§ Order of the Day for resuming the Debate on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading, read.
§ Debate resumed accordingly.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, in the observations which I mean to address to your Lordships on this occasion I shall endeavour to keep in mind that we are now concerned with the principles, and not with what may properly be called the details of this measure. But in this case the principles are very large and very far-reaching, and it might be possible sometimes in dealing with such a Bill as this to make a confusion between matters of principle and matters of detail. All I can say is that I will try to avoid this. The first observation which I think it right to make is that the title and the Preamble of this Bill are essentially misleading. The title is "An Act to Amend the Provision for the Government of Ireland." The Preamble is thatIt is expedient that, without impairing or restricting the supreme authority of Parliament, an Irish Legislature should be created for such purposes in Ireland as in this Act mentioned.It might be thought that we were dealing with a question of which the purview was confined to Ireland. That is very far from the case. The real nature of this Bill is to establish a brand-new Constitution of a kind for which no precedent is to be found in the history of this country, in the history of any of its Colonies, or, I believe, in the history of the world, not for Ireland only, but for both branches of the United Kingdom, on this side of St. George's Channel as well as upon the other. Nothing can be more puerile or more futile than to speak as if anyone could reasonably vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, as simply affirming some abstract notion or principle of giving some form or other of Local Government to Ireland, whether to a greater or less extent. When you have a new Constitution put before you, you should look round it and ascertain the true character and bearings of that Constitution, and examine everything which throws light on that question. I will first address myself 363 to the question, what would be the effect of this Bill upon the Union between Great Britain and Ireland? Your Lordships will see delicate phrases employed, and the words "United Kingdom" occur not infrequently; but what is the United Kingdom which would be left if this Bill were passed? Let us look at both sides. In Ireland there will be, I will not say a new Queen, but our Queen in a new position and new capacity, as the head of a new and different system of Government from that of which she has been the head before—and a new Parliament—not, indeed, called by that name in the Bill. That is one of the disguises which we may perceive here; but if I may venture to prophesy—I will prophesy as little as I can—but I do prophesy, that when this scheme comes into operation, if ever it does, the form and style of the Acts of the new Legislature will run in this fashion—"Be it enacted by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, with the assent and consent of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly of Ireland in Parliament assembled." There is not a word in the Bill to prevent it—there is every possible motive for doing it, and I am so bold as to prophesy that it would certainly be done. Well, after all, that may be matter of name and of form; but it would correctly represent the substance, and the distinctions of phraseology affected by the Bill make no difference in the substance of that which this Bill creates—a new Parliament of Ireland consisting of two Legislative Chambers, an imitation in form of this Legislature, of which your Lordships are part. Then there is to be an Irish Ministry, and all the Executive government in Ireland is to be handed over to that Ministry. What is left of the existing Union after that arrangement, except rags and tatters, to cloak the wrong which the provisions of the Bill would inflict on Great Britain? Well, my Lords, I will take first the effect of the provisions of this Bill, if it should be passed into law, upon Great Britain. In the new scheme there are to be 80 Irish Members in the British Parliament. That scheme in its working form in the Bill was, if, I am rightly informed, never discussed or considered, never resolved upon by any deliberate vote in the other House of Parliament. The Schedule which contains it is 364 among those parts of the Bill which were excluded from all debate and all consideration. What is the scheme? There are to be 80 Irish Members sent to the British Parliament, one or more of them from every Irish county or borough, even, as was noticed by my noble Friend Lord Camperdown last night, from Galway, Kilkenny, and Newry, not one of which three boroughs has as many as 2,000 electors. But the University of Dublin is struck out, I may safely say the most intelligent of all the Irish constituencies, and the best qualified to contribute wisdom and instruction to the deliberations of the British Parliament. Why is it left out? Is it from a preconceived opinion that Universities ought not to be represented in Parliament, and that an opportunity may be found in this Bill to put in the thin end of the wedge for that purpose? I should have suspected that, but for the fact that the University of Dublin is to have a place in the new Irish Legislative Assembly, where its wisdom perhaps may not be as fully appreciated as it has usually been in this country. Well, but I have not done with the scheme; because, though I do not attribute great importance to any details of the Bill in comparison with its principles, yet they throw some degree of light on the animus with which this part of the Bill has been conceived. What is the manner in which these 80 Representatives are to be chosen? At present every county in Ireland is so divided, that each elector has only one vote for one division, however many Members the county in the aggregate may return. That system of distribution was deliberately established, both for this country and for Ireland, as recently as 1885, with the full consent of the present Prime Minister and many of his colleagues. But under this new scheme that system of distribution is entirely reversed, and under this Schedule all those divisions of counties are swept away and abolished. In all the 22 counties which are now to return some three, some two Members each, the matter is so arranged that the aggregate of the whole representation is thrown into a single focus, so that one man is to have three votes in some counties and two in others; and that proceeding comes from a Government which, in the same 365 Session and in the Queen's Speech, among other measures, recommended for the consideration of Parliament a Bill for establishing equality of the franchise by the limitation of each elector to a single vote. I come to the principle of the retention, under the circumstances which this measure would create, of 80 or any other number of Irish Members in the British Parliament. I attribute so much importance to this, that perhaps I may be pardoned if I deal with it in some detail. I regard this question as vital, and so does the Home Secretary; for upon the Second Reading of the Bill, on April 14, he said—For my part I regard the question of the retention of the Irish Members as vital to the Bill.He added that he did not think it signified much how it was done. My view, on both points, is opposite to his; but we agree in regarding the principle as vital. I observe that last night the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon), addressing the Opposition, said—You objected to the removal of the Irish Members in 1886, and now you object to their retention.That is all he thought it worth while to say upon this subject. Whoever objected to the removal of the Irish Members in 1886, I certainly was not one of them; for, feeling then as I do now the enormous magnitude of the Constitutional principle and the practical consequences involved in the retention of the Irish Members under such circumstances as would be created in Ireland by this Bill, I publicly protested against it in the strongest possible terms, using words which I will now venture to quote. I pointed out the manner in which I conceived such an arrangement must work, and how the upshot of it would be to afford a chance to the Irish of becoming our masters as well as their own; concluding thus—That any ordinary Englishman or Scotchman with ordinary spirit and intelligence, and without any unpatriotic purposes, should wish or consent to bring about such a state of things as this, seems to me nothing short of political madness.Those were my words addressed to the British public in May, 1886, and I repeal them now. Did I stand alone in that view? The Duke of Devonshire in more that one speech referred to those words, and 366 said he saw no answer to them. What is the effect of this arrangement? Your Lordships all know it, but no harm can be done by bringing into prominence, over and over again, the importance of so vital a matter. I distinguish for the moment Imperial or quasi-Imperial from domestic affairs. As to Imperial or quasi-Imperial matters, this arrangement enables these 80 Irish Members, or a majority of them, in any case of political difficulty where Party feeling in England runs high, and in which the numbers which divide a majority from a minority are not overwhelming—in every such case it will give them a casting vote, and enable them to turn the scale and the balance, whether as to peace or war, as to foreign relations, as to naval or military establishments, or as to the constitution of the Administration which is to govern the affairs of this country. Have you given any such power over Imperial affairs to your great Colonies of Canada or Australia—Colonies which, without disrespect to Ireland, may be well excused if they think themselves not less important parts of the British Empire? If such a thing ought to be done on principle, how could it be refused to them? But neither they nor anyone else has ever supposed that any principle required it, and reasons of Constitutional importance have prevented it, with their full consent. Then with regard to domestic affairs, what is to become of the principle that taxation and representation go together? Under this Bill, as it stands, these 80 Irish Members—as to whom you will have renounced practically and for all purposes, except such as might occur in case of civil war or insurrection, the power of domestic government, the power of legislating for Ireland, and the power of taxing Ireland—are to come here and to tax the inhabitants of Great Britain with burdens in which they will have no share. They are to be brought in to turn minorities into majorities, for the overthrow or change of British Institutions from the greatest to the least, for the disestablishment of Churches, for changing the constitution of the British Parliament, for anything else which a party in this country, not being otherwise in a majority, may desire and demand, without having themselves any stake or direct interest in what is 367 done. That is to establish a despotism and a tyranny in favour of British minorities over British majorities. Am I putting a case which could not occur? Do not the circumstances of the present moment furnish the best possible example of it? What is the majority upon which the Government are now living from day to day except an Irish majority? If the Irish Members were taken away would they be in a majority? I have tried to imagine either a practical reason or a reason of principle for this arrangement, but I can only think of one, which, if it be the true one, it would have been better candidly to avow. It is this—We cannot afford to do away with our majority, and we should be in a minority if the Irish Members were not here. It is no exaggeration to call such a scheme as that—in its effect, whether or not in its intention—a scheme for establishing the domination in Great Britain of a minority over a majority. Have you in the past done anything like it? Certainly not in Canada, not in Australia. And it seems to me that the thing has been done in a manner as remarkable as the thing is in itself. A sort of cynical humour seems to have dictated the phraseology of those who have been parties to it. They have talked of this measure as omnes omnia. Who are the omnes? The Irish; they are to have the omnia. But the Representatives of Great Britain are not to have in Ireland the powers which the Irish have, although the Irish here are to have the same powers that they have. This is as strange a form of omnes omnia as can be imagined. In 1886 the principle of the Irish Members ceasing to sit in the British Parliament for all ordinary purposes was effectually recognised; it was only to be an extraordinary and exceptional purpose, for some revision of the provisions of the Act itself, that they were to be called in and admitted to a share in the deliberations of this Parliament. That might, without difficulty, have been extended to any case of British legislation for altering or increasing the incidence of taxation in Ireland. Nothing could be easier to understand in principle than making an exception for such a Constitutional purpose. That was the proposition of 1886; but we are told that the country decided against it. I 368 deny the fact; but for the present I reserve that point. On February 13 of the present year this Bill was introduced in its original form, and it must have been the subject of careful consideration in the six or seven years during which it was not thought expedient to admit the public to a confidential knowledge of the things that were intended to be done. It must have been long considered. At all events, when the present Cabinet was formed, they at once proceeded to deliberate upon it, and the result of their wisdom was the plan of turning the British House of Commons into an Assembly for two distinct purposes, endeavouring to separate and define Imperial as distinct from local questions, and giving the Irish Members a place there to vote for Imperial purposes, and for those alone. I could never conceive why they, any more than Canada or Australia, should sit in the House of Commons for Imperial purposes, and I could see plainly the extraordinary deadlock to which such a mode of constituting a single Legislative Assembly might in some circumstances bring the affairs of this country. I cannot feel any surprise that that scheme should have been publicly condemned. But the scheme we have before us now is very much worse; and if it be proved that you cannot settle this matter upon any reasonable and Constitutional principle as long as the lines of the new Irish Constitution are such as they are in this Bill, then you must give up the attempt to give a new Constitution to Ireland on those lines, and not ruin our Constitution for the sake of dealing in that way with Ire-laud. What was done? The Bill went through several stages in another place. Early in July the Prime Minister was understood to state, in answer to a question, that the Government adhered to their plan, and would propose it for the acceptance or rejection of the House as it then stood in the 9th clause of the Bill. He may or he may not have been rightly understood. Later in the month, when that clause was reached and came under discussion, the Prime Minister suddenly sprung upon the House and the country by surprise the naked announcement that the arrangement which was called "in and out" was to be abandoned, and that the Irish Members were 369 to sit in the House for all purposes whatever. Was it the deliberate conviction of the Government to whom the destinies of the country were committed that it was right or wise to make that change, or was it by some hole-and-corner process which no one knows that some people whom no one can name persuaded the Prime Minister that it was necessary so to alter the Bill without debate in the House, without explanation or reason, without anything to enlighten the mind of Parliament or the country? Was the Prime Minister himself convinced? He had on more than one occasion in 1886 nailed his colours to the mast: at one time he said he would never be a party to such a plan as that which is in the present Bill, and at another time, in a passage quoted last night by Lord Cross, he said it was "perfectly clear that such a plan as this could not be thought of." Does it appear that upon these points the Prime Minister has really changed his mind? I know that is a process of which he is not incapable; but on this particular subject I see no reason whatever for suspecting that it has taken place. Well, he made that sudden announcement, at a time when it could not be debated; for the Closure was applied to the whole discussion on that clause the very next day. And this change was effected by Irish votes. Now I should be the last person to deny that an Irish majority upon a merely Irish question is to be regarded with respect and is perfectly legitimate; but that our Constitution also should be altered by Irish votes against the sense of the British majority is a thing which seems to me, in the circumstances, and having regard to the nature of such a Bill as this, in the highest degree illegitimate and intolerable, and I hope the country thinks so too, and will show it. That they should not only obtain for themselves a Constitution separating their Government practically from ours, but also by their preponderating voices impose a new Constitution on us giving them a very large share of power here—one-ninth as near as possible, of the whole power of the House of Commons, seems to me to be a thing unprecedented, and nothing less than prodigious. A good many Liberal Members thought so too, probably more than we know. Mr. Labouchere was against it; so 370 were Sir C. Dilke, Mr. Atherley-Jones, Mr. R. T. Reid, Sir E. Reed, Dr. Clark, Mr. Wallace, and Mr. Rathbone—the last named as honourable, fair-minded, and reasonable a man, and as loyal a Member of his Party as anyone that exists—and how many more I do not know. But the majority of these dissentients, for the sake of Party allegiance, or for the sake of whatever value they attached to other provisions of the Bill, voted for the Third Reading; though Mr. Wallace and Mr. Rathbone maintained the courage of their convictions and did not. I say there has not been any opportunity of taking the real sense of the House of Commons, under these circumstances, on that proposal. Before leaving that branch of the subject, I must ask your Lordships to allow me to read what, on the 31st of the same month, after the thing was done, Mr. Gladstone wrote to a gentleman in Edinburgh, Mr. Cowan. He said in that letter that the country was in favour of the retention of the Irish Members; and that assumption seems to be the reason which led him to act as he did; but I want your Lordships to note his testimony, which he gave after the thing had been done, as to the principle involved—It was impossible to regard Ireland as having a claim to vote upon questions of an exclusively British character while she was to be provided with a Legislature in Dublin to deal in an exclusive manner with Ireland's ordinary domestic affairs, subject only to the supremacy of Parliament. … The Cabinet made their proposal because they were unwilling to admit even the semblance of a right or claim on the part of Ireland to share in the management of English affairs while charged with the separate management of her own.I must take it, therefore, from Mr. Gladstone himself, that Ireland not only had no claim, but not even the semblance of a right, to the power which the Bill, as it now stands, gives them; and yet this change has been made by Irish votes, by the votes of those who have not "even the semblance of a right or claim" to do it. What ground is there for the assertion that the country was against the exclusion of the Irish Members from the British Parliament? None whatever, except criticisms of the Bill of 1886, founded entirely on the feeling that the Act of Union should not be abrogated; and there is not the smallest justification for asserting that the country has declared itself in favour 371 of the retention of the Irish Members in any form whatever consistent with a Bill upon the lines of the present Bill. It has been said that the Irish Members are in Parliament at the present time, and that, therefore, the Bill does not make any substantial change. But upon what grounds and what conditions are they there? As an integral constituent of a Body having universal authority, as much in Ireland as throughout Great Britain, in which every Member has equal power, equal duties, and equal rights, and, if they would but see the matter as it stands, in which every Member has an interest and a stake in all that is done for every part of the country. If taxes are to be borne, each has to bear his share; if anything else is done which is capable of being dealt with on the same principle throughout the United Kingdom, it is applicable to Ireland as well as here. It is an equal Parliament for all purposes all round, and for every part of the United Kingdom; and to say that it is the same thing to retain the Irish Members when you cut off Ireland and give her a separate autonomy, because the Irish Members are here already, is to contradict reason and common sense. The Constitutional principle involved is altogether different. A more absurd, a more ridiculous argument was never adduced than that of its being the same thing as is going on now. Then we are told by the Home Secretary that the change which has been made in the Bill is unimportant, because under its original form an Irish majority could have decided the fate of Ministries. I can only say that those who do not wish to see Churches disestablished and everything done which a British minority may happen to desire see a great deal of difference. It is bad enough to give Irish Members a voice in Imperial affairs; but why in the world you should also put us under their heel and enable them to govern, to rule us, and to domineer over us I cannot understand. Having no interest in British domestic affairs, when the Irish Members have any objects of their own to secure, that will determine their political alliances and political action with the view of gaining what they can in the direction they think desirable. The Attorney General tells us, that in British affairs British opinion Trill always prevail. That may be true 372 when there is a great preponderance of British opinion on one side, but there will not always be such a preponderance. In the case of not very overpowering majorities on either side, the effect of the Bill as it stands would be to throw the balance of power into the hands of those who had become strangers to the interests of this country. Then there is another argument. When it is said that it is proposed to do these things against the will of the majority of the Representatives of Great Britain, and of a still greater majority of the Representatives of England, we are told that we ought not to dissect majorities. Well, if it were intended to go on as a Parliament of the United Kingdom on the footing of the contract and arrangement prevailing since the Act of Union, I could understand it. But to apply that argument to a Bill by which it is proposed to dissolve that contract and arrangement, and to separate Ireland for all the practical purposes of the Legislative Union from Great Britain—to say that you are not then to look at the sense of representatives of each of the parties to the contract seems to me perfectly ridiculous. When you are giving to the Irish Members, who are to have their own new Constitution, one-ninth of the power of the British House of Commons, to say that you are not then to look to the opinion of Great Britain as expressed by her Representatives is not an argument which can be seriously used by anyone, least of all by those who are continually telling us of questions upon which the majority of the Scotch or Welsh Representatives ought not to be overruled by the majority of the Representatives of Great Britain;—least of all when the whole argument for the Bill itself is founded on separating the opinion of Ireland as expressed by its Representatives from the aggregate opinion of the whole United Kingdom as expressed by its Representatives. If it is alleged, as an excuse for keeping 80 Irish Members for all purposes, that some of the arrangements of the Bill are provisional, the answer is, that the provisional character of those arrangements is the fault of the authors of the Bill, and is, in itself, a very grave objection to it. And the words "unless and until Parliament otherwise determines," at the be- 373 ginning of the 10th clause, do not in the same way make that clause temporary. I think it very likely indeed that if this Bill were passed by your Lordships it would be only the beginning of the destruction of the British Constitution, and that other claims would spring up in consequence. Should we not hear more about Scotch Home Rule and Welsh Home Rule? Could it lead to anything but attempts to substitute for our present system a Federal system, and further to disintegrate the Empire? The importance of this subject is in my eyes so vital, so extreme, that I will not apologise for the time which I may have occupied. But I should not discharge my duty if I said nothing about the effect this measure would have in Ireland. I take first the Land Question, and looking at what I find in the Bill, and to what has happened before, I must say I was much surprised at the speech which we heard from Lord Spencer. We know that for years the Laud League and the National League have been agitating against landlords, and for the abolition of what they call landlordism in Ireland against the payment of rents, and against any settlement except by themselves of the rents to be paid by the tenants. In 1886 a Bill was introduced on the subject of the land, as well as for the government of Ireland. There were reasons which made that scheme practically impossible, and I cannot help thinking that they were from the beginning more or less understood, if not by all the Members of the Government, at least by the Prime Minister. That scheme fell to the ground, and what has happened since? Lord Spencer referred to the Land Purchase Acts, since passed, and now in force. But those Acts depend entirely upon voluntary agreements between landlords and tenants. They give no security. What guarantees are there in this Bill? I find none except the delay contemplated by Clause 34. For some reason not explained the powers of the new Irish Legislature to deal with Irish land and with the relations between landlord and tenant are to be held for three years in suspense; but at the end of those three years uncontrolled power to deal with the property of the landlords will belong to the Irish Legislature. It is true that in the 8th sub-section of 374 the 4th clause the Irish Legislature is restrained from doing anything which might deny to any person the equal protection of the law, or by which private property might be taken away without just compensation. But new legislation makes new laws; and who is to decide the question of just compensation? It is certainly not a thing that the Privy Council or the Exchequer Judges could possibly decide; it is obviously meant to be left to the Irish Legislature; and exceptional taxation would also be completely in their power. What indications have you of the ideas of justice on this subject which would prevail among those who would have power in Ireland, or even with Her Majesty's Government? The only light derivable on that point is that which we have obtained from the Evicted Tenants Commission, and from the support given by the Government to a Bill to carry out the objects of that Commission. The expectations thus excited can only whet the appetite for the plunder of land wherever it exists in Ireland. It is a vital and a cardinal principle that the power of the British Parliament to protect minorities should never be parted with; and if there be any Party on whom that obligation is more incumbent than another, with reference to that loyal minority in Ireland whose rights of property are at stake, it is the Party which passed the Irish Land Acts, which in each successive stage professed, and were, in my belief, really intended to do justice to landlords as well as to tenants, and to create a tenure under which the rights of both should be vindicated and preserved. It would be the lowest depth of dishonour for any British Parliament not to fulfil that obligation, and yet it seems to me that under this Bill it would not and could not be fulfilled. So much for the Land Question. Now, my Lords, much has been said about the cardinal principle of Imperial supremacy; but the words on that subject of the Preamble and the 2nd clause are in themselves no more than chaff for birds willing to be caught by it; the question is, how is that supremacy to be maintained practically? The answer which anyone who reads and studies this Bill must give to that question is that by this Bill, if it were passed into law, all practical power to enforce that supremacy except by war is abandoned, and all practical 375 power to resist it is conferred on the new Irish Legislature. What is the value of your exceptions and restrictions? Are they likely to conduce to a permanent and peaceful settlement? Are they sound in themselves? Have you anything like them in your self-governing Colonies? Some of the powers which are excepted in this Bill are expressly given by the Canadian and Australian Acts to the Canadian and Australian Legislatures. Are they really consistent with the professed principles of the Bill? Take the subjects of religion, education, and trade. How often have we been told that Ireland ought to be governed according to Irish and not according to English ideas? I ask, are the ideas contained in these exceptions and restrictions English or Irish? Beyond all question, English. It has often been argued that it is one of the greatest blots on the British administration of Ireland that there should have been no fulfilment of Mr. Pitt's intention to do something for the maintenance of the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland. Yet this Bill expressly prohibits everything of that kind, and the restriction cannot be said to be in accordance with Irish ideas. No; it is done to suit English ideas, and the very same persons who are responsible for this restriction are continually telling us that in Scotland and Wales there ought to be local option on the subject of religious establishments and endowments. In Ireland, however, there is to be no local option on that subject. Then it has been constantly said that we have not duly considered the wishes of the great majority of the Irish people as to University education; and one might have thought that the power of establishing or supporting out of public funds Roman Catholic Colleges, or a denominational Roman Catholic University, would be given to the Irish Parliament; but the power is withheld from them. There is also the question of trade and commercial relations. All the Colonies have the right to deal with that subject as they like, and is it not quite certain that according to Irish ideas Ireland ought to have the same power? Do you think that restrictions of this sort, which are contrary to colonial precedent and at variance with the fundamental principle upon which this measure is 376 based, are likely to be maintained? But those who have thought it right to impose these restrictions have done a very curious thing; for these exceptions and restrictions relate only to legislation, and do not apply to Resolutions. Considering what might be done by way of Resolutions in critical and dangerous times, the reason of the limitation is not easy to find. Regency is among the subjects mentioned; but that is the very subject on which Grattan's Parliament proceeded, not by Bill, but by Resolution, in a manner involving conflict with the British Parliament—Volunteers also are mentioned. In the time of Grattan we know that there was a great body of Volunteers in Ireland, self-paid and self-equipped. What is there to prevent the Irish Legislature from passing a Resolution in encouragement of a similar body of Volunteers? What is there to prevent them from standing by while these Volunteers may be raised, and extending approval to their enrolment? As to the veto, I wish to ask, is it to be used, or is it not? Are you going to abide by, or depart from, the precedents afforded by the Colonies? I say deliberately that in our self-governing Colonies the veto is not used except for temporary and suspensory purposes, and that if a Colonial Legislature should persevere, even with a Bill to which grave objections might be made, and which would introduce anomalies which it would be very desirable to prevent, the veto after a time would be withdrawn and the Colonial Legislature would have its way. What reason is there to suppose that it will be otherwise in Ireland? And if it should be, what would be the consequences? Perpetual Motions in the House of Commons that the veto should be used, or that it should not be used, and intolerable friction between the Imperial and the Irish Parliament. The Lord Lieutenant would be the vehicle for conveying the opinion of British Ministers to his own Ministers; but I doubt greatly whether he would be able to do anything whatever proprio vigore in matters affected by the restrictions and limitations in this measure. Then as to the Exchequer Judges. In the United States the authority of the Federal Court is not merely a judicial authority, but it is armed with Executive powers, and the President has 377 further Executive powers behind to support the Court and its officers. Here you have two Judges taken out of the general body of the Irish Bench, and appointed by the Ministers in England. What are they to do? They are only to have cognisance of and to regulate certain proceedings in the ordinary course of law, and if they make decrees in any of those proceedings which are not obeyed, they may appoint some person to carry them out; but, against popular opposition, and with support from the Executive Government, what could any person, who might be so appointed, do? What power will this country have, short of war, to compel the Irish Government to execute the Exchequer Judges' decrees? Resistance to judicial decrees is not an unheard-of thing. There was the case of the successful resistance of Georgia to the Supreme Court of the United States, and there is the recent case of the Corporation of Limerick, which has hitherto defied successfully the order of the Irish Courts that it should raise and pay certain sums for services rendered by the Constabulary. You may say that none of these things will occur. I should be equally entitled to say that they all will. It is not necessary, however, to go as far as that. We must remember that we are not legislating for to-day or to-morrow; we must consider what may happen in the course of time and in various contingencies—what might happen, for example, if we were embroiled with the United States, or with France, and engaged in controversies that might lead to war. In this Bill the dragon's teeth are sown in every clause. It is not a measure of finality, in the' sense of a settlement, likely, in its general substance, not to be disturbed. The temporary and provisional character of its financial and other arrangements even invites disturbance. What are the means by which it has been obtained? They are written at large in the Report of the Special Commission of 1888–90. It has been practically a capitulation by the Government to a certain organisation in Ireland. We are told that when the wishes of Ireland are strongly expressed they ought to be considered, upon the principle of conciliation as against what is called coercion. Why that principle should be good for the purpose of forcing 378 this Bill upon the country, and have no application to the natural consequences of the Bill, it is very difficult to see. If an Irish Legislature were set up, it would be filled by ambitious men seeking to gain power and-popularity in the country, each Party by bidding the highest, and it is impossible to set bounds to their ambition. Mr. Parnell said, in 1885, that neither he nor his friends ever could or would attempt to set bounds to the national aspirations of Ireland; and nobody can pretend that this Bill fulfils, or nearly fulfils, those aspirations. It is said that the administration of the country by an Irish Parliament would add to the material comforts of Ireland; but I have never heard any man make an intelligible suggestion as to the way in which it would add to the material comforts of Ireland. But, my Lords, even if it did, the Nationalists would be encouraged by that very fact to demand that they should have freer play. On the other hand, if it should fail in producing that effect, discontent would be aroused, which would give an immediate impulse to the disposition to ask for larger powers. What has been the action of the Nationalist Party in the past? Have they ever contented themselves, in what they have said in past times, with asking for such a mongrel Constitution as this? The question with them has always been not how far they should go, but how far they could go, and now Mr. Redmond says expressly that this Bill is provisional, and can be accepted only as an instalment. There are, no doubt, others who now roar like sucking "doves": they may be sincere; but were they not equally sincere when they formerly spoke as Mr. Redmond does now? And what is to prevent their returning to their former state of mind? What does the National League say now? What do their American sympathisers say now? And in what direction do the voices of past Irish history, the voices and the examples of the great men of the past—of O'Connell and Mr. Grattan, and Mr. Gladstone's own denunciations of the Union lead them? Grattan used language as strong as language could be about the absolute right of equality, about going on to get more, about the folly of speaking of gratitude or ingratitude in these national matters, about making use of the opportunities arising out of foreign complica- 379 tions. And Grattan would take nothing less than the exclusive power of an Irish' Legislature to make laws for Ireland on all subjects; and he got from the British Parliament what he demanded. All these examples only point in one direction, the direction of going on and not being contented. Nor is there in this any reproach to anybody. In the circumstances in which Members of the Irish Legislature would be placed they would have a perfect right to pursue their ambition. We are asked to pass this Bill as an act of faith, but I prefer reason. And now, my Lords, I have only one other subject to touch upon, and that is the question, Has there been a mandate for this Bill from the country such as your Lordships ought to recognise? Looking to Ireland, you find that the great majority of Ulster, by no means the least important and powerful among the constituent parts of Ireland, is entirely against it, so that it cannot be said that there is anything like a desire or mandate from a united Ireland; and the majority in Great Britain shows that there is no mandate from that part of the United Kingdom. How has the question been brought to its present position? Suddenly in 1885 the idea was taken up. In 1886 the Bills of that year were introduced. Parliament decided against them, and the country decided against them on a Dissolution. During the years of political agitation which followed nothing was more assiduously instilled into the minds of the people than the fact that that Bill was dead. Still, the agitation went on for two or three years, founded chiefly upon attempts to discredit all that was being done for the maintenance of law and order in Ireland. Then came a change. Mr. Atherley Jones, a Liberal Member of advanced opinions, and beyond doubt an honest man, wrote a paper in a certain periodical, in which he frankly stated that the English Liberals generally did not care about Home Rule for Ireland but wanted other things; and that the only way towards success was to urge those other things forward. It was not long before his advice was taken. From about that time the Home Rule Question was presented, like Richard the Third, between the two Bishops; but its sponsors were many more than two, and some of them, perhaps, not so good as they were repre- 380 sented to be. And when this Bill was announced in the Speech from the Throne it was with a bodyguard of 10 or more other measures, in defiance of the rule established by authority and experience, that many great things cannot be done in the same Session; and obviously with a view to obtain sectional support for a Bill which could not otherwise be carried. And now that Bill is before your Lordships, passed in the House of Commons by a majority of the Irish Members against a majority of the Representatives of Great Britain; and if there be any duty, the shrinking or retreating from which would be an act of the most abject meanness and cowardice, it is the duty of giving to the British people an opportunity of saying whether, upon this subject, they agree with the majority of their own Representatives or not.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Earl of ROSEBERY)
My Lords, I am quite sure I speak the feeling of everybody in this House when I say that we have heard the speech of the noble and illustrious Earl—an effort remarkable at any age, but much more remarkable when we consider the advanced age at which he has arrived—with the greatest satisfaction and admiration. I do not deny that on this side of the House at any rate that satisfaction is somewhat of a mingled kind. It has been our fate in the past to hear the noble and learned Earl speaking on the side of the House and on the side of the question which we ourselves espoused, but I can assure him that we take his rebukes patiently. They are not mingled with any of the venom of those which we sometimes receive, and we give him all the credit that we demand ourselves for conscientious opinion. The speech of the noble Earl, as I heard it, divided itself into two distinct parts. The last part was of a kind with which all readers of history are familiar, in which the word "capitulation" frequently occurred, and from which the phrase "unknown and rash experiments" was not absent; exactly the type of speech, in fact, which has been made against every great reform of the century—Catholic Emancipation, the first Reform Bill, and the Repeal of the Corn Laws. The first part of the speech was of a more detailed character. I do not propose, and, indeed, I should not be 381 competent, to follow the noble and learned Earl in that critical and legal examination of the Bill to which he subjected it with the arts of a great lawyer, the arts of a great Chancellor, but I hope he will not think me disrespectful if I say that that argument, elaborate and interesting as it was, only added to the unreality of the Debate in which we have been taking part. He supplied in one of his closing sentences the reason why it is unnecessary to discuss the criticisms which he has submitted to your Lordships, because, he said, "you are not legislating for to-day or for to-morrow." He was right. We are legislating for this day six months. This is not a dissecting room; it is the chamber of death itself. Somewhere in the passage, in that short Lobby that leads from the House of Commons to the House of Lords, this Bill caught its death of some passing chill; and it is, if I may say so humbly, an interesting but an academic discussion, unreal in every part and particle of it to which we have been listening for the last three days. If any Peer will say that he came here with his mind open to argument, prepared to consider the Bill on its merits, prepared, if necessary, listening either to the accents of noble Lords below the Gangway or to the accents of the noble Lords above, either to accept or to reject this Bill according to the arguments that were offered, I confess he will have made a very considerable breach in the opinion that I have formed of this Debate. Your Lordships observe that I have waited a moment for any noble Lord to rise and state that his mind was in that state of angelic candour, but as none has chosen to place himself in that position I may take it for granted that my opinion is correct, and that none of your Lordships has entered this House except with a preconceived resolution for or against the Bill. I think that from one or two noble Peers I did hear with a sort of blushing diffidence that they were of opinion that this Bill would ultimately be rejected. The other reason for which this discussion has been unreal and academical is that there is no equal division of Parties in this House. There is only one Party in this House and a percentage of another. I do not know what is the exact number of the legion which my noble Friend who leads this 382 House with consummate ability professes to muster under his standard; but I venture to think it would be most fitly described by the couplet that Sidney Smith put into his description of the salad—Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl And, half suspected, animate the whole.Under the circumstances of this Debate it is scarcely remarkable that the speeches have divided themselves mainly into two categories and classes. There are the speeches of denunciation, and among these I will give a high and honoured rank to the speech of the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), whom I do not see in his place, who told us with an engaging candour that he could not treat this subject with rosewater. I have nothing to say except in a spirit of gratitude of the noble Duke. He treated me in a spirit to which I am entirely unaccustomed from him, and, if I may reverse an expression in Scripture, I expected a stone and he gave me bread. He was good enough to praise a little book which I not long ago published. He read extracts from that little book, as if they were in any respect damaging to the position of the Government regarding Home Rule. From not one of the statements he read out, or from any of the statements in that little book, have I seen the slightest cause to recede; but at the same time, it does not in any degree impair my general loyalty to the course which has been pursued by Her Majesty's Government. One of the great specialities of the noble Duke is this—that he is always going to make a speech about Home Rule on every subject which may present itself to your Lordships, but that he never gets to Home Rule. Just as he is approaching it, just as we think we are on the clue to the argument for which we have so long sought, he is seized by that fatal and malignant disease to which he is more subject, perhaps, than any other of the many invalids who suffer under it in both Houses of Parliament—lues Gladstoniana. He is led away by some morbid spirit to discuss and analyze the views and the speeches of the statesman whom he is proud and pleased to call, in every term of affection, his "right hon. Friend." I do not see why candour should not reign among friends, but I do think the noble Duke reads 383 more into the character of my right hon. Friend than even his greatest admirers have been able to perceive. He reminds me of the lines in The Rejected Addresses—Who makes the quartern loaf and Luddites rise?Who fills the butchers' shops with large blue flies?I cannot help thinking that as my right hon. Friend and the noble Duke advanced along the vale of years, the flies perceived by the noble Duke get larger and bluer on every occasion. I know that we on this Bench are below his notice. We are merely Gladstonian items, blind tools of an imperious and, if I rightly understood him, a partially insane Prime Minister. It is some little comfort, under these circumstances, to find out that he had once been one of these Gladstonian items himself. I had almost forgotten the lapse of; time since he left the Liberal Party, but he reminded us last night, with a good deal of expression and force, that he had been a Member of a Cabinet that had proposed a Bill which he considered eminently absurd—a confession which I do not suppose that any one of my colleagues on that Bench, who have been longer in Gladstonian Cabinets than I have been myself, has been able to make on this or any other occasion. I pass from the choice specimen of invective provided by the noble Duke to the more full-favoured, and perhaps from my point of view equally interesting, specimen provided by the noble Marquess last night. It was one of the most interesting speeches I ever heard in my life. It was like a dictionary of animated quotations. He had an enormous mass of elegant extracts in his hand, and he read them out sometimes from Irish sources and sometimes from Ministerial sources. He is bitten by a disease parallel, but not exactly similar, to that under which the Duke of Argyll is suffering. His disease is the morbus Spenceranus. As I heard him, I began faintly to imagine the course of debate in an Irish Second Chamber when that Irish Second Chamber should come into being, because it was like a Cicero of Ulster denouncing a Cataline of Cork with outstretched fingers, piercing eyes, and quivering at every interruption; and I am glad to find that my noble Friend is able to be present on the Ministerial Bench this evening without any material 384 deterioration of his health. I said there were two classes into which the speeches of this Debate divided themselves. One is mainly the speech of invective. That, I confess, is the speech I myself prefer, as being more lively. The other is the speech of detailed examination of the measure that you have determined to destroy. I do not know why noble Lords think it right to fire this sort of military salute over the grave of this Bill. Every one of their speeches is couched in the spirit of Marc Antony's speech in the Senate House—"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." We do not expect praise of the Bill from noble Lords below the Gangway or from noble Lords opposite; but I think they might, under the very delicate circumstances of the case, spare us any detailed criticism, or, in fact, any detailed reasons founded on the Bill, when they have already made up their minds so completely upon what they are resolved to do with it. May I take three instances of what I mean? I will take the instance of the noble and learned Earl who has just sat down. He discussed at great length, and with every variety of treatment, the question of the retention of the Irish Members in Parliament. Now, I say that the retention of the Irish Members in Parliament, though a very important detail, though an organic detail, is only a detail still; and that if the noble and learned Earl had any genuine and sincere wish to discuss this Bill on its merits, he might perfectly well have voted for the Second Reading, reserving this point of the retention of the 80 Irish Members for a subsequent discussion in Committee. I think he might give us some credit for the fact that the retention or exclusion of the Irish Members is not a point unattended altogether by difficulty. In 1886 we proposed their entire exclusion. From what I understand to-night the noble and learned Earl has a preference for that course. I wish he had told us so in 1886.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I am greatly obliged to the noble and learned Earl; the circumstances escaped my recollection. What we did hear were much louder voices demanding the retention of the Irish Members as essential to the integrity and supremacy of the Im- 385 perial Parliament. If the noble and learned Earl prefers that course, I can tell him that, as far as I can gather from his public speeches, he has a very illustrious Colleague in that preference—no less than the Prime Minister himself. No one who read the speech of the Prime Minister on the Second Reading—no one who has read his speeches in the country, will doubt that it was owing to the overwhelming pressure of public opinion, both within and without his Party, that he gave way on that particular point to the wishes of those around him. And I must say this about the rather jaunty manner in which noble Lords opposite bestow their criticism on this Bill: They seem to think that any criticism is fatal to any clause; as if the Bills which they are in the habit of introducing are essentially perfect and unamendable; and that the subject with which we have had to deal, if properly dealt with, presented no difficulty at all. To-night I would ask to waive all discussion of the Bill, for the reason that in my opinion, first, that discussion is an unreal discussion; and, secondly, the point on which we are at issue to-night is much larger than this Bill, or than any Bill. It is the vast question of the policy which we propose for Ireland—a policy which, on the one side, is founded on the experience of the past, and which, on the other side, is in the womb of the future. I cannot help thinking that in taking this view of this discussion, and in making it a question of a policy and not of a Bill, we might do something to raise both the Debate and ourselves. We might do something better than chew the dry bones of the Bill, or what has been left of them, by the keen and unwearied teeth of the House of Commons, and we might at least desist from the petty and pitiful personal recrimination which has been too often indulged in. There is not one of you, my Lords, who in his heart believes that we are Separatist and traitors and place-hunters. There is not one sane Member of your Lordships' House who believes in the imputations which are made freely outside though not inside this House on the honesty of our motives. And we, on our side, do not believe that you are statesmen anxious to tyrannise and ride roughshod over the Irish people, and imbrue 386 your hands in Irish gore. The truth is very simple: and if we were to open our eyes to and recognise that truth we should greatly facilitate discussion. We are two political Parties disagreeing as to the best practical method of governing and conciliating Ireland. That is a very great question in itself. No much greater question could occupy us. It is a question which has puzzled the wisest minds of ages past; and I do not believe that we, in attempting to arrive at an honest conclusion on this subject, will much further our purpose by blackening the political morality of a political Party. You may be certain, in regard to this controversy, of the infallibility of the course you have pursued or propose to pursue. I may frankly say that I am by no means sure of mine. I am not certain about anything with regard to Ireland. [Opposition cheers.] I was never more gratified than by those cheers. They show that there are some points, at least, on which noble Lords opposite have not yet made up their minds definitely. They are not quite certain about Ireland. That is, at least, a ray of hope. I say that I am not certain about Ireland; but I can at least say this—that I have come to the conclusion at which I have arrived after a long and painful study—that I have arrived at the convictions which I hold in the teeth of all, or almost all, that would tend to make me take the other side. We here have known the bitterest pang that can fall to public men to suffer. We have known the separation from colleagues and friends. We have known not merely separation from colleagues, but the bitterness of their denunciations of us; and I venture to say that if we had been anxious to lead a quiet life or a pleasant life, if we had been willing to sacrifice our convictions, as you think or assert that we have sacrificed them, it would not have been in the direction which we are pursuing that we should have gone. My Lords, I say, then, to-night that it is not the Bill but the policy which is at issue, and nobody knows that better than your Lordships who sit over against me. Your treatment of the Bill shows it both in the House of Lords and in the House of Commons. It seems to me that there were in the House of Commons two logical courses to pursue, and only two, with regard to the Bill. The first was to say that you could not 387 touch it in any shape or form; that you would have no dealings with the accursed thing; that you would vote for its rejection on the Second Reading; and that nothing would induce you to incur any responsibility for any detail of the Bill, of which you have so great a horror. The other course was this. Having accepted the Second Reading as the expression of the voice of Ireland on its own destiny, and the voice of the House of Commons as to what it thought best for Ireland, that you should endeavour at any rate to manipulate it in order to get it as much to your minds as possible. And I am perfectly certain of this—and I am speaking without consultation with, but in the hearing of, many of my colleagues—that if you had taken that second course, and frankly accepted the principle of some large measure of local legislation in Ireland, and had offered bonâ fide suggestions with a view of bringing that to pass in a manner consonant, as you believed, with the safety and the integrity of the Empire, we should have held out not one, but both, hands to welcome your assistance. My Lords, the Opposition in the House of Commons did not care to take either course. The course pursued reminded me of a very interesting national sport to which, perhaps, none of your Lordships are addicted—I mean the Spanish bull-fight. The bull-fight in Spain is a national and almost sacred institution. They have to kill the bull—that is the primary purpose. You had to kill the Bill—that was your primary purpose; and you went about it very much in the sane way. The first act of the drama is when the toreadors, or lance-bearers, attack the bull openly. The bull generally gets the better of them, and they are hurried from the scene. That stage is analogous to the Second Reading of our Bill. Then comes the stage when the light infantry of the bull-ring—I never can pronounce their name, but I could write it on paper—attempt to fix light darts into the bull, to prick it all over, and to annoy and exasperate it in every way, not for the purpose of killing it or wounding it seriously, but apparently out of general "cussedness." That, I think, reflects not unfaithfully the Committee stage of the Bill. Then comes the last and most solemn process of all, when the matador comes into the ring. In one hand he holds the sward for the 388 purpose of killing the bull, and in the other a cloak with which to mislead the bull as to his intentions. And I think I recognise in the noble Marquess opposite the features of the matador. The contrast in the treatment of the Bill by the two Houses is very remarkable. The House of Commons lingered over it with a sort of affectionate solicitude. If they saw the slightest danger of its departure they hastily pinned new sheets of Amendments to its wings, and it might be said almost that they viewed its appearance and disappearance with equal regret. I do not know of anything like it since the occasion when the well-known traveller, Herman Melville, was surrounded by almost every luxury and attention on the Island of Tahiti, when nothing was too good for him, and he enjoyed it all, till he found out that it was only preparing him for a meal that was subsequently to take place on his own fattened carcase. But the House of Lords treats this Bill in a very different spirit. It gives it a very short shrift indeed. Less than a week is sufficient from the time of its leaving the House of Commons for its destruction in the House of Lords. Here there are none of those little attentions which distinguished it in the House of Commons. There are no Amendments, no Instructions to the Committee, and no Committee to instruct. I do not know that there is anything which this Bill in its treatment so much resembles as the old recipe for cooking a pike. You fill the pike with everything that is most rich, rare, and toothsome in quality, and having done that you fling the pike out of the window as being of no value at all. This was very humorous behaviour of the Tory Party in the House of Commons, and it is not altogether without humour in the House of Lords. But surely your conduct is hardly respectful to your colleagues in the House of Commons. At what price do you value all their ability, their energy, and their time? I know that they did not attempt obstruction; such a course as that they would indignantly repudiate. But they did attempt legislation. They did succeed in introducing some clauses into the Bill; and the result of all their efforts, of all their quips and cranks, of all their philippics, of all their physical and even pugilistic encounters is that at the moment the Bill arrives at 389 the House of Lords you have nothing to say to it except to tell it to begone. I do not know whether we are to consider that the course of the House of Commons was entirely a matter of blowing soap bubbles; that it was merely a sham fight; that it was merely the playing of a big fish, while confident in the knowledge that the noble Duke was on the bank ready with the gaff for it. There was one very instructive illustration of the way in which this Bill was treated by the Conservative Party in the House of Commons. And when I say the Conservative Party, I do not mean the free and uncontrollable free-lances of the Conservative Party, but the solid and respectable and almost venerable occupants of the Front Bench. I will take the clause on which the noble and learned Earl has spent so much time to-night, the 9th clause—now, I think, the 10th. Let us apply to that the test of either not touching "the accursed thing," or only touching the "accursed thing" in order to amend it in some given and fruitful direction. On July 10 the Front Conservative Bench voted in Committee for retaining the whole of the 103 Members instead of 80 to vote for Imperial purposes. That was a large and liberal allowance, even larger and more liberal than the noble and learned Earl would be inclined to concede. This was the way in which the Conservative Opposition in the House of Commons endeavoured to avoid the evil of too large an Irish mixture in the Imperial Parliament. The same day they voted on an Amendment by Mr. Heneage for the total exclusion of all the Irish Members. On July 11 an Amendment was proposed by Mr. Seton-Karr to reduce the number to 48; on July 13 they voted in favour of the "in-and-out" arrangement against Mr. Gladstone's final proposal of 80 Members for all purposes; and, last, they voted to omit the clause together. ["Hear, hear!"] "Hear, hear," says the noble Viscount opposite. Will the noble Viscount tell me the object of these tactics? Was it to bring Parliamentary Institutions into contempt? I do not credit the noble Viscount, one of the pillars of the Constitution, with any such nefarious design; but to the rank outsider, the arm-chair critic, it appears as if the real design was to bring Parliamentary Institutions into disrepute. It has had that 390 effect; I do not know whether it was meant to bring them into disrepute and invite some Cromwell to put an end to them both for Imperial and Irish purposes. I say that, great as has been the responsibility of the House of Commons in this matter, your responsibility is tenfold greater. You have undertaken a tremendous responsibility. I will not ask what means you have taken to fortify yourselves for the contest in which you are preparing to enter. I will say nothing as to the general position of this House. I have never concealed my opinion as to the unfortunate position of an unreformed House of Lords. On two occasions I have brought that subject before your Lordships. For any Peer holding the opinions that I do to bring any subject in any circumstances before this House is merely waste of time and breath. But I will say this, and I say it in sober seriousness, without any wish to say anything that could be disagreeable to the noble Marquess opposite, for whose abilities I entertain a sincere admiration. I do believe that perhaps the gravest reproach that posterity and history will bring against his six years of government is this—that he made no serious attempt to reform the Second Chamber, which, after all, is the pillar of the Conservative Party. I am sure that he himself will be the last to disclaim any such description for the little Bill which was being withdrawn by the late Mr. Smith in the House of Commons at the time he was about to explain it to us in the House of Lords. But, my Lords, I venture to think, with regard to this contest in which you are about to engage, there is a particular consideration which should have not much less weight with you than the general consideration which I have submitted to you. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Zetland) alluded the other night, in terms of some disparagement, to the fact that the Benches behind the Government were not swarming with Irish Peers. Well, they do not usually swarm with Peers of any kind, and I do not particularly know why on this occasion they should swarm with Irish Peers. There are, as I see from a Return recently issued, 113 Irish Peers who have seats, I think, in this House. I want to know—because it is an important fact, at least an important factor in fighting five-sixths of the 391 popular representation of Ireland—how many of those Irish Peers can be said in any sense whatever to represent any part of Ireland, except that fraction of a Province which you choose for your own purposes to call the loyal Province of Ulster? I say it without the slightest desire to say anything that may be offensive to Irish Peers opposite; but, at the same time, it is true. The noble Lord (Lord Muskerry), who spoke with great vehemence from behind the Opposition Bench the other night, told us two or three times in the course of his speech that he knew all about Ireland. That is not the question. The question on this occasion is—I do not wish to put it offensively—what does Ireland know about him? Does he represent Ireland in any shape or form? Because, if this House is going with 113 Irish Peers—who, I venture to say, can only represent one class in Ireland—to enter into a contest with the House of Commons on a subject in which they are face to face with five-sixths of the Irish representation, on a subject which concerns all and every class in Ireland, then I say they are very insufficiently equipped for the battle. My Lords, that was a digression about the House of Lords. But, with regard to your responsibility, I repeat that, in my opinion, your responsibility with regard to this Bill is infinitely greater than that of the House of Commons. I will tell you why. It is because you are masters of the situation, and you have the power absolutely in your hands. The noble Duke who moved the rejection of this Bill, and whose speech I had the misfortune not to hear, at Ilkley recently spoke of the reasons which made him desirous to move the rejection of this Bill. One of the reasons he gave was that the Bill has not had adequate opportunity of discussion. Now, I say, you are in the position of being able to give it the fullest and freest opportunities of discussion. If your objection to this Bill was really on the ground that it had not had sufficient discussion, you could in a moment put an end to that complaint, and give it more discussion than any Bill ever received. You could, if you have any wish to settle this Irish Question in a way in which I have sometimes felt it will be settled—by an agreement between both the political Parties—you have an opportunity on this 392 occasion, which I suppose you are going to throw away, of obtaining adequate discussion, and of having a Conference which should settle the terms on which Ireland should have self-government in the future—a Conference not less elaborate, not less important, and not less representative than that which met in May, 1787, to settle the matchless Constitution of the United States. You may say that you do not wish to have anything to do with any form of Home Rule. But that is not the case. I do not know what it may be with noble Lords opposite; but, after all, noble Lords must remember that many of the reforms they have opposed with the greatest ferocity they have come to propose themselves in course of time; and, therefore, they must not be too absolutely certain that this is the course they are always likely to pursue on this question. But with regard to the Liberal Unionist Leaders the case is very different indeed. We have the election addresses of Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Hartington in 1886, in which they plainly state and lay down the fact that after all Home Rule is mainly a question of degree, and they state the limitations succinctly and definitely within which they may be prepared to grant Home Rule. Are they of that opinion now? If so, the noble Duke was singularly ill-advised in moving the rejection of this Bill, because what might you have done? You might have allowed the Second Reading to pass sub silentio, or have carried it with any form of protest which your Lordships chose; but when you got into Committee you might have modelled the Bill to your liking. You might have struck out every clause you disliked—perhaps you will say that would be every clause—then it would have been open to you to substitute what clauses you preferred. You might have had an opportunity—which, of course, you are not going to take—of declaring and defining your policy with regard to this great question of Ireland. Your Bill might then have gone down to the House of Commons, where it would have met, no doubt, with a stout resistance. But what would ultimately have come about, what would have happened if you and they had both insisted on the mass of your Amendments? A Conference would have taken place between 393 the two Houses which might have led to a fruitful result; and I say that the patriotic course for your Lordships to have taken, unless you have determined never to devolve any local business to Ireland, was to give this Bill a Second Reading, and take an opportunity of settling with the other House. I find that suggestion receives very little favour from noble Lords opposite. I can quite understand the prospect of spending laborious days and nights in Committee right through September, far into October, with, perhaps, a Conference in November, is not particularly inviting; but I am not sure, according to the precedent we have before us, that we are not likely to spend a great deal more time in other ways if some such course as this is not adopted. We have been constantly taunted by noble Lords opposite with changing our minds in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the bidding of a scarcely responsible politician. For us, after all, knowing what our fate in the Division is likely to be, this is the main question:—"How did it come about that in the year 1886 a great English Party, comprising responsible men—an ex-Viceroy of Ireland and an ex-Chief Secretary—deliberately proposed a measure of Home Rule, a measure which they resisted for 80 years?" The noble Earl has given his history; and I should like, on the other hand, to be allowed to give mine, because, after all, it is a point on which our characters are at stake, and I think we ought to be heard. I speak as a witness, but not as an enthusiastic witness, in favour of Home Rule. With me, at any rate, if I may speak for one moment of myself, Home Rule is not a fanaticism; it is not a question of sentiment; it is scarcely even a question of history. It is not a counsel of perfection; but it is, on the whole, the best of our courses to be pursued in dealing with a highly critical and complex subject. With me, at any rate, it is merely a question of policy politic, and as such alone I argue it. I argue it simply as a question of policy, and I take it no higher and no lower than that. It seems to me that the function of any one who pretends to be a statesman is to attempt to sever what is really wheat from what is really chaff. It is a long and laborious process, 394 and it is attempting to do that with regard to the Irish Question that I have become a supporter of Home Rule. I will go one step further. I say that I am not an enthusiastic witness on this subject, and I will make one or two other admissions. The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) spoke strongly last night about the Union; he said it was a matter of necessity, and I entirely agree with the noble Duke. I believe that there is scarcely any statesman who, if he had been in Mr. Pitt's place, confronted with such a war as that which he had to face, confronted with the Rebellion of 1798, would not have sought in that remedy a refuge and a guarantee against Irish disaffection. But I must also add this—the Union was only a portion of Mr. Pitt's policy. I believe that if the whole of his policy has been adopted; if the payment of the Catholic clergy, if Catholic Emancipation, if the abolition of tithes had all been carried concurrently with the Act of Union, we should not now be discussing a Home Rule Bill. So far we seem to be in some measure of accord. But, unfortunately, much has happened since the Union. The Duke of Argyll said that the last utterance of Grattan was in favour of the Union. Well, I think the most striking sentence in all Grattan's speeches occurs in the last of those speeches; and it is not favourable to the Union. It is this—"The ocean protests against separation, and the sea against the Union." What he meant, I take it, was this—that while separation from the Imperial control of Great Britain was impossible because of the ocean which surrounds these islands, it was equally impossible, because of the sea that separated them, to attempt to administer Irish local affairs at Westminster. That is all the admission I have to make with regard to the history of the question. I had some other quotations from Mr. Barton and Mr. Lecky with regard to it, but it is not necessary to labour it further. Our views of Home Rule are founded upon history; but they are founded on a history somewhat more recent than that of the Union—on very recent history indeed. The noble and learned Earl said, very truly, that the departure in favour of Home Rule was taken in 1885. Now, 395 I am going to approach a subject on which the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition is extremely sensitive, and I shall be greatly surprised if I get to the end of my few sentences without an interruption or interpellation from him. What occurred in 1885 to make this charge in our course? It was simply this. We left Office upon a side issue; I think it was a vote with regard to the Beer Duties.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
It is a matter of perfect indifference. We went out prepared to renew certain clauses of the Coercion Act, certain clauses which we thought necessary with our detailed knowledge of Irish administration and affairs. The noble Marquess came in. Last night the noble Marquess said he was most unwilling to come in—that he was forced to come in. That is very much at variance with my recollection. I do not, of course, know what the internal feelings of the noble Marquess were; that no one can judge but himself. If he means that he was obliged to come in because his followers wished him to come in, I believe that what he says is strictly and accurately true. But if he says he was in any sense forced to come in by our Government his memory is playing him a trick. What occurred was this: I remember perfectly well. The noble Marquess entered into some negotiations with the outgoing Government as to the measure of support he would receive if he was prepared to take Office.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Only between and during the interval that was to elapse before the General Election.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
Of course. The noble Lord did not ask for a blind support for his policy for ever. He would have asked for too much if he had. What he did ask for was the support of the Government until the General Elec- 396 tion took place, and he said that without that support he would not take Office. We were unable to give him that support; we told him so; and yet he took Office. Therefore I am under the impression that if there was any compulsion on the noble Marquess to take Office it was not, as he implied, from this side of the House, but it was from his own side. What happened? The noble Marquess without the slightest examination into the facts of the case, without even the 24 hours he thought necessary in 1886 to examine the state of Ireland, without any possible examination of the state of the case, said he was determined to try the experiment of governing Ireland without what was called coercion. That was a very grave announcement, because it cut altogether the ground from beneath the feet of the Liberal Party. Coercion is a valuable instrument, but coercion demands continuity. If either Party is prepared, as a matter of Party politics, to abandon any idea of administering coercion without regard to the circumstances of the case, from that time coercion becomes impossible. I will give an illustration, but I will not give it as from myself; it would not be proper to do so, because of the office I have the honour to hold. I remember that Mr. Chamberlain, in a famous and much-quoted speech, said that the rule of England in Ireland was parallel to that of Russia in Poland or of Austria in Venice. I do not know what takes place in Poland now. Therefore I would rather take the case of Austria in Venice, which is now merely matter of history. Austria held Venice entirely by coercion. Would Austria have been able to hold Venice if every four or five years a Party was to come in and announce that it had not examined the case, but was prepared to drop coercion? Does it stand to common sense? The Venetians might have been better off, but the rule of Austria as described by Mr. Chamberlain would have come to an end, and that is important. The Liberal Party, forced, and I think happily forced, from coercion, was obliged to try a new experiment and a new departure. We were face to face not merely with the abandonment of coercion by the Party opposite, but we were also face to face with the moral and material failure of 397 the Act of Union to secure prosperity to Ireland. What was the proof of the moral failure? It was that 80 or 90 Members out of 100 came back from Ireland prepared to strike a mortal blow at that Union. The proof of the material failure was given last night, copiously and with much wealth of statistics, by Lord Play fair in his extremely interesting speech. The late Lord Chancellor of Ireland cast a good deal of ridicule upon statistics of potatoes grown to the acre now as compared with former days, and seemed to think these details were beneath the notice of a statesman; but I venture to think that, if the proverb correctly describes as the greatest benefactor of his species the man who makes two blades of grass grow where one grew before, it is not unnatural to take the correlative view, and say that that Government is not the greatest benefactor of its species that makes one blade grow where two grew before. We then were driven, and not unwillingly driven, to the policy of Home Rule; all other policies we had tried and failed; this alone remained, and we tried it. The Bill of 1886 was introduced with a burst of enthusiasm, and rejected by a considerable majority in the House of Commons, and at the polls by an overwhelming majority. I do not regret that defeat, and I am sure noble Lords opposite will not regret it either. I do not regret it, because it was good for the Liberal Party to have a full experience in opposition of the advantage of the measure they had proposed in 1886 by contrast with the policy proposed by their successors. It was good also, because it made the Irish Party more known to the Liberal Party; and, in the third place, because it tested the professions of the Government and of their Liberal Unionist supporters. The professions of the Liberal Unionists were to have no coercion and no land purchase. Since that time circumstances have widely changed. There has been a Land Purchase Bill involving an expenditure of £10,000,000, and there has been a Coercion Bill accompanied by the curt instruction—"Do not hesitate, if necessary, to shoot." And this confirms our view, that the course we had chosen was the one and only alternative to coercion. After that 398 experience we came to this Bill. But we have also other motives besides history for coming to this conclusion. We have, in the first place, an Irish representation which is almost unanimously in favour of it. We have also the difficulty of understanding Ireland in England, which seems to me to be as great now as it was when we first began to govern her. I do not suppose that all wedded unions of over the year old are in the precise position to gain the historic flitch of bacon at the end of 12 months, but even then they are not always considered a failure. But what is to be held of a couple who, after a silver or a golden wedding, come to the Divorce Court on the ground of incompatibility of temper? That is the case with regard to Ireland. We had, besides that, the necessity of devolution on both Imperial and local considerations. We were sick of always voting Bills that the Irish always opposed, and we were sick of voting money that the Irish always disregarded. I myself would have preferred some scheme of devolution which would have been applicable to all countries alike in the United Kingdom, such as that I indicated in that speech at Paisley, which has formed so favourite a theme with the Opposition. But you cannot get all you want. There is a fatal objection to an equal scheme of devolution. The maximum you want for England would not be the minimum you want for Ireland, and so you would cause discontent to both parties without achieving your object. And we had, further, this object, that we wanted to get Ireland out of the way. We want to get Ireland out of the way in order that the time and energy that it engrossed in our Parliament might be better given to other purposes. There is another motive that I would wish to give for this Home Rule policy, and it is perhaps a more homely one. It is to some extent a feeling of mortified pride that makes the Liberal Party take up Home Rule. No one can doubt that if you could set Ireland afloat at this moment and float her across the ocean till she reached the shores of America, within 10 years, as a State of the Union, she would be as prosperous and contented as any other State of the Union. I say it is a reproach to our Empire, to our Government, and to our Parliament 399 that, while we covet every square inch of unoccupied ground that we can administer of the world, right at the core of our Empire there is, and there has been for seven of eight centuries, a difficulty, we openly confess, but with which we are hopelessly unable to deal. May I give two other reasons—reasons which are usually given as arguments against Home Rule, but which make me a Home Ruler at this time? The first is the phrase that is constantly used—the "dismemberment of the Empire." A more meaningless phrase was never invented. It is because I wish to avert a practical dismemberment of the Empire that I stand before your Lordships as a supporter of Home Rule to-night. There has only been one great dismemberment of the Empire. That occurred about a century ago. It was when the United States broke off from their allegiance and set up as a separate State across the Atlantic. What was the cause of that dismemberment? Was it because of too great a respect for their local aspirations? No, it was your insisting on establishing your own views of law and order in that country, in disregard of the wishes of the colonists. And what I fear is this—that if we do not arrive at some such scheme as we propose, and I do not pledge myself to the details of the scheme, we shall have that practical dismemberment, which is implied by Ireland sullen, discontented, and rebellious, always at our side. There is another ground on which I am a supporter of Home Rule. It is constantly urged as an objection to any such Bill. It is on the ground of foreign policy. I am not at all sure that the Opposition are not right in saying that foreign Governments distrust the proposals for establishing a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. But I put that down, with all respect to any distinguished Representatives of Foreign Powers who may be here, rather to that ignorance which all nations have of other nations than as a deadly argument against our proposal. But what is the case? At present we have from 25,000 to 30,000 troops in Ireland in times of peace. What force would you want in time of war? I would ask one more question. If you were engaged in a European war, what would be the first point at which your enemy would attempt to reach 400 you? What would be your most vulnerable point? It would, of course, be Ireland. I do not know whether they would be successful in establishing themselves there—they have made many attempts; but if, with the gigantic Armies of the Continent, anything were to happen to your Fleet, not 25,000, nor 30,000, nor 100,000 men would prevent the invasion of Ireland, and the invasion by a foreign force would find many friends on its shores. The true defence of Ireland from the point of view of foreign policy is to give Ireland something worth defending, to give her something that no liberating nation could offer, to give her institutions which she would value as much as we value ours, and, in fine, to set up that spirit of contentment which is so sadly lacking at the present moment. I pass by the question of Ulster, because I have too long trespassed upon your time. But I would venture to say that while these are positive arguments in favour of the proposal, there is an overwhelming negative argument. What do you propose? Have you any scheme—any such scheme as the noble Duke adumbrated in his election address of 1886, any such scheme as Mr. Chamberlain suggested in his election address of the same year? It' you had such a scheme I venture to say it would find no unfriendly reception on these Benches. We are only too anxious to get the Irish question out of the way in order to make way for English, Scotch, and Welsh reforms. Have you any such policy? You must have. But we know enough of what has occurred in the past to feel no great hopes of the future. You must have a scheme. When we go out the 80 Irish Members will not go out too. They will remain with yon. You may reduce them by a small percentage, and I believe that is part of your scheme, but that will not alter five-sixths of the representation of Ireland. You will not get rid of the 80 Irish Members; they will remain as a clot, a calculus, and an aneurism in the middle of your body politic, which you will have to take some drastic measure to remove. I remember what was the former policy of the noble Marquess—I do not know whether it remains the same—20 years of resolute government and free emigration. How 401 are you to get your 20 years of resolute government? Twenty years means three Parliaments. Will you get three Parliaments to give you carte blanche to administer resolute government in Ireland? You have not so far been able to get more than one. I do not think we are prepared to give a perpetual dictatorship; but, on the other hand, there is a difficulty in any 20 years of resolute government. The democracy cannot govern, and will not govern, in the way you wish them to govern. You may have your Coercion Bills; you may have your "Do not hesitate to shoot" policy if you will, but you will also have incidents inseparable from coercion; you will have regrettable incidents which will inspire the whole country with a horror and hatred of your policy such as existed three or four years before the General Election. Is emigration any better remedy or more practicable than 20 years of resolute government? Emigration greatly increases the difficulty with which you have to deal, if you send out discontented instead of contented emigrants. If you are merely going to pour into the United States or Australia Irish peasants torn from their homes by the impossibility of living there, going with a burning hatred of your institutions and your Monarchy, you will raise up ten evils for one you are laying. Who were the best emigrants who were ever sent out? They were the Pilgrim Fathers who went out in the May Flower. And you will find there was difficulty with them, and in their distant New England home, the Government said that they were a peevish and discontented people. You have tried your policy and failed. It has already reduced your British majority, and it has produced no effect on the Irish Members in the House of Commons against you. I think that you have but three choices left, and they are all of considerable complexity. The first is the disfranchisement of Ireland and the conversion of it into a Crown Colony; the second is your former policy, which is, if I may so, both expensive and ineffective; and the third is some form of Home Rule. The first is impossible, and the third you have not come to yet, but you may not be long in coming. But what will happen if you pursue the policy you adopted in the last Parliament? We shall have Ireland always on our back, 402 that incubus that we have been so anxious to shake off by Home Rule. The noble Marquess, in 1887, said, "The politics of the present are all summed up in the word 'Ireland,'" and he was perfectly right, but we should be entitled to expect, from his utterances as to resolute government and emigration, that we should have had some time for English and Scotch legislation. But how was the time occupied in the House of Commons? In 1887 there were 39 private Irish Bills and eight Government Bills, occupying 96 days. In 1888 there were 43 Private Bills and 13 Government Bills, taking 63 days. In 1889 there were 32 Private Bills and nine Government Bills—total, 41—occupying 52 days; and so we go on with an equal story all through those six years, though you promised us that we should discharge that burden of English legislation and Irish business by your resolute government; but it was found equally as heavy, as obnoxious, and as encumbering as it had ever been in any previous Parliament. I put aside the expense with which this policy is accompanied, the £1,000,000 or so spent on light railways and sops to feed the Cerberus of Irish discontent, which you are unable by any means to allay. But in pursuing the policy of Irish Home Rule we are guided quite as much by discontent and dread of what you propose as by any special content with what we have proposed ourselves. We see in the future that if your policy be pursued we shall have all those secret societies of assassination and outrage once more brought to work their way in Ireland, because the one hope which inspires the Irish people to withstand the incentives to rebellion and outrage will then disappear. We see Parliament encumbered, we see great expense, we see great waste of time; and we know that, whether you plaster Ireland with your garrisons or with your gold, the end of it by some devious path or other will be only some form of Home Rule. It is animated by these considerations, both positive and negative, that we have adopted the course which has brought so much obloquy upon us both from our open foes opposite and our open friends on my right. We propose this Bill in the sense so much decried by the noble Earl as an experiment. I grant that it is an experiment. All legisla- 403 tion is experimental, and all Irish legislation is necessarily experimental. But it is at least a large and a generous experiment. I remember only two experiments of equal magnitude—I think they were of greater magnitude—that have ever been proposed to Parliament in my time. They both struck deep at the Conservative institutions of this country, and they both menaced all that I conceive that the Party opposite holds dear, and they were both, I need hardly say, proposed by a Tory Government. One was the establishment of the London County Council—an infinitely more perilous experiment than the establishment of an Irish Parliament could ever be, where you focussed into one small body all the social, all the revolutionary elements, all the discontent, and all the poverty of an unprecedented aggregation of 5,000,000 people. The second was the Reform Bill of 1867. I well remember the introduction of that Bill, which was brought in by the noble and brilliant Prime Minister of that time—Lord Derby—who tossed it on the Table with the exclamation, "My Lords, I bring you this. This is, after all, but a leap in the dark." We claim that this Bill is not a leap in the dark. We claim that it is a leap towards the light, a leap and a long stride towards a more generous Irish policy, towards the reconcilement of two great nations, too long connected and too long divided, and, furthermore, a considerable stride towards that adjustment and devolution of local business which will alone enable the British people to support the vast and various burdens of their Empire.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
said, he must ask for the sympathy and the indulgence of their Lordships when he rose to follow two such speakers as those whom it had just been the privilege of their Lordships to listen to. He would merely say the first speech was full of argument and full of detail, and was a most clear and incisive declaration of the legislative proposals that were before them. The second also was an able and eloquent speech, and he would hesitate to say that it was not full of argument; but at first it appeared to him to be full of chaff, but not of the chaff 404 which had been referred to by the noble Lord. From first to last he (the Earl of Rosebery) did not adduce a single argument for a Second Reading of the Bill. He had listened to a sick child who had caught a cold coming through the Lobbies, but a chill was not always fatal. But the noble Earl had stated that he would waive all discussion about the Bill. Until he said that, he (Lord Burleigh) was under the impression that they were there only for the purpose for learning what was for and against the measure. He would call their attention to the position in which they were placed. They had entered into a phase of a long controversy. How could they deal with it effectually, when they could not attach any distinct understanding to it? He had hoped that they would have had no more speculations about the principles of Home Rule. He thought they bad got it in the Bill, and that they were in a different position to what they had been before, because they would be able to discuss it in a concrete form, and see whether it would be accepted by the country. In the case of the Bill of 1886 all sorts of excuses were made by its framers for its defects. They were told that it had been got up in a hurry, and therefore it was not perfect, but that if its authors were put back into Office again it would be seen what they would do. Well, they had been seven years about it, and there was some right to assume that the great abilities of the 17 cleverest men of the Liberal Party had been applied to shape the form in which the Bill was presented. But now, on the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill in their Lordships' House, they were told that they were to have no argument about it, and no assistance from noble Lords opposite in discussing it. It seemed to him that, whether they had made up their minds or 'not upon that subject, the promoters of the Bill ought to have advanced some argument in its favour, in order that they might have had the opportunity of discussing the principles of that Bill on intelligible lines, but the noble Earl had given them no such assistance. The noble Earl would admit that the Bill would make the greatest change ever proposed in our Constitution. It was practically a new Constitution, not only for Ireland, but still more for the United Kingdom. He 405 accepted the fact that the Government had changed their policy with regard to Ireland, but he might be permitted to say that if the reasons they had given satisfied themselves, to those who differed from the Government they were ridiculously inadequate. The Government were bound to show not only that some change in the policy of this country with regard to Ireland was necessary, but that this particular change was the best that could, in the circumstances, be proposed. If they suggested that the speeches made to the country did not represent the real opinions of those who represented them he would give up his point at once. But he must assume that when a public man went on to a public platform—he must assume that he did mean what he said to the people before him. He could not see one trace in the measure proposed bearing out the promises and professions which Her Majesty's Government had made to the country. The Prime Minister, in moving the First Reading of the Bill in another place, said there were five conditions which must be observed; but, in order to make those conditions square with the Bill, they ought to put the word "not" before each of them. He would venture to say that in this measure there was no special provision made for the protection of minorities, such as there should have been, and there was no finality, and no promise whatever of its being a real and perpetual settlement. The noble Lord who spoke to-night has disposed once and for all of Imperial unity and Imperial supremacy. If you attempted to enforce the veto the Irish Ministers would resign, and you would find no other Member of the Irish Party to take up the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and Constitutional methods would be brought to an end. There is no equality in a Bill which provides that the Irish Party shall be dominant in the affairs of this country, while they would have nothing to do with Irish affairs. In 1886 the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon) attempted to fix a charge of inconsistency upon the Opposition with regard to the exclusion or retention of the Irish Members. He denied that there had been any inconsistency in the attitude of the Opposition on the subject of the exclusion or retention of the Irish Members. Under the Bill of 1886 the 406 larger Island was put into a position of supremacy over the smaller one; but the position was now changed, and under the present Bill the smaller Island was put into the position of supremacy. That, in itself, would make a great difference. He would venture to say he did not think that noble Lords opposite could know how great the difference was; he did not think that they could realise the objection that could be taken by the Irish Members. It was all very well to say that they made it no worse than it was before. But they did. They prevented the representation of Great Britain having any control whatever; and, if he might borrow a not very elegant but very expressive phrase, they had a right to object to be under the hoof of Ireland. He did not think he was going too far when he said that in this matter there had been deliberate, organised, long-maintained concealment of the intentions of the Government. The original proposals of the Bill were never seriously meant; and, in his opinion, the Government had deliberately abstained from giving any information to the Representatives of the country. In another place Mr. Chamberlain complained of the Prime Minister's intentions to the House, and said that Government had always avoided the questions put to them, or refused to answer them, and Mr. Gladstone confessed it. He promptly replied that he quite understood the object of the questions, and was determined to defeat it. If there was nothing else, that fact alone would justify their Lordships in refusing its consent to the Bill. He was not surprised, under the circumstances, Lord Rosebery had declined to be drawn into a discussion of the provisions of the Bill, because if he had defended them out and out he would have given his influence in Scotland such a blow that it would take a very long time to recover. The real object of the retention of the Irish Members had been disclosed in the other House by the hon. Member for Govan, when he said he wanted to retain the Irish Members in order to use their votes for English reforms. That candid avowal went far to show the danger and the immorality of the policy which was being pressed upon the House for acceptance. He now turned to the financial aspect of the 407 question as affecting Scotland. At present Scotland contributed to Imperial purposes £6,526,000, and Ireland £2,103,000. But when the sums which this Bill proposed should be spent by the country on the Irish Constabulary and in defraying the cost of Revenue collection in Ireland were deducted from the gross amount of Ireland's contribution, the net amount which would come into the Imperial Exchequer from that country would be only £1,552,000. Was this a fair payment from the Scotch point of view? Adopting the tests of the Prime Minister, he found that if Ireland were to be assessed, for the purpose of Imperial contribution, in proportion to the Income Tax paid in that country, she would contribute £2,500,000 instead of £1,550,000, and that if the assessment were made in proportion to the amount paid in Death Duties, the sum which Ireland would have to pay would be £2,816,000. He would take another criterion. Ireland at present paid 13.35 per cent. of the taxation raised in the United Kingdom on tea, tobacco, and wine. If she were to contribute to Imperial purposes in proportion she would pay £8,086,000. If the financial provisions of this Bill were agreed to an Irishman would only contribute for Imperial purposes the sum of 6s. 7d., whereas the amount taken from every Scotchman would be £1 12s. l0d. But the point which influenced him chiefly in his opposition to this Bill was the inadequate protection of the minority in Ireland. In the working of legislation of this kind everything depended upon the character of the men who would govern Ireland under it. Noble Lords opposite tried to get out of the difficulty by saying that they were not selecting the men who would govern, and that they hoped that the Irish people would select the right men. But that would not avail as an argument, for it was certain, as far as anything in human affairs could be certain, that the men who would form the new Irish Executive, if this Bill were to pass, would be the present Leaders of the Nationalist Party in the House of Commons. The noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had asked them to pass the measure as an experiment. What an experiment! It involved the lives, liberty, and property of those who had been most 408 loyal to the British connection. It was an experiment which would be made at the expense of men who said plainly that they dreaded nothing on earth so much as this legislation; and, in order that this experiment might be made, they were asked to trust the men who, the noble Earl opposite had told them, might in case of war take the side of our foes.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
But those conditions, he believed, had had a great effect in Scotland, where the Prime Minister would do wisely not to rely on the support which he had hitherto received. That the views of large numbers of Scotch influential electors had undergone a change since the introduction of this Bill was shown by the great meeting held in Edinburgh in April. The minority in Ireland were one-third of the population; they represented the greater part of the education and industrial energy of the country; and yet their Lordships were solemnly asked to hand them over to the tender mercies of those whom they so much distrusted. He would not say anything against the Roman Catholic Church generally. In this country it commanded respect; but they had had glimpses of the priesthood in Ireland in magisterial inquiries and political battles and in the revelations of the Meath Election Petitions. Their Lordships were asked to hand over the minority to those who had been advocates of deliberate robbery and breach of contract, and had preached the gospel of revenge; but before they passed a Bill of this kind they would ask for a check, not only on rash and Party legislation, but for a real check, on those men who had started and worked the Land League and the Plan of Campaign. Noble Lords opposite hoped that the Irish Members would keep within the Bill, but there was only too much evidence that the sham safeguards imposed by the Bill were not loyally accepted by those who would have to 409 work it. They were told that to enforce the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament would lead to nothing but irritation. There could be no hope of a continuing settlement. The Government had either done too much or not enough. They had taken a most dangerous step in attempting to set up a Federal Constitution. They had weakened the United Kingdom for defence in a way most dangerous to the smaller countries embraced in it. He was convinced that, in any breaking up of the Imperial Parliament, Scotland and Ireland would lose more than they would gain. It was said that Parliament was overburdened, but, in his humble opinion, much that was said on that subject was grossly exaggerated. There was, he admitted, a substratum of truth in the saying; but surely a remedy could be found for it without separating the Executive Authority, and without taking the Constitution to pieces. Such a remedy could easily have been found if the market had not been spoiled by the hasty way in which. Home Rule was swallowed by the Party opposite. Speaking as a pure Scotchman, he could say that they were proud of their history, proud of their struggle for independence, proud of their former separate existence. Their union with England was not popular for something like three-quarters of a century, but now they entertained a loyalty, not only to Scotland, but to the Empire, and he believed the enormous majority of his fellow-countrymen would now feel that it was as great a lapse in their patriotism to be disloyal to the Empire as to be disloyal to Scotland. He honestly believed that Ireland at no long distance of time would have been brought to the same feeling had not her hopes been excited by the Party opposite. Until the deliberate judgment of the country in the light of clear and unmistakable knowledge had been obtained on this question he maintained that their Lordships had no right to accept the Bill. Before they were asked to violate their consciences and to stultify their reason they had a right to know that the mass of the people unmistakably desired this measure, and he should certainly vote against it, because he believed it involved considerations not only of national safety, but of national honour and probably of national life; and he 410 supported the Motion for the rejection of the Bill.
§ LORD THRING
said, he was under the impression that a mist of exaggeration pervaded everything Irish. Facts had been misrepresented and distorted, and impossible conclusions had been drawn from improbable premises. In the few words he would address to their Lordships' House he would endeavour to show that the Bill was founded on well-established precedents, and that the fears of its opponents were either simulated or based on imperfect knowledge. It was said that the measure would lead to the dismemberment of the Empire. What was the Empire? It covered a fifth of the habitable globe, and it contained men of every creed and language, living under diverse local Governments. The common tie that bound these people together was Her Majesty and the prerogatives of the Crown. These prerogatives were the power to make peace and war, the control of the Army and Navy, and the right to make Treaties with foreign nations. How did the Bill affect any one of these privileges? How could it possibly disturb the Empire. The Bill was really a Colonial Bill, and could not disturb the unity of the Empire in the slightest degree. If the Empire was to be shaken in such a manner it would have long since been shattered. It was contrary to their common intelligence to say that this measure would in any way affect the unity of the Empire. The Duke of Devonshire had drawn a great distinction between the unity of the Empire and the unity of the Kingdom. Since Irish Members were retained in the Imperial Parliament in reduced numbers, but with the same rights as they possessed now, it would be quite as sensible to say that if they altered the franchise in Ireland or the number of its Members that they affected the unity of the Kingdom. Some noble Lords were greatly exercised about the supremacy of Parliament. But Parliament remained as before. Not one single Parliamentary power had 411 been affected. Indeed, over-precautions had been taken to secure the supremacy of Parliament. It was a doctrine of the Common Law that Parliament could not if it would abrogate its supremacy. And in the Colonial Acts nothing was said about the supremacy of Parliament, it was assumed. But in this Bill there was a declaration of it in the Preamble, and an enactment in the body of the measure. Then there was the Imperial veto, which had always been applied in Colonial Constitutions to prevent gross injustice. He did not see how any injustice could be done or the minority be injured in any way when they had 80 Irish Members sitting in the Imperial Parliament who could be called to account for their misdeeds. The unity of the Empire, the unity of the Kingdom, and the supremacy of Parliament would be as safe after this Bill as they were now. The Bill was an ordinary Colonial Bill, adapted to the peculiar circumstances which existed between Great Britain and Ireland. There were two forms of a Bill of this kind. The old Colonial Bill was always in this form, it delegated powers to the subordinate Government to make laws for the peace, good order, and good government of the country; it dispensed with all restrictions, and left the Colony to do the best thing they could. They had been told the Bill was crude, and crazy, and revolutionary, and all sorts of bad things. He was bound to admit that during his 25 years of office; he never knew of a Bill which was not crude and crazy in the opinion of the Opposition. He challenged any noble Lord who understood Colonial legislation to point out any single clause which went beyond the ordinary Colonial limit. On the contrary, this was a more restricted Bill. When they were told that great wrong would be done under it he asked whether great wrong had been done in any of the 15 self-governing Colonies. Why was it supposed that under a Constitution more restricted than those of the Colonies the unfortunate Irish were to commit wrongs which the Colonies had not committed? It was said that the Irish Parliament would be composed of rebels and murderers, but precisely the same thing was said when a Constitution was granted to Canada. But the experience of history showed that the weight of re- 412 sponsibility made men abandon their former methods and settle down to the work of government. Then as to the everlasting accusation of a conspiracy of secrecy, everyone had known for the last eight years that when the present Government came into Office they would bring in a Bill to give local government to Ireland, and a Local Government Bill could only contain certain definite proposals contained in every Colonial Bill. The employment of the Closure in the Commons could not be avoided in the face of the tactics of the Opposition. He did not blame them, but the Government could not do otherwise than apply the Closure. Everybody knew that the Colonial Bills and the Irish Bill involved great changes in the administration of the country, but that was the object for which the power was given that they might manage their own affairs. If Amendments had been moved to every delegated power in the Canadian Bill, for example, the end would not have been reached till the Judgment Day. The real question was whether Parliament did or did not intend to give local government to Ireland. It mattered little what the details were, but it mattered very much if they were prepared to give local government to Ireland or not. It was said that there was no argument in its favour. All history and experience taught that where countries or communities with peculiarities of race or creed or language were united by an incorporating union the result was not successful, but where they were united by a federal union national feeling was satisfied. He would only quote the one case of Austria-Hungary as that was the most apposite instance. Hungary had been discontented for centuries. Then within our own time it broke into rebellion, which was crushed with the assistance of Russia, and Hungary was incorporated with Austria. After the battle of Sadowa, Hungary's opportunity came Austria was prostrate, and Count Beust, to restore the Empire, dissolved the Incorporating Union and substituted a Federal Union. He was perfectly aware there had been differences, but on the whole Hungary became contented. If they looked at Canada they found that rebellion had been quelled by the grant of self-government, a Federal Union had since been established, 413 and that Canada was now one of the most loyal portions of the British Empire. He did not say that those instances were necessarily conclusive, but still they demonstrated the general principle that to give self-government to a discontented community was the easiest way of conciliation. One-fifth of the habitable globe rested content under the rule of Great Britain, with only one exception. That exception was one of the smallest of our dependencies—Ireland—and it possessed no local government. The Marquess of Salisbury has said that the term "national aspirations," as applied to Ireland, was merely "modern jargon." It might be jargon, but it was the jargon of Swift, of Flood, of Grattan, of O'Connell, of Burke, and of Lord John Russell. He was not ashamed to think that National sentiment and National aspirations were very good grounds for giving local government to Ireland; and he thought that our Colonial Institutions proved that the risk was almost infinitesimal. Above all these pleas there was a greater and nobler plea for giving Home Rule to Ireland. The honour of the Empire and of England demanded that justice and self-government should be given to Ireland. It was time to put an end to the taunts thrown in our teeth by every foreign nation that while we preached the gospel of liberty throughout the world Ireland was oppressed and denied even a small part of the privileges which we granted so liberally and freely, and almost without solicitation, to our most distant dependencies. That, he thought, was a very clear reason for giving self-government to Ireland. He knew that the opinion of an old and feeble man would avail nothing; but he was unwilling to remain silent in the Debate, because for 15 years he had been behind the scenes of Irish Government; and they were dark and dreary and ghastly scenes. He had also closely studied the Colonial Empire; and, before the Government of which he was a subordinate, he came to the conclusion that Home Rule was the only remedy which offered any chance of success in Ireland. He held that opinion strongly then, and he held it strongly now.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
said, with regard to the reasons given for introducing the Bill, he traversed the statement 414 most distinctly that there was any ground for urging that Ireland, in the period since the Union, had not steadily prospered to a greater degree probably than any other civilised country, America alone excepted. Showing the state of Ireland immediately preceding the Union, quotations had been given from the speech of Lord Clare bearing on the question. A steady improvement took place down to the time of the great famine of 1846. On that point he could speak from experience. He remembered that terrible visitation, having traversed at the time the districts in the South and West of Ireland. At that time artisans were employed at 2s. a day wages, and labourers could be obtained in any numbers for 6d. a day; whereas now men could not be got for less than four times than that sum. So much for labour. The deposits in the Bank, which in 1850 were certainly below £8,000,000, were now £32,000,000. Large sums were now invested by the tenant farmers and small traders in securities. The whole railroad system of Ireland, for which England had contributed largely at the beginning, had passed gradually and imperceptibly into the hands of Irish proprietors; and the same might be said of the shipping and other great industries. Originally established with English capital, the shares in those undertakings had now very properly drifted across the Channel, and were now held almost exclusively in Ireland. Within his own knowledge some years ago a project was started which required a 10 per cent. deposit of £120,000. Applications were received in three days to the amount of nearly £130,000, so that the capital was subscribed more than ten times over. Those were not signs of decaying trade, or that the country was not prospering; and those results had been achieved in the face of agitation, of occasional failures of harvest, and of various other disturbing causes well known to those interested in Ireland. The only class in the community which could not be said to have prospered were the landlords—there was no mistake at all about that. No landlord in Ireland was now getting the rent he received 40 or 50 years ago; and although rents had rarely on the old estates been raised since the commencement of the century, they had, in most instances, been considerably cut down by 415 the operation of successive enactments which had passed through their Lordships' House. Ireland, no doubt, was not as prosperous as she might be; but it was the merest moonshine to put a lack of prosperity forward as the reason for introducing this measure. Ireland had not been stagnant in commerce and industry. She had, in fact, progressed steadily; and in those parts of the country where free scope had been given to the development of native industry, as in Ulster, the progress had been more remarkable, perhaps, than in any other part of Her Majesty's dominions. He would proceed to state the objections to the principle—not to the details of the Bill, which would induce him unhesitatingly to vote against the measure. In the first place, the safeguard of the veto was worth nothing. It was a mere nominal veto which the experience of the Colonies showed to be worth precisely the paper on which it was written. When any Constitutional strain occurred he did not envy the post of the first Viceroy of Ireland, should that Bill, unhappily, pass into law. He would have three masters to deal with, and it would be very difficult for him to determine to which of them he should turn for advice and guidance as each emergency arose—or, as might be the case, two or three emergencies together, which often happened in Ireland. So long as that remained undefined that was not a Bill, which, in principle, their Lordships would be justified in passing. Coming to the well-known 9th clause, the proposition in 1885 was that no Irish Member should appear at Westminster; and in this Bill, as originally introduced, they were to appear and disappear upon "the in-and-out system," as it was called—they were to appear on certain occasions, and then disappear into space when the occasion had passed away, and re-appear when necessity arose. That proposal was abandoned. A third proposal was now made. The Irish Members were not only to pass laws in their own country, but to assist in the legislation on this side of the Channel. The latter arrangement was a serious inconvenience at present, for English, Scotch, and Welsh measures were opposed, apparently, out of spite by different Irish Members who were not concerned in them in the slightest degree. Of course, that was a serious obstacle to all useful 416 legislation. It was a problem which he believed to be utterly insoluble, and the objection to each of the three methods of dealing with the question seemed to be about equally strong. Then, coming to the financial part of the Bill, that was not a part of it with which their Lordships' House was specially entitled to deal; but, having given some attention to the matter, all he could say was that in the crude and immature financial proposals, which had been altered two or three times, he could see no ground for satisfaction. Great Britain was to be taxed for Ireland; but not only that—Ireland would probably soon have to face bankruptcy. In the absence of Imperial credit, through which so much good work had been done in the country, a far higher rate of interest would have to be made for money required for public works. The country would then suffer from chronic impecuniosity. Unless some wiser measure of finance could be proposed, their Lordships would certainly be justified in rejecting the Bill. This was not merely a matter of detail, but was essentially a question of principle. The provisions of the Bill were only to stand for six years, and then the whole controversy would have to be gone through afresh. As to the question of security to the minority, more than one noble Lord in the Government stood pledged by his own promise; and it had been distinctly stated that such securities should be inserted in the Bill as would reasonably satisfy the minority, especially in Ulster. Not for a moment could it be said that Ulster had been in any way satisfied. He did not wonder that Ulster felt aggrieved that Wales should be about to receive consideration at the hands of the Government; while that Province, with a larger population, larger area, and far more wealth, was not to receive any separate consideration from the rest of Ireland. That, again, was a question of principle. As to the Land Question, their Lordships, undoubtedly, stood in a somewhat delicate position. He could honestly say for himself, and for noble Lords connected with Ireland, that if he could see in that measure any hope of permanent benefit to Ireland, no personal interests would prevent him crossing the House to support it. But he could not understand what the Government proposed to do. The noble Earl (Earl 417 Spencer) said he had always been in favour of dealing with the Land Question; and it was not easy to see how the latest measure that had been passed absolved the Members of the Government from the pledges they had given. Some Member of the Government ought to give the House an indication of what their policy was to be in reference to the land if that Bill was passed. The condition of such a measure should be that it would settle the question for at least a generation; but there was no prospect of this Bill doing that. The Leaders of the Nationalist Party were not agreed upon the point. Mr. Justin M'Carthy might accept it in good faith; but what authority had he behind him? The Parnellite Leader, Mr. J. Redmond, declared that the word "provisional" was stamped on every line of the measure. Mr. Parnell, who, with all his faults was head and shoulders above the Leaders who had succeeded him, could probably have enforced discipline in the Party; but it was doubtful whether he ever intended to fulfil the pledges he had given. According to his own last speech in Committee Room No. 15, he accepted the Bill only pro tanto; but with whom was Parliament now dealing? Who were these Leaders? Where were the worthy successors of the galaxy of talent which made the closing days of the last Irish Parliament so memorable and so glorious for that country? Where were the Floods, Grattans, Ponsonbys, and Plunkets? Upon whom had their mantle fallen? The present Leaders must be judged by their own acts as summed up on the finding of the Commission—that they had been guilty of criminal conspiracy upon this Land Question. That finding applied to 36 of them—the exact majority by which the Bill was carried in the other House. The Irish Leaders had achieved no success in any other walk of life; and, looking to their own utterances, it was doubtful whether any bargain entered into with them would be honestly kept. They were now at the parting of two ways—one the path of political expediency, which the Government invited them to follow, and along which a child might tread with ease, and the other the steep and uphill track of duty and principle, which it might tax all the energy and ability of full-grown statesmen to climb. On the choice which 418 they made, whether the evil be selected and good refused, was likely to turn the future not only of Ireland, but of this country for many a long year to come. He trusted their Lordships would pause before they sanctioned any such course—before they forgot that the nation had inherited that which was not to be manufactured in a day, and which ought not to be taken to pieces in a single Session. They had inherited a Constitution from their forefathers under which they had lived and flourished as no other nation in the world had ever done, and which, if possible, they ought to hand down unimpaired in all its brightness and lustre to their children and their children's children.
VISCOUNT DE VESCI
said, that ever since the first faint rumours were put about that a measure of this kind was about to be introduced by a great political Party he had taken a share, both inside and outside the House, in organising resistance to it. The noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs had alluded to the unreality of the Debate. He agreed that there was unreality in it, because to all the thrusts and cuts delivered by the opponents of the measure there had not been on the part of the Government an attempt to parry, or at a real defence. The noble Earl himself, even in his admirable and most amusing speech, had not gone into the details of the Bill, but likened the Debate to the bull-fighting of Spain. He did not; however, attempt to stir up the Bill; he did not stop one moment—to use a vulgar expression—to give the bull one twist of his tail. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in introducing the Bill, was put in a position of great difficulty, which entitled him to the sincere sympathy of the House. He performed the task with admirable dignity and moderation; but he told their Lordships really nothing about the Bill. He gave a long catalogue of crimes and misdemeanours; but he did not, as he ought to have done, attempt to forestall, to some extent, the arguments which had been brought against the details of the Bill, for he must have known, from what had happened outside that House and in another place, what would certainly be advanced against the Bill in Debate. Lord Brassey, in his speech, gave some reasons why all other noble Lords in the 419 House save himself should vote in favour of the measure. Lord Ribblesdale also spoke in its favour with his accustomed ability, and gave most excellent reasons for the course he had taken; but he told their Lordships nothing about the Bill, and, having explained his own change of opinions, stood on the penitential stool with all his accustomed grace. The noble Marquess the Secretary of State for the Colonies, speaking in defence of the Bill last night, did not attempt to meet Viscount Cross's criticisms on the financial sections of the Bill. The notice he took of those criticisms was very cursory. He reproached the Conservative Party with having a share in granting the franchise to the Irish in 1884; he used it almost as a taunt against them that they had done so, and asked why the Conservatives had not continued that policy in the direction of Home Rule. It was not his duty to defend the Conservative Party; but he submitted that that argument really fell to the ground. The opposition to the Bill in that House must be mainly on its principles; and although it was difficult to avoid allusions to clauses and details, its provisions involved gross injustice in some cases, and in others were so imperfect in affording protection to the minority as to be merely a hollow mockery. There was no doubt whatever that noble Lords in that part of the House would vote in favour of the Amendment of the noble Duke (the Duke of Devonshire) for the rejection of the Bill; and he submitted it was their duty to vote for its rejection, and it would be again their duty to do so should it be forced once more through the other House, until its supporters fulfilled their obvious obligation of submitting it, with all its details, to the verdict of the country. It had often been pointed out how studiously the electorate had been kept in ignorance by the present Government ever since the defeat of their Bill in 1886; and only at the last General Election was the name alone of Home Rule before the country, and only so far as it furthered the interests of other proposals, which were sufficiently important in themselves, but had not been sufficiently submitted to public consideration, to really come within the sphere of practical politics. It could not be denied that every detail of this Bill was in any way understood 420 by the people at the last General Election. In a speech delivered in Dublin on the 24th of August, after the election, Mr. Dillon, the Member for East Mayo, said—The Irish Party would Dot give Mr. Gladstone their support in the House of Commons unless he satisfied them on all the details of the Bill; had they been given before the election took place, the verdict of England would probably have been given not for, but against, Home Rule.That was the opinion of Mr. Dillon. He went on—As far as my poor political knowledge carries me, the first thing to do is to secure your hare, and then you will see how you will cook it.That was not a very civil way of talking about the Prime Minister. He went on to say—First get a great English Minister, and the House of Commons, and the electorate of Great Britain to pronounce in favour of Irish liberty, and we shall know how to deal with the details of the Home Rule Bill afterwards.He would remind their Lordships that Mr. Dillon was a person of great eminence in the Irish Party, with a great knowledge of English affairs, and he most probably knew what was proposed. Who could pretend now that the electors of Great Britain voted with a full knowledge of what was proposed? Ever since the Bill of 1886 was defeated, it was announced that that measure was dead; and that the Prime Minister and his Irish colleagues and advisers were perfectly free to recast their scheme in every detail, but no one outside the inner circle knew anything about it. It was certain that the English electorate were kept purposely in ignorance of it. It was only charitable to suppose that what had been called "the conspiracy of silence" on the part of many supporters of the measure in that House, at all events, was due to absolute ignorance. Every appeal for details of the policy of noble Lords opposite had been met with an absolute refusal; and it was hard to believe they really knew what was proposed. The noble Marquess, in a speech he lately delivered outside the walls of Parliament, called attention to the critical state of political affairs, and expressed his opinion that it might be necessary if measures of such a far-reaching and revolutionary character were proposed to discuss some system of referendum. The noble Marquess did 421 not apparently expressly advocate a system of referendum, but only intended to convey a warning. Our present means of taking the opinion of the electorate were sufficient, provided always that the electors voted untrammelled by official interference or the intimidation of political agencies. One aspect of the 11th clause had not yet been touched upon. By that clause the Government had withdrawn the question of Irish representation from the consideration of Parliament. It was now proposed that on all questions of Imperial policy—on all questions, English, Scotch, and Welsh—the 80 Members should vote in the Imperial Parliament. The Schedule of the Bill had already been dealt with by noble Lords who had preceded him. An almost scandalous attempt had been made to manipulate the constituencies in Ireland; but as long as one portion of the United Kingdom was extravagantly over-represented and another equally under-represented, it was impossible to say that any measure of this kind which came before their Lordships was really backed by a majority of the electors of the United Kingdom. He wished that the question of redistribution were seriously taken up, and a Bill on the subject carried through Parliament; if that were done the result would be to remove all idea of competition between the different parts of the United Kingdom. It was proposed to pass this Bill irrespective of the opinions and feelings of that large minority which represented one-third of the population and two-thirds of the intelligence, industry, and commerce of Ireland. It was said that there was no demand for County Government in Ireland, but he believed that there was; and he was confident from his own experience that if rural Municipalities were once created in Ireland their administration would be conducted with the same regard to economy and efficiency as prevailed in English and Scotch counties. They would not be managed by the same class of men as would be sent to the Irish Legislature. Would it not be better, with the co-operation of all sides, to pass a measure of that kind, and to watch its operation before they attempted to pass a Home Rule Bill? His noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs alluded to the question of the possible invasion of Ireland. The 422 South-Western Coasts offered the same attractions to the foreign invader as they had done before. What would be the consequence if at such a time the Irish Legislature passed Resolutions professing neutrality, or even condemning the Imperial policy, and the Irish Executive set recruiting on foot to afford assistance to an invader who had once landed on Irish soil. The answer had been hitherto—"Oh, this is contrary to human nature," and people talked of the Union of Hearts; but there was no security that the Irish Legislature would give even a moderate support to Imperial policy. Then he wished to ask by what moral right the services of the Imperial Civil servants were to be transferred to another Executive? He would ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he gave his cordial assent to the 34th clause, which included the moritorium of three years during which the Irish Parliament might not deal with the question. In conclusion, he contended that those who lived in Ulster and in other Provinces had a right to speak for all classes of the Irish people, and in their behalf he claimed justice. He was not speaking in the interests of one class solely, and certainly not in the interests of the Irish landlords alone. The noble Earl said there were 113 Irish Peers in that House who had little or no right to speak on behalf of any interest out of Ulster. Many of their Lordships did not live in that Province, but were connected with people of the other three Provinces whose interests were bound up with theirs, notwithstanding this miserable political struggle. He maintained that they had a right to speak for all classes. There were thousands in the West and South of Ireland who were anxious to perform their honest obligations. Who did not know what the life of those men had been? They were constantly exposed to insult and danger to themselves and families in the House of God and on the public roads. Who would be in the position of such a man sitting in his cabin at night when every sound—the wind in the chimney, or the rattle of a latch—might be the harbinger of death? The existence of these men was one long agony. They were adscripti glebœ in the fullest sense of the term. Others whose horizon of life was wider could leave the country, and they did leave it for ever. They 423 were the kind of men who were the Pilgrim Fathers of the Mayflower. They left Ireland with a burning sentiment of passionate resentment in their breast, and that sentiment would go far to alienate the minds of men in our Colonies and in the United States against the Empire of Great Britain. On behalf of those men who were anxious to perform their honest obligations he claimed everything that was embraced under the name of justice.
§ LORD SWANSEA
said, that, although he addressed their Lordships practically for the first time, he was an old Parliamentary hand, having had a seat in the other House for 41 years. Approaching this question in a judicial and unimpassioned manner, he had arrived at the conclusion that the time had come when this momentous question must be dealt with, in order that they might remove the chronic discontent from which Ireland suffered. Everybody, he thought, would admit that something must be done. What did the terrible condition of things in Ireland arise from? They had only to look to the history of that unhappy country. In 1800 the population of Ireland was 33 per cent. of the whole United Kingdom; the population of England being 9,000,000, of Ireland over 5,000,000, and of Scotland 1,600,000. Now, Ireland's proportion was only 12½ per cent. There were some 25,000 troops in Ireland, besides an armed police, to control the population; while, in contrast, Scotland had but 5,000 troops. Many measures had been introduced in times past for the pacification of Ireland, but they had been absolutely useless. What was the alternative to this policy? None had yet been proposed. The only proposal was another 20 years of resolute government and coercion. But that policy had recently been tried for seven years, and was Ireland any nearer to pacification and contentment at the end of those seven years than at the beginning? The people, no doubt, were kept down with a strong hand, and there was less agrarian crime. But that was not enough. What a Government should aim at was the contentment of the people, and that Ireland was not contented with the present state of things was proved by the fact that at the last General Election four-fifths of the Irish Members returned to 424 Parliament were Home Rulers. The Duke of Devonshire the other night had hinted feebly at some extension of the County Council system as an alternative. The noble Duke appeared to think that County Councils possessed extensive executive powers, but, as the Chairman of a very large County Council, he could inform the noble Duke that they possessed no executive powers. They could not even originate a Bill in Parliament. The smallest borough in the country had more extensive powers than they. To attempt to satisfy Ireland by the creation of a glorified County Council would be foolish and puerile, for Ireland would never be contented until she had a National Council. The Irish claimed to be a nation. ["Hear, hear!"] They were a nation, and he hardly knew how to interpret those cheers. Were they, or were they not, a nation? [The Marquess of SALISBURY: No.] Then what were they? Would the noble marques, define what the Irish people were, if they were not a nation. [The Marquess of SALISBURY: Two nations.] For his part, he thought it must be admitted that they were a nation, and certainly until they were accorded the rights of a nation they would not be contented. This measure, he believed, would content them. It was the 80 Nationalist Representatives in the House of Commons who had a right to express the views of Ireland, and not noble Lords in that House who represented their own interests, but not those of the Irish people. He had had a long experience of the Irish Members in the House of Commons, and he declared that a more able body of men did not exist. At first he felt strong prejudice against, them, because they interfered so largely with the business of the House. He felt intense resentment, hardly realising that it was the beginning of a civil war, as it were, in the House of Commons. But gradually the enormous power of the Irish Representatives forced itself upon him. They were men of great intellect and determination and were true patriots. No doubt the course they took in the House of Commons was most disagreeable to English, Scotch, and Welsh Members, but it was the only course they could take to bring home to the House and the country the strong National desire for self-government. It was very easy to discredit and disbelieve the Irish 425 Members, but he had faith in them, and believed that when they had accepted this measure they had accepted it loyally and honestly. [Laughter.] It was easy for noble Lords to laugh, but they did not know these men as he did. [A noble LORD: We know Mr. Redmond.] Let them take the lowest view. These men would hold high Office, and the Opposition imputed to them the folly of lightly throwing away that position for which they had struggled for so many years. Their Lordships might depend upon it that they knew too well where their interests lay, and when responsibility was thrown upon them they would be found as able to conduct the affairs of their country as any men who ever sat in the House of Commons. They knew they were weak and that Great Britain was strong, and they were aware that if they abused their power they would have the power of this country against them. Was it not unworthy that a nation of 33,000,000 people should fear a nation of, deducting 1,500,000 "Loyalists," 3,000,000? Did not this Bill enact the absolute supremacy of the Imperial Parliament? ["No, no!"] It did so distinctly, not only in the Preamble, but in distinct words. But no such enactment was really wanted, because the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was not touched. If the Irish Parliament enacted any unjust law their Lordships might be sure that the Imperial Parliament would immediately override it. He, for one, would never assent to any Act of the Irish Parliament which caused spoliation. The Irish leaders knew full well how far they could go. They knew that the English people were essentially a just people, and that any action of theirs which might be unjust to the landlords or anyone else would not pass muster in this country. He had never supported the Bills which had been introduced for the purchase of laud, but so far as defending the property of the Irish landlords was concerned there was no man in the House who would go further than he. He believed that the veto of the Lord Lieutenant would be actively employed should occasion arise; but he would strongly deprecate any peddling interference with the affairs of Ireland. He had always favoured the retention of the Irish Members as a sign and symbol of the unity of 426 the Empire; but he rather regretted that the Government had departed from the in-and-out method. One of the strongest reasons for the Bill was that it would remove Irish questions from the House of Commons, where they had been a curse and an impediment to the effective discharge of the duties of that Assembly. He recognised that there must ultimately be an appeal to the country. He did not, however, admit that the Liberal Party had no mandate. Home Rule was the primary, though not the only, question at the last Election. At the next Election the details of the Bill would be before the country, and he believed they would be accepted by the electors, and that all the visionary Unionist bugbears would be blown to the four winds of heaven by the knowledge which the country would have of the exact provisions of the scheme. The country would see that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was guarded in the strictest manner, and that none of the evils prophesied could possibly arise. His firm conviction was that when another appeal was made to the country an enormous majority would declare in favour of Home Rule. That Members of the House of Commons had voted for the Bill because they knew it would be rejected by the House of Lords, he did not believe, and the suggestion contained a grave imputation. The Liberal Party had created our Constitution, and desired by every means in their power to uphold it; but the course taken lately in the House of Commons had shaken our Constitution more, perhaps, than anything that had taken place for many long years. If the Closure were not applied a Bill of this kind would never be passed. Their Lordships were going on very dangerous lines. It would be very much wiser to deal with this great question in a different manner from that which their Lordships had adopted. His prophecy in regard to the result of any future appeal to the country would undoubtedly come true, and then their Lordships would not be able to deal with the Bill so calmly, or be so able to modify its conditions as they might now if they chose.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
said, that none of the noble Lords who had supported the measure had said a single word about the Bill. As far as he could understand, Lord Swansea had been 427 brought over to Home Rule because he discovered that Ireland was declining in population, and therefore in prosperity. But the noble Lord compared the time before the famine with the time after the famine. Ireland, as a matter of fact, had increased in prosperity by leaps and bounds since the Union, and, as the country had been over-populated, the decline in the population had been one of the reasons of the increased prosperity. Lord Rosebery had made a very witty and clever speech. The early part of it was full of jokes and chaff; but this Bill was not a matter to joke about. The noble Earl joked about a policy which, if it were made effective, would indubitably produce a terrible tragedy in Ireland. It would bring ruin, despair, and possible death to hundreds of thousands of strong men, weak women, and little children in Ireland, and yet the noble Earl thought it was a good thing to joke about. He, on the contrary, did not think it was a subject for joking; neither did the Loyalists of Ireland. It was most unseemly of the noble Earl to make a joke out of the prospective misery of thousands of his fellow-subjects. The noble Earl refused to answer the criticisms of the noble and learned Earl who opened the Debate that evening. Why? Because they were unanswerable. The noble Earl made an uncalled-for and wholly unjustifiable attack on his noble Friend (Lord Muskerry), who was asked by the noble Earl whom he represented in Ireland. He would tell the noble Earl whom his noble Friend represented. His noble Friend was one of those who represented the loyal minority in the South and West of Ireland, a constituency which was increasing in volume in opposition to this measure in a different manner from another constituency with which the noble Earl was acquainted, and which was not far from his own doors in Scotland. He maintained that the noble Earl gave a very lukewarm support to Home Rule in the speech which he delivered earlier in the evening. Up to the present time the Foreign Secretary had been very reticent on the subject of Home Rule; he had never thoroughly explained himself, and he was sure that their Lordships were very anxious to hear the explanation of his attitude that evening; but, strange to say, he was again equally reticent. The noble Earl had every 428 reason not to commit himself in favour of this policy, because there were certain remarks of his which needed elucidation, which showed that the noble Earl must have found great difficulty in changing his opinions. In 1885, referring to a supposed alliance between Mr. Parnell and the Conservatives—an alliance which only existed in Gladstonian brains—the noble Earl described identically the present position of affairs, and described the consequences, the only difference being that it was a different company that was on the stage. He said on October 15, 1885—Now if the Tory Government remains able, with the 80 or 90 followers of Mr. Parnell, to hold its own, the future of the next House of Commons will rest, not with Lord Salisbury or Lord Randolph Churchill, but with Mr. Parnell. He, and not Lord Salisbury, will be the master of the situation; he, and not Sir M. Hicks-Beach, will be the Leader of the House of Commons. He will sit enthroned with Lord Randolph Churchill on his right and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach on his left, like Chiefs in Israel, with 80 Parnellite Members behind them who have signed the blind pledge of his followers.That was a pretty strong statement, but he had even a stronger one. The noble Earl went on to say—Though it has its comic side, I think this prospect is a tragic one.Possibly the noble Earl little thought that he would be turned himself into an actor of tragedy and comedy combined. Again, he said—But I go further, and I say that this alliance of the Tory and the Irish vote is a new and very dangerous feature in our politics";and again—because it is an alliance which has not merely struck a mortal stab at political principles, but it involves a danger to the Empire itself.The noble Earl had never explained one word of that speech. He was for a long time entirely silent, but in 1892 he did make a speech adopting Home Rule. He would ask the noble Lord whether a mortal stab had now been given to the political principles of himself and the Party he belonged to; and whether his prophecy had proved correct, and the Empire was involved in serious danger?
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
It was explained at some length in my speech at Leeds, and I shall be happy to send a copy of it to the noble Marquess to-morrow morning.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
proceeded to say that the noble Earl (Earl Spencer) who moved the Second Beading of the Bill had enumerated all the Land Acts passed since the famine, though he failed to understand how they applied to this Bill except as an argument against it, and he did not explain one of the safeguards of the measure. All the explanation vouchsafed was an expression of belief on the part of the noble Earl as to what those safeguards would effect, and that he believed they would have the effect of protecting the minority. Their Lordships remembered, however, when the noble Earl was Viceroy of Ireland, and that at that time he acted as if he believed the reverse of what he told their Lordships the other evening. Was it possible the noble Earl's views had changed in consequence of the necessity for obtaining votes? In his able speech Lord Ribblesdale explained how he had come to change his opinions in consequence of an Irish majority having been returned twice or thrice in support of Home Rule. The same argument would apply to a Separatist majority returned for Yorkshire or Northumberland. But the noble Lord did not stop to ascertain how that majority was obtained or what it represented. Would the noble Lord be astonished if he heard that a very large number of people who voted for Home Rule in Ireland did so for the same reason that a number of the majority voted for this Bill in the House of Commons—namely, that they knew it would not pass? But in the South and West of Ireland he heard that farmers were terribly frightened at the prospect of the Bill passing, and many of them earnestly hoped this House would throw it out. A Roman Catholic tenant farmer had said to him that he did not believe there were many men in Ireland who had £20 to lose who were in favour of the Bill. The Earl of Rosebery stated his views of what Home Rule should be at Glasgow, on June 17, 1886, and he laid down certain conditions, but were they carried out by this Bill? He said, first, that Home Rule should be based on Imperial unity; second, political equality of the three nations; third, there should be an equal distri- 430 bution of burdens; fourth, that there should be safeguards for the minority; and, fifth, that it should be in the nature of a settlement, not a mere provocation for fresh demands. He would like to know whether the noble Earl thought those conditions had been carried out in this Bill? It was said that it did not destroy Imperial unity, but it certainly threatened the unity of the United Kingdom by involving the risk of separation or civil war. There could not be equality or equal distribution of burdens when Ireland governed herself and England as well, and Ireland gained £500,000 a year, which was offered on the Second Reading of the Bill by Mr. Gladstone, and which was certain to be a very great deal more. Then Lord Selborne had shown there was no machinery to enable this Parliament to exercise its supremacy. The only machinery that had been named were the armed forces of the Crown, and the employment of those meant nothing short of civil war. All safeguards for the minority would be evaded by men who, as Mr. Gladstone said, were wading through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire. They had evaded the law under the British Government, and would do so very much more easily with the Executive power in their own hands. The Irish Members might well have accepted many of the Amendments that had been proposed to the Bill, because they well understood how to evade every safeguard intended to have been provided by those Amendments. What were the safeguards in the Bill? He could only make out nine, and some of them were an insult in their absurdity to the loyal minority, and, more than that, they were an insult to the understanding of the British people, and he hoped that the British people would appreciate the insult. They consisted—two of the supremacy of Parliament, two to prevent the endowment of Religious Bodies and interference with education, two for the protection of the property of Religious Bodies and Corporations, the Lord Lieutenant's veto, the Legislative Council, and the Land Question not to be legislated on for three years. With regard to the veto, Earl Spencer rather took credit for this being a great safeguard. It had, however, been shown that if the Lord Lieutenant attempted to veto Bills they had only to be tacked on to the Appro- 431 priation Bill, and Mr. Gladstone had himself admitted that the Lord Lieutenant would not then be able to exercise his veto. What, then, was the value of this veto? Suppose the Irish Government was to pass some Bill which confiscated the property of the landlords or of some other unpopular class, which Bill was supported in the country, and the Lord Lieutenant was able to exercise the veto. The Government, of course, would resign; a Dissolution would follow, and a larger majority would be returned in favour of the measure. What could the Lord Lieutenant do? He must either withdraw his veto or allow the whole Government of Ireland to remain in abeyance. The noble Lord had alluded to the safeguards of the Upper House. That House was to be elected on a franchise of £20, a franchise the noble Lord who spoke last night had shown that it was impossible to get a respectable jury in Ireland under. He wished to know what safeguard there would be if the Upper House consisted of identically the same class us the Lower House—almost all of the same religion—and with the same deadly antagonism to the loyal minority, and the same intense desire to plunder them, and drive them naked and penniless from the country? and yet this House was put forward as a protection of the minority. With that he need not deal further. The Opposition were told they showed a want of trust in the Irish people. He should like to know why the whole nature of the Irish was to be changed? They had declared what they were going to do with landlords, land-grabbers, and the police. Even if these declarations were mere vapourings, every temptation was held out under this Bill to the Irish people to prove their patriotism by fighting the safeguards of what would virtually be a Foreign State. Her Majesty's Government had shown that they did not trust the Irish Parliament a bit more than the Opposition, because they had deprived them of many rights that every civilised nation in the world possesses. Why should the Government do this if the whole nature of the Irish is changed? The noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had laid down as necessary that this measure should be permanent. The Prime Minister concurred in that. Mr. Gladstone 432 said that this Bill was to be a permanent and continuous settlement; but Mr. Gladstone, whenever he came to a difficulty, either declared it was not vital to the Bill or left it to posterity to settle, and the settlement might come at a time when England was least capable of dealing with the difficulty. Mr. Gladstone owed nothing to posterity, at present; but was it possible that he looked forward and already owed a grudge to posterity for what they would think and say of his outrageous attempt to produce anarchy in Ireland, to destroy the British Parliament, and endanger the British Empire, and was prepared to throw every difficulty on its shoulders in consequence? There was one question upon which the whole of this proposed legislation depended, and that was the agrarian question. He did not know whether their Lordships had heard of a very clever man—Finton Lalor—who in 1848 wrote very able articles in The Irish Felon newspaper. He said that it was impossible to carry Repeal unless they linked it to the question of the land, as you would a railway carriage to an engine. Mr. Davitt, Mr. Paruell, and the Nationalists generally had acted on that advice, and if it were not for that advice their Lordships would never have seen the disgraceful surrender of 1886, nor would this outrageous and absurd Bill have been ever brought before their Lordships' House. The noble Duke quoted a passage from a speech of Mr. Gladstone's in which he said that it was an obligation of honour, duty, and prudence not to leave the Irish Land Question to the Irish Legislature. But was that obligation satisfied by putting off its solution for three years? Another quotation had been made from a speech of Lord Spencer's, in which he spoke of a certain action as "mean and treacherous." That was referred to by the noble Duke, and again by Lord Ashbourne. The point of the remark was that it was made by the noble Earl about himself and the Government of which he was a Member. But if it were mean and treacherous in 1886 to leave the Irish landlords to the mercies of the Irish Parliament, what had rendered it less mean and treacherous now? For the first time he agreed with the noble Earl it was the height of meanness and treachery to leave the landlords to the mercy of an 433 Irish Parliament, knowing with certainty that they would be ruined. Their Lordships had heard the noble Lord explaining his reasons for changing his mind—namely, that the Land Purchase Acts had already settled the Land Question. Could a more miserable excuse be made? He did not believe that Lord Spencer could convince his own conscience any more than their Lordships' House that this was a sufficient excuse for such conduct. The noble Earl knew that the Act of 1891 was not a success; very few sales had taken place under it, and those few would be stopped at once if this Bill passed, because the tenants would not buy their land if they thought they could get it for nothing. Between the Acts of 1891 and the Bill of 1886 there was a marked difference. Under the Bill of 1886 it was compulsory on the State to buy, while under the Act of 1891 it was rightly left between the parties whether they would do so or not. Many Members of the Government, from their intense ignorance of Ireland and everything Irish, had no idea of the enormity they were supporting; but Lord Spencer knew Ireland as well as, or better than, himself. The noble Earl knew the cruelty, misery, and destruction this Bill would produce. Now, could he be prepared to hand over the many friends he had made in Ireland—men who supported and assisted him in the government of the country, and from whom he had accepted hospitality—to ruin and despair? It was impossible to understand how the noble Earl could introduce such a Bill—a Bill in which the Land Question had been entirely shirked. Their Lordships had seen the "No Rent" Manifesto and the Plan of Campaign. They had read the Report of the Special Commission, in which it was pointed out that the very men who would form the Executive Government in Ireland were those whoHad combined together to carry out a system of intimidation to promote an agrarian agitation against the payment of agricultural rents, for the purpose of impoverishing and expelling from the country Irish landlords,Mr. Gladstone stated on the Report stage that the Irish people could not confiscate the landlords' property without the fact being noticed by the House of Commons; but what could the House of Commons 434 do—what power bad it left itself under this Bill? Absolutely none, except the power of re-conquest. The noble Lord predicted the difficulties which the Irish landlords would have to face at the hands of the new Irish Legislature when they sought to enforce the payment of rent, and said, suppose the bulk of the tenants refused to pay rent and the landlords issued ejectments, the Judges had power under the Act of 1887 to stay execution as long as the Court thought reasonable. How long would a Judge appointed, and removable by both Houses of the Irish Legislature, think it reasonable to stay execution? But supposing the landlord was able to get possession of the farm, what was to prevent the ex-tenant re-taking possession? It had been done often under the British Government. What would the Irish Government do? Would it be prepared to punish a man who could prove, as every evicted tenant has been able to prove to the satisfaction of the National League, that he had been unjustly evicted? If the landlord got a new tenant he would be what is called a land-grabber. Would the parents of the Evicted Tenants Bill grant much protection to the life and property of a land-grabber? He declared that not one farmer in the world would be mad enough to take a position which would certainly lead to a cruel death. And it would be absolutely impossible that the landlord could work the land himself. There was another great danger he wished to refer to, and that was the Sub-Commissioners. They had seen tenants' valuers giving evidence as to the value they placed on the land, often less than a third of the judicial rent afterwards fixed. Well, he believed these valuations would be enormously high compared to the rents which would be fixed by the Sub-Commissioners appointed by the Irish Executive. Then after three years there would be nothing to prevent the Irish Executive from passing an Act reducing the judicial rents which were in existence. What was the use of the clause in the Bill which said that no one was to be deprived of life and property except by due process of law when no process of law was required to take away every particle of property in Ireland from its present possessors if the Executive Government were banded over to 435 their deadliest enemies? What had the landlords of Ireland done? Their only crime appeared to be that they had been loyal and true to England, and had assisted, as the English garrison, in preserving Ireland to the British Crown. What would be the position of the landlords who sold under the Ashbourne Acts and had left large sums amounting to £2,000,000 out as guarantee deposits, trusting to the honour of the Imperial Government? As far as he could understand, the Irish Executive were to pay to the English Exchequer the interest and principal by a Sinking Fund of 4 per cent. upon the £10,000,000 advanced under the Ashbourne Acts. But only £8,000,000 had been actually paid; £2,000,000 were still retained by the National Debt Commissioners for the guarantee deposits. What was to happen to these £2,000,000? The Irish Government were to pay the principal and interest on the whole £10,000,000, and, therefore, he supposed that these £2,000,000, which belonged of right to the vendors, would be paid over to the Irish Government, who would be responsible for collecting the instalments. He feared that if the Irish Government obtained control over these £2,000,000 the money would probably be made use of to pay the first debts that would be due by the Irish to the English Exchequer. It was an outrageous thing, money having been lent, as this had been, on certain conditions upon Imperial security, that the security should be transferred to what would be a bankrupt State, and one which would have every inducement to withhold both interest and principal from its owners. Was it likely that the purchasers would continue to pay those instalments to the very men who had all along been telling them that they were paying too much for the purchase of their land? He had only dealt with one point in this awful Bill, and had limited his remarks to the effect of it upon holders of land in Ireland. He had not dealt with the expressed intention to tax absentees, of which Mr. Gladstone approved, because he thought it a perfectly immaterial matter, as there would be no property to tax. He thought he had shown their Lordships that it was an absolute certainty that every particle of property in land might be confiscated in four or five different ways, and he had 436 only taken the most prominent ones; but there were many other provisions in the Bill which might be almost as effective for the purpose. He had not dealt with the thousand and one other terrible effects which this Bill would have if it became law. He had not mentioned its effects upon England and the British Empire. He had not mentioned its effect upon Ulster or upon various other classes in Ireland who would be almost equally betrayed and destroyed. He had. not dealt with the Exchequer Judges, who were to enforce their decrees against a hostile State without any machinery whatever, nor with the other untold absurdities with which the Bill teemed. Not one argument had been brought forward in favour of such a frightful measure, and not one argument had been produced to prove the necessity of it. It would cause the ruin of thousands upon thousands of almost every class in Ireland. It would steep the country from end to end in ruin, bloodshed, anarchy, and despair, and would undoubtedly cause the most terrible civil war. The Irish Question had always been a difficulty to England, but if this Bill passed it would become ten times the difficulty that it ever was before. But, what was a thousandfold worse than that, Ireland would for the first time become a terrible danger to the Empire. He did not believe for a moment that the right-thinking British people would ever consent to such a frightful iniquity being perpetrated, and he hoped and believed that their Lordships would throw this Bill out by the largest majority that had ever voted against a measure in their Lordships' House.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
said, that the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs asked their Lordships—he was not quite sure whether he asked it seriously, or as a riddle or conundrum to amuse their Lordships—whether the Irish Peers represented in any way that part of the United Kingdom. If the question were asked as a riddle he would give it up at once; but if it were asked seriously, he confessed that it was difficult to give a distinct answer. It was impossible to prove that Irish Peers represented Ireland any more than that the noble Earl the Leader of the House or the 437 noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, or even Lord Rosebery himself, represented that portion of the United Kingdom in which they lived. If, however, he was asked his opinion, he should say distinctly that the Irish Peers did represent a considerable portion of opinion in Ireland. Lord Rosebery, remarking that Lord Muskerry had said that he knew Ireland, asked whether Ireland knew Lord Muskerry. He could not see that the question had any relevance to the subject, but it seemed to him that if Lord Muskerry knew Ireland he was perfectly entitled to give an opinion of a proposal affecting the government of Ireland. He thought that if the noble Earl had reflected a little more he would not have spoken as he did. He was inclined to think that the Duke of Abercorn and the Marquess of Waterford represented a large body of people in Ireland, and his own views coincided with those of the Protestant farmers and labourers, the great bulk of the well-to-do Catholics, and the entire gentry in that part of Ireland in which he lived. The noble Earl said the Debate was useless, because the result was a foregone conclusion. Their Lordships would remember that, so far as the Irish Peers were concerned, the question had been before them for many years. He had not considered this question for 8, 18, or 28 years, but as long as he had been able to consider anything. It was a great mistake to suppose that the owners of lauded property in Ireland objected to Home Rule from interested motives or because of racial or religious prejudices. So far as he was concerned, his sympathies were entirely with the people of Ireland. He was inclined, if anything, to be too much attached to the romantic side of the past of Ireland, and he could assure their Lordships that, if with a clear conscience he could identify himself with anything that was a popular movement in Ireland, he should be only too glad to do so. But he objected to Home Rule from conscientious motives, because they knew and understood the country, and knew the ruin it would bring about. Lord Rosebery made a most instructive speech, but it was rather disappointing, for in it he said not a single word about the Bill. He had looked forward to that speech to explain the Bill, and possibly to convert 438 him to the noble Earl's views. The noble Earl said the Bill was of no importance; and what was of importance was the policy, but he forgot to explain the policy. He knew what was the noble Earl's policy with respect to Ireland in 1885, for he then said—We ought to govern Ireland and to legislate for Ireland without reference to the Irish vote. To my mind, there is only one policy to be pursued towards Ireland, and it is to treat her exactly, as far as may be, as you would treat any other portion of the United Kingdom.He gathered nothing from the speech of the noble Earl, except that he told them it was the duty of a statesman to shift the weight and responsibility from his Chief, and to sift the wheat from the chaff. He gave up all hopes of being a statesman if that were so, because it was absolutely impossible to sift the wheat from the chaff in Lord Rosebery's speech. That was an excellent policy, but it was not the policy of the Bill. He dared say the rejection of the Bill in that House was as much a foregone conclusion for certain reasons as the passing of the Bill by the other House was a foregone conclusion for certain other and totally different reasons. But if the House of Lords did reject the Bill that decision would be the collective result of the well-thought-out and perfectly matured, totally independent, and individual opinion of the Members of the House. With regard to the provisions of the Bill, he did not propose to go into that, but he wished to address himself in trying to discover what were the reasonable grounds for the rosy view of the situation taken by Lord Spencer in introducing the Bill. It was difficult to consider the Bill for this reason, in his opinion: Because they had postponed the Financial Clauses, the Land Question, and the right of Ireland over their own taxes, but he would take the Bill as well as he could. There was one thing that they had all agreed on, and that was the transient nature of the measure. No Representative of the Government had yet answered the very pertinent question put by the Duke of Devonshire—whether, in speaking of supremacy and unity, the Government used the words in the sense in which they were applied to the Empire, or in the sense in which they were applied to the United Kingdom. But, at any rate, the Bill contained pro- 439 visions by which Ireland would soon make the terms applicable only as they were applicable to the self-governing Colonies. When it was proposed to set up a practically independent State the first thing should be to form an estimate of the feelings of the population towards the measure. Of course, the Bill would be received with acclamation by the professional agitator, who would see a long vista of place and emolument before him. It would also please the mistaken enthusiasts, who believed in the reality of what was only a dream—the prosperity of an independent Ireland. The Bill would also raise immense expectations and hopes doomed to bitter disappointment in the minds of the great bulk of the people, chiefly the more uneducated and ignorant part of the population, who knew nothing of Home Rule or repeal, but who only knew what they were told—that Home Rule would by some mysterious process of political alchemy change the whole condition of Ireland, and with that view they would be temporarily satisfied. And he admitted that the Bill would be popular with those classes—the agitator, the enthusiast, and the ignorant people. On the other side, the Bill broke faith with the highly educated and intelligent classes—the Imperial Civil servants, to whom it would mean ruin, and it also broke faith with that highly educated and highly trained body of men, the Irish Constabulary. Then the class of landowners, though not large and important, must be counted in. For many years the landlords had been subjected to a process of vivisection, and before each operation they had been assured that they were compensated by the additional security given to their body. In 1886 Land Purchase was declared an essential condition of Home Rule, and £115,000,000 was allocated for the purchase of land. Every Party in the State had admitted that the Land Question should be fairly settled; but now, after a respite of three years, the Irish landlords were to be handed over to the tender mercies of the Irish Legislature, to men who had waged war against them, to politicians who over and over again had declared that the value of the landlords' interest in the land in Ireland was the value before a tree was felled, a swamp drained, 440 or before a sod was turned. The land-lord was to be taxed to death if he remained in Ireland, and out of existence if he remained out of the country. He did not suppose that this treatment was one likely to cause this class in Ireland to look with favour on the Bill. The noble Earl (Lord Spencer) said that they were secured by the veto; but he did not think it was a very valuable security. Again, the whole of the population in the North of Ireland had demonstrated in the clearest way their utter abhorrence of the measure; so had the great bulk of the more educated Roman Catholics. Nearly the whole of the wealth and practically the whole of the manufacturing industry of the country had all opposed the Bill. In all seriousness he asked noble Lords opposite whether it was wise, politic, or safe, whether it was not an act almost of insanity to start a community on practically a separate and independent career with all the wealth, nearly all the manufacturing industry, and the greater part of the intelligence of the country all bitterly opposed to the new order of things? It might be difficult for their Lordships to realise the state of things in the same way as he understood them; he thought they would change their opinions if they did. He supposed it was no use trying to change the opinion of any noble Lord; but he would appeal to their Lordships, for the sake of the country he was born in and loved, not to inflict this cruel blow upon it. Under just and impartial laws and Executive Ireland was perfectly free. There was no privilege; there was no ascendency of any person, class, or creed; but, if you removed the balance that was kept by a just and impartial Imperial Parliament, there were forces of disorder—old race animosities, old religious jealousies in the process of becoming extinct—that were still ready to be fanned into flame. If you withdrew the protection enjoyed for nearly 100 years the country must become a prey to social disorder of the worst kind, the battlefield of the rivalry between socialists and priests. It did not matter who was to blame—Catholic or Protestant, Celts or English—we had to look at things as they were. Earl Spencer did not apprehend anything like religious intolerance, and said that it did not initiate popular movements, but glided on 441 the stream; but the earthen vessel suffered if it came in contact with the iron pot; and the small farmers of the North would get the worst of it if they came into collision with Archbishop Walsh. He objected to the whole position assumed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It was shown in connection with the Meath Election Petitions that it was allowable and even the duty of the priesthood to influence by spiritual means the electors of the country in the way they should vote. On principle he objected to the ministers of any religion interfering in that way in a purely secular duty of the people. He ridiculed the angelic theory in relation to the Irish Nationalist Representatives, whose sudden conversion, by a curious coincidence, occurred, like that of the present Government, precisely at the moment when conversion was necessary in order to attain their ends. Even if the theory were true, it would be impossible for the Irish Legislature, even with the best intentions, to evolve order out of the chaos that must inevitably ensue in Ireland on the withdrawal of the even balance maintained by the active supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. What had been the value of the Union to Ireland? The Union had converted the Northern Protestant population from being the most disloyal in the two Islands to being probably the most loyal. If the Union had done nothing but that, it would have done a great and useful work. What had it not done for the South and West of Ireland? If Ireland had been in the position in which she would be placed by this Bill she would have been absolutely ruined in times of famine and agricultural depression, and it was only by the great assistance and the active co-partnership with the United Kingdom and her liberality that she was. There were portions of the country still who looked in bad times to the richer country for support, and they would get it so long as they formed part of the United Kingdom, but what would become of those portions of the country when they were no longer a part of it. Nothing could compensate Ireland for the loss of the Union. There was not an industry in the country which would not suffer from the withdrawal of English capital and credit. Ireland herself had got no capital and no credit; she had not 442 natural resources to enable her to obtain a loan, unless it was, as it was said in another place, under the altered circumstances she would have a plethora of wealth. They would do the greatest injury that mortal man could devise to Ireland if they passed this Bill, and Ireland had done nothing to deserve it. It had been said that the other House had received a mandate to pass this Bill. He utterly and entirely denied that this Bill was before the country at the last General Election. They had been told that the Labour Members had voted for Home Rule, but they had not been told that the Prime Minister had received a deputation of the Labour Members, and they had pressed him for an answer to certain categorical questions and had got an answer from him. They asked him, if they could show him that the Eight Hours Bill was more important than Home Rule, whether he could modify his views upon it. And Mr. Gladstone for some time said that he could not change his opinion, and he could not do anything to help them until Home Rule was satisfied. Of course, under the circumstances, Labour was content to put Home Rule on its programme. If they looked at the speeches and addresses of many of the Gladstonian candidates at the last General Election, a considerable number contained no allusion whatever to Home Rule, others mentioned it vaguely, and some supported it on three grounds—that it would relieve taxation, that it would be a final and permanent settlement of the Irish Question, and that it would enable Parliament to attend to legislation for England and Scotland. Not one of those conditions were fulfilled in this Bill. The noble Earl (Earl Spencer) had admitted it himself in his speech that the only way that the provisions of a Bill like this could be forced was by military force superseding the statutory government by Martial Law.
THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN
asked how he was going to draw a distinction between military force and Martial Law? It should not be forgotten that England's weakness was Ireland's opportunity, and he would be a bold man who should prophesy that this country would never be at war again. But if she were to, what would be the position of Ireland 443 then. They would not have a friend in Ireland. In five years they would have estranged all the educated people in the country, and have made enemies of those classes who had been disappointed and found their hopes blighted. They would have found an Executive Government hostile to them, Parliament hostile to them, and a people hostile to them. If this nation surrendered a great strategical position like Ireland, it must safeguard itself against the possible consequences of making a large increase to the Army and Navy, and this would necessitate a great pecuniary sacrifice. What possible chance or sign was there that this measure would be a permanent settlement of the Irish Question? The Land Question was still unsettled, and the financial arrangement was unsettled. It was perfectly true that the other day Mr. J. M'Carthy was put up in the House of Commons to say grace for the Bill, and very nicely he said it; but little, it any, importance could be attached to that, for up to the present hour no recognised Leader of the Nationiist Party had declared that that Party would be satisfied with this measure. The postponed subjects must give rise to endless Debates in Parliament before they were settled, and did they think that there would be no more active obstruction on behalf of the Irish Members who were retained, and who were not satisfied with the Bill? Moreover, Ireland would be obliged in her own self - interest to obtain help from Great Britain in a variety of ways, and the obstruction of the Irish Members in Parliament must become more extensive. The Bill sacrificed British interests in every way. Nothing could be done to protect British labour against the dire effect of the influx of Irish labourers that must follow upon the destruction of Irish industries by the withdrawal of British capital. Differences of opinion on questions of war and neutrality, on questions of actual legislation in matters of divorce, the hours of work, and factory legislation generally, must create immense frictions between the two countries. It was proposed by this Bill to set up within sight of Britain a practically independent community—a State absolutely honeycombed with the germs of civil disorder; a State that must be bankrupt from the commencement of its 444 being, and which would be bound to look to some extraordinary source for the means of conducting its industries and commerce; and you would endow this State with innumerable means of harassing the trade and commerce of Great Britain and jeopardising her neutrality in case of war, and endangering her position in time of war. Not content to impose a measure fraught with such dangers to Great Britain, the Government had the effrontery to ask Great Britain to pay for it. From the very conduct of the Bill by the Government the absurdity of it was demonstrated. Let them look at the question of finance. First of all, the contribution of Ireland to Imperial taxation was to be l–15th. Then that was changed to l–26th, and that was changed to l–40th, and then it was given up in despair, and the whole question was relegated to a distant future. So with the Irish representation. The Government first proposed exclusion, then the in-and-out plan, and now they sought to perpetrate the greatest absurdity that ever emanated from the mind of man. The truth was the principle of Home Rule collapsed the moment they tried to put it into practice. It was well enough to take it as an ideal, and as in the main perfect, but they could not put it into practice. What was this change to do for them? They had heard that it was to give satisfaction to Ireland, but they must not forget that Ireland was not going to be satisfied as they wished it to be. It had been said that the Irish were contented in the United States and the Colonies. What difference was there between the Common Law of those countries and the Common Law of the United Kingdom? What greater share had Irishmen in America in the making of the laws than Irishmen in the United Kingdom? Not one word of proof had been given that the Bill would do any good to Ireland. The Bill would not satisfy the aspirations of the Nationalist Party, and it would dissatisfy everyone else. The only thing the Irish people cared for was to get their land cheaply, and for nothing if possible. The Bill was not an advance. It was not the result of any natural growth or demand. It was not a matter of federation. It was not the relaxation of tutelage, the granting of the rights of manhood to 445 growing and expanding communities, as in the case of self-governing colonies. It was not the result of a natural, national demand in Ireland constitutionally expressed for local self-government as could be given with real and effective security for the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament and the unity of the Kingdoms. The Government were acting in compliance with the demand of men whose real objects, they must know, were the absolute independence of Ireland and the encompassing of the ruin of Great Britain. They had told the electors that the Union had been accomplished by fraud and force, and that it had been detrimental to Ireland. That was a delusion. They had been told also that a measure of this kind would satisfy to the full the aspirations and the demands of the Nationalist Party. That was a gross delusion. For the civil and religions liberties of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland, for the effective supremacy of the British Parliament, for the maintenance of the unity of the Kingdom and of the Empire, the Government relied entirely on the most precarious security—the power and the goodwill and intention of men whose public career was perfectly well known to all. This House would only be doing its Constitutional duty in rejecting the Bill, while it was also its duty to stand up in such a case for free speech, and to stand between the people and tyranny. He had given as shortly as possible the reasons why he should go into the Lobby and vote for the Amendment of the Duke of Devonshire, acting under his sense of duty, and believing the course which he adopted was the true course towards his beloved country.
said, that he would put before their Lordships the reasons which induced him to support this Bill. He must crave their indulgence for the few remarks he was about to make. The Bill had been debated by a large number of speakers—noble Lords who had held high administrative Offices in the service of the Crown. Now, the noble Marquess of Londonderry had wondered what the effect would be in the Colonies if this Bill were passed. Well, he was in the Australian Colonies after the rejection of the Bill of 1886, and on all sides he was met with this question—Why on earth 446 has Home Rule been refused? The supporters of the Government were taunted with following their Leader. Well, they had a Leader they were proud to follow; and the noble Marquess had a Leader, or, perhaps, two, for he spoke about the noble Duke as one to whom he owed allegiance. In Ulster did they have leaders, or was every man his own leader, on the principle of every man his own lawyer, with the same distinction as the clients? It was said there were thousands of Protestants and tens of thousands of Catholics opposed to Home Rule; but the assertion could not be accepted whilst four-fifths of the Irish people were represented by Home Rulers in the House of Commons. The noble Marquess uttered a threat last night in describing the action of his Ulster friends in view of Home Rule.
retorted that of course the noble Marquess could put his own construction on his own words, but his opponents were at liberty to place their own construction upon them, and in his opinion the words conveyed a threat of a most distinct character. In regard to threats, and in regard to some of those itinerant orators who had been to the North of Ireland using language which certainly would not have the effect of quelling but rather of promoting disturbance, he would quote a passage from a speech delivered by a learned lawyer in this country after a statement had been made by Lord R. Churchill—We ought all of us to condemn these foolish, these wicked rumours that are made about Ulster—that the minority in Ireland will find resort to arms, and that they will be right in doing so. Unreservedly I declare that any man who by word or act encourages such an idea is at heart a traitor.These were the words of Sir H. James, a close colleague of the noble Duke. For noble Lords to say that there was no mandate from the country and that the question of Home Rule was not before it at the General Election was playing with words. Had there been a single meeting of the Conservative Party where it had not been put before the labourers that if Home Rule were passed England would be flooded with Irish, who would take away their work? The first and foremost 447 part of every speech had been this question of Home Rule. It had been said by the noble Duke that this Bill had been forced through the House of Commons, and that if it had not been for the knowledge that it would be thrown out in their Lordships' House a great many Members would not have voted for it. He would like to know whether in the ranks of the Liberal Party or the Nationalist Party the noble Duke had a confidant? But if he hid not it was unworthy of the noble Duke to speak thus of a Party of which he was once a Member. It had been said that capital was leaving Ireland in consequence of the introduction of this Bill, but the Stock of the Bank of Ireland stood to-day very nearly as high as it did last year, and there was hardly an Irish Railway Company whose dividend had fallen, while in some cases their dividends had increased, and he had been told there were large operations on the Stock Exchange and speculations. Had the old system of coercion and occasional conciliatory measures promoted harmony between the British Government and the Irish people? Everyone, he thought, must agree that it had not. The impoverished condition of the people in many parts of Ireland surely proved that something was amiss with the system of administration. For 93 years the plan of governing Ireland from England had been tried, and there were clear indications that it had failed. The Government had endeavoured to put before Parliament a Home Rule Bill which satisfied the aspirations of the Nationalists, by whom it had been accepted. It was said that there had been no discussion of the Bill in the House of Commons, but he maintained that its main points had been discussed in another place, and the retention of the Irish Members had been fully discussed. With regard to safeguards he would suggest that they should all be considered together. He looked at them, not only from an Imperial point of view, but from the point of view of common sense, and he could not believe that the Irish Council would engage at once in an internecine struggle to gain a separation which they had affirmed that they did not require, and which they knew perfectly well it would be impossible for them to get. Nor did he believe that on the morrow of their emancipation they would prove them- 448 selves so unpractical, intolerant, and unjust as to stamp their proceedings with the verdict that they were incapable and ought not to be trusted of themselves and their country. He thought it would be found to be the ambition of the Irish Leaders to prove themselves capable men, and that their policy would be actuated, not by greed or religious oppression, but by a singleness of purpose and a love of their country. Lord Cadogan had put a question to him with regard to the troops in Ireland, and had expressed the opinion that it would be extremely undesirable that the troops should be under the new Irish Cabinet. The Home Rule Cabinet would have no control over the Military Forces for the purpose of obtaining their aid to repress disturbances. If for that purpose they required the assistance of the troops they must apply to the Lord Lieutenant, who would either apply to the Secretary for War or, as an officer of the Crown, himself request the commander of the troops to send the necessary force. The local Magistrates would have the same power to call upon the troops to aid in suppressing, neither more nor less than they possessed now. This power was dependent on the obligation of every citizen to aid the Magistrate in suppressing riot. It was, therefore, quite independent of the Irish Cabinet. The demand for Home Rule arose from a deeply-rooted national sentiment. Those who had doubts as to the Home Rule policy need only study Mr. Lecky's history—second only to Mr. Chamberlain's speeches of seven years ago—to be at once converted. He quite agreed there were two Irelands. Reference had been made to America, and he quite agreed there was the Ireland that was beyond the sphere of that House in the various Colonies; but he believed this measure would turn every Irishman in America and the Colonies from hostile critics into active agents for Great Britain. Of course, the Bill would be rejected; but he should follow his noble Leader into the Lobby with the most sincere and absolute conviction that the Bill was not only politic, but right and just.
§ THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
said, that he shared the regret which the Foreign Secretary had expressed on account of being separated from his 449 former Colleagues. But he admired the noble Earl's adroitness. Though he held the attention of the House for an hour and a half, in no part of his speech did he endeavour to meet the objections urged against the Bill. Nor did he in any part of his speech express his own approval of any portion of the Bill. The noble Earl attacked the Opposition because they were not prepared to read the Bill a second time, and go into Committee for the purpose of discussing the details of the Bill, and, indeed, of framing some new plan for settling the Irish Question. The responsibility of framing such a measure as this must rest with Her Majesty's Government, and not with the Opposition, however strong they might be. The speech of the noble Earl was obviously too late. It was a speech which might have been made with perfect propriety in support of an abstract Resolution in favour of Home Rule; but it was different in the present position of affairs, when the noble Earl was bound to give his reasons for supporting a measure which, after seven years' consideration, was introduced by a Government of which he was a Member, and, as far as could be seen, of which he did not express approval. The noble Earl said he was in favour of some measure of Home Rule, and it appeared to him that both the noble Earl and Lord Brassey would be glad to see this Bill defeated, or at least pulled to pieces if they saw the opportunity to do so. The last speaker referred to the measure of Local Government for Ireland introduced by the Opposition, but that reminded him of a remark made by the noble Earl which struck him as a very remarkable one. The noble Earl praised the London County Council Bill as one of the most revolutionary measures he recollected. The Unionist Government introduced a Bill for Ireland founded on precisely the same principles and dealing with similar affairs. But why was that measure denounced by the noble Earl and his friends? If the House of Lords considered it their duty to reject a Bill on the Second Reading it was their duty to give their reasons for doing so, particularly when, as in this case, the Bill had not been adequately discussed in the other House. Even if Home Rule were right, did the financial clauses meet the essential provisions of such a Bill as laid down by the Prime 450 Minister? These were equitable distribution of Imperial charges, some reasonable prospect of finality, and the assent of Ireland. Only one of the Financial Clauses had been discussed in the other House, and yet these clauses affected the interest of the taxpayers of the United Kingdom. Their Lordships were unable to amend these clauses, but they had the right to discuss them. The Irish contribution to Imperial charges in 1892–93 was estimated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be £2,300,000, and under the Bill the contribution to be paid was £2,276,000, from which certain deductions had to be made, and the net result of the financial arrangement was that Great Britain would have to pay more than £500,000 a year during six years in order to carry Home Rule. The Prime Minister had said that the taxpayers of England and Scotland must contribute something towards the Irish surplus. His noble Friend, Lord Spencer, said that if England desired to carry this measure she would not wish to treat Ireland "in a niggardly manner." Now, generosity was a feeling congenial to Englishmen, but in a matter of business those representing the taxpayers of England must look ahead. Home Rule for Scotland loomed in the future; the English taxpayer would be asked to give a contribution in no niggardly manner" to provide a surplus for Scotland. The English and Welsh taxpayers would then suffer. Something had been heard about Home Rule for Wales. If that should come, and nothing was improbable after what they had seen with respect to the Irish Question, the English taxpayer would have to contribute "in no niggardly manner" a surplus to support the new Welsh Government. And then they came to Home Rule for poor England, and who was to make a contribution "in no niggardly manner" to England? It was necessary for the English taxpayer to take care he did not allow the first beginning of a principle of that kind to separate the finance of the United Kingdom, and at once to place this matter not upon generosity alone, but upon a fair and equitable distribution of the Imperial charges of the United Kingdom.
§ EARL SPENCER (interposing)
explained that, while he spoke of dealing with Ireland in no niggardly spirit, he added arguments to show that the 451 arrangement would be a very good bargain for England.
§ THE EARL OP NORTHBROOK
said, that his noble Friend stated that it was not a bad bargain for England, because we had from time to time to assist Ireland in public works, light railways, and so on. But in the calculation of £2,300,000 was included a large sum for those light railways and public works, and therefore the consideration which his noble Friend had brought forward had been discounted. The financial plan of the Government in this Bill was based upon the Estimates of one year, and what reliance could be placed on such a calculation? Notwithstanding the great ability and care of the officers of the Inland Revenue a mistake of some £350,000 had been made this very year, and that mistake had invalidated altogether the first calculations laid before Parliament by Mr. Gladstone. How did they know that as large a mistake might not have been made in the present calculations? Their Lordships were asked to pass this Bill before they had the least idea upon what basis this arrangement stood. Whether they looked at the plan with reference to the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland or the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, it was open to the most serious objection. The Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom would never be able to consider his Budget without at the same time considering what would he its effect upon the Revenue of the Irish Government. The proposed arrangement would remove all inducement to economy on the part of the new Irish Legislature, and the main part of the Irish Revenue would depend on the duties from alcoholic liquor. Mr. Parnell said the first action of an Irish Government would be to restrict the consumption of alcoholic liquor, but it would be impossible for them to do so, because if they did their Revenue would diminish and their finances would be disturbed. The proposal was, therefore, inequitable to Great Britain and embarrassing to both Exchequers. Mr. Gladstone told a deputation from the Belfast Chamber of Commerce that after the Bill passed there would be a plethora of wealth in Ireland; but the deputation had supplied information to the right hon. Gentleman which entirely 452 demolished his statistics, and no reply had since been given to the Chamber, although it seemed to have influenced some of the colleagues of the Prime Minister, for Mr. Fowler said that it would be impossible for the Irish Government to make any large reduction in expenditure. The Provost of Trinity College had said with truth that the proposed contribution was "a great deal too much for England to give and not half enough for Ireland to get." To establish a new Government must cost a considerable amount of money, and thus this new Legislature would find itself in great straits, even with the surplus, inequitable to England, which it was proposed to supply. The plan of the Government was on the face of it merely temporary. That was especially true now of the financial scheme, and thus one of the essential conditions laid down by Mr. Gladstone—namely, that the arrangement ought not to be "in the nature of a mere provocation to the revival of fresh demands," had been abandoned at the bidding of the Irish Party, by whom the Bill was viewed as a mere instalment. In conclusion, he hoped that he had proved to their Lordships, although he could have done it at greater length, that the Bill did not give "an equitable distribution for Imperial charges;" that it did not "promise to be a real settlement;" that it had not received the assent of Ireland; and that it must produce embarrassment in the future to both countries. He declared his belief that the country would support their Lordships in their rejection of this measure.
§ Further Debate adjourned till Tomorrow.