- (1) It shall be the duty of the Council of Ireland, at or as soon as may be after their
906 first meeting, to frame a scheme for the establishment of second Houses of the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.
- (2) The scheme shall specify the titles of the respective Houses and the number of Members thereof, the manner in which the Members are to be chosen, whether by appointment, or election, or otherwise, and in particular the constituencies for which the elected Members, if any, are to be returned and the number of Members to be returned by such constituencies, and shall define the relations of the two Houses of each Parliament to one another, and may contain such incidental and consequential provisions as the Council think proper, including provisions for the amendment of this Act.
- (3) A scheme framed under this Section shall be submitted forthwith to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland and the House of Commons of Northern Ireland for their consideration, and if the scheme is confirmed by identical Acts of the Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland it shall have effect as if enacted in this Act, but may be repealed or altered by identical Acts of those Parliaments.
- (4) The House of Commons of Southern Ireland or of Northern Ireland may return to the Council any scheme submitted to them under this Section with suggestions for the amendment thereof, and the Council shall thereupon take the suggestions into consideration, and if they think fit frame a new scheme giving effect to all or any of the suggestions.—[Sir L. Worthington-Evans.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
I beg to move "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This new Clause seeks to deal with a very difficult question. I am going to be quite frank with the Committee and tell it what has happened in regard to it. The Cabinet Committee in considering the draft of the Bill, went carefully into the question of a one-chamber or a two-chamber system, and at the same time, in the course of the examination, it considered various possible forms of a Second Chamber which might be set up if it were decided to adopt the two-chamber system. The Bill as introduced contained no provision for a Second Chamber, but in Committee my right hon. Friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, after considerable debate, promised that certain things should be done. He said the Government had accepted the principle of a Second Chamber for the two Irish Parliaments and he undertook between then and the Report stage to place on the Paper a definite scheme for the constitu- 907 tion of a Second Chamber both in the North and in the South. This new Clause is submitted in fulfilment of that pledge The Government had before it two alternatives in dealing with this question. They could ask the Committee itself to formulate a constitution for the Second Chamber and could force that constitution on the Irish. Their other alternative, and the one which they have adopted, was to set up machinery by this Bill for constituting Second Chambers by agreement between the two Parliaments. I hope to show the Committee that they are wise in adopting that alternative if they wish, as they certainly do, the Second Chamber to be useful and to function properly.
The Second Chamber would be quite useless unless it had power to protect the minority which the First Chamber had not succeeded sufficiently in doing. The case urged in Committee was that there is a minority in the Southern Parliament which an elected First Chamber might not be able to protect and there is a minority in the Northern Parliament also which an elected First Chamber might be unable to protect. Unless the constitution of the Second Chamber was such that it did in fact protect the minority, it would be useless. The Government had to consider of what the minorities in the two Chambers consisted, and how far it was possible by an Act of this House in setting up Second Chambers to protect those minorities. What is the line of division? Unfortunately, at this moment it is a line of religious feeling. In the South there is a minority of Protestants; in the North there is a minority of Catholics, and these minorities are the minorities which it is hoped and intended the Second Chambers shall in fact protect. If the constitution of the Second Chamber were based on election there would be no protection at all, because the Second Chamber would contain practically the same proportion of Catholics and Protestants as the First Chamber, and if the First Chamber did not sufficiently protect the minority, you could not by means of an elected Second Chamber get effective protection for it.
There is another method, the method of nomination. I want the Committee to consider for a moment what a nominated Second Chamber means. It means, not 908 choosing the best men within the area of the Parliament for the purpose of nomination as Senators, or Members of the Second Chamber—not the best men, but men in the South who are Protestants and would represent the minority of Protestants, and men in the North who are Catholics and would represent the minority of Catholics there. It is essential, if you are going to rely upon a Second Chamber, to protect the minority, and if the minority is in fact a religious minority, a minority separated on religious grounds, then it will be necessary to consider religious aspects when you come to nominate the Second Chamber. That seems a formidable obstacle to getting a nominated Second Chamber that will work properly. The Convention, it is true, by a majority were willing to adopt the method of nomination for the Second Chamber, but if I remember rightly, the Ulster representatives from the first objected to a nominated Second Chamber. My recollection is that they said their Parliament would be a highly democratic Parliament, and they could not for a moment agree to allow themselves to have a Second Chamber which was nominated. It is quite true that in the discussions in Committee here some hon. Members, sp aking for Ulster, seemed to contemplate that there might possibly be a partly elected and a partly nominated Second Chamber.
Nevertheless, it would be a formidable task for this Parliament to force upon a democratic subsidiary Parliament, a nominated system, unless by agreement they are willing to accept it. The Government have decided to adopt the second course and to set up machinery to bring together the majorities of the two Parliaments, each with a minority in the other Parliament to protect, and to leave it to them to hammer out a scheme. That scheme would be in the nature of a bargain. The South would have a minority of Protestants which would require to be protected, and they would be able to appeal to the majority in the North to come to an agreement, and if such an agreement were arrived at, then each Parliament would be able to obtain protection for its own minority. These two bodies are to be brought together by the Council of Ireland which is to take this matter up as the first which it has to deal with. Hon. Members will re- 909 member that the Council of Ireland will consist of Members half nominated by the Southern Parliament and the other half nominated by the Northern Parliament. When the Council gets the two bodies together there will be representatives of the minorities in the two Parliaments which require to be protected. It seemed to us that the best chance of agreement between the two Parliaments is for the Irish Council to take the matter in hand. It will fix the constitution of the Parliaments and lay down what shall happen if there is disagreement between the two Chambers, and these powers are of course essential if the minority is to be protected. It may be said that this scheme does not guarantee a Senate at all. I quite agree that if no bargain is made between the two Parliaments by means of the Council it does not, in fact, provide a Second Chamber for the two Parliaments. I am sure that my hon. and gallant Friend is going to make a useful suggestion on the matter presently, and I hope he will direct his attention to this: He will admit that for this purpose an elected Senate would be of no use at all; it would simply reproduce the conditions of the First Chamber, and would be no protection to minorities.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON - EVANS
Unless on a special franchise, so that there would be property qualifications, or age qualifications, or some other limiting qualifications. Then, however, there would be exactly the same difficulty with the democratic First Chambers as there would be in the case of a nominated Senate. They would no more regard the man with a property qualification—say a super-tax payer—as a superman entitled to have a veto over the more democratic control, than they would regard the nominated senator as a man who is entitled to control the elected member of the First House. I am afraid that, if that is the only suggestion that my hon. and gallant Friend can make, he will not help us very much. I hope that he will be as frank as I am. There are, in my judgment, insuperable difficulties in the way of the House of Commons setting up the only class of Second Chamber which will in fact protect minorities. If it can be done, it can be done by agreement be- 910 tween the two Parliaments, and such a Chamber as that, set up as the result of an agreement, will not be an irksome, although it will be a protective, Chamber Moreover, it will be likely to last; whereas any Chamber which was really useful, and which was enforced by this Bill, would not be likely to last, and, therefore, would not really be effective. This new Clause provides that, if an agreement is come to and is evidenced by identical Acts of the, two Parliaments, the scheme of the Council shall become the law, and the two Second Chambers shall be set up accordingly. It may be found, however, that when the Council produces its scheme—it may be an absolutely uniform scheme for both Parliaments—that the South have some, perhaps minor, objection to some part of the scheme, or that the North have some minor objection to some part of the scheme. It is competent to either of the two Parliaments to return the scheme to the Council, informing them of what it is that it objects to; and then, if the Council—which, it must not be forgotten, will consist of representatives of the two Houses—sees its way to amend the scheme, and the scheme is accepted by the two Parliaments' identical Acts, it can become law. We believe that, from a practical point of view, this is more likely to give a Second Chamber which will be protective, and which will last, than any other scheme, and, in that belief, I beg to move.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. HOARE
The right hon. Gentleman has just pointed out with great force the many difficulties that there are in setting up Second Chambers in the two Parliamentary areas in Ireland. We have never blinded ourselves to these difficulties. They are very great; but, to listen to the right hon. Gentleman, one would imagine that they are not only great, but insoluble. I cannot help suggesting to him that it would have been better that he should have considered these difficulties when I moved an Amendment on this subject in May last. The difficulties were just as great then as they are now. If they are insoluble now, they were insoluble then. When, however, I moved an Amendment setting up two Chambers, the First Lord of the Admiralty, while admitting that the difficulties were great, by no means suggested that they were insoluble. By that I do not mean that the Government 911 are necessarily breaking the pledges that they gave in May last. We regret the absence of the First Lord, of the Admiralty. We are very sorry that he is ill, and in nothing that I say do I wish in any way to suggest that the Government have, consciously or unconsciously, gone behind the pledge that the right hon. Gentleman then gave. At the same time, I must make a protest against the attitude taken up by the Minister without Portfolio when to-day he comes down, practically without excuse, and suggests that this is the only course for us to take, because the difficulties are so great that, although last spring they were regarded by the First Lord of the Admiralty as soluble, at the present moment they are insoluble.
The Government, in the spring, gave two pledges. Firstly, they undertook to consult those directly concerned with the necessity of safeguarding minorities. I do not suggest that they should have consulted an outsider like myself, but I must say that, if my information is correct, they have not consulted the, representatives of the minorities of the South and West of Ireland. They really—I will not put it higher than this—have made a very great mistake. Secondly, the Government, in May last, undertook—at any rate, that impression was certainly given to me, and, I believe, to hon. Members on all sides—that they would come here with a scheme definitely drawn up of Second Chambers for the two Irish Parliaments. The Government, so far as I understand, have not consulted the parties directly concerned, and they have not come here with any definite proposal of Second Chambers for the two Irish Parliaments. To the proposal which they make to the Committee today, there are grave practical objections. I made my proposal in the spring with one object alone. I did not think of a Second Chamber as a conservative body which it would be advisable to set up to stop hasty or radical legislation. I made the proposal with the sole object of attempting to find some practical safeguard for the scattered minorities. From one point of view, there may be something to be said for placing this duty upon the Council. I have always thought that the Council should be given far greater powers and responsibility than it at present receives 912 under the Bill. From the point of view that it will increase the responsibility of the Council, and, possibly, help to bring together the North and the South, there is something to be said for the Government's proposal. But I should like to ask, in passing, why, if Irishmen are to be entrusted with the constitution of their Second Chamber, they should not also be entrusted with the constitution of their First Chamber. I could pursue that line of argument, and say that it is very curious to hear the Government making a proposition of this kind to-day, when, time after time, during the discussions on this Bill, they have set their face against the idea of allowing Irishmen to create their own constitution or to manage in their own way the responsible services or administration.
To speak generally, there may be something to be said for the Council undertaking duties of this kind. In the present case, however, the immediate need is not so much to give greater powers to the Council as to provide immediately and without further delay a practical safeguard for minorities. What will be the effect of the Government's new Clause as an immediate minority safeguard? Let me draw the attention of the Committee to the wording of the Clause. It says that it shall be the duty of the Council—not immediately, but as soon as may be after their first meeting—to frame a scheme for the establishment of Second Chambers. "As soon as may be" seems to me to be a very vague expression, and I understand, from the Government Amendment which the Committee has just passed upon an earlier line of the Bill, that there is some, subtle distinction between "forthwith" and "as soon as may be." It seems to me that party feeling will be most bitter in Southern Ireland, not in the indefinite future, but in the immediate present. Safeguards, then, should come into operation at once, and should not be dependent upon some such indefinite phrase as "as soon as may be." Otherwise, while the Council is producing its proposal, the minority in the South and West may have been already destroyed. Secondly, the Second Chambers are only to be accepted as an integral part of the Irish Constitution if both Parliaments pass identical Acts agreeing with the proposal. What is to happen if the Southern Parliament is not functioning, and a Crown Colony Executive is taking its 913 place? In that case, I imagine, there, will not be a Council at all.
§ Sir S. HOARE
That seems to me to add to the confusion. I should have thought the objections the right hon. Gentleman had made against the idea of setting up a Second Chamber as undemocratic had extraordinarily little weight. It would be a most remarkable state of affairs when you have a Council of the North meeting representatives from the Executive Committee of the South with the duty imposed upon them of creating what I imagine is to be a democratic Second Chamber for the South. But apart from that question let me ask my right hon. Friend this second question. What is to happen if the two Parliaments refuse to pass identical Acts? This seems to be most probable. In the first place there is the precedent of the Convention, when the representatives of the North and the South could not agree, and I foresee the same thing happening upon the Council with reference to this proposal. Secondly the Second Chamber which is required by the North is admittedly not the Second Chamber that is required by the South. The Northern Parliament, it has been said on several occasions by the representatives of Ulster, wants an elected Senate. If the safeguard of the Unionists in the South and West is to be valid at all, the Senate of the South and West must be a nominated one. In view of that fact, are the Parliaments likely to agree? They certainly will not agree upon the same kind of Senate. If that is the case, is the Council to be free to recommend one kind of Senate for the North and another for the South? Is it to be free to recommend a Senate for the South and no Senate at all for the North? And if it is to have this freedom the question suggests itself to me: Why bring the Council into the question at all, and not rather allow each Parliament to recommend for itself its own Senate? Those questions—in my view very relevant and practical questions—make me think that the Government proposal is not a practical means of creating the Senates or of safeguarding minorities. It seems to me that we must be the guardians of these scattered minorities in 914 Ireland. In the present state of public opinion in Ireland, neither in the Southern nor in the Northern area, nor indeed in the Council, will minorities, it seems to me, have a chance. It is therefore not fair to the minorities to leave their fate in the hands of bodies in which they will not be represented, and which will be bitterly biased against them. The Government, therefore, in making this proposal, is asking the House to shift the very heavy responsibility that is imposed upon all Members by the existence of these scattered minorities upon a body which may not come immediately into existence, which if it does come into existence is not likely to agree, and, if it agrees, is likely to be biased against the minorities for whom the Second Chamber is to be a safeguard. In view of these facts the Government proposal does not seem to me to provide the safeguard that we demanded last May, and which I believe is demanded by an overwhelming majority upon all sides of the House.
My hon. and learned Friend who moved the original Amendment to set up two Senates in the South and North of Ireland respectively, and who drew the pledge on that subject from the First Lord of the Admiralty, has, I think, taken a very generous interpretation in the Government's favour of what was then said, because my opinion is that the Government has most distinctly broken a Parliamentary pledge. I have looked up what the First Lord of the Admiralty said on 18th May. He said:What the Government propose to do now is definitely to accept the principle of a Second Chamber for the two Irish Parliaments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th May, 1920, col. 1267, Vol. 129.]He said further:The Government undertake between now and Report to place on the Paper a definite scheme for the constitution of the Second Chamber."—["OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th May, 1920, col. 1268, Vol. 129.]There are further passages which made it quite clear that the Government at that time contemplated laying down in the Constituent Act how that Second Chamber should be organised. That statement was not made on the spur of the moment. On 10th May, that is eight days previously, we had a Debate on an Amendment which I moved to set up one Senate for the whole of Ireland. It was 915 considered at some length and very much opinion was expressed in favour of a Second Chamber. The Government thought it over for eight days, and then, on my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment, having all the difficulties of the case before them, in a very sympathetic speech from the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was in an exceptional position for judging the difficulties and peril of the scattered minorities in the South, the Government announced its decision that it would allow a Second Chamber and that it would bring forward a definite scheme.
This is no scheme at all. The Government must know perfectly well that it can never lead to the creation of a Second Chamber in the early tumultuous days of Irish self-government. The proposal of the Government sets up two distinct processes. First of all, the Council has to frame a scheme. My hon. and gallant Friend has shown that you could not expect a scheme to be framed by the Council before the Greek Kalends. The Irish Council is to consist of twenty Orangemen and twenty Sinn Feiners. That is the inevitable result of the Government, at the bidding of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), refusing an Amendment that the Irish Council should be chosen from the Irish Legislature by proportional representation. The Government, by setting up this Council of extreme views, where no middle opinion can make itself heard, condemned that Council to complete sterility, and they apparently realise it, since by subsequent decisions they are emasculating the Council and taking away its powers. It is quite clear that the Orangemen will not vote for a nominated Senate after all they have said on the subject in the Irish Convention and since, and it is also quite clear that in the early days of the Southern Parliament the extreme opinion which will be there represented will not want any Senate at all, because they will suspect any Senate of a British bias. But assume for a moment that you do get the miracle of an agreement. It is just possible that you might, because there is a provision in the Bill that the quorum for the Irish Council shall be fifteen, and if twenty-five members suffered from broken heads or from an epidemic of influenza, you might conceivably get an agreement on a scheme for a Senate. Then this 916 scheme is only to be framed for the consideration of the two Houses. They need not accept that or any other scheme, and of course they would avoid identical Acts or all possibility of passing identical Acts by endless disagreement. Surely no First Chamber, especially in the conditions which will be probable in the early days of Irish self-government, can be expected readily to limit its own powers. No First Chamber is a likely authority to set up a Second Chamber to interfere with its freedom, and therefore from the nature of the case, if you are to have an effective Second Chamber at all, you must impose it from without.
Even if a Second Chamber eventuates in the fullness of time you will not have it during the critical years when it will be most necessary. My expectation is that Ireland, like every other country, eventually will develop responsibility. One has seen, even in our time, shambles brought about by political organisation in other parts of the world. We have seen how, in the governments of the Balkans, the various struggling nationalities by their holocausts of victims encouraged murder and every kind of outrage, and yet, faced with the responsibility for self-government, these Balkan races have since then become orderly and civilised communities. That may be very far off in Ireland, but presumably the Government, in proposing self-government for that country, hope that eventually they will achieve that end. But during those first years you must have some protection for your unpopular minorities. The Prime Minister on 22nd December last year, in outlining the provisions of this Bill, said there would be searching Clauses for the protection of the rights of minorities in Ireland. That pledge has been completely ignored. The minority have stood by the British connection and they have stood by it not in British interests, but in what they considered the widest Irish interests, and they have earned hostility from powerful sections of their own countrymen. That minority under the Bill will admittedly only get from a half to a third of the representation in the First Chamber to what it is entitled by its numbers. The Government, in spite of the Prime Minister's pledge, turned down in the Committee stage our proposal that this minority should have special representation in the House of Commons—a proposal which we 917 did not invent, but which was adopted by the majority of the Irish Convention. They turned it down on democratic grounds, which are hardly applicable to the South of Ireland under present conditions. But we want a Second Chamber not only in the interest of the Southern Unionists, but in the interest of the Imperial connection itself. because in the first year the Southern Parliament, if it ever comes into being, and gets further than the Crown colony stage, will be straining its constitutional powers to show hostility and to create difficulties for Great Britain. Will it not be of enormous importance in that period to have moderating influences and opinions, other than the dominant political section, who will probably be in favour of British interests. The right hon. Gentleman challenged my hon. Friend to bring forward an alternative. That is hardly our business, but we have made it quite plain what is in our minds. An alternative lies open for all to read in the Report of the Irish Convention. I do not say that that Report, in many of its fundamentals, is any longer possible to put into force, but there is nothing in their conclusions about the Irish Senate which could not be adopted for the south of Ireland just as well to-day as when the Convention reported two years ago. The Irish Convention reported by an overwhelming majority in favour of a nominated Senate of 64 members. That was carried on division by a majority of 48 to 19, and I think the 19 were made up almost entirely of the Ulster Unionist representatives, with possibly one or two Labour members. The attitude of the Nationalists was made clear in a Report signed by 22 of their number. They said:The Upper House should consist of nominated and ex officio Members, the Peers elected by their own order and the other Members elected by their own class. The two Houses would sit and vote together on all questions in dispute between them, including Money Bills.That kind of Second Chamber is not likely to commend itself to this House. We test these things by our British catchwords, and it rather difficult, perhaps, to justify it on our recent constitutional evolution, but the South of Ireland does not care about these catchwords. They have a very different idea of democracy from that which exists in this country. The 22 Nationalists who signed that Report, including the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin), probably had in 918 view not only the protection of the Southern Unionists, and also their own protection and the protection of moderate opinion from the wild men of Irish politics. If Ulster does not wish for a nominated Second Chamber there is no reason why she should not, as I think the right hon. Member for the Duncairn Division (Sir E. Carson) suggested, have a different Second Chamber from that in the South, and that Second Chamber could quite easily be provided for in this Bill and by this House. I do urge upon the Government that the continued flouting of the opinion of the Irish Convention must have a very bad effect in Ireland. It must discourage the formation and expression of moderate, opinion. Let me remind the Committee how the recommendations of all parties in the South of Ireland, expressed only two years ago, has been treated by this Bill. They recommended that there should be one Parliament. The Bill sets up two. They recommend that there should be Irish fiscal autonomy. The Bill refuses it. Now, as a last point, the Bill takes away the fruition of the promise of the one remaining safeguard for minorities, which was left over to the Report stage. It is no answer to put us off with doctrinaire statements that it is against Federalism or against the Dominion status, or against any of the other systems which have been tried in the Colonies. On this subject there are precedents in various federal systems which would quite justify a Second Chamber. Therefore, if you consider Ireland as she is you must do what seems best to meet her particular difficulties.
The Government seems to me in this matter to have had an opportunity of conciliating moderate opinion, but instead they have deliberately inflamed it. The result of their manœuvres, I am sorry to say, is that everyone in Ireland will come to mistrust them. The Sinn Feiners already hate them. Southern Unionists recognised their difficulty. They saw that the passage of the Act of 1914 committed the Government to the Home Rule experiment, and they understood that their private interests must necessarily be sacrificed where they clashed with the overwhelming need for an Irish settlement. The provision of a Senate expected by all parties in the South in no way complicated the settlement. It might have fostered the growth of middle opinion. It might have helped 919 to save Ireland from that curse of extreme courses which has always been the curse of her policy. Thousands in the South of Ireland, whose liberties may depend on this Second Chamber, have necessarily been watching how this House would carry out what was understood to be a definite pledge, and I cannot help saying that I think the policy of the Government and their failure to keep this promise must make the Southern Unionists reluctantly join their enemies in Ireland in the conclusion that the keeping of a promise with regard to an Irish question cannot be relied upon from the present Government.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I think the numbers attending this Debate and the amount of interest shown in this new Clause is a very fair measure of the reality behind the Clause. That is to say, there is practically no reality behind this new Clause, and the Clause is never meant to be operative, and never will be operative. It seems to me that by refusing to do what they have done in every other part throughout the Bill, namely, to give quite clear and definite constituent powers, or to withhold quite definite constituent powers from the Irish Parliament, and by attempting to proceed in the manner in which they are proceeding, they are merely getting out of the proposal to set up Second Chambers altogether. It is perfectly clear that, whatever happens, the Bill we are now considering never will apply to Southern Ireland, or anything like it. No Southern Irish Parliament and no person in Southern Ireland, whatever his political creed, wants this Bill, or anything like it, or is even prepared to work it, and the sole reality behind this Bill is Ulster. The six Ulster counties apparently want the Bill and are prepared to work it. Therefore, the only thing that is worth our doing this afternoon is to find out whether the Ulster Members want a Second Chamber, and if so what sort of second Chamber they want. Anything else is an academic discussion and simply a waste of time.
I am quite sure that the Council of Ireland, if it did meet, and even if it did draw up a scheme, would never succeed in getting identical Acts passed by the two Parliaments. Supposing you had a Council of Ireland, a real Council, and not a half Crown colony sort of Council, and suppose they did produce a 920 scheme, let the Committee remember that, if one of the subordinate Parliaments refused to accept that scheme, the Second Chamber for the other would go by the board too. That is how I read this Clause. Therefore, I think there is not the slightest chance that by this machinery you will get Second Chambers either in the north or in the south. I am quite certain that in any circumstances, however you proceed, it is folly to imagine that the sort of Second Chamber that you want in the south would be the sort of Second Chamber that you ought to have in the north, or vice versa. On the Committee stage of the Bill the Ulster Members made it perfectly clear in regard to any Second Chamber, and it was a point on which they attached the most importance, that they should keep out the hierarchy. They did not want the Protestant archbishop or Cardinal Logue or the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church or anybody of that sort in their Second Chamber. In that they were probably reflecting Ulster opinion perfectly truly, but I am sure that is not the opinion of the south of Ireland, and I am sure it is not the opinion of the Unionists or of the Nationalists in the south. We always hear from the Ulster representatives that in Ulster there are no moderate men. The only two moderate men from Ulster that I know of are the right hon. Member for Duncairn and the hon. Member for the Falls Division of Belfast. They are the two nearest approaches to moderate opinion I have ever heard of in Ulster. In the south of Ireland, however, there are some moderate men.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
There are a great many Southern Unionists of moderate opinion. There were Southern Unionists in the Convention. There is Lord Middleton, Lord Oranmore and Brown, and people of that sort, and unless you get a Second Chamber in Southern Ireland they will never get a voice in the affairs of their country. Under this proposal of the Government no Second Chamber can ever be brought into being. It is a very poor result of the hopes that were held out to those who represent the Southern Unionist point of view in this House, to bring forward now this most shabby, most unlikely, and most impracticable proposal.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
My right hon. Friend (Sir L. Worthington-Evans), in proposing this Amendment, put the case for the Government so frankly that, in spite of the criticisms to which we have listened, there is little that I can add. We have heard only speeches in criticism of this proposal. That is not an uncommon thing in Committee, and we should have had precisely the same discussion on any proposals which any human being could have brought forward for establishing these Second Chambers. Let me point out exactly what is our difficulty. I am much obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir S. Hoare) for what he has said about the attitude of the Government, and my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty. We have had a difficulty in this matter because the First Lord of the Admiralty has been ill, and we have not had the benefit of his views in the decision to which we have come. I am very glad, therefore, that my hon. Friend made no suggestion of breach of faith, because we in the Cabinet who decided this matter had a greater responsibility than if one of us had given the undertaking which my right hon. Friend gave.
Long before this Bill was introduced the Cabinet Committee considered the question of a Second Chamber, with all the arguments for and against and the advantages and disadvantages, and we came to the conclusion that on the whole it was better not to attempt it. Then the discussion came on in this House, and, as far as my recollection goes, there was a general feeling in favour of Second Chambers. My right hon. Friend then said, on behalf of the Government, that ho was prepared to accept the principle of a Second Chamber, and he undertook to introduce a scheme for the constitution of such a Chamber. If you take the words literally, what we have proposed is such a scheme. I quite agree that what my right hon. Friend had in mind was that he intended to introduce a hard and fast scheme. He said then, after pointing out the difficulties, "We will endeavour to introduce a scheme." We have not introduced a hard and fast scheme, and I will tell the House frankly that we could not think of any scheme which it would be possible for us to defend in this House. That is the position. 922 I may point out what our difficulties were, though I am afraid I am only repeating what was said by my right hon. Friend. The first difficulty was that of having a Second Chamber at this time of day in any Parliament which you set up. We Members of the Government have got to face the question of the reform of our own Second Chamber next Session. I ask the House of Commons to picture to themselves what would be the reception of any proposals, suppose you were starting afresh, for a nominated Second Chamber in this country. Obviously it would not be listened to. It is obvious that an elected Second Chamber, however you arranged it, would fail absolutely to do what everyone wants, that is, secure the protection of minorities. That would be hopeless. As regards the South and West of Ireland, it is possible that, if you were to take a high property qualification on a very high franchise, that would have the effect of giving a larger representation to Protestants in the South of Ireland. How could such a Second Chamber stand? In these days it is impossible. But consider how it would work in the North of Ireland! Suppose you start a property qualification of that kind in the North, instead of increasing the representation of the minority you would increase the representation of the majority. Obviously, therefore, you could not have any kind of elected Chamber that would give protection to minorities. The principle on which we started, adopting the view of my right hon. Friend, was to take the proposals in the Convention, and work out Second Chambers for both Parliaments from them. We actually prepared a scheme. We considered it in the Cabinet, and came to the conclusion that it was absolutely unworkable. It is quite true that such a scheme would give a considerable representation to the minority in the South of Ireland, but in the North it would do nothing of the kind.
The idea of the Convention was to take certain representative bodies, like chambers of commerce, county councils, and the churches. In the South of Ireland you would get in that way, I believe, a very fair representation of the minority, because of the leading position which so many Protestants have in the community. When you come to the North, it is no protection unless it is composed—I would rather not use the words "Catholics" 923 and "Protestants" but we know that that is the real difference at the present moment—you could not get a selection from chambers of commerce, and county councils, and take Catholics without it being obvious that they were not selected as representatives, but because they were Catholics. That could not work.
Another thing said by my right hon. Friend on the occasion to which reference has been made was that if a Second Chamber were established for the protection of minorities in one of the Parliaments, it must be equally established in the other Parliament. If it is needed in one it is needed in both. It has been said that the only interest of this House or of the Government in the matter is Ulster. That is not true. I cannot discuss this big question, because it would be out of order, but I think that one of the great misfortunes in dealing with this matter is that, largely I am afraid because of the reversion to party politics, everyone has minimised and made little of the tremendous advance which has been made by Unionists in the direction of giving some government to the South of Ireland. I think that hon. Members forget altogether that in every essential detail this Bill, which the Unionist party are now accepting, gives a more generous measure of self-government to Ireland than the Home Rule Act of 1914. That is a fact.
We as a Government could not take the responsibility of saying, "We are going to give protection to the minority in the South, if we cannot devise a method of doing the same thing in the North." We have failed to produce a solution which we could defend in the House of Commons. To those who criticise us I will say that if they produced a scheme, it would be open to the same amount of criticism and a great deal more than that which is directed against us. Our scheme is not so bad as hon. Gentlemen have suggested. It is quite true that in present conditions we cannot hope for agreement between these two Parliaments, but it is quite possible, presuming that there were permanent goodwill, that it would be done, and remember—we are divided from hon. Members on the other side of the House on this—our whole policy must fail unless they do so. I do not believe that Ireland permanently will refuse the measure of self-government which we are giving. If they accept it and work it, 924 which means work it in the spirit more or less of desiring to make it acceptable, and which means also with regard to those in the South who desire a united Ireland, that they have accepted a principle that they must work it so as to inspire confidence in the North, then they will have the strongest inducement to work it with goodwill.
It is possible that no Second Chamber will be set up. To that extent we have failed. We do not guarantee a Second Chamber, but in the South I believe it is possible, apart altogether from political and religious difficulties, that there will be a strong body of opinion which does desire the check of a Second Chamber, and I am convinced of this, though I do not know whether my right hon. Friend and his colleagues agree entirely with what I say. I know the people of Belfast fairly well. I believe that they are what is called "the most advanced democracy in these islands." As long as you have the present political differences they will be united, and there will be no change of the kind to which I refer. But if you eliminate this question of Home Rule, I am not at all sure that a Second Chamber will not be a very necessary thing in the North of Ireland also. Does not the Committee see that that means, assuming that this Bill is worked with anything like goodwill, that there is a real chance of agreement in Ireland.
Consider what are the advantages and inducements to make a Second Chamber of this kind. It is not merely that both Parliaments might desire it for their own reason, but there is a stronger reason. The majority in the North are keenly interested in, and they have the warmest sympathy with, the minority in the South of Ireland. Then in the South the majority have the keenest interest in, and deepest sympathy with, the minority in the North. How is either to be protected except by agreement? There is an inducement to both to try to set up some, scheme which will be based simply on the protection of minorities in both Parliaments. We cannot propose any scheme which would stand examination in this House. We are not prepared to introduce it, because we cannot defend it, and I believe that the best chance of a real Second Chamber in each Parliament, which will be welcomed, would be by agreement between the Parliaments of Ireland. 925 By this Amendment we have made it incumbent upon the Lord Lieutenant to summon them; and have this discussed, and we have good reason to hope—not, of course, so long as Ireland is in the state in which it is to-day; as long as it is in that state no Home Rule scheme can work—but on the assumption which we make that this is not going to be permanent, that there is going ultimately to be an agreement, there is a better chance of securing what we want by agreement than by any scheme which we could put before the House.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I am very sorry that the Government have been unable to frame a scheme for the Second Chamber. As I said when this matter was in Committee, I think the Ulster democracy would prefer to have no Second Chamber, but at the same time the South of Ireland has demanded a Second Chamber. In the Convention, as far as I understand it, they were willing to have a partly nominated Second Chamber. I am sure the Government are perfectly bona fide in the matter, but I cannot help regretting that they have been unable to evolve a scheme. I do not see that there was any hard and fast rule laid down as to why the two Second Chambers should not be absolutely different, why, in point of fact, there should not be a Second Chamber in the South and none in the North. All the circumstances are entirely different in the South and the North. In the South the Protestant minority, as far as existing conditions are concerned, will be without any representation whatsoever in the Parliament. That is not how it will be in the North. There the Catholic minority will have considerable representation in Parliament. As I understand the calculation that has been made, it will mean that in a Parliament of 52 they will have anything from 15 to 20 members, and perhaps more. That is a considerable nucleus to start with and a very different condition of affairs from what will reign in the South. If the Government are unable to frame a scheme, what more is there to be said and what more is there to be done, unless someone is able to produce a scheme here in this House and we can discuss it in the open? I am inclined to think that there is a good deal in what the Leader of the House has said, that it is only when you come to set up a scheme and hear it 926 criticised that you find the great difficulties in the way.
Under these circumstances, may I, for what it is worth, join in expressing a hope that this Council, the liaison between North and South, is not going to be the impotent body that a number of people think it will be in regard to this Bill. But for the curious course taken by Members on the other side of the House in refusing to discuss this Bill, which, I think, is a very unfortunate way of conducting Parliamentary business, I should have thought that the biggest advance towards unity in Ireland was this conception of this Council. The Council will be the representatives of the Parliament of the North and the representatives of the Parliament of the South, and they are to come together, and, as far as they can, to frame measures and suggestions for the benefit of the whole of Ireland. Is not that the one thing you want to get at the present moment? Is not what you want the coming together of the North and the South? When the question of Home Rule has fallen away from being the most active question of politics in Ireland, is there not at least a possibility that when the North have said, "We have not been put under the South," and the South have said, "We are no longer dictated to by England," is there not some hope that in meeting together to do what was best for the North and for the South, these Irishmen may some day say, "After all, let the dead past bury its dead and let us shake hands for the good of Ireland"? Does this Committee really think that a better way of starting would be to say, "We must coerce Ulster." That is what is at the back of the minds of many hon. Gentlemen opposite. That is really the gravamen of the charge against us. They think, "You ought to have been coerced long ago; you ought to be coerced now." If you start on the making of unity in Ireland on that principle, I would like to know what will be the result.
So far as I am concerned I join most heartily with the Leader of the House in the most earnest hope that this Council, when it meets, may show an example, as a start, of the willingness of the majority in the North to help to protect the minority in the South, and the willingness of the majority in the South to help to protect the minority in the North. It is only in that way that you will ever make 927 a beginning, and, notwithstanding all the troubles of the present moment, I am optimistic enough to hope that it is in this Council, leaving the Parliament perfectly free, that there is the germ of a united Ireland in future There is one question I would put to the Leader of the House. I observe that the form of the Clause we are discussing is that it is the duty of the Council to frame this scheme and that it must then be considered by the Parliaments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, and that they can send it up or reject or, it may be, send it back again. If no Second Chamber is set up, has the Parliament the right to go on with its work?
§ Sir E. CARSON
That is a matter which ought to be made perfectly definite and clear. All that I can find out in the Clause is that the Council are to take the suggestion into consideration, and, if they think fit, frame a new scheme giving effect to all or any of the suggestions. In the meantime, is the Parliament free to act? If, eventually, no Second Chamber is passed, does the whole thing come to an end or are we to know that it is a one Chamber constitution that has been set up? It is a very important matter. I think that probably the answer will be that the Single Chamber goes on, but I cannot see any limitation to the time that the matter is to go on.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
If any words are wanted to make the point clear, they must be added. It is the Government intention that, even though a suggestion has been made for a Second Chamber by the Council and it has failed to become incorporated in this Act by identical Acts of the two Chambers, the two Parliaments will go on as Single Chamber systems. It may be at some later date, that there will be a greater likelihood of agreement. The Council can send up for a second time a proposal for Second Chambers. Even on the second occasion, if they do not succeed, the Single Chamber Parliaments would continue.
In a humble way, I want to say one word in support of the Government. The hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) complained that the Southern minority had not been consulted. Why were they not 928 consulted by the Government? The simple reason is that the Government did not know whom to consult. This small Southern minority, some 400,000 individuals, including women and children, have been and are now divided amongst themselves. There is not in this House at the present moment a single Member who has any right by election to speak on behalf of the Unionists of the South of Ireland. There is the hon. Member for Rathmines (Sir M. Dockrell). Where is he? He is not here. The hon. Member for Trinity College was in his place two hours ago. The minute this Debate began he went out. He may have been a wise man or a foolish man, but here we are, trying to discuss this most important point, and there is not a single Member representing Nationalist Ireland here, nor a single Member representing South of Ireland Unionists here. There are only Members like myself and the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness) who can, to a certain extent, speak for the minority of the South, because we happen to have residences and property there. It is not fair to say that the Government would not consult the minority. The Government would like to consult the minority but do not know whom to consult.
An hon. Member talked about certain people as representing Southern Irish Unionists. They do not really represent them. Mr. Andrew Jameson and others, men of great ability, cannot and do not speak for the Unionists of the South. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds represents the Anti-partition League, which league really was a league to suppress or get round or get over Ulster. We South of Ireland Unionists object to this Bill in toto. We know perfectly well that no safeguard which can be introduced into the Bill will do us any good. I remember Mr. Dillon telling us some years ago that safeguards for the minority were not worth the paper they were written on. If the Government want to protect the minority in the South they can do it in only one way, and that is by maintaining the Union. I have risen to say these few words because I for a long period did not believe that the Government meant to put this Bill through. I congratulate them now, for I believe that they do want to put it through. I at any rate do not feel that I have not been consulted in regard to this Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The last speaker has complained that there is no one here to represent the Southern part of Ireland. There are certainly people here who were returned to represent the whole of the Empire, and not one part of it, and they therefore have a right to their opinion, and their opinion is that the interests of the Southern part of Ireland under this Bill are neglected, and therefore they think it is right to express in this House their opinion that those interests ought to be protected. I am sorry the Leader of the House has had to leave, because he is in rather a different position from the Prime Minister, who has been a consistent Home Ruler all through since I have had the honour of his acquaintance for the last 28 or 29 years. The Leader of the House told us that the Unionist party have now accepted this Bill. Have they? I did not know it. Certain members of the Unionist party who have shed their Unionist principles may have accepted this Bill, but there are certainly a very considerable number who have been Unionists all their lives from conviction, and whose convictions have not been shaken by the events of the last few years, and who still maintain, with the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, that the only good Clause in this Bill is Clause 71, which repeals the Government of Ireland Act of 1914. The Leader of the House said that no one had suggested that a Parliamentary bargain had been broken; but I think he was here when the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness) distinctly said that a Parliamentary bargain had been broken. The First Lord of the Admiralty on the 18th May of this year said here:What the Government propose to do now is definitely to accept the principle of a Second Chamber for the two Irish Parliaments, both in Southern and Northern Ireland, and the Government undertake between now and Report to place on the Paper a definite scheme for the constitution of Second Chambers both in Northern and Southern Ireland.The right hon. Gentleman went on to outline what was to be contained in the scheme which was to be practical and effective. The Leader of the House, as I understood him, said that this proposal was a scheme. You can call anything a scheme, but it is certainly not a definite scheme which means something which can be defined, and this is a proposal which cannot be defined. The Minister without 930 Portfolio, in reply to a question put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson), said that if these two Chambers did not agree amongst themselves with the Council of Ireland that the single Chambers would go on. As far as I can see there is nothing to prevent single Chambers going on for twenty years or indefinitely. Under those circumstances, how do the Government reconcile that with the pledge given by the First Lord of the Admiralty to place a definite scheme before us? I hope what they are doing now is not what they are going to do next year when they reform the House of Lords, and that they will not simply give us a Second Chamber in nubibus, and then go on with a single Chamber for an undefined time. I do not like, in face of the fact that there are Ulster Members present who know more about the position than I do, to express my view upon the Irish situation. This is the third Home Rule Bill I have seen here since 1893. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn said that he hoped he saw on this scheme a germ of hope; but I think it is a very little germ, and that there is nothing in the Bill which will germinate. I have seen the Home Rule Bill of 1893 and that of 1912 to 1914, when the present Leader of the House let us out of the House because the Government of that day insisted on putting that Home Rule Bill into force. I can remember that on every one of those occasions, now spread over 28 or 29 years, the same thing was said over and over again, namely, pass the particular Bill under consideration and you will have peace in Ireland. Now we have been shedding our principles, some of us—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman must not review the whole Bill, but should address himself to the Question before us.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Thank you, Sir, I am sure you will excuse me if I have been led a little bit astray by the Leader of the House and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn. It might be said that when the First Lord of the Admiralty gave the undertaking to bring in a definite scheme the Government intended to do so and did their best, but found it could not do it. But that argument will not hold good now, and for this reason. The Minister without Portfolio told us that before the introduction 931 of the Bill they had considered the matter, but were unable to decide on a scheme. But subsequently they were so influenced by the strong feeling in the House that there should be a Second Chamber that they gave an undertaking to bring in a definite scheme on the Report stage. If they come down and say, "We have considered it and we cannot come to any conclusion," then they ought to stand in a white sheet and apologise to the House for having given an undertaking of the kind. It was suggested to the Leader of the House that a scheme recommended by the Irish Convention was possible and he replied that it was not. He said a nominated Chamber was impossible and a Second Chamber elected on a high franchise was also impossible. If you cannot have a Second Chamber nominated or elected on a high franchise then you cannot have one at all. There is no use having one elected on the same franchise as a lower Chamber, because that would only tend to expense, trouble and worry. That being so why does not the Leader of the House come down here and say, "On further consideration we have come to the conclusion that a Second Chamber is impossible, and therefore we regret very much, though we have endeavoured to do so, that we cannot carry out the pledge given"? That would be an intelligible position to take up. I think it will be a decision fraught with disastrous consequences for Ireland. Everybody knows under this proposal there never will be a Second Chamber and the sooner we make up our minds to that the better. In the present state of Southern Ireland, and, as far as one can see, a state that is likely to continue for a long time to come, to put the minority, the best part of the South, the loyal minority who have been loyal to us through all our troubles, without the protection of a Second Chamber seems to me to be the strongest reason for emphasising what I have already expressed, that the only good Clause in this Bill is Clause 71.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
The speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Ban-bury) is no doubt interesting, but it is quite clear that, so far as the principle of the Bill is concerned, or any attempt to settle the Irish question by legislation or devolution, it is opposed by the right hon. Baronet to-day, as it was at any period since I can remember his Member- 932 ship of the House of Commons. The right hon. Baronet has neither learned anything nor forgotten anything in that time. He stands just where he was, and I suppose he always will stand there. I know there are charges of inconsistency occasionally directed against men who find in special circumstances the necessity of changing their opinions on political problems, but I prefer that to standing stolidly always on the same ground, and never attempting to solve a problem as it presents itself to me from day to day according to new facts, for fear of transgressing some opinion that I expressed years ago which would be contrary to the real view I now hold. The right hon. and learned Member for Dun-cairn (Sir E. Carson) has hit the situation off, as far as I am concerned. I am bound to confess that, without this Clause, it would be a difficult problem, in face of the universal hostility to the partition of Ireland, to support this Bill, but this Clause makes it possible to do so, as far as I am concerned. I never could see how you could pass a Home Rule Bill, without recognising the difference in the position of the North from that of the South of Ireland, unless you were prepared—and it is useless for our Friends on the Opposition side of the House to look at it from any other point of view—to pass a general Home Rule for Ireland without this safeguard, when you must naturally expect the decisions of either House in its general policy to be in the direction of satisfying, as far as possible, the local and national requirements of one end of Ireland, excluding the interests of the other end from their observation and consideration.
Therefore, it has always been a very serious problem for anyone who has attempted to consider this subject. I have now had the opportunity of hearing it thrashed out hundreds or even thousands of times, till it is almost sickening to have it repeated again and again. Since I have been in the House, one was always faced with this problem, that it was useless to suppose that a general Home Rule Bill without some protection for the North could be enforced upon the North without force of arms, and therefore it was always the stumbling block, and the same thing would apply now, to a certain extent. When you put forward a Home Rule Bill as it is established at present 933 with two Chambers, and get away from the difficulties of the South coercing the North, then immediately up comes the charge that you are partitioning Ireland, that the hated Saxon is cutting Ireland in two.
§ The CHAIRMAN
This, again, is going into the Bill generally. The present Clause is only the proposition as to the scheme for two Chambers in the respective two Parliaments in Ireland.
I understood the Clause was to establish, if it were agreed upon by both Parliaments, one Council which should be a Second Chamber. [HON. MEMBERS: "A Second Chamber for each!"] I was under the impression—and my observations were intended to approve the suggestion—that if these two Councils could possibly agree upon a scheme by which a Second Chamber could have been established, that unquestionably would be a proposal worth considering, and I should have given it my support.
§ Major HILLS
I wish most sincerely that the hon. and gallant Member was right and that there was some chance of seeing a single Second Chamber for all Ireland. I want to appeal to the Government to reconsider their decision on this subject. I am not going to talk anything about broken pledges, but I believe the Government are bound, by every obligation of honour and policy, to give protection to the Southern Unionists, and I propose to examine their scheme in the light of that principle. The right hon. and learned Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson), in his very interesting speech, told us that he saw in the Bill the germ of a united Ireland and that he shared the hope of the Government that it would lead to future unity. I quite agree that that may be the case, but the case of the Southern Unionists is an urgent and pressing one. It is an immediate case, and to talk of future unity will not assist them. They are in immediate danger, and the danger is all the more great because we have been told by the Minister without Portfolio that the Lower Chamber will function even though the Council should meet and fail to set up a Second Chamber. The first thing we are trying to do is not to establish a democratic constitution for Ireland in this respect; we are out for something much simpler, namely, the protection of the scattered 934 minorities in the South and West of Ireland, and that protection you can secure by one way alone, a quite undemocratic way, I agree, but you have to do that, or you cannot protect them. They must be secured by one of two forms of Second Chamber—either one nominated or one elected on quite a different basis from the election of the two lower Houses.
The Lord Privy Seal was charmingly frank with the House, as he always is, and he told us in effect that the Government had failed to find a solution, and therefore this difficult problem which has puzzled our Government is thrust on to the newly elected council, a new body with no political experience, and they are expected to solve it. That is not a very promising start for a new Government, especially in the conditions which prevail in Ireland. He next told us that perhaps they might have found a solution, but they were so busy in thinking about a Second Chamber for this country that they could not give it any attention. That is rather a strange argument, but Ireland always has got to wait the convenience of this country, and I was not aware that very much time had been spent on the Second Chamber here. Then he said that a scheme was needed in the North as well as in the South of Ireland and that the two schemes need not be the same. I quite agree. I think you would have quite different Second Chambers in the North and in the South, as my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Carson) has made quite clear. In the North you would have a collective and homogeneous minority, all in the same place, I understand, who can return Members to Parliament, but in the South you have not a single constituency were the Unionists can return one Member. Of course, the two problems are different, and what will suit the North will not suit the South, but it is no good to tell us that just because the North may need a Senate just as much as the South needs it, therefore the South has not to get it. I think that both ought to have it, and the Senate could be quite different in each case.
Then the Leader of the House used a very strange argument. He said the Unionist party, and I think he meant especially the Unionists of Ireland, had accepted this Bill. Well, all honour to the Unionists in Ireland who have fought to improve this Bill, but may I point out that when they accepted this Bill they 935 relied on the promise of the Government that there should be protection for the Southern Unionists. I cannot believe that the Government even now do not mean to protect the Southern Unionists. The right hon. Gentleman said the problem is too difficult, but surely that is what they have got to solve. Of course it is difficult, but who will find it easier than they find it? It is no good to say that the Council is a democratic body, and that by giving it to them you are consulting Irish opinion. It is a very strange argument from the mouth of the Government, who have never consulted Irish opinion at all. Besides, as I have said, it is not a case of getting the best democratic outfit for a country. It is a case of protecting one scattered class, who cannot under any conceivable system return one single Member to Parliament. The Government have failed, and I think it is quite certain the Council will fail too, for what lower House will set up an assembly which is meant to curb and moderate itself? Of course it will not, unless it is compelled to; and by merely staying away or voting against the proposal of the Council, the Southern representatives can defeat any such scheme. So of course there will not be a scheme for a Senate, and in the meantime, whilst this germ of unity is germinating, evils which are very real will fall on the heads of the Southern Unionists.
There have been two suggestions which I do ask the Government to reconsider, because I am sure they must have considered them. First of all, there is the scheme in the Act of 1914, and that was a scheme for an elected Senate chosen by proportional representation on the basis of the four Provinces, a very good scheme. The second—I think the better —scheme was the Convention scheme, which was for an entirely nominated Senate of 64 members, and nominated from all parts of the community. Surely one of those two schemes could be adopted. In fact, when the Council come to consider it, they must go to one of those two forms, either a nominated Senate, or one elected on a different basis or for a different term from the Lower House, and I should like to know, before this Debate ends, why those schemes have been rejected. I have said all through these Debates that we who sit on these 936 Benches have not been fortunate in securing the support of my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Carson), and now, on the only occasion when all the representatives of Ulster support the very heterodox doctrines in which we are accused of indulging, I should have thought that the Government would have given way. I hope they will consider that, because my right hon. and learned Friend was quite explicit.
I only want to say again, in conclusion, that the necessity is a real and urgent one It is not a case of forming the best constitution you can and allowing time to perfect it. If you think a nominated Senate is a bad thing, a clog on the development of the country, I suggest the way out in the Act of 1914, which expressly said the Senate was to be nominated for a term of years, and after that was to be elected. Could not the Government compromise on some arrangement of that sort? You cannot pretend that you could hold elections to the Senate in the present unfortunate conditions in the South and West of Ireland. You must nominate a body of some sort; but if you do not like to impose a nominated body for all time, give the Parliament of Southern Ireland or the Parliament of Northern Ireland some change of changing that. I have made several suggestions, and I do hope the Government will consider them. The danger is very imminent and very real, and will arise the very day the Bill is passed into law.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
There has been enough discussion to entitle us to some answer. I do not think anyone has spoken on behalf of the Government's proposal.
§ Sir S. HOARE
May I emphasise the appeal just made by my right hon. Friend? I do not think a single speech from any side of the House has been made in favour of the Government's proposal, and the arguments used against it have been many and varied, and I believe they have appealed to the great majority of the Members who have been sitting through this Debate. To put it on the lowest basis, I suggest it would be courteous for some Member of the Government to make some reply to the arguments which have been used.
Really I would appeal to the Government. If they cannot produce any argument in support of their Clause, they, at any rate, might withdraw it, because, after all, the. Bill is for the better government of Ireland by the smoothing of Irish difficulties, and not for the further irritation of Ireland. When the right hon. Member for the Duncairn Division (Sir E. Carson) unites with those who sit on these Benches in condemnation of this Clause, I think it is perfectly certain it is going to stir up an enormous amount of bad feeling in Ireland. I would appeal to the Government, if they cannot justify the Clause by argument, to withdraw it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Might I ask the Minister of Education, who has had a good deal to do with this Bill and who is able to put a gloss upon a difficult situation, at any rate to exercise his ingenuity and try to furbish up some sort of argument in favour of this Clause?
§ Major HAYWARD
I should have thought, for the credit of the Government themselves, they would not have allowed the Clause to pass without giving some reason other than they have. It is admitted that a Second Chamber is required, and the reasons given by the Lord Privy Seal for not devising a scheme in the Clause was that they could not think of one which they could possibly submit to the House of Commons. That is a very curious reason. It is as if an engineer had devised an engine which required a safety valve, and, not being able to devise one, sent it out without a safety valve, which is the position presented in the House of Commons to-day.
§ Mr. BETTERTON
There are, no doubt, other Members like myself who find it difficult, if not impossible, to decide. I have, heard speech after speech on this side with an open mind, and am undecided which way to vote. I should like to have heard some reply to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson). I would ask the Government at least to give us some sort of guidance.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
The earnest and absolutely innocent pleading of my hon. Friend who spoke last really did bring me to my feet. I do not think he has been here all the afternoon. I am not quite sure I saw his place occupied when I myself spoke upon this Amendment, and, much more important, when my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal replied to the arguments which have been put so ably before the Committee by so many speakers this afternoon. Really the arguments which have been put forward have been very few, but they have been repeated, as is very often the case in debate in Committee, and far be it from me to complain of that course of action. But, in fact, those arguments have been replied to by the Lord Privy Seal, and it is quite impossible for Members of the Government continually to get up and repeat the same replies to the same arguments. I only rose to tell my hon. Friend that if he did not hear the replies, he will find them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Brigadier - General COCKERILL
Before the Committee goes to a Division, if it does go, might I ask whether, in point of fact, there is any reason why the scheme laid down in the Clause should be identical in the North and South of Ireland? The Clause says that "the scheme shall specify the titles of the respective Houses, which scans to imply that the title, and even the scheme, may be different.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
That is quite right. The schemes may be quite different. There, may be one class of Second Chamber for the North and another for the South, the constituencies may be different, and the system of election or nomination may be different. All that has got to be identical is the Act of Parliament accepting a bargain made between North and South.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The Committee divided; Ayes, 175; Noes, 31.939
|Division No. 354.]||AYES.||[7.0 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Brassey, Major H. L. C.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Breese, Major Charles E.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Bridgeman, William Clive|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Briggs, Harold|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Blair, Reginald||Broad, Thomas Tucker|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Borwick, Major G. O.||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Remer, J. R.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Rodger, A. K.|
|Casey, T. W.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Cautley, Henry S.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Jesson, C.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Birm., W.)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Seddon, J. A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Simm, M. T.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lorden, John William||Sugden, W. H.|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverle F. P.||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Edge, Captain William||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Tickler, Thomas George|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Waddington, R.|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Forrest, Walter||Neal, Arthur||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, w.)||Pearce, Sir William||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Wood, Major S. Hill (High Peak)|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pratt, John William||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Prescott, Major W. H.||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Hinds, John||Purchase, H. G.||Younger, Sir George|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Hood, Joseph||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hayward, Major Evan||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hoare, Lieut-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hogge, James Myles||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Glanville, Harold James||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Lieut.-Colonel Guinness and Major|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Hills.|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
§ Clause read a Second time.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move at the end of the Clause to add the wordsProvided always that if no scheme is framed within a year of setting up of the Parliaments, two Second Chambers shall be set up composed of forty Members nominated by the Lord Lieutenant.This Amendment would get over the difficulty in providing proper protection for the loyalist minority in Southern Ireland. I do not say that the scheme in my 940 Amendment is absolutely perfect. Far from it, but it does provide a protection which I think is absolutely necessary if we are to see anything like protection of life and property in Ireland, especially in the Southern part. I think it is difficult for the Government to reject it. It is to a great extent taken from the Act of 1914. The Act of 1914, Section 8, provides:The Irish Senate shall consist of forty Senators nominated as respects the first Senators by the Lord Lieutenant, subject to941any instructions given by His Majesty in respect of the nomination, and afterwards elected by the four provinces of Ireland as separate constituencies in the number stated in the third part of the First Schedule to this Act.Hon. Members will see I have taken the first part of the Section, which indicates that an Irish Senate shall consist of 40 Members nominated by the Lord Lieutenant. As I understand, under the Home Rule Act of 1914 the nominated Senate would have been in existence for five years, and then after that their seats shall be filled by a new election. It would be quite possible to amend my Amendment by saying that the two new Senates to be set up in the South and North shall be nominated only for a stated period. It may be that it would be advisable to put in some saving Clause that in certain circumstances the Senate should exist for a certain number of years. I shall be quite willing to accept that. The object of some such Amendment as mine is to bridge over the difficulty which everybody must recognise will be in the next four or five years. Therefore I would suggest that the Government accept this Amendment, and, if necessary, put in words limiting it for a period. I do earnestly trust they will show their desire to safeguard the lives and property of people in various parts of Ireland who have been and are loyal to the Constitution, and which I believe is desired by nearly the whole of the House.
Though I cordially welcome the fruitful suggestion of the right hon. Baronet, I do not feel that it will be a practicable scheme if it imposes the same number in the South of Ireland and also in the North of Ireland. It will be remembered that in the Convention scheme there was to be a Senate of 64 and a popular Chamber of 61. That means the Senate was to be about three to eight of the popular Chamber. I think the right hon. Baronet's Amendment, would be more satisfactory if he would recast the figures, and take, say, three-eighths of 128 for the Southern Senate and three-eighths of the 52 for the Northern Senate. If he would re-east the Amendment in that form, and accept it, I suggest that we should take the Debate on that.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Proposed Clause added to the Bill.