HL Deb 05 September 1893 vol 17 cc2-91

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


My Lords, I have frequently had to ask the indulgence of your Lordships, but I am quite sure that I have never addressed you before when I had more cause to ask for your kindness. The subject of the government of Ireland excites stormy feeling; it arouses great and bitter controversy. I shall endeavour to-night to avoid all personal attack, and, if possible, not to raise any irritating subjects. One thing I know that we are all agreed upon, and that is the vast importance of the subject, not only to Ireland, but to the Empire at large. I have, therefore, a task of unusual difficulty in endeavouring to explain to your Lordships the Bill which Her Majesty's Government have introduced to Parliament, and to state the reasons why they have thought it necessary to introduce that measure. I claim credit for the honest motives and intentions of those who support this Bill, in the same way that I attribute the same motives to those who oppose it. I venture to call your Lordships' attention to the history of Ireland since the Union. I shall not attempt to go at length and in great detail into that history, but it is necessary to refer to it briefly, in order that we may see the ground on which we stand and the difficulties which beset Ireland and which have made it necessary, in the opinion of the Government, to take the course they have adopted. If we look at the history of Ireland during the present century we shall find much to deplore. We shall find periodical rebellion; we shall find chronic agrarian discontent, culminating time after time in outbreaks of agrarian crime; we shall find religious animosities and differences; we shall find a people steeped in poverty and in misery, from which have arisen terrible famine and distress which have baffled and given immense difficulty to the Government of the day. We find all that, and, as I have said, we cannot but deplore all these circumstances; and I do not think there will be much difference of opinion between those whom I represent and noble Lords on the other side of the House with regard to the unfortunate condition of Ireland during the century. We differ, I know, and differ with extreme force; but that difference is with regard to the remedies to be applied to Ireland, and not as to the state of Ireland itself. How have the Government of the day endeavoured to meet this state of affairs? They have met rebellion by force; and, though rebellion has often been troublesome in Ireland, it has never been extremely formidable, for the reason that the powerful forces of this country could do what they liked with a poor and weak country like Ireland. Therefore, there has been no time when rebellion has lifted its head for any period and the Government of the day have always been able to cope with it. But there is another difficulty of a more insidious kind; I refer to agrarian discontent and outbreaks of agrarian crime. These have been more difficult to deal with. Governments, one after another, whatever Party has been in power, have dealt with this agrarian discontent, first by the control of a powerful constabulary, and even by the use and the aid of the military. They have also dealt with this agrarian discontent by means of exceptional legislation. I will say a few words with regard to this exceptional legislation, because I do not wish to pass by that subject without referring to it. I have never stated, and I do not mean to state now, that in my opinion exceptional criminal legislation ought never to be applied to a country. There are occasions, and there have been occasions in Ireland, when exceptional criminal legislation—or, as it is called shortly, coercion—has been necessary. There have been times before when remedial legislation has taken root and where time was wanted in order to develop its effects—times when, as has happened more than once, there have been violent outbreaks of crime, when murders were rife in the country, and when agrarian conspiracy and secret societies ruled a great part of the country. Then it was essential, for the safety of the State, to introduce for a time exceptional legislation. But exceptional legislation, as we know, is not a cure for a deep-rooted and deep-seated evil. There is one drawback and fault attached to exceptional legislation which I think has often been overlooked, and that is the demoralising effect which exceptional criminal legislation has on the various forces which are maintained in the country for the maintenance of law and order. The police rely more upon the exceptional measures than on the ordinary methods for detecting crime and following up criminals. The law itself is not applied so rigorously as when the peace and order of the country depend entirely on the ordinary law. I have often heard it said that exceptional legislation and coercion does not in any way affect the well-ordered people, and in that way it does not do much harm; it only brings criminals to justice, and punishes those who might otherwise escape the law. That may be true in one sense; but those who urge that plea forget that in a country like Ireland there is a large body of men who, though they entirely refrain from actual crime, yet are so opposed to the Government of the day that they will not move a finger in order to bring the criminals to justice. Exceptional legislation to them is merely a new proof how great the inability of the British Parliament is to govern that country. To them exceptional legislation is hateful, and every time you apply exceptional legislation you increase and irritate the feeling of the Irish and many of the well-disposed people against the British Government and against law and order. Exceptional criminal legislation or coercion has been a very frequent method of legislation for the government of Ireland in the past. I believe that in 87 years there have been 87 Coercion Acts or renewal of Coercion Acts in that country. They have been, as a rule, temporary in character, but at this moment there is an exceptional Criminal Law in Ireland which is not temporary but permanent. I will now pass from this part of the question and refer to other Acts in connection with Ireland. Every statesman knows that when there is widespread discontent and crime in a country there is some cause for it, and every statesman who is worthy of the name of statesmanship will try to find out what the cause of those grievances is, and will bring forward measures to remedy them. These measures have been called remedial measures of legislation. Discontent is never of spontaneous growth; it always originates through some cause or other. Now, my Lords, what have been the measures which statesmen on both sides have applied to Ireland? I will speak of the measures which I may call, perhaps, heroic measures, though there have been other measures on many occasions which the Government of the day have applied with the view of overcoming the difficulties of government in that country. The first great measure was Catholic Emancipation in 1829; at a long interval came the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church. Dealing with agrarian discontent there was first of all the Encumbered Estates Court Act; then followed a smaller Act in 1860 with regard to the land; and, finally, there came those great measures of 1870 and 1881; next the Act of 1887—all of them dealing with the tenure of land in Ireland. These measures also contained provisions for the purchase of land by the occupiers. These measures were followed in 1885 by the measure which is known by the name of the noble Lord opposite, Lord Ashbourne, for giving facilities to tenants to buy the land which the occupy. This, again, was followed by the Act of 1891. There have been numerous other measures passed for the benefit of Ireland, such as Irrigation Acts and Reclamation of Land Acts; there have been loans to railroads; and money has been lavished upon Ireland with the hope of improving its material condition. What has been the effect of all this legislation, of all these efforts which have been nobly made by one side or the other to endeavour to win over Ireland to contentment and happiness? I fear the state of Ireland has not become proportionately satisfactory. I do not for a moment say that there has been no improvement, or that there has not been a very considerable improvement during the century. It would be vain to contend that there has not been great improvement; that great grievances have not been redressed, and that to some extent a better feeling does not prevail among the people. But I would like to follow this up a little further. Do you find in Ireland that support of law and order without which no good government exists? The symbol and sign of good government is to find, as we do in this country, the whole population anxious to support the law. I fear in Ireland, although there has been some improvement, even now, when agrarian crimes arise and political agitation exists, you will find large portions of the population determined to resist the law and to obstruct the action of the Government. That, my Lords, in itself is a grievous sign of the condition of the country. Has the country prospered? No doubt it has made some advance, for greater prosperity exists than there was 40 or 50 years ago. Yet even now there are districts of the country where the population barely subsist at times on the land they cultivate. If a bad season occurs or prices fall, then that population is on the verge of famine, and looks to the richer sister country, England, for support and existence. If we look at the feeling which is exhibited throughout the country we shall find hardly a single Representative Body out of Ulster—a Board of Guardians, Local Government Board, or Borough Authority—which does not take every opportunity to thwart and oppose the Government of the day. Lastly, if we look to Parliament—and that, I think, is the best test of all of the feeling of a country—we find that the majority the Nationalists have had in Parliament ever since 1874, which has always been considerable, has increased until now four-fifths of the Irish Representatives are in favour of Home Rule or self-government for Ireland. That, I think, is a very serious position, especially in this country where we are so proud of our Representative Institutions and so proud of our Constitution. That alone points to an unhealthy condition of affairs in a country. Now why is it that those measures have failed? Why is it that, after passing the measures I have referred to, we still find an unhealthy state of things in Ireland? I venture to think that nearly all these great measures have been introduced too late, or without due regard to the feelings, sentiments, and customs of the Irish people. I will illustrate this very shortly from the measures of which I have spoken. Take Catholic Emancipation. We all know that at the time of the Union it was in the mind of Mr. Pitt to pass. Catholic Emancipation. In 1801 he resigned his place in the Government because he was unable to introduce a measure of Catholic Emancipation, and it was not till 29 years after the Union that Catholic Emancipation was given. We do not know what might have been the effect on the Union and on subsequent events in Ireland if this measure of redress had been passed at the time of the Union. After Catholic Emancipation we had to wait 40 years before we dealt with another great grievance of the Irish people—namely, the establishment of a religion which was not the religion of the bulk of the people. There is one exception, probably, which I believe was almost entirely successful—namely, the commutation of tithe. The two observations I have made will apply to the measures passed with reference to the land. The first great inquiry with respect to the land was made by the Devon Commission. That Commission went into this subject with the greatest care, and it drew up one of the ablest Reports ever presented to the Queen. The Report of the Devon Commission was scathing in its terms with regard to the condition of the Irish tenants and peasantry. I was looking the other day through some of the speeches on this subject, and I came across what I think a remarkable statement on the subject by one who was well-known in both Houses of Parliament in his day as one of the most eloquent speakers and one of the most intrepid statesmen who ever sat on these Benches—I allude to the late Lord Derby, the father of the noble Lord whose recent death we so much deplored, and also of the noble Lord whom we welcome amongst us, and who lately filled a high position with honour and dignity in Her Majesty's Colonies. Lord Stanley, as he then was, in introducing a measure immediately after the Report of the Devon Commission, after referring to the fact that the tenants in Ireland erected buildings and did all the substantial repairs, used these words— Could he be surprised to find on those farms everything neglected and in ruin; the land unproductive, the cultivation defective, and the estate peopled not by an industrious, thriving, and peaceful, but by an idle, a dissolute, and a disturbed people? And yet this, with some honourable exceptions, is not a highly-coloured or exaggerated picture of the condition of a large portion of the tenantry of Ireland. Then is not this a state of things in which, when it is for the interest of the landlord himself, we should interfere to give to the tenant some security and encouragement, so that, if he chose to spend his capital and labour in improvements, he should not be turned out of his wretched holding without compensation for his outlay, whether of money or of labour? After speaking of the Ulster tenant-right custom, he goes on— What is the case with regard to the rest of Ireland? There the tenant holds by a more dangerous tenure—by the security he derives from, the fears of the landlord. This is a very grave and solemn statement by an eminent statesman whom noble Lords on the other side have followed and honoured, and I do not think you could have stronger testimony as to the deplorable condition of Ireland at that time and of the necessity for some immediate legislation.


What was the date of that speech?


It was in 1845. What followed that speech? There was no serious attempt to cope with the Land Question in Ireland, with one exception, until 1870. I say, there- fore, you may apply the term "too late" to our dealing with this question. At the time of the famine, when it was found that there were bankrupt landlords on settled estates, a great Act was passed in order to relieve that state of things; and I venture to say, if it was not too late, it altogether disregarded some of the most cherished customs and opinions of the Irish people, for no provision was made in that Act to protect the property of the tenants. Later on the new landlords, some of whom were accustomed only to the habits of English landlords, treated their tenants exactly on the English system; and from that sprang some of the difficulties which have culminated in our days in terrible land disturbances in Ireland. Take the next legislation with regard to the land in 1860. Then an Act was passed on the same English lines. It was known in Ireland under the name of Deasy's Act, and in England under the name of Cardwell's Act. It tried to introduce the system of pure contract into the habits of the Irish tenants, and it entirely failed. Now I come to the Gladstone Act of 1870. That was a great and sweeping measure, but it shrank from going the full length of what was wanted in Ireland at the time. It did not deal with the extension of the Ulster custom, and it did not establish Rent Courts in Ireland. I do not say that at that time the Government of Mr. Gladstone could have carried a wider measure. For some years after this measure there was great agricultural prosperity in Ireland; but the moment bad times came, as they did in 1878 and 1879, then difficulties began with regard to the Act of 1870. As you all know, a terrible agrarian insurrection, agitation, and outbreak occurred, and the Government of Mr. Gladstone in 1881 was forced to introduce a new measure. What did that measure do? It supplemented the Act of 1870, and extended the Ulster custom over Ireland and established official Rent Courts in the country. Then came the Act of the noble Marquess opposite, the Act of 1887. That Act, as you know, dealt mainly with temporary circumstances, but it did extend the previous Acts by the clause admitting leaseholders. Therefore, every one of these Acts in succession had to supplement the deficiencies that were found in every Act that preceded. So much for the Land Acts. The question of Local Government stands even worse than the question of the land. In 1842 a Commission recommended that measures should be taken for altering the laws in relation to Local Government. Act after Act was introduced, but every one failed, and the last failure was the Act of 1892 of Mr. Balfour, who introduced a large measure of Local Government in the other House.


It never passed. Do you call that an Act which failed?


The noble Marquess is too critical. What I intended to say was that those Acts one after another were introduced, but was rejected by Parliament.


Bills, not Acts.


Bills I should have called them. Now, my Lords, I should like to refer to the Irish Government. The Irish Government itself and its position illustrate very forcibly the condition of Ireland. The Irish Government is in one sense a powerful Government, for it is essentially centralised in its action; but on the other side it is a very weak Government, for it is completely isolated from the country. Why is it so centralised? There are two reasons. The first is that the administration of the law could not, years ago even, be left entirely to the class that administer it in England; because on certain disputed subjects that class did not receive the support and confidence of the masses of the people. The other reason is that in the large towns and in other places of municipal government the Irish Government could not trust the Municipalities, because they were so opposed to the Government of the day that they could not hand over to thorn the powers of police and other powers which in England are given to the Local Authorities. That, I conceive, is a very serious and grievous state of things. In England we have in every part of the country buffers to the Central Government. We hear nothing in London of many cases which in Ireland would at once be brought home to the Central Government. But the effect of that is that every breakdown in the law—every Magistrate who makes a mistake—is thrown against the Central Government. It is a most powerful Government in one sense, as I say, because it wields the police and practically controls the appointment of every Magistrate in the country. The police it is able to move all over the country as if it were one man. It appoints the Magistrates in every borough and county. With all that, my Lords, we know that it is essentially a weak Government, because it has not the support of the masses of the people of the country. There is another reason why the great measures that have been passed for Ireland have not been fruitful in good results, and it is, perhaps, one of the principal causes of the failure of British Governments and British Parliaments successfully to cope with Irish grievances. I mean that there is in Ireland underlying the whole feeling of the great majority of the people one passionate sentiment—namely, the sentiment for Local Government. This sentiment has been shown in a variety of ways. It has been shown sometimes in rebellion, sometimes in cries for absolute separation, sometimes in cries for Repeal of the Union. We have never been able to stifle or conciliate it. We have never been able to use the feeling which is so strong in England in support of law and order in support of the same forces in Ireland. The neglect of this feeling, in my belief, is at the root of the failure of most of these measures to which I have referred, and we felt this very strongly when we had to consider what measures we should introduce for Ireland. I have endeavoured, I am afraid very inadequately, to touch on the condition of Ireland during the last 93 years. I wish a more able exponent of this policy could have stood before you, but I have felt it my duty to trace the course of events, and the study of these events brought my mind in the year 1885—I speak now, and I ought to apologise, perhaps, for doing so, in my own name, but I do not like in this particular part of the subject to introduce the responsibility for others—to the view that a new policy was absolutely required. I have been in Ireland for eight years—for three years under the most difficult circumstances. I had to administer the law entrusted to me by Parliament. I did it as honestly and fearlessly as I could. I endeavoured to administer it also with perfect justice, and in some degree I think I may claim that I was successful in restoring law and order to the country. But after that was done I could not but feel that I had not succeeded permanently in the work which I had endeavoured to do. I found all those conditions of discontent and want of support of the Government to which I have adverted, and I seriously considered the position. The events on this side of the water in 1885 did not check the feeling operating in my mind. What did these events show? They showed that a Conservative Government were willing and able to enter upon Office when their Party was in a minority in the House of Commons by the support of the Irish vote. These events further showed that the continuity which had hitherto existed with regard to the administration of the law in Ireland had been broken, and these two considerations had a profound effect on my mind, and convinced me that some change in the policy which both Parties had heretofore pursued must be made. The old remedies had failed; was it possible to find new remedies? I faced the question in this way: It was necessary before committing myself to any new policy to see that certain guarantees and conditions were attached to any new principle that might be adopted. Those conditions were three. I conceived that no new policy ought to be adopted unless you could maintain the supremacy of Parliament, maintain the unity of the Kingdom, and effectually protect minorities in Ireland. Those three conditions were the tests which I applied to the question of new methods of governing Ireland. I need not go through all the proceedings of 1886. As your Lordships are aware, the Liberal Party over which Mr. Gladstone presided then inaugurated a new policy for Ireland. It has sometimes been said that we Liberals who followed Mr. Gladstone in this new policy adopted it with a light heart. I assure you, my Lords, that one of the most painful things I and many of my colleagues went through was the way in which we had to adopt that policy, for this reason—that we had to separate ourselves from many of the colleagues and friends with whom we had been all our political lives intimately connected. It was not a light matter. It was a matter we felt most deeply, and, I will venture to say, still feel. But it was in our mind a paramount duty that we should adopt this new course, as it was in our opinion the only way of dealing with the Irish difficulty. I shall not go through the Bill of 1886, or what occurred after it. I shall go at once to the measure which is now before your Lordships—a measure which is founded on the same principles as that which was introduced to Parliament and lost in 1886. I venture to think that this measure does embrace those guarantees and conditions without which I did not think any change of policy in Ireland ought to be made. Possibly I might pass over the details of this measure, and no doubt many of your Lordships, perhaps all your Lordships, have followed the long Debates which have occurred in another place on this Bill; at the same time, I do not think I should be treating your Lordships' House with respect if I did not shortly touch on the provisions of the measure. The Bill before your Lordships proposes to establish a Legislature for Ireland consisting of the Queen and two Houses. The Bill guards most carefully the powers of the Irish Legislature. It protects the supremacy of Parliament. In the preamble and in the 2nd clause there are distinct provisos to maintain and uphold the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. The Irish Legislature will have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland in matters relating exclusively to Ireland, or some part thereof. To this there are exceptions and restrictions, but they only define, enumerate, and explain the matter to which I have just referred. The exceptions are that the Irish Legislature cannot deal with the Crown or the succession; it cannot deal with matters connected with peace or war, with the Army, Navy, or Volunteers, with Treaties with Foreign Powers, with the coinage or legal tender. There are still more exceptions; but I have enumerated enough to show that they are of great importance as bearing on the supremacy of Parliament. The restrictions go to prevent the Irish Parliament from establishing or endowing religion, from dealing with the laws of religious liberty; they insure freedom of conscience for adults and for children in schools: they prevent the Irish Parliament from making laws to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law in accordance with established principles and precedents. They also protect Corporate Bodies and various other interests. The Irish Legislature is to consist of two Chambers—the Legislative Chamber, with the same franchise and the number of Members as govern the position of Irish Members now in Parliament. The Second Chamber, which is called the Legislative Council, is introduced as a safeguard against hasty legislation. If we look at the Legislatures and Constitutions throughout Europe it will be found that there is only one country which has but one Chamber, and that is the Kingdom of Greece.




Second Chambers are constituted very nearly in every country in Europe. That is enough for my argument. The Second Chamber is to consist of 48 Members, to be elected for eight years, whereas the Legislative Chamber is to be elected for five, and the Second Chamber is not to be affected by a Dissolution. In the case of a difference of opinion between the two Chambers—what you call a deadlock—it is proposed that in case a Bill is presented again at the end of two years, or after a Dissolution, after having been rejected by the Legislative Council, then, if the Bill is again rejected, a decision shall be come to by both Chambers sitting as one. The Executive, as a matter of, course, is centred in the Queen, and the Lord Lieutenant represents Her Majesty. The Lord Lieutenant is to be appointed for six years by the Government of the day, but he is not to be a political officer going out with the Government. The Lord Lieutenant is to be relieved of religious tests. In his hands is one of the most important powers of the Bill—namely, the veto. He can exercise the veto in three ways. He is to exercise it usually upon the advice of his Irish Ministers, but he can exercise it if a Bill is ultra vires, and also upon instructions from the Queen on special Bills. The Lord Lieutenant is to have control of the military in Ireland, as at present, and during six years the police will be under his control, as representing the Queen. In six years the police are to be disbanded, by which time, no doubt, it will be possible to find places in other forces for a great number of that body. Those who are to be disbanded will have terms of a liberal character given to them—something like an addition of 10 years to their pay. I need hardly say, after having had such great experience of the loyalty and efficiency of the Royal Irish Constabulary, I should regret extremely if they felt they had not received justice in this matter. I come now to the Civil Service, the members of which are provided with retirement pensions and allowances if they retire before five years. The Judges have all their rights preserved to them, both as to pay and as to the manner of their tenure. The new Judges are to be appointed by the Lord Lieutenant on the advice of the Irish Government; but for six years such appointments are to receive the countersign of the Secretary of State in England. I do not want to dilate at length on the question of finance; but, as it is so important, I must say a few words upon it. There is one important consideration to be borne in mind, and that is the taxable capacity of Ireland. We do not propose that the burden should be made heavier than it now is. It is possible that Ireland may now pay a larger contribution, according to her taxable capacity, than England or Scotland towards Imperial charges; but we do not propose at this moment to alter that. We propose that we shall, as far as possible, receive from the Irish for Imperial purposes the same contribution which they now give. The Customs, Excise, and Income Tax are to be for six years exactly as they are now, and when collected two-thirds are to be paid over to the Irish Exchequer, and one-third is to go for Imperial purposes. I believe I am right in saying that within £20,000 this proposal represents exactly the present payments of Ireland to this country. But there is another point. During the time that the Royal Irish Constabulary are to be under the control of the Lord Lieutenant a certain portion of the charge is to fall on the Imperial Exchequer. That will amount to about £480,000, but it is Dot a permanent charge, and will diminish as the police disappear and as their pensions lapse. Now, it may be asked, is that a good bargain for England and also for Ireland? I venture to say that it is a good bargain for England. If England desires to carry this measure and give self-government to Ireland, she will not wish to treat Ireland in a niggardly manner. And, considering the enormous expense of our government in Ireland, expense connected with the judiciary, the police, and the various other parts of the Civil Service, and that that expense on the part of England is an increasing expense, it will be a gain for England not to have to provide for this expensive government. With regard to Ireland, she will, at all events during a considerable number of years, according to the calculation made, have about £500,000 surplus. I pass on now to the question of land legislation. That is a subject in which I know your Lordships take a deep interest, and it is one upon which I hold a strong opinion. I have long held that there were strong reasons for dealing with this Irish Land Question. To carry out the policy of 1886 two Bills were introduced—a Government of Ireland Bill and a Land Bill. These two measures were linked together at the time. The Land Bill never came on for Second Reading, and was, therefore, not discussed in the other House of Parliament. It fell with the Government of Ireland Bill, the two Bills at the time being considered by us to be linked strongly and firmly together. We at that time thought it necessary to connect the legislation with regard to land with the legislation for the Local Government of Ireland. We believed that after the desperate struggle which had been going on for so many years in Ireland on the Land Question—a struggle that had hardly then ceased, or, at all events, was of very recent cessation—it would not be right to give immediately to the Irish Legislature the power of dealing with the question of land. We thought, further, that it would be intolerable to place on a new Legislature, which had an enormous variety of subjects, and pressing subjects, to deal with, the responsibility of dealing with this great question, the difficulty of which had, to a great extent, arisen from legislation of the Imperial Parliament. After the defeat of the Government of 1886 this question of the land was dealt with in Parliament. There was the measure of 1887, which extended the Ashbourne Act, and there was, further, the great measure of Mr. Balfour in 1891. These two measures, to my mind, took the place of the Land Bill, which was linked with the Local Government question in our policy of 1886. Those were Bills of great importance. Ten millions had, I think, been allotted under the Ashbourne Act towards the purchase by the tenants of their farms, and Mr. Balfour's measure proposed that £30,000,000 should be allotted for this purpose. This is how he describes his measure— The best calculation that I can make is that in any case the total amount to complete land purchase would be somewhere about £95,000,000 sterling. Therefore, although the 30 odd millions which the Bill proposes to allocate to land purchase certainly is far from carrying it out completely, it will be observed that, if we deduct from the £95,000,000 those cases in which landlords and tenants do not desire to sell or purchase, with the repayments of the £30,000,000 we may really expect under this Bill to see a great impression made upon the problem we have to solve. That Act remains in force, and it is protected by provisions in the present Bill. These measures, alone, have made an enormous difference with regard to the position of the landlords in Ireland; and, therefore, if it were only with regard to the passing of these two measures, I should not think it would be necessary now to link a land measure with the Local Government Bill; but the landlords of Ireland have other securities. They have the security of the veto, and that for six years the military and the police are under the control of the Lord Lieutenant. Further, provision is made that for three years the Imperial Parliament may deal with this subject here, and the Irish Parliament are prevented from dealing with it. Lastly", the landlords have behind them the inherent power of the Imperial Parliament in case of grievous injustice and wrong. These are the reasons why I, who have been very strongly in favour of securing to landlords the possibility in case of difficulty of selling their estates, consider that their interests are safeguarded under the Bill and under the Acts of Parliament to which I have referred. I must refer to one other point, and it is a point on which great interest has been felt—I mean the retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament. Your Lordships are aware that under the Bill of 1886 the Irish Members were excluded. I at that time was strongly in favour of that proposition, and for these reasons. It was the simplest plan, and it avoided many complications which were unavoidable under other solutions of the question. The Irish Members themselves had enormous interests to look after in Ireland, and did not desire to come over to England; but there were strong and forcible reasons urged against their exclusion. Exclusion suggested to the mind of many people, though it was not a necessary consequence, the idea of separation; inclusion under the Bill absolutely prevents the separation of Ireland from England. There were two other ways of dealing with the subject. There was the partial retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, voting on certain subjects, and refraining from voting on others. That proposal had its advocates, and found a place in the Bill of the Government when it was first introduced. It had its advantages, because there was a view held among many people that it was unfair for the Irish to interfere in English affairs, when we were precluded from interfering in similar affairs in Ireland. I am aware that that feeling is shared by many people; but when you apply this solution to the question I think you will see chat it is perfectly impossible as a practical measure. How was it possible to have a Government supported at one time by one body of men and at another by another body of men? You might divide the subjects into Imperial subjects and into local Irish subjects; but there would always be questions, such as Votes of Confidence, where it would be absolutely impossible to define what was to be done with the Irish Members. Take the question of the Budget, with the Resolutions and the Estimates, and the Appropriation Bill. On some subjects the Irish would take a part; on others they would be absent. This solution of the question was proved on examination to be impracticable. We gave it up; and we adopted what has been called the omnes omnia plan, which was to leave the Irish Members in for all purposes. There are two objections made to that; the one to which I have referred—namely, that it was unfair that the Irish Members should take part in the discussion of English subjects when we did not take part in the discussion of similar subjects in Ireland. There is a further objection—that it would encourage intrigue with the Irish Members. [Laughter and ironical cheers.] I expected that cheer; but we have this very difficulty at the present moment. It is not a new thing that politicians should intrigue, or, as it is called, coquette, with the Irish Party on critical Divisions. That is not unknown in politics, and this may be thrown in the teeth of both Parties in Parliament. The difficulty has existed, but it will exist with far less force when this Bill passes. I know that probably I shall not get the assent of noble Lords opposite or behind me to what I am now going to say; but if the Bill does what we expect, it will bring contentment to the Irish people. [Opposition laughter and ironical cheers.] I am quite aware of the feeling which that cheer indicates, but I am bound to state what I honestly believe. If that takes place, then there will be far less danger with regard to the Irish Members voting on all subjects than there is at the present moment. No doubt the objections to the Bill with which we are all familiar will be raised again in this House; and as I have been so intimately connected with the subject, and as I have so sincerely at heart the welfare and well-being of the Irish nation, I wish to state my views with regard to some of those objections. There is the question of separation. I have endeavoured to show that under this Bill separation will be impossible. Our opponents say that may be for the moment true; but if the Irish obtain the Bill they will agitate and plot to obtain separation from England. I utterly disbelieve in that theory. The Irish know very well that they could not obtain separation. They are not such fools as to forget the strong battalions which are under the command of Her Majesty's Government and of England. They are not such fools as to wish to go to the heavy cost of finding a Navy and an Army for themselves, which I need hardly say, would be indispensable to them if they obtained separation. They know that they could not obtain it; they know that England is powerful enough, and has always been powerful enough, to put down rebellion in Ireland, and they know that England would never consent to separation. I believe that they desire to remain under the flag of England, and that Irishmen are still proud to fight the battles of England, and to share the glory which has been gained in former wars by this country. I now come to another question—namely, the alleged danger of religious ascendency and tyranny. It is feared that the Roman Catholics will oppress the Protestants in Ireland. As to this, I make the same remark that I made with regard to separation—I do not believe it for a moment. I do not believe that religious persecution and tyranny can exist in the present state of society, considering the force of public opinion in Ireland as well as in England. The Irish Roman Catholics have never shown distrust of Protestant leaders. Time after time they have followed such leaders with the utmost loyalty. I know that at times there have been stories of the persecution of Protestants in different parts of the country. There may be isolated cases of the sort, but I believe that these cases generally arise, not from religious feeling, but from other causes. The Irish people have, as your Lordships are aware, very strong feelings on various matters political and agrarian, and it may often happen that a Protestant takes a very strong view on some points of politics which is hostile to the views of, and therefore offends, his Catholic neighbours. If there is any disturbance in consequence it is clear that it cannot be assigned to religious differences. We often hear it said that the Irish Protestant is to be placed under the heel of Archbishop Walsh. In my opinion there is no ground for that statement. The Irish Bishops and priests have rarely, if ever, initiated any political movement in Ireland. They, no doubt, are carried with the current, and when a strong political current is flowing they swim with it; but as far as I know they have not themselves initiated any great topics of political controversy during the last few years. The Irish people will take a strong line of their own on all political matters. I could not give a better illustration of my meaning than the following:—When I was in Ireland His Holiness the Pope issued some pastoral or letter, desiring the Bishops and priests of Ireland to prevent their flocks from subscribing to the Parnell testimonial. What was the result? The subscriptions came in after that pronouncement with redoubled vigour until the sum of £35,000 was subscribed to the testimonial. There have been other instances of independence on the part of the Irish people. There is the case of Bishop O'Dwyer in Limerick, who for some reason found fault with an Irish Member. Immediately that Member—Mr. Dillon—called an indignation meeting, which was held under the very nose of the Bishop. There have been cases also when the Parnellite division of the Irish Party have held indignation meetings against the Archbishop of Cashel, because he was opposed to their views. Therefore I do not believe that there is any danger of the Irish people submitting in political matters to be guided and ruled by the Roman Catholic hierarchy or the priests of Ireland. Now, I wish to say two or three words respecting Ulster. I have great respect and admiration for the people of that Province. When I was in Ireland I had difficulties, great difficulties, to contend against in Ulster as well as in other parts of the country, but in dealing with these difficulties I became acquainted with many qualities which I greatly appreciated in the Ulster people. They are full of talent, independence, energy. With the exception of an occasional breaking out on a religious anniversary, they are orderly and law-abiding. I am aware that the people of Ulster view this Bill with great dislike, and oppose it most vigorously. They have been supported by many distinguished men. It' has been said that "Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right." Indeed, that has been the keynote of speech after speech in Ulster and in England. In my opinion, the fears of Ulster are quite groundless. I do not believe that the people of that Province will be subjected to hardship or oppression at the hands of the Nationalist Party, and I look forward to the day when the men of Ulster, with all their ability and power, will assist their brethren in the government of the country. Ulster is in a minority in Ireland. Of course, Ulstermen have a perfect right to oppose any measure which they dislike, and to demand safeguards for themselves, but have they the right, and ought they as a generous people to oppose what Parliament in its wisdom may direct as a change necessary for the welfare of the majority of their fellow-countrymen? I deny that they have a right to hold out in that way; and, knowing the generosity of the people of Ireland, I cannot but think that these appalling prognostications will come to nothing, and that, when Parliament has decided to pass a Home Rule measure, the men of Ulster will come forward willingly and take part in the government of their island. There is one more objection to this measure that I wish to notice. We are accused of handing over, or proposing to hand over, the government of Ireland to men of the worst possible character, to men who are sometimes called murderers,—[The Marquess of LONDONDERRY: Hear, hear!]—sometimes agitators, who have caused difficulties in Ireland. I was quite prepared for the cheers of the noble Marquess and other noble Lords opposite. I deny, however, that the men to whom I refer are correctly described by the terms which I have repeated. The Irish Party in Parliament are not murderers, and have been cleared over and over again in that respect. The Nationalist Party in the great struggle which they have been carrying on have done many things which I deplore, things which I had to oppose when I was in Ireland. I do not for a moment say that they have been justified in all they have done; far from it. They have been violent in their language; they have been silent when they ought to have spoken out; and I admit that they have been guilty of discreditable acts. But we are not proposing to hand over the government of Ireland to any particular set of men. What we are proposing to do is to rely on self-government, and we have confidence that the people of Ireland will select the right men to govern them in the future. I should like to mention one argument which ought, I think, to have weight with noble Lords opposite who have advocated Local Government for Ireland. The Government of the noble Marquess opposite introduced a measure for that purpose, and I would ask this—If we are committing such a heinous crime in giving the government of Ireland to the men who are likely to be selected by the Irish constituencies, were you not committing an equally heinous crime in proposing to give Local Government in counties and boroughs to the same class of men? I have always recollected a very remarkable statement with regard to Local Government which was made by Lord Salisbury at Newport some years ago. It is full of wisdom and bears upon the question whether it is better to give County Local Government to Ireland or Local Government of the kind now proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers. What did Lord Salisbury say? "The Local Authority is more exposed to temptation, and has more facility—" I am afraid I cannot read the rest. [The Marquess of SALISBURY: It is not worth reading.] At any rate, the argument is this—that it is safer to entrust a Government on a large scale with Representative Institutions than to frame a system of Local Government which will not be equally open to the influences of public opinion. Now, my Lords, I have made my statement and given the reasons which prompted the Government to introduce this measure. I am not sanguine enough to suppose that I have been able to carry with me any one of those who oppose the Bill. It would be absurd to conceal from myself the intention of the large Assembly whom I am addressing, for it has been announced for days, and weeks, and mouths that your Lordships intend to throw out the Bill. It would be in vain for me to appeal to your Lordships at the present time; but as I have been, through my family, intimately connected with your Lordships' House for many years, and by a personal membership of over 35 years, I may be allowed to speak on the subject of what I consider to be the interests of this Assembly. I implore your Lordships to pause before you reject this measure. I implore your Lordships to cast off all trace of that prejudice that surrounds to such a great extent this great subject. I implore your Lordships not rashly to follow the advice which has been given you so often. You have a great opportunity freely now of making a great concession to Ireland. The occasion is propitious; there is nothing but peace throughout the nations of the world; there is no turbulence in Ireland; you can now give freely and without pressure this great concession. My Lords, the Irish people have now hope instead of the despair they had before. They have hope from the decision which the constituencies gave at the last Election, hope from the measure passed recently in another place. Do not dash, my Lords, their hope to the ground. Hope encourages peace; despair engenders discontent and rebellion. My Lords, if you reject this measure, you will once more throw back the Irish people into despair. The responsibility for doing this will be a very heavy one, and I ask your Lordships to pause before you take upon you this heavy responsibility. If, on the other hand, you make this concession and pass this Bill, you will add to the lustre and honour belonging to your Lordships' House. You will once more give power to the Houses of Parliament; you will increase the influence of our country in every part of the world; you will, in my opinion, give contentment and good government to Ireland, and make her a source of strength instead of weakness to the Union. My Lords, I beg to move the Second Heading of this Bill.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Earl Spencer.)


My Lords, I do not propose to follow my noble Friend in the disquisition, which occupied a large portion of his speech, on the history of Ireland during the present century. I failed to observe that that part of my noble Friend's speech bore any particular reference to the measure before the House. It was chiefly occupied with an account of the land legislation which had been too long delayed, of the Coercion Acts, and of the attempted creation 'of local self-government in Ireland. That historical disquisition might have been an appropriate introduction to a new Coercion Act, or to a new Land Act; but I think that my noble Friend forgot that part of his speech in which he proposed to connect his history with the present proposal of Her Majesty's Government. I will only say on that part of my noble Friend's speech that his review of the land legislation of Parliament as regards Ireland, and the evil effects which have resulted from the unhappy delays of that legislation, seem to me to be a somewhat singular introduction to a policy which, as it was originally introduced, proposed to remove altogether the control of the land legislation from the new Irish Parliament, and was combined with a plan by which this Parliament, hitherto, according to my noble Friend, so unsuccessful in its efforts, was once more to resume the task of finally settling that Irish difficulty, and still more was it a singular introduction to the proposal which, as now laid before us, imposes a delay of, at least, three years on the Irish Parliament in doing anything on that particular subject which, according to my noble Friend, lies at the root of the whole difficulty. In these circumstances I can scarcely see what my noble Friend's object was in making the historical review he gave us. It would have been, in my opinion, satisfactory to many of your Lordships if my noble Friend had found a little more time to devote to the explanation, which struck me as a remarkably brief one, of the causes which have led him to the conviction that a change of policy has become necessary. My noble Friend had at one time very strong convictions on the subject. I do not want to read more quotations than I can help, but my noble Friend has expressed himself in terms of somewhat unusual strength upon the question of tampering with the Union. In 1881 my noble Friend said— We have to consider the most difficult problem ever presented to any English statesman—namely, the future of Ireland. What we have to do is this. We have to tell the Irish that their just grievances will always be redressed, that we will extend to them any privilege or liberty we Englishmen possess; but we must tell them plainly, at the same time, that no Party in England, whether Conservative or Liberal, will put up with anarchy, and, what is more, that they are beating the air if they agitate for the repeal of the Union. We feel like the Americans when the integrity of their country was threatened, and, if necessary, we must shed blood to maintain the strength and salvation of this country. ["Hear, hear!"] I am glad to hear from the cheers of my noble Friends behind me that they are still ready to shed their blood for the Union. But my noble Friend told us what were the circumstances which in 1885 led him to the conviction that a change of policy towards Ireland was necessary. His own Government, from 1881 to 1885, had been a fairly successful one. He had himself done much to restore law and order in Ireland. My noble Friend was disappointed that he had not also succeeded in giving contentment to Ireland. He detected, or he thought he detected, a political intrigue between the Tory Party and the Irish Members, and he discovered that there was no continuity to be expected from the British Parliament in Irish policy. What was the proof of that? The Tory Government came in in 1885. They found a Coercion Act in force. That was a temporary Act. One would think, to hear the observations of my noble Friend, that the Conservative Party had found a permanent Coercion Act in force and had deliberately suspended its operation. Whatever may be my opinion of the policy or impolicy of the Tory Government at that time in undertaking to govern Ireland without the assistance of exceptional powers, it must be felt that they were justified in making the attempt to govern Ireland once more under the ordinary law, without the assistance of any exceptional repressive legislation. These simple facts—namely, discontent in Ireland, my noble Friend's detection of the supposed Tory intrigue, and the want of continuity which he discovered in British policy towards Ireland—were sufficient to make my noble Friend change the whole course of his policy, and be a party to the proposal of a measure which, although my noble Friend behind me does not seem to think his words bear that meaning, he had denounced in the strongest terms in 1881. Now, my Lords, I shall not detain you any further with the speech we have just listened to, though I may have to make some reference to it in my further observations. I desire, in the first place, to touch on a point which, I think, has not been referred to by my noble Friend. I want to call your Lordships' attention to the character of the decision you are called upon to give upon the present occasion. It is an important one, but it does not appear to me to be a decision which involves on your Lordships any heavy responsibility. Such cases have occurred before, and doubtless will occur again. The question has had to be solved and to be decided by this House whether your Lordships should make use of the Constitutional powers which you possess to reject measures which did not commend themselves to your own judgment, but which you had reason to believe were approved by the majority of the House of Commons and of the country. The question has had to be decided by your Lordships, each for himself, whether you should in your collective capacity as one branch of the Legislature act upon your individual convictions and opinions in opposition to what you believe and have ascertained to be the view of the House of Commons and of the country. I think that your Lordships know well the limits of your power. You know that not being a Representative Assembly, and not backed by the strength which a representative character gives to a Legislative Body, and not sharing altogether the democratic principles which are making progress in this as in other countries, it would be unwise, impolitic, and unpatriotic to insist upon your personal convictions by enforcing your own political convictions in opposition to what is believed to be the decided view of the country. Such was the case of the Reform Bill of 1832, and, I may say, also of later Reform Bills. Such was the repeal of the Corn Laws. Such was the case of the Irish Church Act. Such cases may recur, and it is not for me to say what it may be the duty of this House to do when a similar case occurs again. It may be that a measure may be in your Lordships' judgment so wrong, so impolitic, so unjust, and so mischievous that it may be your duty to resist it to the last at any risk, even at that of the loss of your own political privileges. But, my Lords, this is no such case. This is not a case in which you are called upon to refuse to read this Bill a second time, because you are opposed to the principle of it. If I could conceive the case of a majority of your Lordships being of an opinion favourable to the principle of this measure; if, as the Prime Minister thinks might be possible, a measure founded upon a similar principle had been introduced by a Conservative Government, I do not undertake to say what the conduct of this House might have been, but I, at all events, should be prepared to say the duty of this House would be the same. I maintain that on a question of such magnitude, so closely touching the fundamental Institutions of our State, if there is any object in the existence of a Second Chamber at all, it is, at all events, to prevent changes of that character being made without the absolute certainty that they are in accordance with the will of the majority of the people. Now, as to that certainty, we have no knowledge, and we can have none. Look for one moment at the history of the measure. It has been preceded by no popular agitation such as preceded the passing of the Reform Act or the Repeal of the Corn Laws. Those measures had been for years before the country, and had been fully debated and discussed throughout the whole country. I admit the Irish Church Act was a different case. There the proposal of the measure had not been preceded by any lengthened or any excited agitation. But the whole of the Liberal Party, or almost the whole of the Liberal Party, had been long in principle committed to the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, and, as Mr. Gladstone has reminded us, the Disestablishment of the Irish Church Act was only proposed to your Lordships after it had formed the single issue submitted to the country at a General Election, and after the verdict of the country had been given in the most unmistakable terms. But in 1885 not only was no political Party committed to this policy, but I venture to say that not one elector in 10,000 was favourable to the principle of Home Rule. This is a policy which emanates from the brain and will of a single man. It is not a policy which has proceeded from a political Party; it is not a policy advocated by a political Party and then adopted by its Leaders. It is a policy which has been imposed upon his followers by the single will of one man. Now, so far as we can form any opinion at all, the presumption is against this policy being adopted deliberately by the country. It has never been accepted by the country when it has been placed as a definite issue before it. Its rejection by the House of Commons in 1886 was followed, when the country had before it the proposals within the four corners of a Bill, by a still more decisive rejection at the hands of the electors. Immediately after that time a determined attempt was made to concentrate the attention of the country on the Irish Question. Judging by their own conduct on the part of the gentlemen who sit upon the Government Bench, that effort was wholly unsuccess- ful, for it is within our knowledge that in the electoral campaign which was carried on from 1886 to 1892 the Home Rule policy was more and more withdrawn from the notice of the constituencies, and other measures which it was found commanded a larger measure of popular sympathy and support were put forward in its place. That policy was so successful that no human being can tell on what question the majority which put the present Government in power was returned. No doubt some electors voted for Home Rule, but it is quite certain that a larger number voted for Disestablishment, or Local Option, or for Parish Councils, or for changes in the incidence of taxation in towns, or for changes in the Labour Laws. Well, these tactics were successful in their immediate object, and enabled Her Majesty's Government to propose measures of great importance on these and various other subjects. But they have had this disadvantage—that it has been absolutely impossible to form any opinion as to what the real desire and. wish of the people is upon this most vital question. We contend that it is a question large enough to justify us in refusing to pass this measure into law until that question is settled beyond the shadow of a doubt. I will ask your Lordships for a moment to contemplate the possibility of this Bill passing into law. Suppose that all or even some of the evils we anticipate come to pass; suppose the people, irritated by the recurrence of the Irish difficulty after this final effort, were at the next General Election to return a strong Unionist, anti-Irish majority to Parliament, I ask your Lordships to consider what would be the position of the new Irish Parliament and the new Irish Government in such circumstances? Entering upon their new duties confronted by a hostile Government and a hostile Parliamentary majority in Great Britain, it is easy to see the risks of danger that would result. Consider what, in that case, would be the responsibility of your Lordships' House. You would be told that you had had the power to prevent these evils; that you had had the power to impose an interval during which the true will and desire of the people might be ascertained, but that you had failed to use this opportunity. In vain you would plead that you had acted as we are told we ought to act; in vain you would plead you had acted on the assumption that the vote of the House of Commons was conclusive. Those who now denounce you for attempting to withstand the judgment of the popular Assembly would then be the first to denounce, with more justice, this Assembly as an utterly useless and inefficient Body incapable of averting even the consequences of a mistaken estimate of the opinion of the country. I will go one step further. I maintain that this policy is of sufficient gravity to make it imperative that not the principle of self-government for Ireland alone should be definitely accepted by the country, but also the form in which it is to be conceded, and the provisions by which this principle is to be carried into effect should also undoubtedly receive the popular approval. Here I think, my Lords, we stand on still firmer ground. Not even those who contend that the last Election was conclusive as to the opinion of the country on the principle of Home Rule will contend that its form or provisions were within the cognisance or knowledge of the country. This form and these provisions are in this case the very essence of the question in the contention of the promoters of the measure themselves. If it were a question of granting independence to Ireland or of restoring the Irish Parliament of 1792, those would be simple issues upon which the judgment of the country as represented in Parliament might be deemed conclusive. But we have been told all along that Irish independence is inadmissible; that the restoration of the Parliament of 1792 is impracticable; and that the granting of Home Rule to Ireland, desirable as it may be, is one which should only be conceded on certain conditions; those conditions being, that the supremacy of Parliament shall be maintained; that sufficient authority shall be reserved to Parliament to safeguard all Imperial interests; that adequate protection is secured for the minority; that an equitable financial arrangement between the two countries shall be devised; and, lastly, that there shall be some security that the settlement is final. When this measure is proposed only conditionally; when, also, the form, structure, and provisions of the measure have been avowedly concealed from the country up to the time of the General Election, how can it be possible to contend that the country has given its decision on the measure, the form of which is now shown to be only less essential than the principle itself. I shall be told that the House of Commons approved of this Bill, and that the General Election gave to the House of Commons the necessary mandate and authority to work out the organic details of the measure. I traverse that argument at every step. For reasons which I have stated, I deny that the House of Commons received any mandate upon Home Rule at all at the last Election; and I say, further, if there were a mandate it was a conditional mandate, and that the conditions were not within the knowledge of the country. Before this measure is passed into law we have a right to demand that the judgment of the country shall be given, not upon a cry, not upon an aspiration, not upon an impatient impulse, but upon a completed work; and that this measure, the result of the collective wisdom of the Government and Parliament, shall be submitted to the country for its approval, aye or no. Then, lastly, I say the conditions under which the House of Commons considered this measure have made it impossible for us to have any knowledge that the deliberate judgment of the House of Commons is represented in the matter. Everyone has known from the moment that this measure saw the light that it would never be passed into law, and never could be passed into law. Members have debated and voted on this question, knowing well that it was not a question of practical politics. Under these circumstances, many of them thought that it was not worth while to incur unpopularity with their Party or a portion of their constituents. Many of them knew that they had not been elected to discuss and vote upon the provision of Home Rule, but on some more popular question, such as Welsh Disestablishment or changes in the Liquor Laws. Under those circumstances, knowing that their vote would bear no immediate fruit and have no immediate effect, they were indifferent to the principles to which they might be committing themselves; and so, with some few and honourable exceptions, they have voted with their Party. But I deny that the votes of the House of Commons given under such circumstances imply any certainty on our part that those votes represent the judgment of the House of Commons. As to the means by which this Bill has been forced through the House of Commons, I have been attacked in another place for saying that I should ask this House to reject the Bill because three-fourths of it had not been debated at all by the House of Commons. I have been told that the House of Lords has no right to dictate to the House of Commons as to the mode of their procedure. I claim no such right for this House. But what I do claim for this House is the liberty to regulate our proceedings by the knowledge we possess of the procedure which has taken place in the other House. We are accustomed here to receive measures which have been not only voted upon but debated in the other Chamber; and we are entitled to take note of the fact that three-fourths of this measure have never been discussed at all in the other House. That is a fact which we are not only entitled to note for the guidance of our own proceedings, but also to call to the notice of the country in case any controversy should hereafter arise between us and the other House. We are told that a change of Forms in the House of Commons has been rendered necessary by obstruction. If we are to be debarred from cognisance or criticism of the procedure of the other House, what do we know about obstruction? We have before us officially the Journals of the House of Commons. From those Journals we can ascertain that three-fourths of the Bill have been put without Debate, and that among these parts of the Bill are some clauses which were not in the Bill when it was introduced. Some of those clauses have never been read a second time. And some of those clauses relate to financial matters, which, by the practice of our Constitution, we are not allowed to alter if we are allowed to discuss. With this knowledge before us we are entitled to say that we should decline to pass a Bill so presented even if only of minor and secondary importance; and much more, therefore, we must decline to accept measures so presented that are of primary and paramount importance. If there has been obstruction—and I am not going into that question—on whom ought the blame to rest? On those who have been guilty of any violation of the Rules or the ordinary procedure of the House of Commons. But in this case the consequences of our acceptance of an undiscussed measure would fall not upon those who have been guilty of the offence—if an offence has been committed—but upon British and Irish subjects whose interests are disposed of without discussion. Under those circumstances, we are entitled to say that this measure, which we cannot know to have directly received the approval of the country, has not, from the consideration which it has received from the House of Commons, given us the assurance that it had indirectly that approval through the Representatives of the people in Parliament. I think I have said almost enough to justify the Motion which I shall make, even if this House did not proceed to enter upon any discussion whatever of the provisions of the Bill. The Motion which I make is not founded solely upon the objection which we may individually entertain to the principle and character of the Bill, but it is also founded on the fact that it is a change of too large and vital a description to make it right that it should be passed into law without greater knowledge and certainty of the real judgment of the people upon it. But in view of the controversy which may, some time or other, take place between the two Houses on this question, I trust that before you vote on this Bill, my Lords, it will receive at your hands, not necessarily a minute, but, at any rate, a broad and general consideration. I can only attempt to-night to refer to one or two of the main principles of the Bill. My first assertion is that those who are responsible for the Bill have not taken the trouble to consider some of the most fundamental characteristics of our Constitution, or how they would be affected by the Bill. From their speeches in support of the Bill, it appears that they recognise no distinction between the Government of the British Empire and the Government of the United Kingdom. They see no difference between the expressions "Unity of the United Kingdom" and "Unity of the Empire." In the United Kingdom, Parliament is supreme not only in its legislative but in its Executive functions. Parliament makes and unmakes our Ministries; it revises their actions. Ministries may make peace and war, but they do so at pain of instant dis- missal by Parliament from Office, and in affairs of internal administration the power of Parliament is equally direct. It can dismiss a Ministry if it is too extravagant, or too economical; it can dismiss a Ministry because its government is too stringent or too lax. It does actually and practically, in every way, directly govern England, Scotland, and Ireland. Parliament can decide, and Parliament only can decide, whether Ireland should be governed under a Crimes Act under Mr. Balfour, or under the ordinary law administered by Mr. Sexton or Mr. Healy. That is the nature of the Government and the supremacy of Parliament in the United Kingdom; it is the direct government of these Islands by Parliament through a Committee. As for the British Empire it is altogether different. Over the whole of the British Empire, including our self-governing Colonies, Parliament remains nominally and Constitutionally supreme. So long as a Colony desires to retain its connection with Great Britain it has to be content to have no foreign policy; it has to share our risks in that respect, while it receives the advantages of our protection. As regards the internal affairs of our self-governing Colonies, the supremacy of Parliament and the direct control of Parliament has become nothing but a name. Parliament has no doubt the Constitutional right to make laws for a Colony, to repeal or to veto Colonial Acts, to direct the Governor to impose a certain policy upon his Minister, to dismiss a Ministry or summon others, and to exercise every other act of sovereignty; but this power is only nominal; and no British Government would propose—no Parliament could support Government in proposing—to exercise any real control over the Acts of internal government on the part of a Colonial Parliament. Which of these two systems is the system at which we are aiming in this policy? When the Government speak of this measure sometimes as one preserving the unity of the United Kingdom, and sometimes the unity of the British Empire, are we to read those terms in the sense in which they are now applied to the United Kingdom, or only as they are now applied to the British Empire? On this point we get no light from the speeches of the Government, and not much from the pages of this Bill. It is somewhat remarkable that in the first speech I can find on this subject by the Prime Minister when he was preparing for the introduction of this policy (it is one of his Scottish speeches, delivered in the Autumn of 1885), in the course of the same sentence the right hon. Gentleman appears to use these terms in the two different senses. We are all," he says, "every man, woman, and child among us, convinced that it is the will of Providence that these Islands should be bound together in a United Kingdom. When he says that I presume he is referring to the maintenance of the Governing Authority of the United Kingdom; but the right hon. Gentleman goes on to say— From one end of Great Britain to the other I trust that there will not be a single Representative returned to Parliament who for one moment would listen to any proposition tending to impair, visibly and sensibly to impair, the unity of the Empire. The unity of the Empire, as I have endeavoured to show, would not be impaired if Ireland were made a Colony tomorrow. In the same speech the right hon. Gentleman says— I take it for granted that any demand that is made from Ireland will be a demand which sets out upon that basis, that the unity of the Empire is not to be compromised or put-in jeopardy. If it did not set out upon that basis we should know how to deal with it. He is again speaking of unity in the sense of the united Empire, and not in the sense of the Government of the United Kingdom. In the right hon. Gentleman's speech on the introduction of the Bill of 1886 this passage occurs— A supreme statutory authority of the Imperial Parliament over Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland as one United Kingdom was established by the Act of Union. That supreme statutory authority it is not asked, so far as I am aware, and certainly it is not intended, to impair. That appears to point to the maintenance of the authority of Parliament over every part of the United Kingdom, including Ireland, to the same degree and extent as it now exists. It appears to me to be a question of the most absolute importance that we should know clearly in which of these two senses we are to understand the intentions of the framers of the Bill, and unless we do we are debating these questions at cross purposes; until we know in what sense this Bill has been framed, whether any direct control of Parliament is to be retained over the internal affairs of Ireland, or whether Ireland is to become a self-governing Colony, it is impossible that the people of this country can discuss with any profit or intelligence the provisions of this Bill. It has sometimes occurred to me that we may be open to the charge that when we reject every suggestion which is made, every plan proposed for giving Home Rule to Ireland, we are seeking to prove too much, to prove that it is impossible for us to do what has been done by other countries and by our own country. I believe that in other countries it has been perfectly possible to delegate legislative powers to subordinate Assemblies, but I maintain that this has never been done, and I believe never can be done under such a system of government as ours. Here the Executive power, not alone the legislative power, is wielded by a popular Assembly, and here the legislative and Executive powers are combined. If our Parliament were like the Congress of the United States, if our Central Government possessed the power possessed by the President of the United States or by the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, there would be no difficulty in delegating some legislative or Executive powers to an inferior legislative or Executive authority. We have done this in our own dominions. We have tried two experiments. Parliament directly governs our Indian Empire. In India we have established a Government where the Executive is so distinct from the legislative power, where it is so strongly organised, that it is a simple and easy matter for Parliament to delegate considerable legislative powers to the Legislative Council, and vast executive powers to officials in various stations. But the supreme authority of Parliament over Indian legislation is not in the slightest degree impaired, nor, though the powers of Governors of Presidencies and Commissioners of Provinces are vast and enormous, has the Central Authority the smallest difficulty in governing, and, through the Government in Parliament, controlling the whole tendency of policy in India. We have tried an experiment of exactly the opposite character in our Colonies. There we have established Governments modelled on the form and structure of our own; and, while we retain a certain control over their external policy, we have absolutely abandoned the assumption of exercising any control whatever in their internal policy. Well, so it seems to me must it be in the case of Ireland. This is no prophecy. It seems to me to be the logical consequence of the causes which have produced in our self-governing Colonies practical independence; and those causes will, if you apply them, as you are seeking to do, to Ireland, produce the same consequences. What I desire to know is whether you will give your approval to a policy of Home Rule which would mean that you intend that the future of Ireland shall be as independent of the authority of Parliament as are the Colonies of Canada and Australia. My noble Friend referred to the fact that troops would remain in Ireland, and would remain under the control of the British Government. No doubt that points to a means by which we should still retain some control over the internal policy of the Irish Government. I admit that the presence of your troops in Ireland gives you the power, if sufficient cause arises, to destroy or take back the government which you are creating; but I deny that the presence of troops in Ireland gives you any power to govern Ireland constitutionally. Under the Bill the old system is gone. The Chief Secretary is gone. The Departments now under the Chief Secretary will be manned by officials who are the servants of the Irish Government with which you are supposed to be at issue. How will the troops enable you to govern Ireland under the old system or under the new system? You may issue your orders to the Lord Lieutenant to impose a certain policy on his Ministers, to direct them to retrace the steps which they have taken, or to do something which they are not disposed to do. You may direct your Lord Lieutenant to dismiss his Ministers, and may impose your policy upon him. The presence of the troops will not compel the Irish Parliament to vote Supplies by which the Irish Government may be carried on under this measure. How will it be possible, short of an emergency which would justify putting an end to the existence of this government, which with so much trouble you are creating, to influence or guide its conduct on any point which falls short of that absolute necessity? I have spoken in general terms, but I would like to give one or two instances to show the practical necessity of retaining some greater control than is provided by this Bill over the conduct and policy of the Executive Government which you are going to create in Ireland. These instances will also give Her Majesty's Ministers, if they think fit to make use of it, the opportunity of showing where in the Bill the Irish Parliament is prevented from doing what I am about to suggest. I will not give any extreme cases, but only a couple of cases that it will be admitted are not unlikely to occur. The existence of religious differences in Ireland is not denied. One effect of these religious differences is that the conduct of the Education Department is watched with a very jealous eye by Irishmen. That fact is recognised in the Bill, for you insert a clause the intention of which is to provide that the Irish Parliament may not deal with what is known as the Conscience Clause. But it is not in the least necessary, if it is the desire of any Irish Parliament, to resort to legislation in order to get rid of the Conscience Clause. The efficacy of the Conscience Clause entirely depends on its administration. The Irish Education Department, like every other Department, would be under the control of the Irish Executive. Supposing instructions are given to that Department, and by it to its Inspectors, not to insist on the strict or conscientious observance of the Conscience Clause, but on the contrary to allow the Conscience Clause to lapse, what will be the remedy for such a state of things? Would not such an order as effectually convert the education of Ireland into a denominational system as any repeal of the Conscience Clause by Act of Parliament? I want to hear from some Member of Her Majesty's Government what remedy he proposes to apply under this Bill if the Irish Government should openly, deliberately, and avowedly adopt the policy of directing the non-enforcement of the Conscience Clause. I will take another instance—one of still greater importance—which is extremely likely to arise. The Land Question is one that excites the acutest difference of opinion. Differences between the Irish Nationalist Members and the majority of Parliament up to the present time on the Irish Land Question have been notorious. The views of the Irish Members generally on the subject of rent differ considerably from those which have been entertained by the majority in both Houses of Parliament. Their views on rent vary on the part of different Members, from a total denial of the right and justice of rent at all to proposals for the indiscriminate reduction of rent. In view of that state of facts you propose to suspend the power of legislation on land for three years. That is not a very long time, and it would be interesting to know whether we are to infer from this suspension that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to legislate on the Land Question in the interval. From what fell from my noble Friend just now, I gathered that he thinks that the Irish Land Question is already sufficiently settled. But the question of legislation is not my present point. Legislation is not necessary to enable the Irish Government by an administrative act to virtually effect an agrarian revolution. We know, we ought to know, for we have been told often enough in the other House, that the payment of rent in Ireland can only be enforced by the power of the Government to carry out evictions. The duty, or perhaps, as they may consider, the hateful burden of enforcing the payment of rent by eviction will, after the passing of the Bill, devolve upon the Irish Government, every Member of which has already to some extent pledged himself against the principle. Is it an unreasonable or unlikely anticipation that, without attempting to legislate upon land at all, the Irish Government may, by an Executive Act, decline to use the Executive power at their command to enforce evictions or take any steps whatever to enforce the payment of rent? Or is it not still more probable that they may propose some discriminating conditions which have never received the sanction either of this Legislature or their own. The question I would ask Her Majesty's Government is—Where in this Bill is the provision that would enable Parliament, if proceedings such as these are adopted, to pronounce an opinion or take effective action with regard to the supposed action of the Irish Government. I have referred to the Irish Land Question as part of my argument that I am endeavouring to prove that some greater power of control on the part of Parliament over the Executive action of the Irish Government is required. I have another word to say on this subject of a more general character. We have been reminded by my noble Friend that it was proposed in 1886 to deal concurrently with the question of land and the question of government, and the obligation of the Government to deal concurrently with these subjects was stated in the strongest terms. That intention has been departed from. My noble Friend who moved the Second Reading of this Bill, speaking at Newcastle in 1886, said— Everybody knows that there have been many feuds in Ireland—old animosities which cannot be expected to die out at once. Foremost among these is the Land Question. The whole force of Irish agitation at one time was against the Irish landlords. That animosity was bitter and strong. I do not for a moment think it would be just and honest in the British Parliament to leave unprotected and uncared for the landlords of Ireland. We have at different times curtailed their rights by Acts of Parliament, and I think it would be a mean and treacherous thing at this moment if we did not defend what we consider their just interests. But I should like to say this in addition—that I believe it would be most unfair on the new Irish Assembly to leave this question of the land unsettled. We have heard to-night the explanation of the change of policy of the Government by my noble Friend. Since 1886 the Ashbourne Act has been extended and the Act of 1891 has been passed. Does my noble Friend intend to convey that in his opinion those two Acts are a final settlement of the Irish Land Question? It is perfectly well known that the amount provided in both these Acts is entirely inadequate to effect the transference of more than a fraction of the land of Ireland from the landlord to the occupiers. Nor is it entirely a matter of the amount which may be sufficient to effect such a transference. The landlord may be perfectly willing to sell, but the tenant, especially under existing circumstances, with the prospect of this Bill passing, may not be willing to buy. What protection is it to the Irish landlord that he is willing to sell or that the Government is willing to advance the money, if he cannot prevail on his tenantry, acting on the advice of their leaders, to buy? Does my noble Friend for one single moment mean to attempt to persuade the House that the existence of the Act referred to places the Irish landlords in a position of such security that it is safe now to do what in 1886 he said it would be "a mean and treacherous thing to do"—namely, not to defend what he considers the just interests of the landlords. I freely admit the right of everyone among us to change our opinions upon any question of policy or expediency; it is a more serious thing to change our opinion and our action on a question which has been admitted to be one of duty and of honour. Whatever may be my opinion of the expediency or policy of the course which has recommended itself to Her Majesty's Government, I cannot think that my noble Friend has given any adequate consideration to the obligations of duty and of honour which he and his Colleagues undertook in 1886, when he puts forward the useful, but tentative and incomplete measure of 1891 as relieving him of the obligations to the Irish landlords which he acknowledged in 1886. On that point I cannot refrain from saying a word upon some other extraordinary denials, and I think I may say evasions, of former declarations—denials and evasions to which we have been accustomed in connection with this measure. I have adverted to one which is inexplicable to me in relation to the Land Question, but that is not the only one. The Prime Minister said at Edinburgh in 1885 that it would be unsafe to deal with the Irish problem unless the Liberal Party were in a majority independent of the assistance of the Irish Members. That declaration was made with the usual adjuncts, and the Edinburgh audience were assured that this warning was given seriously and solemnly. It was not given once but twice. Though I have had the honour of having had correspondence with the Prime Minister on the subject, there is one further extract which I did not use then, and which puts the matter in a more concise shape than we are accustomed to get from the Prime Minister— I have said everywhere that I trust you will return a Liberal Party able to sway the destinies of the country in the coming Parliament, because, especially taking into view those necessities that may arise in connection with the government of the Sister Island, nothing, I think, could be more dangerous to the public weal than that they should be handled in a Parliament where there was no party strong enough to direct its action according to its judgment and conscience, without being liable to be seduced from the right path by the temptation which might be offered to it by the vote of the Irish Members. But that, I understand, is the summit of the hopes of the Tory Party in this Election; not that they may obtain such a national verdict as will enable them, possessing the confidence of Parliament as a whole, to direct their course, but that they may obtain such an amount of strength in a minority as, with the assistance of a large Irish contingent, may be made into a majority. Gentlemen, I must say—I am entitled, I think, to say—that is not a state of things which we could accept as a Party. But I may go further and say it is not a state of things that would be safe or honourable to the country. I took the liberty on some occasion or other to refer to those statements. The attention of the Prime Minister was called to my remarks, and he informed his correspondent that my reference was inaccurate. I sent him passages, not the one I have read, but longer ones from former speeches, and I obtained the following explanation:— You have converted a statement growing out of a particular position of Parties and affairs under my view at the time into a general principle applicable to all positions of Parties and affairs. Now, I think that those denials, and I may almost say evasions, constitute an unfortunate incident of our public life. They are, it seems to me, calculated to diminish the weight and authority of declarations which are made by responsible men. I ask this House whether any declaration on a certain point could be made in terms broader and wider and clearer than those I have read. Whenever in future we have to deal with similar declarations on similar important points, it will become necessary for us, before attaching the smallest consequence to them as a guide to future conduct and action, to pause and consider "what is the particular position of parties and affairs" which is in the view of the speaker at the time. There is another instance to which I may allude. The Prime Minister, speaking at Liverpool—I do not recollect the date—said he would not be a party to Irish Members voting and speaking on English and Scotch affairs when they had their own Parliament to manage their own affairs. The Prime Minister has not denied the accuracy of the quotation; but he has given an interpretation of it. I doubt whether that interpretation is a satisfactory one. As I gather, the explanation is that he would not be a party to forcing such an arrangement on unwilling Englishmen and Scotchmen; but that, as I understand, is the very thing the Prime Minister has done. I believe that in the Division which took place on the retention of the Irish Members for all purposes, the Government only carried the change by the assistance of the Irish Members. If that is not forcing this arrangement upon unwilling Scotland and England, I do not know what interpretation to place upon the words. I have endeavoured to give you one or two instances in which it seems to me to be absolutely necessary that some greater control should be conferred on Parliament to control the acts of the Irish Executive. But it is unnecessary to refer to hypothetical cases. I think we ought to know what is the attitude of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the representations of the minority in Ireland. Do they believe that every class but one lives in dread of this Bill? Do they believe that these fears are insincere or unfounded? Or do they believe that they are sincere and well-founded, but yet do not care, and are willing to take the risk. I will put the landlords on one side for a moment. I do not suppose anyone will doubt that the landlords have reason to dread this Bill. As to the Protestants, I should like to ask any Member of this House—I would not appeal only to the Protestant Members, I would appeal to my noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies himself (the Marquess of Ripon)—whether he would like the alternative of being ruled by a Government under the orders of the Irish hierarchy, or the alternative of being ruled by a Government elected by a Party returned under the influence of Irish-American Fenians, dynamiters, and moonlighters? My noble Friend who spoke before me says he does not believe that the Protestants have anything to fear. Of that I apprehend that they may be better judges than my noble Friend. Then what are we to say to the apprehensions of the merchants, the men of business in Ireland? What is the attitude of the Government towards them? If the Government are right and these men are wrong, they have more to gain from this measure than any other class in Ireland. If the Government are right, and this is a measure which is going to bring contentment and prosperity to Ireland, it is these men who have most to gain. Do the Government suppose that these men are fools? Do they think that they are altogether ignorant of the conditions, political, or otherwise, under which they can safely and successfully conduct their business? My noble Friend himself cannot profess to think that he knows more about the buying of flax or selling of linen than the Belfast manufacturer, and does he suppose that these men, avowedly shrewd men of business, who attained their present position by their common sense, their shrewdness, and their ability, are absolutely incompetent to form an estimate of the political conditions under which they now carry on, or in future are to carry on, their trade. These classes—landlords, Protestants, merchants, manufacturers, professional men, men of business—all tell you, without exception, that they have confidence in and rely upon the justice and the power of the Imperial Parliament. Can you show to them within the four corners of this Bill a means by which the Imperial Parliament will in future be able to exercise any power whatever for their protection? If you can show them that, notwithstanding the granting of local autonomy to Ireland, you do reserve power in the hands of the British Parliament to protect minorities against injustice, oppression, and wrong, then I do not say you remove altogether the distrust of your Bill, but you will go a long way towards removing the feeling of absolute dread and apprehension which now pervades the minority in Ireland. But for one reason it is to me a subject for wonder why Her Majesty's Government should have adopted this particular mode of extending self-government to Ireland, when what seems a better and an easier way lay before them. My noble Friend said something this evening about local self-government, but, unfortunately, he was stopped in the middle of his quotation, in which he said he was going to prove that the noble Marquess (Lord Salisbury) expressed an opinion that the extension of local self-government to Ireland would be much worse than Home Rule. It is a very curious fact that the Government of the noble Marquess introduced a Local Government Bill, but it appears to me that a better and safer and easier way might have been found within) the lines of an extension of local self-government. All our institutions hitherto have been gradual in their growth, and never has there been wholly absent from them, even in Ireland, the germ of local self-government. In very recent times we have seen an enormous development of the principles of local self-government. In our County Councils and in our County Borough Councils we have seen great and powerful bodies created possessing now very considerable executive and administrative powers. No one can say even now how far this principle may be yet capable of extension; but to whatever extent it may grow, in the course of its growth it destroys nothing, it takes no power away from our Central Government or from our Imperial Parliament. It grows side by side with our Parliamentary institutions. It is like the case of the action of a father who, as his sons grow up and show more and more capacity for business, entrusts a larger and larger share of the management of his affairs to them; or like the case of an employer who, as his business increases and he feels less inclined to devote himself to details, delegates constantly to managers and subordinates a larger amount of power and responsibility. But the course you prefer resembles that of a father who is compelled by his son to sign during his lifetime a bond assigning a considerable proportion of his income and an appreciable amount of control, whether, with or against his will, in the management of his affairs; or like the conduct of the subordinate managers of a firm who insist upon their employer converting his business into a limited liability company, and appointing all of them co-directors with equal power and authority to himself. The reason for this course of conduct on the part of the Government is not far to seek. No proposal to extend local self-government in Ireland would have purchased votes. In an evil and unhappy day the Irish Party accepted at the hands of Mr. Parnell the principle of Irish nationality; and in a still more evil day, without consulting his followers, the Leader of the Liberal Party committed the great bulk of his own Party to the same principle. The votes which were then bargained for are now to be had at no lower price, and this appears to me to constitute the only explanation why the Government did not make an honest attempt to solve the Irish difficulty by the extension to Ireland of the measures which had been found effectual in England and Scotland. I will say nothing upon the subject of finance, partly because I feel I am very imperfectly acquainted with it, and partly because it seems to me not especially fit to be discussed in your House. Neither have I said anything as to Ulster, though Ulster is one of the minorities I have referred to. It is said that Ulster is prepared to resist this measure by force if it passes into law; but I do not desire to say anything upon that. I should prefer that your decision should be based upon your own judgment. All threats of violence on one side or the other should be left out of consideration. All I would venture to say is that the attitude of Ulster is such as to be a subject of the utmost gravity, though the responsibility for the position there is perhaps to be borne more by the Government than by your Lordships. The attitude of Ulster is one of the utmost gravity, and a vast responsibility rests upon those who ignore it, and treat as vague and idle the protests and the solemn declarations of men who have never yet given us reason to believe that they do not mean what they say. I will not detain you any longer as to the principles and details of this Bill. The Prime Minister, in the last speech he made on this subject, summed up the other day what he took to be the Unionist views of the case. There was some element of exaggeration, some distortion, some touch of caricature in the right hon. Gentleman's recital of the pleas which the Unionist Party urged against this measure, but on the whole it was not very far wide of the mark. This is his enumeration of our pleas. "It will separate the people." We do say that in our judgment the bitterness of religious animosity in Ireland will not be lessened, but exaggerated by leaving the people to fight out their differences without the controlling power of an authority which, however much it may have erred in other respects, has in recent times, at any rate on the religious question, endeavoured to do strict and impartial justice. Mr. Gladstone says our next plea is that the Bill will destroy the Constitution. This is an exaggeration of our plea. We do not say it will destroy our Constitution; we do say it will introduce into it innovations which are opposed to its spirit and principle. "It will break up the Empire." That is a misstatement of our contention. We say it will break up the United Kingdom, and relegate Ireland to the position of a self-governing Colony. "It will annihilate financial control." That is a question which I have not touched upon, and shall not touch upon to-night. "It will make an Irish delegation supreme in our affairs." That is a plea by which we abide in its entirety. "It will lead to the virtual slavery of the minority." That, again, is the language of exaggeration. "Lastly, the controversies within the walls of Parliament will become worse instead of better." We fully believe in and adopt that plea. The work in this Bill is only half done. This measure will deprive the minority of political power to which their position and their character fully entitles them; but this minority will not have been silenced, for you have taken care that the loyal minority—the minority to which you have been accustomed to appeal in your times of difficulty and danger—shall still be heard, if not in Ireland, at least here. You have done your best to transform those who were your friends into your bitterest foes, but you have still left them a foothold in this Parliament and arms with which they can fight the battle here in which they are disarmed at home. Under those circumstances the controversy which has too often disturbed our Parliamentary discussion between Englishmen and Irishmen will in all probability be renewed with greater bitterness and intensity after this measure has been passed into law. We have been accused of freely indulging in prophecy. I do not know which of us has claimed that gift, but no doubt statesmanship does consist in the gift of foreseeing, so far as our imperfect faculties will admit, the consequences of certain acts and certain policies. Principles may be important; details may be essential; but what the statesman has to look at are the probable results. We have, as the Prime Minister thinks, a distorted vision of the measure. You also have your visions. We think we see not only the evils and horrors which will result from this Bill, but we have a vision of a happier Ireland under other conditions. Our vision, I admit, is not clothed in any radiant colours, but we see the prospect of a continuous growth in the material prosperity of Ireland which has marked the history of the country in recent years—a growth of material prosperity which we believe was never more rapid than at the time when it received an unfortunate check last year. We believe that contentment and order will in the end follow in the steps of material prosperity. If we have the distorted vision of the facts of your policy which the Prime Minister describes, we are entitled to think that your Utopia is still more wild and improbable than ours. They see in the future visions of order, but it is order evolved out of the deliberations in Committee Room No. 15. They see the increase of material prosperity, but it is a material prosperity unaided by capital, which is already leaving the shores of Ireland. They see a vision of justice for Ireland, but it is justice which has been learned in the Courts of the Land League. Prophecy is as necessary to commend their scheme as it is to condemn it. We believe that the picture we draw is drawn on truer lines and in more faithful colours than their picture, which is so much the work of the imagination. They must acknowledge, at all events, that their remedy is a critical and a capital one. If it does not succeed one of the patients surely dies, while the other must be left sorely afflicted almost unto death. Believing that it is "better to endure the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of," we elect—and we hope that the people will support us in electing—to abide by the Union of the United Kingdom, which we believe was decreed by Nature, and to which laws and treaties have only given a written sanction and record. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.

Amendment moved to leave out ("now") and add at the end of the Motion ("this day six months.")—(The Duke of Devonshire.)


said, that he had listened with the greatest possible admiration to the noble Duke who had moved the rejection of this Bill, and he could not but feel it to be somewhat presumptuous on the part of so humble a Member of their Lordships' House to reply to those arguments which had been used with so much eloquence and power. He had listened with the greatest possible interest to the speech of the noble Lord who had introduced the Bill. It was not his intention to follow the noble Lord over the very wide area he traversed, but he would confine his remarks to the Bill which had been introduced into this House, and he confessed that he had searched, and searched in vain, for any convincing arguments for such a change as would take place if this measure were passed into law. If he might venture to make an allusion to the speech of so great a statesman as the Prime Minister of England he would say that in his opinion a strong argument had been adduced in favour of Home Rule in the speech in which Mr. Gladstone introduced his Bill in 1886, but it was useless to compare the state of things then to the state of things in 1891. He was willing to admit that in 1886 the condition of Ireland was such as would disgrace any civilised nation of the world; that the government of Ireland by this country had been tried and failed, and it was absolutely necessary that something should be done; and on this ground was founded the proposal for Home Rule. But many things had been done since 1886 by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour). Crime in the country had diminished to such an extent that they had been enabled to hand over the country to their successors in a state of comparative peace and contentment, and much in the same condition as Scotland is now and has been for many years. As an illustration of the suppression of crime, it appears that when Her Majesty's Government realised the state of affairs they found they could conscientiously suspend those safeguards which they thought it desirable to retain for the purpose of protecting those living and acting in the country and give greater freedom to the criminal classes of Ireland than they had hitherto had. He had pointed out that the crime of the country diminished almost to its normal condi- tion, and measures were taken for the development of the resources of the country and encouraging the industries of the people. They had every reason to believe that the prosperity of the country had increased, and he had been informed by those residing on their estates in the worst parts of the country that a slow but sure change for the better came over every class. He said, under those circumstances, not a vestige of argument remained that the government of Ireland by this country was impossible. He had searched for any sound and solid argument in support of what was called the protection of the loyal minority, and he had seen none. He had searched for any sound or solid argument for the protection of those servants of the Crown, who had been doing their duty, and I have found none. Then, coming to the new administration in Ireland, he would not detain them with the future formation of the Lower House of Parliament, but it was proposed that there should be two Houses of Legislature of Ireland—that the one should be a safeguard of the other. Looking at the formation of the Upper House, they found it was to be elective, and Members were to be elected by persons paying a rent of £20 and upwards. Now that had been tried before, and failed. Their Lordships were well aware what a farce trial by jury became at a certain time in Ireland. The qualification to serve on a jury was a £20 valuation, and he believed he was correct in saying that a jury under those qualifications was unfit to perform their duty, and ultimately the qualification had to be raised, and it was now £40 in the country and £10 in the town. He believed he was correct in saying that in the rural districts the persons with the £20 or £30 qualification were the very persons who suffered most from intimidation at the hands of the National League of Ireland. Many of them had been compelled to join it, and he said instead of being a safeguard, the Upper House would rather add emphasis to the deliberations of the Lower. Under those circumstances he asked what they proposed to do with those faithful servants to the Crown who had done their duty so well in the past? To begin with there was the Civil Service of Ireland, the Imperial servants of the Crown, they had claims which had been derived from long custom, and they had in many cases given up other occupations, in order to make the Service their occupation for life, and having arrived at the time of superannuation they might justly expect to receive in the future that which they had had in the past, compensation for the services rendered to the country. What was the state of affairs under this Bill, the newly-created Government of Ireland would have entire control over those individuals. He believed he was correct in saying that after five years it would rest entirely between the Treasury and the newly-created Government in Ireland whether they will be permitted to retire at any time during the five years, and if so they would receive but small compensation should they be forced to serve five years, and should they at the end of five years be permitted to retire, they would be placed in a similar position. If they should not retire, then they would be at the mercy of the Administration, who would have the power to make whatever terms they pleased. He confessed it seemed to him that that looked like a breach of faith. The remarks which he had made with regard to the Civil servants applied to the other persons; everybody knew what this country owed to the Royal Irish Constabulary, who performed their duty in an exemplary manner. He had himself had much experience during his Viceroyalty, and he felt himself in a position to say that no force at any time or in any country more thoroughly enjoyed the respect or admiration of the law-abiding citizens of the country. He believed their sympathies were with the people, and when the country was destroyed by the potato famine the Royal Irish Constabulary contributed no less a sum than £1,300 for the relief of their fellow countrymen. Not only that, but they gave us their services free of charge, and it was owing to their aid that we were able to bring about a scheme to combat the potato famine in the land. Then their Lordships must consider that these men have in many cases arrived at a time of life when it will be impossible to embark in a fresh career, and they have insured their lives under the impression that they will not be disturbed, and he considered they were treated in a most shameful manner. He understood the noble Lord to say other employment might be found, and he supposed he (Lord Spencer) liked to think there may be other employment found for the Civil servants. But that was not the case here. There were some who believed that something like a political milennium would take place on the passing of the Bill, but it was not likely. They must look to the probable rather than to the possible consequences of the Bill. It was possible that some of those individuals that he (Lord Zetland) had referred to would consent to serve under the future Government, but he confessed to him it was extremely improbable. He could not but characterise the proposals of the Government as being experimental, and in their character revolutionary and unjust. He was not expressing his own opinion only when he said he objected to the principles of a measure which would tend to the severance of the Legislative Union of the two countries. This was not a measure of finality. It was a natural question to ask by whom was this legislation required. He might take it it was not the landlords. It had been amply demonstrated by the public at large; it had been amply shown by the large demonstrations in the North of Ireland, where all the wealth, capital, and commercial enterprise of the country was to be found, that the proposals of Her Majesty's Government were not wanted. Those demonstrations had not been confined to the North of Ireland. Demonstrations of a similar character had been held in Dublin and in the South. Nor had these demonstrations been confined to the Protestants. And similar demonstrations have been held where the delegates have been elected by the people, and resolutions have been carried with the same unanimity. In this great City they had witnessed a scene which they would never forget: when the delegates were sent to this country to free them from this measure which would bring destruction on their country and ruin on themselves. As regarded the feeling in Ireland, he had himself travelled largely about the country and endeavoured to make himself acquainted with the wants and wishes and requirements of the people, and during his travels he had received innumerable petitions and addresses and he had never on any single occasion received a petition or an address or heard a speech delivered containing anything which could by any possibility be taken as meaning anything derogatory to the Crown. He knew the chief troubles of Ireland were the effect of the political agitator who poisoned the ears of the people. He had seen in County Clare an instance of intimidation at the house of a farmer. He interviewed the man, and saw a hole in the window made by a bullet, which, though meant for him (the farmer), had passed through the heart of his young daughter. There were three brothers in the house, and yet not a single scrap of evidence was forthcoming as to the murder. They might talk of the doings of tyrants and dictators in bygone ages, but never in the world's history had cruelty, tyranny, or intimidation been brought to such a pitch as it had been by the organisation which was set on foot by those individuals whose past offences the Government were now prepared to condone, and in whom they now professed to feel such confidence that they are about to entrust to them the destinies of the country. The Government were now prepared to throw over and destroy all that in the past had been faithful and loyal and true in Ireland in order to hand over the government to these men who had done all they could to make the government of the country an impossibility, and who had never on any occasion done anything whatever to ameliorate the condition of the people. Such a state of things as this might well be described as passing the wit of man to understand. It is positively certain that the capital and all that makes a country prosperous and happy will take itself elsewhere; as a natural concurrence the manhood of the country, which is dependent on capital for its livelihood, will also leave. It was not his (Lord Zetland's) intention to say how Irish labour would be received in English markets, but he would ask, under the circumstances, how Her Majesty's Government proposed to continue the Government in Ireland? It seemed to him the taxes would be increased. The English taxpayer would inevitably be called upon to aid a people impoverished by the results of legislation sought to be placed on the Statute Book by an unholy alliance between law-breakers and the remnant of the once great Liberal Party. He rejoiced that the measure had come before their Lordships for consideration, and he believed the course they would take upon it would be sanctioned by the public at large. He was entirely unable to understand what liberty would be conferred on Ireland by the proposals of the Government, unless, indeed, it be the sham liberty of the Land Leaguer, the robber, and the assassin; and he was totally at a loss to know what justice there could be in proposals to hand over to law-breakers of the past the future care of the lives, limbs, and property of that loyal minority in Ireland whose lives, limbs, and property both Parties had in the past been equally anxious to preserve.


said, as a constant resident in Ireland, they in Dublin and its neighbourhood looked upon the Bill with dread impossible to describe. He spoke on behalf, not only of the Dublin tradesmen and merchants and others, but all the artizans and labourers in the district. They all looked upon the advent of the Bill as a blight which would stop all improvements and all industries in Ireland. Tradesmen had told him that the shadow of the Bill ruined trade, and that in Dublin there was nothing going on. A Cork tradesman, giving his opinion on the subject, said there was not a man in the country with £20 in his pocket who wanted the Bill. If this Bill passed, which they hoped it would not, all improvements such as the light railways would come to an end, because it was quite impossible that such projects could be carried on by the finances of Ireland without the aid of Great Britain. He failed to see how Ireland was to prosper, and the people of Ireland were beginning to find out that under Home Rule the country would not prosper. The more they realised that the only effect of the Bill would be to increase the burden of their taxation the more were they inclined to oppose it. Trinity College had spoken pretty plainly on the subject. Mr. Gladstone brought in an Education Bill for Ireland under which he proposed to obliterate the Chairs of Philosophy and History. Naturally that did not suit the intelligence of the country and the Bill was thrown out. The Dublin people and others are becoming more and more convinced that this Bill would result in national bankruptcy.


said, he should give his heartiest support to the principles on which the Bill was founded, but he would not pledge himself to support all its details. The Bill embodied the only available plan for dealing with the Irish Question. They might have governed Ireland by coercion. They had the power to do so if they had thought fit. Speaking at Portsmouth, Mr. Parnell said— It is impossible for 3.000,000 of Irishmen to contend against 2,000,000 of other Irishmen and the tens of millions of the United Kingdom. Later in the same address Mr. Parnell gave the reasons why coercion was impossible— You can," he said, "silence us in Ireland, but you will have to accompany our silence in Ireland by our silence in the House of Commons. In other words, they must disfranchise Ireland. English statesmen had shrunk from that alternative. The Act of 1884, unchallenged by the Conservative Party, added more than 500,000 votes to the electorate of Ireland; it was an addition of 200 per cent. The results were immediately seen; out of 102 Members returned for Ireland 86 were Home Rulers. That was a national pronouncement which no Liberal Leader could venture to disregard. They had dealt with the grievance of religious inequality. They had dealt with the Land Question in a succession of measures strongly opposed, but which had been found by experience satisfactory in their operation. There were other grievances, which as yet they had not attempted to remove. The time had now come to deal with the grievance known as the Castle system. Its operation was described by Mr. Chamberlain at Islington on June 17, 1885, perhaps with some exaggeration, in an eloquent passage— I do not believe that the great majority of Englishmen have the slightest conception of the system under which this free nation attempts to rule a sister country. It is a system founded on the bayonets of 30,000 soldiers, encamped permanently as in a hostile country. It is a system as completely centralised and bureaucratic as that with which Russia governs Poland. An Irishman at this moment cannot move a step, he cannot lift a finger, in any parochial, municipal, or educational work, without being confronted, interfered with, controlled by an English official appointed by a foreign Government. He said, with Mr. Chamberlain, the time had come to substitute for that system an Irish Parliament for purely Irish business. It was no sufficient answer to the complaints of the Irish people that they have had in Parliament a Court of Appeal at which they might at all times command a hearing. The Irish Nationalists had been represented. They had been over-represented. But the Irish Members had sat side by side with more than 500 British Members. What was the problem for which Parliament was called upon to provide a solution? It could not be more clearly stated than by Mr. Charles Stuart Parker in his Life of Sir Robert PeelThe sphinx of history," he says, "is once more putting the question, yet unsolved. With organised agitation, and with an overwhelming voting power of tenant farmers (such as existed in the Irish counties before 1829 and exists again since 1884), how shall Irish popular demands be reconciled with 'securities,' no longer for a Protestant Established Church (for that, as Sir Robert Peel foresaw, is gone), but for the Legislative Union (which he thought might also go), for enforcement of the civil rights of landlords, for individual liberty of action, and generally for good government, as understood by the majority of the United Kingdom. Two attempts had been made by Mr. Gladstone to give Local Government to Ireland. Each of his Bills had been an embodiment of the same principle. In both they had a Legislature created for purely local affairs, more limited as to its sphere of action than Grattan's Parliament, but having the power of appointing its own Executive. It was contended that no Executive which could be appointed by an Irish Parliament would be fit to be entrusted with the responsibility of government. The objection to an Irish Executive rested upon a deep distrust of the Irish character. It could not be denied that there had been much lawlessness and disaffection in Ireland; but let them ask themselves whether that regrettable state of things had not been created by poverty and acts of misgovernment. Was it not true, as Mr. Bright once said, that "everything can be made of an Irishman in every country but his own"? That cautious and profound statesman, Sir Cornewall Lewis, made a just estimate of the political capacity of Irishmen— Before I went to Ireland," he said, "I had very strong opinions as to the influence of race on the Irish character. But when I came to look at things more closely and to see all the demoralising influences to which they have been, and are, subjected, I asked myself whether a people of Germanic race would have turned out much better; and I really could not answer in the affirmative. … Cœteris paribus, I would sooner have a German than a Celt, and a Protestant than a Catholic; but I have no doubt that a peasantry of Catholic Celts may be so governed and placed under such moral influences as to be peaceable, industrious, and contented. While declining to take a pessimist view of the political capacity of Irishmen, he desired that the changes contemplated should be made with prudence, and, as Mr. Parnell was contented to allow, by gradual stages. Failure need not be anticipated, but they should be prepared for every contingency. Under the Bill it was proposed that the whole administration of the Local Government should be supervised by the Lord Lieutenant, advising with the local Executive, but subject to instructions from the Imperial Cabinet. Imperial unity and control would be preserved by the Irish Peers in this House and by representation in the House of Commons. Two Irish Exchequer Judges were to be appointed under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom. It would be no infringement of the principle of the Bill to retain the appointment to a large number of the higher judicial offices. Under the Bill it was proposed to maintain the fine force of Royal Irish Constabulary for a period of six years. It was certainly not desirable that it should be disbanded until the peace of Ireland was thoroughly assured under the Local Government. The Constabulary might be maintained as a gendarmerie, forming part of the Regular Army, and paid out of the Army Estimates. That was one of the many wise recommendations of the Devon Commission, on which no action had been taken. Turning to Clause 9, under the original Bill of 1886 the Irish Members were not retained in the Imperial Parliament. Their position had been reconsidered in deference to a general wish. If retained, the Irish Members must sit in Parliament for every purpose. The in-and-out plan was clearly impracticable. The anomaly of the situation would be considerably mitigated if the Parliamentary representation of Ireland were reduced to something like the proportion of its contribution to the Imperial Revenue. If this were done, the Irish Members would be about 35 in a total of 670. Such a representation would be quite sufficient to sustain the unity of government and the Imperial supremacy of Parliament. It would probably be more beneficial to Ireland than the present excess of Members, while giving the Irish Party less power than they at present possessed to set up or to overthrow Ministries. The Land Question was the most difficult of all the questions with which the Government had to deal in Ireland. It was not touched upon in the present Bill. It was said, and said truly, by Aristotle, the father of political science, "The protection of property is the principal care of statesmen, it being the question on which all revolutions depend." Every Royal Commission had recommended a large conversion of the Irish occupiers into owners, with the assistance of the State. The principle had been accepted by statesmen on both sides. It was obvious that the policy of land purchase could only be carried through by agreement on the part of responsible statesmen on both sides. Not only in relation to land, but in regard to the whole of the complex and difficult Irish Question, was it not true that until some general agreement was obtained on the leading principles it was impossible that the work of legislation could be completed? The late Government, although strongly opposed to Mr. Gladstone's proposals in 1886, did not hesitate to proceed on similar lines when they came into Office. They began with an expenditure of £10,000,000 under the Ashbourne Acts. They made a further proposal to raise £33,000,000 for the same purpose. The principle of State-aided land purchase having once been adopted we must go on to the end. That was the opinion of the Lord Chancellor. His noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, addressing the Eighty Club in 1889, said— I think it would be poor kindness to the Irish Legislature to leave them the task of dealing with the Land Question. It was only by agreement on both sides that such an arrangement could be adopted, and until such an agreement had been arrived at it would be impossible that our legislation in regard to Ireland could take a final shape. When the principles had been fixed the task of framing a measure could be entrusted, as it was suggested by Lord Rosebery in a speech delivered at Northwich. He suggested when the general principles had been fixed a Royal Commission should be appointed consisting of some of their most distinguished lawyers and permanent Civil servants of the Crown, to whom should be entrusted the framing of the measure in all its details. However protracted the delay, if the policy now proposed should in the end prove successful, nothing could deprive Mr. Gladstone of the credit which was his due for his services to Ireland. In conclusion, let it be remembered that, in dealing with Ireland, Parliament had to deal not only with the inhabitants of an island of limited extent, but with the far larger numbers of Irish descent, who were settled in the United States and the Colonies, and whose hostility was the source of political difficulties, only to be removed by a policy of conciliation. All experience, whether in Europe or in our own Colonies, was in favour of the policy. It was idle to talk of separation, and to argue that Ireland, under limited self-government, could be used as a base for hostile operations. With all the armed force and every military position in the Imperial Government's hands, with its fleets filling Irish harbours, how could Ireland lift up a finger? Separation was not desired by Irishmen themselves. They were not so unintelligent that they should fail to see the advantages to their country of being joined to and protected by a powerful Empire of great resources. It was the hope, it was the confidence of the Government, that when their new plan had been established there would be no desire for separation, but rather that the Union of the Empire would be cemented by indissoluble bonds of common interests and reciprocal regard. He desired to give a hearty general support to the Bill now before the House.


said, the noble Lord who had just down had comforted himself for having supported the Bill by putting forward the many Amendments he proposed to move if the Bill reached the Committee stage. He congratulated the noble Lord that he would not be called upon to carry into practical effect the promise which he had given the House. They all knew what was to be the fate of this measure, but he did not intend to trouble them again with the arguments which were well known. The title of the Bill itself—it was entitled a Bill for the Better Government of Ireland—showed what it was. It was promoted for the purpose of putting power into the hands of a political Party who lost no opportunity of showing how unfit they were of undertaking the responsibility. It put the power in the hands of two opposing factions. One of the factions had no means or will to reconcile its opponents, and no power to bind the hostile factions into one people. To the Protestants of Ireland the power would be wielded by those they felt they could not trust, to the Catholics of Ireland it dangled before them the dangerous temptations of power that could only be grasped by an unholy alliance condemned by the Church, and whose Leaders had openly defied the Decrees of the Holy See. It came in such a shape that showed that capital and enterprise were already leaving, and on leaving the House of Commons the very last words said about it were words of protest from those whom it was supposed to benefit against the Financial Clauses, and that was why it was not so much as the last word, but rather that it was a second contest that would take place in Ireland, because it had this Bill for foundation and encouragement in the action which brought the Bill about. That was one of the reasons which made them feel how futile were the hopes of those who looked for relief from this measure. He did not wish to take up too much time, but he thought there were two instances he would bring to their minds. One was the feeling that the Bill was to be amended, and so bring to an end the struggle and agitation which had gone on so long; and the other feeling that England ought to expiate her acts of evil government and repent; and, therefore, this Act was an Act of tardy reparation and justice. Surely they could not admit for a moment that this Bill was the price and badge of victory of the disunion. The noble Earl who moved the Second Reading assured the House that the Irish would not be so foolish as to carry the agitation further, because they knew that separation was hopeless, and that behind the Bill were the Armies of England. That was a very strange way of introducing this olive branch. There might be among the Home Rule Party some who understood well enough that there might be a question between separation or civil war, and those who had found in the past that agitation paid so well might get up an agitation for its own sake without really thinking of the bribes they dangled before their dupes. The point need not be discussed whether they intended to go on from demand to demand, though they had given their own assurance that that was their intention, without even paying their Lordships' House the compliment of waiting to see how they were going to dispose of this measure. At a meeting at Dublin on the 9th of August, Mr. Redmond stated that such a measure of Home Rule could not be regarded as final and satisfactory by the Irish people. Noble Lords opposite might say that represented the views of merely a fraction of the Irish people; but it showed to what sort of people the administration of the government of Ireland was to be entrusted. At another meeting, on the 2nd August, Mr. Healy criticised the attitude of the Parnellite Party, and said that the Home Rule measure must be regarded as a compromise—that people must not suppose that in this world they could get everything they wanted at once, and that they ought to know that a compromise must be accepted in this matter and be glad to accept this Bill. Mr. Healy went on to say that the Irish people could not expect, after 700 years of slavery, everything they deserved in one day or in one year. He said they must be content with laying one stone upon another, laying a good foundation, and trusting that by-and-bye somebody would put on the roof; that they must proceed quietly and certainly with their work, and in that spirit, animated by those views and supported by their countrymen, they proposed to proceed to the end. He could hardly understand the contemptuous indifference to the feelings of the Gladstonian Party in England, which must have been present to Mr. Healy's mind when he made that audacious statement. It meant that the Irish Party were using that Bill as a foundation on which to build up an edifice from which to attack us. It meant that the Federation would be on the floor of the House of Commons, turning out Government after Government for the purpose of forcing them to listen to Irish demands for fear of offending the Irish Representatives. He need not dwell further upon the absurdity of this measure being looked upon as final. He did not deny that there had been much of evil in the past in the government of Ireland which we had to make amends for; but the remedy was not, having taken from them all power of managing their own affairs and having sapped and undermined their strength, to give them this pretended boon at a time when it was sure to be used only by one Party against another in that unhappy country. He well knew what the Roman Catholic Church had suffered in Ireland, but he held the conviction that the Church in Ireland could look with trust and confidence to the Government of this united country to meet every fair and just demand and to right anything which might be wrong. Much might also be achieved by a steady policy in the direction of developing the resources of the country. No one could deny that during the few years that the late Government were in Office they showed a practical determination in this direction. The alliance of the Irish Nationalists with the Gladstonians was much to be condemned; and all must feel that such a union was a disgraceful chapter in the public history of our country. What answer should be given to that disgraceful episode in public policy? Their Lordships were helping to shape that answer by the course they intended to take on this Bill. It was for their Lordships to give the nation time to reflect on what it was doing, time to take care that this did not become an accepted policy, and in order to see whether the people were really prepared to follow Leaders in such a disgraceful use of power. The throwing out of this Bill by a large majority would make the people of this country pause and consider that in the Constitutional safeguards with which the wisdom of our forefathers had provided us we might look for, perhaps, a slow but a wise and general unfolding for the everlasting good of the people, and that this would be better than the fads of statesmen who, seeking to gratify their personal ambition, put the nation and the Empire in the jeopardy in which it had stood of late. He trusted that their Lordships would, by a large majority, throw out the Bill.


said, when he had the honour of addressing their Lordships in February last he told them he had been for nearly 18 years a constant resident in Ireland. He merely reminded them of this to show their Lordships he had a practical knowledge of the subject he was speaking about. To his mind, this Home Rule Bill showed on the part of those responsible for it either a criminal disregard for the welfare of the country and its inhabitants, or an utter ignorance of Ireland and the Irish, together with a childlike trust and belief in the representations of the Irish so-called National Party. A few years ago there had been three Parties in Ireland—Conservatives, Liberals, and those who now called themselves Nationalists—the latter Party hating, or professing to hate, England and all things English, except English money—that they did not hate. At the present time there were three Parties—Loyalists, Nationalists (with their feelings towards England unchanged), and a third Party, and a very large Party—he meant those who were content with and appreciated the Rule they were living under, with its safeguards to life and property, and who dreaded the results that they knew would follow Home Rule. But these people were afraid to give their real views—afraid of the National Party as represented in every district and small village in Ireland by those who had everything to gain and nothing to lose, by those who were too idle to work, and who kept the honest and industrious man in terror for his property—aye, and for his life—should he venture to disagree with them. Now, what were the grounds for giving Ireland Home Rule? The wish of the majority? Well, nearly everyone who had any stake in the country—merchants, traders, professional men, and landowners—were utterly against it. And were the majority in favour of it? He said the National Members in Parliament did not represent the majority, as they claimed, for, as he had said before, a large number of the people of Ireland were afraid to show their real feelings. The Ballot, he assured their Lordships, was very little protection in Ireland. "Ireland, a nation!" That was the great toast of the National Party—"Ireland, a nation!" If Ireland was a nation she had a right to the following: The right to choose her own form of Government, and to say whether it should be a Monarchy or a Republic; the right to separate from Great Britain now or at any other time; the right to her own Army and Navy and foreign policy; and the right to absolutely control her own trade and taxation. If they granted Home Rule on the ground of her being a nation they could not refuse separation hereafter if it were demanded. As to Ireland's nationality, he would quote Mr. Gladstone (as reported in The Daily News, June 26, 1886)— Are you aware—probably many of you are—that of the population of Ireland by far the greater number are of British descent? Now as to the commercial progress of Ireland under the present rule: In 1852 the Revenue of Ireland was £4,500,000; in 1885 it was £8,000,000, an increase of 77 per cent. In 1852 the tonnage of shipping entering Irish ports was 5,000,000; in 1885 it was 13,000,000, an increase of 160 per cent. In 1852 the Excise Duties of Ireland were £1,500,000; in 1885 they had grown to £4,500,000, an increase of 200 per cent. In 1849 the amount in the Savings Banks of Ireland was £ 1,200,000; and in 1887 it was £5,340,000, an increase of 340 per cent. In the Post Office Savings Banks (being the popular banks with poorer depositors) the amount in 1870 was only £583,165; in 1888 it had grown to £3,128,000, an increase of 450 per cent. in 18 years. Surely that showed progress, and that the present mode of government was doing good to the country. They could rule Ireland if they would—she only wanted a strong and resolute Government in order to be prosperous and happy. At Aberdeen, in 1871, Mr. Gladstone said—and let their Lordships remember that since then many Acts had been passed, such as the Land Act, Arrears Act, Franchise Act, Relief Act—all to please the Nationalists—the right hon. Gentleman said— I have looked in vain for the setting forth of any practical scheme of policy which the Imperial Parliament is not equal to deal with, and which is to be brought about by Home Rule.… There is nothing Ireland hag asked, and which this country and this Parliament have refused. This Parliament has done for Ireland what it would have scrupled to do for England and for Scotland.… What are the inequalities of England and Ireland? I declare that I know none, except that there are certain taxes still remaining which are levied over Englishmen and Scotchmen, and which are not levied over Irishmen; and, likewise, that there are certain purposes for which public money is freely and largely given in Ireland, and for which it is not given in England or Scotland. And now, to show their Lordships the state of Ireland before the Union, under a Home Rule Parliament, he would read an extract from the speech of Lord Clare, the then Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Advocating the Union, the noble and learned Lord said (on the 10th February, 1800)— I will now appeal to every dispassionate man who hears me whether I have in anything misstated or exaggerated the calamitous situation of my country, or the coalition of vice and folly which has long undermined her happiness, and at this hour loudly threatens her existence. It is gravely inculcated, I know—'Let the British Minister leave us to ourselves, and we are very well as we are.' 'We are very well as we are.' Gracious God! of what materials must the heart of that man be composed, who knows the state of the country, and will coldly tell us 'we are very well as we are?' 'We are very well as we are.' We have not three years of redemption from bankruptcy or intolerable taxation, nor one hour's security against the renewal of exterminating civil war. 'We are very well as we are.' Look to your Statute Book—Session after Session have you been compelled to enact laws of unexampled rigour and novelty to repress the horrible excesses of the mass of your people; and the fury of murder and pillage and desolation have so outrun all legislative exertion that you have been at length driven to the hard necessity of breaking down the pale of the Municipal Law, and putting your country under the ban of military government; and in every little circle of dignity and independence we hear whispers of discontent at the temperate discretion with which it is administered. 'We are very well as we are.' Look to the old revolutionary Government of the Irish Union, and the modern revolutionary Government of the Irish Consulate, canvassing the dregs of that rebel democracy for a renewal of popular ferment and outrage to overcome the deliberations of Parliament. 'We are very well as we are.' Look to your civil and religious dissensions—look to the fury of political faction, and the torrents of human blood that stain the face of your country, and of what material is that man composed who will not listen with patience and goodwill to any proposition that can be made to him for composing the distractions, and healing the wounds, and alienating the miseries of this devoted nation? 'We are very well as we are.' Look to your finances, and, I repeat, you have not redemption for three years from public bankruptcy, or a burden of taxation which will sink every gentleman of property in the country. …. We raise a Revenue of more than £230,000 on British goods imported into Ireland; and in return the Revenue raised by England on the importation of Irish produce is little more than £10,000. And what are the offerings of gratitude and duty on our part in return for these benefits and advantages? A declaration of war by any Foreign Power against the British nation is the signal for faction and rebellion in Ireland. The received maxim is, not to forego the opportunity of foreign war to press forward Irish claims, and ripen every difference and discontent with the British Government into a ground of permanent and rancorous national hostility; insomuch that, in time of difficulty and danger, Great Britain, so far from deriving support or security from her connection with Ireland, feels it as a millstone hung upon her neck. … Another argument against a Legislative Union is, that it will drive your nobility and gentry from their own country, and practically impoverish the Metropolis. With respect to emigration, look to the number of Irish emigrants who now crowd every village in Great Britain, and have been driven to seek an asylum there from the brutal fury of the Irish people and the cold-blooded treachery of their own domestics, palpably fomented and encouraged by Irish faction and Irish treason. And let any dispassionate man say whether the evil of emigration can ever be greater than it is at this day. If we are to live in a perpetual storm here; if it is to remain at the discretion of every adventurer, of feeble and ostentatious talents, ungoverned by a particle of judgment or discretion, to dress up fictitious grievances for popular delusion, and let loose a savage and barbarous people upon the property and respect of the Irish nation—what gentleman who has the means of living out of this country will be induced to remain in it? In that passage their Lordships had a picture of Ireland before the Union. No one could say it was a pleasing one. Were they going to throw her back into the same condition? Many wise and able men had built up and consolidated this great Empire year by year, and reign after reign. Were their Lordships going to be the first to commence the process of dismemberment and destruction? Let them remember that the men at whose instance this most unpatriotic measure had been brought forward had made no secret—when out of England—of their hatred for, and their wish to injure, England. He saw noble Lords opposite who had been Her Majesty's Viceroys in Ireland. One of them, at least, must well know the sentiments expressed as to England by many of the present Nationalist Members of Parliament. The noble Lords have had a very short stay in Ireland—as, he regretted to say, had been the custom with most Viceroys since the time of Queen Elizabeth—for their Lordships would know that Sir Walter Raleigh, in his history, said— Our Princes have commonly left their Deputies in Ireland three years, whence, by reason of the shortness of their time, many of them have returned as wise as they went out; others have profited more; and yet, when they began but to know the first rudiments of war and government fitting the country, they have been called home, and new apprentices sent in their places, to the great prejudice both of this and that estate. But even that short stay ought to have shown noble Lords sufficient to prevent them supporting this Bill. Or were Party interests to be supreme before Ireland's good—before the safety and welfare of England and the Empire? This Bill was to destroy the Union of England and Ireland. Pass it, and who could say what would be the next tie they would be asked to sever? They dared not pass it! No one who had any regard for his country could entertain the thought of doing so. And as for Ireland, if, as Churchmen said, they were responsible hereafter for deeds done on this earth, already a heavy reckoning lay with those at the head of the Government for crimes committed and blood spilled during the past few years. He implored their Lordships not to let the crime of passing this Bill be added—for crime it would be, and a cowardly crime; for besides the immense injury to all Ireland, they would thereby forsake and desert those who had always been their loyal and faithful friends, and had trusted in the honour of the British Government. The most charitable way to account for this Bill ever seeing the light was to think of its author or authors suffering from aberration of the intellect! No Government had any right, either for Party purposes or to satisfy the outcry of sedition, to plunge a whole country in ruin; and he told their Lordships—and, as they need not to be reminded, he knew the country well—that as certainly as they granted Home Rule to Ireland so surely would arise the same condition of things that Lord Clare had described in his speech 93 years ago.


said, the Bill had been so thoroughly discussed that it was rather difficult to find new arguments or to touch upon points which had not been touched upon before. Following the great Debate which had lately taken place in the other House, their Lordships, no doubt, felt rather bewildered, and were rather in the position of men who could not see the wood because of the trees; but their Lordships in that House, from the fact of their removal from the ordinary strife of politics and from their elevated position—from being, as it were, set up in a balloon—could take a clearer view. It struck him that those who advocated this measure had never succeeded in establishing the fundamental point which ought to be the base of their whole argument—that there was a real demand in Ireland for Home Rule for its own sake. He knew it had been adopted there by a large Party, but that was under peculiar circumstances. He would not go back as far as the Union; he would take a point within the recollection of those who were middle-aged or oldish people. He would take the Fenian movement, with which the noble Earl on the Front Bench the Leader of the House had so successfully grappled, in 1865, and would ask whether that movement had anything in the world to do with Home Rule—whether it did not, in fact, aim at the foundation of an Irish Republic? Was it not the fact that, till Mr. Parnell took up Home Rule in combination with other things, it was never made a cry at all? It was by working on the very natural wish of the Irish farmers to pay as little rent as possible that Mr. Parnell and his friends were enabled to get such a hold of the Irish people, assisted and reinforced by the Fenian Clubs that still existed throughout the country. No wonder, then, that when Mr. Gladstone adopted Home Rule in 1886 he found a large—nay, an overwhelming—body of Irishmen in its favour. He maintained that there was no evidence to show that there was ever such a longing on the part of the Irish people for a Parliament to manage their own affairs as there was among the Hungarians or in the Spanish Provinces. On the contrary, he said the genius of the Irish people was not in favour of, and did not induce them to have any great wish for, Local Government to manage their own affairs. It was a nation fond of centralisation. This was the mark of a nation either in its infancy or its decadence. The Land League was one of the most despotic authorities that ever existed. That organisation showed the genius of the Irish people. It was not in the nature of the Irish people to wish for a Parliament to manage their own local affairs, though it was in their nature to wish to be an independent nation. No one had seriously maintained that a Parliament in Dublin would be able to do more for the Irish people than the Parliament at Westminster, which for many years past had shown a sincere desire to remedy every practical grievance experienced in Ireland and more so every day. The argument for a Parliament in Dublin was not that it would be more than a Parliament in Westminster, but that they would be meeting the wishes of the Irish people by giving it; and as he maintained that it was not really the wish of the Irish people, that argument fell to the ground. Nobody would ever make him believe, nor was there any evidence to show, that the Conservative Government ever contemplated bringing forward anything in the nature of Home Rule, or anything which would satisfy the demands of the Irish Nationalists. He could quite understand Lord Spencer being convinced that there would be the greatest difficulty in putting down Irish disaffection; but it had been shown that much could be done by firm government without a single innocent man suffering in the slightest degree. Their Lordships knew that at the end of the six years of the late Government the policy which they had pursued was not really unpopular in Ireland. It was impossible to say that the small majority obtained by the present Government from the whole of the United Kingdom was got together by disgust at so-called coercion. That small majority could be accounted for by the promises made to the agricultural labourer and to various others. In most cases when a measure was brought forward there were strong reasons for as well as against it; and what their Lordships had to do was to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages. But he honestly believed that in this case the advantages were almost none, and that there were serious disadvantages and serious evils to be apprehended from the Bill which, in the opinion even of those who proposed it, could not be denied. In the first place, it could not be denied that to a certain degree the Executive of this country would be weakened in time of difficulty. Surely, if we were engaged in a death struggle with any Foreign Power it must weaken us. These Islands were made by Nature to belong to one another; and, therefore, they ought not to have two different Parliaments and two different Executives. One of the reasons why Mr. Pitt promoted the Union was that the power of these countries might be consolidated, and that they might be able to present a united front to the enemy. What would be our position if night after night Resolutions were passed in an Irish Legislature declaring against the Sister Country and in favour of an opponent—France or America, or any other Power? Was it not merely possible, but extremely likely, that the Irish majority might be in favour of our enemies and against ourselves? And how could we stop it? What would be our position if there were Debates in a Parliament in Dublin against the Mother Country and in favour of our opponents? If Ireland were disaffected, how much more difficult would our position be made in face of an enemy! Now, at any rate, we had a splendid force of Constabulary in Ireland, and a population of 1,500,000 or 2,000,000 who, whatever might have been the case 100 years ago, were now thoroughly loyal. If we abandoned them and gave them over into the hands of their enemies, was it possible that they would not have bitter feelings against us? It was not in human nature that they would not. He would not enlarge on the shame of abandoning those people. Government by majority was perhaps-the best; but when there were two Parties strongly divided from one another, and one was considerably larger, it was quite in the nature of things that the smaller would be oppressed. It was-impossible to say that this Bill had been sent up to their Lordships after thorough; discussion in the other House. They knew that only about a fourth of it had been discussed, and that the rest was passed without any discussion whatever. The Closure had been compared to the guillotine; but the guillotine was a neat, beautiful, well-acting instrument, which was a great deal too good to be compared to the clumsy process, which was more like the clumsy process of beheading which used to take place in former days, by which the victim was horribly mangled before he was despatched. What was the opinion of the people of England regarding this measure? Even at the last Election there was no demonstration in its favour, and the people had not been consulted on many of its most important provisions. They had not been consulted, for instance, in regard to the retention of the Irish Members. On the contrary, they were led to expect that the Irish Members would be retained only for Imperial purposes, but their retention for all purposes had never been before the country at all. Then there was the question of Imperial control. On every Gladstonian platform in the country it had been said that there was to be such and such control. That part of the Bill had been shown up, and no one could say that the Imperial control now proposed was of much good. He was convinced, as he thought were most of their Lordships, that if the people were to give an opinion now they would give it against the Bill. In every free country of the civilised world there was some check in order to prevent any fundamental change in the Constitution. We were not accustomed to look to foreign countries for any lesson in Parliamentary Government, because we thought that we knew very much more about it; but if a gigantic alteration like this was to be made in a single Session, by the aid of the Closure, without adequate discussion, and by the vote of a small majority, our Constitution, instead of being complicated and ingenious, would become one of the crudest and most dangerous description. If for the future the Closure was not to be the exception, but the rule—if the Second Chamber was to be abolished, or only to exist on the condition that it performed no functions, they would be in such a state of anarchy that they would be obliged to adopt some check like those of other nations in order to prevent violent changes in the Constitution. But the danger was upon them. There might be a better check than a Second Chamber. Like many of their Lordships he had always been in favour of reform in regard to the House; but when the coach was in full gallop was not the time to think whether it was fitted with the best possible brake; they must use the one they had got to the best possible advantage. For the sake of the people of this country, especially when nine-tenths of them were of opinion that the Bill would be most disastrous to England, and to the Empire, and most of all to Ireland, their Lordships ought to insist on this Bill being referred to the country. An attempt might be made to show that the House of Lords had always thrown out popular or Liberal measures, and this Home Rule Bill will be called a Liberal measure, because it was supported by the bulk of the Liberal Party. He admitted that there was an overwhelming majority in the House against the present Government; but Mr. Gladstone had created many Peers, and seven years ago there was a Party of 100 or 120 Liberal Peers constant in their attendance and well able to hold their own in Debate. Where were they now? He remembered the time when the first disastrous Home Rule Bill was sprung upon the country, in 1886, and the great schism took place. The Liberal Party was then simply annihilated. At the first meeting of the Liberal Unionists, in 1886, everyone present remarked that it was exactly like one of Lord Granville's dinners with Lord Granville left out. So many Liberal Peers had joined the Unionist Party that if the Conservative Party were to stand aside and take no part in Friday's division the Liberal Unionist Peers alone would put the Government in a minority, and these Peers, be it remembered, had hitherto voted in favour of every Liberal measure, and were still prepared to support every real, sound Liberal measure that might be brought forward. He knew that they were about to take a most important step. It would be madness in that House to go against the real opinion of the country, and generally it would be a dangerous course for their Lordships to oppose the Representatives of the people. But this was an occasion when the danger was not so great. He appreciated fully the responsibility which they were about to undertake; but he believed that the course which they intended to pursue was one which they ought to follow, even if there were danger of their sacrificing themselves altogether, and that they should no longer remain as one of the Estates of the Realm. He believed, however, that there was no such danger ahead, and that their rejection of this Bill was necessary for the safety, honour, and integrity of the country. The vote which he would register on Friday against this Bill would be given with a clear conscience, and with almost greater satisfaction than on any former occasion.


said, he would not follow the noble Lord into the very interesting inquiry he had instituted into the exact quality of the Irish nature, its morbid inclination to follow Leaders, and its morbid disinclination for anything like self-government. Nor did he intend to follow the noble Lord into the numerous and somewhat complex considerations of other kinds which he had presented to them. But his noble Friend had laid very natural stress upon the isolation of Ulster and upon Ulster's apprehensions. There was one point, however, which he had not touched upon. Seven years ago there was a very general agreement as to the Ulster question, that if Ulster persisted in her objections to Home Rule her case would have to be dealt with by separate treatment of some kind, but he would point out that an offer of separate treatment had been actually made to Ulster and had been rejected by the Representatives of that Province. He did not contend that this showed any acquiescence on the part of Ulster in the policy of Home Rule, but it was a tribute to the soundness of the ground upon which this Home Rule policy was based, that ground being the determination of the Irish people, independently of province or creed, to stand or fall together. Much had been said about the character of the Irish Members. In his opinion their character had been commented upon somewhat harshly. He was asked, "How can you think of handing over the government of Ireland to such men as these?" In reply he would point out that they did not propose to hand over the government of Ireland to the Nationalist Members, but to the people of Ireland, who knew that it would be to their interest to send Representatives to the Irish Parliament who would behave with prudence and moderation and honesty. The attitude of the Opposition and others towards the Irish Members had never been quite fair. When an Irish Member talked savagely the Opposition at once said, "There is the real man," but when he talked fairly and moderately they said, "He speaks falsely." The Opposition always looked back to days which were not these days, to days when the cause of the Nationalist Members was a desperate cause, to speeches which were delivered in Kansas City, or Cincinnati, or, as the noble Duke had reminded them, in Committee Room No. 15. But the Opposition turned deaf ears to what Irish Members said in another place in the year 1893 when they were brought face to face with the great responsibilities which the Government were proposing to entrust to them. Irish Members spoke fairly, reasonably, and in his opinion perfectly honestly. Passing to the general consideration of the principle of the Bill, he must, like other noble Lords, apologise for the use of quotations. Whether it was that people had spoken so much, or that people had spoken so well, he was always knocking up against his own views expressed by somebody else far better than he could hope to express them for himself. He would, however, give their Lordships his word that these quotations would be-as few as possible, and that he would use them, not with the object of bringing home inconsistencies, but of illustrating his argument. Indeed, he might observe that after a diligent study of the literature of the subject from the earliest times, he was tempted to ask in regard to such terms as consistency and inconsistency, "Who, then, shall be saved?" He would begin with Mr. Chamberlain. Although he once declared that he could not allow such antiquities—picturesque antiquities he admitted—-as their Lordships' House "to control the destinies of a free Empire," everybody liked to hear what Mr. Chamberlain had to say. Mr. Chamberlain, always a great specialist on the Irish Question and the rights of property, in more recent years had become the consulting, if not the resident, physician of noble Lords opposite. He did not think he had very lately laid down specific lines of treatment for Ireland beyond that a Unionist Government was to come back to Office; but he did so in 1885, and this was what he said ought to be done for her case— While we have to conciliate the national sentiment of Ireland we have to find a safe means between separation on the one hand, which would be disastrous to Ireland and dangerous to England, and on the other that excessive centralisation which throws, upon the English Parliament and upon English officials the duty and burden of supervising every petty detail of Irish local affairs, which stifles the national life, which destroys the sense of responsibility, which keeps the people in ignorance of the duties and functions of government, and which produces a perpetual feeling of irritation while it obstructs all necessary legislation. That is the problem, and I do not believe that the resources of statesmanship are exhausted, or that it will be impossible to find a solution. How clearly and concisely put! might not these have been the instructions to the draftsman of this Bill? His noble Friend Lord Thring would have known exactly how to deal with them. Mr. Chamberlain was right. The problem was not insoluble, the resources of statesmanship were not exhausted, and this Bill was the solution. He agreed with the noble Duke who had moved the rejection of the Bill that every man had a right to change his opinion on any question of policy and policy, and he was free to admit that he had completely changed his mind upon this Irish Question since 1885 and 1886. He was glad, however, of this occasion to give his reasons for this change. His position then was one which he imagined was common to many Liberal Unionists. Significant as the Irish elections of 1885 and 1886 were, he was not satisfied that Ireland was telling Parliament what she wanted, or that she really knew what she wanted. He distrusted the sentimentality with which, as it seemed to him, an economic and administrative problem had been invested. He was sceptical about the long brutality of Great Britain and the slow martyrdom of Ireland. He hardened his heart, and, what was more important in such matters, his head, against the national sentiment contention. He had thought if some enchanter's wand could send up the prices of Irish stock and agricultural produce 50 per cent. and keep them there, no more would be heard of Home Rule. He used to say, let Ireland be freed from intimidation and agitation by a vigorous administration, and, given such an administration a fair trial, she would shake England by the hand and say, "You have freed us from an intolerable state of things." He asked for a further sign before he would believe that we were face to face, not with a surface discontent, but with a pervading national sentiment. The sign was given when six years of Unionist government—the very kind of government he wished to see tried—was tested by an appeal to the Irish electors last year. What was the result? Ireland grateful, Ireland rational, Ireland freed from intimidation, freed from agitation, returned a Nationalist majority substantially the same as in 1885–6. In the light of this solid Nationalist vote in 1892, what was the teaching of those six years? Opinions naturally differed. This, for instance, was the comfortable opinion of a prominent Member of the last Administration, who might be taken to represent the average Unionist view. He asked an attentive audience what was the position in 1893 after seven years' experience, and he genially answered himself thus— Under the firm and courageous administration of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) the necessity for Home Rule, as far as social order is concerned, has proved to be nothing but a bugbear, nothing but moonshine. He would not follow that gentleman either into the nature of moonshine or bugbears, but he would like to get at what was understood by "social order?" As his noble Friend Lord Spencer had said, the real test, the only test, of social order in communities which enjoyed the privileges of free institutions was not whether the governors, but the governed, were satisfied. Social order must take its roots in the consent and affection of the people. If he was right in his interpretation of social order, and he hardly thought his contention would be disputed, where were they landed? On a desolate shore for this prominent Unionist and his seven years' experience. His whole proposition—and the proposition involved all that was understood by Unionism—fell to the ground. The verdict passed upon the seven years' experience he pointed to by the Irish electors last August proved, not that there was no necessity for Home Rule, but that the opposite policy, the firm and courageous administration of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour), had failed to establish social order. What was the consequence? the inevitable conclusion? Why, it was this: the necessity for an alternative policy. There were only two ways of dealing with the Irish Question—the way of noble Lords opposite and the way proposed under the Bill. And here he found himself in very tolerable disagreement with his noble Friend (Lord Cowper). The Unionist policy had been administered for seven years, and at the end of it they were no nearer than at the beginning to securing the elementary conditions of social order. Now, could this failure be in any way accounted for by extraneous causes? it was only fair to inquire. The noble Marquess had a great chance in 1885, if he could have seen his way to settle the Irish Question in concert with Mr. Gladstone, and in accordance with the wishes of the Irish Parliamentary Party. But he could not see his way to do that. He had another great chance in 1886. His resources were considerable, and even unusual. He had a resolute majority in the House of Commons, a magnificent majority in the House of Lords; the power of the purse, the power of the Press, and influential and instructed opinion largely with him, able men at his back, inside and outside his Cabinet, inside and outside his Party. This was no Cabinet of compromise, or caretakers, as in 1885. There was to be none of the natural and innocent vacillations of 1885. The faintest shadow of turning towards the Irish Parliamentary Party was to be as an accursed thing. The Government was in earnest. The noble Duke had said the Irish Question had never been before the country. [The Marquess of SALISBURY: The Bill.] The Bill involved the Irish Question. The noble Marquess himself, speaking at the Conservative Club in 1887, declared that the word "Ireland" summarised the politics of the moment. They were summarised in that word all through the six years of firm administration, and at the polls in 1892. Upon the whole, those six years were good years. There were fair harvests and fair agricultural prices. At a not inopportune moment for the noble Marquess the stars in their courses declared themselves Unionists. It seemed as if the Irish Party was breached and must share the fate of a house divided against itself. All this was good, and Mr. Balfour certainly ruled and governed Ireland with courage and determination. If his circumstances obliged him into exceptional legislation, his inclinations led him into exceptional beneficence. The cup was sweetened. He had only to point to the Light Railways, and Drainage Acts, and the work of the Congested Districts Board, which showered all sorts of good things on the Irish peasantry, from Scotch seed potatoes to bantam poultry. He did not believe all he saw in the newspapers, but he liked to believe this, that in one of the poorest districts a pig—the only individual, he understood, in Ireland who paid his rent—was named Arthur James Balfour, after the Chief Secretary. That surely was an eloquent tribute to resolute government. In short, he believed they had seen resolute government as well done as was possible. But it would not do, because they had not the people of Ireland with them. Failing the millennium of Unionist government or the disfranchisement of Ireland, they had to reckon with the Irish people. Unionists asked for time. How much more time did they want? The see-saw of coercion and concession was no new discovery. It was the old miserable habit that had prevailed during the best part of the century. Moreover, the average duration of Ministries during the last 50 years was several months under four years, and therefore the late Government had in that respect an exceptional opportunity. But, granted that they had perpetuity of office, what had they to rely upon? Local Government, he would be told, was to make straight paths for their feet, the rough places smooth, satisfy Irish sentiment. But the Irish people did not want it. The Unionists themselves did not believe in it, and the days of miracles were over. Its author, speaking with perfect frankness, said that, as a means of substituting a good for a bad state of society, he did not class it with his Land Bill, his Railway Bill, his Congested Districts Board Bill, or his Coercion Bill, and he added— I do not anticipate any of the advantages for Ireland which she has derived from any of the four Bills to which I have referred. So much for Local Government from the point of view of the Unionists. If ever there was a quack remedy for a sore disease that was one. How could they hope to get rid of the people of Ireland? They might have once, but they gave them the franchise in 1884. Their Lordships' House did not divide against that measure, and the noble Marquess himself seemed to have recognised it as a turning point from which there was no going back. Speaking at Newport in 1885 in regard to the renewal of exceptional legislation, the noble Marquess said— You have passed an Act of Parliament giving supreme power to the great mass of the Irish people To my mind, the renewal of exceptional legislation against a population whom you had treated legislatively to this marked confidence is so gross in its inconsistency that you could not possibly hope to renew any legislation which expressed on one side a distrust of what on the other side your legislation had so strongly emphasised. That was the noble Marquess's view of the importance and significance of the position in 1885 as it was affected by the Franchise Act of 1884. "Supreme power" and "marked confidence" were strong expressions—perhaps too strong for 1884, but not too strong when taken in relation to the Elections of 1885, 1886, and 1892. The Government had given these facts full value in the Bill, just as the noble Marquess wished to give them their full value in 1884. They disliked gross inconsistencies as much as the noble Marquess, and they held that a people who had been treated legislatively with marked confidence were entitled to have their opinions considered as to how they would and how they would not be governed. His general conclusions were that Unionist policy in Ireland had failed; that this failure could not be accounted for by lack of time, as in its essential features it had had nearly a century's trial; and that failing perpetuity of office by Unionists or the disfranchisement of Ireland (both of which were impossible), it' had no better hope of success in the future. Mr. Pitt avowed the great object of the Act of Union was the tranquillisation of Ireland and the attachment of her to this country. Ninety-three years was a long trial, and the experience formed thereon was not formed on insufficient experience. Most would admit—whatever abstract or ideal virtues might reside in the idea of a legislative Union—that that Union had failed in achieving the objects Mr. Pitt had in view. Having failed in attaching Ireland, had the Union succeeded in legislating for her? The prime plea of Unionism was that Westminster could do all or more for Ireland than she could do for herself. To hear some people talk it might be imagined that the Imperial Parliament not merely satisfied the claims and needs of Ireland but even anticipated them. If those claims had been satisfied—and he would not dispute that Parliament had honestly-tried to do so—it had been always at England's own time and at England's own convenience; according to English ideas and even prejudices, and not according to Ireland's. Catholic Emancipation took 30 years; and from the Devon Commission in 1843 it was nearly as long before anything resulted from it. Instances might easily be multiplied, but he would come to later days—to September, 1886, and remind the House of the instructive history of Mr. Parnell's Tenants' Relief Bill. Mr. Parnell gave reasons for the necessity of revising judicial rents, and explained that the Bill was a temporary measure to meet the existing emergency. He advised Parliament to consider it seriously and to deal with the emergency, or he would not be responsible for the social and agrarian trouble which might follow. After being denounced by the Secretary for Ireland as a measure of gross injustice and confiscation upon the landlords, after doubts had been thrown upon the gravity of the crisis, this Bill was hounded out with the greatest contumely in the House of Commons by a majority of 95. The Government then appointed the Cowper Commission, which early in 1887 reported confirming the views taken by the Irish Members as to the distress in Ireland due to the great fall in prices, and as to the necessity for a reduction and revision of judicial rents. But although the Conservative Government dealt with the Land Question in 1887 they gave no effect to those recommendations in their Bill. The Bill was introduced in the House of Lords, and the Government declared that judicial rents were not to be revised or the question of judicial rents re-opened. In the Commons, however, the Liberal Unionists compelled the Government to give way on the subject of a revision of judicial rents fixed prior to 1886. And what happened in the-Lords when the Commons Amendment came up? The noble Marquess still held the revision of judicial rents to be consfication, but he accepted the Amendment. Because he said that, if he did not do so, he would lose the Ulster vote.


I never said anything of the kind in my life.


said, that he would read from Hansard. The speech was delivered on the 11th of August, 1887, and was as follows:— They would have had to face this political contingency—that some time or other a Dissolution would have taken place, and an election would have been made, in which, owing to the overwhelming pressure of a secondary controversy the votes of the loyal people of Ulster might for a time have seemed to be upon the side which the Government believed to be absolutely fatal to the interests of the Empire. The Bill then, as amended, was passed, but what had happened in the meantime? There had been agrarian agitations. The Plan of Campaign had been organised, and the Government was obliged by the state of the country to renew the exceptional legislation which appeared such a gross inconsistency in 1885. "Delays have dangerous ends." In this case they had dismal consequences, as they forced the noble Marquess on the one hand into a measure of confiscation, and on the other into an inconsistency. Sir Robert Peel in 1829 said that something must be done for Ireland. Something always was being done. Since 1869 Parliament had not wearied in the doing of it. Ireland had been the objective, as Mr. Chamberlain said the other day, of innumerable Bills, all of which, at all events, had been kindly intended. Yet the stock of Ireland's grievances accrued, and her discontents—as Lord Clare said—kept pace with her prosperity. He should be told it was all the work of the Irish agitator and the Irish priests. It was no more the Irish agitator and the Irish priests than it was the Irish landlord or the Irish climate. They were the incidents, not the essentials, of the Irish question. The essentials of the Irish question were dealt with by the Bill their Lordships meant to throw out, on the Second Reading. Lord Carnarvon, whom he might style the Lord Fitzwilliam of this century, once said that the failures in Ireland had been so many that their wrecks lay strewn all about, but that he should not lightly believe that a combination of good government in Ireland, and of good feeling in England was a hopeless task. It was because he did not wish to see another failure added to the already long list, and because he believed that such a combination was not a hopeless task, that he should vote sincerely for the Second Reading of the Bill. In 1829 a witness before the House of Lords said that the Irish Roman Catholics were more desirous of a settlement than a triumph. He believed that that was true of the Irish people in 1893. Which did their Lordships desire, a settlement or a triumph? Was it the triumph of throwing out this Bill? That was a foregone conclusion, for on Friday, half-an-hour before the Division was taken, not a patch of scarlet on the Benches opposite would be visible. But their triumph would be short-lived. It was not a long way through the Lobbies back into the House, and when their Lordships came back after the Division the Irish question would still demand a settlement.


My noble Friend began his able if somewhat discursive speech by a statement that there is in some quarters a morbid inclination to follow Leaders. I am not inclined to dispute the knowledge which my noble Friend may possess of that interesting game with which my noble Friend and his friends opposite must be so well acquainted; but I am entitled to ask whether all the Members of the Government who have spoken to-night share this morbid feeling of following the Leader, and whether we are to take the statements made by at least one Member of the Government as representing the views of Her Majesty's Government as they have been hitherto expressed. I was not in the House when Lord Brassey addressed your Lordships, but I am given to understand that among the interesting statements he made were the following. Speaking as a Member of the Government he proposed that there should be more Exchequer Judges, a reduction in the number of the Irish Members to 35, that there should be a change of the constabulary into a gendarmerie under the Imperial Government, and, finally, until a general agreement has been arrived at no settlement can be accomplished; and he proposed that a Royal Commission should issue on the subject of Home Rule. I think we are entitled to ask whether in the chameleon-like course of this Government measure we are to discuss these fresh proposals which have been made, or whether the Government are intending for one more day to adhere to the proposals within the four corners of the Bill. My noble Friend went on to speak of our attitude towards the Irish Members. He said that we had treated them with contumely, that we had listened carefully to the rhetorical excesses to which they had given way in Ireland, and had not paid attention to the more Constitutional language they had used in another place. But one of the chief points of our indictment of this measure is that the Government of Ireland is to be conducted, not in England, not in London, but in Ireland and in Dublin; and if we are to form an opinion of the character of those who are to form the Government of Ireland under the new state of things proposed, surely we are as much entitled to form that opinion from the language which hon. Members used in Ireland as from that which they more prudently make use of in another place. The whole case, indeed, for this Home Rule Bill should be taken and considered as argued on the two speeches with which the Debate opened. We may conclude that the noble Earl opposite, with all his great experience of Irish affairs, was in a position to state as fully as possible all the points which could be made in favour of the course which the Government recommend the House to pursue; and I think that no one will deny that a more crushing reply and a stronger indictment of any measure never were uttered than that which followed in the speech of the noble Duke. We who have followed the course of the noble Earl during past years have fully realised the debt of gratitude which we and the country owe to him for the manly, straightforward, and courageous manner in which he performed the duties of Viceroy of Ireland during eight long years. We have seen with regret and dismay the gradual deterioration of his political course during the last two or three years. We recognise what influence his opinion must have on Irish affairs, and naturally we have watched with considerable regret the action which he has seen fit to take. There was something like an Oriental refinement of cruelty in the fact that it has fallen to-night to the noble Earl to stand forward as the author in this House of a measure which reverses every line and every principle of the policy which he followed during the brighter part of his career, and which he ought to know is fraught with danger to those interests which he for so many years supported. I am one of those who hold that the cardinal and chief object of this Bill as laid down by Mr. Gladstone—namely, to establish a Legislative Body for Ireland sitting in Dublin as distinct from Imperial affairs—is a proposal as to which we have no mandate except one of rejection. One word on the view of the country as indicated by the General Election. In the early part of the Session, a noble Lord on this side of the House alluded to the undoubted fact that at the Election of 1892, in Great Britain, a majority was returned in opposition to the policy of Her Majesty's Government. In reply to that the Leader of the House reminded us that in 1892 that majority had considerably diminished, that it was much smaller than in 1886, and he drew from that fact the argument that, inasmuch as so large a reduction of the majority had taken place between 1886 and 1892, before long that majority would be converted into a minority. Did not the noble Lord understand or see that the fact of the diminution of the majority in 1892 as opposed to 1886 tells exactly the other way? In 1886 the country had before it a Bill for the establishment of Home Rule in Ireland. During the seven years which followed it is perfectly true the abstract question of Home Rule was before the country, and it was discussed whenever men met to discuss public subjects. But when the Election took place in 1892 there was no Bill before the country, and the argument which I deduce from that is this—that the abstract question of the management of Irish affairs by Irishmen, which had been before the country, might possibly receive the assent of the country; but that the moment you attempt to convert these abstract theories into concrete proposals, the moment you attempt to formulate in a Bill the policy you have described in generalities, then you not only fail, but you fail also to receive the support of the right-thinking men of the country. The country has begun to realise the situation. Probably if you were to poll the country through you would find that the idea of Home Rule, after having seen your measure, resolved itself into something like this—in order to give to the Irish self-government in Irish affairs this Bill proposes to hand over to the Irish the practical control of British and Imperial affairs. The country cannot be surprised if, in these circumstances, while we reject the main proposals of the Government, we also want to inquire into the steps which were taken for carrying out the policy you now ask us to adopt. In the speech of the Prime Minister on the introduction of the original measure he laid down five propositions as cardinal principles, from which, he said, there ought to be no departure. He made use of explicit language; he said, "To these propositions we have endeavoured closely to adhere." The noble Earl (Earl Spencer) enumerated only three of them. They were 1st, Imperial unity; 2nd, equality of all the Kingdoms; 3rd, equitable repartition of Imperial charges; 4th, any and every practicable and adequate provision for the protection of the minority; and, finally, the 5th one is, if not finality, at all events a real and continuous settlement. With regard to four of these points, I shall have little to say. Respecting Imperial unity, it appears to me to be a curious cardinal point to lay down preparatory to bringing in a Bill for separating the two countries. With regard to the second, equality, I hardly think it can be contended that it exists under provisions which allow one country to enjoy the privilege of legislative independence in its own country, to have a Parliament of its own, and also allows the citizens of that country the privilege of sitting in the Parliament of another. With regard to the third point, relating to Imperial charges, I shall say nothing, because it is a matter not to be discussed in this House. With regard to finality, I have only to say it has been proved by the speeches made to-night by the mere mention of the consecutive measures to be passed dealing with land and other questions, that in Gladstonian legislation no such thing as finality is apparent. As to the condition that practical provision shall be made for the protection of the minority, it is clear there is only one way in which the minority in Ireland can be protected, and that is that the supremacy of this Parliament, which, after all, is the most important safeguard, and that which embraces all others, shall be fully and thoroughly carried out and maintained. The Prime Minister was good enough to say that this demand was "not an unreasonable one." Mr. John Morley has told us that this Bill "is saturated with it," and it is upon the reality and validity of these special provisions that the stability of the whole measure depends. It is fair to say, in regard to supremacy, that neither as to its necessity nor the manner in which it is to be enforced and carried out, do the Members of the Government and their friends appear to be agreed. I venture to ask this House to allow me to refer it to two short extracts in a speech made by the Prime Minister, in which he admits the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. One was in 1880, and he repeated almost the same words, and same sentiment, in 1882. On two occasions he gave expression to the same views. The Home Secretary, speaking in 1889 of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, said it would remain intact, and on another occasion that it remained undiminished, and that was emphasised by Sir William Harcourt. Those were the opinions of Her Majesty's Government on the subject of the Imperial Parliament. On the other hand, Mr. John Dillon said they would try Gladstone, and see if his Bill would give over the government of Ireland to the Nationalists of Ireland, and restore to the people of that country the privilege they held 100 years ago to manage their own affairs. Mr. John Redmond and Mr. T. P. O'Connor said it was their ultimatum that the Irish Parliament must be supreme, and free from interference from the English Parliament. I think that, at least, shows a considerable difference of opinion with reference to the question of supremacy, and I call attention to it because it is my intention to show that the supremacy is not sufficiently provided for, and if it is not so it is because the Government were not permitted to carry out their views by their Irish allies. The question of supremacy was confined entirely to the Preamble of the Bill; that was a course that did not commend itself to both Parties of the other House, the result was that after considerable discussion an addition was inserted in Clause 2 for the mention of the supremacy of the British Parliament. Her Majesty's Government would not even agree to insert the words "a subordinate Parliament." In Clause 5 it is obvious that the central figure in the whole of the system is the Lord Lieu tenant. The noble Earl will not treat him as one of those organic details by which the Prime Minister is apt to designate the great principles of the Bill. The position of the Lord Lieutenant is one of extreme difficulty and complexity, and if these difficulties and complexities are insurmountable, as I maintain they are, they are sufficient to wreck the whole of this Bill. Everything turns on the Lord Lieutenant and his action. The Office of Lord Lieutenant never was a sinecure, or one which afforded much pleasure to its holder. I had occasion a short time ago to call the attention of the House to the difficulties in which the present Viceroy found himself placed by being prevented from carrying out the directions he had himself laid down for his own guidance in being obliged to receive certain addresses which he had refused previously to receive. Her Majesty's Government inserted a provision in the Bill that the tenure of Office of the Lord Lieutenant shall run for six years. They will be extremely fortunate if they find any Viceroy who survives the occupation of that position six weeks. The supremacy of the Imperial Parliament can only be vindicated in one of two ways. The Lord Lieutenant must either veto the action of the Irish Parliament, or the British Government must repeal the Acts after they have been passed, or legislate over the heads of the Irish Parliament. The Lord Lieutenant is to exercise the veto in the first place on the advice of his Irish, Cabinet, in the second place on the advice of the Imperial Government, and in the third place he is required to act on his own responsibility. It will be extremely difficult for the Lord Lieutenant to decide what Acts and Bills would have to be vetoed and what would not. It must be noticed that the cases in which he is to act upon his own responsibility are those of the greatest difficulty and the greatest emergency. By Clauses 3 and 4 the Irish Legislature is placed under certain disabilities with regard to the subjects it may deal with and its power of initiating Bills. I believe it was Mr. Morley who said in the other House that we might take it for granted that the Lord Lieutenant would not break the law, and someone else said that he would not act either as a knave or a fool. In fact, there seems to be some angelic theory set up about the Lord Lieutenant, just as there is an angelic theory with regard to the Irish Members who are to form his Cabinet. But in spite of all the powers given to the Lord Lieutenant it is proved to be possible that the Irish Government might, after all, act under this Bill entirely independently of the Lord Lieutenant or the Imperial Government. It has been suggested that the Irish Parliament might pass a Bill infringing the limitations of Clauses 3 and 4, and that they might tack that Bill on to an Appropriation Bill and send it up to the Lord Lieutenant. The Lord Lieutenant would then either have to submit to a stoppage of supplies or to assent to a Bill which would infringe the provisions of Clauses 3 and 4. That would not be a state of things which would secure the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. It has been said that there is a similarity of position between the Governor of a colony and a Viceroy. The Governor of a colony is directed to veto all Bills infringing certain matters; he has power left him to reserve those Bills for the assent of Her Majesty and the Imperial Government. It was proposed in the other House to enable the Lord Lieutenant to reserve similar Bills; but there is no such power under this measure, and the Lord Lieutenant must either assent or veto. I should like to quote the opinion of a gentleman long resident in New Zealand. Sir John Gorst said there was such a state of things in New Zealand 30 years ago that it cost millions of money and thousands of lives. There was one difference in the case of the Colonies and the proposed Irish Executive. Under Clause 9, Irish constituencies will be represented in Parliament, but there is no Act under which the Colonies can be represented in Parliament, and the result will be this—that the Irish Members will by their votes control the majority in the Imperial Parliament, and they may control the decision of the Government with regard to Bills referred to them from Ireland, and the Lord Lieutenant in such cases will be controlled by the very men whose decisions he has tried to control. So much for the supremacy of Parliament. As the noble Duke said, supremacy is of two kinds—Legislative and Executive. Her Majesty's Government have hardly appreciated the difficulties of administration in Ireland. There has been plenty of legislation in past years for Ireland, but, undoubtedly, the chief difficulty is with regard to exercising the Executive functions of the Government in Ireland. This Bill confers no power to enforce the administrative orders of the Imperial Government or the decrees of the Imperial Courts. I can find no power which provides the Lord Lieutenant for enforcing any power he may receive from home. Every Civil servant, every officer, every official in Ireland will be appointed by the Irish Government, and, as far as I can see, we have no sort of control over the action they take, whether it be in accordance with Acts' of Parliament or not. There is one more point with regard to the position of the Lord Lieutenant—namely, his control over the military forces in Ireland. In the other House, when the matter was under discussion, it was found that the Prime Minister differed from the Home Secretary. The Lord Lieutenant or the Magistrates are able to call out any troops quartered at any time in Ireland, and the result will be that the Magistrates appointed by one Government would have the right and power over military belonging to another Government. This is a matter worthy of the serious attention of the House. If under the Bill the right to control the military forces remains with the Irish Government, what becomes of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament? I think I have said enough to justify my contention that the exercise of this supremacy, which is one of the chief safeguards provided by Her Majesty's Government, is, to use a mild expression, a sham and a delusion, and I submit that this fact is absolutely fatal to the proposal of the Government. It is the question upon which the whole system turns, and I have thought it right to call the attention of the House and the country to what the Prime Minister has called an "organic detail," but on which depends the success or failure of the entire measure. Upon the general question of the action of this House with reference to this Bill, I have nothing to add to what has been so ably and eloquently stated by the noble Duke. I have no doubt as to the result of the Division on the Bill, nor have I any doubt as to our duty in connection with the Bill, nor as to the mandate which the country lays on us to deal with it. In my belief this Bill was never intended to pass this House. It is hardly any secret that the passing of this measure through the House of Commons was the price paid for Irish votes, in order to carry the Newcastle Programme, and in order to obtain a new lease—I will not say of power, but of Office for Her Majesty's Government. It was an unholy compact, made with the knowledge that it would be our duty to prevent the Government from performing their part. This is, perhaps, a strong accusation to make, but it is sustained by the facts. We have seen the measures which have been adopted to pass this Bill through the other House, measures which were calculated to make it absolutely impossible for your Lordships to receive any Bill so carried. The proposals so made were such as could not find favour in your Lordships' House, and we have seen during the last few weeks that the Government in the House of Commons have absolutely refused to accept Amendments even when they carried out intentions which they had expressed themselves, and when they were quite unable to advance any arguments against the Amendments proposed. The Bill comes to us with its policy reversed, with its provisions modified, and with its character transformed at the will of the Irish Members. The noble Duke has referred to-night to the results which may follow the rejection of this measure. I do not deny that the results may to a certain extent be said to be serious and such as we cannot contemplate with confidence; but, if this be so, the Government are responsible. You found Ireland when you came into Office in 1886 relatively prosperous, contented, and happy. You found it reviving under a system of so-called coercion, which was practically dormant in its provisions, which simply contained a power to enforce the law against those who were disposed to disobey the law. You found restored confidence, an increase of wealth, and a state of things generally that gave brighter hopes for the future. You have altered all this; you have put back the hands of the clock, and upon your heads be the responsibility. The noble Duke read to-night the expression used by the Prime Minister in enumerating the objections which he said had been brought against the Government measure. Those expressions were to a certain extent exaggerated, but they were none the less descriptive on the whole of the objections which we have to the Bill. Mr. Gladstone said that if these objections were sound it must go hard with the Home Rule Bill. In our deliberate and conscientious opinion these are sound objections, and we believe it will go hard with the Home Rule Bill when its principles and details are explained to the constituencies, as they will be by every Member of the Unionist Party within the next few weeks. It will go hard with the Bill wherever, freed from the galling bondage of Party slavery, and influenced only by a patriotic desire to promote the best and highest interests of the Empire, Englishmen are permitted to examine into and give judgment on the monstrous provisions contained in this Bill. It will go harder still with the Bill when that day of reckoning arrives, which cannot now be long delayed, when the doom of your policy will be finally sealed by the verdict of an indignant and outraged people.

Further Debate adjourned till Tomorrow.