to take place without the presence of a warder I understand that the solicitor for one of the prisoners visited him the other day, and that no interview except in the presence of a warder was allowed.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I did not know of those facts. If my hon. and learned Friend is referring to the Belfast prisoners who are now in England, they, of course, would only be required as witnesses, I understand. We will try to do what is fairest and best for those concerned. I understand that, so far as these matters have been raised in this Debate, it is because it is suggested that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Trinity College, Dublin (Sir E. Carson), is in some way connected with propaganda and the Government of Ireland. Let me say here, once for all, that he has absolutely no concern with the Government of Ireland—absolutely none whatever. He is not consulted. He has never volunteered his advice. If he volunteered his advice, it would be considered just as the advice of an ordinary Irish Member would be considered, neither more nor less. He has no more to do with the Government of Ireland than my hon. Friends below the Gangway opposite, who look so cross with me. I can assure them that he is not dictating the policy or in any way attempting to interfere with the policy of the Irish Government.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down conceives that the only duty which he, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, has is to insult the Members; from Ireland who represent that country on these benches. He has made a statement thoroughly characteristic of him. He said that I stand here with a brief for Lord Wimborne. I never held a brief for anyone. If I happened to be a lawyer, I hope I would be more successful than the right hon. Gentleman, but I have never held a brief either as a lawyer or as a layman for anybody in this House. All I know about Lord Wimborne's statement is what 1026 appears in the public Press. He stated that he knew no German plot. It is not for me to say, though I believe that this German plot is largely the outcome of the imagination of the right hon. Gentleman—partly that and partly an excuse to camouflage Home Rule. I believe that the Government wanted an excuse to get rid of Home Rule, therefore they invented a German plot. The German plot was supposed to have taken place before Lord Wimborne resigned and the right hon. Gentleman tells us that Lord Wimborne knew nothing about it—Lord Wimborne, who was for four years in Ireland, who was the Lord Lieutenant of the country, who, as far as I know, governed the country, though I do not know whether he did or not—I do not know who governs the country. I do not know who governed it in Lord Wimborne's time, and I do not know who governs it now.
The right hon. Gentleman says the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) has nothing to do with the Irish Government, but what about the legal adviser to the Provisional Government? Does he deny that he has nothing to do with it? He remains silent. I hope it is not discourteous if I, an Irish representative, ask him that question. Though the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) does not go over to Dublin Castle and turn the Castle machine, he is represented there by the legal adviser to the Provisional Government, a rebel Government, which was set up in Ireland four years ago to break the law of the land, and the first official function it had to discharge there was to offer its hospitality to the Emperor of Germany. The right hon. Gentleman declares that there was a German plot during the time he was not in Ireland, during the time he was a Liberal Home Ruler here in England, and Lord Wimborne says he never heard of a German plot, although he was the chief representative of His Majesty's Government in Ireland. I ask impartial men to put these two things together. I am an untutored layman, and he is a distinguished lawyer, and he asks a body of intelligent men—for I take it the House, though it has lost its liberty, still remains intelligent—to believe that this German plot which existed and was being carried on when he was in England and the Chief Governor of Ireland knew nothing about it during the time that he was there. I mark that throughout his speech to-night there ran constantly this expression—"the 1027 suspected men." Through it all he never said, "These German plotters." What are the fundamental principles of British justice that he lays down? That if these suspected men have a grievance because they were thrown into prison, it is to be met not by those who indicted them, not by trying them before a tribunal of their own countrymen, but he says if they have any grievance they can appeal to a Commission of judges in England. Then whether they are guilty of being in a German plot or not they will not be allowed out of prison. That may be the modern idea of justice and liberty as spoken by a British Liberal, who runs a Tory Coalition Government, but certainly it is not our conception of liberty, and it would not be the conception of British liberty if we were living under normal conditions. If they were really suspected men he should have said they were suspected, and were put in because they were suspected.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
No, I will tell you what you did. You invented a German plot in order that you might justify yourselves in America for dropping Home Rule. At that very bench the Prime Minister of England gave his solemn pledge and word of honour that he would introduce a Home Rule Bill, not because it was the just claim of a people who had laboured by constitutional efforts for forty years to secure the constitutional rights of self-government, but because he wanted to satisfy Labour in England and public opinion in America, and public opinion in America demanded, and I have no doubt Labour opinion in England demands, that he will carry out his promise; and when the critical stage arrives in the House at which he has to carry out that promise and make it a performance, there is trotted out the German plot which the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland never heard of, and which was given us with such embellishments by the Chief Secretary. I think the longer we live the less we shall hear about the German plot. I notice the right hon. Gentleman did not deliver the story with the same bellicose spasm that he did when he first announced it. Then it was men who were deliberately endangering the State, men whose hands were potentially red with the blood of Britons—the agents of Germany. Now it is merely that they are suspected persons, 1028 that there might have been a German plot, that there was a possibility that there was German propaganda. Of course there was German propaganda in every country in the world. There was no German plot in America, though there was German money. There was, of course, the influence of Germany everywhere, and now he makes it appear that because the Germans were in every country in Europe and even in America, a number of Irishmen were engaged in an attempt to join Germans in a plot against this country. People can form their own opinions as to that.
I had no intention of entering into any of the subjects which the hon. Gentleman has raised to-night, though I quite agree it was vitally important that they ought to be raised here, and for the hon. Gentleman to take advantage of the opportunity. This is a Debate on propaganda, and the right hon. Gentleman asks us, What have the Irish Office to do with propaganda? The right hon. Gentleman imagined the other night that because he was six weeks in office he had a free rein to come here and insult the men who were better friends of this Empire during the earlier stages of the War, until English impudence, officialdom, and bureaucracy largely destroyed our influence in Ireland. He sneers at us and complains that we are not courteous to him. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Healy) spoke very contemptuously of the paragraph in this Report which deals with the visit of the twelve gentlemen to Dublin, who spent £31 on drink and £5 on cigars. I agree that the thing is too contemptible to discuss, but it was only when the answer was drawn from the representative of the Treasury that the whole incident came vividly before my mind. They were a number of journalists who were brought over to Ireland and at the receptions and banquets given to them out of the funds provided by the Ministry of Propaganda, strong anti-Home Rule speeches were made. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shortt) need not listen to this, because he was not there at the time, but I have no doubt he will defend it with his characteristic agility. These men came over to Ireland, shepherded by a Tory propagandist from this country. So long as they were in Belfast they only drank lemonade, and only smoked Woodbine cigarettes. There was no necessity to warm them up there. The oratory was sufficiently hearty and flamboyant there. 1029 Unionist speeches were made to these representatives of the Press from Canada. They they were brought to Dublin by the same shepherd, and here he said, "I think we must spend £31 in drinks and £5 in cigars, for they will probably hear the truth in Dublin." Therefore, the Ministry of Propaganda supplied them in two days with £31 worth of drink and £5 worth of cigars in order to enable them to form a judicial, cold, clear and lucid view of the Irish question during the two days they were being shepherded by this Unionist gentleman who had charge of them in the interests of the Ministry of Information.
The right hon. Gentleman asks us what had the Irish Office to do with the question of the murder of Mr. Sheehy-Skeffington, and how that subject could come within the purview of discussion on the expenditure of money for propaganda in foreign countries. One of the books which has been published by the Ministry of Propaganda is called "The Oppressed English," written by Mr. Ian Hay. This is a book paid for by the Ministry of Information. This book published by the Ministry of Information goes to America and is scattered broadcast over America, where it has been the greatest success of British propaganda since the right hon. Gentleman invented the German plot. Although it has been sent all round America it has not been allowed in this country. The reason it is not allowed in this country is because it is a book that is nothing more nor less than a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end. Here is what it says about Mr. Sheehy-Skeffington. The writer talks about the wild imagination of the Irish, and suggests that people should not believe anything they say, and he gives this particular case as an instance of how wildly we allow our imagination to run away with us—One ease in particular has gained unnecessary notoriety in the United States. An unfortunate man named Skeffington, a harmless visionary—Mr. Skeffington was one of the most brilliantly intelligent men in these Islands. He was a great scholar and a great journalist—instead of following the counsels of common sense—that is, the counsels of Dublin Castle—and staying at home, wandered forth into the streets of Dublin during the height of the rioting. He was here arrested by an English officer.What is the fact? He was arrested in the streets of Dublin when he was out trying 1030 to prevent looting by a mob, and he was arrested by an English officer who with a party of troops was engaged in clearing the streets.This officer had recently returned from the Western Front on sick leave, and, utterly unstrung by the appalling sights which confronted him, he appears to have lost his mental balance. At the end of the day he visited the barracks where his prisoners were confined, and selected Skeffington and two others, and ordered their execution. The sentence was carried out. In due course the matter was reported to the authorities, an inquiry was held, and the afflicted officer was confined in a lunatic asylum.The right hon. Gentleman would not justify a single line of that description of the Sheehy-Skeffington incident, and yet that is sent out to the United States of America in a book published by the Ministry of Information, which has never been permitted to come to this country or to Ireland because people would contradict it. I will give some other quotations from this book—Ireland is a country that enjoys splendid freedom.Judging by his name, this man is a Scotsman.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
If you have a Scotsman you want to apologise for, send him to do the work of Dublin Castle. He goes on to say:In the dim and distant days before the War, Mr. Lloyd George was engaged in a campaign of what his friends called 'social reform—'Let the Radical party and Scottish Members listen to this—but his victims called rank piracy. One of his most unpopular efforts at legislation was the Land Valuation Act, and at other was the insurance scheme. Neither of these Acts has been ever visited upon Ireland, for the simple reason that the Irish people refused to entertain them at any price. So the oppressed English, as usual, gave way and paid the piper alone.Is this the propaganda of truth or the propaganda of mendacity. I have heard the Ministry of Information assailed here to-night. I have heard it said that the gentlemen who constitute the controlling powers in the Ministry of Propaganda are using their position for their own business ends. I do not know whether it is true or not, but here is a Scottish Tory, who charges the Irish with having no imagination, and who, after denouncing the Insurance Act and the Land Valuation Act, in order to get at Ireland, says that neither of these Acts apply to Ireland, 1031 while, as a matter of fact, both of these Acts apply to Ireland. He not only suffers from being the agent of Dublin Castle, but he is a public liar. That is the sort of stuff that the English Government is paying for. A sum of £1,800,000 is the Vote that is given by the Ministry of Propaganda for the purpose of carrying truth throughout the world, for the purpose of elevating the pure white banner of noble causes, and in raising it to the citadel of the darkened intelligence of other nations in the world. And they circulate this book by Mr. Ian Hay. I can very well understand why Englishmen take so much trouble in discussing a book of this character, if their complaints are based on the same data on which we base our complaints. This book is teeming with things of the character I have quoted. For instance, he saysThe Irish character, ever prone to dream and brood, prevents Ireland forgetting her ancient wrongs.If he had finished up by saying that she forgets her ancient wrongs very often because she is so often compelled to remember her modern wrongs, he would have been nearer the mark. This book has been circulated in America, and these sentiments are expressed as the official views of the Propaganda Department at the very time when you are appealing to the American race to come to your assistance in this great world war, and when 33 per cent. of their soldiers belong to that race of dreamers, these people with long memories of an ancient past, these men who remember the appalling persecution which drove them or their fathers from their native land, which is being insulted by a hired writer who belittles the potential soldiers of the American Republic, the men you want to fight your battles in Flanders and in France. You hold down your heads with shame, you express yourselves shocked at the terrible blunders and mistakes that were made in the earlier years of the War in treating Ireland as you did, and you say, "We are wiser now; we know the result of our iniquities and blunders. We now pursue a different policy, and we get another Chief Secretary, a sweet-voiced, gentle-tongued Chief Secretary, to trumpet forth the glories of the British Empire," and at the very time when you are making this boast you send over a paid hireling called an agent of propaganda to America to write lies, historical lies, and 1032 to hold up to the scorn and ridicule of the Americans, of other races, the Irish race, not the Irish party.
The right hon. Gentleman can attack them. They can be attacked by everybody, but the race itself, the race that broods over past wrongs, is maligned before the people of America, a country which owes so much to the civic virtue, the personal virtues, and the love of freedom and of noble causes which have always distinguished the Irish people and which have contributed so much to the greatness of that country. The right hon. Gentleman insults us and asks for courtesy in return. He robs us of our freedom and gives us Ian Hay. He tells us that we are not practical, that we know nothing about economies, that we will have nothing to do with progressive legislation in Ireland, that these measures are not in operation in Ireland, and then Mr. Ian Hay is sent over to America to say that because these things do not operate in Ireland we are a nation of free men. Whether the right hon. Gentleman is courteous to me or I am courteous to him is a matter of no consequence whatever. He wants to appear here as the strong man, representing the firm hand and the resolute Government. It is very little matter whether we are courteous to one another, but what does matter is whether he, as the representative of the British Empire, is going to lend a hand in destroying the work of forty years of peace and reconciliation. What matters to me is not how you insult the men on these benches. There are men on these benches who for forty years were the unpaid and unpurchased public servants of their people, and who have exalted their country, if not to liberty, at least to some measure of happiness, during all the trials and vicissitudes of these forty years. The hon. and learned Gentleman below me (Mr. T. M. Healy) said that none of us would perhaps survive after the next General Election. Is that why the right hon. Gentleman wants to sneer at us and to attack us The hon. and learned Member below me may be wrong, but I may tell the right hon. Gentleman this, that you do not get rid of the Irish question when you get rid of the Irish party. I know that you do not like straight speech, but you might get something more than a speech when you get rid of the present representatives of Ireland and have their seats occupied by others. Far greater and far bigger than 1033 any question concerning him or us are the vital and all-absorbing interests involved in this great question. I say to him that it is his duty, as the representative of the Government, to withdraw at once the almost countless Orders which he has given for the suppression of liberties in Ireland at the present time, and to make easy the path on which this question will have to be settled some day, not the path of men like those who sit on these benches, or even myself, perhaps, but to make easier the path that men will have to tread when this question comes to be settled.
You have endeavoured, by your propagandists, to besmirch the fair fame of our country. You have endeavoured to dub us pro-Germans—we who contributed twenty times more to the fight for civilisation and justice in France and Flanders than our assailants have done! They have not called us pro-Germans across these benches, but they have endeavoured to make it appear that the Irish people are pro-Germans when they are nothing of the sort. Why, when you English were all pro-Germans, we were against the Germans. Germanism was a word of contempt in Ireland at a time when it was glorified in this country. When you gave Heligoland to Germany you were promoting the cause of civilisation and advancing the interests of small nationalities. We resent the charge. It is all carefully wrapped up in this propaganda which has been carried on not only in America but here. To go back to what I said before. Ireland is just as deeply interested in the success of the Allies as anyone, but if I were to go throughout Ireland with a trumpet of gold to call them up I could not get there. Before you killed the influence of the Nationalist Parliamentary party in Ireland you could have got the recruits. If I were to join your recruiting campaign and became one of the hierarchy that now conducts it in Ireland, I should merely be a hypocrite. I should merely be playing you false, and I should be making a promise I could not keep. The reason that you cannot recruit is that the men will not respond. It is not because they do not want to fight in a just cause; it is because you have so soured them; you have so unnerved them by your continuous disappointment of their hopes. You have so proved to them that your policy of fighting for small nationalities—for Serbia, Montenegro, and Belgium—is a policy which would bring no good to 1034 Ireland that the people of Ireland want to know what are your real war aims. Are Irishmen to go out, and die on the battlefields of France, as many have died already, and to come back to their country, and hear it said, at some banquet or elsewhere, that there are "difficulties in the way of giving Home Rule to Ireland. We would defend the right hon. Member for Trinity College; the old Tory party in this country are too long committed against Home Rule, and it would not be possible to grant it, because they might become enemies of the Government"? That is the sort of thing the Irish people expect if they were to come out and join you again in fighting for small nationalities.
If you want men in Ireland you can get them still. I made you an offer on the night of the Conscription Debate—that if you gave Ireland a wide, broad, and generous measure of Home Rule, I would be one of the first to join the Army; that I would consider myself an advocate of your cause, and preach everywhere that Ireland should respond to your call, when you have proved the reality of your claims that yours is a fight for the rights of small nations. When I made that offer the war sky was not so bright as it is to-day. That offer was made at a time of great gloom, when it was whispered that you might be defeated, when it was supposed to be the greatest struggle in which you had yet been engaged, and when, be it remarked, it was not a safe offer to make, because it meant gambling one's life, and perhaps losing it. Then you question our bona fides and insult us in this House. If we were made of different stuff from other human nature elsewhere, perhaps you would be right, but human nature is just the same in Ireland as anywhere. Do not base yourselves on large expectations of getting something in Ireland that you could not obtain under similar circumstances in any other country. I submit that this Debate on propaganda, if it has no other effect, will, I trust, succeed in impressing on the right hon. Gentleman and upon absentee members of the Government that there is time still to do something before it is too late. Even if you are victorious to-morrow, you can only be vindicated if you permanently establish peace in the world, but you cannot establish peace permanently in the world unless you settle this Irish question, which not only affects Dublin Castle and Government administration in England, 1035 but in fact every branch of civilised humanity throughout the world. This Irish question affects Australia; it affects the Australian soldiers, who think of the condition of their little homeland, to which they have such passionate devotion, of the little people persecuted and hunted as they have been, and these Australian soldiers cannot go into battle with the moral of efficient fighters when they remember the position in which their own country of Ireland occupies before the world. Unless this question of Ireland is settled on the only lines on which it can be settled, the Imperial House of Parliament will be haunted with these memories, and will have to listen to discussions like this when it ought to be employed in the consideration of other large and vital interests which confront it.