THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
called attention to the present condition of the Home Rule Question as regards Scotland; and asked whether the Government was in favour of creating a separate Parliament or Legislature in that part of the United Kingdom? He said this was a very simple question, and one which no Government deserving of the name of a Government could have any difficulty in answering—whether they were in favour of establishing a local Parliament or Legislature for Scotland? It might seem strange that he should have to put such a question as that; but they were absolutely in the dark in Scotland as to what the opinion of the Government, as a Government, might be upon this subject. It was a point which was absolutely vital to Scotland. They wanted to know particularly whether they were to be favoured, like 505 Ireland, with a separate Legislature, or anything of that nature? This question was, moreover, important to the whole United Kingdom. If the Government established a separate Parliament in Ireland, the Imperial Parliament, as people in Scotland thought, would have enough, and more than enough, to do in correcting the eccentricities and the centrifugal tendencies of the Irish Legislature. If the Government were going further than that, if their idea was to have more than one Legislature in other parts of the United Kingdom, then the whole question of Home Rule changed. In fact, it disappeared. It was no longer a question of Home Rule; it was a question of Federalism. There would be three Legislatures at least, possibly more, and their control would require the best efforts of any Imperial Parliament. Was the Government embarking on a policy of Home Rule or a policy of Federalism? That was a point which they must have thought out. He would not insult the Government by supposing that they had not thought it out. It was absurd to suppose they would attempt to set up a separate Legislature for Ireland without knowing whether they would drift on to separate Legislatures for other parts of the United Kingdom. As to the history of the Home Rule Question in Scotland, there had been Home Rulers there ever since the Union; but the question had assumed a more open shape since Mr. Gladstone's declaration in 1886. A Scottish Home Rule Association was founded, and it had shown a remarkable degree of activity and ability. Whatever might be said of their views, it was composed of honest men; loyal subjects of the Crown, and attached to the British Empire. What was the course they had taken? A Petition was presented to Parliament in July, 1890, through Mr. Gladstone, in favour of Home Rule; and arguments were used which it was difficult for Mr. Gladstone, as a Home Ruler, to combat, pointing out that under the present system Scotland suffered financially, politically, and socially. Then a Resolution was moved in the House of Commons, and 114 Members voted in its favour. Mr. Gladstone spoke in favour of the Resolution and voted against it. In 1891 a similar Resolution was counted out, and in 1892 a Scotch Home Rule Bill, introduced by the Member for 506 Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) was likewise counted out. If this showed nothing else it showed that the Members of the present Government did not take any very large amount of interest in promoting that Bill. Mr. Gladstone himself had not said anything further in Parliament on this matter; and he was, therefore, compelled to look at the speeches delivered since that time, in order to obtain some light as to Mr. Gladstone's opinions on the subject. Last summer the Home Rule Association addressed to Mr. Gladstone several questions, and in reply he said thatIf Scotland considered it her duty as well as her right—for it was her right—to have such a measure, he had not the least doubt it would be given.Did these words mean that Mr. Gladstone would give Home Rule to Scotland, or that he was in favour of it, or that his Government was in favour of it? Not at all; he did not say anything of the kind; he did not give any means of arriving at a conclusion as to what his opinion was. A few days ago a Resolution on the subject was brought forward in the House of Commons; but Mr. Gladstone being now in power, for some reason or other, was absent. If it was necessary for him to take rest, was it not incumbent upon him to entrust some prominent Member of the Government with the duty of announcing his views? So far from that it was declared to be an open question. The Secretary for Scotland (Sir G. Trevelyan) made a speech which must have cheered the hearts of the Home Rulers, for he pointed out that in this Parliament Scotland could not get any share of legislation, though he did not explain that that was because the Government had taken all the time of the House of Commons for the Irish Home Rule Bill. Sir G. Trevelyan spoke for himself as an individual, but when the Division came every Member of the Government who was present, including the Home Secretary, the Secretary for Scotland, and the Lord Advocate, voted in favour of a separate Legislature for Scotland. How, then, could this be called an open question? The absentees included the Prime Minister, the Secretary for War, and Mr. Marjoribanks; and it was fair to presume that, as all the Ministers who were present voted for the Resolution, 507 those who were not present were not in favour of it. The Government, as a Government, had delivered no opinion whatever; but individual Members had spoken, some in one direction and some in another. Then, what did they know of the opinions of prominent Members of the Government on the question? The noble Earl the Foreign Secretary exercised great influence in Scotland; and their Lordships would perhaps like to hear some of the statements made in speeches of the noble Earl for the last year or two. On November 22, 1889, at Glasgow, the noble Earl said he was in principle in favour of Scotch Home Rule, and he told the audience they must consider exactly what they wanted; he added that he believed the first step was to get Private Bills attended to in Edinburgh, and then, after that, it would be time enough to settle the question with regard to Public Bills. He continued—What you ask is a local Parliament for Scotland as for Ireland; that means a local Parliament for England, which England does not want, and which, in its present mood, England is determined not to have. You have to overbear the solid reluctance of 500 English Members on whom you wish to confer a local Parliament which they do not want.And he concluded by saying he believed the principle to be universally sound, and that it was a matter of national option and a question of what they wished. But from beginning to end the noble Earl did not say whether he was in favour of setting up this Home Rule Parliament; he said he was in favour of the principle; but as to practice that was quite a different thing. The effect of the speech was to throw as much cold water as possible on the claims of the Scotch Home Rule movement; that was the opinion of the Scotch Home Rulers themselves. At a subsequent meeting the noble Earl spoke very much in the same sort of way. On the 2nd April, 1890, he said that Scotch Home Rule was a question of great importance which did not meet with an altogether unanimous response from the Liberal Party, and he thought that if it was adopted by the Liberal Party it would become a question of extraordinary significance. Anyone could have said the same thing without enlightening the audience very much. What they wanted to know was whether the Liberal Party were going to adopt it and carry it out as soon as they got 508 the opportunity? On May 13, 1892, the noble Earl threw as much cold water as he could on a Home Rule Bill of Mr. Hunter's. He said—I respect very much the effort made by Dr. Hunter to formulate a deliberate proposal for a Scottish Parliament. I think the more discussion that question receives the better; but I will say, in all seriousness, I have very grave doubts as to whether the proposition for a Scotch Home Rule Parliament is best carried out by making the Scotch Members of the House of Commons your Representatives.He said, further—If you want to have a local Legislature for Scotland, you will have to draw a distinction between the persons you want for Imperial Representatives and those you want for local purposes. I have not always been supposed to see my way very clearly about Scotch Home Rule, for I see the difficulties in the case.He agreed entirely with the noble Earl in what he had said; he "saw the difficulties in the case"; but he wished to point out that the difficulties were now less insuperable than they were at that time. There were then 500 English Representatives in the way; but the Government had now, as they were never tired of telling them, a majority in the House of Commons; and it was by dint of that majority that it was doing its best to force Home Rule for Ireland down the throats of a very large minority; and the difficulty was not the same practical difficulty that it was three or four years ago. The noble Earl had thrown as much cold water as he could on the question; but was he going to vote for Scotch Home Rule or against it? What were the Government going to do, and what were their supporters going to do? [A laugh.] The noble Earl laughed, but not long ago a piteous appeal was made to the Government that they should introduce a moderate measure which moderate men could vote for. He believed that some noble Lords on that side of the House would be prepared to vote for any measure of Irish or of Scotch Home Rule which the present Government might lay before them; but what he desired to know was whether the Government was in favour of such a measure for Scotland? What he was afraid of was that some morning they might hear, as they heard with regard to Scotch Disestablishment, when it suited the purposes of the Government, that Scotland had spoken, and that Home Rule would be granted to her. Had the 509 Government a policy upon this question, and, if so, would they declare it? If they were opposed to Home Rule for Scotland, he, and others who thought as he did, would support them; if they were in favour of Home Rule for Scotland, let them say so, and the country would then understand their position. These shifts were adopted by the Government because they could not afford to say "No" to any section of their supporters. They were dependent on many sections, and if any one of those sections should fall off from their allegiance their position as a Government would be immediately placed in danger. That, however, did not afford them any excuse, nor would it prove of any advantage to them in the long run. The policy of concealment which had been practised with respect to Ireland, which was being carried out in regard to Scotland, would deceive hardly anyone, and, least of all, anyone in Scotland. He concluded by asking the question which he had placed upon the Paper, whether the Government were in favour of establishing a Home Rule Legislature in Scotland?
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I congratulate myself on one point, and that is that I have never, so far as I am aware, opened my mouth before upon the subject of Scottish Home Rule. If it were otherwise, the noble Earl would doubtless have reminded me of my speeches upon the subject.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
No doubt, and I congratulate the House on being spared having had to listen to quotations. I am not quite sure whether my noble Friend is a Home Ruler in regard to Scotland, and I doubt whether his real object was to bring before the House the subject of Scottish Home Rule—whether he had not rather in his mind the subject of Irish Home Rule. He put a question as to the opinions of the Government on Federalism. Now, Federalism is a very interesting subject. I have seen it discussed in different publications, and there are some people who think that some day or other this country will probably adopt a Federal system; but I am certainly not now prepared in this Assembly to deliver an opinion upon that subject. As to Home Rule for Scotland, I think the noble 510 Earl gave an answer to his own question, because he very naturally reminded the House that Sir George Trevelyan recently stated in the House of Commons that this is an open question, so far as the Government is concerned. In those circumstances, how can he now ask the opinion of the Government on the same subject? An open question means that the Government, as a Government, have not adopted any particular policy. That is the position of the Government in the matter. They have not adopted any particular policy as to Home Rule for Scotland, and I am not prepared to give my noble Friend any other answer to his question. My noble Friend is not entitled to cross-question me or any other individual Member of the Government as to our particular opinions on any subject. He has a right to ask, no doubt, whether a particular policy has been adopted by Her Majesty's Government; but the adoption of a policy by a Government is a different thing from the opinions held by its Members as individuals. In all Governments individual members have particular opinions; but when a Government has adopted a policy, that is an act of great significance and entailing great responsibility. It is perfectly true that the question of Scotch Home Rule has attained a position of importance to all who take an interest in these matters. On the introduction of the Bill in the House of Commons no less than 40 Scotch Members voted in favour of it. That is an important fact; but when a question which has not been adopted by Government is under public discussion, opinions may be held by individuals which they are perfectly entitled to entertain, but which they are not called upon forthwith to express, nor to say whether the Government would, in their opinion go in this or that direction in the event of a Resolution being at some time or other proposed. Does my noble Friend—does any reasonable man think that the present Government have not quite enough in hand now without proposing Home Rule for Scotland? Does he think that any Government would burden itself with such a question, which, when it does arise, may be dealt with in this or in that way—I am not concerned to say how, and which may be affected considerably by what may take place as regards Home Rule in Ireland? This may be a ques- 511 tion of the future, and I say nothing whatever one way or other upon it; but I answer my noble Friend's question plainly and distinctly—that Her Majesty's Government, as a Government, is not prepared to give any opinion as to the creation of a separate Parliament or Legislature in Scotland.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
My Lords, I think it must be obvious to the House that the question and answer which we have just heard open up the whole of our political situation. There is nothing to which you may not have access through the door of the speeches which have been delivered, and I, for one, am very glad this question has been raised, for the time has, in my opinion, arrived when this House can no longer maintain that attitude of passive and dignified reserve which it is usually our proper attitude to assume until measures passed by the other House come up for our assent. We are all aware that a new duty has been cast upon us. We hear by public rumour, which we may assume to be authentic, that the other House of Parliament has been successfully gagged. It is, therefore, the more important that the House of Lords should not be gagged. I do my noble Friends opposite the credit to believe that even if they had a real majority they would not venture to propose such a measure as we are discussing; but as we are not gagged it is our duty to take an immediate and earnest part in discussing those subjects which will now be precluded in the other House of Parliament. It is our duty to take our part in educating the people of this country upon the immense issues at stake, because my own impression is that even now the constituencies, although they are gradually opening their eyes, are still, to a large extent, almost entirely ignorant of the tremendous issues which are at stake. A great many people in this country think—and this I derive from personal observation and experience—that it is a mere question of setting up a new Municipality in Ireland or Scotland; and I think it is our duty to take part in discussions which show that the life, liberty, and property of every subject of the Queen is at stake upon this question. I rejoice that my noble Friend, in asking the question he has now put to the noble Earl opposite, has begun Debates which 512 I trust will not close until this matter has been, at least for a time, disposed of. It may, of course, be said that there are difficulties in the way of our discussing this great question. It is not according to the Rules of the House to discuss a Bill which is under debate in the other House of Parliament. But we have ample access to the question before us, both as regards Ireland and as regards Scotland. We know the Bill of 1886. That is an historical document. We have as free right to discuss the Bill of 1886 as we have to discuss any other measure which has been proposed in any former Parliament.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Earl of ROSEBERY)
On a question of Home Rule for Scotland?
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
On anything. What I want to put before the House is this: that we have a full right to discuss, and full access to, the whole principles involved in the question of Home Rule in the Bill of 1886, which is before us as a historical document.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
And we have also access to all the Debates of former Parliaments. There is no breach of Privilege in quoting any speech made in the other House of Parliament upon that Bill. We have, furthermore, an official knowledge from the Queen's Speech that there is a proposal by the Government before Parliament for the better government of Ireland; and we have a right to ask the Government what are the principles involved in that proposal for the better government of Ireland? The Government have been asked by my noble Friend their opinions upon this question as regards Scotland. Their answer was that they have no opinions. That is their position on a great many other questions. They are, in fact, afraid on many questions to express an opinion, for they are dependent upon the chance majorities which they may collect from various sects and factions and Parties in the House of Commons, and they dare not risk offending any one of them. Now, the first thing we ought to impress upon the people of this country is, that this is not a time when the present Government can safely deal with the great issues involved in this question 513 that is before Parliament. On this point we have the opinion of the Prime Minister himself, expressed with great clearness in several passages which have been frequently quoted—That no Government could safely deal with that question unless it was in possession of a clear majority in the House of Commons.No doubt, when those declarations of the Prime Minister were lately quoted by the noble Duke who is the Leader in this House of the Liberal Unionist Party a statement by Mr. Gladstone's secretary was published in the newspapers denying the accuracy of the quotations; but I am now prepared to maintain that those quotations were substantially accurate. As I have myself, on more than one occasion, quoted these passages on public platforms, and as I will not incur an accusation of having quoted anybody unfairly, I wish to read to the House the words used by Mr. Gladstone in 1885, of which I have an authorised report. These are The Political Speeches of Mr. Gladstone, Authorised Edition, delivered in November, 1885. In his famous speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman at the Albert Hall, Edinburgh, on November 9, 1885, not once only, but four times, he reiterates and impresses upon the people of Scotland that this subject could not be dealt with, with even tolerable safety, unless by a Party which commanded a large majority in the House of Commons. The words are these—But, quite apart from the names of Whig and Tory, this one thing I will say, and will endeavour to impress, and it is this: that it will be a vital danger to the country if at the time that the demand of Ireland for large powers of self-government is to be dealt with—it will be a vital danger to the Empire if there is not in Parliament ready to deal with that subject, ready to influence the proceedings upon that subject, a Party totally independent of the Irish vote. I will now suppose, gentlemen, for argument's sake—I will suppose it possible that the Liberal Party might be returned to the coming Parliament—this is rather a staggering supposition, I beg you to indulge me for an instant—might be returned to the coming Parliament in a minority, but in a minority which might become a majority by the aid of the Irish vote. And I will suppose that, owing to some cause, the present Government had disappeared, and that the Liberal Party was called upon to deal with this great Constitutional question of the government of Ireland, in a position where it was only a minority dependent upon the Irish vote for converting it into a majority. Now, gentlemen, I tell you seriously and solemnly that, although I believe the -Liberal Party itself to be honourable, patriotic, 514 sound, and trustworthy, yet in such a position as that it would not be trustworthy. In such a position as that it would not be safe for it to enter upon the consideration of the principles of a measure with respect to which at every step of its progress it would be in the power of a Party coming from Ireland to say—'Unless you do this, and unless you do that, we turn you out to-morrow.'Is not that exactly what we see taking place at this moment? But Mr. Gladstone was not satisfied with that. He generally reiterates a good deal in his speeches; and he returned to the subject, for on the same occasion he went on to say—Let me remind you, before I close these remarks, that this is a matter of the highest importance. We have had our little arguments, and. controversies, and anticipations, and desires about one question and another question. These are all very well in their way and at their time; but rely upon it that if such a matter comes forward at the outset of the proceedings of the new Parliament as I have described—namely, a demand made constitutionally by the vast majority of the Representatives of Ireland for the concession of large local powers of self-government, accompanied with an admission that the unity of the Empire is not to be impaired—the magnitude of that subject and its character will sweep into the shade for the moment all those subjects of ordinary legislation on which I, or on which others, have addressed you, and the satisfactory settlement of that subject which goes down to the very roots and foundations of our whole civil and political Constitution will become the first duty of the Parliament. A mistake in it, as I have shown you, would be of the most vital consequence. In order to avoid a mistake, in order to have, humanly speaking, every rational certitude of an upright treatment and of a satisfactory issue, it is absolutely necessary that there should be in the Parliament a Party able to deal with that question, and able to deal with the promoters of that question, in a liberal and in a kindly spirit, but with a perfect independence of them, so as to maintain every dictate of the principle that maintains the unity of the Empire. That is a matter of absolute necessity. That necessity can only be met, as I think I have shown, by the return of a great and a united Liberal majority to Parliament. Observe, gentlemen, I am not now pressing upon you that which is our assertion alone. It is not our assertion alone; it is the admission of the opposite Party that they do not look for a majority of the House of Commons, but they look for such a minority as may become a majority by the aid of Mr. Parnell, and unhesitatingly I say, if that be so, you cannot safely be entrusted with the duty of dealing with this great subject. I do not mean to say that, under the check and watch of a Liberal majority, that might not be possible; but nothing can make that dealing safe except the presence of a majority, which can only be a Liberal majority, and which shall be sufficient to maintain the independence of the House of Commons as a whole in dealing with this great subject.515 Where is the independence of the House of Commons now? By a majority, as we are told, composed entirely of Irish Members, though much less in number than the body of Irish Members, in the face of a large and decisive majority of British Members, it is being attempted to force upon the country a measure of Home Rule for Ireland during the present Session, and that large and decisive majority of British Members is to be silenced. That is a very serious state of things, and I think it is one which we ought to impress upon the attention of the people of this country. Mr. Gladstone says this question "goes down to the roots of our civil and political Constitution." Those, my Lords, are very large words, and we know that they are perfectly true. We know the plan of Home Rule for Ireland, and I imagine that it would involve precisely the same principle as applied to Scotland. I do not see where they can make a difference. We have not the old religious animosities in our country, or the old civil factions which make the experiment doubly dangerous in Ireland; and, therefore, I suppose we may assume that all those who are willing to vote for Home Rule in Scotland are willing to proceed on the principles which we find in the Bill of 1886. We know that that plan will involve what Mr. Gladstone called "the breaking up of the Imperial power." That we know. We also know that the civil liberties of the minority of the Irish people are to be sold for a sum of money. A tribute is to be exacted from Ireland. The Irish people are not to be trusted—the "union of hearts" is not so perfect as that. The Irish Parliament is not to be trusted with the Votes which may be necessary to discharge its duty to the Empire; they are to be imposed as a tribute, and for that tribute the lives, liberties, and property of the loyal minority of Irishmen are to be placed at the absolute disposal of the majority, which has so long been hostile. That is what we know of the principles of Home Rule. Then we know, also, if we go to the Bill of 1886, that there will be no guarantees for the liberties of the minority such as are provided in the American Constitution. We do not, as a House of Parliament, know the details of the present Bill; but though we know nothing of them as a House of Parlia- 516 ment, as individuals we know a good deal. There is a bogus pretence—a mere imposture—of importing into this plan for Ireland some of the securities of the American Constitution. And none know better than the Members of Her Majesty's Government that that supposed insertion is a pure imposture. This plan contains none of the securities which are given in the Constitution of the United States. All that we know from the Bill of 1886. Then, my Lords, we know further that, considering the state of Ireland, these tremendous powers given to a majority are not unlikely to result in civil war—not at all unlikely. I, for one, hold the opinion strongly—I will not say what I think it is the duty of the minority in Ireland or of the people of Ulster to do, but this I do say—that we have no right to demand the allegiance of those whose liberties we cease to defend. In my opinion, allegiance and protection are absolutely conjoined. From those whom you do not protect, over whom you do not keep the ægis of the Imperial power, you have no right to demand obedience. Then, is there no danger of civil war? My noble Friend (the Earl of Camperdown) referred to a good many speeches of the noble Earl opposite who is now at the head of the Foreign Office. Well, I remember one in particular. The noble Earl is very fond of jokes, and some of his jokes are very good—some of them are highly instructive; but I was very much struck with one which the noble Earl made shortly before the General Election—in fact, when he was on the stump for his friends at Kelso.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
He denied with some ridicule the idea that the Ulster people were in any danger; and the point of his argument was illustrated by a joke. He told his audience the story (it is not a new one, and many of your Lordships have, no doubt, heard it before) of the sailor and the Cossack in. the Crimea. He said—You cannot sell a third of the population into slavery to the other two-thirds. It would be like the sailor who captured the Cossack in the Crimea, and made him a prisoner; but when his officer told him to bring the Cossack along, he said, 'Please, sir, I can't bring him along; he won't let me.'517 And the noble Earl said that, in like manner, it was impossible for the people of Ulster to be coerced by the rest of Ireland, because they would not allow it. That was a very ingenious and very good illustration, and I believe it is exactly what will happen—that the prisoner will not come: he will not obey his captor. That, my Lords, is the danger—a danger not remote—of civil war and contest in Ireland. I quite agree with the noble Earl. [The Earl of ROSEBERY dissented.] The noble Earl shakes his head; but those are his words, and that is the only interpretation I can put upon them. The whole point of them is that physical force should be resorted to, and that that is the justification for not obeying the commanding officer. If that is not the interpretation, I do not know what it can be. I admit that would not be so in Scotland. But as regards Ireland, in whose hands are you placing these tremendous powers over the minority? I happened to be at Paisley the other day at a public meeting, and I thought it worth while to look back at a speech which I knew the noble Earl had made some few years ago at the same place, in 1885, when it was suggested by the Conservative Party that this was a mania which had taken possession of Mr. Gladstone, and that—and this, my Lords, has I think a great deal to do with the matter—he wanted to get before the Tories lest they should give Home Rule to Ireland. I really believe that has a great deal to do with it. These were the words of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, speaking at Paisley in October, 1885—We know the friendly feelings of Mr. Parnell towards this country. If I were an elector, my whole object would be to sink all minor differences and take care that that alliance"—one between the Tories and the Irish—"should be fruitless—an alliance which is not merely striking a mortal blow at political principle, but involves a danger to the Empire itself.And that is our doctrine now. That is exactly what we think. The duty which the noble Earl impressed upon the electors of Paisley was to take care that the supposed alliance between the Tory Party and the Parnellite Party should have no effect. We think it our duty now to take the same care that the alliance between the Irish Nationalist 518 Party and what is called the Liberal Party shall have no effect. And the noble Earl went on to explain that that supposed allianceWas not merely striking a mortal blow at political principle, but involved a danger to the Empire itself.This, my Lords, is our language now in showing this danger—a danger which at a later period the noble Earl has taken his share in describing as no danger at all. There was danger he said in 1885, when there was a supposed alliance between the Conservative Party and the Parnellites; but there is none when the alliance is with himself. That is the logic of the noble Earl. But he goes on further to explain why there is one great and essential difference between Ireland and the Colonies upon the question of Home Rule. He said—The difference is this—that the Colonies are loyal, and Ireland, I greatly fear, is not loyal. I wish I could believe that it was loyal, but I cannot.[The Earl of ROSEBERY: Hear, hear!] I am very glad to hear the noble Earl cheer, and that he still retains the sentiments which he uttered to the people of Paisley, when he said he "wished he could believe that Ireland was loyal, but he could not." Then we have the confession of the noble Earl that the Government with which he is connected is, perhaps reluctantly, but none the less certainly, pressed by his colleagues and by the necessities of his political position into handing over to a Party whom he has described as disloyal the lives, liberties, and property of a large minority of the Irish people. Well, then, my Lords, the answer of my noble Friend the Lord President has been such as he might have been expected to give. My noble Friend the Earl of Camperdown did not, I suppose, think that the Government would confess to any policy on the subject of Scottish Home Rule. The noble Earl's answer was like all the answers which he gives in this House—temperate, candid, and rational; but that is not the temper or spirit of those elsewhere with whom the noble Earl is acting—they are not temperate, they are not candid, and they are not rational. Their policy from the beginning has been ambiguity and concealment—concealment from the people of everything that they ought to have 519 been told. We have in our hands a proposal going, as you say yourselves, to the roots of the whole civil and political Constitution. You drew up a Bill in the course of some six weeks—in itself a monstrous assumption, considering that what was involved was nothing short of the British Constitution—and when that was rejected by an indignant Parliament you said—"We will start anew." You shut up your book, and from that moment nothing could induce any Member of the Government to disclose what was in their minds. Three years ago, in discussing the intentions of the Government at a large meeting in Manchester, I said that the Government plan was pretty well known, in outline, at least, from the Bill of 1886; and the answer of the noble Marquess opposite was that it was impossible for anybody to know anything about their intentions. That is exactly what I say. Those who have time to follow the Debates in Parliament, the Party speeches, and the clauses of Bills, can arrive at a very good idea of those intentions; but the mass of the people were kept in complete and absolute ignorance. It reminds me of a definition which the present Prime Minister once gave of one of the many Parties with which he has been connected in the course of his political life. I have no great admiration for the man who, having left one Party and joined another, devotes his energies to the vituperation of those with whom many of his best years have been spent. It is never a fair spirit, and it generally ends in injustice. But the Prime Minister ventured on a definition of the Conservative Party as distinguished from the Liberal Party, and he said—The principle of the Conservative Party is distrust of the people qualified by fear. The principle of the Liberal Party" ("of which I am now the Leader," he might have added) "is confidence in the people qualified by prudence.All along, in relation to this Home Rule Question, the policy of the Prime Minister would have been more properly described as "contempt of the people qualified by cunning." Deliberate and persistent concealment of everything the people ought to have been told has been the policy of the Government. My noble Friend seems to object to that—
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
I am quite aware that I am speaking this Session for the first time in a tone of political opposition to which this House is not accustomed. But the time has come to speak out. We are bound to speak our minds, to speak the truth, and we are in a position to do it. That is the position. The people have hitherto been kept in complete ignorance of the principles involved in the Government plan. And now, with regard to Scotland, I wish to add a few words. [The Earl of ROSEBERY: Hear, hear!] I hope the noble Earl will not think that, because I have spoken of Home Rule in general, I do not think of it as regards Scotland. I know of no country in the world of which the history is more in favour of the principle of union than Scotland. Though a small and poor country, it has attained a high place among the nations of the world. It was great in arms; great in literature and art; highly distinguished in science. And yet it sprang from small and poor beginnings, and from no less than four or five separate and well-distinguished nationalities. As late as the time of Bruce and Edward, before Bannockburn, all the early Scottish Kings, in addressing their armies, had to address themselves to four or five different nationalities. Their orders and exhortations to armies were addressed to Scots, to Angles, to French or Normans, and, lastly, to the Gaels or Celtic races. My noble Friend opposite (Lord Playfair) knows their history well. Out of these heterogeneous elements one Central Monarchy and Government was established, and from that moment the prosperity of Scotland began. But Scotland had a specimen of Home Rule for many years in the Hebrides and Western Islands, and theirs was a miserable history of continued anarchy and bloodshed. It was worth remembering that that prevailed until the Union in 1603. No country ever had a more extraordinary experience than Scotland of what is often confounded with Home Rule, but was wholly different—municipal local government. It seems to be a new doctrine or fad with a certain section of the Liberal Party that local government carried to any extent is in itself a cause of great prosperity. There cannot be a greater mistake. No one has a greater regard for Municipal Institutions under 521 the limitation of our Constitution than myself. That is a system under which the life and liberty of all are under the protection of the Central Government. But in Scotland the great burghal Corporations in the Middle Ages were monopolist to the last degree. They had chartered privileges. Nobody could open shops without the leave of the Magistrates. There was not even power to buy and sell except under their regulation. The burghal Corporations were the great monopolists, and the landlords were the Free Traders of that time. Well, what was the result? The result of that dangerous degree of local government was the same in Scotland as in France before the Revolution—an absence of growth in wealth—poverty among the people. Cromwell in 1651 anticipated the Union of 1707. He did all he could to effect a Union in Scotland, and not long afterwards a majority of the burghs voted for an amalgamation with the Parliament of England. They saw that it would increase their prosperity. In 1690 the burghs were so discontented with their position that they appointed a Commission of Inquiry. The moment the Act of Union was passed the prosperity of Scotland began. Why should Scotland undergo the danger and risk of interfering with her present happy condition under the Union? The Imperial Parliament has hitherto been responsive in a lively manner to the desires of the Scottish people expressed through their Representatives. I have no belief whatever that any sensible Scotchman desires to risk the Union; and when the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office threw cold water on the whole scheme, that, in my opinion, was the proper way to treat it. There is a great deal in national sentiment; no one has it stronger than I have. I am proud of Scotland's position as an integral part of the British Empire, and I would never for a moment consent to sacrifice any part of the position of the Scotch Members in the Imperial Parliament for the sake of a base copy and imitation of Home Rule such as that which is clamoured for by a disloyal faction in Ireland, which desires to break up the integrity of the British Empire. My Lords, I only wish to say one word more, and that is about Free Trade and Protection. My noble Friend ridiculed any danger to Free 522 Trade in the proposals of the Government, and he said the reason Mr. Gladstone would not venture to propose any interference with Free Trade was that nine-tenths of the people would be against him. But Mr. Gladstone has distinctly laid it down as his doctrine that the Irish people have a full right to demand full control over the Customs and Excise. He does not put it upon the ground of Imperial right, but he says they have "generously agreed." That is all very well. Mr. Gladstone may have persuaded himself, and noble Lords opposite may have persuaded themselves, that those promises are sincere. But what right, let me ask, have you on the mere strength of your credulity and Party interests, to imperil the integrity of the Empire? My own opinion as regards Ireland is that that peril is a real one. My belief is that one of the main objects of the Irish Members is to secure the power of establishing some form or other of Protection in Ireland. I have thought it right to say a few words upon this occasion in your Lordships' House, because it is the first occasion since we have known the plan of the Government upon which your Lordships have had an opportunity of discussing the principles of Home Rule; and I confess, I think, that the whole question has been treated by the Government in a spirit of extraordinary rashness and levity, which gives us but little confidence in the wisdom of their measures.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Earl of ROSEBERY)
My Lords, I never had a less idea of troubling your Lordships than when I entered the House this afternoon. I was engaged in the Foreign Office till late, and I have been engaged in Foreign Office business since I have been here. I came down partly to listen to an abstract discussion on a topic which is capable of being made full of interest and eloquence; but I little thought that in discussing that very interesting topic we were to be regaled principally with extracts from my own speeches, which, I confess, have not impressed themselves so deeply on my mind as they have on my noble Friend behind (the Earl of Camper-down) and on my noble Friend in front of me (the Duke of 523 Argyll). I do not know what your Lordships' sensations are when people begin to quote from your former speeches. Mine is one of unmixed uneasiness, and it was with a very sensible relief that I heard my noble Friend read out several passages from my speeches, and conclude by saying that he had no fault to find with them. That is a very considerable tribute to pay, and for the life of me I cannot find why they were quoted; but the whole Debate has assumed so desultory an appearance that I, for one, have been completely bewildered ever since my noble Friend inaugurated it. I have of late been very little in this House, and I have consequently heard very few discussions here; but I have been in an assembly of a much more vivacious character, much newer, and without any tradition such as those with which this House is gilded and adorned, and where they have certain elementary Rules of Procedure which I had entirely forgotten that this House had risen superior to. One of those Rules—one which, I suppose, will never be introduced into this House, but which practically preserved my life in the time when I presided in the London County Council—is the limitation of all speeches to a quarter of an hour. The other Rule, which I thought had still some force in deliberative assemblies, I find is relegated to Saturn with other extinct notions. It is that the discussion should have some remote relation to the subject on which it is founded. No one will assert that, valuable and interesting as was the speech, or rather the series of confessions or obiter dicta, with which we have been favoured by the noble and eloquent Duke, that they had any but the very remotest connection with the present subject. The noble Duke says that I am fond of jokes and stories. I declare that in a public speaker I do not think that that is altogether a detestable quality. The noble Duke deals with graver weapons and figures of oratory than I do. I will tell him a story which I hope, if he digs it up from its forgotten grave 10 years hence, he will quote more accurately than he has quoted to-night. President Lincoln was once invited to a wedding feast, and, in virtue of his high position, was asked to take a prominent and honourable seat at the table. The Presi- 524 dent, who also laboured under the fatal imputation of humour, said, "No, thank you; I do not think I will sit down. I will just browse about." And in the course of walking from table to table he managed to get an ample and satisfactory meal. We came down to the House and expected, as usual, that the noble Duke would sit down and enable us to partake, with him, of the rich intellectual feast he always provides; instead of that, he preferred to browse about. Now, my Lords, into what devious paths am I to follow the noble Duke? To begin with, was there ever such a question addressed to a Government before as that addressed to us by the noble Earl to-day? Is this Motion to become a fatal precedent for future deliberations? If so, I can conceive what will happen. Some noble Lord will rise to ask the opinion of Her Majesty's Government about the creed of St. Athanasius. No one will deny that it deals with subjects much more vital and much more important, and on which it is much more imperative to form an opinion, than on the question of Scottish Home Rule. We shall be asked that question, and the noble Duke will get up and deliver a speech, not on the creed of St. Athanasius, but on the state of the British drama, on political economy, on the science of ballooning, and on many other topics which, in the course of his vivacious remarks, he has only to touch to adorn. The foundation of this question is this—that Her Majesty's Government have introduced a measure for Irish Home Rule. Very well; we have not introduced any religious matter; therefore, you may say that the creed of St. Athanasius does not come into point. But we have introduced, or are about to introduce, a Bill—I really do not know which—for dealing with the Welsh Church. Everyone on that ground has a perfect right to come down and ask Her Majesty's Government what is their opinion of the English Church Establishment; and, having done that, to pursue the ordinary method of rhetoric and take up a few pages of the 5,000 speeches that Mr. Gladstone has made in his life, and ask the Government to offer some marginal notes or commentaries upon them. There was an old English pursuit to which this system of debate has some not remote resemblance. It was abolished by Act of Parliament, 525 because it was considered to be wanton, barbarous, and obsolete—it was the practice of bull-baiting. You fastened the bull to a stake—that is, to the Government Bench, and you then set all the dogs you could find to bait him for your amusement. I cannot help thinking that my noble countrymen who have addressed us this evening have adopted this as a solace to their moments which they have not sufficient work to fill up, and they come down and catechise Her Majesty's Government—who have their own work to do, and not much leisure to do it in—on every imaginable topic that may suggest itself to them. That is all very innocent and harmless; but there is a practice which is not innocent or harmless, and that is the practice of coming down to the House and delivering speeches which have no relation to the subject, and of taking out passages from speeches delivered by former friends sand political opponents and asking one's opinion as to these passages, whether they have anything to do with the subject in hand or not. The noble Duke gave us an eloquent description of how it became those who had ceased to be friends, and partisans who had left their Party to be very careful and tender towards their former colleagues. I have sat behind the noble Duke when he filled various Cabinet Offices as one of the Liberal Party; and when I see him sitting perched on the Tory Benches in all the complacency of his political morality, I cannot help thinking how much better a little practice would be than all the pages of preaching with which he has favoured us. The noble Duke ranged over a vast variety of topics. He talked sometimes of the Scotch burgh system, of points of political economy, sometimes of the character of Mr. Gladstone—he spoke more, perhaps, of Mr. Gladstone than upon any other topic—and sometimes of the conduct of the Home Rule Bill by the present Advisers of Her Majesty. What those topics have to do with Scottish Home Rule I do not know. Then the noble Duke touched not only freely on my acts, but he quoted liberally from my speeches. Where did he begin and where did he end? He began with a speech of mine delivered in Paisley in 1885. That speech has been the providence of Her Majesty's present Opposition. It comes up at periods, like the big goose- 526 berry or the frog that is found in a stone; it comes up in a dull season to refresh, the flagging energies of the Conservative Party. I think the noble Duke below the Gangway (the Duke of Devonshire) has referred to it more than once. I have received many letters asking questions on the subject, and I do not doubt that the noble Duke's reference to the speech this evening will induce many other letter-writers to address like inquiries to me. I have explained that speech at great length and on various occasions, and I will send the noble Duke a copy of those speeches, which I have no doubt will furnish him with further food for reflection. But that speech must be taken as a whole, and extracts ought not to be taken out here and there without seeing the real bearing of the whole. The bearing of the speech was this: that it was proper and right to give Ireland all she demanded consistently with the safety of the Empire; and so much was it considered a Home Rule speech in days when Home Rule was not, perhaps, so widely diffused as it is now, that I remember as soon as it was road next morning I received an invitation, which I declined, to attend a Home Rule soirée in the neighbouring City of Glasgow. The noble Duke read a passage from that speech referring to the alliance of the Tory Party and the Parnellites, which he said I blamed. I did blame the alliance, and I will tell you why. I do not care to dig up these old bones; but if the noble Duke digs them up, I shall not be failing on my part to share the plunder. We fear that alliance because we had been through a terrible crisis in the government of Ireland. No one can forget that horrible event of the 6th May, 1882, which must be branded on the memory of every noble Lord here; and it was necessary, in view of the symptoms of disloyalty of the Irish people, that Her Majesty's Government should adopt some measure of repression in order to vindicate, at any rate, the just susceptibilities of the English people in favour of law and order. Her Majesty's Government at that time were constantly taunted, not with their tendency to Home Rule, but with the fact that they had not kept a sufficiently tight hand upon Ireland during that period, that the Coercion Bill was not sufficiently severe. Well, on some other question, I forget 527 whether it was Egypt or beer or something else, but the Government went out, and it was beaten by that very coalition of the Tory Party and the Irish Party, which, in other quarters, the noble Duke regards with so much disfavour. What did we see? The noble Marquess opposite came down to the House to make his Ministerial declaration. But there was one part of the declaration which he did not make; he left it to the late Lord Carnarvon; and the late Lord Carnarvon, with a penitential aspect which I shall never forget, announced that the policy of repression was over in Ireland; that Her Majesty's Advisers intended to inaugurate something like a new era in Ireland—that which we hope to be able to inaugurate now. What happened? I was not in the House of Commons, but we read next morning what passed in the House of Commons on that occasion, when the Secretary for India, the foremost man on the Government Bench at that time, took occasion to flout the Government of my noble Friend with regard to one portion of the Programme of that Government which was most earnestly reprobated by friend and foe. If the words were to be said over again, I should not hesitate to say that I distrust that alliance equally now. The noble Duke quoted another passage in which I said that Ireland, I feared, was not loyal. I said in 1885 that the disloyalty of Ireland was a matter of notoriety. It had followed a long system of repression, and some of the Irish Leaders were going about and praying for the success of any enemy that might defeat the arms of Great Britain. Since that time a great Party has deliberately allied itself with the hopes and aspirations of Ireland so far as they can be consistently maintained with Imperial unity. You may think that they cannot consistently be so maintained; that is a point on which we may agree to differ; but do you consider that no change has been effected in Ireland by the six or seven years of steady co-operation between the Liberal Party and the Irish Party there? Do you believe that the Irish are now in the same frame of mind as they were in September, 1885, when I made that speech? If the noble Duke believes that to be the case, then I can only say that he must have been even more secluded in his Highland fastnesses 528 than I thought he really was. I am very loth to detain your Lordships a moment longer; but, as a matter of fact, this Debate has taken less the form of a discussion on Scottish Home Rule than of a personal impeachment of myself. That impeachment I am quite prepared to sustain; but, having made a very few speeches on this subject during the last few years, I do honestly say that I should have liked a little more opportunity for preparation than has been afforded to me, and I think the noble Duke ought to have given some indication, some warning to the person he was going to attack, in order that his adversary should have had the opportunity of furbishing up his ancient extracts. The Debate, however, has taken this form, and I see nothing to reproach myself with, or to particularly regret, in the extracts that have been read out to your Lordships. One thing is certain: that some of us are Home Rulers on one ground and some on another. My noble Friend on the Back Bench wishes to know whether I am a Federal Home Ruler. That is a question rather between me and my conscience than one of any practical utility to this Chamber. I am in favour of closer Federal relations between the Colonies and the Mother Country, and my noble Friend is quite free to make what deduction he pleases from that fact. At the same time, he very truly says that I have exercised a discouraging influence on the course of Scottish Home Rule. This view is also shared by those excellent and amiable people on whom my noble Friend did not lavish too much eulogy—the Scottish Home Rulers themselves—because they never hold a meeting without passing a vote of censure on the humble individual who now addresses you. But surely Home Rule is not so limited an expression that it must mean the same thing for Scotland as for Ireland. Are all the people who form the Scottish Home Rule Association, of which the noble Marquess is President, Home Rulers of one pattern, with one idea? Are we to understand that Home Rule for Scotland is to imply the revival of her ancient Parliament, as I think some of the principal Scottish Home Rulers say; that we are to have one Chamber, with three or four Orders sitting in it, with the Lords of the Articles and all the ancient apparatus of 529 that venerable Legislature? Or are we to understand that under the guise of Scottish Home Rule there is to be some system by which local affairs and Private Bill legislation may be better attended to in Edinburgh or Glasgow, or her County Councils federalised in some sort of Central. Council which would enable her business to be transacted in Scotland in a way in which it certainly never is at Westminster? I am not throwing this out as my opinion; I am only pointing out that there may be a form of Scottish Home Rule which many even on the Conservative Benches may be able to vote for, and which may be consistent with the austerest and strictest views of the integrity of the Empire. More than that I am not prepared to say at this juncture. I am not empowered by Her Majesty's Government to say even that much. I have not the gift of enthusiasm possessed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, which carries him a great deal further than that, and I am not responsible for all his opinions on abstract questions any more than he is responsible for mine. But if you ask him a question like that which has been asked of the Lord President of the Council I think he will only be able to reply that the Government have formulated no policy with regard to Home Rule in Scotland; and by that declaration they intend to abide. I do not understand that there is any complaint of there being a deficiency of Bills presented to Parliament by the Government. I am not aware that the Speech from the Throne, which they recommended the Queen to deliver, was a speech particularly meagre in subjects of legislation. I am not aware that there is any vacuum that demands to be filled in the legislative arrangements of the other Chamber, and therefore I confess that it is with dismay, almost with stupor, that I view the prospect before us not merely of being catechised on the subjects introduced in the Queen's Speech, but on all the subjects which the Opposition think that we might, should, or ought to have introduced into it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I must congratulate the noble Lord on having wandered through a very difficult and thorny country, and on having touched on a great many burning topics, without having committed the mistake of confiding to us on any 530 subject the opinions that he really entertains. His views with respect to the integrity of the Empire are evidently of an elasticity which will give every opportunity for any subsequent evolution that may be necessary. His views also with respect to the unity of the Cabinet have the same happy quality. I should not have risen, however, to answer him on a matter which does not specially concern me, as I have not the honour to be a Scotchman, if he had not made some allusions in the course of his speech to the digging up of old bones and to the controversies of 1885, with regard to which I feel bound to correct some historical errors which he made. He defends himself for having deprecated an alliance between the Tories and the Parnellites on the ground that there was such an alliance in that year. That was a statement of the Prime Minister, like thousands of other statements he so constantly throws about and has repeated, which is entirely and absolutely without foundation. I defy anybody to produce anything approaching to proof of it. It is perfectly true that the forces of Mr. Parnell and our forces were in the same Lobby on the night the Government were turned out. We voted on a fiscal question on which we felt strongly—namely, the question of the relief of land from local taxation, and the Irish Party thought fit to support us. I have no doubt they had good reasons for it, but that is not an alliance between the Conservatives and the Parnellites. It is not the kind of alliance which now exists between the Irish Party and the Liberal Party. We did not bring in measures at the bidding of the Irish Party, and we did not hold ourselves bound to modify them at the will of the Irish Party. We did not hold out a bribe to the Irish Party, and we did not depend on the Irish Party for every step we took in carrying through the measures that we recommended to Parliament. And, again, I demur strongly to the statement that we reversed the policy of the previous Government in respect to the Crimes Act. The noble Earl has thought it convenient to ignore entirely the very peculiar state of affairs in Parliament at that time. The Government had resigned, but no Dissolution was possible before the Reform Bill was passed, and we had to go on for six 531 months, during which we could not obtain a majority of the House of Commons or appeal to the country to give us that majority at the poll. We were utterly without power to pass anything through the House of Commons, and when called upon to take Office at the beginning of July we had the necessary financial business of the country to carry through. We knew that to suppose that we could produce a Crimes Bill and pass it before the Prorogation was simply a chimera. We knew that all we should do if we attempted it would be to destroy our power for carrying on the Government for those six months, which the very exceptional circumstances forced us to carry on in the position of a minority. But nothing that I ever said—nothing Lord Carnarvon ever said—ever renounced the policy of the repression of crime in the disturbed parts of Ireland. With regard to the noble Earl (Earl Spencer), I feel bound to say—speaking of the observations made with respect to his policy—that if we had had any idea at that time that he was going to renounce the opinions of a lifetime our enthusiasm would have been much less pronounced. I wished to make that explanation, but I shall not detain your Lordships upon this subject. I should like to point out that the consideration which has been given to two questions of Home Rule at the same time is not so anomalous as some speakers have tried to represent. We wish to know at what point are we in the genesis of the project for Scotch Home Rule. The noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley) informs us that he has not made up his mind, and that he does not intend to tell us what he thinks about Scotch Home Rule. Well, that represents, I suppose, the sort of speech which he might have made with respect to Irish Home Rule in 1885. But we have now learned by sore experience that the disclaimer of future intentions on the part of Members of the Government is no proof of the state of mind of the most influential Member of the Government on the subject. We know that there is a certain process, a succession of phenomena in the evolution of opinions as they are displayed by the head of the Government. We know that Irish Home Rule some 20 years ago was less—much loss—in his 532 view than Scotch Home Rule is now. No one could express his hatred of it or his contempt for it more strongly than Mr. Gladstone. He treated it with ridicule, much as the noble Earl has treated Scotch Home Rule. That is the first stage; but we have passed that stage with regard to Scotch Home Rule, and we are now to speak of it with respect. The next stage is that the Prime Minister makes up his mind to advocate Home Rule; but he keeps his secrets so carefully from all his colleagues that they go about the country denouncing it in the most unmeasured terms. I need not remind your Lordships how Home Rule was spoken of in 1885 by Sir W. Harcourt, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer—Mr. Gladstone's right-hand man, who had a right, if anyone had, to know the secret counsels of that mind—and yet within, I think, three weeks or a month before the great change, the announcement of the great betrayal, there was Sir W. Harcourt denouncing the Tory Party and expressing the hope that they might be "allowed to stew in their Parnellite juice." I do not know whether we have passed that stage yet in respect to Scotch Home Rule. I rather think we have, for although Sir G. Trevelyan speaks of it with enthusiasm, the noble Earl—who speaks of Sir G. Trevelyan. with scant respect—avoids committing himself to any metaphors of that violent description into which Sir W. Harcourt plunged, and is more careful. Knowing that the noble Earl is a literary man, I should not expect him to use the figure: "stewing in Parnellite juice"; it would never occur to him to use that figure of speech in this House. Then we go on to another stage. The Ministry were turned out on the Home Rule Bill, and when they were taunted with its provisions the reply was that the Bill was dead and buried—there was an end of it; and during six or seven years, until February last, they succeeded in concealing with absolute and complete, success every hint of the species of measure they intended to introduce. If they had not liked to do it in Opposition, one would have thought they would have given some hint when they came into Office. No so. Until the Bill was fairly laid before the House of Commons, no one had a conception of what its clauses were going to be. Even then we 533 did not know them. The process of insidious concealment was not over then. The most important, as we know now, of the clauses—that portion relating to the presence of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament and the clauses relating to the financial arrangements between the two countries—the two vital questions—were they, when the Bill was at last presented, confided to the world? Not a bit of it. Before long the financial proposals were formally withdrawn, and it was intimated pretty clearly that the Government were not unpersuadable as to the presence of the Irish Members in the House of Commons, and they succeeded in pushing the policy of concealment so far that they kept back their intentions—their definitive intentions—in respect to these two vital clauses of their Home Rule Bill until they had reached the point at which they ventured to demand that the gag should be placed on the House of Commons. They deliberately held those matters back until their guillotine was ready; they have held them back until they were able to say to Englishmen and Irishmen alike—"You shall pass this measure, which vitally concerns the institutions of the country, as no other measure ever concerned them before, without having the power to amend or discuss them, and without being able to enlighten the public as to their real bearing and effect." This has been the subtle, insidious policy which has been pursued from the first moment. Their dread was that the disclosure of their long-meditated scheme would arouse public discussion—an ordeal to which they dared not expose themselves—and would even overcome the apathy shown by many of the English constituencies. Every art, therefore, has been exhausted, and every Parliamentary tradition violated, in order that the true situation should not be presented to the country; that the educating process should not go on, and the constituencies be enlightened as to the real nature of the revolution which they are attempting. Now, my Lords, I say the revelation of this sinister process throws a great light on what is passing with respect to Scotch Home Rule, and absolutely justifies the noble Lord in bringing this matter before the House. It is of the most vital importance to us, and to Scotchmen still more, that we should know where we 534 are, and that, if possible, we should have revealed to us what is passing in that all-powerful mind from which these sudden decrees unexpectedly issue. It is of vital importance that we should be able before it is too late—before great damage and injury has been done by proposals of this revolutionary kind—to draw the attention of the constituencies and of the whole country to the dangerous path along which they are invited to go. I cannot say that we have been very successful in obtaining any enlightenment as to the state of opinion of Her Majesty's Government, and I have no doubt the noble Earl is perfectly accurate when he says that he knows nothing about it.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I hope the noble Marquess will not put words in my mouth. I did not say I knew nothing about it. What I said was that with regard to Scottish Home Rule the Government had no policy to announce; that they had not undertaken to propose Home Rule for Scotland. I said nothing whatever about my own opinion on the subject. If the noble Marquess wishes to know, I have an opinion on the subject, but I do not think it necessary to tell it him.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I did not say that the noble Earl knows nothing about the subject, but that I understood him to say he knew nothing about the opinion of the head of the Government, which is the important point; and I think it is possible he will know little about it until the project is launched to the world. I can only end my speech as I began, by complimenting the noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery) on the extraordinary success with which he has concealed his opinions. I have no doubt he has learned that among other arts of diplomacy which he practises so well. If I were with noble Lords opposite—if I were in the place of my noble Friend (the Earl of Camperdown)—I should not be satisfied with being put off with protests of this kind. The matter ought not to be allowed to sleep. Parliament and the electors of the country, particularly of Scotland, ought to have their attention constantly directed to the object that may be in view, or else some day we shall have started upon us that scheme of Federation, as yet but dimly shadowed, which, in the words of Canning, will 535 restore the Heptarchy and will degrade England from her position in the world.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord HERSCHELL)
My Lords, I do not propose to prolong this discussion, because I think the observations of the noble Marquess show the inconvenience of a Debate of this sort with regard to proposals said to have been made in another place. From the language the noble Marquess has used, I cannot but think he must be really inaccurate in his statement of the proposals which have been adopted in the other House. The Resolution which has been adopted will permit of as lengthened discussion as has ever taken place with regard to the same number of clauses in any Bill. The noble Marquess said that in 1885 his Government did not renew the Coercion Bill because of the difficulty with which they were confronted in not having a majority.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I denied that we had renounced the policy of taking measures for the repression of crime if the necessity for it should arise.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I recollect the announcement made by Sir Michael Hicks-Beach on the part of the Government, and I propose, with your Lordships' permission, to read it. He said—Parliament has granted to Ireland the freedom of Parliamentary election by the Ballot and extension of the franchise; and it is absolutely inconsistent with that complete political freedom to continue permanently the old-fashioned government of Ireland by a system of coercion.That was a declaration of a new policy. I cannot help thinking that that change was resolved upon and was known before the critical vote to which the noble Marquess alluded. I have a lively recollection of the shouts of triumph that were heard when the numbers were declared; and among the most prominent cries which arose was that of "No more coercion."
§ [The subject then dropped.]