§ (2) With a view to the uniform administration throughout Ireland of public services in connection with railways, any powers (not being powers relating to reserved matters) exerciseable by any Department of the Government of the United Kingdom at the appointed day with respect to railways in Ireland and the power of making laws with respect to railways shall, as from the appointed day, become powers of the Council of Ireland, and not of the Governments and Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.
§ (3) The Council may consider any questions which may appear in any way to bear on the welfare of both Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, and may, by Resolution, make suggestions in relation thereto as they may think proper, but suggestions so made shall have no legislative effect, and in particular, it shall be the duty of the Council of Ireland forthwith after the constitution thereof to consider what Irish services ought in the common interest to be administered by a body having jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland, and what reserved services which are transferable on the passing of identical Acts ought to be so transferred, and to make recommendations to the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland as to the advisability of passing identical Acts delegating to the Council of Ireland the administration of any such Irish services, with a view to avoiding the necessity of administering them separately in Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, and providing for the transfer of any such reserved services at the earliest possible date.
§ (4) Before any Order made by the Council in exercise of any legislative powers vested in the Council comes into force, the Order shall be presented to the Lord Lieutenant for His Majesty's assent in like manner as a Bill passed by the House of Commons of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, and, on such assent being given, the Order shall have effect in Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, respectively, as if enacted by the Parliament of Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be.
§ (5) The Council shall have power to appoint such secretaries and officers as, subject to the consent of the Treasury of Southern Ireland and the Treasury of Northern Ireland, they may think fit, and the salary and remuneration of those officers and any other expenses of the Council to such amount as the said 930 Treasuries may approve shall, so far as not met by fees paid to, or other receipts of, the Council, be paid out of moneys provided by the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland in such proportions as the said Treasuries may mutually agree, or in default of agreement may be determined by the Joint Exchequer Board hereinafter constituted.
§ (6) It shall be lawful for either Parliament at any time by Act to revoke the delegation to the Council of Ireland of any powers which are on pursuance of such identical Acts as aforesaid for the time being delegated to the Council, and thereupon the powers in question shall cease to be exerciseable by the Council of Ireland, and shall become exerciseable in the parts of Ireland within their respective jurisdictions by the Parliaments and Governments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the Council shall take such steps as may be necessary to carry out the transfer, including adjustments of any funds in their hands or at their disposal:
§ Provided that this Sub-section shall not apply to any service which, on ceasing to be a reserved service, has, in pursuance of identical Acts passed by the two Parliaments, been transferred to the Council of Ireland.
§ Debate resumed on Amendment—[3rd June] to leave out Sub-section (2)—[Sir Edward Carson.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words 'With a view to the uniform administration throughout Ireland of public services in connection with railways,' stand part of the Clause."
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Mr. Neal)
It may meet the general convenience of the House if a very short statement be made as to the present position of the Government. The Government have taken the opportunity of the Adjournment to carefully consider in what way they can meet the views expressed in the Debate on this Amendment. Shortly before the Adjournment the First Lord undertook in answer to an appeal made to him to circulate a Paper containing the powers exercised by Government Departments over Irish railways, and thereby show to the Committee what powers would be transferred administratively to the Council of Ireland under the Sub-section now under discussion.
The White Paper in question is Command Paper 733, and hon. Members who have had an opportunity of seeing it will observe that there are over 150 powers which are at present being exercised by Government Departments here over Irish railways which will pass to the 931 Council of Ireland under the proposal as it stands in the Bill. The Committee will appreciate that it would be a matter of great confusion if the administration of those powers were vested in executive officers answerable to two Parliaments. I did not gather from the course of the discussion last time that there is any serious objection to the administration of those powers being transferred to a Department set up for the purpose, and answerable to the Council of Ireland, as was desired by Members of the Committee. Two other matters were raised in the course of the discussion, and we have endeavoured to met the views then expressed. The first was as to how far either Parliament would be able to authorise the construction of railways within the area under their own jurisdiction. We have endeavoured to meet that situation by an Amendment, which is down in the name of the First Lord of the Admiralty, which reads:Provided that nothing in this Sub-section shall prevent the Parliament of Southern Ireland or of Northern Ireland making laws authorising the construction, extension, or improvement of railways where the works to be constructed are situate wholly in Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be.I hope the Committee will see that these words give to the fullest possible extent the powers which seemed to be desired in the course of the Debate. The other point had to deal with Private Bill legislation, relating to the construction or alteration of railways in the districts wholly within the area of either Parliament. It is proposed that those powers shall be referred to the appropriate Parliament. Pressure was brought to bear on the Government in the course of the Debate with reference to the position of what I may call the Labour laws, and whether these will be vested in the Council of Ireland, so far as they relate to railways, or whether they will remain definitely in the two Parliaments. The Northern and Southern Parliaments will have power generally to deal with Labour laws; that is to say, this is not a matter which is in any way reserved from their jurisdiction. It did appear when this Bill was drafted that it might be convenient, so far as the railways were concerned, if these matters were dealt 932 with by the Council of Ireland in order to prevent any confusion. Upon consideration the Government think it is difficult to distinguish between the law affecting Labour in a general sense and the law affecting Labour in a railway sense. If the other view, however, is still pressed, that the law as to the hours and conditions of employment affecting persons employed on the railway should be dealt with differently, we are prepared either to move an Amendment in proper words or to accept one from any hon. Member who chooses to move in that direction. The only other question with which I need trouble the Committee at this stage is with reference to the financial position of the railways, as to which I expressed the view that the railways should remain in the same position as to control and finance as English railways, so long as the control established under the Transport Act remains operative. I intimated that if any hon. Member desired to have that made quite clear on the face of the Bill, the Government would raise no objection. Relying upon that statement, my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford City (Mr. Marriott) has put down the following Amendment:Provided that the appointed day fixed for the purpose of this Sub-section shall be a date not earlier than the expiration of the period of two years mentioned in Section Three (1) of the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, and all claims arising before the appointed day under Section Eight of the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, or determinable as if they were claims so arising shall be satisfied by the Minister of Transport in accordance with that Section. The rates, fares, tolls, dues, and other charges directed by the Minister of Transport under the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, and in force on the appointed day, may be charged until fresh provision shall be made by the Council of Ireland, or the Parliament of the United Kingdom, with regard to the amount of any such rates, fares, tolls, dues, and other charges.When the appropriate time comes, the Government do not propose to offer any opposition to that Amendment being carried, should it commend itself to the Committee. I think I have covered the various matters which were left open in the previous Debate.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
With reference to the Amendment in the name of the First Lord, to which the hon. Gentleman alluded in the earlier part of his speech, I suppose it will not be open to give our views on that until the particular Amend- 933 ment is reached, but I should like to take this opportunity of saying that, although I have not been in communication with the Irish railways on the point, I think it is a most dangerous Amendment.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I did not quite follow my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport. I did not quite grasp everything he said, hearing of this, as I did, for the first time, and perhaps he will correct me if I am wrong. I understand that the Government contemplate not diminishing the legislative powers of the Council, but rather saving the legislative powers of the two Parliaments, and therefore there will be, under the Clause as eventually framed, three legislative authorities having practically co-ordinating powers over the railways of Ireland. The first is this Imperial Parliament, the supreme authority of which is safeguarded in another Clause. Then there will be two Parliaments, the Northern and the Southern, and, finally, there will be the Council of Ireland, which will have coordinating powers of legislation with the two Parliaments. Suppose the Council of Ireland legislates in one sense and the two Parliaments legislate in another and an inconsistent sense. Suppose one Parliament, say the Northern Parliament, passes a Bill laying down a certain route along which a line shall run and the Council of Ireland passes a Bill that that line shall run in another direction, what will be the result? Will two lines be made?
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I suggest it is not desirable to have two co-ordinating legislative authorities exercising the same legislative functions in the same area. I should have thought it would have been far better to leave the legislative power to the two Parliaments and to give the Council of Ireland some conciliatory function to bring the two Parliaments into agreement when they disagree. The plan of having two separate and distinct legislative authorities at work on independent lines within the same legislative sphere is to my mind one that is not likely to work, and would certainly be most inconvenient. I think that in considering this matter the Government have overlooked the peculiar construction of the Irish Council, 934 especially when they have considered it as an administrative body. I understand that the Government—judging from our earlier discussions—have quite faced the fact that the Council is likely to be, and in all probability will be, divided into equal numbers of Unionists and Sinn Feiners. I think the number is twenty, and there may be ten Unionists and ten Sinn Feiners on this Council. I should think that that is likely to be an inefficient administrative body. If it were to be equally divided, and in their present mood I think they are likely to be divided upon almost everything, there would be a deadlock—there would be ten on one side and ten on the other. I think it is not contemplated that the Chairman of the Council should have a casting vote—he is to be there simply to adjust the business and to deal with points of order. Therefore, the Council would be at a deadlock upon everything that the Unionists and the Sinn Feiners disagreed upon. I do not think that that is likely to be a convenient or an effective administrative body. I think that we might have a better administrative body for these purposes. We might have a smaller body on these lines: that it would include permanent officials who would be appointed by somebody, and it would look at matters from an administrative point of view, exclusive of party spirit.
I do not think that on either the legislative or the administrative side the Government proposal is very much of an improvement on the Clause. Even with the Amendments, I do not think it will work very well. I suggest that you should drop the Council out of the matter altogether and leave it to the Parliaments to be the railway authority, providing that there should be some joint Committee, and bringing in that Joint Committee or the Council upon the Joint Committee to adjust disagreements which might arise between the two Parliaments. That would leave the administrative work independent in the two areas of the Parliaments, or provinces, subject to the consideration which might be provided by means of a joint Committee. No doubt, in this as in everything else, the proposal to have two Parliaments is inconvenient, but it is not more inconvenient in this than in other matters. That inconvenience cannot be avoided. I assent to what the Government has proposed that you must 935 have these two separate bodies, and I also agree that you cannot place the North under the same administrative or legislative area as the South. You must submit to the inconvenience and the railway work is not an exception to this. But having done that, you must supply something to make it more convenient with regard to the administrative and legislative functions which arise from partition. Anything would be better than making a machine that will not work. We must try to get something that will work and would have an opportunity or a probability of working. But as I look at it I cannot believe that the Council would be a convenient administrative body nor do I think that we should have these two co-ordinate functions on the part of these bodies. It would lead to chaos and disorganisation.
§ Major O'NEILL
I think there is a good deal in what the Noble Lord has just said with regard to providing some method of adjusting the differences which may arise between these two bodies. The suggestion is certainly worth the serious consideration of the Government. Since we had our last discussion on this matter the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. Neal) has carried out the promise that the Government would provide a White Paper showing the powers exercised by the Government Departments over the Irish railways. I take it that these are the powers which it is proposed to transfer to the Irish Council. I had no conception until I saw them set out in the Paper that the powers with regard to railways were quite as great as this, or that it was proposed to hand over such powers to the Council. It puts the matter in a different complexion and makes it even worse than it was before we knew what the powers were that were to be handed over. As the Noble Lord has just said, this Council is a curious body in many respects. It is to be formed in a curious way. I see there is an Amendment down on the Paper—I do not know whether it is on behalf of the Government or not—to provide that if one Parliament refuses to send delegates to the Council, the Council will continue without the delegates of the other Parliament.
§ Major O'NEILL
There will have to be some provision made to deal with the case if it arises. Altogether the functions which are provided are of a chimerical and illusive character, and they depend entirely upon the goodwill of both Parliaments. If both Parliaments show goodwill something may be done, but we must assume the existence of that goodwill to an extraordinary degree if they are to exercise these very large powers with good effect. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Neal) said just now that he will have another amendment put down by the First Lord of the Admiralty dealing with the subject of these powers. They will have powers, I understand, with regard to the construction, and, I think, the maintenance or improvement of the railways in the exclusive areas administered by both Parliaments. He said that this practically gave private Bill legislation to each Parliament. Does he realise that in a clause already passed—Clause 3 I think—there are provisions dealing with that matter, and I do not think that this will carry it any further. Under one clause these Parliaments have already complete power over private Bill legislation within their own areas, and in Clause 4 the Council have private Bill legislation only with regard to matters which touch upon both the two areas. With regard to any matter of exclusive private Bill legislation each Parliament already has complete powers quite apart from the amendment which has been suggested by the First Lord of the Admiralty. Anything separate from that, the Council could make laws with regard to the railways, even though they are within the areas of the two Parliaments. Therefore, with regard to the construction of railways, and so on, I submit that the Parliaments have already got the powers, and the Council already has certain powers which are very important, but I do not think it is a suitable body to deal with the railways in that way. As I understand the matter they could even nationalise the railways for Ireland. They would not only have power over railways within each jurisdiction, but they would have power to go into another which will be outside. Then with regard to the power of dealing with hours and wages. On that, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Neal) made some observation which I did not quite catch. I think he said the Government would undertake to put 937 down an amendment giving to the two Parliaments powers to deal with wages and other labour matters on the railways, and I think he said that this power would belong to the Council.
§ Mr. NEAL
What I said was that we would put down such an Amendment if there was any general desire for it. What I would suggest is to add the words:Provided that nothing in this Sub-section shall prevent the Parliament of Southern Ireland or of Northern Ireland from making laws with respect to the hours and conditions of employment of existing persons employed on or about the railways.
§ Major O'NEILL
That, I think, is very important, but it would place matters in an intolerable position, because there would be the joint power of legislation on matters of labour and factories and hours and wages, and it will belong to the two Parliaments. They would have parallel powers, and you would also give to the Council these powers over labour, with regard to railways and nothing else. As the Noble Lord (Lord R.Cecil) remarked, that does not take away the powers of the Council with regard to wages and labour matters on the railways. It merely says that nothing shall prevent the local Parliaments from doing these things. Surely we want a further Amendment to put that right. There would be the three different bodies having this power over labour questions on the railways, if you leave to the Council the power to make labour laws over railway matters for the whole of Ireland, even within the jurisdiction of the two Parliaments. I appreciate the fact that the Government has gone some way in the right direction as regards the views which were expressed the other day; but, so far as I am personally concerned, I do not think the Amendment goes far enough in reserving to each Parliament the powers which it should have with regard to the railways in its own area. Nor does it go far enough in regard to the numerous difficulties as between two Parliaments with almost co-ordinate powers.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I cannot find it in Clause 4. I should like to know what advantage it would be to either the Parliaments, the railways, or the share- 938 holders that they should be handed over to the two Parliaments. Just try to conceive what might happen. The Southern Parliament, if the Government Amendment were passed, would have power to construct a railway. I do not know what is the most important railway in the South of Ireland—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Well, then take that railway. If this power be given to the Sinn Feiners, there is nothing to prevent them authorising a parallel railway line along the Great Southern and Western Railway, and when it came to what an hon. Friend of mine has called the frontier I suppose it will have to stop there, because it could not enter into the area of the other Parliament unless the Ulster Parliament agreed. If you have a Council composed equally of Sinn Feiners and loyalists with their different powers, how are you going to deal with that? There would be a deadlock between the two Parliaments. The Southern Parliament would ask permission to run the railway into Ulster to compete with existing lines, and the Ulster Parliament, which I expect would be very practical and would look after the rights of property, would say, "No, this particular line is doing very well; we do not want another line." The Southern line, I say, will end in a field; my hon. Friend says it will end at the frontier. That is what it will come to. Ireland will be divided into two countries, with a frontier between. I regard with apprehension the future of the Irish railways, even under the Council. I see it stated in one paper this morning that the stock of the Great Northern Railway of Ireland stood at 90 before the Bill came in, and that when the Bill came in it fell to 60. If it is handed over to the Sinn Feiners it will fall to nothing. The Government Amendment gets over the difficulty of there being two different sets of people who will not agree, but it does hand over property, which is still of some value, to the Sinn Fein Parliament, who will probably destroy it. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport made, as I thought, an extremely interesting speech a few days ago on this very question. It was the finest speech against the Bill that I have ever 939 heard during the whole discussion, either on the Second Reading or in the Committee stage. He pointed out how absolutely impossible it was to conduct affairs in a country divided into two, in which one division was absolutely antagonistic to the other. His speech was an extremely statesmanlike one, though how he reconciled it with his vote on the Second Reading I do not know. He showed how absolutely impossible it was to arrange that anything like businesslike methods should be carried out if the railway companies were to be divided up, and one-half put under the control of the Southern Parliament and one-half under the Northern Parliament. My solution is different. I would not put them under the control of the Northern Parliament, or of the Southern Parliament, or of the Council; I would leave them under the control of the English Parliament. That would be by far the simplest, and would probably result, not only in better travelling for the Irish, but in better dividends for the shareholders.
§ Mr. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN
I do not know whether the views I hold upon this matter are peculiar to myself, but I would like to put them before the Committee as those of one who is struggling to retain the last remnant of reality in this Bill. My belief in it has been gradually whittled away, partly by the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) and others, and partly by the condition of Ireland itself. I wonder, sometimes, whether the Government themselves still retain their faith in the reality and possibility of the working of a Bill of this kind. I think the only ground for any optimism that I may still have left is my conviction that no situation could really be as impossible as the Irish situation appears to be. Although that does not sound very hopeful, I believe, seeing that even in Ireland human nature is not unknown, that there may be some reaction yet in that country from the attitude of hopelessness and the condition of anarchy and chaos into which it has fallen. I am particularly anxious that we should not do anything in this Bill which will take away from any moderate men, who may still be disposed to snatch at the possibility of a settlement, their last remaining 940 hopes. I have the greatest belief in the sincerity and patriotism of my right hon. Friend the Member for Duncairn. I have the greatest belief in his capacity, and especially in his critical capacity. In this matter, however, he and his friends are vitally interested, and it is not possible for them to look upon it with that air of detachment which is necessary in considering a Bill of this character. It is natural for them to say, "If we must have Home Rule for Ulster, let us, at any rate, have as compact and workable a scheme as can be devised." But the primary object of this Bill is not to give Home Rule to Ulster—at least, it was not when we started. I take it that the primary object was to pave the way for an ultimate settlement of the eternal Irish Question. If you are going to take away from the Council—the one body which symbolises the possibility of ultimate union—even the small powers which are given to it in the Bill, I think you are going to destroy, once and for all, any possible hope that this Bill can achieve the object with which it was framed.
A criticism was made, in the previous Debate on this Amendment, that the Clause was going to take away from the Northern and Southern Parliaments their powers to make railways which might be exclusively within their own areas. I think that was a reasonable objection, and I think that the Amendment which the Government have put down is a reasonable way of meeting it. My right hon. Friend opposite (Sir F. Banbury) is not satisfied. You cannot please him. Nothing that you can do is going to satisfy his objections, because, really, he would like to tear up the whole Bill. He says you are going to have the possibility of a conflict between the Council and one of these Parliaments. He says they may both decide to make a railway covering practically exactly the same line. Surely that is to suppose that there is no common sense left in Ireland. What is the possibility of imagining that one of these bodies is going to duplicate an existing line, as my right hon. Friend suggested? Where are they going to get the finance? How are they going to persuade anyone to find the money for duplicating a line, a large part of the raison d'être of which is that it does cross what he calls the frontier, and gives continuous communication between the North and the South?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I point out to my hon. Friend that that has happened in America, and I am not at all sure that it has not been tried some years ago here in England.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
They have a good deal more money in America than we have on this side, and perhaps it amuses them to indulge in wild-cat schemes of that kind; but I cannot conceive that such a thing is possible over here, or that either the Council or the Parliaments of Ireland would be so foolish. I hope the Government will stick to the Clause as it stands, subject to the Amendment they have put down, and I hope my hon. Friends opposite will see their way to withdraw this present Amendment.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has told us that he takes the view that, if you take away the Council, you at once lose all hope of unity between the North and the South. I must beg to differ entirely from that view. My view of the situation is that, if anything is going to help to prevent unity, it is this very miserable Council which the House seems so anxious to set up. We are fighting at the present moment over the constitution and powers to be given to this Council, and every single point that has been brought forward, up to the present time, shows me, at any rate, that the Council, instead of bringing the two Parliaments together, is going to have the very opposite effect, and to act as a sort of lever for keeping them apart. It is, perhaps, not altogether in order to refer to the Amendment which I have put down later, proposing to leave out the sub-section immediately following this. I think that that is a most pernicious sub-section, the working of which, instead of bringing peace and goodwill between the North and South of Ireland, will have the very opposite effect. The hon. Member who has just sat down also informed us that we representatives of the North of Ireland were not able to view this matter with the same air of detachment with which he and others may view it. That is, no doubt, perfectly true, but, unfortunately. we have a long history behind us on the subject of Home Rule, and when we are brought up against what may happen, as between ourselves and our fellow-countrymen in the South and West of Ireland, we have to take a very suspicious and 942 exhaustive view of any legislation which it is proposed to set up. I maintain, as I and my friends have often done before, that in this matter we are very much better judges than the vast majority of hon. Members of this House as to what is likely to happen in this country. If any hon. Member will take the trouble to look into the speeches of my hon. Friends from Ulster in the past, he will find that almost everything that has happened, and is happening at this moment, in Ireland, has been foreseen and predicted by us at one time or another. Therefore I say—without any intention of offence towards my hon. Friend—that we are the best judges in a matter like this.
Great weight unquestionably attaches to the arguments put forward from these benches in support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Duncairn, who, I am sorry to say, is unwell and is unable to be present to take part in the discussion of the Bill to-day. The Government have acknowledged, by placing on the Paper an Amendment dealing with the question, that there is weight in our arguments, but they have not gone far enough to satisfy us. We still maintain that these railway questions are much too far-reaching and much too important to be allowed to go out of our hands. We feel in the North of Ireland—and we should feel the same with regard to the South if we were arguing it from their point of view—that this is a matter which is too important to be handed over to a third party. My right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) is in favour of continuing in the Council this power of legislation with regard to railways, because he says that, if the Southern Parliament has power over railways, they will do all sorts of foolish things. He may be right or he may be wrong, but I would point out to him that there would be no question about both Paliaments having full powers over their own railways, were it not for the fact that they run into one another's territories. If this were like any other important question which did not affect both of them in the way in which railways do, there would never have been any question of putting the railways into the hands of a third body. If we could get rid of this difficulty of co-ordination, I do not suppose that the Government would insist upon their being placed 943 under different control from any other of the numerous important matters dealt with in the Bill. I would point out to the Government that two solutions of the problem have been put forward this afternoon. One was the total reservation of the question of railways in the hands of the Imperial Parliament. There has also been the suggestion of my Noble Friend (Lord H. Cecil) that they should be carried over through the two Parliaments in Ireland, the Council to be set up as a conciliatory body to bring them together. Both or either of these suggestions to my mind would be better than the system adopted in the Bill. I think the two Parliaments ought to have the fullest possible control over the railways subject, if need be, to a conciliatory body, such as the Council might be made, but if that cannot be done I would rather see the railways as a reserved service entirely than placed under the control of the Council, for I cannot hide from myself for a moment, in spite of all that has been said about the moderate men who may find their way on to the Council, that there would be infinite trouble if this matter was taken out of the hand of the two Parliaments which are primarily concerned and primarily responsible for the matter. Therefore I was going to suggest to the Government that, as they have done in other matters, they should reserve their final decision in this matter until the Report stage. Let them, if need be, consult people from Ireland who are interested in railways and who can speak with authority on this subject. Let them consult in fact whoever they like as to what shall be done, but they must surely see from the criticisms which have been directed towards this Clause that what they propose does not meet with the approval of any section of the community in Ireland, so far as we are able to speak for those communities, and I believe we can speak for them fully in this matter. If they will leave the matter open and consult with people whose opinions are valuable on the subject—after all it is only a comparatively short Clause—and if they could bring up a Clause on Report they would, I think, meet the situation. If not, I regret to say I do not consider that the Amendment which has been placed upon the Paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Long) meets 944 the case, and unless we can have the matter postponed I am afraid my Friends and myself will have to go to a Division.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The discussion on this Amendment is travelling a little too wide. Two points have been decided by the Committee, first of all on Clause 2, that there is to be a Council of Ireland, and secondly, on Clause 4, that the railways are not to be a reserved service. The point open to us to discuss now is whether railways shall be divided between the two Parliaments or whether or not they are to be administered by the Council. I would ask hon. Members to keep to that point.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I think there has been already a good deal of consultation between the Government and Members of the House and various representatives of the Irish railways. As far as I have been able to learn, there is one point in regard to which there is virtual unanimity among the Irish representatives, and that is that they do not desire to be put under the jurisdiction of the two provincial Parliaments, as far as I am able to understand their views, the Southern or the Northern Parliament. Looking at the matter from a purely practical and administrative standpoint, it seems to me, as an outsider I admit, perfectly monstrous to suggest putting the railway system of the country under two provincial Parliaments. I cannot imagine how any practical person with a view to the businesslike organisation of the railway system of Ireland, can incline to that solution of the difficulty. If I am permitted to allude to the alternative suggested by the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury), I think there is a very great deal to be said for that solution, but if I have to choose between the only two alternatives which you, Sir, have left to me, that is to say, dividing the Irish system into two halves and placing each half under the jurisdiction of one or other of the provincial Parliaments, and placing the system, as the Bill originally proposed to do, in the hands of the Council, I must reluctantly decide in favour of the Council. I think the argument of the Noble Lord was on that point unanswerable, that you cannot divide this jurisdiction, you cannot have two co-ordinate bodies functioning in Ireland, on the one hand the Council, and on the other the two provincial Parliaments. That seems to me of all 945 possible solutions the worst—in fact, an impossible one.
I am not perfectly clear what is proposed, I admit. But what is proposed in the Bill—I am not suggesting that it satisfies me—is to put the railways in the hands of the Council. That was objected to, as I understand, by my right hon. Friend (Sir E. Carson), and in order to meet his views up to a certain point, my right hon. Friend (Mr. Long) has put down an Amendment as follows:Provided that nothing in this Sub-section shall prevent the Parliament of Southern Ireland or of Northern Ireland making laws authorising the construction, extension, or improvement of railways where the works to be constructed are situate wholly in Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland as the case may be.Now my hon. Friends below me say that is not setting up a co-ordinate authority in Ireland. Then what is it doing? I am at a loss to understand. It seems to me my Noble Friend is right in suggesting that this is setting up a coordinate authority which is not likely to work. Therefore, if I am confined to the two alternatives, I am bound to express my preference for the Bill as it stands, and I regret that, until further advised, I shall vote against the Amendment.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
It is not often that I find myself in disagreement with my hon. Friend (Mr. Marriott) and I am not wholly in disagreement with him now. But it appears to me that he is in a somewhat confused state of mind as to what this Clause will or can do. I agree that nothing can be more impossible than to have two authorities both having jurisdiction with regard to railways in a particular area. That is the proposal of the Government. That is what will be the result of the Bill as it stands, plus the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. That appears to me to be the most impossible of all solutions.
§ Mr McNEILL
Then I agree with my hon. Friend there. But, when it comes to deciding between the other alternatives, between giving jurisdiction in the matter to the Council or giving it to the two several Parliaments in their respective areas, I disagree with my hon. Friend, and surely both he and other hon. Members have very much exaggerated 946 the difficulty of having two several areas with a railway running from one to the other with different jurisdictions. There are innumerable examples of such in the world, with most efficient railway administration. I need not refer to a railway that runs from one foreign country to another, although the analogy would be a perfectly fair one, but it might be thought in other respects to be out of sympathy with the matter we are considering. But take our own Dominions before they were united in a federal system. There are plenty of illustrations in Australia and South Africa where there are trunk lines running from one political unit to another political unit, and the joint management of the railway has never been proved to be a matter of very great difficulty. It is, of course, always done by an arrangement made between the two authorities, where it is clear to both that there is some matter which their common interests demand should be done. Therefore I do not think really that there is the slightest difficulty in that solution of the matter. But now my hon. Friend (Mr. N. Chamberlain) says—and I can quite understand his point of view—"Do not be so particular about having a practicable and workable scheme. Do be a little more idealistic. Do not knock out of the Bill something which, although it may be a very bad working system, will provide a symbol." I think that is asking too much of those who are interested in the matter from a practical point of view. I do not think my hon. Friend, who himself is a very distinguished man in municipal and business affairs, would, if it was a matter of practical administrative concern for the City of Birmingham, say, "It does not matter whether we have a good tramway or railway system; let us have a symbol." I hope very much that the House of Commons will regard this railway question from a purely practical point of view.
The people in the North of Ireland feel very strongly, being a commercial community for whom matters of transport are of very vital and very rapidly increasing importance, that it is of very urgent concern to them that the future control of the railways, upon which their commerce to a large extent depends, should be under their own jurisdiction. 947 That appears to me to be a very reasonable demand. The Government proposes that they should have control of new works or extensions or improvements of existing railways, but that another authority, over whom they have no control, shall have concurrent jurisdiction to make railways in that area; although I agree that there is not much likelihood of people making two long trunk lines side by side. That is rather a fanciful idea, but surely it is not a fanciful idea that in an area such as the Northern Parliament of Ireland will control, if the Council can make a railway and the Parliament can make a new railway, there will, at all events, be very inconvenient and perhaps very procrastinating negotiations where disagreement arises as to the precise direction that railway should take, the gauge by which it should be built, which is a matter very often of hot discussion in Ireland, and all matters of that sort. It appears to me to be introducing perfectly gratuitously into the Bill an element of discord and maladministration by proposing that these two authorities should act side by side in a matter of this sort. What about such questions as railway rates and the control of them? There again it appears to me that the proposal of the Government is most extraordinary. The local Parliament may have power to make a new railway or to extend an old one, but when it is made they are to have no control over the rates to be charged, over the regulations in regard to its working, or over the labour employed upon it. I trust my hon. Friend will give consideration to what we have said. I was not able to be here on the last occasion when we debated this matter, but I have closely followed the Debate. I am certain that the Amendment which he has put down is a sincere attempt on his part to meet the objection raised by the right hon. Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson); but I do hope now that he has had some further opportunity of considering the way in which it will work, that he will see that the Amendment which he has offered really does not succeed in doing what I believe he himself wants, and that in these circumstances he will either adopt the suggestion to defer a final decision upon the matter until the Report stage 948 is reached, or, if he does not see his way to do that, that he will make some other proposal in order td meet the case.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I understood the hon. Member (Mr. R. M'Neill) to say that there was no difficulty in our Dependencies in regard to railways, and that he mentioned Canada. In Canada, I understand, the making of railways is settled by the Dominion Parliament.
I deplore, as one of the few people who have tried to follow this Debate from the Irish point of view, the lamentable weakness which the Government is showing in regard to the Irish Council. The hon. Member (Mr. M'Neill) has shown the complete impracticability of the Amendment which the Government have put on the Paper. You cannot give the local Parliaments control over the working of the railways while you retain for the Council control over rates. Therefore it is quite evident that you must have one thing or the other. You must either give all the powers to the Council or give all the powers to the local Parliament. It is not merely on the particular merits of this question that I want to make an appeal to the Government, but on wider grounds, and the danger which the Government's course means to the prospects of their Bill. This Bill has very few friends. There are a few moderate men who think that you may be able to bring about conciliation in Ireland, and they attach enormous importance to the machinery in the Bill that would tend towards unification. It is not in order for me to discuss the Council, but I do think that if the Government do not take a firm stand on this question of railways being given to the Council, everybody in Ireland will feel that partition is the deliberate policy of the Government, and is bound to be permanent. The Ulster Members have made the case that it is for the efficiency of the railways that they should be retained under the two Parliaments. I do not know whether they have any definite evidence as to the wish of the railway directors. I have heard from one railway, and, far from wanting the provision lessened or weakened, they wish to bring the light railways under the powers of the Council, as well as the broad gauge railways as proposed in this Bill. I do not attach enormous im- 949 portance to the wishes of railway shareholders, or the feelings of railway directors.
I frankly look upon this matter very much as a matter of principle which must be largely concerned with Irish sentiment. The Ulster people quite frankly and honestly take the view that they cannot trust the Southern Parliament to play the game in anything that has to do with the Northern Parliament. Their view is, that no sense of responsibility can ever be felt by those who have been turning Ireland into a bear garden. I do not dispute that there is very much to be said for their point of view, and I do not in the least degree wish to say they are wrong. It is quite possible that no conciliation can succeed in Ireland, but the point is, that that is not the Government position. The Government, all through, say they are out for a settlement. They really do profess to believe that if you give Ireland something of what is asked, something to allow it to accept full nationality in self-governing powers in the future, you may be able to solve the question. Therefore, it is most inconsistent on the part of the Government to take up that position on the Bill as a whole, while on this point they take the contrary attitude. If, by their decision in this matter, the Government show no regard for Irish feeling, as apart from that voiced by the hon. Members for Ulster, the Bill will be looked upon as a farce by everybody in Ireland, and the few friends that it still has will feel that all talk about conciliation is humbug.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I desire, from another point of view, to reinforce the appeal made by my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness) and the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain). The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport has spoken with characteristic fairness, and has left the Committee in no doubt as to the purport of the Amendments which the Government are prepared to accept; but it has left me very much in doubt as to what is to be the result if the Government pursue their course. If ever there was a question on which first thoughts were better and second thoughts were worse, this is a case in which the Government's first thoughts were better. I regard this Clause and the Sub-clause as going abso- 950 lutely to the root of the Bill, and I ask the Committee to accept that view not on my statement but on the statement of the Prime Minister. On the Second Reading debate, when the Prime Minister wound up, in reply to the charge that the Council which was to be established was a bloodless creature and a thing that would have no power, he repudiated the assertion with the greatest warmth and said it was a body which was vital to the purposes of the Bill, and a body which was to be vested with the largest possible powers. He said:This is a Bill which gives the whole powers of private Bill legislation to the Council. I do not dwell upon it, because I come to the second, which is much more important, … railways. What does that mean? The whole of the enormous powers which have been conferred on the Government Department of this country to deal with railways are not merely handed over to this Council, but they are handed over for all time.There was no possible question here of division of responsibility. The Prime Minister was answering the charge that this Bill was not a reality, that the purpose of the Bill was not a reality and that the Council was not a reality. He defended the Council upon the ground of the wide powers that were to be handed over to it in regard to railways. He went on to say:I remember the denunciation by the associates of my right hon. Friend in the House of Lords, by Lord Buckmaster and Lord Crewe, of this gigantic Bill.He was referring to the Ministry of Transport Bill.That was to hand over for two years these powers to a Government Department left under the supervision of an Imperial Parliament, with many of the powers only to be exercised under a Provisional Order obtained after coming back to this Parliament. Without any of those conditions all these powers are handed over to this Council.. … Those are gigantic powers, powers not to be exercised for two years by reference to Provisional Orders which enable this Parliament to control it, which are handed over with full administrative and legislative powers to this Council. Anybody who knows how important transport is as an agency for developing the trade, commerce, industry and agriculture of a country will admit the folly of treating that as if it were a mere skeleton of no account at all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st March, 1920, Cols. 1330–1331, Vol. 127.]Therefore, I ask the Government to reconsider the position in the light of the Prime Minister's statement, and with a 951 view to showing the possibility of getting something real out of this Bill. The Prime Minister was absolutely right in making that appeal, and in voting for the Second Reading we had those words in our mind. Large numbers of Members voted for the Second Reading because they believed that the Bill was conceived for the purpose of bringing about Irish unity, and with the possibility of conciliation, and we have that possibility still in our minds. But I very much doubt, from time to time, whether any such possibility still exists in the minds of right hon. and hon. Members on the Treasury Bench. In this matter we have come to the parting of the ways. If you want to test the type of power which you can give to this Council, you could not find a better type of power to give to them than the administration of the railways. Sectarian prejudices do not arise in the administration of railways. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Some of my hon. Friends want to find sectarian prejudices everywhere. If two sets of people are determined to raise sectarian prejudices in everything, I dare say you could raise sectarian prejudices over a cattle market. [An HON. MEMBER: "Religious education!"] That is a very different thing. That is a thing in which religion is naturally instinct in the subject under discussion, but it requires a good deal of ingenuity to introduce questions about the 39 Articles and a shorter catechism into the policy of railway rates. It seems to me that railways involve common interests affecting the whole country without arousing any prejudices. I moved an Amendment earlier in order to try to secure that the area of Ulster should be nine counties instead of six, but that Amendment was not accepted, and was withdrawn. I was much impressed with the case which my hon. Friends from Ulster made out on that occasion, but the very case they made out for having six counties instead of nine makes it all the more important that the Council and not the Parliament of these six counties should have control of the administration of railways in the North of Ireland. From the practical point of view, what on earth is going to be the position of railways in Donegal if the administration is to be partly in the hands of the Council and partly in these two Parliaments? The 952 whole of the practical convenience is on the side of the arrangement originally proposed, and so is the sentiment, and I am surprised to hear anybody from Ireland saying that sentiment counts for nothing. It has been suggested that you get as good railway administration in other places—Australia was cited as an example—if you leave the administration in the hands of individual States. I think I am right in saying, though I am speaking from memory, that in Australia there are differences in gauge between the railways of one State and those of another, and if Australia had to organise its railways over again, not for one moment would it invest administration in the individual states. It has cost them millions of money. On the question of convenience, the whole argument which we have had for centralising and vesting in the Minister of Transport the powers we have given him is in favour of vesting these powers in the Council and not in the Parliaments, and I cannot conceive why the Government are whittling down what they originally put into the Bill. My hon Friend said there is an Amendment in the name of the First Lord of the Admiralty giving concurrent jurisdiction to establish railways. That arrangement has, I think, been sufficiently demolished by the Member for St. Augustine's, in whose interests it was proposed that it should be inserted, and I hope we shall not hear much more of it. If any offer were looked upon as a Greek gift by the Trojans, that Amendment is looked upon as a Greek gift by my hon. Friend, but I was much more exercised at the most alarming prospect opened up by the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, who told us, as I understood, not that the Government would introduce an Amendment, but if someone introduced the Amendment the Government would oppose it—(Mr. NEAL interrupted with a remark which was not audible in the reporters' gallery.) Oh, I beg pardon. It went a step further than I thought. I understood that they would introduce an Amendment which vested control of labour question—
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I do not know how my hon. Friend is going to arrive at a general desire. I want a little 953 more light and leading from the Government. I want a little more backbone. I quite understand that my hon. Friend is not responsible for the Amendments of this portion of the Bill, that it is those who are sitting beside him, but this goes to the root of the policy. I should have thought it was sufficiently inconvenient if the picture which my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford (Lord Hugh Cecil) drew of a railway possibly stopping in a field, were true. But I think other railways, which run on lines already laid; might easily stop if you had this dual control over labour legislation. What will happen supposing a seven-hour day is approved on the section of the line which runs through the Northern area, and a nine-hour day on the section in the Southern area? If I happen to be travelling to Donegal, I could easily conceive that when the train arrived at the border we might have quite as long to wait as we now wait at at the Customs barriers on foreign borders, until someone who was a seven hour or nine-hour a day man was prepared to drive the train along. This is an example, if ever there was one, of a case where the Government got hold of the right end of the stick to start with, and put it down in answer to pressure, pressure which was wholly inconsistent with the purpose of the Bill. They go trying to make concessions, and whittle the thing away here and there, with the result that they get into a hopeless bog. They do not placate their opponents and they alienate their friends. I sincerely hope the Government will reconsider its decision and stick to its guns and leave this Clause in the form in which the Prime Minister described it in his speech on the Second Reading.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
I do not profess to have the knowledge that my hon. Friends from Ireland have as to what might be the effect of the legislation there, but, looking at the question generally, it seems to me that what the Government proposed in their original Bill was that the power to legislate on the subject of railways should be vested in the Council. Now the hon. and learned Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) proposes to strike out the power to legislate with reference to the railways, and that would leave the making of laws in regard to railways with this Parliament.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is not quite so. The effect of the Amendment now before the Committee would be to divide the administration and legislation for the railways between the two Parliaments, the Northern and the Southern Parliament, not to throw it back upon this Parliament.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
It was only as a preliminary that I was suggesting that the effect of the proposal of the hon. Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) would be to leave the legislation and the Departmental operation of the railways with the Council. What is proposed is this, that while the administration of the railways generally will be in the hands of the Council power will be granted by the Amendment proposed by the Government to construct extensions of railways and new railways in the particular areas of Northern Ireland and of Southern Ireland, as the case might be. Would that be a practicable scheme? It seems to me, if the Government proposals are carried, that while you leave general legislative power with the Council in respect to railways, yet as a subsidiary power you grant a right to the two Provinces to construct railways for themselves in their own Provinces. Is that an unprecedented thing? It was done under the British North America Act. Whereas the Government of the Dominion of Canada has full control of railways extending over the whole country or a railway extending up to the frontier of one Province and then going beyond that Province into another Province or into the United States, so long as the railway remains a railway for a particular Province and is within that Province it is under local jurisdiction. There is no great hardship in the operation of that system. The result of it is that a Province has, as a rule, abstained from constructing such railways because they would have to construct them at their own expense. Southern Ireland would surely not be so foolish as to sot to work to construct parallel lines to the existing lines under the control of the Council, and running them with a yearly deficit. The thing would be foolish. And I am perfectly certain that the sensible men of Northern Ireland, who are pre-eminently business men of the first order, never would think of constructing a railway within their own area, unless they saw that it was an absolutely safe thing to do, 955 and that it could be done for the benefit of their particular section of the country. And if it were so, why should they not construct it? So far as I have been able to follow the course of the Debate, it seems to me that there is no contradiction of powers, but the enlargement of power originally given in the Bill to the particular provinces, to allow them to construct local railways for themselves and at their own expense, if they want to.
§ Mr. NEAL
I do not propose to detain the Committee many minutes in reply to the extremely interesting discussion we have had since I spoke at the beginning of the Debate, but I should like to recall the minds of hon. Members to the exact proposal at present before the Committee. It is a proposal in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Duncairn, to strike out Sub-section 2 of Clause 10, the effect of which would be to leave the whole Irish administration of railways and legislation affecting railways in the two Parliaments. One of my hon. Friends who took part in the discussion, suggested that we might take counsel with the Irish railway companies before the Report stage. My hon. Friend was unfortunately absent last time, when this matter was under discussion, or he would have remembered that we had taken that obvious preliminary step, not once, but twice, before this matter was brought before Parliament at all. I am able to say that the railway companies of Ireland look with something approaching horror upon the possibility of railway administration and railway legislation being split up in the way it would be if this Amendment were to succeed. There has been circulated a White Paper showing the very large number of administrative duties at present being conducted under the aegis of the Ministry of Transport which will have to be conducted by some Government in Ireland when this Bill becomes law. What is the proposal of the supporters of the Amendment with reference to these matters? I have followed every word that has been said, and not one of them has yet intimated his view upon that question. Would they have two Departments for all these questions of public adminstration or railways, affecting the safety and convenience of passengers, the investigation of accidents and the thousand and one things which 956 come under the administrative jurisdiction of the Government? Would they have two Departments set up in Ireland, a Northern Department and a Southern Department Would they duplicate all the officials who would be necessary; or how would they deal with it? I do not know whether my hon. Friends who have spoken with so much eloquence and vigour upon this matter have purposely avoided dealing with this question, but I do know the simple fact that not one of them has contributed to the discussion his solution of the difficulty which will have to be dealt with by the Government, whatever that Government may be.
§ Mr. NEAL
The practical difficulties would be you would have a Government Department dealing with the administration of railways in the North and a Government Department dealing with the administration of railways in the South, while the railways themselves are not confined either to the North or the South, but run between the two and run in and out. You would necessarily have a vast wastage of public money and a considerable overlapping of functions which are much more conveniently dealt with by one Department. My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Sir P. L. Greame) dealt with this point when he said that the reason for the existence of the Ministry of Transport in our own country was unification of control. The powers of various Government Departments have been collected together in one Ministry, and this administration of these services is the answer, I think, to this part of the Amendment. What is the other part of the Amendment? It deals with legislation. My hon. Friend stated that the Government was not sufficiently stiff-backed in this matter. It is quite impossible to be sure that you please anyone if you try to please everyone. The whole object of discussion and 957 debate, particularly of Committee discussion, is to see that the Government are not too stiff-backed in their attitude, that they are amenable to reason and argument. We endeavour to consider on their merits the proposals made by hon. Members upon a practical question of this kind. See what it is. My right hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Carson), whose Amendment we are discussing, in his speeches at the last sitting of the Committee indicated the points upon which he desired information. The first I have dealt with. He wished to know what are the administrative powers that are going to be handed over, and then he used these words:The Sub-section speaks of the power to make laws with respect to railways. What does that mean? Does it mean that, say, the North of Ireland Parliament could not ma ke a short railway within the six counties? Is the law that enables you to make a railway, and to acquire land for the purpose, law in respect of railways? Certainly, so far as I am concerned, and I think my colleagues will agree. …I wish my right hon. and learned Friend were here to-day. I believe all his colleagues would have agreed with him if he had been present. The right hon. Gentleman went on:Certainly, so far as I am concerned, and I think my colleagues will agree with me, we would think it a monstrous proposal that you could not make a railway within the jurisdiction of the Parliaments you are setting up, because that would be absurd.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
Certainly, the three of us who have spoken this afternoon have enforced that as strongly as we can.
§ Mr. NEAL
If I misunderstood or misrepresented my hon. Friends, I should be extremely sorry. As I understood the trend of their argument, it was that they did not desire this particular form of legislation, to give this power. Certainly one speaker referred to Private Bill legislation, and in opposition to the Amendment to be moved later in the name of the First Lord of the Admiralty. The Government have by that Amendment, which we can more conveniently discuss when we reach it, endeavoured to meet the point of the right hon. Gentleman in reference to the construction of railways. Further than 958 that the Government do not see their way to go. To put the existing railways under dual control would be certainly to cause great anxiety, and I think it would cause confusion and chaos in the administration of the railways. Arguments have been used with reference to the Council. I do not propose to deal with any of them. I suggest that the discussion, interesting as it has been, has probably exhausted its useful purpose. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That is a matter entirely for the Committee itself. I was hoping that at this stage we might divide on this particular Amendment to strike out the Sub-section, and that discussion could then be continued upon the Amendment which stands in the name of my right hon. Friend the First Lord, which represents the attempt of the Government to meet the proposals of their critics while they are yet in the way.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I appreciate the very forcible and natural character of the appeal of my hon. Friend, but this Amendment is an Amendment of the highest importance as regards principle, and also of very great consequence as regards practical working. I desire to emphasise as strongly as I can what has fallen from the hon. Member for Hendon (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame) and the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness), as to the extreme importance of keeping this Sub-section in the Bill in the form in which it was in the Bill originally. There are many of us whose main objection to this Bill altogether is that it goes nothing like far enough in giving power to a Council or Parliament representing the whole of Ireland. It will be entirely in the teeth of all Ministerial declarations and the most authoritative expositions of the Bill if the little which is left for the Council to do were made less in any way. From the point of view of those who attach the greatest importance to having not only the symbol of unified administration and legislation in Ireland, but the fact of that unified administration and legislation in a very important aspect, I press upon the Government to stand absolutely firm with regard to this. I cannot but notice with great interest the speeches and the ingenuity of some hon. Members—speeches curiously detached, in many cases, from the ultimate object of those making them. 959 It is clear for all to see that behind their arguments there is a desire to make this Bill as little as possible, and there is also an indication that there will be no grief if the Bill became so small as to disappear altogether. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend (Mr. Moles) confirms me in that view.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
Very sorry. I am a lifelong Home Ruler, and I am a Home Ruler to-day. Those of us who are Home Rulers are asked to support this Bill.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)
The hon. and learned Gentleman is now discussing the Bill, and not the Amendment.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
If you had allowed me to end the sentence, you would have seen that it was in order.
§ Sir R. ADKINS
I withdraw that remark. Because this particular Clause, the Amendment to which is the exclusive subject now before the Committee, is a Clause which in itself emphasises more fully than anything else in the Bill the necessity of a central Council in Ireland, and the fact that that Council is to have actual work to do, I ask the Government to retain this Clause in its full power, to resist any Amendment to withdraw that power and to resist an Amendment none the less because it is making them show very imperfect sympathy with the policy of the Bill as declared in this particular Clause. With reference to the Government Amendment, to which reference has been made, if carried out, in action I think it would embarrass railway administration in Ireland. It is difficult, however, to conceive that it could be carried out except in small matters, in which it would really not be relevant to the issues raised. I for one have no objection to that Amendment if not extended beyond its present term. I merely note the want of cordiality with which it has been 960 accepted by those to meet whose presumed opinions it was brought in. As regards the Amendment now before the House, I hope it will be rejected without a Division.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I think my hon. Friend (Mr. Neal) hardly summed up quite fairly the discussion to which he was replying. As I followed it, it went like this. There were those who are in favour, as I am, of leaving this administration of railways in the hands of the two Parliaments, like every other department of Irish administration. There were those who are in favour of retaining the full control of the Council; and there were those who are in favour of the proposal for a double system of administration, a double administrative body. There were those three bodies of opinion. I want to say a few words in favour of the view that the administration and legislation relating to Irish railways should be left to the two Parliaments, subject, of course, to their own power of legislating by identical Acts. It has been said that it is more convenient to have one body. There is, of course, very great weight in that consideration. There is an immense inconvenience in having, for example, two systems of labour legislation operating in the same area. That might lead to great unrest. It is an illustration of the possible danger of the Council operating in respect of railways and the Parliaments operating in respect of everything else. It has been said that we do not hear so much about the practical difficulties as of the Council as a symbol. I am most anxious, though a strong opponent of the Bill—I do not want to conceal that—to discuss this. Amendment on the basis of accepting the theory of the Bill. The theory of the Bill is that it is to work well during the period of partition and is to give every facility to union if the two parts desire it. How does your symbol or your Council administering the railways facilitate the temper of union? You do not get it by mere administrative working.
Let us rid our minds of the idea that the division in Ireland is a mere question of partisanship, like a division between Conservatism and Liberalism, or between Liberalism and Labour. It is a quasi national distinction. That distinction can only be bridged over by a profound change of temper. If you have the Council administering railways, it is not going to bridge over a deep and historic 961 division dating back beyond the Battle of the Boyne and all the blood and misery that that division is associated with on both sides. Is it supposed that by having a Council settling questions of railway policy you are going to do that? I do not believe it for a moment. If the thing is important at all in this profound aspect, the contrary is much more likely to happen and to be a source of irritation. Let me direct the Committee's attention to the question of railway rates. I am not competent to discuss these transport questions with the knowledge of an expert, but I should have thought that the question Of railway rates was a very important aspect of administration where you are contemplating the possibility of difference of opinion. Nothing is easier than to damage a particular place or an unpopular employer or a district or a trade by differentiation of railway rates. It has been suggested that the Standard Oil Company built up its great monopoly by corrupt administration of railway rates.
On the question of safeguards, an hon. Member says that we must assume that people will act reasonably, but if you assume that, how is there that there is an Irish question at all, as the Irish question is a living monument to the unreasonableness of the Irish people. The question of Home Rule would be solved to-morrow if everybody acted reasonably, nor under those circumstances would it matter very much what particular form of Government you had. You have to assume the possibility that people will act unreasonably, and that the South or the North, because either might do it, might use divisions of labour for the purpose of making mischief in the other parts of the country. They might, too, use railway rates to give Protestants or Roman Catholics an advantage, or those who dislike the connection with England might use railway rates as a sort of protection against goods brought from England and Scotland. All these dangers have to be faced, but the theory of the Bill is that the way to deal with these dangers is to leave the matter to the two Parliaments. It is not denied there will be dangers and difficulties, and that there are age-long hostilities. For the purpose of meeting all those difficulties you propose to set up two Parliaments, and why should you leave the railways out of the subject matters to be dealt with by those Parliaments? Surely it is 962 more reasonable to allow free control in the two provinces over railways, remembering always that it is perfectly easy for the two Parliaments to join together by the machinery of the Bill on anything on which they wish to co-operate. They can, within a month of their meeting, set op a joint Board to control all kinds of railway administration and give it any powers they please. Is not that an immensely more reasonable way and more consistent with the principle of the Bill than the proposal of the Government and of some hon. Members? The only method we can adopt is to try and make the provisions of the Bill workable, and if we make the Bill work smoothly, that is the most we can hope, and it is more than I anticipate. Do not let us concern ourselves about vague generalities as to the symbolism of the Irish Council. I am in favour of the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson).
§ Lieut.-Colonel CROFT
May I claim the indulgence of the Committee whilst I recant some of my former opinions, which is always a painful task. Prior to the most recent discussions we have had on this Bill, I was one of those who always held as a Federalist that it was essential that we should, under any scheme of devolution, give Ireland control of its own railways. Recently circumstances, with which we are all familiar, came about by which we saw the action of the Irish railwaymen's union in a particular case to thwart the action of the Imperial Government. That caused me, personally, very grave doubts as to whether the Government on Report stage would not have to reconsider the whole question of reserved services, but on this Amendment I cannot enter into that matter. In making my apologia for having held this view, and spoken in favour of it listening to the discussion this afternoon, hon. Members representing Ulster have convinced me that their proposal is wrong, and hon. Members representing the South of Ireland have convinced me that their proposal also is wrong. I see no possible way out of this hopeless position except to reconsider the whole matter between now and Report stage, if indeed the Bill reaches that stage.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. HOARE
I have risen to emphasise the remarks that have been made by the hon. Member for Bury 963 St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness) and other hon. Members which have indicated very clearly that this is a very significant and very important Amendment, as showing the whole attitude of the Government towards this Bill. On the Second Reading I ventured to make a speech, in which I said quite definitely that I could only support the Second Reading upon the assumption that the principle of the Bill was the ultimate unity of Ireland. This Debate has shown that a great many in the Committee, and the Ulster Members in particular, are regarding the Bill, not from that point of view at all, but from the point of view of making partition permanent. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] That is the only construction I can put on their attitude. Time after time during the Debates we have already had proposals have been made to whittle down the various powers which are given to the central authority in Ireland. On that account I should greatly regret, first of all the passing of this Amendment, and, secondly, the passing of the consequential Amendments which the Government have put upon the Paper. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport has alluded to those two Amendments, which he intends later to move. As far as I understand them they will make the confusion of railway administration in Ireland worse confounded. One cannot dissociate their consideration from this Amendment. They are tied up with it. If an Amendment is carried which allows the local Parliaments to initiate their own Private Bill legislation for the making of railways in their own areas, along with the railway powers which will remain in the hands of the Council, and also with the private Bill powers which are still retained by the Imperial Parliament, then it seems to me that railway administration in Ireland will be in a hopeless state of confusion. Before we finish this discussion, I think the Committee has some right to a little further information upon that subject. There is the question of a confusion of administration if the further Amendments suggested by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport is carried, you will have three separate powers all concerned with administation of railway affairs in Ireland. If this Bill is ever to work, proposals of that kind surely cannot be regarded—
§ Sir S. HOARE
Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will explain what he means by these Amendments. If it is not administration, then it is legislation, and that makes the question equally complicated. These facts seem to me to show that the proposals outlined in the Government Amendments are totally impractical, and even if they were practical I should venture strongly to oppose them for this reason. I believe they will further whittle down the powers of the central authority, the only unified authority in Ireland, the Council. That brings us up against the whole principle of the Bill. If it is intended that the Council should be the illusory and fatuous body, which is evidently desired, quite sincerely, by the Ulster Members. then I feel certain we had better adjourn the discussion of this Bill altogether, for it appears to me that any hope of ultimate unity is totally destroyed. I regard the Council not only as a symbol, but as a means of bringing North and South together by facing them with common problems of administration. I believe that that will be the great unifying force in Ireland, and in that belief I am supported by the experience we observed recently in South Africa. Through that Union we brought the different parties together, and in facing common problems of administration the unification of the South African Union was brought about. I may be wrong, but I hope that a similar experience will come about in Ireland. Certainly, it was with that end in view I supported the Second Reading of this Bill, and if further Amendments be introduced to whittle down this central authority it will be extremely difficult for myself and many other hon. Members to continue to support it.
§ Mr. MOLES
I think the Committee will be struck by this rather singular fact, that my hon. Friends behind, although they are full-blooded Unionists of the real true-blue type, find themselves in agreement with the full-blooded Home Rulers. If any comment were necessary on that attitude, I suggest that they ought to begin by pondering over the fact. My hon. Friend who has just spoken thought it proper, despite protests from myself and my colleagues, to impeach the motives with which we approach this Bill. 965 I very respectfully suggest to him that he might indulge in a little introspection. He thinks that the way to achieve ultimate unity in Ireland is first of all to set the two Parliaments at each other's necks, and when you have done that bring in a third body not for the purpose of pacification. No, that is not his proposal. His proposal, on the contrary, is to add to the irritation by putting this third body in the position to take from each of the two Parliaments things which properly belong to them. That is his scheme for attaining paradise in Ireland, but it will not work. It is a very curious thing that all the men who have some responsibility in this matter, and who may have laid on their shoulders the duty of seeing one of these Parliaments become operative, are all found on one side, and hon. Gentlemen who have no responsibility, no duties, no interests, no penalties to pay, are found on the other.
We were told quite frankly by the hon. and gallant Member that this was all sentiment. It was precisely the same argument as that of the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. N. Chamberlain), who said we are too matter of fact, that we are out for a workable scheme, as if that were a crime. I should imagine that that is precisely the kind of thing this Parliament would have encouraged, and that it would have asked us to get away from the region of romance and come down to facts. You are not going to solve a great question of this kind by writing Limericks. Let us make no mistake about it. If anybody should know the facts relevant to this issue, who should know them better than those who sit here with me. We live amongst them every day, and whatever you do in this Parliament we must be part of the machinery with which you hope to carry out the intentions of this Parliament.
I quite understand what is operating in the minds of my hon. Friends. Their notion is that this Council, so far from being a body for unification, is to be a body for irritation, that, so far from seeking to bring these two Parliaments, operating at opposite ends, together, it shall be open to make suggestions and to pass resolutions and, if the resolutions are not attended to, to make them legislative forthwith. There is the true scheme, and that is the kind of humbug that this Committee is asked to endorse. 966 The Committee would be foolish in the last degree to listen to an argument of that kind; it is the very acme of nonsense. I say that we on these benches desire unity in the true and real sense as much as any hon. Gentleman in the House, but we have a very clear notion of how unity is going to be attained. You will only get unity when each of the Parliaments affords to the other an example of good, practical, commonsense government and toleration, but you are not going to pitchfork these two Parliaments into each other's arms by using railways. It can not be done. You will have to get them by other means; it must come by mutual trust.
I approach with all diffidence the observations which fell from my hon. Friend who represents the Ministry of Transport. He sought to conjure up a perfectly terrorising picture, and asked us to look at the appalling position that would be created if we set up two administrative bodies for railways. Is not that the purpose of this Bill? You are proposing one for the whole of Ireland, and it makes no difficulties, although two-thirds of the country is in the hands of Sinn Fein, but the moment you talk of setting up two for Ireland, particularly in the interests of one of the parties that is desirous of working this Bill and making it really effective, chaos begins. Does my hon. Friend seriously put that argument forward, or does he imagine the position of the Government is going to be vindicated by arguments of that kind? I put a question which he did not answer and asked him to tell us the technical difficulties in asking the identical men who are to-day doing all these things in the two areas to continue to do them, each acting under the direction of the Parliament operating in that area.
§ Mr. MOLES
That explanation has only helped me. I put to him again the point that he perceives no difficulty in transferring the whole of these things from Whitehall to one Parliament in Ireland, and if it can be done from Whitehall to Dublin it can be just as easily done from Whitehall to Dublin and Belfast respec- 967 tively. We really do not all of us live in dreamland, and we know something of what is happening in railways. My hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Macmaster), who has perhaps wider experience of Canada than any other hon. Member of this House, pointed out that the provincial railways there are under the jurisdiction of the provinces, and that the interprovincial railways are under the jurisdiction of the Dominion Parliament, so that the chaos and confusion which my hon. Friend imagines would arise in Ireland, if it really would arise, is in operation at this moment throughout the whole of Canada, and nobody is a penny the worse. That is also the answer to my hon. Friends behind me. Let me take a case like the Belfast and County Down Railway Company, the whole of whose line runs within the county of Down. It seeks a Bill for some development or extension. Is it seriously suggested that it should travel away entirely from the locale, going to a body of which at least one-half would be hostile to it? Is it reasonable to expect it to incur that risk when its own Parliament, having exclusive jurisdiction in respect of all other matters in that area, is there and competent to deal with it? Is it a businesslike proposal? If it were made in respect of the individual business of any individual Member of this House, would it be listened to for five minutes? I am sure it would not. Take the case again of the Midland Railway, the whole of whose line is precisely similarly within the area of the Six Counties Parliament. That railway is exclusively owned by British shareholders, and the representatives of British constituencies in this House get up in their place and expose these British shareholders to the risk of a Council composed as to at least one-half of Sinn Feiners. Surely the thing will not stand close examination.
Then my hon. Friend made a point about the difficulties in travelling over systems running in one part and then running in another, but we are living under that very condition at the moment. You take your ticket in Belfast and book through to London, and what is the difficulty about that now? There really is no practical difficulty in that way, because any arrangement of that kind would be reciprocal in its effect. If a Southern Parliament proposed to do that, the 968 people in Dublin could not travel to Belfast any more than the people in Belfast could travel to Dublin. Bad as affairs are in Ireland, and perfectly hopeless as they seem to be, when it comes down to questions that touch them in their pocket they are fairly amenable to reason even yet, as far as I know. The case stands as it was made by the right hon. and learned Member for the Duncairn Division (Sir E. Carson), and no criticism that has come from any quarter of the House has really shaken it. The one argument that would have worked would have been the administrative difficulties, but we have examples elsewhere that there are no such difficulties under an identical system. Lastly, railways operating solely within one area ought to have the fullest facilities and the greatest convenience for getting Bills that concern that area alone, and they ought not to be required to travel outside to a wholly different body, and in particular this Committee would be foolish to countenance the notion of robbing these Parliaments of powers that belong properly to a Parliament, answerable to electors, and putting them in possession of a Council, answerable to no body of electors and free to do what it may please.
§ Mr. LONG
I wish to appeal to the Committee to ask whether now it cannot see its way to bring the debate on this Amendment to a conclusion. I do not deny the importance of the subject or that it has aroused a great deal of interest in the House, and deservedly, but we have a good deal to do to complete this Bill within a reasonable time. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Lieut.-Colonel Croft) threw doubts on the sincerity of our Bill, but I may tell him that it is the deliberate and fixed intention of the Government to pass the Bill through all its stages, and therefore any hope that he may have that we are going to abandon it is quite illusory. I do not want to add anything to the description which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport has already given of the objects of the Amendment which stands in my name later on, but I want to say a word or two on the general subject. One of my hon. Friends, speaking earlier in the evening—and he will forgive me if I say that he was speaking with but a short experience of this House—to my surprise attacked the Government for what he called want of strength and want of back- 969 bone because they accepted certain Amendments. My experience goes over a longer period a great deal than his does, and I confess that that is the first time I have heard that kind of charge made against a Government who are endeavouring only to accept such Amendments as are pressed upon them by a considerable body of opinion representing those who have spoken, and which seem to be consistent with the Bill.
The hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) gave a most ridiculously exaggerated description of the effect of the Amendment, saying it was very significant and indicated the attitude of the Government. Then we have been told that the Amendment makes separation permanent, that if we alter the powers in regard to railways we shall make separation permanent. Surely that is the most wild form of exaggeration. What are we actually doing? It is the intention of the Government to stand by the proposals they have made that there shall be a central Council representing both North and South, and we have sought to give them as many powers as we can, and the Government propose to accept an Amendment later on which will add to the powers of the Council, but in this case half the speeches have included the word "administration." There is no administration transferred from the Council to the local Parliaments in connection with the Amendment which I have on the paper. It deals solely with construction, extension, or improvement, or, in other words, legislative powers enabling the local Parliaments to make a railway within their own area. I am sorry hon. Members were not here when my hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster) spoke. He referred to a fact that governed us very much, namely, that you have got this already in Canada, and, I believe, by rather more recent legislation, in the United States of America. Look at the facts. We have been charged with ignoring facts, but it is the Members who have spoken who refuse to face facts in this particular case. Take the case, whether in Northern Ireland or Southern Ireland, where there is a desire to build a railway for purely local purposes, and anybody who knows Ireland, and who has ever studied the great problems of Irish life, know perfectly well that it is the extension of 970 local railways that is more necessary than anything else. Is it quite reasonable that you should ask the Central Council to sanction the building of a railway which is entirely desired for the purpose of some local area? I am sure there would be delay. We are not taking away from the powers of the Central Council. We are leaving all powers of administration in their hands, with the general control of the railways, and all that we are doing in the Amendment which stands in my name is to give power of construction for local purposes to the local Parliaments. My hon. and learned Friend said, "You are transferring to these local Parliaments certain powers; why cannot you transfer the railway authority?" Let anybody take a map of Ireland showing how the railways run. The only way you could deal with them, if my hon. Friend's suggestion were adopted, would be, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University said, to make it compulsory for these two Parliaments to elect a Joint Committee. What is really the distinction? We propose that a general power for construction, extension, and improvement of the railways which traverse Ireland shall be in the hands of the Central Council, and that the whole administration of railways shall be in the hands of that Council; but we propose, in conformity with the precedent of Canada, and, I believe, also of the States, to give power to the local Parliament to make a local railway if the promoters come to them. That is the whole issue before us, and I do respectfully suggest that we might now divide on the Amendment before us. and then we shall come directly, I hope, to the Amendment standing in my name, in which the direct issue is raised whether the local Parliaments shall have this small power or not.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] Some hon. Members at one time criticise Members on these Benches for not taking part in the discussions on this Bill, and then they resent the intervention of any Member on these Benches who ventures to say a word about these matters. I think that is an unreasonable view to take, and I feel sure the Committee will not support those who take that view. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport made a very excellent argument. It was not an argument against the Amend- 971 ment, but it was an argument against the whole Bill. In some subtle and metaphysical way he distinguishes between transport and the various other matters relegated to the Parliaments of Northern and Southern Ireland, and it appears to him to be a great blunder to set up two bodies of officials to deal with transport, while the whole Bill is concerned with setting up two bodies of officials to deal with every subject concerning Ireland. What this House ought to do is to make some portion of this Bill acceptable to some section of Irish opinion, and, when all is said and done, the Members for Ulster are at least the only Members in this House who do represent Irish opinion, and I consider what they say carries great weight, indeed, with the Committee. If this Committee is confronted, on the one hand, with the opinion of the railway companies of Ireland, and, on the other hand, with the opinion of those Members who represent what will be the Parliament of Northern Ireland, I prefer to give more weight to what the Members from Ulster say on this subject than to what we are told is the opinion of the railway companies and railway directors in Ireland. If we cannot get Home Rule for the whole of Ireland, let us at least have Home Rule for Ulster, and I am in the very heartiest sympathy with the Members from Ulster who are claiming that they should have on this very important matter the very fullest possible powers their Parliament can possess.
It is said that difficulty would arise if these powers were not placed in the hands of the Council. I think the best thing is to allow these difficulties to arise between the two Parliaments, in which case there is the most likely chance of the two Parliaments coming together and endeavouring to settle them. I am convinced there is no possibility of bringing them together. The thing to do is to let them come together, and that is the course likely to follow if the Amendment is carried. It is quite true that you may have a difference in hours and a difference between rates, and that one of the two Parliaments would be more
§ favoured. When that difficulty arises, there will be a spontaneous demand from one or the other of the two Parliaments for a joint meeting. The two bodies will then come together—not be forced to come together—as the county councils in this country, to settle their difficulties, and that, I believe, is the real way to get a genuine spirit of settlement in Ireland. Because I believe the Amendment, if carried, is more likely to bring about real unity in the future than the attempt to put these great powers in the hands of the Council, which will give rise to a suspicion at the outset, I support this Amendment.
§ Captain W. BENN
I do not apologise for saying a word with the object of elucidating the matter under discussion. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport sketched out some Amendment which the Government propose to consider, or to introduce, giving to the Parliaments in North and South powers over Labour legislation in regard to the railways. I do not think it is possible for us to part with this Subsection without having some definite understanding about this matter. I am perfectly indifferent which it is, because I regard the whole Bill as a piece of fantastic nonsense; but the Committee ought to know whether or not the Parliamentary Secretary was authorised by the Government to make such an announcement. Does he say that the Government will put on the Paper any Amendment giving to the Northern and Southern Parliaments power over Labour legislation as regards the railways, or does he say that the Government will accept any Amendment of that nature that is put on the Paper in the name of any private Member? I think we must have an answer to that question before we can decide whether or not we shall allow the administration of the railways to go to the Council of Ireland, or whether it shall be divided between the two Parliaments of North and South.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 225; Noes, 35.975
|Division No. 136.]||AYES.||[6.12 p.m.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Atkey, A. R.||Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Baird, John Lawrence||Barnston, Major Harry|
|Armitage, Robert||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Barrand, A. R.|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Gretton, Colonel John||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (L'derry, N.)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Parker, James|
|Beck, Sir C. (Essex, Saffron Walden)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Haslam, Lewis||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hayward, Major Evan||Percy, Charles|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Henderson Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hills, Major John Waller||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hinds, John||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Purchase, H. G.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Briant, Frank||Hood, Joseph||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Brotherton, Colonel Sir Edward A.||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Remer, J. R.|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Howard, Major S. G.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hurd, Percy A.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Casey, T. W.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castie-on-T.)|
|Cautley, Henry S.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Cecil, Rt Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Jephcott, A. R.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Clough, Robert||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Frederick George||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Collins, Col. Sir G. P. (Greenock)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Taylor, J.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lloyd, George Butler||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lorden, John William||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Dawes, Commander||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Wallace, J.|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Macmaster, Donald||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Waring, Major Walter|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Macquisten, F. A.||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Mallalieu, F. W.||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Mitchell, W. Lane||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Morison, Thomas Brash||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Morrison, Hugh||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Mosley, Oswald||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Mount, William Arthur||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Murchison, C. K.||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Murray, Lieut.-Colonel A. (Aberdeen)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Gould, James C.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H (Norwich)|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Neal, Arthur||Younger, Sir George|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Butcher, Sir John George||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hanna, George Boyle|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Lonsdale, James Rolston|
|Blair, Reginald||Donald, Thompson||Lynn, R. J.|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||M'Guffin, Samuel|
|M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Stewart, Gershom|
|O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Whitla, Sir William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud||Lieut.-Colonel Allen and Mr. Moles.|
|Remnant, Colonel Sir James F.|
Question put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "railways" ["in connection with railways"] to add the words "and fisheries."
This Amendment, though it is the same in principle to that which we have just now been discussing, appeals to me also because those who are concerned with the fisheries of Ireland have decided that the Council, in their opinion, is the best body to administer their services. A special conference was held in Dublin on 12th May of conservators and officials and was attended by delegates from nearly all the Irish Boards of Fisheries. They decided it was in the interests of the fishing industry in Ireland that the whole of these fishing powers would be transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Council, and not to the local Parliaments. They pointed out that it would be most inconvenient if rivers which were partly in two different areas as, for instance, the Erne and its tributories, should, as regards certain parts, be administered by the Northern Parliament, and in respect to other parts by the Southern Parliament. There are two other Amendments on the Paper which propose to hand over only these fisheries, which are between the two areas, or partly in one and partly in the other. That is not a very desirable arrangement, because it would mean that you would have three different authorities in Ireland dealing with fisheries. The Government has shown a certain willingness to whittle away the powers they are giving the Council. I hope, therefore, in this case they may take the other course, and may accept this Amendment, and thus satisfy not merely those who on general grounds wish to see a Council set up with real and effective powers, but will also satisfy these conservators of fisheries to whose practical experience of Irish fisheries it seems that dual or triple control would be both inconvenient and costly.
§ Sir LAMING WORTHINGTON EVANS
(Minister without Portfolio): I do not agree with some of the observations of my hon. and gallant Friend that the Government has taken any course which whittles away the power of the 976 Council, but I am glad at least to be able to say that this Amendment can be accepted. It is not primarily to increase the power of the Council, but to provide in the most business-like way for the administration of all the fisheries. As my hon. and gallant Friend has said, representations have been made on behalf of the conservators that the division of the administration of the fisheries would be inimical to the interests of Ireland, both North and South, and the Government therefore are willing that the administration should be placed on the Council.
§ Mr. ARCHDALE
I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman behind me (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness), and I am thankful that the Minister has accepted his Amendment. My own county is one of the best examples in Ireland of the difficulty referred to. The river Erne and Loch Erne is mainly in the county of Fermanagh, but six miles from the mouth the river is in the county of Donegal. We might be shut out of our fishing and the salmon coming out of the river by the Donegal people if they chose so to do in the Southern Parliament. It is a very much better thing to place it in the hands of the Council.
Has this clause anything to do with the coastal fisheries of Ireland? If so, the wording will have to be altered. As most people are aware, we have very good herring and mackerel fisheries around the coast of Ireland. Will the words inserted here refer to those coastal fisheries? If they do, I hope those in charge of the financial parts of the Bill will recognise the fact, as I believe the Government have done, for it is understood they contemplate subsidising a portion of the coastal fisheries of Ireland. Lest there should be any complication in this matter of the coastal fisheries, I should like an explanation on the subject, as to how these words will affect the general scope of the Bill?
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I also should like an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman before we pass this Amendment. Are we to understand that the fisheries in Ireland, which, I suppose, includes all the sea-fishing in the bays around Ire- 977 land and in the Three Mile Limit—that the whole of that comes out? That is a very important point, not only from the Irishman's point of view, but still more from the point of view of the Englishman and Scotsman. A very large number of trawlers work out of towns like my constituency, and fish up and down the West Coast of Ireland. They go there, and—speaking broadly—receive a very unfriendly reception if they are caught anywhere infringing the Three-Mile Limit. They are heavily fined. What are the exact powers that, under this Amendment, are to be placed on the Council of Ireland in respect to sea-fishing? What are the penalties to be inflicted upon trawlers from England, Scotland, and Wales who fish illegally around the coasts? If you are going to hand over to this Council for Ireland the whole administration of these fisheries, I take it that this Council may very easily have powers, possibly, to extend the limits in which fishing is allowed in the bays and around the coast of Ireland. Obviously, they would have power to increase the penalties for what is called poaching. That might be right or it might be wrong. They would possibly have powers—and rightly—to declare a close season. In fact, under this Amendment, it might be in the power of the Council of Ireland to deal a very severe blow at hundreds of trawlers who work out of English, Welsh and Scottish ports on the West and South Coasts of Ireland. We are entitled, I think, to some explanation as to what powers exactly are definitely to be handed over to the Council. If we allow this to pass without such explanation, there may not be a further opportunity to deal with the matter, and I, therefore, ask for this information, not only for my own constituents, but for the constituents of other hon. Members.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
The area of control will be within the territorial waters. Each fishery district has separate conservators constituted under the Act, and the enforcement of the fishery laws is in the hands of the conservators of each district. In addition, there are certain powers invested in the Chief Inspector of Fisheries under 62 and 63 Vic. The Chief Inspector will become, if this Amendment is passed, an officer of the Council, and the powers which are now vested in 978 him will be vested in the Council and they will direct the officers of the various Departments. The Fisheries districts and Board of Conservators will remain as they are, but they will report to the Council. There is no alteration in the law proposed by this Amendment, and all it does is to vest the administrative work in the officers of the Council instead of the officers of the Departments.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I understand that the administration of the Fisheries will be in the hands of the Council as it has hitherto been in the hands of Government Departments, but I want to know in whose hands will the enforcement of the Fishery laws rest, and what will be the weapon with which the decrees or decisions of the administrative body concerned will be made effective. If my right hon. Friend will answer that satisfactorily we shall all be glad to support this Amendment.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
The conservators are largely paid by fees collected by the Board, and it is intended that the Council shall have the administration of all this Fishery work, and they will act as the Department has hitherto acted. We are not altering the legislation and exactly the same powers as exist now will exist in the future, but the Council will be the body which puts those powers into operation.
§ Captain W. BENN
I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means. Has the Council of Ireland any power at all? Has it power to raise money, and do we now understand that the work of the Agriculture and Fisheries Board is to be disentangled, and there is to be a Department set up and put under the control of the Council of Ireland. If so, it is the beginning of a scheme which looks to me like a real Home Rule arrangement. I do not think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman has answered the inquiry. Supposing somebody fishes where they should not fish or does not fish where they should, how can the Council stop them doing it?
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
The question is so simple I should have thought that the hon. and gallant Gentle- 979 man would not have considered it worth while to ask. This is not legislation with a view to increasing the penalties, because they are there already under existing Acts, and they will continue uninterrupted. All that is altered is the administration. The conservators have certain powers and they will continue to exercise them.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
I want to call attention to the effect of adding the words "and fisheries." The Council gets powers with respect to railways and the words "and fisheries" are added. Consequently the Council immediately becomes vested with the power to make laws with regard to fisheries, and that will include the inland as well as the coastal fisheries. Consequently this is really something more than mere administration. I do not know whether this is a reasonable power to confer, but hon. Members from Ireland are best able to judge of that. Undoubtedly it gives power to the Council to make laws with regard to fisheries and to amend and repeal laws and enact fresh laws.
§ Lord H. CECIL
This Clause as it has been amended, and with the words which are now proposed, certainly seems to go much further than what has been described in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not quite understand why it is necessary to go further than to give the Council of Ireland power to deal with the very rare and exceptional case of inland waters which come partly under the jurisdiction of one Parliament and partly under the jurisdiction of the other. I suggest that a better Amendment would be to add after the words "and fisheries" the words "any such estuaries and inland waters, the shores of which are partly under the government of the Northern Parliament and partly under the authority of the Southern Parliament." If the Amendment were limited in that way it would remove the difficulty of having waters controlled by the independent authorities of the two Parliaments, which were naturally belonging to both. I think the Parliaments might very well be trusted to manage their own rivers in their own area. What purpose is there in taking away these powers?
If the power to control the fisheries is given to the Council it will involve expenditure, and where is the 980 money to come from? The Council is entirely dependent upon the local Parliaments. I think it would be more logical to give these powers to the local Parliaments and not to the Council, and then if they desired it they could devolve those powers upon the Council. If you are going to set up a department of fisheries it seems to me that it will break down on the ground of finance.
Lieut. - Colonel GUINNESS
The Amendment suggested by the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) is in substance the same as that standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Tyrone (Mr. Coote) which the hon. Member decided not to move. Although there may be some confusion in carrying out the very complicated powers given to the conservators of fisheries in Ireland in the hands of one body, the entanglement and confusion would be much greater if put into the hands of three bodies, and if in addition the Northern and Southern Parliaments appointed a number of officials, because then you would have one set of officials appointed and perhaps pursuing quite a different policy in those waters which have catchment areas within the two local Parliaments. We have got to decide to ride one horse or the other, and we cannot ride both. Personally I think the Council is the most efficient scheme, and I certainly think the proposal of the Noble Lord would be even worse than leaving it to the conflicting authorities.
I regret that the Government have accepted such a farreaching Amendment. If this proposal had dealt simply with the cases referred to, namely, the very few instances where the waters affected touch the shores or run through the territory of the Northern and the Southern Parliament, then I should have had no objection. Not one Member of the Committee who has been listening to the Debate can contend for a moment that such an enormous business as the control and regulation of all fishing in Ireland, including all the sea fishing within the three-mile limit around the whole country, should be handed over to the Council. I do not think one Member of the Committee realises that that is the effect of the Amendment which has been moved, and which I feel sure was not moved with any such object, but for the purpose of putting into competent hands such fisheries as were common to 981 the two areas. It is a very serious proposal indeed that such an enormous matter as that of the control of the inland and sea fisheries should be handed over to the Council. It is a serious change of front on the part of the Government. If they will restrict the Amendment to dealing with the very few cases which affect both Parliaments, I shall be ready to vote for it, but if they continue in their determination to pass this Amendment with all the far-reaching consequences which it entails I shall vote against it if it goes to a Division.
In Clause 4 the Committee decided that certain powers are to pass to the Northern and Southern Parliaments while other powers are left in reserve. Do not the powers as regards fisheries pass under Clause 4?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Except as they may be modified by this Clause which we are now discussing, as in the case of railways.
But the railways were distinctly mentioned. Under your ruling, will it be in order to propose to transfer to the Council powers which the House may have decided shall be granted to the Northern and Southern Parliaments?
§ Mr. MACMASTER
But is not the whole spirit of the Section to deal only with railways, and is it not incompetent under the general preamble to bring in these other words?
§ Captain W. BENN
Under Sub-section (4), Clause 4, we have given the Northern and Southern Parliaments powers to make lines. If the fisheries are now to be brought in, will that not be duplicating the powers of the Council of Ireland?
§ The CHAIRMAN
We are dealing with Clause 4 and the residue of the powers not otherwise provided for, and I think it is quite in order to bring in the fisheries as well as the railways.
Would it be in order to put down an Amendment on Clause 4 which commences, "Subject to the provisions of this Act." I take it that under that we can take back any powers which have been granted under Clause 4. Would it be in order to put down an Amendment to transfer other powers from the Northern and Southern Parliaments to the Council?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I will deal with Amendments when they are proposed. If they are put forward out of ridicule I would rule them out, but I have looked on this as a serious Amendment.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
I had intended to put practically the same point to my right hon. Friend in charge of the Bill. He spoke as if this was entirely a question of administration. Of course, this Amendment, if it is carried—and I am not expressing any opposition to it for the moment—would give power with regard to legislation, as well as administration. What I want to know is this. As the hon. Member opposite has already pointed out, the two Parliaments have already been granted, in Clause 4, powers of legislation, with regard to fisheries among other things, and they are very important matters too. There is, for instance, a whole code of laws with regard to salmon fisheries, a very elaborate code dealing with very important property. Many of these fisheries are exclusively in the area of the two Parliaments. These Parliaments have already, by Clause 4, power over legislation, and if this Amendment is carried, the Council also will have power to legislate with regard to these fisheries. I want to ask my right hon. Friend this. In the quite possible event of these two authorities legislating on the same subject, and passing laws which are in conflict with each other, which of the laws is to prevail? Is the Act passed by the Council of Ireland, dealing with the same subject-matter as a statute put on the Statute Book by the Northern Parliament, to override the latter? If not, what authority is to decide which of the two Acts shall prevail? We are evidently not providing machinery for settling a matter like that.
§ Colonel GREIG
Clause 4 begins:Subject to the provisions of this Act the Parliament of Southern Ireland and the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall respectively have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland with the following limitations, namely, that they shall not have power to make laws in respect of matters exclusively relating to the portion of Ireland within their jurisdiction or some part thereof, and (without prejudice to that general limitation) that they shall not have power to make laws in respect"—of certain matters which are set forth subsequently. Now in Scotland, we have a separate Fishery Board, quite indepen- 983 dent of that in England. In England, there is an Agriculture and Fisheries Board. In Scotland, we have separate Boards both for agriculture and for other Departments. Assume we have got in Scotland a Home Rule Parliament. The whole of these powers would be transferred to the central Home Rule Parliament in Scotland. In Ireland, you are having one central authority, namely, the Council, which ought to deal with these things.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Is it in order to move my Amendment as an Amendment to the Amendment before the Committee, or would it be better to wait until the Amendment has been accepted or rejected? I should like the direction of the Chair as to that.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it would be better to dispose of the Amendment now before the Committee first, because if the words "and fisheries" are not inserted, then the Amendment would become unnecessary.
§ Lord H. CECIL
My right hon. Friend says that the clause in respect to this Amendment would be limited to fisheries within the three-mile limit. I do not quite understand how he is going to prevent the authority controlling the fisheries outside the three-mile limit, seeing that the fishermen themselves belong to the port, and come back to the port, and therefore are under the jurisdiction of the authority all the time except when they are out at sea. I should have thought that the fisheries could not be considered, strictly speaking, outside the territorial limit when necessarily the fish are brought home to the port and sold in the port. In that case it would appear to me that the Council should really exercise authority. A consequential Amendment might involve the making of laws regulating all sea fisheries around Ireland and might affect merchant shipping as well.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
There is another point to be considered, and that is, that in a considerable number of areas off the coast of Ireland, as well as of Scotland, the regulations of the Board of Agriculture prohibit British trawlers to trawl in certain areas outside the three-mile limit, whereas foreign trawlers do trawl in those areas and send the fish they catch 984 into English and Scottish ports for sale to the detriment of British fishermen. A point I want to put is rather an important point, because I have not the vaguest idea of what the powers of this Council are to be. Is the Council which is to have jurisdiction over the fisheries to have power to exclude not only British trawlers from these areas, but also foreign trawlers? If I thought such power was given I certainly would support the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the words last inserted, to add the words, "and in those estuaries, rivers and other inland waters the shores of which are partly under the authority of the Northern Parliament, and partly under the authority of the Southern Parliament."
This will ensure that there shall be only one authority in respect of one river. Thus confusion would be avoided. It will reserve the whole of any river to the Council of which any part runs through both areas.
§ Captain W. BENN
Would not the insertion of the words here make the limitation apply to the railways?
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LONG
I think we can deal with the Amendment as it stands here. The Government did their best to get the considered opinion of the authorities in Ireland, and they pointed out quite clearly that this would mean that there would be three authorities in Ireland charged with dealing with the Fisheries. It may be quite true that here and there there are fishery waters wholly confined either to the Northern or to the Southern area, but in the great majority of cases these waters are partly in one area and partly in another. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] That at any rate is my information, and I do not think it is wrong. I do not know if my hon. Friends who dissent have seen the map showing the fishery waters of Ireland. It is on the evidence of that 985 map that this recommendation regarding the fishery authorities was adopted. It is quite a mistake to suggest that by any previous Amendment we have varied the administration. It is quite true we are dividing an existing united authority—the Congested Districts Board, the Local Government Board, and so on. It is a misfortune from the point of view of administration, but the moment we adopt, as we have done on the Second Reading, the principle of two Parliaments, which is the fundamental part of this Bill, we must make the administration conform to that as well as we can. Under a divided administration, of course, each local Parliament would be able to control the fisheries in its own area, but, where a fishery passed into two areas, you would have the administration of the two local Parliaments and of the Council. Although it may appear a choice of evils—because it is disagreeable to take the whole of this administration out of the hands of the local Parliaments—we have to look at the facts as they are. We have to set up two Parliaments and give them all the powers we can, but it is obvious that there are some powers which must be in the hands of the central authority, if there is not to be unlimited confusion. My hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Ashley) repeated what he has said before, namely, that he does not know what the powers of the Council are. I am very sorry, because my right hon. Friend and myself have done our best to make it clear that the Council consists of representatives of the two Parliaments, charged with certain definite duties. Now we are proposing to give it the control of fisheries, which we did not propose in the first instance, because we were not aware of the great inconsistencies that would arise. My colleagues and I, when we saw the map and the evidence that was put before us, came to the conclusion that it was the only course we could adopt which would work. Under these circumstances I ask the Committee to adhere to the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness) handing over the control and administration of fisheries entirely to the central authority.
I would like to point out the necessity and desirability of the Amendment of my Noble Friend (Lord H. Cecil). It seems only now to be apparent to the Government that fisheries 986 were originally not mentioned in the Bill, and that powers over them were not given to the Council. I would like to remind the Committee that, if this is so necessary and desirable as the First Lord says, that fact must become apparent to the Parliaments both of Northern and of Southern Ireland when they are set up, and, under the Bill, machinery is provided for their handing over the powers to the Council. It is therefore not necessary at all for us to do it in this House. I would also like to point out that the real point put forward by the Mover of the previous Amendment, namely, the case of fisheries which are in the two areas, is met by my Noble Friend's Amendment. For these reasons, and on the ground that the original Amendment went far too far, and that, if there is any necessity for change, it is open to the two Parliaments to make that change themselves, I ask the Committee to support the Amendment of the Noble Lord.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The, next Amendment, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Marriott), to insert the wordsthe Governments and Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland shall have no powers in relation to railways, and",is part of a proposal contained in that and two subsequent Amendments, and I think it would be better to deal with the whole of them at once.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the words last inserted, to add the words "the Governments and Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland shall have no powers in relation to railways, and".
What you have pointed out, Mr. Whitley, is, in fact, the case. This is the first of a series of Amendments, of which two are merely drafting Amendments to enable the insertion of the words contained in the third, and, therefore, I think it will be convenient to the Committee if I say what I have to say on this first Amendment. I may explain that the second Amendment proposes to leave out the words from "Ireland" ["shall as from the appointed day become powers of the Council of Ireland"] to the end 987 of the Sub-section, and then the third Amendment is to insert at the end:Provided that the appointed day fixed for the purpose of this Sub-section shall be a date not earlier than the expiration of the period of two years mentioned in Section Three (1) of the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, and all claims arising before the appointed day under Section Eight of the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, or determinable as if they were claims so arising shall be satisfied by the Minister of Transport in accordance with that Section. The rates, fares, tolls, dues, and other charges directed by the Minister of Transport under the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, and in force on the appointed day, may be charged until fresh provision shall be made by the Council of Ireland, or the Parliament of the United Kingdom, with regard to the amount of any such rates, fares, tolls, dues, and other charges.The object of this, which is the substantive Amendment, is really three-fold. In the first place, it is to ensure that the position of the Irish railway companies under the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, shall be unaffected by anything contained in the present Bill, for the full period of two years mentioned in Sub-section (1) of Section 3 of that Act, which runs:With a view to affording time for the consideration and formulation of the policy to be pursued as to the future position of undertakings to which this Section applies, the following provisions shall, unless Parliament otherwise determines, have effect for a period of two years after the passing of this Act, or, where as respects any particular provision a longer period is expressly provided, for such longer period.The object of the Amendment which I am now commending to the Committee is to place it beyond any shadow of doubt that any claim of the Irish railway companies under the Ministry of Transport Act shall be dealt with under that Act, notwithstanding anything that may be contained in the present Bill, and so to secure to the Irish railway companies the power to charge the rates fixed by the Ministry of Transport until their charging powers are placed on a permanent basis, even if that should not be effected within the eighteen months mentioned in Section 3 (1) of the Ministry of Transport Act. The whole purpose of this Amendment is that the Irish railways, in respect of the Ministry of Transport Act, shall remain substantially in the same position as the English railways, and that they shall not be prejudiced by anything contained in 988 the present Bill. I need not remind the Committee that, as the law stands to-day, the Irish railways are within the scope of the Ministry of Transport Act, and are subject to the same control and the same financial arrangements as the British railways. The opportunity afforded to the Government of solving the financial problems of the whole railway system within the two years provided by the Act applies, of course, equally to the Irish railways, and it ought to remain unaffected, as should also the remedy provided in that Act by way of compensation. I understand that the view of the Government, as explained by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, is that, even as the Bill is drafted, these matters would not be affected by anything in it. That view, which has been taken after expert advice, may or may not be right, but, as was pointed out by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Butcher), speaking in this Committee on the 3rd June, the expression of that opinion ex cathedrâ from the Government Bench would not avail the Irish companies before a judicial tribunal. Therefore it seems to some of us who are interested in the railway system of Ireland that the whole position ought to be placed beyond doubt. In regard to the 18 months mentioned in the original Act, that provision was inserted in the Ministry of Transport Act for the express purpose of giving railway companies a reasonable opportunity of having their rates and charges put upon a permanent basis adequate to their needs. I do not suggest that under normal conditions that period would not be amply sufficient, but it is too much to anticipate that Ireland can be under normal conditions, at any rate, for some little time to come, and that being so, there is really very serious ground for apprehension that the period of 18 months may not be sufficient to afford the Irish railway companies a real opportunity of putting their house in order in the way which was contemplated by the present Ministry of Transport Act. Therefore I submit that the Irish railway companies ought to have the power, and if my Amendment is adopted they will have the power—perhaps even without it they will have the power, but certainly under it they would—to charge the rates fixed by the Minister of Transport until permanent provision is made as to rates 989 and charges. My proposal in no way whatever runs counter to the principle of the Bill, nor does it in any way affect any legislative power given by the Bill to the Parliaments or the Council in Ireland, and I hope, therefore, that it will be accepted without much debate as simply a matter of reason and justice.
§ Mr. NEAL
I find a little difficulty in dealing with this matter, which has been put so clearly by my hon. Friend, because I am quite unable to understand what relationship the Amendment he has just moved bears to the main Amendment. I am advised that the effect of accepting the first two Amendments in his name would simply be making for confusion, and under the circumstances I trust he will not press this, and that when we come to the Amendment of substance he will remember that the Government has already said on two occasions that they are favourably disposed to that suggestion.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
After the assurance which the hon. Gentleman has given, as these are merely drafting Amendments I do not in the least wish to press them if it is the view of the Government that the Sub-section will be better without them, on the understanding, of course, that I reserve the right to move my substantive Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the words last inserted, to add the words "including railways and tramways constructed under the Act of 1883 with county guarantees."
I only wish to move this formally to give the Parliamentary Secretary an opportunity of saying whether or not these light railways are already included. It has been represented to me on behalf of some of these railways that a doubt is felt in Ireland on this point, and I hope the hon. Gentleman may tell us that the Bill as it stands provides for the inclusion of these light railways in addition to the broad gauge lines.
§ Captain W. BENN
I understand the powers of the Ministry of Transport are to be transferred to the Council of all Ireland. Looking at the Transport Act, I find that the Minister of Transport has power over tramways. Do I understand that the Council of all Ireland may say, "You shall not do this or that with your tramways," and will that cover local tramways?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (2), after the word "railways" ["with respect to railways in Ireland"], to insert the words "and fisheries."—[Lieut.-Colonel Guinness.]
I beg to move in Sub-section (2), after the word "railways" ["with respect to railways shall as from the appointed day"], to insert the words "and fisheries."
§ Lord H. CECIL
I should like to ask the Government whether this does not go a good deal further than they intend, or perhaps than my hon. and gallant Friend intends. The power to make laws in respect of fisheries might involve all sorts of powers, powers affecting the liberty of the subject, powers to punish, for example, poaching in salmon rivers and the like, which might lead to the greatest possible disturbance if they were applied by the Council of Ireland against the will of the inhabitants of Northern or Southern Ireland. There is scarcely anything relating to fisheries which might not be supposed to be brought within the ambit of the Amendment. As I understand it, it is no part of the scheme of the Bill to give to the Council legislative authority, except where that legislative authority is necessary in order to harmonise the dual system of government involved in the separation of Northern and Southern Ireland. I cannot conceive that legislative authority in respect of fisheries can possibly be necessary. If the law requires amendment it ought to be amended by the Northern Parliament or the Southern Parliament in its area or by identical Acts which affect both areas. But obviously unless the two Parliaments are agreed no alteration in the existing law of fisheries, any more than 991 any other existing law, ought to be made by one Parliament. This would change the complete scheme of the Bill. It is an Amendment altogether alien to the character of the Bill because it provides that the Council may pass a law relating, let us say, to the fishery of a lake or river wholly in Northern Ireland without any Southern Irish interest in it at all. It would not be beyond the power of the Council to make laws relating to the fisheries of the lakes of Ulster in which no citizen of Southern Ireland would be in the least degree interested, and that law might be disapproved by the majority of the Northern Parliament. Surely that is not what the Government contemplate? It is contrary to all the principles of self-government and contrary to the theory of the Bill in so far as it can be truly said to have a theory. I suggest that my hon. and gallant Friend has only put this in because it seemed to be a consequential Amendment arising out of the others. The fishery laws are a code of law already in existence. They ought to be left as being a working system of law to be amended either by an identical Act or by separate Acts of the two Parliaments.
The Noble Lord's argument would seem to me to apply equally to all other powers granted under the Council. It is obvious that, in the case of railways, penalties may have to be imposed by future legislation to make possible the administration of a safer system of railway working, and the proposal would be entirely unworkable if it meant that one central body should have to administer two possibly conflicting codes of law passed from time to time by different Parliaments. The position in Ireland to-day is that you have one code of law administered by one authority working under the British Government. It is entirely unworkable to have one authority administering two different codes of law, and the Government appear to me to have admitted that principle by introducing into their proposals two different judiciaries for Ireland, presumably on the ground that one judiciary cannot be expected to administer two different codes of law. In view of that inference which we may draw of the Government's intentions in this matter, I look forward with confidence to their 992 refusal to have any dealings with the Noble Lord's opposition to this Amendment.
§ Mr. LINDSAY
I wish to put a further point to the Government. My Noble Friend (Lord H Cecil) has referred exclusively to inland fisheries. I want to know what the effect of this Amendment is going to be with regard to sea fisheries. It appears to me that the Council is going to have power to make regulations for fisheries in territorial waters, three miles round the coast. Supposing they made some law which prohibits foreign trawlers coming to those waters; how are they going to enforce it? It seems to me that under Clause 4 they are debarred: but supposing I am wrong and they attempt to enforce the law, it may give rise to very serious complications with foreign Powers. I think the point is one of substance, and it will be satisfactory to have some reply.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. Henry)
May I remind the Noble Lord of the way in which fisheries questions are dealt with in Ireland to-day? Parliament has, by a series of Acts relating to fisheries, delegated to the Department of Agriculture the right to make bye-laws. These bye-laws provide not merely for fines, but also for imprisonment, and they constitute the real working basis upon which fisheries legislation is conducted. It seems to me and to the Government that, having accepted the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, the rest follows from what he has already succeeded in establishing, and the only logical way of working it out is to give to the Council the powers which certain hon. Members suggested should be conferred upon the separate Parliaments. If the Council is to get any power at all it might safely be entrusted with these powers. Therefore, we are prepared to accept the Amendment to insert the word "fisheries," after "railways," with all its consequences.
§ Captain W. BENN
As I understand it, under Clause 4, the Parliaments of Northern and Southern Ireland have power to make laws relating to fisheries. I cannot see any other interpretation. The Clause says thatThe Parliament of Southern Ireland and the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall respectively have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of 993 Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland with the following limitations, namely, that they shall not have power to make laws except in respect of matters exclusively relating to the portion of Ireland within their jurisdiction, or some part thereof,or with regard to reserved matters. So that under Clause 4 you would have the Northern and Southern Parliaments making laws as regards fisheries. I am not a lawyer, but I have read the Clause with great care, and that seems to be the interpretation.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have already dealt with that point more than once. In Clause 10 we are dealing with the powers of the Irish Council which are excepted from the residue of the powers given under Clause 4 to the two Parliaments of Northern and Southern Ireland. That is quite clear, and upon that basis I have conducted the whole discussion.
§ Captain BENN
The interpretation of the Courts will be the interpretation of the Act as it reads, and will not be affected by any Debates in this House. I shall abandon the pursuit of this point, and merely ask the Attorney-General what powers will the Council have to enforce its decisions? If it makes some law with respect to railways or fisheries, how will it enforce it? For three years the police is reserved, and afterwards it passes to the Northern and Southern Parliaments. When that happens, how is the Council going to enforce any laws it makes, because it will not have any powers for the purpose?
§ Mr. HENRY
The law will be enforced in precisely the same manner as at present. If a bye-law is passed now by the Department of Agriculture, and it is broken, a summons is issued at the suit of the constabulary, or it may be of a common informer, and a conviction is obtained in an appropriate case.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Does not this provision extend to the modifying or repealing of an Act of Parliament altogether? It says, "shall have power to make laws." The expression "make laws" in the accepted sense means making any laws or repealing an Act of Parliament. Accordingly, you might pass a law involving wholly new developments or wholly new restrictions; then the point raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Benn) arises. That wholly new law will require someone to enforce it, but that 994 power will be in the hands of the Northern and Southern Parliaments, and will depend for its enforcement on the efforts of the Northern and Southern Parliaments.
§ Mr. HENRY
The Council will have power to make alterations in the law, and will not be bound by the existing law. The idea of this Clause is to give the Council powers which were intended by some hon. Members for the Northern and Southern Parliaments. Once the Council make a law, that law would be enforced exactly as the existing law is enforced.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Supposing what be called in the Bill "the appropriate Minister" for Northern or Southern Ireland issued Orders that the Royal Irish Constabulary are not to carry out that law, what becomes of it then? The Council have no authority.
§ Mr. HENRY
We may assume that there will be someone in charge as a law officer under both the Northern and Southern Parliaments, and he will have to act according to the law passed by the Council for Ireland. If the Attorney-General for North or South directs a prosecution, that prosecution will be brought before the Courts of Justice in Northern or Southern Ireland, and they will be bound to act on the Act of Parliament passed by the Council.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Does that mean that, in addition to the Ministers responsible to the Northern Parliament and the Ministers responsible to the Southern Parliament, there will be other Ministers responsible to the Council? Does it mean that there will be an Irish Attorney-General and perhaps a whole series of other Ministers; an Irish Railway Minister, an Irish Fisheries Minister, who are to be paid out of what funds nobody knows, and are to be subject to no Parliament and with no responsibility whatever to any Parliament?
§ Mr. HENRY
The Attorney-General for Northern or Southern Ireland will be in precisely the same position as the Attorney-General for Ireland now. He need not necessarily be a Member of this 995 House; very frequently he is not a Member of this House; but he has the duty of administering the law, and whether it be a law passed by the Council for Ireland or a law passed by the different Parliaments, it will be enforced.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I understand that there will be no Ministers responsible to the Council as distinct from the Ministers responsible to the Northern and Southern Parliaments. I do not understand how you can compel Ministers responsible to the Northern Parliament to carry out a law disapproved by the Northern Parliament, but approved by the Council of Ireland.
§ Mr. MOLES
Let us consider the position after what the right hon. Gentleman has said. The Council of Ireland makes a law different from the existing law, and it proposes, for example, to prosecute an English trawler for fishing, say, within a limit of two miles rather than three miles. The Council directs a prosecution in respect of that, but they have no officer upon whom they can make a demand. The Attorney-General for the Northern Parliament would not be their servant; he would be the servant of the Northern Parliament, and even if he did yield to the request there is no police force available at the disposal of the Council to enforce it. There are no coast-guards; they would not be the servants of the Council. The whole position that would arise would be one of absolute conflict. Surely the whole aim of this and other Amendments ought to be to avoid confusion and difficulty. The proposal of my Noble Friend seeks to escape from the difficulty into which the Government have put themselves by accepting, without due thought, another Amendment. You will undoubtedly create a position in one or other of the Parliaments where the Council does something to which the sentiment of one of the Parliaments is opposed, and you will not be able to enforce any course which the Council chooses to take.
There is one point which has not been answered, 996 and that is whether the Council have power to appoint Ministers. I should imagine that Sub-section 5 would most distinctly give that power, because it says:The Council shall have power to appoint such secretaries and officers, etc.Therefore, they could appoint a Secretary responsible for fisheries. The hon. Member (Mr. Moles) pointed out that there would be greater difficulty because the Council would have no coast-guards under them. I suggest that exactly the same thing would apply if you were to give this power over fisheries to the two Parliaments. They are not to be given the coast-guards, presumably, because they are not to be responsible for Customs. They are not to have a navy. Therefore, if we were to carry out the suggestion of the Noble Lord and to give the Parliaments control over fisheries in their own areas, and the Council control over fisheries which lay between the two areas, we should be in exactly the same difficulty, except that we should have to have three navies, and three sets of coastguards, efficiently to administer the fisheries. I agree that it is a very difficult problem. The Noble Lord is extraordinarily skilful in showing up the absurdities in which this dualism or trinity in Ireland is rapidly landing us. We had better avoid the trinity and stick to a central administration where it is in any way possible.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. LONG
I beg to move, in Subsection (2), at the end, to insert the wordsProvided that nothing in this Sub-section shall prevent the Parliament of Southern Ireland or of Northern Ireland making laws authorising the construction, extension, or improvement of railways where the works to be constructed are situate wholly in Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, as the case may be.This Amendment carries out the intention of the Government expressed very fully in the recent Debate. Perhaps I might reaffirm what I stated then; that this Amendment does not conflict in any way with the powers conferred upon the Central Council. The powers conferred upon the Central Council enable them to deal with the administration of railways throughout the whole of Ireland and makes them entirely responsible for railways, whether it be construction, improve- 997 ment, alteration, or administration that affect the whole country. We give in this Amendment powers to the local Parliament to construct railways or to alter or improve railways in their own areas, but it does not give them any powers of administration. As my hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster) has pointed out, we are conforming absolutely to the practice in Canada, which has worked admirably, and also to the practice in the United States of America.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I am not perfectly clear whether the effect of the Amendment is or is not confined to legislation initiated by the existing railway companies or whether it is extended to the promoters of new railways. On the whole, it is desirable that it should be confined to legislation initiated by the existing railway companies. If it is not, the Government of Northern Ireland or the Government of Southern Ireland might initiate legislation authorising a new competition at the expense of the taxpayers. This may very seriously affect the financial position as regards the existing Irish railways. If it is the intention of the Amendment to confine initiation to the existing railway companies, I should certainly offer no objection, and I think if that is the intention it might be made clear by inserting some such words as these: "On the application of any railway company or promoters seeking incorporation as a railway company."
§ Mr. LONG
That is not the intention of the Government. The intention of the Government most distinctly is to authorise the local Parliaments to construct these railways, whether they are promoted by the existing railway companies or by any new bodies. The hon. Member's suggestion would mean that this Parliament, in passing this Bill, would confer an absolute monopoly on the existing railways.
I desire to draw attention to the extraordinary inconsistency of the Government with regard to these Amendments. Owing to the criticism brought to bear upon the proposal with regard to railways, they have given way to the extent of permitting either the Northern Parliament or the Southern 998 Parliament to deal with a railway which is entirely within its own area, yet with that Amendment on the Paper, and with the recollection of the criticisms that were brought to bear on the proposals, they have deliberately given away the whole case for the fisheries. In a neighbouring county to the one which I represent there is a comparatively small river, with fishing of some value, which is entirely in one county, and yet we cannot erect a weir or do anything; under the Amendment which has been accepted by the Government, the owners of that fishery cannot, though the Parliament of Northern Ireland, do anything in connection with it. Yet, in the case of a railway which runs alongside the river, the Parliament of Northern Ireland has full powers to make any additions to it or to construct any works in connection with it. It is a great pity that the Government, before plunging headlong into these controversial matters by accepting Amendments, as they have done, with regard to the fisheries, should not have had expert advice as to the consequences that are going to flow from what they have done.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I am not sure whether I have misunderstood the result of this proposal. As I understand it, it gives the Parliaments of Northern and Southern Ireland power to construct railways which they think are likely to be beneficial to the persons dwelling in the two parts of Ireland covered by the authority of the two Parliaments. The result will be, apparently, that there will be three authorities in future controlling the administration of the railways. For instance, as soon as the North of Ireland Parliament has constructed a railway, somebody will have to control it. It will be a new railway, and somebody will have to manage it. Presumably the Council will control it, according to Sub-section (2) of Clause 10. What will have happened will be this, that the Northern Parliament has constructed a railway intended solely for the development of the North of Ireland—it may run round in a circle in the North of Ireland so as to make Northern Ireland still more a separate unit than it is at the present time—and yet that railway will be controlled by the Council of Ireland, which is to control all the railways all over Ireland. Surely it is an anomaly that a railway, con- 999 strutted by a Parliament solely with the view to the development and the prosperity of one portion of Ireland, should, as soon as it is constructed, be managed by a Council whose duty it is to control the railways in the interests of the whole of Ireland. Now I thought that that result was so absurd that it could not be a proper construction of the Section, and therefore I formed the opinion that it was intended to have three bodies exercising power: the Council to control the railways for the whole of Ireland, the Northern Parliament to control the railways for the North of Ireland, and the Southern Parliament those for the South of Ireland. Now that, of course, would be very indefensible, and the right hon. Gentleman indicates that that is not the intention. I fully accept that, but then we have a consequence which is scarcely less absurd, if I may say so—that these purely local railways, constructed with a separatist intention, constructed with an intention, apparently, on the part of the Northern Parliament or the Southern Parliament to manage its own affairs, and to construct its own railways, so that they will be to the advantage of the South of Ireland wholly or the North of Ireland wholly, and not to the advantage of the other part, are to be managed by this Council whose sole object is to promote the unity of Ireland. I venture to think that the system is unworkable, that it will cause confusion, and will lead to consequences which are neither desired or intended by the right hon. Gentleman. The Council of Ireland is the one unifying force which we have in this Bill. The Government has given the Council something which, as has been said this afternoon, it can manage without considering too closely the matters on which Ireland has been divided in the past. Cannot it be left in control of the railways and allowed to construct the railways that are for the advantage of the whole of Ireland? What is the object of this Clause if it is not to "pander"—if I may use that word without offence—to the separatist tendencies of these two Parliaments? If that is not the object of the proviso, I venture to think it would have been better to leave the Council to construct the railways which it considers likely to be of use to the whole of Ireland. In France during the War we might as well have 1000 allowed two Generals to construct railways which were likely to be useful to their own particular Army Corps and have left the administration of these railways in the hands of one authority as to allow these two Parliaments to construct railways which are intended to be controlled by another body, to whom, apparently, these Parliaments are supposed to be likely to be hostile. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, on consideration, will not press this Amendment on the Committee.
I am very uneasy about the Divisions which appear likely to take place under this proviso, and I hope the Government may be able to tell us more than they have done as to how conflicts will be avoided, or, in the event of conflict between the Council and the Parliaments, who will have the overriding power? It occurs to me that a case may arise with regard to fares of workmen's trains. If this proviso passes will the local Parliament be able to impose the obligation to run workmen's trains at special fares? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If they do not, it appears to me that it is quite likely the public interest will suffer. The Council will not be responsible for imposing the conditions, and therefore the railway companies who, when they come to this House have their claims very carefully inquired into, and have reasonable conditions of that kind imposed upon them, will now, owing to this division of jurisdiction, avoid those obligations. I think there will be many cases where, owing to divisions of powers, there will be a real omission of obligations which have been considered necessary over here in the interests of the travelling public.
§ Captain W. BENN
I should like to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty questions as to one or two matters on which there seems to be a good deal of confusion. Do I understand that the Northern and Southern Parliaments will have powers themselves to construct railways? I do not know whether they can or cannot do this. It says "authorising the construction". Could they authorise themselves to construct a railway? Could they construct a State railway? I do not know what is the answer to that. It depends on the legal interpretation of the words. Then I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry 1001 of Transport: Are these powers in diminution of, or derogation from, the powers possessed by his Department, or are they in addition to them? I observe that his Department have power to authorise the construction of railways. They also have the power to authorise the abandonment of railways. Supposing the Northern Parliament authorises the construction of a railway, surely it would not be proper if later on the Transport Department—or rather the Council—decided that the railway is to be abandoned.
Moreover, the powers possessed by the Transport Ministry deal with all the points concerned with the construction of a railway. They have power to settle differences between the owners of land and the constructors as to the access of the land. Shall we not get into inextricable confusion if you have a Council possessing these powers and a Parliament which also appears to have unlimited powers over the construction of railways within its area? Further, suppose a railway company comes and asks leave to effect some improvement, do we understand that the Parliament of Northern Ireland has no right to say, "We will give you the necessary leave provided you run workmen's trains or give some other facility"? That is a very important point, because, as this House knows, it is the usual practice to take advantage of the request of railway companies for further powers to exact from them further facilities for the travelling public. Will there be any such powers, or will there not? Surely the practice over there should be assimilated to the practice here, and if it is assimilated you are going to get enormous and inextricable conflict between the Transport Ministry and the powers enjoyed by the Northern and Southern Parliaments. Then, what about the gauge? Suppose the Southern Parliament decides to construct a railway in Donegal, and that the Northern Parliament is constructing a railway in the adjacent county. Is there any power in anybody's hands to persuade or suggest or advise those two bodies to adopt the same gauge? One may think that a light railway is needed, and another that it should be a full-gauge line. It is an extraordinary thing that we have recently passed a Transport Act to enable an autocrat in this country to direct all means of transport, to put them in order, and to unify them, and that we should 1002 be setting up in Ireland at least three authorities with powers of control, powers to construct railways when they like, how they like, where they like, but apparently having no connection with one another. This is a very important question from the commercial point of view. You may get the Southern Parliament, animated by feelings unfriendly to the North, constructing their railways so as to divert the whole of the trade from Belfast and the commercial centres of the North to the South. It is not the most important part of the trade of Belfast that goes through the South, but it is an important part, and to endow another Parliament, hostile to Belfast, with powers to construct railways intended to destroy that trade seems a very bad thing if you wish to introduce order and unity. Perhaps some of these questions may be answered by the right hon. Gentleman. Certainly they seem to me to be points of substance.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Would it be possible, if the Amendment is carried, for the promoter of a railway to come and obtain a Private Bill here? As far as I read the Bill. it would be possible, and if that be the case it would make the confusion all the greater.
§ Mr. REID
The Amendment authorises the construction, extension, or improvement of railways in Northern and Southern Ireland. The White Paper contains, on page 6 and the following pages, a series of statutory provisions contained in existing Acts, which deal with the construction of railways. These powers are now by the Bill vested in the Council of Ireland. They are in many cases powers which are ancillary to ordinary Private Bill legislation. Sub-section (2) of Clause 10 prohibits the two Parliaments from passing laws dealing with railways. Apparently, therefore, neither Parliament could vary the powers dealing with the construction of railways vested in the Council of Ireland. As the powers in question are mainly ancillary to the powers given by the Amendment to the separated Parliaments, I suggest that it would be wise to reconsider the drafting of the Amendment and to give to the Northern and Southern Parliaments, in proper cases, such of the powers set out in the White Paper as are ancillary to the powers of legislation given them by the Amendment as drafted.
§ Mr. NEAL
As to the point raised by hon. and learned Member for Bristol (Mr. Inskip), I confess I find it impossible to appreciate the difficulty which is in his mind. He spoke of the management and administration of these railways. The ordinary management will obviously be in the hands of the owners of the railways. The hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness) put a very interesting question as to whether power would be given to the Parliament which was considering a Bill for the construction of a new railway to impose conditions upon the promoters with reference to fares, workmen's trains and the like, and the point was reinforced by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn). I take it that any Parliament which is considering a private measure will have the power of saying upon what terms it would grant the powers which the promoters sought, and it might very well be that it would include in the Bill, according to the common practice of Parliament, those provisions which it thought right to insert.
§ Mr. NEAL
Either in the special statute itself or through the operation of the general Acts, which are usually incorporated. It has been suggested that there would be the same difficulty with reference to the powers which are at this moment vested in the Minister of Transport. We have dealt with that. The Committee has already accepted, in substance, Sub-section (2). The Council for Ireland will have control of the department of state, whatever it might be, which is set up to administer the powers vested in the Minister of Transport. There would be no confusion.
§ Captain BENN
It is not confusion between the Transport Ministry and the Council of Ireland. The question is whether the powers transferred to the Council would exist side by side with 1004 the powers now proposed to be conferred on the Parliaments.
§ Mr. NEAL
With all respect, I think that shows a little confusion in the hon. Member's mind between legislation authorising the construction of certain railways and the administrative bodies which would have to see that certain regulations were carried out. With regard to the question raised by the hon. Member for East Down (Mr. Reid), the hon. Member obviously would not expect me at this moment to deal with a detail of that description further than to say that it shall receive most careful consideration between now and Report.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Would it be possible to initiate Private Bill legislation from the two local areas in this Parliament, co-ordinately with the local Parliaments?
§ Mr. MACMASTER
The Clause gives power to the Council to make laws with reference to railways, and applies, not merely to running, but to control and regulation. It might be argued that the words of the Amendment limit the powers of the Council, but the Council would have the power of control of railways constructed under the Amendment in either area. For that reason, it would be an improvement if words giving administration or management were introduced in connection with the words "construction, extension, or improvement." The power authorising the passing of an Act to construct a railway implies all ordinary incidents in construction. If some words, such as those I suggest, are not introduced, the control and management of the railways constructed in the separate areas might fall under the Council.
Is the effect of these words to limit the power of the Council with regard to the construction, extension and improvement of railways? If, say, the Parliament of Northern Ireland passed an Act authorising the construction of a railway in its area, would the promoters then require to go to the Council and get the authorisation of that body, or could they go straight on?
§ Mr. NEAL
In reply to the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Macmaster) as to whether it would be wise to insert in this Amendment some words giving administrative powers to the two Parliaments, the answer is in the negative, and that point has already been dealt with in another Amendment. In reply to the question of the hon. and gallant Member (Major Barnes), legislation once it received the Royal Assent would not require the sanction of the Council.
§ Mr. INSKIP
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport said that he failed to appreciate my point as one of substance. Two bodies are given power to make laws in regard to the construction, extension, or improvement of railways, one being the Council and the other either of the two Parliaments. The Parliament and the Council may have absolutely different opinions as to the way in which a railway should be conducted. The Council, for instance, might make a law or have the opinion that no railway is to be allowed to have level crossings, and the Northern Parliament might pass a law authorising a railway to be constructed with no bridges, but with level crossings, which would make inapplicable the regulations of the Council. In that way you would have conflict between the two bodies and a reductio ad absurdum of the whole scheme of control by the Council and its power to make laws.
Instances of that kind could be multiplied. The Council, to take another example, might come to the conclusion to pass no law for electric railways in Ireland, and on the ground that they were not suitable to the country, and the following week the Northern Parliament might pass an Act to construct an electric railway or to have an electric installation on an existing railway. The Parliamentary Secretary, with all his ability and ingenuity, may say that he would have no difficulty in carrying on a system with two authorities possessing equal powers in respect of these matters, but I submit that it is most inconvenient, and I think it would be a serious blemish on this Bill, if such ridiculous provisions were inserted. I hope I have now succeeded in making my point clear to the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman where he finds in the Bill any provision empowering the Council to administer the railways?
§ Mr. NEAL
In Clause 2, Sub-section (2), which transfers all the powers exercisable by any Department of the Government of the United Kingdom. Those are the very powers to which my hon. and learned Friend refers and which are set out in detail in the White Paper. With reference to the very interesting contribution made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bristol (Mr. Inskip), I now quite fully appreciate the point which he raises and which is one of more than passing interest. It raises the question as to what would be the effect of divergent legislation by the Council and either of the Parliaments in Ireland.
§ Mr. NEAL
My hon. and learned Friend has put to me a question which he thinks I may have a little difficulty in answering, and I hope he will not add to that difficulty by supplementing it as I go along. Where you get two legislative bodies of co-ordinate jurisdiction and you get any essential or real divergence, it should surely be plain that neither of those bodies can by any act of its own derogate from the powers of a body of co-equal jurisdiction. I hope that is a sound proposition.
§ Mr. INSKIP
If it is a sound proposition, I do not see the necessity for Clause 6, which provides for the conflict of laws between the Parliaments of Ireland and of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. NEAL
I will confine myself to answering the hon. and learned Member's question. He said: Supposing the Parliament of the North of Ireland determined that all railways should have level crossings. May I point out that the only case in which that could arise would be on some specific application of the Parliament of Northern Ireland to deal with a railway wholly within its jurisdiction, and in respect of which it would have complete seizing of the matter? I do not apprehend that it would be competent, and certainly it is not in the least degree to be assumed that the Council of Ireland would attempt by any legislation to interfere with the provisions of a particular statute dealing with that particular case. It is perfectly easy, when one is dealing with a Bill which has certain novel features in it, features which are intended as a great effort to achieve a great aim, to put conundrums 1007 as to what may happen in a particular case. It is a very simple kind of sport, And I do not complain of it—
§ Mr. NEAL
I did not interrupt the hon. and learned Member, and I hope he will allow me to proceed. It is perfectly legitimate, and I am not in the least complaining, but it is the simplest thing to propound conundrums and ask for a definite answer. Those questions are not in the least degree likely to arise unless you assume that you have in one or the other body persons who are utterly devoid of common sense and are not going to act in the interests of the community as a whole. I do not think in practice the difficulty which my hon. and learned Friend has suggested could or would arise, and I hope he will be satisfied with that answer.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the words last inserted to add the wordsProvided that the appointed day fixed for the purpose of this Sub-section shall be a date not earlier than the expiration of the period of two years mentioned in Section Three (1) of the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, and all claims arising before the appointed day under Section Eight of the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, or determinable as if they were claims so arising shall be satisfied by the Minister of Transport in accordance with that Section. The rates, fares, tolls, dues, and other charges directed by the Minister of Transport under the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, and in force on the appointed day, may be charged until fresh provision shall be made by the Council of Ireland, or the Parliament of the United Kingdom, with regard to the amount of any such rates, fares, tolls, dues, and other charges.I have already explained the scope of this Amendment, and the Government have already given me an assurance that they will keep a favourable eye upon it.
§ Captain W. BENN
Are we not going to have from the Ministry of Transport any sort of explanation as to the effect of this Amendment? The Ministry of Transport Act applies to a great many things besides railways; it applies to tramways, canals, and all means of communication. I understand the Amendment means that the powers given to the Ministry of Transport for three years to enable them to co-ordinate transport 1008 in the three Kingdoms should persist in the case of Ireland until that work is over and the claims shall be satisfied. This means to say, that the Ministry of Transport, or perhaps the Council, will have these powers, not only over railways, but over tramways, canals and all sorts of other matters set out in Section 3 of the Act. Is it suggested that these powers in Ireland should be conferred on the Council, because that is very different from giving merely railway powers?
§ Mr. NEAL
I think I have already told the Committee on three occasions—certainly on two—exactly the mind of the Government on this matter, and in very few words I repeat it now. The railways of Ireland are at the present time controlled by the Government under the provisions of the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919. By the Act of last year that control, and the financial terms on which the railways should be operated, were continued for two years. This Amendment proposes to make it quite clear that that control shall be continued in the same form for the same period, namely, from the 15th August, 1921, being the expiration of two years from the passing of the Ministry of Transport Act. That is secured by the words in the Amendment that the appointed day is not to be fixed earlier than the expiration of that period. In other words, the Irish railways will remain under the jurisdiction of this House, exercised through the Ministry of Transport until a date not earlier than 15th August, 1921. Next, any financial obligation which the Government enters into with the railway companies will be honoured by the Imperial Exchequer, and there will be no possibility of any suggestion, if this Amendment is carried, that those liabilities are handed over to the Irish Parliaments to deal with. In other words, His Majesty's Government simply honours the obligation it has entered into.
Another matter is dealt with under the Ministry of Transport Act, which applies to the whole of the United Kingdom, the rates and charges, which are fixed by the Minister of Transport after revision by the Rates Advisory Committee, are to continue for a period of eighteen months beyond the period of control; that is to say, the railway companies will be entitled to maintain their rates until 15th 1009 February, 1923. That extra eighteen months supervening from the period of control was deliberately accepted by Parliament for the purpose of enabling the railway companies to take such steps as they might desire, either by general legislation or by promoting Private Bills; in other words, that they should not suddenly find, on the very day control expired, that all their charges had ceased to be operative and effective. That is a period of eighteen months as the law stands at present under the Ministry of Transport Act. The Government gave a promise last time we were here that they would accept an Amendment in the sense I have indicated, but the Amendment of my hon. Friend goes a little further, and asks that that period of eighteen months, during which the charges shall remain effective, shall be indefinitely extended until legislation is passed to alter it either by the Imperial Parliament or by the Irish Council. The reason which, I understand, he gives for that is that during the period we are considering, up to February, 1923, the Irish railways will be left in considerable uncertainty as to their position. They will be told they ought to go to the Northern Parliament or the Southern Parliament, or the Council of Ireland, to give them legislative authority to maintain their charges, but they have no guarantee that the new legislative machinery in Ireland will be set up and in sufficient working order for them to be enabled to get these powers in that time. It is, therefore, suggested by this proposal that it is wise and prudent that charges shall remain in force until either the legislative body of this House or the Council of Ireland alter them. That seems to us a perfectly reasonable view to take, and, therefore, redeeming the pledge made to my hon. Friend the last time we were here, with a little interest, if I may say so, I invite the Committee to accept the Amendment.
§ Captain BENN
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman, and I understand the position now to be this: We have passed a Bill to confer self-government on Ireland. There was one bright spot in the Bill, from our point of view, namely, that we gave the Council of Ireland power over the whole country as regards the railways. For two years, and even for a further extended period, we have taken away the one power that was given to a body to cover the whole 1010 of Ireland. In addition to that, we have taken away from the Northern and Southern Parliaments, for a period of two years, or some further period, whatever power they possess under this Bill for canals, docks, and harbours. It is as well that we should clearly understand that this is an Amendment moved with the object of taking away the one piece of local self-government that existed, and diminishing the powers of the Northern and Southern Parliaments with regard to other matters. It is useless to divide the Committee on the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Major O'NEILL
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the words last inserted, to add the wordsNothing in this Sub-section shall prevent the Parliament of Southern Ireland, or the Parliament of Northern Ireland, making laws with regard to labour questions on such railways as are within their respective areas in such province.It is the Amendment which the Government stated they would bring in if there were a general feeling in the House in its favour. I think the hon. Member has the words which he proposes, and which, of course, are much better than these, and if he accepts the principle of this Amendment I will, of course, give way to the words he suggests. When we were discussing the main point on this Clause, the hon Gentleman stated, that in addition to the Amendment of the First Lord of the Admiralty, which has just been discussed, he himself, as representing the Government, would put forward this Amendment which I am now moving, provided, I think he said, there was a general opinion in the Council that it would be a good thing, and for some reason I suppose he has decided there was not such an opinion. I really do not know why. There was no very general opinion in favour of the Amendment of the First Lord of the Admiralty which has just been passed. This Amendment does really raise a vastly important point. The last thing I want to do is to be unfair or to criticise the Government in this matter. Personally, I think we owe them thanks for having so far met objections raised last week by putting down Amendments, and I do suggest they should reconsider the matter. This Amendment proposes to give to the Northern and Southern Parliaments the power to deal with 1011 labour questions on the railways within their areas. Otherwise, if they do not have that power you get the extraordinary position that under Clause 4 of the Bill the Parliaments of Southern and Northern Ireland have power to deal with various important matters, yet in regard to railways have no power to deal with these labour matters. If the Bill stands as it now is, the Council of Ireland has power to legislate in respect to the railways except on questions of labour which affect the railways.
§ Major O'NEILL
If that is so, may I ask the hon. Gentleman why it was that he proposed to put forward this Amendment in his own name? I do not wish to labour the matter, and if he is prepared to accept the Amendment I will sit down.
§ Mr. NEAL
I could not accept the Amendment, because I am very doubtful if it is necessary to have any words of the sort in the Sub-section at all. Both Irish Parliaments are by Clause (4) given certain powers. There is nothing in the Bill, at any place that I can find, which limits the powers of either of the Parliaments to deal with labour questions as a whole, and not only those affecting railways. If hon. Members look at Sub-section (2) of Clause (10) they will see that the Irish Council is there given power to make laws in respect of railways, and not to the Parliaments of Southern or Northern Ireland. Possibly that might be taken by implication to mean that that excluded from the Northern and Southern Parliaments the power of making labour laws affecting railways. What I previously said in relation to the Amendment to which my hon. and gallant Friend has referred was that if there was a general desire that the full rights of legislation with reference to labour matters should be referred to both Parliaments, and if there was any 1012 doubt already that the Government were prepared to consider the propriety of making the matter clear. Between now and Report stage we might consider some such words as these: "that the State should regulate the hours and conditions of employment about railways." That would exclude the matter from the Council. Still, we have to look at the proposition from two points of view: that both Parliaments should have power to make laws and the Council, or under this Clause we should make it clear that labour laws are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Council of Ireland. If you do that it would be, I think, by the insertion of some such words as I have mentioned at an earlier stage than we have now reached in the Bill, and such Amendment, therefore, can only be done upon the Report stage. Under these circumstances I shall be very glad if this Amendment is not pressed, and I promise on behalf of the Government very carefully to consider whether to exclude these powers from the Council and leave them with the Parliaments. There is something to be said for both sides. The less Parliament interferes between employer and employed in the sense of preventing freedom of contract, proper wages being paid, and proper conditions of labour being observed the better, the only exception being that Parliament should exercise its function for the purpose of preventing anything in the nature of oppression. Perhaps after that statement, my hon. and gallant Friend will withdraw his Amendment, and allow the subject to receive consideration between now and Report both by the Government and also perhaps on behalf of my hon. and gallant Friend and those who act with him.
§ Major O'NEILL
After what my hon. Friend has said, I certainly shall withdraw my Amendment, on the understanding, which he has made clear, that the Government will approach this matter before the Report stage with a view, first of all, of putting in words which will make it quite clear that the Parliaments of Northern and Southern Ireland shall not be deprived of dealing with labour laws in respect of the railways. I should like to put it much higher. The matter, however, has already been dealt with in the main discussion. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman to put down an Amendment, the effect of which would be to 1013 reserve solely to both the Northern and Southern Parliaments the power of dealing with labour questions on the railways, just as they have solely the power of dealing with labour questions in all other industries throughout their distinctive areas. However, in view of what the hon. Gentleman has said, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (3).
This provision confers upon the Council of Ireland all sorts of shadowy duties and rights of interfering in business with which they have nothing whatever to do. We were told on the introduction of this Bill that the representatives from the North of Ireland were going to get self-government, and with one or two exceptions like railways, that practically everything else was left in our own hands. Many hon. Members have already said that the leading feature of this Bill is the means it provides for bringing about unity between the Northern and Southern Parliaments. I have often said that I do not think there would be any unity between those two Parliaments for a long time to come, and in his heart every hon. Member knows I am only saying what is true. It is impossible to conceive that in the Northern Parliament we should find ourselves in such a measure of agreement with the Southern Parliament for a very considerable space of time, that we should be willing voluntarily to join ourselves to them under a Parliament in Dublin.
In theory I would like to see unity between North and South, and I realise that one Parliament is more desirable than two, but it is utterly impossible to have such a thing for many years to come. Surely the best chance of having unity is to give them whole and entire self-government, and leave the means for unity to come spontaneously from them. This Clause is one that would do the cause of unity infinite harm. It is a sort of pious set of injunctions given by the Act to the Council, which are quite useless There is no executive authority connected with anything in this Clause. They may make recommendations and pass resolutions, but they are not to have any force of any sort or description, and I maintain that these proposals, instead of hastening the time of unity, if the Council make these recommendations they will only estrange 1014 the two Parliaments instead of producing unity. The Sub-section provides that:The Council may consider any questions which may appear in any way to bear on the welfare of both Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.The Parliaments are the proper persons to decide those questions, and they are very little likely to pay any attention to the recommendations of an outside authority which makes a recommendation on the question which solely belongs to them, and they are much more likely to tell these people to mind their own business and leave them to decide what questions and the time such questions should be dealt with by the two Parliaments. After having discussed all these questions which in any way bear on the welfare of the two Parliaments, they may make suggestions in relation thereto. It is absurd to set up a body and tell them it is their duty to consider any question they think fit and then to tell them they can only make suggestions. That is a question on which there ought to be some joint action, and it should not be left to an outside body to pass resolutions of this kind, which can only lead to trouble, and will lead to the Council becoming as unpopular in Ireland as it is on this Bench. They are told that they may discuss any of these questions, and they say:It shall be the duty of the Council of Ireland forthwith, after the constitution thereof, to consider what Irish Services ought, in the common interest, to be administered by a body having jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland.Surely these are questions which the Parliaments ought to decide, and it does not need a specially constituted body to look into such questions because they deal with matters which must necessarily come before the Parliament in Ireland. There are sure to be a great number of questions which can only be managed apart, and surely they are bound to crop up at once, and it is utterly futile and absurd to confer and practically set up this body, not for deciding such questions, but for making recommendations which probably will never be carried out by the two Parliaments. They have also to consider:What reserved services which are transferable on the passing of identical Acts ought to be so transferred.Surely the Parliaments can decide that. Then they haveto make recommendations to the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern 1015 Ireland as to the advisability of passing identical Acts delegating to the Council of Ireland the administration of any such Irish services, with a view to avoiding the necessity of administering them separately in Southern Ireland or Northern Ireland, and providing for the transfer of any such reserved services at the earliest possible date.That is a most absurd and ridiculous provision, and instead of hastening unity it will retard it. I am not against unity, but I say it will be useless for this purpose, and instead of bringing about unity it will make the two contending parties less inclined to join together. We have a good example of the sort of use to which this Clause will be put. No sooner had this Clause appeared on the Paper than, I am sorry to say, that a learned Friend of mine, whose Unionism I have always looked upon as being above suspicion, put down an Amendment, which I expect will be discussed in a few minutes, the effect of which is that if at any time the Council have a Sinn Fein majority, or a majority of people opposed to the views of Unionists in the North of Ireland, and that Council makes a recommendation to both Parliaments to do something which the Northern Parliament are strongly opposed to, the effect of the Amendment is that after that recommendation has been lying on the Table six months the Southern Parliament, by a mere resolution, will be able to get that recommendation carried into law. I submit that that is the use which is going to be made of this Clause, and I cannot conceive anything more likely to prevent union. The Northern Parliament may be strongly opposed to some particular proposal, and yet, if there happens to be a majority of one on the Council, that Council may be able to carry over the head of the Northern Parliament some measure to which that Parliament is bitterly opposed. That is a very good example of the use which may be made of the Clause. It is bound to cause great irritation, although it has no executive authority. It is only a pious instruction to the Council as to how they are to occupy their time when they have no railways or fisheries to look after. It will undoubtedly create a great deal of friction, and I beg, therefore, to move that the Clause be struck out.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
It is probably desirable, I should say at once, that the Government cannot accept this Amendment. My hon. and gallant Friend is to be congratulated on the advance he has made in the course of this Debate. He tells us to-day he is in favour of unity.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
Unity in theory. But the hon. and gallant Member's earlier speeches hardly gave us the idea that even in theory he was in favour of unity.
I said I did not believe there would be any unity between the Northern and Southern Parliaments during the lifetime of any Member of this House.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
My hon. and gallant Friend appears to have made some progress, because he is in favour of unity, at any rate in theory. He complains that this Clause has no executive authority. I admit it. There is no compulsion about it. It is a sort of statutory Convention that will be sitting, and will always be available to consider exactly the sort of subject that the Convention itself was set up to consider. I do not know what the hon. and gallant Member complains of, seeing that he realises there is no executive authority and no compulsion in this Clause. He complains, but in his desire for theoretical unity he will not agree to a Clause which provides for the discussion of subjects which may make for unity. He tells us he is desirous that each of these Parliaments should have full self-government, yet he seems to fear that this Clause in some way or other will take away from the full self-government that he desires. He says that the consideration by the Council of questions of administration will estrange the two Parliaments. He contends that an outside body set up to consider questions of this sort will alienate the Northern and Southern Parliaments to such an extent as to prevent unity. But what is the Council composed of? He calls it an outside body. It is equally constituted from the Northern and Southern Parliaments; 1017 it is not an outside body at all. It is a body composed of Members of both Parliaments in equal numbers, and it is constituted to consider questions which, in the words of the Section, would be better administered by one system rather than be divided between the two Parliaments. The objection of my hon. and gallant Friend seems to go to the root of the whole Bill. I can quite understand that he does not want the Bill. This is the kernel of the Bill; it is one of the most essential parts of the Bill, and therefore the Government cannot possibly accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. MOLES
I would like to invite the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to one or two lines in this clause, and I will ask him to be as candid in dealing with exactly what they mean as he has been over-candid in misconstruing the observations of my hon. and gallant Friend. This Council may make suggestions if it thinks proper, but the suggestions so made are to have no legislative effect. There is a piece of constructive statesmanship! What is the use of making suggestions if they are to have no legislative effect. Is it not obvious on the face of it that it is a farce to put a thing of that kind into this Bill? "The Council may consider any questions which may appear in any way to bear on the welfare of both Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland." Why those words would take in the whole of President Wilson's fourteen points and the ten Commandments as well! There is hardly a thing which could not be brought within the compass of that body. We are told that the unification of Ireland is aimed at, but it is proposed to start securing that by emasculating each of the Parliaments which it is proposed to unite. No doubt my hon. Friend in charge of the Bill believes honestly that both these Parliaments will be in a most amicable and submissive mood for that kind of performance. But does not everybody realise that all Parliaments are jealous of their rights and privileges, and the last thing to be welcomed would be an effort on the part of any body to interfere with prescriptive rights. It is such interference which has produced conflicts in the past between this House and the Upper Chamber. We are living in a democratic age, in which it is held that the views of the people should be supreme. Here, however, it is proposed 1018 to give power to a body which is not, like Parliament, a reflex of the voice of the people, and which has no reference to public opinion at all. Here you have two Parliaments, members of one family for the purposes of my illustration, and my right hon. Friend comes in with his Council, in the form of a mother-in-law related to both Parliaments. What would be the action of the mother-in-law. I might compare it to attempting to compose differences between man and wife by slapping one on the ear or banging the other in the eye; and that is called unification. What I say is that the less you interfere with either of those Parliaments the better. Leave them alone to take stock of each other. Let them be influenced and edified by the good example of each other. Let them do the best they can and then you will see them inspiring each other with confidence and drawing nearer together. Unless they draw nearer together themselves, neither the Council nor anything else will do it. The Government are on the wrong line if they are acting upon any other assumption. I should say that these Parliaments must gravitate towards each other or they will never come together, It appears to be thought that something different should happen, but no Council will ever pitchfork them into each other's arms. My right hon. Friend has said that the Council will consist of equal numbers and that therefore nothing can go wrong. I suppose he imagines that the whole twenty members of the Council will be present at each meeting and will vote. It seems to be imagined that they will sit from the 1st January to the 31st December of each year and that the exact twenty will always be there to produce an equipoise. There is never to be any sickness or death among them, and not one of them will ever be absent even for a single day. But if that should happen, there will be a possibility of one or other of the parties getting a snatch vote. There is no way in which that could be reversed even if the whole twenty were to come back, even then they could not undo it, because if they were all there they would produce equality of numbers. The real objection I have to the clause goes to its very foundations. Certain hon. Gentlemen have promised another Amendment, and I think it has been because they know that their Amend- 1019 ments if grafted upon this and that the Council having got something done by a snatch vote will be able if other Amendments are carried to do things which would be undemocratic and repugnant to one of the Parliaments. Then there will be a clear question between the Parliaments, or one of them, and the Council. Does the right hon. Gentleman imagine that either Parliament would submit to treatment of that kind or would let the Council interfere with it in a matter which they claimed for themselves?
§ Major HAMILTON
On a point of Order. May I point out that the hon. Member has been dealing for some time, not with this, but with the next Amendment?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)
Any discussion of the next Amendment would at this stage, of course, be out of Order.
§ Mr. MOLES
Probably the hon. and gallant Gentleman thinks that when anybody else but himself is addressing the Committee it is a waste of time. What I was trying to point out was, that every kind of discussion or disagreement that takes place between these various bodies will cause a repercussion. You cannot have both Parliaments discussing all these matters without raising difficulties. The time of the Parliaments would be wasted in discussing them and in refuting what they suppose to be the nonsense which was talked in the other Parliament. The two Parliaments, if they were placed in that position, would find constant cause for disagreement. On that ground, I think that the suggestion which has been put before us is a useless one, and ought not to stand, in the interests of the two Parliaments.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I am not going to discuss the Amendment which is next on the Paper. But should it go to a Division, I shall vote against 1020 it. I hope the hon. Member who has just spoken has not given an accurate description of the manner in which he will act when he finds himself a Member of the Council in Ireland. He has accused the right hon. Gentleman (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) of misrepresenting the views of his party. I rather think that he has himself misrepresented some of the views of the Government, and I think he was very unfair when he criticised the Government for having introduced into the Clause the proposal that the suggestions of the Council were not to have legislative effect. If some such provision had not been introduced, I am sure we would have had many Amendments from the Ulster members to safeguard the position, and to make clear that such suggestions were not to have legislative effect. I suggest also that the hon. Member is against the views of his colleagues on the matter. The Amendment seems to me to be perfectly reasonable. I do not think there is any misrepresentation or camouflage on the part of the Government in putting it in. It makes the matter quite clear. It shows what this body is going to be, and what it is going to be able to do The Government have been extremely fair in that respect. The hon. Member who has just spoken seemed to suggest that the Council would not be a democratic body. I do not think that is exactly fair.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I think the strength of the position lies in the fact that the two Parliaments are democratic, and that therefore, as the Council is elected by them, it cannot be undemocratic. The delegation by democracy is democracy in itself. If that were not so, the election of the President of the United States would be an undemocratic procedure, whereas, as a matter of fact, it is the very apotheosis of democracy. So much for the character of this body. Why is it unreasonable to give to this body these further powers which are suggested? My hon. Friend suggested that it is a bad body to have those powers. It is the very best body in the world, because it is the only body which is going to work joint powers, and to consider the possi- 1021 bility of further extensions of joint powers. He said that this ought to be left to the Parliaments themselves. If that is to be left to the Parliaments themselves, working in their own isolation, the last thing that will occur to them as a solution of their difficulties in administration is the possibility of handing over the administration of some service to the central body. On the other hand, what body can more naturally consider the possibility and practicability of extending powers than this Council, representing both the Parliaments? The whole of this Bill can be made perfectly absurd if one chooses to proceed on the assumption that everybody who is to work it is going to be mad and unreasonable. That is an argument that could be applied to every measure which comes before us here. But if we are to assume that this is an honest attempt to meet the situation, it seems to me only right and proper that the Council should have the powers suggested.
§ Captain W. BENN
It may be of historical interest to compare the wording of this Sub-section with that of the Act of 1782, which dealt also with the last Parliament of all Ireland which was set up by this House. That will show what progress we have made in the course of 150 years in dealing with the aspirations of the Irish nation. At present we are passing a Bill endowing the only Parliament of all Ireland with powers to consider any questions which may appear to bear on the welfare of Ireland, but the suggestions so made are not to have legislative effect. The Act of 1782 says:The right claimed by the people of Ireland to be bound only by laws enacted by His Majesty in the Parliament of that Kingdom in all cases whatever shall be, and it is hereby declared to be, established and ascertained for ever.That was passed by this House in 1782. This is a democratic, advanced, progressive Bill put forward by the Government in 1920, dealing with the same aspirations. People wonder at the ridiculous discussions which take place in this Committee, with no interest in this or any other Sub-section, while behind it all is the agony of the struggle for national freedom.
§ Captain BENN
The right hon. Gentleman and his Friends on those Benches are as much to blame as anyone.
§ Captain BENN
The people who are to blame are those who organised rebellion in defiance of the Government's proposals. If the Southern Parliament sends nobody to this ridiculous Council, and we do not suppose they will, what is going to happen? Supposing that the Southern Parliament refuses to operate? It might be convenient if the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill could give us a full exposition now. If it is not convenient, I will ask leave, on the next Clause, to have the matter properly discussed. It is absurd to go on discussing a body of this kind, half of which is to be elected with the knowledge, which we all have, that one Parliament will never send any representatives to the Council at all.
§ Mr. F. C. THOMSON
I am glad the Government have resolved to stick to this Sub-section (3), will not consent to its deletion. This Council was well described by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill as a permanent convention. It seems to me that the duty which it could most reasonably and properly perform would be to make such suggestions as are here indicated. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down alluded to the history of Ireland. The Act of 1782, however, was followed, as we know, by a stormy period. It is no use going back into the past. One knows that the story of Ireland is a terrible tragedy. One knows that this Bill, in one sense, excites little interest, but the unexpected has happened very often in Ireland, and it may be that from this Bill, from which in many quarters so little is expected, some good will come to Ireland. It is because I hold that view that I strongly support it, and support the Government in insisting on the retention of this Sub-clause. We are told by the representatives of the North of Ireland, and by those English and Scottish Members who intervene in these Debates and hold before us Irish unity as a goal, that we know little or nothing of Ireland. That may be true, but the judgment rests with this House of Commons, and we have to make up our 1023 minds in the best way we can. In common with others who have spoken this afternoon, I value this Bill because it holds before us the ideal of Irish unity, and, in the only feasible way just now, attempts to realise it. The Members from the North of Ireland ought to be satisfied, because I think this is the first measure dealing with Ireland that has recognised facts and protects them in every way. If they will look at Sub-clause (6) of Clause 10—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I thought the hon. Member would have to look at some other part of the Bill to justify his remarks, and I see that he has reached that point, but it would not be in order just now.
§ Mr. THOMSON
I was quoting that Sub-clause, which provides that any delegated power can be revoked just to show the position of Ulster in the North of Ireland is absolutely safe in every way, that Ulster Members have no substance in their objections to this Sub-section (3). I do most earnestly press them to reconsider their attitude with regard to it. Those of us who support the Bill do so with a strong desire to promote in every way we can the welfare of Ireland. We keep before us the goal of Irish unity, and at the same time safeguard the position of Ulster. I think they may be well content to accept that in a generous spirit.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Benn), who sits in such splendid isolation on the Front Opposition Bench, often twits us here with being rebels. I am very proud to be one of those who rebelled against the Act forced upon us by him and his friends. With regard to the Sub-clause under discussion, I have an idea that the draftsman, or those who were responsible for it, wanted to give the Council something to do. They thought the Council would not have very much to do, and that it would be better to give them something to talk about. I think this is an excellent Clause for that purpose. A great many subjects of all kinds and descriptions—in fact, everything under the sun—may be talked about in this Council under this Clause, and they can pass their resolutions and make their recommendations, and they can talk from morning till night on them, and when they have satisfied themselves 1024 that something will be a very good thing to send forward to the Northern or Southern Parliament they will pat themselves on the back and send it forward, not with any hope that it will be carried into effect, but they will feel satisfied that they have done a good day's work. I do not fancy for a moment that the Clause is of the slightest use, although the right hon. Gentleman who defended it considered it an essential part of the Bill, but he did not say anything to show us that it was essential. It is like a great many attempts on the part of the Government to explain some of the Clauses of the Bill. They do not seem to understand what the Clauses are intended to convey themselves. I have no doubt that the Clause will not only give the Council something to talk about and something to do, but, in my opinion, it will cause irritation both in the Northern and Southern Parliaments. The recommendations will go on one subject or another to these Parliaments, with the result that perhaps in the first few cases the Parliaments will consider them, but by-and-by they will simply brush them aside as so much waste paper. Not for a moment will they consider any of these recommendations. Nothing could be conceived which would cause greater irritation than these senseless resolutions which may come up from this Council. So far as we can see, examining the Clause carefully line by line, there is no advantage in it from beginning to end, and I hope it will be rejected.
In reference to what has been said by several hon. Members, although I still think it is not only a useless, but a dangerous, Clause, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (3), to add the wordsProvided that, if within six months from the making of the said representations the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland have omitted to pass the identical Acts mentioned in this Section, the Council may, and shall, if so requested by a Resolution passed in either of the two Parliaments, make an Order embodying the recommendations made by the Council to the two Parliaments, which Order shall be forthwith presented to the Lord Lieutenant as hereinafter provided.I rise with some hesitation to move this Amendment, as two hon. Members 1025 have pointed to it as an awful example of what may follow when the Bill is in operation, and another has assured the Committee that it shall not have his support. I hoped that an effort to strengthen the powers of the Council might evoke some sympathy. It is, after all, a very innocent Amendment, but at any rate one hon. Member has gone to the extent of finding so much evil in it that he even attributed its authorship to the Government. Let me at once remove that totally undeserved stigma, and assure him that although a poor thing it is our own. A great deal has been said, and I think with some justice and a good deal of sense, that this Council is a sort of advisory conversational body with no particular powers and no particular use in the scheme of the government of Ireland in the future. I take it that really the Council which this Bill creates is one of the most important parts of this new scheme, because the Council is the chrysalis from which the beautiful, if possibly somewhat unreliable, creature of Irish unity is ultimately to emerge. It is the one body created in this new Act which is to unite in one gathering the representatives of both the North and the South, and one, consequently, would like to find it given some powers beyond that of merely making useless recommendations and futile suggestions to the two Parliaments, neither of which shows the least inclination to adopt them, and if it is to command any respect at all it must certainly be given some powers worth carrying out. We have been at great care in framing the Amendment to strengthen if we can without giving too much power to the Council, without giving a power which would really over ride the powers it is proposed to entrust to the Northern and Southern Parliaments. All it says is, that when the Council has made a recommendation to the Parliaments that they should pass identical Acts of Parliament dealing with the reserved services and so on, and that recommendation has received no attention for six months, then if one of the two Parliaments passes a resolution carrying out the recommendation, the Council shall be empowered to make the order which it has recommended, to present it to the Lord Lieutenant, to follow the procedure which is specified in the next Sub-section, and, therefore, in time it shall be law. I think the fears ex- 1026 pressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who seemed to think the doom of Northern Ireland is hidden in this Amendment, were altogether unjustified. The powers which I suggest the Council should exercise are only to come into being after they have made their recommendation to the two Parliaments. They are a body consisting of twenty Members from the North, twenty Members from he South, and a Chairman appointed by the King. Representatives from the North will be there as well as representatives of the South. They will always be there in even strength.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
I cannot understand why, if there are twenty Members from the North of Ireland, they should not be just as able to be present as twenty Members from the South.
§ Sir E. HUME-WILLIAMS
Supposing the Southerners were ill! Illness is not confined to the North of Ireland. You have to take the constitution of the whole body as subject to the ordinary laws of human nature and you have a provision which is going to become law in a Clause which we have passed, providing that a body in existence shall have power to make recommendations to the Houses of Parliament, and you have adopted the constitution of twenty members from the North and twenty from the South, and you have provided for an independent chairman. Having exercised that power and having made their recommendations to the Parliaments as to the advisability of passing identical Acts delegating to the Council of Ireland the administration of any such Irish services as concerned the whole of Ireland, if one Parliament is desirous of doing it and the other treats it with contempt, all that we now hope to provide is that when the matter has lain on the Table for six months, and one Parliament will not do anything in the matter, and it is obviously desirable in the interests of Ireland as a whole that it should be done, then this Council, upon which the ultimate general Parliament of Ireland is to be formed, should at any rate have some power to carry out that which in the interests of Ireland they are bringing before the consideration of the two Parliaments. That is the whole 1027 Amendment. Why my hon. and learned Friend opposite should have considered it such a poisonous and dangerous production I cannot possibly see. The idea is that the powers of the Council should be strengthened, and, so far as I know, this is the only recommendation on the paper as to how it may be done, and done without giving too much power to the Council; a power which would not override or, at any rate, conflict with the powers that are being given to the new Parliaments. It provides that only in some important matter affecting the whole of Ireland as to which the Council has already passed its recommendation, that if that is not carried, then, instead of being a mere advisory committee, as it is at present, this Council should have some powers, properly safeguarded, to bring into law that which it has recommended for the good of the whole of Ireland, but which one of the two Parliaments, I care not whether it be the Northern or the Southern Parliament, has obstinately refused to put into operation. If this Bill is to be made a success and to lead to the creation of a happily united Ireland at any period. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] Surely everybody hopes for that even the hon. Member who received that statement with some hilarity must have in his heart the hope that this Bill may tend to the ultimate union of Ireland. It is with that hope in view that I move the Amendment.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
My hon. and learned Friend's persuasive and very reasonable speech has suggested a happy result from this Amendment, but while he desires to bring about the ultimate unity, he is by this Amendment suggesting that the ultimate unity should be brought about by compulsion. That is the basis of this Amendment.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
In this House we base our laws upon consent, and in this Bill we are precluded by pledges given by both sides of the House from compelling Ulster or the northern part of Ireland without her consent from going into a Central Parliament for all 1028 Ireland. In principle what my hon. and learned Friend is suggesting here is that the Council should be entitled to compel one or other of the Parliaments, after formalities have been gone through, to obey the administrative orders made by that Council. The House has made its choice on the Second Reading. It could have made its choice of endeavouring to bring into one Parliament the whole administration of Ireland by compulsion. It did not do so. It said, "No, there shall be two Parliaments and a Council, not with compulsory powers, but with powers to act by consent of the two Parliaments and not otherwise." Having made that choice, and the Amendment going to the root of that choice, I must ask the Committee to reject it.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am sorry that the Amendment has not received more attention. I was the only Member to rise after a representative of the Government sat down. I do not know why hon. Members think it is unreasonable. At any rate, we might have their views upon it. One hon. Member rather sneered at the idea of our ever having a United Ireland. If that is the view which hon. Members opposite take what is the use of wasting our time in this manner? This Amendment deserves the attention of the Committee. It is extremely interesting, and may possibly point a way out, and I am sorry the Government has not viewed it from that point of view. I do not know whether I should be in order in referring to the extraordinary journalistic efforts of a leading Member of the Cabinet, the Secretary of State for War, in one of last Sunday's papers.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I was a little doubtful when I started. However, a suggestion was made that there might be some movement from the extreme parties in Ireland to put forward their views as to how this Bill could be made acceptable. I am not sure whether this Amendment might not receive more attention from that point of view. At any rate, it would have caused some little notice in Ireland if hon. Members opposite had spoken, because their papers report their speeches if they do 1029 not report mine. There would be a rather vague result if the Government had accepted this Amendment. I should like to know what happens to the Council if the Southern Parliament does not meet, and if it does not elect its 20 representatives? Will the Council of 20 representatives by the Northern Parliament be able to deal with matters?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
There might be a case occurring, if this Amendment were carried, in which there might be some thought of coercion, which hon. Members opposite seem to accept quite cheerfully for the Southern Parliament to the uttermost limit, but they object to any pressure by the Council with executive powers such as suggested by the hon. and learned Member. They are up in arms at once against that. It it a commentary on their whole mental attitude, and the sooner the Government ignores them and carries out its own intentions it its own way the better.
I have very great sympathy with the Mover of this Amendment, but I do think that he has probably gone the wrong way to achieve his design. To my mind this Council is such an imaginary, even mythical, body, that we cannot in the House of Parliament give it any reality by seeking to increase its powers. Take, for example, what might happen if this Amendment were passed. The hon. Member said that it was useless to have a Council merely making pious recommendations. If you give the power under this Amendment what power is there to compel the two Parliaments to give legislative effect to its recommendations? The hope of Irish unity does not lie in the Irish Council, but in an Irish Parliament which will be the result of the free choice of the two Parliaments set up by this Bill.
§ Amendment negatived
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (5), at the beginning, to insert the words:For the purposes of their powers and duties with respect to Private Bill legislation, railways and fisheries, the Council shall have power to appoint such officers as, with the consent of the Joint Exchequer Board, they may think necessary, and the salaries and remuneration of those officers, and any other expenses of the Council with respect 1030 to such matters as aforesaid, to such amount as the Joint Exchequer Board may approve shall, so far as not met by fees paid to or other receipts of the Council, be apportioned between Southern Ireland and Northern. Ireland in such manner as the Joint Exchequer Board may determine, and the amounts so apportioned shall be charged on and paid out of the Consoldated Fund of Southern Ireland and the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland, respectively, and for the purposes of their other powers and duties.As the Bill stands, the Council can draw its revenues only from separate votes of the two Parliaments. This Amendment provides that so far as the expenses are not met by fees paid or other receipts of the Council, the expenditure shall be drawn from charges on the Treasuries of the South of Ireland and North of Ireland in such manner and proportions as the joint Exchequer Board shall determine. Since the Bill was introduced widely increased powers have been given to the Council, and now that the Council has fisheries as well as railways to look after, it is quite conceivable that it may want funds at an early stage of its existence before the funds are voted by the two Parliaments. It is necessary also to provide for the case of one Parliament refusing to vote its quota of the funds. That is provided for by the charges of the Council being put upon the exchequers of the two Parliaments in such proportion as the joint exchequer board may determine to be fair. With regard to private Bill expenditure, no doubt most of the expenditure will be covered by fees payable in respect of the Bills introduced. With regard to railways, most, if not all, the charges will no doubt arise from the railways, and so with fisheries. There will be some central expenditure, although a great part of that expenditure will arise again from fees charged. But as regards that which is not so obtained, it is necessary to make some definite provision for funds. Therefore this Amendment is moved.
§ Captain W. BENN
I would like to understand exactly the effect of this Amendment. Previously the Council had to depend on moneys provided by the two Parliaments, presumably voluntarily, so that if they did not get them they would be without funds to carry on. This Amendment gives them, in respect of private Bill legislation, railways and fisheries, a power to spend money and to have it levied on the two exchequers, 1031 and it will be apportioned by the joint exchequer board. What exactly are the limits of the powers so conferred? The powers of the Council have been very much enlarged. Can the officers appointed under this Amendment organise a force of light constabulary who would carry out their decisions, or, in respect of fisheries, appoint a fisheries guard, or some body of the kind to enforce laws with regard to fisheries, because if so it is a very interesting development of the Bill. I imagine that first of all the intention was merely to give money to carry out the private Bill legislation, which is more or less agreed to by all parties, but there is a very important extension of the powers. It might mean that we are providing funds for setting up a whole central administration, and that some of the officers of State will be answerable to the Council, which will be given powers to make forced levies on the two Parliaments. As regards the other part, I imagine that Sub-section (5) stands, with a small consequential Amendment, much as before, that is to say, for the other secretarys and officers whom they may appoint they have to depend on ex gratia grants of the two Parliaments. Now the Amendment appears to give, for all functions of this central legislative and administrative body, the power to levy what funds they require on the perhaps unwilling Parliaments of the two parts of Ireland.
§ Captain ELLIOT
It seems that this Amendment, as the hon. Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) has explained it, is very dangerous. The essence of the Central Council is that it should be created not by this Parliament, but by the two Parliaments. It is useless to indulge in the perpetual criticism of the hon. Member for Leith, who complains that we are not exercising enough supervision and interference with the two Parliaments. That seems to be a totally wrong conception of what we are attempting to do. We are attempting to throw responsibility on the two portions of Ireland to carry on, if they can, to form a Central Council who are to make arrangements of their own. Any powers which we give this Central Council from this Parliament will be resented bitterly and interfered with continually by these two bodies. We have seen in the past few hours in this House the beginning of a 1032 certain Irish patriotism among the Ulster Members. It is an extraordinary fact that we have to some extent a Sinn Fein view, a view of "ourselves alone" from the Ulster Benches. They have begun to represent the claims of the Ulster Parliament. They claim their own railways. I am sure that if the Members from the South of Ireland were here they also would be claiming theirs, and when you do get sprouts of local patriotism like that they should be encouraged in every possible way, and with the resentment at the dictation of this Parliament in putting a Central Council over their heads I have the utmost sympathy. The local Central Council should be the creation of the two Irish Parliaments and not the creation of this Parliament in any sense whatever.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Captain ELLIOT
As to hon. Members from Ulster, I am never sure whether they are in earnest or not. They get up one after another and make laughing speeches about things that seem to be of tragic importance. That is by the way. I think they are perfectly right when they claim that first they must be given liberty, and, secondly, that they should be allowed to make a Central Irish Parliament if and when that seems good to them. Because this Amendment seeks to dictate to them, to make a levy on two possibly unwilling Parliaments, I think it is going in the wrong direction and will cause friction between the two Parliaments.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
I am afraid, from the observations of my hon. and gallant Friend, that those of us who sit on these benches must have been sadly forgetting ourselves, and falling into evil ways. But my hon. Friend and the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Captain W. Benn) appear to me to be attempting to goad us into opposition to this Amendment. For my part I am not going to respond to that invitation. We have given certain powers to this Council. I need not say now whether those powers ought or ought not to be exercised by that Council, but it would be absurd to give certain powers to the Council and not to make any provision whatever for the necessary finance. The proposal is a perfectly reasonable one, and I do not think that the sug- 1033 gestion of my hon. Friend, that we ought to look suspiciously at this and regard it as an invasion of our rights, is one that we ought to support.
Lieut.-Commander HILTON YOUNG
This is the first occasion when the deliberations of the Committee have referred to the Joint Exchequer Board. This is not a convenient opportunity for the discussion of that in general, but it may be as well to enter, as it were, a caveat, and to call attention to the general nature of the task and the curious function imposed on the Board. The effect of this proposed amended Clause will be to impose upon an extra-Parliamentary, unrepresentative body, which will in fact be an English body and not an Irish body, the duty of fixing a charge upon the public. It has hitherto been our constitutional practice to confine that function to Parliament alone. This is a small step in the direction of transferring such powers for the first time to an extra-Parliamentary body. In the second place, look at the task which is being imposed upon this unfortunate Board. At the Board the representatives of the Government of Northern Ireland and of the Government of Southern Ireland will meet at arm's length to fight out the nature of the charges which are respectively to be imposed upon their taxpayers. What hope is there of their ever arriving at any conclusion in the matter unless they are assisted by leading rules. Later on we give at least one guide—distribution according to taxable capacity. I believe that to be a misleading guide. Here, at any rate, they are not given even that guide. I ask, therefore, whether it is contemplated that any sort of guidance is to be given to this unfortunate body in the discharge of this extremely difficult task of separating the charges as between the two areas.
I think the idea underlying this Amendment is a good one, but it appears to be rather clumsily carried out. For the first time we have mention of the Joint Exchequer Board which by a subsequent Clause is to consist of two Members appointed by the Treasury, one Member by Southern Ireland and one by Northern Ireland, and the Chairman to be appointed by His Majesty. The majority of the Board may therefore be, in the view of some people in Ireland, composed of "hated Saxons," and those people may not see fit to obey 1034 the edicts of a Board with a majority of that type. The Board is given rather far-reaching powers. The money connected with this Amendment is to be apportioned in such manner as the Board may determine. In some parts of the Bill the apportionment of certain charges is to be on the basis of population or taxable capacity. I should not like to be in the shoes of this Board in their judgment as to apportionment. I think there will be great difficulty in carrying out this proposal. In addition, the Board must give their consent as to the officers to be appointed by the Council. I doubt very much if this Clause will work out to the satisfaction of either Northern or Southern Ireland. It may be that before the Bill comes to Report the Government may see fit to look into the Clause and see if something better cannot be designed to carry out the idea.
We seem, in this proposal, to be going perilously near divorcing taxation from representation, and that is not a matter the House can afford to pass unnoticed. This Amendment introduces very considerable changes. Under the Bill as it stands the Council can only appoint officers by consent and pay such amounts as the Treasury may approve. The Amendment enables the Council to appoint certain of their officers without any regard to the wishes or the opinions of either Parliament, while they are obliged to appoint another class only by consent. That seems to me to be an extraordinary position to put the staff of the Council in. Certain officers will have a status independent of the authority of the two Parliaments, and the others will not, and that does not seem to be the way to start a Council off. With regard to the officers who are carrying out the private Bill legislation and railways and fisheries, their emoluments are made secure by being made dependent upon the consent of the Joint Exchequer Board and not upon the consent of the Treasury of the Northern or the Southern Parliament. Why has that difference been made? Presumably, they will all be good and worthy men, and why should some be left dependent on the consent of the Northern or the Southern Parliament, while the others depend for the security of their position on the exercise of the powers of the Joint Exchequer Board? 1035 It would seem by the Amendment that follows this that up to some extent all officers of the Council may be able to secure some portion at least of their salaries from whatever sums may be raised with the consent of the Joint Exchequer Board, so that the whole staff of the Council is placed in an extraordinary position. The Parliaments are being put in this position, that they may have a levy made upon them for certain expenses over which they have no control whatever. That seems to be going very near to the absolute divorce of taxation from representation. They are to be presented with a kind of demand note for the payment of salaries in connection with appointments over which they have no control whatever, either as to the appointments themselves or as to the fixing of their salaries. I do not know what the Irish Parliaments are going to be like. I am sure my hon. Friends opposite when they meet in their Northern Parliament and are presented with a demand note to raise a certain sum of money to pay expenses in which they have had no say at all—I think the spirit of Northern Ireland will be up in arms. I do not know whether this is really the first intimation of the kind of answer we are going to get to the question which has been so often put as to what is going to happen if the Southern Parliament does not meet, and that this provision for the appointment of a Joint Exchequer Board is a way out of that difficulty, but that can hardly be so, because if the Southern Parliament does not meet there cannot even be a Joint Exchequer Board. I think that before the Amendment goes through, making such a very substantial alteration in the Bill, we should have some further explanation as to why there is this distinction in the status and in the payment made between these two classes of officers.
§ Major O'NEILL
I think the hon. and gallant Member for Norwich (Lieut.-Commander Young) raised an important and a very relevant point when he said that, for the first time, we have come across the functions of the Joint Exchequer Board. We who represent Ulster, by not opposing this Amendment, must not be taken to approve finally either the existence or the constitution or functions of the Joint Exchequer Board as such, because, of course, it might be said that you are 1036 giving the Joint Exchequer Board, under this Amendment, the power to allocate the amount which is to be charged on the Consolidated Fund Bill, and that, therefore, when the time for setting up the Joint Exchequer Board comes, in Clause 30, it might be said that one is precluded from criticising that Board and its functions because one has not opposed this Amendment. So that I should like to make it clear that we reserve any action about the Joint Exchequer Board when that comes to be discussed. I must say I thought there was something in what the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle (Major Barnes) said in the latter part of his remarks, and that was that if you are going to charge these upon the Consolidated Fund rather than, as was originally proposed in the Bill, making them subject to the approval of the two Treasuries of Northern and Southern Ireland, you are to that extent taking away from the Parliaments of Northern and Southern Ireland the powers to control and to decide how much money shall be spend upon these services. I do think, perhaps, the Government should give us some further information. It might be advantageous, but I merely rose, as the result of what the hon. and gallant Member opposite said, to enter a caveat against it being supposed that we Members from Ulster were to be taken as approving the Joint Exchequer Board, or having anything to do with it, by reason of the fact that this matter is raised for the first time.
The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle (Major Barnes) alluded to the distinction made by this new Sub-Clause between the officials of the Council charged with the administration of the railways and private Bill legislation, and those responsible for the general work. I have got an Amendment, which stands next on the paper, to give the same financial standing to the salaries of those general officers of the Council as is proposed in the Amendment before the Committee for the officials charged with these specialised duties, but I rather think you may feel that my Amendment is out of order once this Government Amendment is taken. Therefore, it is as well if I say a word on the subject now. The decision of the Government to divide the functions of the Council between those which are automatically on 1037 the Consolidated Fund, and those which come before the local Parliament seems to me to be setting up an impossible principle—a principle which will lead to continual deadlock and friction. Let the Committee think what will happen. The Committee will remember it was decided that proportional representation should not be adopted in the Council; in other words, you will get a solid block of Sinn Feiners in the South and of Orange Ulstermen in the North. I see there is a difference of opinion on the part of my hon. Friend (Mr. Moles) about that, but, although he feels there will be greater toleration for middle views, the hon. and gallant Member (Lieut.-Colonel Allen) shakes his head, and agrees with me that no one but the Yellow Orangeman will ever hope to find a place on this new Council—anyhow, under the rigid conditions of its selection.
I may be wrong, but let us assume for a moment that there is going to be a very narrow majority one way or the other. What is bound to happen under present conditions in Ireland? You will have an impartial chairman. Perhaps you will get an epidemic of influenza among the Ulster members, and the Southern members will be able to appoint a Sinn Fein secretary. Is it not perfectly certain that there will be a great movement in the Ulster Parliament to object to the expenditure which is imposed in connection with this man who is alleged to be in sympathy with their bitter enemies? Is it not disastrous for the efficiency of the Council that all their financial battles on these subjects will have to be thought twice over—first on the Council, and then in the local Parliaments? Probably the Sinn Fein officials will just get that half of their salary which is voted by the Sinn Fein Parliament, and the Ulster Orange officials will get that quota which is due to them from the Ulster part! Even if this extreme case does not arise, it is very likely you will get an inconvenient deadlock. It is much better that these salaries should fall automatically on the Consolidated Funds, as the Government admit to be reasonable in a case of the special services mentioned in their Amendment. If we have a Council at all we must do our best to prevent its being discredited in the public eye by these unfortunate deadlocks, ludicrous bickerings and scandal. For that reason I do hope that the Government will extend their Amend- 1038 ment, which I think would even be good and uniform from the draftsman point of view, to include all officials and all salaries of the Council in the purview of their Amendment to ensure that they shall be paid out of the Consolidated Funds.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
Two questions have been asked. One was why there should be any difference between the two methods of dealing with the salaries of the two separate sets of officials? The short answer to that is this House is imposing upon the Council the charge of the railways, fisheries, and Private Bill legislation, and it has provided that the money required for the payment of the officials in charge of these duties shall be a charge upon the Consolidated Funds of the two Parliaments and approved by the Joint Exchequer Board. Any other powers that may be entrusted to the Council will be so entrusted by a joint resolution moved in the two Parliaments. At the time they resolve the Council should take over any powers from the two Parliaments, these will have to make provision for the financial arrangements which are necessary for guaranteeing these services. We wish, therefore, to leave to the Irish Parliament as much freedom as possible, but if this House is putting upon the Council certain duties, we must provide the funds. I think it should be left to the two Houses to say what duties shall be put upon them. My hon. and gallant Friend called attention to the fact that the Joint Exchequer Board was here mentioned for the first time, and another hon. Member said he hoped that he would not be considered pledged to that Board or its constitution by not refusing this particular Amendment. When we come to Clause 30 I have no doubt there will be a very interesting discussion on the Joint Exchequer Board, its functions, and how it should apportion to the two Parliaments revenue and expenditure. It would be wrong for me to anticipate now that very interesting discussion, and all we need to do now is to note that my hon. and gallant Friend is in no way prejudiced against stating what objections he then thinks necessary to that body.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I think this in an Amendment of very considerable constitutional importance, because it involves the payment of money apparently without any Parliamentary control. As 1039 I understand it, the Council is to appoint these officers and the Joint Exchequer Board is to pay them. The Parliaments of the North and the South will either have no control, or they may only have control by the cumbercome process of passing an Act regulating their own Consolidated Fund, and I am not quite sure whether that is competent to them to do. Payments out of the Consolidated Fund in our own system are not reviewed by Parliament from Session to Session like payments in our Supply Service, and therefore I should like to know what the Government contemplate. Do they really mean that payments are to be taken from the taxpayers of North and South Ireland without any Parliamentary sanction or Parliamentary control? The Government profess to be inaugurating a system of self-government for Ireland, and it involves taxation or expenditure of public money by the authority of an Imperial Board, of which the Government here appoint a majority. It will be the strangest conception of self-government if the actual taxation and payments for officers administering Irish Government are to be controlled finally by an Exchequer Board, of which the majority are appointed by the Imperial Government.
I do not know whether the First Lord of the Admiralty has ever come across an institution in which taxation is to be imposed by an authority which has no representative title to impose that taxation. The Government have put down an Amendment which has only just been placed upon the paper. Why did they not put that proposal in the Bill at the beginning, and why has it been suddenly sprung upon the House? I suggest it is because they are really taking away a control which they intended to give, and which they have concluded they ought not to give now. We ought to be told why they are now taking it away. As the system stood in the Bill, the Council appointed the Minister and the Parliaments assented through the Treasury to the remuneration. Therefore the Parliaments had the ordinary pecuniary control so familiar to our constitutional practice. Under this Amendment Parliament will have no control at all. The Minister will be appointed by the Council and, having been appointed, will be independent of any Parliamentary control. That is an 1040 entire innovation of all our constitutional practice, which is that a Minister, however subordinate, shall be under the control of Parliament. This Council represents not the people, but a partisan majority elected by the people, and the more power you put in the hands of the Council the more you leave it to decide things, the more certain it is that Parliament will avail itself of the only security open to it, of only returning to the Council Members on whom it can thoroughly rely. Actually you will have a Council on which you will get two clear cut blocks—Unionists and Sinn Feiners.
Why depart from the normal principles of self-government in Ireland? If you are going to trust Parliament at all, why not trust it with effective powers, and rely upon it exercising those powers in a reasonable manner? Why take away the normal power which gives control over taxation? The Government ought to explain more carefully what are the principles of the Amendments which they put on the paper. My right hon. Friend has told us a little about this one, but we have not had any comprehensive explanation why you are going to take away from the two Parliaments financial control over these Ministers, and going to give it either to the Council or to the Exchequer Board. We are not told what is going to happen if the Exchequer Board refuse to pay. Are they to act merely mechanically; if so, why set up such an august body? Why have on it anyone but some purely official person who will act as a matter of routine. Is the Exchequer Board to be entitled to exercise real control over these Ministers? Can they refuse to pay the salary of a Minister who misbehaves himself, or will they be compelled to make the financial order without having any control over it? Where is the essential controlling authority to reside? If it is to be in the Council, then surely the Council has no title to exact taxation either from the Northern Parliament or from the Southern Parliament without the consent of those Parliaments. If the Exchequer Board is to be the controlling authority, where is the moral right of that Board to control these matters? I think we should have a full explanation of the principles on which this Amendment is based.
§ Mr. REID
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, under the Amend- 1041 ment already passed, power has been given for imposing this charge on the Exchequer of the Northern or Southern Parliament. Will this charge come within the words "expenses of the Council"? Is not this a case of giving power without financial responsibility. Will not this render the position of the Minister of Finance of either the Northern or the Southern Parliament intolerable?
§ Captain W. BENN
It is quite open to the Government to refuse to answer questions or criticisms. Sometimes they complain that we do not criticise, and when we do criticise they refuse to answer. May I ask a plain question? What sort of people are to be appointed? Could the Council of Ireland appoint a Minister of Railways or of Fisheries? Is there an answer to this question, and, if so, would the right hon. Gentleman do us the courtesy of explaining the position?
§ The CHAIRMAN
It has been frequently ruled both ways. It is a word which has two meanings, and on this occasion it seems to me that it was used by the right hon. Gentleman in a spirit of banter with the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Mr. LONG
We have answered, so far as I know, questions that have been put to us consistently. The hon. and gallant Gentleman got up the moment that my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Reid) sat down, he having the advantage of seeing when he was coming to the end of his speech. I had not, but I fully intended to rise to answer the question which has been addressed to us. Of course, it is perfectly true, as my Noble Friend (Lord H. Cecil) has said, that in this Council you have a body which is, to a very large extent, unconstitutional in its character, but it must be remembered that one half is composed of elected Members of the two Parliaments. Therefore you have the control which exists in one half of the body being sent from elected Parliaments.
1042 Let me point out that this system is not unknown apart from Parliamentary procedure. One of the greatest bodies in London, which has enormous capital and spends vast sums, is elected in the same way and obtains its revenue by precepts issued on the London County Council. The Police Force in the counties outside the Metropolis—with slight variations the same thing exists in the councils of the boroughs—is managed entirely by a Committee which is composed half of the nominated Members sent to quarter sessions, and they obtain their revenue by precepts issued on the county councils who have no power of repudiation. Therefore, this system already exists with regard to very heavy expenditure in this country. The Government do not for a moment pretend that, viewed strictly from a constitutional point of view, a great deal of what has been said is not based upon fact. Of course, it is very easy to criticise and find fault. When you have, as you have in the case of this Bill, a very active competition between Members as to who shall be the prophet of the greatest evil, when you have Member after Member getting up and predicting the particular failure which he anticipates, and which he seems almost to desire, will be the result of the Bill, it is obviously possible to find in every line of it something to criticise and something with which to find fault. No one pretends that this is anything but a temporary proposal. We have to make provision for the period during which there are two separate Parliaments with separate legislative powers, for a central body. That body is not a supreme Chamber; it is a Council charged with certain powers. This Parliament gives them certain definite duties, and, in order to perform those duties, they may have to appoint, as the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Captain Benn) suggested, someone whom he called a Minister. They would have to deal with railways, fisheries, and certain other questions—duties which have been thrown upon them by this Bill—and it is obvious that they must have a revenue for the purpose. I entirely agree with my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), that this is not Federalism. Our present systems, under which we have federated Parliaments, all vary, and, of course, in this particular 1043 case, where all supreme powers are reserved to this Parliament, and two subordinate Parliaments are set up, it is really not federalism, but pure devolution. As a temporary arrangement, a central Council is being set up to do work which it is agreed by a large majority cannot be done by a local Parliament. Therefore we think it right to provide a revenue, and on Clause 30 we shall be prepared to discuss the question of a Joint Exchequer Board. In the meantime it is necessary, as a mere business proposition, that the Council should have a source of revenue out of which to pay expenses connected with these duties which this House has devolved upon it, and, in the case of those duties which the joint Parliaments may devolve upon it, the revenue will come from the joint Parliaments. It is quite true that there will not be revenue from the joint Parliaments for the purposes of railways, fisheries, etc. That is part of the deliberate policy of the Bill, and is in accordance with the decisions which this Committee has already made. The plan is a consistent one, and I know enough of Ireland to know that he is a very rash man, even if he be an Irishman, who will make a forecast of what will happen, and will think that his forecast is in the least likely to be verified.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what power the local Parliaments have over this Consolidated Fund?
§ Mr. REID
I should like just to ask whether, under their powers to pass laws relating to railways, the Council of Ireland can in practice impose a charge upon the Exchequer. The question is not a theoretical one. We know that the railways do involve a large charge upon public funds, but we have no assurance that, when the Government guarantees expire, that expense will come to an end. The only authority that can deal with that is the Council of Ireland, and therefore it is a matter of extreme importance to the local Parliaments to know whether any subsidy is to be a first charge, over 1044 which they will have no control, on their revenue.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In Subsection (5), leave out the words "by fees paid to, or other receipts of the Council", and insert instead thereof the words "as aforesaid."—[Sir L. Worthington-Evans.]
§ Sir S. HOARE
I beg to move in Subsection (6) to leave out the words "either Parliament" ["It shall be lawful for either Parliament"], and to insert instead thereof the words "both Parliaments by identical resolutions."
The object of the Amendment is a simple one. Under the procedure of the Bill at present the two Parliaments by identical Acts or resolutions can transfer to the Council any particular service. It is necessary that both the local Parliaments should pass resolutions or Acts, and after this joint passage of the two resolutions or Acts the particular service is transferred. But under the Bill it is possible for one Parliament to revoke, either by resolution or by Act, the delegation of powers which have already been devolved upon the Council by the joint action of the two Chambers. I am anxious that if any service that has already been given to the Council is to be revoked the revocation should only come about by a joint Act or joint resolution of both Parliaments. It seems to me that if one Parliament is able to revoke the powers which have already been given to the Council there can be no stability in the operations or activities of the Council, and I am most anxious to make the Council as strong as possible; but as long as it is possible for one Parliament to revoke the powers which have already been given to the Council, the Council cannot be a stable or even a serious body. My proposal is a very modest one. The Council, after all, is a body composed in equal numbers of the North and the South, and it is in accordance with the principles of the Bill and with the efficiency of the administration that the powers which have been given to the Council should not be 1045 suddenly revoked; and if they are not to be suddenly revoked, their revocation should only come about by the joint action of the two Parliaments, which by their joint action have transferred them to the Council. I hope I have said enough to persuade the Government to accept this very moderate Amendment, which will make the position of the Council much more stable and so help towards the ultimate unification of Ireland. It seems to me altogether wrong that when two contracting parties have transferred a service to the Council it should be possible for one of those parties against the will of the other to revoke the transfer.
I hope the Government will not accept this Amendment. The first and inevitable effect of the Amendment would be that no Parliament, certainly not the Northern Parliament, would delegate any powers to the central Council. If the Council is to become a useful body the power to revoke a delegation which a Parliament has made must be retained. If a Parliament knows that a power once given to the Council, no matter how badly the delegated power may be abused, cannot be recovered, and that the Parliament cannot recover the power of controlling the matter which they have delegated, they will be extremely cautious never to delegate anything to the Council. Therefore, from the point of view of those who hope to make the Council strong, this is the worst way to go about it.
§ Mr. LONG
I hope my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment. The whole of this matter is an experiment. I believe it will succeed. Many hon. Members tell us they believe it will not succeed. What we want to bring about obviously is union. We can only do that by the most tentative proceeding. If you want to bring about union you must do everything you can to make them feel that they have freedom, within certain limits. We have put these words in because we feel certain that if you are going to encourage the local Parliaments to devolve upon the Central Body duties which they believe can better be performed by the Central Body for all Ireland, they are much more likely to devolve those powers, if they feel that if those powers are arbitrarily exercised they can withdraw them than if they realise that the dele- 1046 gation of the powers is a final act from which there is no return. It is in order that each Parliament may by its own identical act transfer to this central Council matters which it believes can be better carried out by that Council that we have put in these words. It is all very well to say there are no friends of this movement in Ireland. There are more friends of a proposal of this character than many people realise. There are many friends of it who are at present silent, who do not care to give expression to their views, for obvious reasons. My opinion is that once this Bill is put into the hands of Irishmen they will make much better use of it than is believed by many of those who are anxious at the present time to attack it. This provision is deliberately intended to facilitate union and to give the central body more powers. I hope the hon. Member will not press the Amendment. It is necessary, in the interests of business, that we should make some progress with the Clause.
I am much disappointed with the reply, because I feel that it must bring the Council into great disrepute if they cannot have any reasonable continuity in their policy. How are they to work out schemes for the benefit of Ireland in railways and any other spheres of work, unless they feel some confidence that they will be allowed to see their work come to fruition? The right hon. Gentleman says he has a great many friends of his Bill who do not speak out. There are a certain number of people who believe that the Bill may possibly effect a settlement, if the reasonable demands of moderate men in Ireland are made known, and moderate men in Ireland do want to see unity, and to the knowledge of a great many of us who get letters from Ireland, this is a point to which a great deal of importance is attached in the South of Ireland, because they feel that to bring the business men of Ulster into the administration of Ireland is a matter of the greatest promise, and they feel that unless there is security for a reasonable experiment on any of these services handed over, no fair trial can be given to the Council. I notice with much interest and a great deal of concern the answer of the hon. Member for South Antrim (Captain Craig). He told us on the Second Reading Debate that none 1047 of us would ever live to see Irish unity. He has told us to-night that Ulster will certainly never give the Council any power unless it can take it away practically at a moment's notice, so that I am afraid he does sum up the Ulster attitude. If the Government is going to give attention only to that attitude, it might just as well drop the Bill.
§ Amendment negatived.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (6), after the word "delegation," to insert the words "or transfer."
§ Captain W. BENN
Would the right hon. Gentleman explain what it means? Is there some difference between "delegation" and "transfer"?
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
We have seen resistance made to anything that in anyway increases the powers of the Council by representatives of certain Ulster constituencies. We have seen resistance to other reasonable proposals put forward by certain Members who do not belong to my party who, I believe, are doing their level best to try to improve the Bill. The Government have introduced one or two amendments which entirely alter the whole financial arrangements that were made. In particular they have gerrymandered—I use that word for want of a better—the powers of levying money by the Council. They have introduced an extremely objectionable—
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is not in order on the question that the Clause stand part to review the various Amendments which have been made during the discussion on the Clause.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I will not go further into detail, but I will just point out that this Clause has been ridiculed by certain Ulster Members. Attempts made to improve it have not been received with any seriousness by the Government. Attempts put forward by 1048 certain hon. Members who, I believe, are speaking for certain Southern Unionists do, I think, disclose a very good sample of the whole spirit in which this Bill in the first instance has been drafted, in the second place presented to the House, and in the third place explained and owing to this and to the way in which it has been received by the only Irish representatives who have taken any part in the discussion, I am very much inclined, if I get any support, to divide the Committee against this Clause as a protest against the way in which the Government have handled the whole matter.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.