HL Deb 25 January 1886 vol 302 cc276-97

, in rising to move— That in the opinion of this House the time has now come when the post of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland may be abolished with advantage, said, the gravity of the question which he had the honour to bring before their Lordships at a time when anything connected with Ireland was of unusual interest would, he trusted, be a warrantable excuse for his asking at their Lordships' hands all the indulgence which the difficulties of his position required. He had been painfully conscious of the fact that, amongst the Members of their Lordships' House, there were no less than four past Viceroys of Ireland, two being present; and, no doubt, if the duties of his Excellency the present Lord Lieutenant did not necessitate his presence in Dublin, he also would have been present. It had been his original intention to move this Resolution last Session; but he was told the occasion was inopportune, and was advised to postpone it. At that time there was one more past Viceroy in their Lordships' House; but since then the hand of death had removed from their midst one whose place it would be hard to fill, and whose loss it would be difficult to make up for. It might be said of the late Duke of Abercorn that he had no enemies, for even his political opponents vied with his closest followers in the expression of their admiration and regard for him. Of him it might be said that, having arrived at the highest pinnacle of personal popularity, he never lost the charm which he held over his fellow-countrymen until the grave closed over him. He would miss the friendly criticism of the late Duke of Abercorn with regret, and he would look to others to supply similar criticism, especially to his noble Friend who had twice braved the acknowledged dangers of the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland (Earl Spencer). He yielded to no one in his admiration of the ability and the indomitable courage with which the noble Earl had served his Party. He not only spoke his own sentiments, but these of the entire loyal population of Ireland—though many of them wore opposed to him in politics, and did not share the admiration of the noble Earl for the great Chief of his Party—when he said that they wore ten times better cared for and ton times better off under the high pressure of that noble Earl's Administration than they were now under that of his amiable and more popular Successor. In this case they preferred the fortiter in re to the suaviter in modo. The subject of his Resolution, as their Lordships were aware, was no new one. The abolition of the Office of Lord Lieutenant had been before Parliament on many occasions. It was an Office which had existed, he believed, for 700 years; but that was no reason why it should exist for ever. Its abolition was moved in 1823, in 1830, in 1811, in 1850, and in 1858; and the opinions of many eminent statesmen, both for and against, were ventilated on these occasions. The history of Ireland repeated itself with the fidelity of a stock-piece at a Provincial theatre—the piece was always the same, and the only change was in the actors. The question had always been and was now a non-Party question; and, therefore, he would look with the more confidence to their Lordships for a fair and impartial hearing. In addition to the debates reported in Hansard, he had sought for information from The Times, He had also found a great deal of interesting information in The Life and Letters of Mr. Croker, and The Memoirs of Mr. Greville; but he would not presume to occupy too much of their Lordships' valuable time, nor to flood the House with a series of long and unnecessary quotations, inasmuch as they were within easy access for their Lordships, and it was more than probable that they were far better acquainted with them than he was. When he looked back to Hansard's Debates he saw that such men as Lord Althorp, Lord Grey, Mr. Sheil, Lord John Russell, Mr. Bernal Osborne, and Mr. Hume had taken part in the discussion. Once, and once only, the question of the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland was mooted in their Lordships' House, and that was in June, 1850, the year in which Lord John Russell introduced a Bill on the subject in the House of Commons. The Marquess of Londonderry of that day succeeded in anticipating the introduction of the measure by taking advantage of an opportunity given him of presenting various Petitions from the Lord Mayor of Dublin and others interested in the trade of that City. On that occasion, while all the Members of their Lordships' House admitted the desirability of raising a discussion, they one and all said they considered the occasion inopportune, and yet, with great inconsistency, insisted on debating the matter at considerable length. At the end of the Session of 1850 the Bill lapsed. Since 1858, so far as he could make out, the matter had never been before the attention of Parliament; and there was the fact that although in 1858 a Motion brought forward by Mr. Roebuck was thrown out, the one in 1850 was carried by a large majority. To keep the trade of Dublin going was the only excuse for maintaining the Office. There were other arguments for upholding the Office; but they were all more or less of a sentimental nature, and, therefore, all the less forcible. For instance, one distinguished Irishman, now a Judge, was heard to say in defence of the retention of the Office that it would be hard lines if an Irishman, who was precluded from basking in the sunshine of Royalty, should not have an opportunity occasionally of airing himself in the moonshine of the Viceroy. If that was the strongest argument that a great and distinguished lawyer could raise in that day, he thought there was not much to he said in its favour. The objection as to the difficulty of coming to London to attend a levee was merely a sentimental one. In these days sentimental objections had very little weight. These were days in which only practical objections had any weight. Sir Peter Teazle's views with respect to sentiment were very much like his. He believed they were extremely proper and popular. He did not think the Rules of their Lord ships' House would prevent him giving a quotation from The School for Scandal; but it was unnecessary, since all their Lordships must be acquainted with the expressions made use of by that irascible Baronet. It was amusing to look back and find even such a great and eminent statesman as Lord John Russell talking about the facilities of communication as they existed in 1850 in comparison with these which existed in 1805. He believed he was right in stating that Lord John Russell actually quoted from, if he did not lay upon the Table of the House, a copy of Bradshaw's Railway Guide; but if he (the Earl of Kilmorey) wished to quote from any publication to show the enormous strides which had been taken within the last 35 years, he would refer to the records of scientific institutions and papers read at scientific meetings; and, looking at the records of the marvellous inventions of the last 35 years, he found there were no inventions which excited more marvel and admiration than the telephone. What were the facilities of communication in 1850 to these in the present day? As the locomotive had superseded the old stage coach, so the telephone had cast into the shade other marvellous inventions which at one time it was thought impossible to supersede. In the present day it was not impossible for the noble Marquess in Downing Street to hold an animated conversation with the Secretary of State for Ireland in Dublin Castle, nor was it more difficult for His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief to give his order, vivâ voce, to Prince Saxe-Weimar. This disposed of the argument brought forward in their Lordships' House in 1850 by the Duke of Wellington. That objection was that in cases of disturbance, in the absence of the Lord Lieutenant, who could give orders to the troops? He saw no possible difficulty, in the absence of the Lord Lieutenant, of directions being given with regard to the Forces. He maintained that facilities for communicating were now so great that there was nothing to prevent the Lord Lieutenant answering with rapidity any question put to him by the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces. The same facility would enable him to transmit his orders to the Commander-in-Chief, and to take steps to sea them properly carried out. Although science had done much to alleviate their sorrow and to mitigate their distress, it had not yet provided them with the same means of communication between England and Ireland that now existed between Birkenhead and Liverpool. There always had been, and he feared there always would be, one great and insuperable difficulty in the way of the realization of all the schemes of reconciling Irishmen to England; and that was the nauseating barrier that existed between the two countries—hinc illœ lacrymœ. It might be that the opening of the Mersey Tunnel the other day might give a fillip to science; and he trusted their Lordships would all live to see a submarine tunnel between England and Ireland constructed. But they had communication by means of some of the finest steamers in the world; and what was the journey from Dublin to London? What would their forefathers have thought of their making complaints of a journey of from 10 to 12 hours' duration, when they wore accustomed to travel on a coach for days and nights together? As to the danger of travelling, altheugh there were occasions on which outrages were committed in railway carriages, they were very few and far between when compared with the dangers which were run on the King's highway in the time of stage-coach travelling. What was the journey from Dublin to London now? Why, it was simply the rapid whirling along of their recumbent bodies, surrounded by every luxury and comfort. He regretted that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was not present. His appearance was well known to their Lordships, and they would readily agree with him that the noble and learned Lord showed no signs of decay, although he was frequently subject to the fearful ordeal of these constant journeys. He was stating a fact when he said it was not unusual for the noble and learned Lord to take his seat in the Four Courts in Dublin on Monday, to run over by the mail to attend a Cabinet Council on the Tuesday afternoon, and to return to the Four Courts on the Wednesday as fresh as if he had not undergone the slightest fatigue. It was an acknowledged fact that science had now minimized the geographical difficulties between the two countries. He took leave to conclude that the position in which the present Lord Lieutenant had lately found himself, harassed and worn by the innumerable difficulties and unavoidable annoyances of Office, strengthened not a little his argument that the administrative and State functions of the Lord Lieutenant should no longer be combined in one man. That unfor- tunate combination ought never to have existed. It appeared to him to have been a great mistake in the Act of Union; and, as far as he could judge, it was acknowledged by the statesmen of that day that the combination was a mistake. Lord John Russell, on the introduction of his Bill, on the 17th of May, 1850, said— In fact, the Members of the present Government have for a very long time had in contemplation the measure I have now to propose, and when Lord Clarendon went to Ireland he went there on a distinct understanding with me that the Office of Lord Lieutenant would, if Parliament should concur with us, he totally abolished."—(3 Hansard [III], 171.) Later on his Lordship said— It appears, however, at the time of the Union with Ireland the subject of the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy was taken into consideration by the Sovereign who then ruled the destinies of this country."—(Ibid. 173.) His Lordship then proceeded to quote from a letter from Mr. Addington; and he (the Earl of Kilmorey), from a general résumé of the speeches of that day, was led to the conclusion that it was an acknowledged difficulty, and that it was handed as a legacy from one Cabinet to another, where it was looked upon with so much distaste that when a memorandum on the subject came to the top it was at once put to the bottom. It was impossible for him to point to a stronger argument in favour of his suggestion than that 50 years after the Union an able statesman like the late Lord John Russell should have proposed to the House a Bill to carry out what he was now advocating, and loft the matter in abeyance solely on the ground that more important matters were engaging attention. It was no secret that he (the Earl of Kilmorey) desired to see the Office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland abolished as at present constituted. He wished to see the administrative functions of the Lord Lieutenant transferred to a Secretary of State for Ireland, whilst these of ceremonial might very well be allowed to slip into oblivion as unnecessary and out of place. It should be remembered that, however vehemently he might attack the evils which arose from the Office of Lord Lieutenant, nothing should fall from his lips in any way to reproach these who had successively held that high Office, and discharged the onerous duties of Lord Lieutetenant. What he wanted to see abolished, was not the holder of the high Office, but the system which had imposed on so many Noblemen the thankless combination of political patronage and Viceregal State. He knew that Lord Lieutenants had conducted the social administration of the country with the greatest ability. But faithfully as they had discharged their duties in that respect—right royally as they had spent their money and distributed their favours—why wore they weighed down by politics? He saw no reason whatever why the machinery of administration and the ceremonial of Royalty should be coupled in what was only a mock Court. It was well known that the Sovereign had no politics, and therefore he contended that the Representative of the Sovereign should have no politics. The principle had been broken through from the very commencement so far as Ireland was concerned, and he hoped the words of the late Lord President would be well considered when he said— However high-minded and well-intentioned the Lord Lieutenant might ho, it is impossible for him to he anything else than a Party man. Now, these few words struck at the root of the evil of which he complained. He said that the Office, being a political appointment—however kind and humane the Viceroy might be, and however well-intentioned, it was impossible for him to administer the affairs of an unruly people with more than passing success. A new Lord Lieutenant's policy was invariably the reverse of his Predecessor's; and however anxious a Lord Lieutenant might be to strike out a line of his own, and to make a new departure, he inevitably found that his endeavours were hampered and rendered futile by the officialism of Dublin Castle. He believed more influence, more power, and more beneficent results would have accrued from the successive Administrations of Lord Lieutenants since the Act of Union if their number had been fewer and their term of Office longer. But, for his own part, he hoped sincerely he should never see a Lord Lieutenant again. He was not so careless, having regard to the wholesale abolition which he proposed, as to forget to make some suggestions as to what should be substituted for that which was abolished. To discharge some portion of the duties of the Lord Lieutenant, he had sug- gested the appointment of a Secretary of State for Ireland, and he would award him such a salary as would enable him to keep up the customary grants of money, and to continue the customary patronage to the charitable institutions of the country; and, in relation to these other duties performed by the Lord Lieutenant, he should have a scheme to submit which he knew would not only meet with the approval of the loyal section of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland, but which was the only one to soothe the savage breast of the Separatist and bring the rebel back to reason and allegiance. It might be said that the Dublin trade had had a great deal to do with this matter in the past, and that it might have a great weight in dealing with the subject in the future. He did not know exactly what Dublin trade consisted of. Some might say it was whisky; some might say it was poplin; but these who took the trade view of the case were really not these who carried on an Irish trade, but they were chiefly dressmakers and others who represented London and Paris firms. If there were a single Irish trade or industry which could be promoted, or which could be better kept alive by the retention of the Office of Lord Lieutenant, he should be the last man in the world to desire to see that Office done away with. But there was not a single trade, so far as he could discover, which would be affected one way or the other by the retention or abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy. "Who would be affected? It would not affect the hotel keepers; it would not cause less traffic on the railways; the tailors would make as many pairs of trousers, the boot makers as many pairs of boots, and the carriage builders would make as many carriages as they did now. The question of the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy, he was aware, could not be raised and passed over in a few words. There was, of course, that large question of the privileges enjoyed by the presence of the Lord Lieutenant, and his advocacy of the claims of the various charitable institutions and hospitals in Ireland generally, and in Dublin in particular, and which had done so much good for the country. He certainly would not think of submitting a scheme which would rob these institutions of any of their privileges. It was, as he had said, a scheme which would attach to the Secretary of State to be appointed such a salary as would enable him to meet the claims of charitable institutions in the future as they had been met in the past. He proposed to raise from the ashes of an anomalous Office the Phœnix of a new and more practical post, and to establish it altogether upon a more reasonable and responsible basis. That no injury should accrue to Ireland by the loss of the costly accessories of Viceregal glitter, he suggested that Her Majesty's Ministers should submit to Her Majesty the long-entertained and long-silent but now loudly-expressed complaint of her Irish people, and urge upon her gracious consideration their fervent prayer— namely, that as for many years past in England and Scotland where there were any public duties for Royalty to perform, and the Sovereign was not able to be present, she was officially represented by a Royal Deputy, so should the same course be taken with reference to Irish institutions. They desired that in great public ceremonies the Queen should be represented by Royalty, and not by a mock Court, which was a base imitation of the real thing. The Court in London had been considered sufficient for the extremes of England, Scotland, and Wales; and he thought that it should be quite sufficient for the extreme parts of Ireland. Irish people who were desirous of paying personal respects to Her Majesty would gravitate to the Metropolis if the Lord Lieutenancy were abolished, and would help to swell the rank and file of these who constituted the retinue of the Court. During the recent visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to Ireland, it was found that the ceremony of being presented to the Lord Lieutenant did not count as a presentation to the Sovereign, which he considered the climax of anomalism. He hoped that in any remarks he had made he had not said anything which would be painful to the feelings of these distinguished Noblemen who had occupied the Viceregal Chair in the past, or to any of their relations. He did not profess to be original; but he could not help making use of epithets such as "mock," after studying this subject in the books and papers which he had recently perused. Whilst on this subject he could not refrain from quoting the words of an article in The Times in 1858, which was made to say that in conceding a mock Court to Ireland Englishmen only did so as they would give glass beads to savages. The language of the present day was pretty strong; but he thought that that far exceeded anything that was now written. When, the late Lord John Russell introduced his Bill in the Commons, he held out what in vulgar parlance was called a "sop." He suggested that, to assist in the passing of the Bill, the Irish people should be led to understand that Her Majesty the Queen would pay them a visit not only once, but frequently. That, he thought, was a very unfair thing to have done. He did not know whether the bait took; but, at any rate, the Motion was passed. There was not, however, the slightest chance in 1886 of anything of that sort being placed before the Irish people, because they knew that it would be unreasonable to expect Her Majesty to so severely strain her health and time, neither would they for a moment expect His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, whoso hands were already full, to undertake the duty. Although the Irish people might rejoice to see His Royal Highness, they would not expect to see in him the accepted deputy of their Sovereign; but what people in Ireland bore in mind was, that there was another of Her Majesty's sons, whoso name and title lent themselves not a little to the occasion; and it would give the greatest pleasure all over Ireland, and considerably reduce what was now called disloyal feeling, if an announcement were made semi-officially that a Royal residence was to be purchased for the Duke of Connaught, who should represent Her Majesty. No particular duration of time need be named for the existence of the Office; it would do a great deal of good, and the people would always know that there was living among them one of the Royal Princes whom they could justly call their own. One of the objects he had before him was to impress upon their Lordships that the Act of Union was not complete, and that it was not too late to make it complete by taking these steps in the right direction, and, by assimilating the law of Ireland to that of England, to draw the two nations together. What he wished to see was, that Her Majesty's Government should bring in a Bill to abolish the Office of Viceroy, and establish a Secretary of State, who should be an Irishman, if possible; if not, both the Under Secretaries should be taken from the ranks of resident Irishmen. Then a Bill should be introduced giving suitable salaries to these officials. What was even more important was that Dublin Castle should be thoroughly reorganized, placed thoroughly under the complete control of the Secretary of State, and put into proper touch with all boards of official administration throughout the country. At present there was a great complaint that there was not sufficient connection, in feeling or otherwise, between bodies like the Irish Board of Works and Dublin Castle. In the event of the changes he proposed being made, the Secretary ought, of course, to have a seat in the Cabinet; and it was also indispensable that he should have a private residence in Ireland, as well as an official one. It had always been a source of complaint that Ireland had been governed by Englishmen; and the only thing that could be said in its favour was that it was like the doctor who said that he could always prescribe better for his patients when he never saw them. With regard to the changes he had proposed, he was reminded of the saying that if you could not get what you wanted you must put up with what you could get; he hoped, therefore, that the noble Marquess, if he intended to reply, would, at all events, see his way to carry out some of the changes proposed. It was impossible, without possessing the power of prophecy, to conjecture, with the slightest degree of certainty, what the noble Marquess the Prime Minister would say, even if he condescended to notice the speech. Probably the noble Marquess would administer to him a rebuke for having dared to occupy so much of their Lordships' valuable time, and for having struggled to his feet into paths where statesmen feared to tread. If the noble Marquess, however, did administer a rebuke, he hoped it would be a kind one, and that he (the Earl of Kilmorey) should have sufficient spirit left to accept the rebuke with fitting humility, especially when he remembered that it came from such a distinguished statesman as the Prime Minister. But perhaps the noble Marquess might say that, although it possessed some defects, there were some points in his scheme worth consideration, and that he might promise to take some action in the matter. If he did not succeed in impressing upon their Lordships' House the advisableness of abolishing the Lord Lieutenancy in favour of a Secretary ship of State, at any rate he would have the consolation of knowing that he had given their Lordships a great subject for their careful and dispassionate consideration.

Moved, "That in the opinion of this House the time has now come when the post of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland may be abolished with advantage."—(The Earl of Kilmorey.)


thought that a great deal was to be said in favour of the Motion which had been brought before them. After the exhaustive manner in which it had been treated he did not intend to make a long speech; but as he had had the honour of holding the Office of Lord Lieutenant he thought that he might be permitted to say a few words. He did not place the same stress as the noble Earl had laid upon the functions of Viceregal hospitality, or upon the effect of the Lord Lieutenant's Court upon the trade of Dublin. The functions of hospitality and the Court held at the Castle were, some time ago, matters of considerable importance; but now, owing to the rapidity of communication between Dublin and London, they were of very little importance. While he filled the Office of Lord Lieutenant he must say that he did so with very mixed feelings. The hospitable part of the duties he looked back to with great pleasure. There was something so essentially kindly, hospitable, and generous in the Irish nature, which made him look back with pleasure on that part of his experience, and made his duties very easy. The people were so generous and hospitable themselves, and so willing to respond cordially to any civility which one might attempt to show, that entertainments were very pleasurable things. At the same time, he could not deny that the people who attended drawing-rooms, balls, and other Castle entertainments were, as a rule, either these who were what might be called "the English garrison"—the people quartered there—a large number of officials and others who came because they thought that as long as a Court was held in Dublin, it was their duty to show respect to the Representative of the Queen by attending. Of this last he had an example at the time he was in Ireland. At the beginning of his first Castle season the Government of the day was not at the time very popular with the upper classes in Ireland, and there was a feeling prevalent that there would be a general resolution not to attend his levees. But when the levee was held several gentlemen differing from him in politics made a point of coming to attend. Amongst these latter he might mention the present Lord Chancellor—whom he did not know personally at the time—he came over specially to Ireland, and remained only a few hours in Dublin in order to attend. There was however, nobody who wished to attend a drawing-room or a levée who could not do so by coming over to London. So much for this part of the matter. Of course, there was also the question of the trade of Dublin. In these days, when trade was everywhere very stagnant, one must be sorry that anything in Dublin or elsewhere should have the effect of taking money out of the pockets of the tradesmen. He and others, no doubt, would be very sorry for their sakes that any such thing should take place. But he thought that so far as the encouraging trade was concerned there was really not any serious importance to be attached to the question. There was absolutely nothing in the duty of the Lord Lieutenant which could not be performed by a Secretary of State, who would have power as Lord Spencer had power. He could not see why Lord Spencer should not have been called Secretary of State for Ireland. Mr. Smith had now gone over to Ireland, and he was a Member of the Cabinet; and anyone appointed to the Office of Lord Lieutenant with the Chief Secretary in the Cabinet would find himself in a very unenviable position. It was always disagreeable to have nominal responsibility, and to be the nominal head, when the man who was supposed to be your subordinate had the real power. He thought Her Majesty's Government would have some difficulty in finding anyone to fill the Office under the circumstances. In times of disturbance men were ready to serve the Queen and country; but, however anxious they might be, he thought it would be asking too much of them to expect them to occupy that position. If there was a Secretary of State appointed in substitution of the Lord Lieutenant, he would have an Office in London and in Dublin. He would go backwards and forwards. In quiet times—if, indeed, they were ever to have quiet times again—certain advantages would be occasioned by having a great deal of the business concentrated in London. He thought—judging from his former experiences in Ireland—that there was a great deal too much of a disposition to refer everything to the Central Authority of Dublin. Not only what in the ordinary course of business was submitted to the Castle, but everybody who had anything to do with Ireland would acknowledge that there was a tendency on the part of the people, or of a class of them, in that country to trust too little to themselves, and too little to local action, and to come up to the Castle at every little difficulty—in former times he would have said for every little job, though he hoped it did not exist now. Everything that might be wanted caused these people to come up to the Castle, and have it done. If they could transfer the business to London in these days of telegraph, railways, and steamers, this condition of things could be broken down and done away with. The Chief Secretary or Secretary of State could go backwards and forwards, and everything could still be done in Ireland which could not be done in this country. He knew, of course, that the question of abolishing an Office that had existed for 600 years was most important and difficult. It was impossible not to consider it in connection with the existing state of things, or how it should be regarded in connection with the question of Home Rule, which, after all, was the great question of the day, and one which was concerning and occupying the minds of all men, and on which everybody's thoughts were fixed more than on anything else. Now, there was no doubt that the Irish Members—the great bulk of them— were not disposed to have a very close union with England, and they had taken up the question of abolishing the Office of Lord Lieutenant. He could not help thinking that these Members did so at a time when they thought that Home Rule was altogether out of the sphere of practical politics. If, however, they really thought there was a chance of getting Home Rule, they would feel that there would be, as in Canada, a Governor or Lord Lieutenant absolutely necessary. He was one of these who considered Home Rule impossible, and that they could never grant a separate Parliament to Ireland. It could not be too soon thoroughly known that it was not the intention of any Party to do this; and feeling that, and as a great deal of the business connected with the Office of Lord Lieutenant could be done in London, the announcement that the Government intended to do away with the Office would be as good as a deliberate statement that they did not intend to do anything to sever the Union. He considered the present a very opportune moment to declare that this last vestige of what was once a separate Constitution should be done away with.


said, that notwithstanding the many objections to the proposal he could not refrain from supporting it. At the same time, he thought that the importance of trade in connection with the Viceregal Office had been somewhat overlooked; and he trusted that if the Lord Lieutenancy was abolished a Representative of Her Majesty would still hold a Court in Dublin. Two Viceroys had lately ruled in Ireland—one with uniform firmness, and the other with uniform kindness, and it remained for history to record which was most successful. He agreed that in reference to the expenditure, immediately the result of the Viceroyalty, the question was a very small one; but it was one which could not be entirely overlooked. His principal objection to the Viceroyalty was based on the fact that it was a political office. If they looked to India, Canada, and the Colonies, the Viceroy or Governor General continued to hold the Office in spite of any change of Ministers. In Ireland if the Office was continued it should be the same. The Office of Viceroy was now in abeyance; and what they desired to know was, how long it would remain so before something was done in connection with that part of the Administration in Ireland? There was a sum of about £20,000 a-year which was granted for the upholding of the Office of Lord Lieutenant; and he strongly maintained that although that Office was in abeyance the sum ought to be available for the purpose of defraying the expenses of what might be termed a Royal residence in Ireland. He sincerely trusted that if another Lord Lieutenant was not to be appointed there would be every one or two years a visit paid to Ireland by an illustrious Prince representing Her Majesty; and he believed that these periodical visits would be an effective substitute for what he hoped was the defunct Office of Lord Lieutenant.


said, that two and a-half years experience in holding the Office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had convinced his father that the maintenance of that Office was not only unnecessary but undesirable. Not only that, but what he (Earl Fortescue) himself saw there during the same time, acting as he was as his father's private Secretary, led him to the conclusion that the Office ought to be abolished. He should support the Motion, believing the time to be very appropriate for carrying out the object at which it aimed. In securing that object they would efface, as far as possible, all reminiscences, and discourage also all hopes, of the revival of a separate Parliament and a separate Administration in Ireland.


said, that it would be difficult for any Government in future to appoint a new Lord Lieutenant if the House passed a Resolution against the continuance of the Office. He considered it inexpedient in the face of the Resolution that they should bind themselves in this matter before they had a definite proposition before them. It was quite true the noble Earl who had introduced the Motion had made suggestions; but they must fall to the ground, as they were not the suggestions of the Government. Indeed, he did not know whether the Government had any plan upon the subject; but he knew this—that the Motion came by surprise to the whole of Ireland, which country as yet had had no opportunity to express any opinion whatever upon the matter. If they were to affirm the Resolution he saw no way out of it. There were great difficulties in connection with this subject. It was not merely the abolition of an ancient Office that should be considered. There was another question—namely, the substitution of something else in its place; and they were now asked to vote in favour of the abolition of the Office of Lord Lieutenant before they knew what was to be given in return for it. If the Office was to be abolished no sentimental views should be allowed to prevent its abolition. There was no law or statute requiring the appointment of a Lord Lieutenant. The government of Ireland might be carried on without one; but it would be exceedingly awkward to have the Office abolished before they knew what scheme the Government had in store in substitution, and before they had had an opportunity of considering and discussing it. When Lord John Russell brought forward this question, it was by Bill, and not by Resolution. The difficulties of the subject were so great that the Bill was abandoned, although it was carried through the Commons by a large majority. It should not be forgotten that if they abolished the Viceregal Office another important Office would fall with it. He referred to the Office of the Lord Chancellor for Ireland. What Dublin precisely wanted was to be let alone. He believed if she had no legislation for many years to come they would find that there would not be a more prosperous or happy city in the United Kingdom. He felt it was very undesirable, and very unadvisable, before the country was in any sense in a contented state, to entertain such a proposal. He believed, moreover, that the country ought to have time to consider the proposal before their Lordships committed themselves to an abstract Resolution which really there had been as yet no opportunity to consider.


said, he thought it should be laid down as a distinct principle that there was no need for this change; and he ventured to say that the opinion of the country was not favourable to the abolition of the post of Lord Lieutenant. He was aware that, on his side of the House, at all events, it was a tradition of their policy that the Lord Lieutenancy should be abolished. A substitution, however, was so difficult—touching so many tender and subtle webs—that there must be a remedy of some other kind. He believed the remedy for the present state of things would be found in making the Office more or less of a permanent character. The first thing to do, in his opinion, was to lift the Lord Lieutenancy above the level of Party politics, and so change the position of the Lord Lieutenant that he should become, in a certain sense, a Constitutional Sovereign, and not merely represent, as he now did, the Imperial Parliament of this country. Thus, for instance, he would appoint him to the post for a term of five years; and, as the Representative of no school of politics, he would be able to vindicate that law which the Irish only required to know was being steadily and persistently enforced to obey.


My Lords, my noble Friend at the Table made an able and interesting speech, a speech which I am sure will do much to stimulate opinion and discussion upon the important question to which it relates. If we were merely dealing with a speculative subject from an historical point of view, I confess my sympathy and my assent would be completely at the service of my noble Friend. But my impression is that there is no maxim of polities which has been more generally accepted by statesmen during the last 30 years than that the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland was superfluous; but, on the other hand, there has been no conclusion more usually arrived at than that it was necessary to postpone the practical consideration of the subject. When that course has been followed out by men of different minds and of different opinions in various circumstances, it appears to me that there must have been some very good reason for doing so. Nobody can doubt but that the Lord Lieutenancy is, what is called in these days, only "a survival." It arose in very different times and circumstances. It represented the difficulty of reaching Dublin from London at a time when adverse weather might make the difficulty of communication between the two countries an affair of weeks. At that time it was necessary that there should be a Representative of the Sovereign in Ireland. But that necessity has entirely passed away. My noble Friend went at some length into the scientific facilities which exists for governing Ireland from London. My impression is that he exaggerated them a little. But the thing which ha proposes could no doubt be done if we had no past history, no present feeling, no danger of misconstruction, and no disturbance of the normal condition of things to take into account. I will go further. I think that the Lord Lieutenancy is not only anomalous, but in some respect it is inconvenient. The noble Earl, who has been a former Lord Lieutenant, dwelt on this inconvenience in strong language. He spoke of the future; but I understood him to be referring to the past, He said it was very inconvenient for the Chief Secretary to be in the Cabinet and have all the power, and for the Lord Lieutenant to be without power altogether. And he went on to say, in effect, that the position was so degrading that he did not understand how anyone could accept it.


I did not use the word "degrading."


Perhaps not. That was my impression. I hope he will forgive me for saying that the observation has not made it more easy for the Government to provide another Lord Lieutenant; and if there is any delay in appointing that useful officer, I hope the person who is impeached will be the noble Earl opposite. Undoubtedly there is a certain anomaly and inconvenience in the fact of the officer who is nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant sitting in the Cabinet and settling the policy which the Lord Lieutenant is to pursue, and the orders he is to obey; and it is possible that a little friction may sometimes arise in these circumstances. And more than that, where the Lord Lieutenant is taken into council, and where he has a share in fixing the policy which his Chief Secretary really directs, you always have the inconvenience of a double Government, and an occasional weakness in the direction of affairs in consequence. Therefore, I quite agree with my noble Friend that if we had to begin again it would not be desirable to have a Lord Lieutenant. But I am afraid I must follow the long course of precedents before me by saying that I do not think this an opportune moment for entertaining this question. After all, except for its inconvenience, the Lord Lieutenancy does not do very much harm. And whom should we please by abolishing it? Is it the Loyalists who are very largely interested in the trade of Dublin? I very much doubt whether that excellent and patriotic body are very anxious for its abolition. Should we please the Nationalists? I was exceedingly glad to hear the outspoken language of my noble Friend (Earl Cowper), a former Viceroy, as to the possibilities of Home Rule. I listened to that language with the most hearty sympathy, and I desire to re-echo it; but when he went beyond that and said that the best way to teach the Nationalists that you would not give them Home Rule was to give them a more centralized Government, that was going to the other extreme. I would rather put it in this way—that undoubtedly the substitution of a Chief Secretary, with his offices in London, for a Lord Lieutenant would be to increase, and not to diminish, centralization, and, therefore, would displease the Party known as Nationalist, as well as the Party known as Loyalist. I do not know that to increase the subjects on account of which Ireland is displeased with England would be precisely the wisest course to pursue at the present time. There is another point to which allusion has been made. I think it was my noble Friend at the Table who said that he looked forward to the time when everyone who desired to be presented would come to London for the purpose. Well, but that means a very considerable displacement of the class of persons who under ordinary circumstances, at least, add to the trade of the country and keep money in it, by giving employment to industry and prosperity to trade. Is the present condition of Ireland, especially with regard to trade, one which should be selected for the performance of an operation which would have the effect of diminishing the causes of prosperity and trade? On the contrary, the great evil resulting from past circumstances in the case of Ireland is that money is leaving the country too fast, and that it is very difficult to keep it there; and gratuitously to add to these causes of impoverishment seems to me to be very injudicious in the present state of things. I do not think on either side, on the side of the abolition or on the side of the retention of the Office, that the arguments are of that overwhelming importance that I should apprehend any great disaster either way. But weighing the arguments against each other, not with respect to their importance, but with respect to the time at which the Motion is made, I am com- pelled to agree with the noble and learned Lord opposite that the time is not opportune; and that Her Majesty's Government could not, I think, without a derogation from their duty, give any countenance to the Motion of the noble Earl.


said, he also agreed very much with what had fallen from his noble and learned Friend behind him (Lord FitzGerald). This was by no means an easy question to settle. It could not properly be discussed as an abstract Motion, but only when there was a distinct and well conceived plan laid before the House. There were a great many questions that bad to be dealt with in considering the abolition of the Office of Lord Lieutenant, and they were of such a character that they could only be dealt with by the responsible Government. The noble Earl at the Table suggested that the proposed Secretary of State should permanently reside in Dublin; but, of course, he would have to be in London for a great portion of every year. In that they had before them the real difficulty in the matter, as, undoubtedly, the Chief Secretary, if in the Cabinet, was practically the superior of the Lord Lieutenant. Until all the questions that were involved in this matter wore fully before the House—and before the House on the advice of the Government of the day—he maintained it would be exceedingly imprudent and hasty for the House to come to the conclusion that the Office of Lord Lieutenant should be abolished. It had been said that there was no Statute compelling them to appoint a Lord Lieutenant; but there certainly were Statutes providing that certain things should be done by the Lord Lieutenant; and, for this reason, legislation was absolutely necessary. He agreed with a great deal that the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) had said; but he could not detach the present proposal from the whole question of policy with regard to Irish affairs. The time might come when it might be expedient to abolish the Office; and as a personal opinion, looking at it from a general point of view, he should be inclined himself, providing that the administration could be satisfactorily arranged for, to take the view that there would be an advantage in abolishing the Lord Lieutenancy. There was always a weakness in having a dual office, even although there might be an excellent understanding between the two officers. At the same time, he thought—and he had thought so during the period when he had filled the position of Lord Lieutenant—that there was very considerable disadvantage in not having Irish affairs directly represented in the Cabinet; for without that representation Irish affairs, which, he was sure, were as important as any others, were apt not to get that consideration and full attention which they deserved. He concurred with the noble Marquess that the House should suspend its judgment in regard to this Resolution; although, if brought forward in a practical form, the question of the abolition of the Viceroyalty might be one deserving considerable attention.


said, that having elicited the expression of opinion which would be useful in the country, and which he thought was not altogether hostile to the principle of his Resolution, he would ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.