§ 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 CRANBROOK
My Lords, when I see the serried ranks in this Assembly it is obvious that a great question is under discussion, and it is more obvious, when I see the crowded Benches on that side and on this, that this is no Party question, but a question which concerns the interests of the whole country, and on which every patriot is called upon and is bound to give an opinion. Much has been said upon the dispute which has taken place in the Liberal Party on the occasion of the introduction of this Bill. Far be it from me to impute motives of unconscientiousness to one side or the other; but there are circumstances connected with the change which I think invite attention. When people are converted in battalions and platoons it causes some suspicion; and therefore it is that it has not been for the first time that the name of the great magician who effected the wonderful transformation has been brought into a somewhat prominent position. And when it is complained that remarks are made with respect to that remarkable man, it may be said that he has been the one great central figure who has appeared throughout the whole of this controversy, working and continuing to work in circumstances which must excite our wonder as to his physical capacity, as well as his intellectual power. My Lords, he has been the Colossus, and though far be it from me to say anything as to those who have told us how they came to be converted from their own independent opinion, yet I cannot help 564 thinking that he was the Colossus who bestrode that narrow world, or that Liberal world elsewhere, and though it may be that a portion of his Party were not influenced by him, yet I think it is perfectly clear that, in the words of Shakspeare—The petty men Walked under his huge legs and turned about To find themselves "—in a majority. I will not use the painful words with which that quotation ends. But, as a matter of fact, the change appeared to be coincident with the change of a minority into a majority and with the exclusion from Office into the possession of it. We have been taunted with taking a pessimistic view of the Irish character. I am not going to dispute whether the optimistic or the pessimistic view is the right one; but it is clear that you must take men upon their own statement as well as upon the statement which those who have been concerned with them have made of them; and after all, in all concerns and transactions of life, the question of character is one which is a matter of reputation, and which is entered into in every case in which you may put persons in a position of trust. The confessions which we have had have been very interesting. We had my noble Friend (Lord Ribblesdale) coming forward to give a most extraordinary account of his conversion. His was a conversion apparently not caused by repentance for his own sins, but the sins which he confessed for others. He made full confession of our sins, but he made small of his own. He said he was influenced by the fact that the majority of the Irish Members continued the same after the Government had had six years of power, and that, therefore, because in those six years no change took place all hope of proceeding was at an end, all hope of treating the Irish in any way but the one he now adopts, though there is no greater security for the remedy he proposes being operative. The other case is that of the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty (Earl Spencer), who told us that he began to have doubts in 1885. I do not think that his conversion was complete at that time—that he had found salvation. But, though he began to have doubts, he was at that time an advocate, I will not say for 565 violent coercion, but for exceptional laws up to the beginning of 1886, within a few weeks of the time he took office. In May, 1884, at Belfast the noble Earl said that English statesmen and the English nation would face their enemy with a determination not to be beaten, and would not give up one point or idea in order to maintain the united Parliament of England and the Sovereignty of the Queen; "I say this," he continued, "not only to the English and Scottish nations, but to the Irish nation." Does the noble Earl mean to say that he had in his mind at that moment anything but the Repeal of the Union? He was dealing with men who were against the Sovereignty of England and of the Queen; he wag speaking of men who were Republicans, who were looking forward to a Fenian Republic in Ireland, and he knows that there is not one of the men whom he now proposes to put in trust who was not acting in combination with them and receiving their active encouragement and support. But even in 1886, within a few weeks of taking Office, he said that if the clauses against intimidation were given up the power of the National League and intimidation would increase to an enormous extent, and "the liberty of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland would be destroyed." Which subjects? The liberty of those to whom you say now you are going to give unlimited liberty, or those whom you are going to put in the position of being oppressed by those to whom you give that liberty? He added, that it was essential for a policy to be pursued by which law and order would be restored and maintained in Ireland. Last night Lord Rosebery told us that he had then come to the conclusion that there ought to be no more exceptional laws, though Lord Spencer, who knew Ireland, felt that there must be such laws in order both to restore and maintain order; and said you could not rely on any ordinary jury in Leinster, Munster, or Connaught. These were the terms in which the noble Earl in charge of the Bill spoke at the beginning of 1886, within a few weeks of the time when we were called upon to deal with the Bill of that year. Now, the conversion was said to have taken place—in consequence of what? Because the Conservatives were in a minority 566 at a period when it was absolutely impossible for them to renew any Coercion Act, or any exceptional law, because there was no time to do it. But they went to the country, and when they came back in 1886 it is notorious that if there was that fear for a short time there was not only the intention to bring forward, but there was the preparation of measures, in order to take care that law and order should be preserved in Ireland. We have heard something to the effect that inducements were held out. Where is the proof? Who has been selected as the agent of the Tory Party? Who has been the person who is supposed to have combined with them? It has been denied by a man of the highest honour, one who has gone from among us, and no one I imagine will impeach the chivalrous truthfulness of the late Lord Carnarvon. It has been denied by Mr. Balfour in the other House in terms which should have convinced anyone, and even yet we find that the Prime Minister has taken upon himself more than once to repeat the insinuation, if he does not state it as a fact. The noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery) who spoke last night with so much humour, and good humour and candour, said that he would not enter into the details of the Bill, but that he would examine the principle. What is the principle of this Bill? It is a separate Legislature for Ireland. I will not call it a Parliament if noble Lords opposite do not like; but do you suppose you are going to have a Legislature in Ireland with power to enact laws, and that it will not swell into a Parliament? It is a view that is too comical; it is too absurd. I, for my part, will never hesitate to express my opinion that, though it may be most important to examine the details of the Bill to show how insoluble the problem is, the very fact of establishing a separate Legislature in Ireland gives up everything, because it puts powers into the hands of men who, while they have been without a Parliament, have been endeavouring to put themselves into the possession of power for certain purposes, and who when they have a Parliament will, undoubtedly, make use of it for the extension of their schemes to the utmost—for the object which they have in view. Mr. John Stuart Mill said that an absolute or qualified separation of the 567 two countries would be a dishonour to the one and a serious misfortune to both. I hold that opinion very strongly. Then Mr. John Bright said (and I agree with him)—It is not a question of more or less; I am against the establishment of a separate Legislature in Ireland, because all the consequences will follow, whatever restrictions you may put upon them.When we come to the Bill itself, it is the produce of the wit of man after seven years of incubation. It has been altered again and again while it has been before Parliament during this year. We were told that the Bill of 1886 was dead; that it had no life during the seven years. In the meantime, we have had no Bill before the country—only the question whether there should be a Legislature in Ireland or not, and that mixed up with a number of other questions. In its details this Bill, although it is the last, is, in my opinion, the worst that has been before us—the last and the worst. The great master and magician of finance, whose speeches on finance have been the admiration of the world, produced a scheme which, when it came to be examined, was found to be wrong in its calculations to the extent of £350,000. It was promised that there should be justice and equity in finance. I have heard no answer to the speech of my noble Friend (Viscount Cross) the other night, proving to demonstration that no less than £750,000 was handed over to the Irish to buy our own degradation and submission to them. It is difficult to talk of these things coolly, they are matters of serious import; and it has to be—if I may use a coarse expression—rubbed into the minds of the people of Great Britain that the Irish are not able to start on their career without putting their hands into our pockets, and being paid by us for the degradation of Great Britain. And then we were to get rid of friction. Why, the friction will be greater than ever. Anyone who has had much to do with the Treasury knows that it is not easy to get on with. When they have a Treasury in Ireland, will there not be friction between the two Treasuries in carrying out the terms of this Bill? Even although they might not be unjust in themselves, there may be a good deal to make the hair of 568 the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer stand on end in dealing with the British Treasury, as that of English officials often does. There is no finality in the scheme of the Bill, as it is to be revised at the end of six years; and under what circumstances is it likely to be revised? With regard to the land, there is now an abandonment of the second Bill which was brought in in 1886, and of promises that were made by the noble Earl (Earl Spencer), by Mr. Morley, and in the most emphatic terms by Mr. Gladstone. The Prime Minister always guards himself in what he says, and when his attention was Killed to what he had said about obligations of honour, he said it was an obligation with respect to facts and circumstances which were then existing. I know he did say "the sands are running out"; but an obligation of honour depends upon its justice and equity, and not upon its acceptance or non-acceptance at a given time. The offer was founded on the strength of the claim that the Land Question should be dealt with here and should not be left to the Irish Legislature. I am told—but I have not been able to verify the statement by reference to Hansard—that in the other House the Attorney General said that if the Land Question were not settled by the Imperial Parliament in three years the Imperial Parliament "would be under an obligation to fix the terms and conditions under which it should be delegated to the Irish Legislature." We have heard nothing of that sort from the noble Earl; and I should like to know whether the statement I have cited is true or not. If the Government are in power, do they mean in three years to fulfil the obligation stated by the Attorney General on their behalf? The position in which the police are left seems to me to be one of the iniquities, and also one of the dangers of the Bill. It is admitted on all hands that the police have been the stay and safeguard of the nation. They have been an honest, well-contented, well-conducted, and well-disciplined force. Now you strike a blow at it. It is as if you had stunned a man with a blow and then expect him to fulfil the duties which he could only perform in a state of full health and strength. You are destroying the esprit of the police. They know that everything is to be taken from them, and that 569 they are to be deprived of their position upon poor and miserable terms. In the meantime they are supposed to work well under an Executive which is taking steps to cripple and destroy them. The Lord Lieutenant is to have the police under him; but I want to know to whom he is going to be responsible? I understand he is to be responsible to the Irish Executive, and, therefore, to the Irish Legislature; but he is also to act as representing Her Majesty, on the advice of her confidential advisers. How is he to exercise these two functions with decency and dignity? If he thwarts his Irish Cabinet they can stop the Supplies. What is he to do then? Change his Ministry? But suppose he has the same Ministry or one like it forced upon him? What a miserable position the Lord Lieutenant would occupy if a Vote of Censure were inflicted upon him! All these things do not seem to have been fully considered; and when a question was asked about them in the House of Commons there was no one to give a satisfactory answer. No doubt there is to be separation between the Irish Legislature and the military, which is to be under the command of the Lord Lieutenant; but if the interference of the military be required it will be asked for by the Local Authorities, and the Lord Lieutenant must consult his Irish advisers, because it will be impossible for the Lord Lieutenant to exercise his powers without reference to his Ministers and his Parliament. And the veto will have to be exercised under conditions similar to those in which the military will be employed. Then we come to the Exchequer Judges and the Judicial Committee. That, with all deference to my noble Friend (Lord Playfair), is a mere paper protection. Who is to initiate proceedings before the Judicial Committee, and who is to be the party to argue in these cases before it? And who ever heard of cases of abstract principle being referred to a Judicial Committee, to settle not a particular case, but large questions which are afterwards to be disputed in the Courts as to the extent of their meaning—what was meant by those who gave the judgments? We come to the other limitations and restrictions in the Bill. Limitations and 570 restrictions are imperfect bulwarks to set up when you have let out the flood. They are always swept away. The great stream carries with it everything, and these smaller things are soon swept away. The limitations and restrictions will be the subject of continual fret and irritation. My noble Friend (Lord Swansea), who at so early a period of his initiation to this House gave us so solemn a lecture last night, in tones which showed he was come from a domineering Assembly, told us that the Leaders of the Nationalist Party would hold high office, and that they were not such fools as to throw away their office. Suppose the people want some extension of power and you do not give it them, what becomes of your office? And are there to be no rival ambitions in this new Legislature, no rivals for supremacy and influence—things which men value more than most things in life? All Legislatures, we know, continually strive to increase their power, and do you suppose the Irish Legislature will not press on to get greater powers than it has? It is one of those things I should have thought were beyond argument. But there is a great deal more than that. Those gentlemen who are to hold high office have given pledges—pledges to evicted tenants, to people who entered into that criminal "Plan of Campaign," of which they were the instigators. I do not hesitate to say that they have demoralised the people of Ireland in making them believe they would have anything for the asking, all the more if they enforce their demands by outrage and crime. From the moment the Prime Minister declared that the Clerkenwell explosion brought the Irish Church within the sphere of practical politics Mr. Parnell saw his advantage. He said—"We know how to work upon the feelings of the Prime Minister;" and we all know how he brought him into his power. From that day the demoralisation of the people has ensued, which has in many instances been too much pandered to, and insatiable demands will be made when the time comes for those who made the promises to perform them. Do you suppose that, when these men have to choose between being traitors to the people which elect them and traitors to you, they will stand by you? Do you suppose that the Fenian organisation is extinguished in 571 Ireland, and that no pressure will be placed upon the Irish Ministers by that secret and earnest body? Do you suppose that the Irish Americans, the "Ireland of Retribution," the larger nation of Ireland which is in America, will stand still and allow these men who have been their agents to fall short of the promises they have made in order to get the money from America by which alone they could carry on their machinations? Of course, this Bill is accepted by the Nationalists. Did you ever know a case in which a man who wanted to defend himself or to commit a crime would not thank you for the weapon you have put into his hands? They know, as we know, that, having accepted this proposed Legislature, they will have accepted that which will give them every opportunity to treat it as provisional, and to proceed from step to step until there ensues, I do not say separation, but that which is worse than separation, a dominating Power ruling over us in Ireland and elsewhere and preventing us from doing justice to the subjects of Great Britain who are loyal to the Crown. My Lords, is there anything to prevent these people from enacting that the Plan of Campaign shall be a lawful thing for the future? An attempt was made in the House of Commons to get ex post facto laws excepted, but it was rejected under that dominating influence; and there is to be a power in this Legislature to make any ex post facto laws, a thing which is not allowed in any way under the American Constitution, which may bring degradation and ruin upon people who have simply done their duty in matters connected with the offices they hold. These, my Lords, are serious things; and you have to consider whether those people who make these pledges and who have given themselves over so absolutely to the Fenians and Irish Americans will be able to resist that powerful and enormous pressure which will be put upon them. And then the evicted tenants. My noble Friend (Lord Swansea) said he would be prepared to legislate anything which would protect and preserve property. "Ah!" said the noble Earl opposite, "too late." When you have given these powers you cannot resume them. It is all very well to talk of the supremacy of Parliament being reserved. My Lords, the supremacy of 572 Parliament has been parted with, absolute power has been given to the Irish Legislature to deal with all questions not specifically reserved, and the Parliament of England could not without dishonour take upon itself to legislate upon those subjects which it had delegated. It could legislate, no doubt, for the repeal of this measure. It could repeal it; but that, again, is one of those things that we cannot look forward to with much hope. We cannot suppose that those who had been induced to pass this Bill would be likely to repeal it, and so thrust themselves into difficulties and troubles which they are anxious to get out of. Now I come to another point, which I must dwell upon. The character of these men, as painted by themselves, I will not quote. Everybody knows what they have been. Everybody knows that many of them are filled with hostility to this country; that they wished success to the Mahdi, to the Afghans, to the Boers, when British regiments were commanded and constituted by their own brethren, and the blood that was shed was Irish blood. These are the men to whom you are going to give these enormous powers! These are the men you suppose you can ever make firm and constant friends of England! It has been said by the noble Earl that he did not charge the men who were asking for these great powers with being criminals, and I think it was the Prime Minister himself who said that though he charged Mr. Parnell he did not extend the charge. Were those 1,200 men whom you shut up in Ireland without trial—were they suspected of crime or not? If they were not, a gross violation of law was committed; if they were, how dare you now turn round and say you never suspected them? You cannot get out of the difficulty. You imprisoned them without trial, and, having done so, you have condemned them as guilty of crimes against their country, and yet you propose to give them these enormous powers. You are told—it has been repeated again and again—that this measure will give contentment to Ireland. We are charged with being pessimistic, but could anything be more optimistic than the different speeches which have been made promising contentment as the result of this Bill? We have had Memorials from vast numbers of Roman Catholics—those who are bold enough to 573 speak out—we have seen Presbyterians, Churchmen, and Nonconformists practically unanimous against this Bill, and yet the part of Ireland which is worst you are going to give mastery over the best, to put the living under the dead, and to assume that that state of things will bring about contentment. The noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Rosebery) said at Paisley that the statesmen of England knew more about Ireland than any portion of the Irish people. Does the South know as much about the North of Ireland as we know about the whole of Ireland? Yet under the Bill the South is to exercise a sway to which it is not entitled. The Bill, in short, is an attempt to put an inferior Ireland over a superior Ireland—a faction over the nation—instead of leaving both to the mitigating influences of an Imperial Parliament which would do justice to each—an attempt to set one against the other, in continuance of the perpetual conflict which has gone on for many a long year, and would not be stopped by this most wretched measure. Mr. Parnell said the Irish had no right to ask for more than the restitution of Grattan's Parliament, but it is now proposed to give to them not only a Legislature, but an appendant Legislature. In the time of Grattan's Parliament you legislated for the Empire without any Members for Ireland sitting in your Parliament, excepting those returned by British constituencies. Now, for the first time, you propose that there shall be an addition to our Parliament. It was during Grattan's Parliament that Great Britain's influence and interest were at stake. Lord Rosebery last night, with great candour, acknowledged that Mr. Pitt had in the circumstances no course open to him but to call for the Union; and it is notorious that Lord Cornwallis—a most genial, benevolent man, and most anxious to conciliate the Irish if he could—came to the conclusion that nothing could save Great Britain unless a Union were established. The noble Earl has given the House his reasons, not why this Bill should be carried—because he never entered into that question of this Bill at all—but why something in the shape of Home Rule should be offered to the Irish people. He says he wants to give Ireland something that is worth defending. 574 Is it credible that my noble Friend can be a party to a Bill which would prevent the Irish from defending themselves or anybody else, because they are under this Bill prohibited from drilling—from availing themselves of naval and military resources, and how they are to defend themselves or anybody else under those circumstances I cannot imagine. Mr. Pitt felt that in a case of difficulty Great Britain ought to have every rein in its own hands, so that it should guide the coach, and manage the whole concern, so that every influence and power could be concentrated in this country, in order that there might be no danger from Ireland. The noble Earl assumed that, in the event of a European war, it was possible that those who were now striving to obtain this measure might, in case it were rejected, be so traitorous that they would welcome the French or any other nation; and he assumed that if this Bill were carried they would have something so well worth defending that they, would not. But it was under Grattan's Parliament, when the Irish had their own Legislature, that the Rebellion took place, and when disloyalty reached such a height that the French, it was supposed, would be welcome in different parts of Ireland. Whatever restrictions you may impose, do not tell me that in setting up a separate Legislature for Ireland you are not in substance repealing the Union. Up to 1886 we have had a consensus of statesmen who had no doubt whatever of the importance of the Union. I happened this morning to see a passage in a speech of Burke's with which I so entirely agree that I should like to quote it. Of course, I do not say this Bill is a separation; but it is the way, in my opinion, to what is worse than a separation. He says—I think, indeed, Great Britain would be ruined by the separation of Ireland, but that as there are degrees even in ruin it would fall most heavily upon Ireland. Ireland would be the most completely undone country in the world, the most distressed, and in the end the most desolate country in the world. Many people in Ireland do not know how much depends upon her continued connection with this Kingdom.Now, I know we are told that this is no repeal of the Union. Do not, my Lords, deceive yourselves by words. Do not tell me that if you set up a separate Legislature, whatever restrictions you put upon it, that you are not repealing the Union. Daniel O'Connell 575 never spoke of separation; he always guarded himself against it, but what did Sir R. Peel say? In April, 1834, he said—I want no array of figures; I want no official documents; I want no speeches of six hours to establish to my satisfaction the public policy of maintaining the Legislative Union. I feel and know that the Repeal of it must lead to the dismemberment of this great Empire, must make Great Britain a fourth-rate Power in Europe, and Ireland a savage wilderness; and I will, therefore, give at once and without hesitation an emphatic negative to the Motion for Repeal.I cannot forbear to recall to the noble Earl opposite (Earl Spencer) the words of one who in my youth exerted a potent influence in politics. What did Lord Althorp say, a man who was an honour to the Party with which he was connected—He hoped and trusted that the advocates of the Repeal of the Union would never succeed in the attainment of their object. No man held civil war in greater detestation than he did, but he should even prefer that to the destruction and dismemberment of the Empire.By this measure the Government propose to give too much from the point of view of Great Britain and too little from the point of view of Ireland. Lord Playfair and other noble Lords who have spoken have expressed the opinion that the retention of the Irish Members was forced upon the Government by the Unionist Party. That view, however, has not been supported by any scrap of proof. For my own part, I have always said that the only good thing in the Bill of 1886 was the plan for excluding the Irish Members. They were excluded in the time of Grattan's Parliament, and why should they be included now? But the reduction of the Irish Representatives in the House of Commons to 80 is, in my opinion, tantamount to an admission that the present number of 103 is a disproportionate amount of representation to have given to the Irish. Why they should have 183 Representatives, for that is what it comes to, as I shall show presently, I do not understand. We were told, I think by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that Mr. Gladstone shares the objections which we feel to the retention of 80 Members.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I only said that Mr. Gladstone had indicated rather clearly his preference for the other plan.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
I agree with the noble Earl. Mr. Gladstone has the most extraordinarily open mind respecting these matters that any-great statesman could have. In 1886 he certainly said that he would "never be a party" to the retention of the Irish. Members. He may have changed his mind on the point, but I doubt it. Howover, he has inflicted upon this country a plan which he himself admits to be "an anomaly," and which is an invitation "to intrigue" and "a great danger." Mr. Morley, at Newcastle, urged upon the people the importance of excluding the Irish Members from the British House of Commons, and yet he has now voted for the Third Reading of a Bill which contains the very provision which he then protested against. What did Mr. Morley say about this plan of retention?—I do not care what precautions you take; I predict that there is no power on earth that can prevent the Irish Members in such circumstances from being in future Parliaments what they have been in the past, and what to some extent they are in the present—namely, the arbiters and masters of English policy and English legislative business, and of the rise and fall of British Administrations.Is it not atrocious that the two men who have condemned the plan of retention in, terms like these should have induced the House of Commons to pass a measure in which that very plan of retention is embodied? In passing, I would ask how the election business arising out of the return of these 80 Members is to be managed. You have made no provision in the Bill for the trial of Election Petitions. Then I should like to know whether the Irish Members are to be exempted from considering Private Bills in Committees, or are they to form part of Committees on Private Bills relating to England only? All these things must be considered. Consider what will happen if this plan of retention is preserved. The 80 Members will be returned, not by the same number of constituencies, but practically by the same voters as the 103. The 103 Members of the Irish Legislature will be reinforced by the 80 Representatives. The bulk of the 103 Members in the Irish Parliament, and the 80 Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, will have one and the same Leader, and all the subjects which are excluded from the cogni- 577 sance of the 103 Members in Dublin will be raised by the 80 Members here. And this is the way in which you propose to get rid of the friction caused by Irish Business in the Imperial Parliament. You are going to create a power which will dominate you in that Parliament. The Government say that if these privileges are granted the Irish will be checked in their actions by a sense of responsibility. It is at this point that the question of the character of the men to whom you propose to entrust these powers becomes so important. Mr. Bryce, when writing philosophically about the American Constitution, said—The chief lesson which a study of the more vicious among the State Legislatures teaches us is that power does not necessarily bring responsibility in its train.Now, to this proposed legislation Great Britain has not given its assent. The Union was a Treaty, and now you propose to repeal it, and to inflict degradation upon England. The Prime Minister, I know, boasts that he is a Scotchman; but I think that he, who was born and educated in England, and who owes so much politically to England, might have hesitated to declare that this country, which had resisted his imperious will, "required discipline." He writes to an American—not one of the chief and best of Americans, but a man who has written of this country in a hostile manner—and says that "England requires disciplining," and so he devises a plan under which he gives us the off-scouring of the Irish Parliament, such as they may choose to send, in order to extort further concessions to the Irish Nationalists. The Prime Minister has said that "Great Britain was entitled to a voice on this question." She has given utterance to that voice. In 1887 the right hon. Gentleman said that the retention of the Irish Members was "a British question," and not an Irish one; yet it has been carried by the Irish vote against the whole of Great Britain. Now, my Lords, in the final issue, we are told that we are 33,000,000 to 3,000,000, and that we can reconquer Ireland. Well, I think Mr. Gladstone is hardly the general who could undertake the reconquest of Ireland. After all, these concessions have been made to Ireland by a cowardly surrender: the idea of reconquering her is so preposterous and absurd that it does not require 578 discussion. I am told, my Lords, that statistics show that Ireland has been impoverished since the Union. There is abundant evidence that Ireland has grown in riches, and would grow in quiet if you would allow your own Acts to operate. You keep passing Acts of Parliament, and then, like children growing flowers, you take them up by the roots to see how they are going on. The remedy you have proposed is worse than the disease; it will poison the two countries, and bring about constant friction and constant animosity and struggle. Now, my Lords, I will say one word about this House, of which I have the honour to be a Member. It is a second House, and a part of the Parliament of this country. Your Lordships have your rights, as large, except in finance, as those enjoyed by the House of Commons. Though not a Representative Body, I admit, it is your Lordships' duty to examine all questions that come before you, in view, not only of your rights, but of the expediency and policy of your action. Unfortunately, there is no question in politics which comes before us in an abstract condition. It is always weighted with circumstances which you have to take into account. We are taunted in the other House for speaking of the proceedings of that House, as if it was not a question before us. But, my Lords, we are part of the Parliament of England, and we have a right and duty to see that that Parliament, so far as we are concerned, does its duty; and we have a right to look at and comment upon the action of the other House if it evades Parliamentary law and resorts to expedients which we believe to be false and fatal in themselves, injurious to Parliaments in all parts of the world, and to call forth a despotism in Parliaments, which is equally abhorrent as despotism in individuals. We are called upon to try this question as upon our honour and as men who are interested in a peaceful, happy, and contented Ireland; and I venture to say for myself and those who act with me that we are not less interested in a peaceful, happy, and contented Ireland than noble Lords opposite. I am, to a certain extent, deeply and personally interested in Ireland; but I do not think it right, because a child or a lunatic desire a torch or weapon, to put it into their hands. 579 This Bill is one which the Government themselves admit will not be final. It is a Bill provisional in many most important particulars, and if passed must come on for reconsideration. We agree that we have solemn duties in connection with Ireland. You despair; we hope. You have given up; we are faithful to our Imperial destiny, and believe, though it may take time, that we have the means to redress every grievance of which Ireland can complain. Now, my Lords, I will conclude by quoting some words of that great Tribune of the people, as he was called by the noble Earl (Lord Rosebery), Mr. Bright, as they exactly express my feelings—Save its population (Ireland's) from the future conduct of the men who are answerable for much of its present sufferings and for all the disorder by which it is now afflicted and disgraced. There are 2,000,000 of loyal people in Ireland. Let us be firm in our resolve; and if it be possible—as I believe it is possible—save them for expulsion from the guardianship of the Crown of the United Kingdom and from the shelter and the justice of the Imperial Parliament.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord HERSCHELL)
My Lords, I have listened with interest and admiration to the speech of the noble Earl who has just sat down. I shall have some difficulty in following him, because I cannot but feel deeply conscious that, while he has been speaking the sentiments of vast multitudes of noble Lords within this House, I am going to advocate a cause which here has few friends, and I must necessarily come in conflict with the sentiments and opinions of many noble Lords present. I shall, at all events, endeavour so to conduct the argument which I have to put before your Lordships as to avoid saying a single word which may stir susceptibilities any further than is absolutely necessary. I have been struck with the constant repetitions throughout this Debate of the statement that no arguments have been adduced in favour of the measure now before your Lordships. I do not wonder that such expressions should come from noble Lords who come here from Ireland. I think it is not unnatural that a measure in which they are so deeply interested, and which must stir natural prejudices, should have been regarded by them mainly from one point of view; but I confess I am astonished that noble Lords who have been Liberals, 580 and who call themselves Liberals still, although they may deem the dangers of a measure of this description as being too weighty to be encountered, nevertheless fail to see how much there is in it, and must be in it, to commend it to those imbued with Liberal principles. I say there has been a failure to recognise this, because we have heard from more than one, in effect though not in words, this description of the measure:—That it is the mere offspring of the self-will of a fanatic who has lost his head, accepted by subservient Colleagues who have lost their principles. [Opposition cheers.] I accept those cheers as a proof that the minds of noble Lords calling themselves Liberals who can thus view this measure have not been addressed to the arguments which with all unprejudiced persons will weigh in the consideration of the question. The noble Duke who moved the rejection of the Bill said that it was the duty of statesmen to forecast the future effect of any measure that was proposed. I agree; but there is another condition just as rigorously required by statesmanship, and that is that before forecasting the future you shall have weighed the arguments on both sides, and that you shall have examined the arguments which are opposed to your natural prejudices and preconceived opinions or traditional policy with as much care and scrutiny, and give them as full and fair weight as the arguments that are on the other side. The noble Duke commenced his speech by sweeping on one side as wholly irrelevant the references made by Lord Spencer to the history of the connection between England and Ireland since the Union. I confess that when we consider what is the matter with which we are now dealing, it is a most astounding proceeding to treat that history as irrelevant. What is the question now before your Lordships but this—whether any arrangement concerning the Parliamentary relation of the two countries arrived at at the beginning of the century is to remain untouched, or whether events have shown that the time has come when it is expedient, in the interest of both countries, that a change should be made? Is it possible rationally to arrive at an answer to such a question as that without looking to see what have been the fruits of the measure whose continuation or alteration is now in ques- 581 tion? The Act of Union has been treated by many who have spoken in this Debate almost as if it were a divine institution and as if it were to be regarded with a reverence which made it almost blasphemy to say a word against or treason to suggest that it should be altered. And yet, after al1, it was an arrangement arrived at not so very long ago, and, although I do not for a moment question the great ability of the statesmen by whom that measure was advocated and passed, I do not think anyone will contend that they were infallible. I am not going into an inquiry how that measure came to be passed in Ireland. It undoubtedly was passed in this country in a time of great national emergency, and, indeed, of imminent crisis. Even at that time of danger and emergency there were not wanting noblemen in this House of experience and judgment who believed it to be a mistake. Lord Fitzwilliam, in the Debate in this House, contended that—It would weaken instead of strengthening the means of resistance to the enemy.And he added another statement which is not without its interest and importance in relation to the Parliament of Ireland. He said—The House had the experience of ages; that the dangers apprehended from a separate Legislature had not arisen.What were the objects in view at that time? For my part, I think that it is quite compatible with the belief that the circumstances of that time demanded that arrangement to believe now that the circumstances of our time may demand a modification of it. There is one most important circumstance in the relative positions of the two countries which must not be lost sight of. The closer means of communication to which the noble Earl who has just spoken has alluded have afforded facilities and powers which did not then exist in this country in relation to Ireland. Further than that, at that time the population of Ireland was one-third of the population of the United Kingdom. The population of Ireland is now only one-eighth of the population of the United Kingdom; and I am by no means sure that if the conditions which exist to-day had existed at the beginning of the century Mr. Pitt would have been in favour of the Act of 582 Union which he carried out. Therefore, is seems to me it is not in the slightest degree a slight on the memory or statemanship of Mr. Pitt that one should believe that the arrangement then arrived at was in need of modification. What were the expectations and anticipations held out to those who advocated that measure? They hoped and believed that it would weld the peoples of the two nations into one. It has become now a ground for sneering when there is any talk of the "union of hearts." But the idea is not a new one. The words almost were used in the discussions on the Act of Union. "United hearts" was what people were led to expect by some of the speakers as the effect of the Union. It was expected, too, that it would bring about a state of things without which good government does not exist. I should like to quote the words that were used by a noble Earl in this House as to what is essential to good government.Good government," he said in these Debates, "should carry with it the confidence, affection, and ready zeal of the people.There were, no doubt, at that time those who doubted whether these hoped-for results could be achieved. We are able to-day to determine whether they have been. What is the condition of things we find? The Union under that Act has continued for 93 years, and to-day and during the last few days from almost every speaker in this Debate in opposition to the measure we have heard references to the loyal minority of Ireland. What is this but a confession that there is a disloyal majority? [Cheers and counter cheers.] Noble Lords cheer. I will deal with the question how this came about, and what is the cure for it. But are noble Lords satisfied with that condition of things? What does it mean—a disloyal majority? That there are some millions of our fellow-subjects in an island close beside us who have been subject to the Rule of Her Majesty and her predecessors for years, who are opposed to the rule under which they live, who desire its change, who resent the measures that are adopted towards them, and who believe that they are being wronged. I believe that that is the only spot within the broad dominions of the Queen, with the numberless forms of government under which her subjects 583 live, and with the myriads of which they consist, where such a state of things could be possibly found. [Cheers.] Is that not a momentous fact? Noble Lords cheered it as though they were rather pleased with it, as though it was not a thing to be ashamed of and bitterly repented. That is the condition of things which we find after all these years, I will not say as the fruit, but following upon and succeeding this Act of Union; and all I am contending for is this—that whatever else it has done it has not produced that condition of contentment, it has not secured those conditions of good government which we hoped for it, and anticipated for it, and for which in the main it was passed. I think that the British Parliament, as a piece of legislative machinery for Ireland, has been a failure. I think it has not quickly enough discerned Irish wants. It has turned a deaf ear to them often when they have been urged before Parliament. It has delayed too often, cruelly and wrongly, the redress of serious grievances, and it has naturally stirred up, and inevitably stirred up, a feeling of hostility to the institutions of this country. I should like, before I pass from that, to allude to one sentence of the noble Earl. He says—You told us in 1870 this measure was to be a satisfactory solution; you told us in 1881 that that measure was to be a satisfactory solution. We find none of them a satisfactory solutionJust what I contend. We have never, in the British Parliament, sufficiently understood Ireland to secure a satisfactory solution, and consequently when the Irish have told us that what we believed was solving the question would not solve it, we passed the measure that suited our opinions, and that was consonant with our ideas, and we found by bitter experience that they were right and that we were wrong. These are the measures which have been from time to time passed. They have been varied by coercive legislation which became necessary and I admit always is necessary when you have discontent or to suppress revolt against your institutions of the description I have referred to. I know it has become the fashion nowadays to speak of Coercion Acts as though they were rather magnificent legislative achievements of which we have no reason to be ashamed. That was not the language used by the 584 statesmen of either Party until recently. We are reproved for expressing sometimes hostility to or dislike of Coercion Acts, and it has been suggested that you cannot be opposed to them unless you are in sympathy with criminals or crime. That was not the attitude of statesmen of either Party in the earlier generations of this century. Coercion Acts were always introduced under pressure of extreme urgency, to meet a condition of things which were very critical, and passed only for a time—avowedly only justifiable on account of the critical situation, avowedly to be repealed the moment the situation became no longer serious. Now, we have so far advanced that we have come within the last few years to pass a permanent Coercion Act for Ireland, and we consider that, circumstances having brought us to pass once for all a permanent Coercion Act for Ireland, it is really a triumph of legislative achievement for that country. I have been astonished at some of the language used with regard to this legislation. I admit that Coercion Acts often are necessary. I believe that whenever you do not or cannot satisfy the just aspirations of the people and make them content with the government under which they are living, Coercion Acts, or some form of coercion, are necessary; but I none the less hate the process, believing that the necessity for Coercion Acts proves that there is a disease which seeks a remedy. Coercion Acts are spoken of as light things. What do they mean? You take away in regard to Ireland some of the safeguards which the wisdom of our ancestors has placed on the administration of justice in England for the protection of the people from wrong, hardship, and unjust treatment. Are those safeguards of no concern here? Would we endure, is there an English Minister who would dare to propose for England a measure such as we passed for Ireland? An English Minister dared not do so, because he could not pass it. It would be impossible in the state of things existing here that such a Bill should ever become a law. It can be passed for Ireland because the British Parliament by British votes take away the safeguards in Ireland where we are not subject to the law. I do not say that it may not be necessary to do so; but I will never fail to utter my protest against the view that it is a 585 light matter or one of small moment. When it is said that these Acts are only passed against those who are not law-abiding and who will not conform to the law, has not that been made a justification of every tyrannous form of government and law? Are we not always told—"Keep within the law; say and do nothing to which the Government can object, and then these laws will not touch you"? That has never been considered a sufficient justification; and, moreover, I do not believe that those safeguards can be removed without the risk of injustice. My noble and learned Friend said that there had been no cases where people under the Coercion Acts had received injustice. I do not believe it. I am satisfied myself that there were cases in which injustice was done for want of those safeguards on which we here rely. I think it is established by these two circumstances with which I have dealt that there is a disease which has not been cured either by your bribes from time to time—for that has been the form of some legislation—or at another time by your Coercion Acts. The disease still exists. What has led to the discontent which exists? I think it is quite possible that if measures which were passed late had been passed earlier discontent might not have been what it is. But I think that this discontent, which has been caused by the consciousness that the legislation of the British Parliament has not succeeded in producing happiness and prosperity, has naturally united itself with national sentiments and aspirations. I do not see how it can be doubted that there does exist in Ireland among the majority of the people a desire for some distinct national life. Every circumstance to which I can look in the course of the present century seems to me to conclusively prove it. My noble Friend (Earl Cowper) said that the cry for Home Rule was a modern one, that it only began in 1870, that before that time it was Fenianism, and before that Repeal. I agree. It has taken many forms, and it would be a superficial view to treat these as separate things; the same principle underlays them all. Whether it be Home Rule, or Fenianism, or Repeal of the Union, it was the same cry and desire for a means of self-government which would enable the people to bring, as they believed they 586 could bring, to themselves the prosperity, contentment, and happiness which we have failed to bring to them. It is said—"How can you expect to satisfy the Irish with a plan of Home Rule when you say they have desired something so much more extensive than that—Fenianism, or it may be Repeal?" Have we not seen instances in which there has been a cry for a more extended form of national life which has yet been satisfied with a narrower? Did Hungary, when she agitated for years and fought, seek that arrangement which now prevails and under which she possesses he autonomy? She sought something more than that; and even when the present arrangement was entered into there were some holding extreme views who retired dissatisfied and disgusted because she had not got more. But, nevertheless, the arrangement has brought satisfaction, and contentment, and peace; and those who demanded and insisted that more ought to be obtained became diminished in numbers and less important as time went on. I see no reason to suppose in any instance that a smaller satisfaction of demands which have been made may not bring contentment. It is said that the tendency of the time is towards national consolidation, while this measure tends to separation. I do not for a moment deny that the tendency of time has been towards national consolidation; but there has been another principle, which side by side with this national principle has been more and more coming into force and operation, and that is the principle of decentralisation of local autonomy. Perhaps in the greatest instance of national consolidation which we have seen in our time—the Empire of Germany—that national consolidation has been found not inconsistent with the completest local autonomy. Is there anyone who believes that if another course had been taken, if the separate Parliamentary Governments of those portions of Germany which now form the Empire had been taken from them, and an attempt had been made to govern a united Germany, or administer its laws and legislate for it through a united Parliament, Germany would have been stronger to-day than she is? On the contrary, the national consolidation would never have taken place. Germany, which is an Empire not wanting in 587 strength, an Empire not disregarded by her foes, would not have been the Empire she is to-day. The conclusion to which these facts seem to me to point is that the only hopeful policy in regard to Ireland is a policy which shall seek to satisfy those desires and aspirations which she recognises, and which would enable Ireland to govern herself and manage her own internal affairs. I may be asked—Why do you think this is a hopeful policy? As far as I see, no other policy has been suggested which holds out the slightest hope. I say it is a hopeful policy because, as far as I know, wherever you have given to those who have been discontented and who have felt the yoke of Parliamentary Government under which they lived, a freer system, wherever you have recognised their desires and conceded them, you have brought contentment and peace. Now it is said that our conversion to these views has been very sudden. I do not know that it necessarily follows, because a conversion is sudden, it is therefore either mistaken or insincere. But if it were so, it would prove that Catholic Emancipation was a blunder, and that the policy of Free Trade was a mistake. Talk of sudden conversion! I was refreshing my recollection a day or two ago with reference to the passing of Catholic Emancipation, and I came across this passage in The Annual Register—The Duke of Wellington in December had written in express words that he saw no prospect of a settlement of the question; that it was impossible to expect men to consider it dispassionately and to come to an ultimately satisfactory conclusion, and that it had better for a time be buried in oblivion.The writer proceeds—When the Duke of Wellington thus declared on December 11 that he saw no prospect of a settlement, what man could imagine that he had already decided forthwith to force it to a settlement? When he expressed the opinion that it ought to be buried in oblivion, would it not be a deep insult to the understanding and honesty of his grace to imagine that he meant by that the instant agitation of the question before Parliament, and that, too, as a Government measure?Your Lordships will recollect the language used in the other House, especially with respect to Sir Robert Peel's action on the Corn Laws. And yet these men live now in the admiration, esteem, and veneration of their countrymen; and I 588 prophesy that the time will come when those who now receive the same measure of abuse will not be regarded the worse for it by their countrymen, who will recognise the benefits of their action. I invite your Lordships' attention to the situation in 1885. A Franchise Bill had been passed, and there was about to be an election, and in the House of Commons this statement was made by the Leader of the House and of the Conservative Party, speaking on behalf of the Government—You have now given this large measure of franchise. It is inconsistent with that measure to govern the people of Ireland by the old method of coercion.I think that was a momentous statement. It indicates to my mind, as it could only indicate, one thing—that at last there was a search being made to find some other method of governing Ireland. For inasmuch as Ireland needed to be governed, and you were not going to govern [her by coercion, how were you going to govern her? There was obviously an idea of some other policy, and that could only have been a policy of conciliation; and there could have been no policy of conciliation which did not take the direction of something in the nature of Home Rule. But that is not all. Do not let me be misunderstood. I am not for a moment using this argument as a charge against the Conservative Party that they intended to advocate Home Rule. My argument is that they themselves were looking, and announced to the country that they were looking—and were so understood by the country and by us—for some other means of governing Ireland. That was followed by another momentous event. There was an interview between Lord Carnarvon—the Viceroy of Ireland—and Mr. Parnell, of whose character and sayings we have heard a great deal during this discussion. Could anyone fail to see that, after such a declaration had been made and after such an interview had taken place, there were circumstances which must stir the thoughts of any man on this question and compel his attention to the inquiry—"Are we to go on with the old system of coercion, or are we to adopt some other means?" There were then 85 Nationalists returned to Parliament; there was an indication under this free franchise of the opinion of 589 the great majority of the Irish people. What was to be done? It is said that statesmen one after the other had approved the Union and defended it. Undoubtedly they did. I do not suppose that there is anybody who would not prefer to leave untouched the Act of Union, if that Act were regarded with equal affection and esteem by the whole of the British Islands. It has been one of the conditions of political life in this country that whenever measures have been passed, though they were distasteful to a large minority, they have been accepted and honestly acted upon. And so it would naturally be with the Union. No statesman would rashly or readily attempt to disturb a settlement so solemnly arrived at. But there often comes in national life, as in individual life, a crisis. You have trodden a path unquestioningly for years, until you are compelled to face the question—Are you taking the right road? It is easy to walk in the accustomed way; it is very unpleasant to face the questionings and difficulties that arise when you begin to doubt whether you are on the right road or not: It is much easier to dismiss the doubts. But there comes a time when you can dismiss them no longer, and you are obliged to face the problem. This was the case with many in 1885; and it was certainly the case with me. It is a great delusion to suppose that the minds of people in England were never stirred about Home Rule until Mr. Gladstone brought the matter forward. I do not know whether others had my experience; but I represented a constituency in which there were many working men; and I know that there were many who had misgivings, and more than misgivings, as to the policy of coercion in the Parliament of 1880–1884. I was asked at various times by one and another whether it would not be possible to give to the Irish Home Rule. They saw that you never could govern the Irish without coercion unless you made some concession, and the mind of the English democracy was turning in this direction—that there was no reason why you should not give the Irish some form of Home Rule instead of coercion. It is said that the change took place to buy the Irish vote. What was the situation? At that time the Conservative Party were in Office. There had been returned in the previous 590 autumn a Liberal majority of 86—a majority such as was only balanced if all the Irish Members, from Ulster and all parts, together voted with the Conservative Party. What had the Liberal Party with such a majority as that to fear? Why did they need to buy the Irish votes? They would only need them if they were unitedly thrown in support of the Conservative Party. If all the Irish Members did not support the Conservative Party, the Liberals would have an ample majority. Could we suspect that the Tory Party would attempt to buy the Irish vote, or that they would try to bring about such a combination of Irishmen of all Parties as to defeat the Government which had so large a majority from Great Britain? I admit that a change of this kind cannot be made without danger. I have never shut my eyes to the weight of the arguments which may be adduced against such a change. I have pondered and looked at them from every point of view; and I feel that they are of serious gravity, and that they well deserve to be considered. I do not regard it as a light thing. I think that any statesman or body of men who attempted to lead the country to a change of this description with a light heart and in any other spirit than one saturated with the conviction of the importance of the change would be very foolish—would be mad. But when I say that I fully realise all the dangers of such a change, I must ask—Is there no danger in leaving things as they are? We have had painted to us pictures of the dangers which may arise from a change such as this; but there has not seemed to be, in the mind of any single speaker who has addressed your Lordships, the dimmest consciousness of the dangers which exist in the present state of things. There is scarcely an instance you can bring to prove the gravity and danger of the change which does not equally prove the danger of leaving matters as they stand. The whole basis of the pictures which have been drawn by those who have preceded me rests upon this—that after this Bill passes Ireland will be discontented, and anxious to throw off the English yoke. But if things are left alone, will not the danger be then just as much? It would be there in its most serious form. I have spoken of the national aspirations and desires of a large 591 body of the Irish people; but I have not spoken of the sympathy with those feelings which exist in the tens of thousands of Irishmen scattered not only throughout Her Majesty's dominions, but in all parts of the world. Is there no danger in such a state of things?—a discontented people in Ireland, a multitude sympathising with them in America, gold passing freely between the two countries. Are there never times when our relations with America become critical? How can we shut our eyes to the danger, and pretend that all is peace when there is no peace? There is this added danger—that the full sympathies of vast multitudes of Americans who are not Irish, who have no connection with the Irish, and who in a sense may be said to have no love for them, are nevertheless strongly with them in their demand for autonomy. The existence of that sympathy, the belief that wrong is being done, and that a demand that might be conceded is being refused—these are most important factors in considering the situation. If a concession be made which is felt to be just and reasonable, and which is safe, you will remove this danger at all events, and instead of there being sympathy with Irish discontent and a desire to assist Irish discontent in Ireland the sympathy will be the other way. It is said, however desirable it may be to attempt to introduce a change of this description, no measure is possible; statesmanship is not equal to dealing with the question and creating a well-considered and workable scheme. I should be sorry if that were true. I admit that the task is one of enormous difficulty; I admit it is one in which we may well desire the aid of the best intellects in this country without regard to Party. I admit it is impossible to devise any scheme not involving great difficulties; but I cannot forget that, more than a century ago, a knot of men drawn from a very limited number, who, however, were sons of England, were capable of framing a scheme and Constitution which has stood the test of a century, and has been the admiration of the civilized world. And are we reduced to such intellectual or statesmanlike impotence that it is impossible for us to devise a scheme which shall settle upon a better footing than the present the relations between England 592 and Ireland. I, at all events, do not believe it. Now it is said that this. Bill, indeed, is not perfect—that it is full of imperfections. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, my Lords, I quite admit it. But I say that there is no scheme which can be made perfect, there is no Constitution in the world which is perfect. If the same intellectual acuteness that is applied to this Bill were applied to the British Constitution you could prove that it is utterly unworkable, and that not many months or years could elapse before things would come to a dead-lock. But if this measure be desirable and right, are we, because a perfect scheme cannot be constructed, because no scheme can be devised that will be free from difficulty, to abandon the task? I confess I feel it is idle to argue with those who are opposed to us on the provisions of this Bill, and for this reason—because I admit that there are dangers and difficulties in the scheme. If your point of view is that no scheme at all is necessary and that there is no reason for attempting to give self-government to Ireland, why, of course, there is an end of the case; any scheme which is in any sense dangerous or perilous would prove to be undesirable. When you say that nothing at all is to be done, there is no use in discussing details, but I propose to allude to some of the points that have been raised. The proposition that the supremacy of Parliament is not maintained can only be established if you select your own meaning for the words, and that meaning one which has not hitherto been given to them. The legislative supremacy of Parliament is complete; Parliament will be able to legislate, and its laws will be as much in force in the Sister Country under this Bill as before. The enforcement of them is not generally included in Parliamentary supremacy. It has been said it would be a breach of honour for this Parliament to legislate upon subjects remitted to the Irish Parliament. It would be nothing of the kind. There remains the legitimate use of the provisions contained in the Preamble, and of the clause to which allusion has been made, which mean that you set up a subordinate Legislature without impairing the supremacy of this Parliament. It is this which explains and justifies the insertion of the words to which I allude; they could only serve 593 that purpose; neither the enactment nor the words in the Preamble can be said to serve any other purpose. You cannot get rid of the supremacy of Parliament; no words can preserve it more than it preserves itself; and the only object in inserting the words was to meet such an argument as the noble Earl has used. In answer to the noble Duke, I maintain that we have always drawn the distinction between a United Empire and a United Kingdom; the fallacy involved in not drawing the distinction has been on the other side. Everywhere speakers have denounced the disintegration of the Empire. I maintain the unity of the Kingdom is preserved when you have a common Parliament in which sit Members for every part of the United Kingdom, with power to deliberate and vote upon its affairs. You do not destroy the unity of the Kingdom by delegating certain functions to a subordinate Parliament. The noble Duke said that Parliament makes and unmakes Ministries. A more extraordinary and astounding proposition I never heard advanced. Does this House believe itself able to make or unmake a Ministry? Let it pass any Resolution it likes, and Ministers will remain. Let this House try whether a Resolution of Censure will drive a Ministry from Office. It is true that, by Constitutional practice, votes of the House of Commons make and unmake Ministries; but it is new to me to hear from a Whig politician, and a Leader of the Constitutional Party, that the House of Commons and Parliament are synonymous. Therefore, when it is said it is necessary to the supremacy of Parliament that there should be interference with the Executive, I say you are using the term "supremacy of Parliament" in a sense in which it has never been used before. I admit that there will not be the same control over the Irish Executive. If one thing is certain, it is that there has never been any concealment or question that it was part of the scheme that there should be an Irish Executive. The noble Earl asked why Irish Members, any more than Members for Australia or Canada, should sit in the House of Commons? There seems to be good reason why we should not include Representatives from Australia or Canada, while we include 594 those of Ireland, because we do not leave to the Irish Legislature matters over which the Legislatures of Australia and Canada have full control. The reason of this is obvious—it is that proximity renders it in the highest degree expedient that we should have, for example, a common system of currency. More than that, when you are giving with these reservations a subordinate Parliament, if you are to maintain the supremacy of this Parliament and its ultimate control in case of absolute necessity, it is impossible to do it with justice or propriety if you are to exclude Irish Members. More than that, when you are retaining in the British Parliament absolute control in matters so greatly affecting the interests of Ireland as do those named in the 3rd clause of the Bill, there are certainly strong reasons against excluding the Irish Members from the British Parliament. If there was one thing that was more clearly placed before the country than another it was that it was to be a part of the scheme of Home Rule that Irish Members should be retained in this Parliament. It is said that you now include them and permit them to vote on all questions. Now I agree at once that that is a matter of very great difficulty. I should prefer myself, I frankly admit, a scheme by which the Irish Members should only vote upon those reserved questions or Bills relating to Ireland. But the difficulties of such an arrangement will be obvious to anybody, and although I may not think those difficulties so serious as some do, although I might have desired some method of that description to be passed into law, yet the difference between that and the retention of the Irish Members for all purposes seems to me, when you are dealing with such a Bill, if it be a Bill at all necessary, a matter of detail. The noble Earl has suggested that by this scheme Great Britain will be in a worse position than she now is. I confess I look at the matter as a practical man, and although I would have desired their exclusion from voting except upon reserved matters it seems to me we shall be in a better position, and not in a worse, than we were. The noble Earl says—"But you retain to them a certain power of interfering in legislation which concerns you, while you cannot legislate 595 about local Irish affairs." Personally I confess that, put in that way, I at least have not the slightest desire to legislate or take any part in legislating in local Irish affairs. I regard it as a burden or a responsibility to be performed if there is no Body to whom it can be delegated. I treat it as a hardship upon me that whilst the Irish can meddle in my affairs I cannot meddle in theirs. I can understand the hardship so far as they can meddle with mine. Yes, my Lords, it is a hardship which exists now, and which you are seeking to perpetuate; but to say it is a hardship that we cannot interfere in their affairs is a thing which does not commend itself to my understanding. There is not a local English, Scotch, or Welsh matter upon which the Irish Members will be able to vote, and on which they could not vote and turn the scale, on which they will not vote and turn the scale now, if this Bill passes, upon which they could not turn the scale if this Bill had never been introduced. I look for an improvement in that respect. I believe, in the first place, you get an enormous advantage in regard to time which will become available for English, Scotch, and Welsh affairs which is now absorbed by Ireland. You will get rid of her and you will have more time to devote to your own affairs. In the next place, you will find that the Irish, when they are managing their own affairs, will become very keen and active in relation to them, and you will not find the same keen and constant attention to English, Scotch, or Welsh legislation which you have at the present time. As a practical man, taking that view and wishing what you wish, I say I get something under this Bill; I get nothing if you throw out the Bill and the present state of things prevails. With regard to the mode in which judgments are to be enforced, questions were asked me. In regard to the Judges of the Courts they will be enforced as they are now. The questions put assume a refusal on the part of those whose duty it is to enforce the law to do so. What now is the ultimate resort in such a case? Why, force, and nothing but force. But it does not follow that it will be necessary. But it will be certainly used to force the law if it is found to be so. It has been said that the Exchequer Judges are like 596 Aunt Sallies on the racecourse. I cannot see any such resemblance. The question put to me is a riddle which I am unable to solve, put in extremely enigmatical and picturesque language. I do not see what the difficulty is. It seems to me the position of the Exchequer Judges is made very clear under the Bill. The noble Lord who spoke before me, asked how the Exchequer Judges were to be appointed. If he looks at the Bill he will find they are to be appointed as they are now, and be removable in the same manner—a Motion in both Houses of Parliament. And matters after this Bill will be the same as before in that respect. With regard to the financial provisions with which I do not intend to deal except to say one word. The noble Viscount, Lord Cross, said that your Lordships have a right to know that the Bill embodies the convictions of the Government. I rather question that right. When a Bill comes from the other House it embodies the opinion of the House of Commons, and it does not matter whether they are the convictions of the Ministers or not. On any particular provision Ministers may have been overbalanced by a majority of the House of Commons, but to contend that every provision, except on a vital point, must express their convictions appears to me to be a novel doctrine invented for the occasion, and of which we have never heard before. In regard to the financial proposals I do not care to dwell at any length for this reason; there are very weighty arguments against Home Rule, and you may convince the Committee that this policy which we believe to be just and expedient is unjust and inexpedient; but of this I am certain—if you do not convince your countrymen against Home Rule by other arguments you will never convince them by any petty hucktering about a little more or less in regard to the financial arrangements. I believe this of the English people: those who think it just and right, will be glad to have it made in these terms; those who do not will object to it in any form. I turn to a part of the case which is undoubtedly of great importance, and that is the position of the loyal minority. I am not going to say a word disrespectful to the loyal minority, but this I must say. At the outset, I cannot subscribe to the 597 doctrine that either a minority or a majority would be justified in resisting the law as passed by Parliament and refusing obedience to it merely because they apprehended there might come to them some possible harm. I can understand men feeling that the state of government which has been created and under which they live has become so intolerable that any risk must be run rather than submit to it, but that must be an actual existing state of things, and not a mere guess which may come about. I should be most desirous of seeing any safeguards introduced for the protection of the loyal minority subject to one limitation, and that is that they be not such as to give a minority the rights of a majority. A majority must rule, and a minority cannot rule a majority. The position of the landlords and their agents has been a good deal mixed up with the fears of the Ulster or of the loyal minority. Now, they are two very different things. I do not mean for a moment to say that the interests of the landlords are to be disregarded. Far from it. But it is not about the interests of the landlords, about questions of rent and otherwise, that the loyal minority, the people of Ulster, are specially concerned. As I understand, their fears may be said to be threefold. They fear unfair religious treatment, unfair differential legislative treatment, or perhaps unfair treatment generally by the Legislature, and they fear unjust taxation. I believe myself those fears are enormously exaggerated. I do not believe there is any tendency to unfair religious treatment or unfair taxation to the minority, and I base that belief on experience; your belief is based upon speculation. All experience tends to show that this unfair treatment is never received. Take the Irish Municipalities, in some of which the Nationalists are in a majority. Take the Corporation of Dublin. The Corporation of Dublin administers its affairs as well as Corporations which are governed and controlled by the loyal minority, and deals with its political adversaries just as fairly as political adversaries are dealt with anywhere else. It has arranged its financial affairs with unusual success, and the men who have been doing this municipal work are the same class as the men who will have to 598 deal with those other affairs in the proposed Legislative Assembly. Therefore, looking at the acts done in the municipal life of Ireland, you have not only no reason for fear, but every reason to expect, that in the larger legislative life which you propose to give them you will find them actuated by the same motives. It is said you are going to hand over the government of Ireland—the fate of 3,000,000—people to these persons—to men whose characters have been spoken of in words of reprobation; but, looking to the men who now represent the Nationalist Party in the House of Commons, I believe you will be able to find men to fill the Executive offices with as much ability, public spirit, patriotism, and fairness as actuate men who fill positions of the same kind in this country. Let us look at it for a moment as a matter of self-interest. Those men will desire that their Government should be successful, and they will have every motive to deal with the North. It seems to me, in reality, the chance would be that the North would get something more than its due; and I will tell you why. Does anybody suppose when this Bill passes that you will have only one Party in Ireland? You will have two sides to a Chamber. One will have the same legislative desires as the other which is opposite them, and the Party on the other will be anxious to gain the alliance and support of the Representatives of Ulster; and there is not the slightest reason to fear that Ulster would suffer under such circumstances. I admit there is apprehension, but I am not prepared to accept the statement of bankers, merchants, and others as necessarily to be relied upon, because in times of great political excitement, and when animated by political feelings, they do not always state what is accurate any more than do the rest of mankind. My belief is that the experience of this Legislative Assembly would remove that apprehension, and that, when it was seen there was no injustice or unfairness in dealing with different parts of Ireland, it would go far to remove much of the bitterness which now exists and make Ulster better friends with the rest of Ireland, and would take but a short time to remove enmity which unfortunately at present exists. With regard to the landlords, we 599 have been told that 4–5ths of the landlords of Ireland have been able to collect their rents with greater ease than those of England. We have been asked why we had not introduced a Land Bill. I confess I should have liked long ago to have seen a measure of land purchase passed, eminently satisfactory to have obtained a settlement which would free an Irish Parliament from the responsibility of dealing with this matter. But I believe, myself, that might have been done in connection with the proposals of 1886 without any serious financial risk to this country, or serious loss; but that was not the view taken at the time of those who opposed the Government in 1886, and the Land Bill was used as a stick with which to beat the Home Rule Bill all over the country. The people of England were told it was a monstrous Bill, and one not to be passed. If now it is impossible, in the state of public feeling, to pass such a Bill, they are the persons who are responsible for the state of public feeling which has made that impossible, and it does not lie in their mouths to ask why we do not introduce a Bill which they have done their utmost to render difficult, if not impossible. It is said that the people of Great Britain are against this Bill, and that they have shown it by recent elections. I am not prepared to admit that as a matter of fact. My belief is that the majority of the electors of Great Britain voted in favour of the Bill. I admit that the majority of the Representatives returned were against it; therefore, there can be no doubt in a great many instances—and I have investigated some—that the scale of the elections was turned by the same persons voting in several places, and, therefore, the opinion of the people of Great Britain is not necessarily represented by the number of Members returned. It is next said that there was no mandate for this Bill in all its clauses. The noble Duke says the Bill, and every clause in the Bill, must be before the country. To what would that reduce our Legislative Assembly? I say nothing to a referendum ad hoc. The Representatives of the people meeting in Parliament would have to pass the Bill as it stood, because they had no mandate to mend it. It is also said that the Bill has not been discussed. Then why not take 600 your revenge on the other House? Pass the Second Reading, amend the Bill in every clause, and force the House of Commons to discuss it. It is said that the Bill was discussed with the object of educating the people. It took 86 days in the other House, and they were not enough, to educate the people as to the Bill, and your Lordships are going to make that education complete in four days. I, of course, know that this Bill will be rejected amidst tumultuous and enthusiastic cheers. I wonder if there are sounding in your Lordships' memories the echoes of cheers just as enthusiastic which were but the precursors of the victories of great reforms. We watch on the shore the flowing tide, and as we watch it we scarce can believe in its approach, but its approach is none the less certain. My Lords, if this measure is, as we believe, founded on principles of equity and justice, principles which in past times have borne precious fruit, your Lordships' action, though it may retard, cannot prevent or even long delay, the ultimate triumph of our policy.
§ LORD HALSBURY
I must congratulate my noble and learned Friend upon his excellent speech, although there are some matters on which I am in controversy with him. I believe there has been a real effort to deal with some parts of the Bill which is before your Lordships' House. But I have noticed with some surprise that the Ministers who are responsible for the Bill have talked about anything but the Bill; and I must say, with a feeling of pride in my old profession, when it came to the turn of the Lord Chancellor, there was an effort, at all events, to deal with the arguments which were directed against the passing of the measure. Let me say a word on what I think is a misapprehension in the mind of my noble and learned Friend. I do not think anyone cares about the conversion of any person unless it is sincere, and to be a conversion it must be assumed to be sincere; a thing which makes the history of this Bill, and where it comes from, and how it comes, important. There is a more than half-implied right that you have no option but to pass the Bill which is now sent to this House by the House of Commons. I am not going at any length into that matter; but I suppose nobody would 601 gravely contend that a portion of the Legislature would have a right to put itself in conflict with the country by legislating on questions on which the country has never been consulted. We have heard from the noble and learned Lord something about the internal relations of the Party to which he belonged before the surrender of 1886. I think I am entitled to say that no responsible politician prominent in political warfare had ever pronounced before that year in favour of any measure of Home Rule whatsoever. In fact, up to that time there was a deliberate determination on the part of the Liberal Party to preserve the Union intact. The policy of this Bill was sprung upon the country as a surprise, for before 1886 it had not been adopted by any Party except the Nationalist Party. I do not think the words of the Duke of Devonshire could bear the interpretation my noble and learned Friend has placed upon them. What he did ask was what reference had been made by the noble Earl who had moved the Second Reading. With regard to the Bill itself no reference had been made to it. I think we are all agreed as to the great and serious importance of such a subject as this lam afraid I cannot think so, because I notice in the amusing speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs last night it seemed to me to be hardly appropriate to so grave an occasion. Rightly or wrongly many of our fellow-countrymen believe that their happiness, property, and even lives depend upon the decision of Parliament in this case. Such apprehensions are not likely to be allayed by the noble Earl's jocose observations. Upon the question really before us—namely, that "this Bill be read a second time," I am bound to say the noble Earl said not a word. I admit that during the interval between 1886 and 1892 we heard a great deal about Home Rule, but those who spoke about it never gave a satisfactory answer to the question—" What does Home Rule mean?" But now we have a Bill on the subject before us, and what does the noble Earl do? He repeats the vague and ambiguous statements about Home Rule which were made in the interval to which I have alluded. If the speech of the noble Earl opposite was intended as an exhibition of tactics and diplomacy it was a complete success, 602 because I will undertake to say that if at some future time the noble Earl were to say—"I spoke in favour of some measure of self-government for Ireland, but I never approved one single clause of this Bill," he would be perfectly within his rights. The noble Earl did not utter one single syllable in defence of the clauses of the Bill. In fact, he said very candidly that he would not, and he gave a reason—I was going to say not quite respectful, I will not say to your Lordships' House, but to Parliamentary Institutions. Suppose, my Lords, a Minister of the Crown, having a large majority who he knew would vote for him, came down to the House of Commons, and said to them—"This is a Bill I recommend, but I will not trouble you to discuss it." Would that be a Constitutional thing for him to do? Parliament consists of both Houses. Neither House is a Parliament without the other, and considering the interest taken in this measure, and the manner in which noble Lords had come from north, south, east, and west simply to give their approval to the measure, it all went to prove that it was part of a system of separate Assembly. It is hardly suggested, my Lords, that this Bill has been discussed. We have had from the other side of the House nothing pointing to what the Bill is going to effect. No speech has been directed to show that this or that particular clause will remedy this or that particular defect. We have nothing put before us but this general proposition—"Something must be done, because what has been done in. the past has not succeeded." That may be a very good reason for saying that something must be done, but how does it recommend the adoption of the principle of this Bill? And I have to remind you again that the question is that this Bill may be read a second time. Now, my Lords, I will say a word or two about the Bill itself. It does, in effect, repeal the Act of Union. I know that it has been said that it does not, but whether it does so or not may very easily be discovered by anyone who reads the Bill and the Act of Union. Does a thing assume a different aspect because you call it by a different name? I heard my noble and learned Friend continually use the phrase "subordinate Legislature." If the Irish Legislature is to be a subordinate Legislature, why does not the Bill say so? 603 When it was suggested that that word might be introduced to render that beyond doubt it was refused. It is the duty of the Government, I presume, in thus initiating a new Constitution, to see that justice is done both to Ireland and England, and I should have expected from the promoters of the Bill some effort to show that that has been done. But has it been done? It has been pointed out that the new form which the new Governing Body is to assume is one that will lend itself to the oppression of one section of the community by another. That apprehension is seriously entertained by a large number of people. Why, then, instead of a general lecture on the impropriety of indulging in pettiness, have we not had some practical description of the grounds on which the apprehension to which I have referred is said to be groundless? It is the old story. You are to trust everybody, and it is assumed that there will be an entire change of heart and disposition on the part of those you have hitherto looked upon as your bitterest enemies. Is there, my Lords, any indication of a kindly and generous feeling towards those of their! countrymen who are now in a minority I in the House of Commons on the part of those who in the future will be in a majority in the Irish Legislature if this Bill passes? I confess I certainly find no evidence of it. I do not want, if I can help it, to speak of individuals, but who are the people who are to be elected into this new Legislature? The noble Earl who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, though he did not say so in terms, inferred that in the formation of the Legislative Assembly and the Irish Ministry the best persons would be adopted, and that there would be a change of disposition in those who are to exercise authority there. But I observe that Lord Swansea was of opinion that the men now in the House of Commons would hold high office, and I would rather accept his judgment on the point than that of the noble Earl. It is impossible not to know that these men, who were the subjects of the investigations by the Special Commission, have not lost their popularity among their constituents in consequence of the finding of that Commission. What reason, then, is there to suppose that they will not retain that popularity in the future with the people who had 604 retained it to get Home Rule in the past? It is said that they would be contented, but would they be contented with much less than they originally demanded? We must not prophesy, but our opponents may. I have no wish to prophesy. I only draw an inference which everybody must draw from the evidence. It has been said, in language with which your Lordships are doubtless familiar, that "provisional" is stamped on every line of this Bill. I think I should he disposed to say that "vengeance" is stamped on every line of the Bill. The loyal minority, the Police, the Civil servants, all of them are in turn to come under the vengeance of those who have been their enemies in the past and will continue to-be their enemies in the future. I should just like to say one word upon that. A paper has just been handed to me containing a statement which I have not had time to verify myself, which is attributed to Mr. Grattan—"Give them the power and they give themselves your property." That strikes me as a motto to be placed just over the door of the new Irish Legislature. The extaordinary character of the Bill is well illustrated by the provision relating to the Exchequer Judges. They are appointed to determine certain questions, and the difficulty that presents itself tome is this. There is to be an ordinary Executive in Ireland, and therefore the Sheriff, by hypothesis, will not execute the process of the Exchequer Judges. The Exchequer Judges are to have the power to appoint a Sheriff of their own. Suppose what I may call the ordinary Sheriff, known to the law, is under the orders of the Executive Authority, and the new Sheriff—the Exchequer Judges' Sheriff—is ordered to do something which the proper Sheriff will not do, and the forces of the law are under the command of the ordinary authorities, what is to happen? The new Sheriff may call out the posse comitatus, and the ordinary Sheriff may take the same course. Who is to decide between the two? That is only one, illustration of the almost impossible theory of having an Irish Executive which is to be controlled by another Executive. There is still a further difficulty. The Exchquer Judges' Sheriff has no funds, no staff, no officers; he is to be "a person appointed." All I can say is that I should not like, under these 605 circumstances, to be a Sheriff of the Exchequer Judges. With reference to the Land Question, one would suppose, from the sort of argument that has been addressed to your Lordships, that this was a sort of game of chess between the two political Parties. The landlords are the persons whose property by the hypothesis is imperilled. In order to protect them it is suggested that some purchase or land scheme is to be put before the people. The Liberal Unionists and Tories between them proclaim all over the country that this is a wicked, an unworkable, and an improper scheme. Suppose it were entirely erroneous to entertain such a view, are we to be punished? No. It is the landlords that are to have their property taken from them. That is not the attitude of a responsible Government. The question before the Government is whether or not the effect of the Bill may be to inflict a grievous wrong, and to take away men's property without compensation. The answer given is—"Oh, you agitated so that we could not pass our Land Bill, and so we are going on without it." That is not the mode in which such a question should be dealt with. Principles of justice and right demand that you should protect the property you have put in peril. I now come to the vexed question of the retention of the 80 Members. I do not myself know exactly what position we are in on that subject. My difficulty is a conundrum much more difficult than my noble and learned Friend professed to be able to solve. One knows perfectly well that down to within a few hours of the determination everybody supposed that such a provision was not to be in the Bill as it now contains. Three of the Ministers in this House disapprove of it, and nobody debated it in the House of Commons. If ever there was a Bill introduced with an apology in this regard this is that Bill. Can anyone say anything for the provision or adduce any logical defence of it? Does anybody reasonably contend that when we are here precluded from the discussion of Irish affairs we are nevertheless to allow 80 Irish Members to come and discuss our local affairs? The Lord Chancellor said it was not a privilege to discuss local Irish affairs. But that is not the point. The presence in Parliament of these men, 606 their influence and power, the mode in which they could make their presence known and disagreeable, those are the real questions; and when the matter is passed over as a joke and not worthy of being discussed from that point of view, I confess it seems to me that of all the extraordinary things that one has seen in Parliamentary life, nothing is more extraordinary than to see a proposition which has been repudiated by everybody in the first instance, which is not supported by the Ministers in the House from which this Bill comes, nevertheless put forward for your Lordships' acceptance without a single word being said in respect of its reason or common sense. I really do not know but what I am disposed to emulate the language of King Lear—Someone is going to do dreadful things; what they are now I know not, but they shall be the terror of the Earth.I am not going into abstract views as to the extent to which resistance to lawful authority is permissible or not. People must judge for themselves what degree of outrage of the human rights justifies such a resistance. I deprecate any discussion of this matter. But, at the same time, what statesman or man responsible for the government of his fellow-creatures will safely neglect the possibilities of insurrection and armed resistance to authority? My noble and learned Friend said that the Union had failed in this—that notwithstanding it had been in operation for 93 years there had been continual recrudescences of crime and outrage in Ireland. But was Ulster loyal at the time of the Union? If Ulster now speaks with a united voice against the Bill, it is the effect of the Union. Perhaps it hardly avails to say that the intelligence, education, and property of Ireland are opposed to the Bill; for it almost seems as though education were to be a disqualification for the exercise of the franchise. The most conspicuous example of that is that one of the most distinguished seats of learning in Europe—Trinity College—is to be disfranchised. This Bill is partly a disfranchising Bill. One would have supposed that justice would have been done in giving representation to all parts of Ireland. But I find this in the Schedule, though I do not know who 607 is responsible for it. The County of Meath has an electorate of 12,000 and a population of 86,937. The County of Armagh has an electorate of 25,146 and a population of 143,289—nearly double that of Meath. But they are both to have two Members. By the abolition of the divisions of the counties—which is contrary to the principle adopted in this country—every one of the Loyalist Representatives in the South of Ireland will be taken away. Has that been done deliberately or not? No discussion about this has taken place in the House of Commons. The Schedules were closured; and no explanation of all this was given. What Reform Bill or great measure of any kind has ever been passed where you had not a discussion, at all events, about the distribution of political power? Either you had Conferences between the two Parties, or you had Boundary Commissioners, who took every care to see that there should not be an arrangement of boroughs or districts which would produce injustice. In this case only has it happened that an English Minister has brought forward a Bill in which he has arranged the whole thing, and has not permitted any vote except that on the question—" Shall this Schedule as a whole become law, aye or no?" If this were to be drawn into a precedent hereafter, what would become of the liberty of the subject? You say that 76 days of discussion were devoted to the Bill. I do not care if there were 176, so that the subject-matter demanded it. I could find a clause which should consist only of one line, and which, nevertheless, would form proper matter for a discussion of several months. Suppose it were—"Let the English Common Law be repealed." The discussion of that clause might well take 76 days, for the one line comprehended the whole of the English Common Law, which was the growth of centuries. And here, where the Bill enters into the most complicated political relations, and has added to it a reform, it is idle to say that a discussion of 76 days is extravagant. I know that a solemn warning has been given to us in tones of dreadful note. But I have no disposition to assume the position of a martyr on this subject as yet. I do not believe that I shall suffer for the vote I am going to give. On the contrary, I believe that it will be a popular 608 vote. I believe that by voting against this Bill, so introduced, so sprung upon the country, so concealed up to the last moment as to its nature and contents, and passed in a totally different form from that which it had at the Second Reading—I believe that the democracy of this country will say that, if there is one thing which proves the absolute necessity of such an institution as the House of Lords, it is that that House has given them an opportunity of making their voices heard on a matter in respect of which they had been tricked out of their votes by these men. Have you given in the Bill adequate protection as promised? I have not found it. Have you restricted the Irish from legislating on any of those subjects which it might be perilous to leave to them? I do not believe it. Would it be lawful, for instance, for the Irish Legislature to prohibit marriage between Roman Catholics and Protestants? Lord Playfair said that there had never been a Christian martyr in Ireland. I do not know how he defines Christian martyr. The noble Lord should read the histories of 1641, or of what happened at Wexford Bridge in 1798. I have read that those who would not abjure their faith were tortured and killed; and surely they were Christians and martyrs. I do not wish to revive memories which had better be forgotten. I know that some of the most loyal and devoted subjects of the Crown are to be found in the ranks of the Roman Catholics. Is it not true, also, that there are some of those not without influence in Ireland who nurse and cherish with undying vitality the spirit of ancient persecution? And it is in these circumstances that you are going to leave without further protection the loyal inhabitants of the North of Ireland to the mercies of the new Legislature. You know what they have said, but you do not believe them; they were words of passion. I confess that I should rather look at what people did, whether they denounced crime and declined to associate with crime rather than look at the lamb-like professions of these men. I am prepared to vote against this Bill because I believe it is not in accordance with the will of the country. It has not been explained to the people, and it is not understood by them, while it has not been properly discussed in the House of Commons.
THE BISHOP OF RIPON
said, it was their duty to lay aside all prejudice of political faction in answering a question of this kind, and he thought he could claim to have done so when he stood before them to speak as he did on this occasion. It came to him with a sort of pain that for the first time since he entered their Lordships' House he should be compelled to go into a Lobby different from that which would be occupied by his noble Friends Lord Spencer and Lord Ripon. All his early life was associated with the Irish soil and climate; he had visited her shores since then, and even now he never set foot upon Irish land without feeling that nature re-asserted herself, and a new thrill of impulse stirred within him. He had drunk in with rapture the language of those great men. Flood, Grattan, and Curran; he lived in their lives: he spoke in their speeches; he rejoiced in their aspirations; and, as he walked through College Green, often and often his heart would throb at the thought once more that the bank might be transformed into the House of Parliament. But in looking at a question of this kind he was disposed to ask whether there was any reasonable ground for hesitation? Whatever their impulse might be, there still came the thought to pause and consider before they acted. Speaking for himself alone, he should say that there had not been given due consideration to this measure by the people of the country. He had listened to the speech of the noble Earl last night, and it appeared to him that it was like a man who had built you a house. You objected to the arrangements of the windows, and he altered them; and you objected to the colour of the bricks, and he altered them. Your objections were met, and everything was altered, until he was disposed to ask himself where was the house. He agreed with the noble Earl (Rosebery) that the Irish Question ought not to be considered from the Party standpoint. It ought not to be dealt with in the rivalries and wrangling of Parties, but by sober, wise, and deliberate conference of Englishmen determined to do their best for that which was dearest to them, while doing that which was best designed to meet legitimate aspirations. There were two ways in which great systems of States might be established—namely, federation, as in the 610 United States and Germany, and incorporation or unification, which was the method by which the British Empire had grown. In seeking to set up a separate Legislature in Ireland the Bill seemed like an attempt to put the clock back in English history. It might be that the time had come when we should seek henceforth to pursue the ideal of federation, and when this Parliament should include Representatives of the Colonies as well as of the British Isles, and if he saw in this Bill a nucleus which might afterwards be developed into Imperial federation it would have enormous fascination for him. But while, with regard to the ideal of unification, the Bill was a retrogression, with regard to the ideal of federation it was ill-advised, because it was incapable of indefinite application in other cases. A federation scheme should be great and generous in its conception and framed with a view to its adoption in the case of Scotland and Wales as well as Ireland. This was not the case with the Bill; it dealt with Ireland as an exceptional case; it did not work out the idea of unification; and it did not involve the idea of federation. For these reasons—he might say Constitutional reasons—he was not prepared to give his approval to the Bill, and hesitated to do so. They all knew the Irishmen; the finest gentlemen in the world; loved for their simplicity, their charming expressions and individuality, their honesty, hospitality, and fascinating indolence. He did not mean to say they were idle; but he must say-that out of all the races of the world they had rather a strong talent that way. When he said this, he said it with the utmost good temper, but they might have seen them as holiday travellers. But they were the most tenacious people on earth. There was no race under heaven so tenacious of their purpose and determination to have it. The religious feeling was much more deeply set in them than we had any idea of, and while we deplored religious differences we could not ignore them. It was said that ebullitions and outrages were seldom based on religious animosity; but he could not accept that view. Going back to 1798, what took place then? A number of men marched into Wexford to strike a blow for their freedom as they thought; 14,000 turned their hands against the Protestant 611 Party there and massacred them, and transformed what was intended to be a political movement into a religious one, the United Irishmen standing aloof in silent and sullen indignation. They might look forward to better times; but he did not think the time had come when they could risk the interests of the Empire under the scheme of this Bill. They could hardly understand the passionate attachment of the Irish to freedom. He made no apology for any strong language the Irish had used—everyone used strong language at times. They had all used words they were sorry for, and he thought it was an unfortunate incident of this great contest that the past had been so much raked in order to find the bitter phrases used on one side or the other. Not thus should the question be debated; if sometimes passionate words had been used on one side or the other, he remembered the words of Edmund Burke—"I pardon something to earnestness wherever I see it." Edmund Burke had said that the very Constitution laid down that when Representatives met in the House of Parliament they had no interests beyond the interests of the Empire, and local interests must of necessity be subordinated to the interests of the United Kingdom. He, therefore, must decline to accept the principle that any portion of the Empire under the dominion of Parliament was to be governed by the ideas which happened to prevail in particular localities. He made no apology for any strong language the Irish had used—we all used strong language at times. We had all used words we were sorry for, and he thought it was an unfortunate incident of this great contest that the past had been so much raked in order to find the bitter phrases used on one side or the other. Not thus should the question be debated; if sometimes passionate words had been used on one side or the other, he remembered the words of Edmund Burke—"I pardon something to earnestness wherever I see it." It was said that the apprehended dangers of the Bill were purely imaginary, and that the future was entirely safe. In 1869 he felt it his duty to work against the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, very largely on the ground that the principle on which the measure was advocated was not a sound one for the English people to act upon. 612 The doctrine was that Ireland ought to be governed according to Irish ideas, and that he felt to be so dangerous a principle that he ventured to say at the time—As sure as that principle is allowed, the demand for Home Rule, or whatever they please to call it, could not in consistency be denied; for if the principle is true, then you must take it with all that follows";and that was exactly what had happened. If they accepted the principle that Ireland was to be governed by Irish ideas, then the day that Ireland asked for separation they were bound to give it her. There was no logical escape from that. But was it likely that the demand for separation would come? There was one item in the Bill which struck him as very strange—namely, the provision that the collection of the taxes, among other things, should for six years be in the hands of the Imperial Parliament. There was no more unpopular man in the world than the tax-collector; he was no more popular in Ireland than in England. He remembered that when a friend of his was discussing Home Rule with an Irish peasant he said—"But, you know, you will have to pay your taxes to Mr. This or That in Dublin." "Oh, dear, no!" was the reply. "Oh, but you will." "Oh, dear, no; they are every one of them far too much the gentleman to ask that." If the tax-collector was identified in the popular mind, not with the Irish Legislature sitting in Dublin, but with English rule, what chance had they of maintaining anything like the popularity of England among the people. It had been said this Bill did not change things; that under the Union Ireland had not prospered to the extent it was expected she would. Certainly the Union had had this result—that while 100 years ago the United Irishmen opposed to English rule were the men of Ulster, to-day those men were all that had been described as loyal. The statistics put forward by Lord Playfair proceeded on the old fallacy of post hoc propter hoc. The country had passed through bad and difficult times, and Ireland, so largely agricultural, had suffered greatly in her agriculture, though England had endeavoured to help her as much as she could. England had not been wanting in generosity or sympathy for Ireland, and was ready to help her in the future as in the past. But it 613 was another thing to say that these conditions had sprung from the operation of the Union. He claimed that the Union had done much for Ireland, especially in her manufacturing centres. Supposing this Bill passed the sympathy of those men would be alienated by their being placed at the mercy of the majority, and every Loyalist would be converted into a Separatist. Resolutions had been passed by the Presbyterian and other Bodies deprecating this Bill. There was some risk that this Bill would not be in any sense final, but must stir up certain jealousies, which might develop into further dangers. Therefore, he could not be one to rush forward without thought in such a matter as this, feeling that the Bill might not assuage, but might possibly accentuate difficulties, feeling the question ought not to be dealt with by one Party, but by both Parties in the State, feeling also that every step taken unwarily might land us deeper in the Serbonian bog; believing also that even though there was delay there was enough generosity and enough appreciation in the minds of Irishmen everywhere to know that there was nothing which we would not be ready to grant them in satisfaction of their legitimate aspirations so long as we kept whole that Union and that Empire which is so priceless to us and so indispensable to them.
said, he wished he could think the right rev. Prelate was right when he spoke in his eloquent speech of the impartial judgment of that House upon the Bill. The speech seemed to him to lead to a lame and impotent conclusion. The right rev. Prelate said that matters were very bad indeed in Ireland, and that that country was hopelessly divided against itself, but he did not suggest a shadow of a remedy except that Ireland should wait. One of his arguments, indeed, was strongly in favour of Home Rule, when he talked of the passionate attachment of Ireland to freedom, and said that no people in the world were so tenacious of their opinions as the Irish people. In supporting the Second Reading of that Bill, he had no wish to make extravagant demands on noble Lords opposite who did not agree with him, and would not ask them, therefore, to share his views as to the merits of Home Rule. All he would urge upon them was that whether this Home Rule 614 policy was good or bad, it was, at all events, the best available under the circumstances, and the only one that had a chance of success. The only alternative policy suggested from the Opposition Benches was another 20 years' resolute government of Ireland. They said, no doubt with sincerity, they were eager to submit the question to the verdict of a General Election, but for that purpose they would have to put before the people this alternative policy of theirs, and they would never get a mandate to carry it out. That policy of "resolute government" had been tried and had failed. There was a time when the objections to that policy came home strongly to noble Lords on the Front Opposition Benches, though they had recanted their opinions in that respect. There was not the slightest doubt those objections would appear very serious to the democracy of England. A fatal obstacle to their obtaining such a mandate from the English people at the next General Election was the want of continuity in their Irish policy. After what happened in 1885, the people of England thoroughly disbelieved in the steadiness of their policy with regard to Ireland in any shape, and he did not think the events from 1886 to 1892 had altered their opinion. The Party opposite had not been steadfast either to Home Rule, Coercion, Revision of Judicial Rents, or Local Government for Ireland. By their own action the Party opposite had entirely cut away the ground from under their own feet, and the people would ask—"What guarantee have we that your resolute government which you ask a mandate for will be really a resolute government." He would ask those who advocated the sacred cause of the Union as against Home Rule why they had not always shown a firm front, and put aside the abhorred, detested, and accursed thing, and why they had made something like a compact or alliance with persons whom they denounced as ruffians of the deepest dye? He hoped to obtain the assent of some, at all events, of the noble Lords opposite to the statements he was about to make. Mr. Gladstone resigned on the 12th June, 1885. Three days afterwards Lord Salisbury began to form a Conservative Government, and the new Government began at once, as they were bound to do, to collect infor- 615 mation with a view to formulating a policy. The first step that the new Government took with a view of collecting that information was significant, and had given rise to a good deal of comment. On the very day after Lord Salisbury accepted Office there was sent out from the headquarters of the Conservative Party in London a circular marked private and confidential, asking how many Irish voters there were in the various constituencies where the Irish vote was strong, and whether that vote would be or not sufficiently strong to carry the election. That fact had never been denied from that day to this. The result of that Irish poll could not be announced to Parliament for nearly three weeks after the issue of the circular. Ministers met Parliament on the 6th July, presumably with the interesting information which they had obtained from the issue of that circular. The Lord Chancellor had gone fully into what followed. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach on that day announced that the Coercion Act was to lapse, and he made the statement that permanent coercion for Ireland was absolutely impossible under the circumstances. What was the next development? On July 17, in answer to an appeal from Mr. Parnell, there was a Debate on the Maamtrasna murder. In justice to the Party opposite it should be stated that many Conservative Members were thoroughly disgusted with the conduct of their Leaders in reference to the imputations they cast upon Lord Spencer and his administration of justice. The result was to persuade the Nationalist Party in Ireland that Home Rule was not so absolutely abhorrent to the Conservatives as people had supposed. That was not all. Another circumstance in connection with the Conservative policy was that on July 9, in the House of Commons, Lord Randolph Churchill was asked whether he adhered to certain opinions which he expressed in 1883 strongly denunciatory of the principle of Home Rule? His answer was—Anything which I may have said at that time was perfectly justified by the special circumstances of that time, and by the amount of information I may have had in my possession.It might be supposed that in 1883 Lord Randolph Churchill had not the interest- 616 ing information at his disposal which had been subsequently obtained in the method indicated. Then a most important utterance was made by Lord Salisbury, at Newport, dealing with the question of Home Rule, and throwing doubts on the efficacy of coercion for putting down boycotting. He went on to say—I have never seen any plan or suggestion which gives me the slightest indication that a solution of the problem had been found.He further said—I wish it may be found, but I think we should be holding out false expectations if we avowed a belief which as yet, at all events, we cannot entertain.Mr. Goschen, on the 10th October, commenting on that speech said—Does Lord Salisbury hope, then, that the solution of the Irish Question is to be found in the direction of federation, and that Ireland is to that extent to be separated from the United Kingdom.I cannot gather from this oracular sentence what the idea of the Prime Minister is upon the subject. The noble Marquess's Newport speech was followed, as was well known, on the 23rd November by the issue of the Parnellite Manifesto denouncing the Liberal Party. The Duke of Devonshire, at a dinner given to Lord Spencer on the 28th July, 1885, after saying he had no desire to dwell on the declarations made as to Irish policy by Government, said—It may be the necessity of the present Government that they should rely on the Party of Mr. Parnell for the conduct of business during the present Session.And also that it might be their sole chance of securing a majority during the next election to co-operate with the Irish Nationalists. The noble Duke again at Belfast, on the 5th November, said—We are of opinion that an offensive and defensive alliance has for some time past existed between the Conservative Party and the Party led by Mr. Parnell.Again, he said at Matlock—He adhered to his opinion that the Conservative Party had set a bad example of political morality.And at a meeting of the Eighty Club, on the 5th March, 1886, the noble Duke spoke to the same effect. It might be said that a great deal had happened since 1885, and that the Leaders of the Party opposite had changed their minds—that their conduct with regard to coercion 617 from 1886 down to 1892 proved nothing as to their capacity. They knew their only chance of obtaining power was in their devotion to coercion and the Union. The steadfast action of the Government during those years showed that they had a fair share of that intelligence which kept people on the right side of the fence when they saw an infuriated bull on the other. The people could not be induced to believe in the steadfastness of the Conservative Party in any policy of Ireland. Had they any alternative course to Home Rule? Soft words could not turn away the wrath of the Irish people, who would be satisfied with nothing short of Home Rule. Would they refuse to yield to the aspirations of a high-spirited people upon whom they had lately conferred a largely-extended franchise? They had known for 700 years what it was to incur the animosity of the Irish people, and surely that experience had been long and bitter enough to justify them in doing what they could to conciliate and secure the friendship of a warm-hearted people.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of MORLEY)
, though reluctant to trouble the House at that period of the Debate, when almost every form of argument had been used, was unwilling to give a silent vote on the question before their Lordships, especially as he was the only Member of that House who, in 1886, felt himself bound to leave the Government of that day. That was a step which no one could take with a light heart and without great sorrow, but it was a step which he had never regretted having taken. Subsequent events had confirmed the opinions upon which he acted at that time. The Bill of 1886, condemned as it was by Parliament and the country, had been condemned to a still greater degree by its authors themselves by the production of the new measure now on their Lordships' Table. He almost thought the Government might have expressed gratitude to the Unionist Party for saving them from the discredit of passing the Bill of 1886, which they had acknowledged to have been a bad Bill by their substitution of the present one. But was the measure before the House really an improvement on the former one? Did it comply with any of the tests which the Prime Minister him- 618 self and Earl Spencer had at different times laid down as the tests with which any Home Rule scheme ought to comply? The measure was not a real settlement of the question. They had been told that "provisional" was written across every page of it. In the public discussions of this subject, much had been said about giving the management of their own affairs to the Irish people. If that phrase had merely meant a delegation of definite powers to Ireland to manage her own local affairs under proper restrictions, and with adequate securities for the supremacy of Parliament, he probably should not vote as he intended to do that night. But the Bill meant far more than that. It meant giving, not a subordinate, but a coordinate Legislature and Executive to Ireland, and in doing that the scheme involved grave dangers to the Empire and jeopardised the integrity of the Constitution. There were British, and English, and Irish questions involved in this matter, and he was astonished that no stress had been laid on them by noble Lords opposite. He had listened in vain for any reference to them in the speech of the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who gave but a lukewarm support, not to the Bill at all, but to the principle in the abstract; as to the principle in the concrete, he took very good care not to commit himself to a single word in it. What was the justification for the Bill? It was said that the Bill was demanded by the Representatives of the Irish people, and he did not deny it; but it was demanded by them as the right of a nation, and the noble Lord opposite who spoke last night stated in precise terms that Ireland was a nation. Why, then, were they denied national rights—for surely it was not contended that the Bill gave all that a nation was entitled to? The nationality was asserted, and, at the same time, the national aspirations had not been satisfied. If there were limits beyond which the demands of the majority should be restricted, they should be the limits of national morality and national expediency, and no Government responsible for the welfare of this realm ought to confer on any part of it rights that would endanger the safety of the Empire or the integrity of the Constitution. He would carry the argument one step further, and ask to 619 what area were these rights to be confined? Why, if these rights were granted to Ireland, should similar rights be refused to Scotland, Wales, and Yorkshire? Still more, why should the right to be maintained in union with England be refused to Ulster when she demanded it by her masses and her classes? Were their Lordships prepared to go against the experience of yesterday? Were they prepared to accept these doctrines for Scotland and Wales, and other parts of the Kingdom? As the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Ripon) had said, though in somewhat different form—Federalism is surely a step forward, when it combines unconnected or semi-coherent communities; it is a step backward when you are disintegrating a United Kingdom.He would not deal with the other proposition advanced by the Government in bringing forward this Bill, that it was impossible for a British Parliament to deal fairly and justly with Irish problems. He was not there for a moment to deny that Ireland had been the victim of bad government in the past, but during the last 30 or 40 years our legislation had been just and generous towards Ireland, and he felt sure that if this unfortunate somersault had not been executed by noble Lords opposite seven years ago further liberal legislation would have been granted to Ireland in the shape for which the noble Earl (Lord Rosebery) said she had so passionate a desire—namely, local self-government. It takes generations to allay the animosities of centuries. But he would ask noble Lords opposite who talked of the impossibility of our doing justice to Ireland whether they were not somewhat to blame in fanning the flame of separation by encouraging the Irish Representatives in their hopes of getting absolute power in that country, and bribing the tenants by holding out to them that they would get their land for nothing or for prairie value? Was it by encouraging those political and pecuniary motives that the solution of the great problem of Irish difficulties would be facilitated? The noble Lord opposite last night gave the House some interesting statistics with regard to the failure of the Union. Among other things, he said that the failure of certain crops was a sign that the Union had failed. If the noble Lord examined the agricultural statistics of 620 this country he would find that the area under wheat had very much diminished. He thought that the reduction of the area under wheat might with equal logic be attributed to the Union—that the diminished yield per acre was just as much attributable to that event as the reduction of the area under potatoes. Even if the case of the Government was stronger as to Ireland, there would be the question, Would it be safe for the Empire to allow Ireland, geographically linked as she was to England, to have an independent position? He would ask the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to consult his naval and military advisers whether, under this Bill, the position of England would be as secure as it was now that she had the administration of Ireland. It had been said that the Act of Union was justified both by then existing external danger and by internal revolution. In the present state of Europe and of the world, was it impossible that England might be in as perilous a position at some future day as she was then? Then as to the Parliament constituted by this Bill, a question which vitally affected Great Britain. It was simply pedantry and cant to say that the voice of Great Britain was not to be consulted. When so vast a change was contemplated with regard to the retention of the Irish Members noble Lords opposite could never make up their minds what they would do. They first excluded them, then they included them for Imperial affairs, and then included them for all purposes. It seemed to him that having now nailed their weathercock to the mast they had adopted in the end the most dangerous of those proposals. No Irish matters would come before the Imperial Parliament, and yet a solid mass of Irish Members were brought there who had no local responsibilities. He would like to know what the electors of Great Britain would say when this clause was put before them, and they found that the irresponsible Members from Ireland would have larger powers in the management of Scotch affairs than Scotland herself. It would be remembered that the Reform Bill of 1884 added 500,000 to the Irish electorate, and one most important question raised on this Bill was that Ireland was very much over-represented at this present time 621 in Parliament, and that the loyal minority were very much under-represented. With regard to the loyal minority, they were in a perilous position scattered throughout the different parts of Ireland. He remembered that the Duke of Devonshire, who was then a Member of the Liberal Cabinet, used the argument that he was not inclined to attach too much importance to the exact numerical strength of the Loyalist Irishmen. In any case, he said that representation could not be very large, and the real Representatives of the loyal minority were to be found in the 550 Members for England and Scotland, the vast majority of whom agreed more closely with the minority in Ireland than with the majority. That statement had not been repudiated, and therefore he assumed that it was accepted by the Colleagues of the noble Duke; and he asked whether it was fair, now that the effect of that Reform Bill was beginning to be seen, that those men who said the Bill would expose them to spoliation and oppression, and who had stood by us in days gone by should be sacrificed? Had there been only one Chamber in the British Legislature he had some doubts as to whether the Bill would have passed it. In all the other Constitutions of the civilised world a distinction was drawn between Constitutional and fundamental laws and those which were not. We had no such distinction. The theory and practice of our Constitution was that Parliament was supreme. That being so, a very heavy responsibility rested on their Lordships. They were asked to try an experiment which they could not undo. That experiment involved surrender to the disloyal; it involved betrayal of the loyal. It involved dangers to the Empire and to the Constitution, and before it was passed their Lordships were bound to give the people of Great Britain an opportunity—the first opportunity they had had—of discussing the main lines on which the Bill was based and the manner in which it had been passed. Every effort would be made to discredit their Lordships' House; every device would be used to conceal the real effect of the measure, and to wrap it up in other measures which might make it more palatable; but, unless the flame of patriotism burned low in this country, unless our generation was oblivious of its 622 great Imperial and Constitutional traditions, he, for one, felt little doubt that the verdict of the country would support the vote their Lordships' House was going to give, and would with scorn and indignation reject this dangerous and unjust measure.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
; My Lords, I feel that there is some satisfaction in occupying the position, which probably I hold, as that of the last person who will make a speech against Home Rule in the course of the present Session. But, although it is a position which has in it much of distinction and honour, it cannot be denied that there are inconveniences attaching to it. Many active and powerful minds have passed before on the path that I must follow. I am not only gleaning after gleaners, but gleaning after a long succession of gleaners who leave few ideas that I can venture to submit to your Lordships. But that consideration at least has this counterbalancing value—that, if not out of pity for your Lordships, if not out of a sense of the propriety of the situation, still out of mere poverty of ideas, it is impossible for me to detain your Lordships long upon this last critical night. I confess that throughout this Debate the one idea that has been present to my mind has been—Why have they introduced this Bill? I had hoped for some satisfaction from the various able speakers on the Government side, but, though their speeches were interesting and powerful and showed great intellectual resource, they showed that resource in nothing more remarkably than in the ingenuity with which every speaker avoided speaking of the Government Bill. The noble and learned Lord who spoke this evening made a few perfunctory remarks upon the Bill, but when he came to the matters of real conflict he was careful to point out that he did not agree with the Government on the subject. When he dealt with the retention of the Irish Members, which is an outrage upon England so enormous and so grotesque that I am surprised that it has ever found a place in any proposition emanating from a responsible Government—when he dealt with that he at once said he was not inclined to associate himself with so desperate a cause. He at once said he would have preferred some other arrangement very 623 much. Then, when he dealt with the abandonment of the landlords, with the certain ruin of a whole class to whom, if to anybody, the honour of this country is pledged that their diminished resources should be enjoyed in security and peace—when he dealt with that he said—"You did not support what we gave you in 1886, and although I think your present fate is very terrible, still you must acknowledge you have brought it on yourselves by resisting us." And the noble and learned Lord finished his account of his own intellectual position by protesting, with a vigour which I have no doubt was perfectly sincere, against anybody desiring to know what was the real opinion of any Cabinet Minister upon any Cabinet Bill. Well, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary last night was even more instructive. I have no doubt that he had in his mind some grave important delivery worthy of the position which he occupies and of the esteem with which he is held, which should guide the Houses of Parliament along the difficult path which the perplexities of modern times have forced them to go over. But when he came to the Bill he did what I have often observed in speakers with a singular facility for the lighter and most humorous kinds of speech. He took refuge in that in order to save himself from the necessity of expressing a grave opinion upon any grave subject whatever. But I admired the skill with which the noble Lord avoided the burning subjects of the day. He was oppressed with the restrictions of the time within which his observations were compressed. He felt that it was impossible to press the House too far, and yet he gave us a full quarter of an hour discussing the tactics of the Opposition in the House of Commons, which I should have thought, of all possible subjects, was the least fitted for discussion within these walls. But the effect was such as to reduce the time at his disposal so much that when he came to the question of the Ulster objection to this Bill he simply turned over his leaves and said that time would not allow him to deal with the Ulster question. With respect to the question of the admission of 80 Members—foreigners—to take care of our English legislation, the noble Lord was equally 624 happy. He said that it was impossible for him, in view of the prejudice of the great numbers on this side, to do anything but discuss principles, and therefore he would not discuss details. And the admission of the Irish members was merely a question of detail, and therefore he would not discuss it at all. It must be admitted that we did not gain very much guidance from the speech of the Foreign Secretary. But I am not sure that in saying that I imply any derogation from the high esteem in which we hold his dexterity and skill. On the contrary, it seemed to me that the problem which he set himself to solve was, "How shall I get through an hour and a quarter's speech without undertaking any pledge which may be inconvenient to me in the future?" And if that was the problem which he set himself to solve, I am bound to say that he solved it with absolute success. There is not a word or a sentence in the noble Lord's speech which can be used against him on any future occasion, except that particularly precious remark about the dangerous character of the London County Council, to which we shall refer on future occasions. I will not speak of the noble Lord who introduced this Bill. He had a very painful position to reconcile. He had got himself, by his own confession—though one of the most chivalrous and honourable of human beings—into an admission that he had committed a very mean and treacherous act. I am quite sure that he has not intentionally committed any mean or treacherous act; but it is impossible to refuse one's sympathy to a man who by his own admission can find himself in a corner like that. But the noble Lord had a peculiar way of dealing with political opponents. Ha stated their case with great fairness; he said, "Noble Lords opposite say this and say that," and then he follows it with the formula, "I do not agree with them." Having got so far, he went no further, and he never offered any refutation of the position or arguments he impugned. With the help of that formula it was easy to construct a defence of the Government Bill, which could not be defended by any other formula whatever. I have omitted one remarkable observation of the Foreign Secretary which affects the position of the Government with which I was connected eight years ago. I 625 must say that this recalling of ancient history is rather hard on one; and it is difficult to carry one's memory back to all that happened in those times. My memory is simply prosaic, and possibly so far defective; but the noble Lord's memory is active and poetical, and it surrounded the history of the year 1885 with a brilliant atmosphere of legend, which I have no doubt will be the delight of poetical critics of the future. But I take this opportunity just to set the facts upon their true footing. The noble Lord represented that we, differing from the coercive policy of the Government of Lord Spencer, broke the continuity of that coercive policy, and thereby cut under the feet of the Liberal Party, and rendered it impossible for them to pursue a coercive policy in the future. I dislike the use of that word coercive. I dislike it, because coercion is usually used to describe the legislation which defends a Government against the political efforts of those who desire to overthrow it. That is the use which the word has obtained in every country in the world. But this is a case where the word is applied simply to the making more efficient of the Criminal Law for dealing with those criminals whom everybody condemns. There is, unfortunately, a small portion of the peasantry of Ireland who have formed this ideal for themselves—a general establishment and sanction of fraudulent insolvency, sustained by attempts at murder. And to prevent the application of that novel ethical code there is no doubt that from time to time the powers of the ordinary Courts have been increased and their efficiency in detecting and punishing crime augmented. If you like to call that coercive you may; but it is not coercive in the sense in which the word has been applied in every political disquisition during the last century in Europe. But, passing from that divergence, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary stated or implied that in 1885 we had summarily interrupted the current of coercive legislation, as I have defined it, and that thus it was impossible for the Liberal Party to undertake such legislation again. What really happened was this. There was a terminable Crimes Act. It was an Act which was to terminate in 1885. It was an Act which was to terminate when the Session of 1885 terminated. It may have been the 626 intention of the Government of that day to renew it; but on the 6th of June, when the Division was taken by which their official existence was terminated, they had not produced upon the Table of Parliament a single clause in order to revive and perpetuate the law to which they were supposed to attach so much importance. If the Bill was not perpetuated it was their fault. They had a majority in Parliament. We had only this consideration to deal with; we had not the majority of Parliament. It was open to us to take the ordinary Constitutional resource and dissolve at once. That would not have given the Crimes Act to us immediately, but it would have given us that Act later. But the question was whether, in view of the Reform Bill which had just been passed, it being certain that another Dissolution would be necessary within a few mouths, it was justifiable to inflict on the people of this country and Members of Parliament that amount of inconvenience in order to accelerate the necessary strengthening of the provisions of the law by a few months. We thought, in view of the then position of Ireland, that the autumn might be safely passed without any such drastic measure which would have created such great inconvenience; and before we resigned, before our position was attacked, a Representative of our Government in the House of Commons had announced our intention to strengthen the Criminal Law. Those, therefore, who say that they changed their opinions because we had not been sufficiently prompt in reinforcing the Criminal Law forget that they did not change their opinions until after the declaration of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, after that miserable excuse, such as it was, had been taken from them. But what would you think of any statesman who had announced his attachment to the great principle of union between the two countries, and was dependent on the question of whether his political opponents had revived or had not revived for two or three months certain provisions of the law? What would Mr. Pitt have thought if he could have foreseen that his distinguished relative in the present intended so to guide his political conduct that he was willing to shatter at a blow the whole edifice which Mr. Pitt had raised, because the Tories by delaying criminal legisla- 627 tion for a few months had cut the ground from under the feet of the Liberal Party. I confess that the excuse seems to me a sadder remark of the degeneracy of political opinion than all the tergiversation which has taken place during the lamentable eight years through which we have passed. There was yet another defender on the Government side, Lord Ribblesdale. His view, at all events, had the advantage of being so remarkable that I do not think that anybody else had taken it before, or that any one else will take it hereafter. He belongs to what may be called the noble army of confessors in this Debate. Confession is a very interesting element in literature. From St. Augustine to Rousseau, from Rousseau to Lord Ribblesdale, it is a most interesting record of the working of individual minds. But he seems to have conceived the idea that if there was anything in the Union, anything in the policy which Mr. Pitt had taken up 90 years ago after the experience of centuries, it ought to be established and proved by the popularity which it would win among Irish agitators within the space of six years, and when he found with inconceivable surprise that Mr. Healy and Mr. Sexton and their followers were not impressed with the advantages of resolute government in Ireland he at once concluded that Mr. Pitt was wrong, and turned round with all the vigour which a Gladstonian Peer might be expected to display. But I would represent to him that he must not commit the very ordinary mistake of imagining that all men are like himself. You cannot count on the maintainers of Nationalist or Fenian or Moonlighting opinion in Ireland changing their opinion with the rapidity which we have been happy to see Gladstonian Peers and commoners have been able to exercise during the last eight years. Alertness and agility are always admirable qualities. We always desire to see them exercised whether by mind or body, but the peculiar rapidity with which this exercise of turning Dervishes has been exerted by the Gladstonian Party is peculiar to itself, and cannot be paralleled in any portion of the annals of this country, or any other country of which I have ever heard. That was not the most remarkable part of Lord Ribblesdale's speech. The most remarkable part of Lord Ribblesdale's speech was that which it did 628 not contain. It did not contain one single reference to the Bill which he was put up to defend. Being a man of great ingenuity, and not shrinking evidently from intellectual paradox, it is very remarkable that he did not attempt to establish the value of one single clause in the Bill which had been committed to his care to recommend to the House. My Lords, I feel that we are in some difficulty owing to these peculiar tactics on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Of course, if they like to move that a Bill should be read a second time, and then say, in a half whisper, "But we cannot bear it" all the time; it places, I will not say the votes, but the arguments of the House in considerable difficulty, because, though our votes, as we are happy to believe, will entirely sustain the secret wishes of the supporters of the Government, it is very difficult for us to argue against them when we know they absolutely agree with us on every point. Well, my Lords, I ask myself again, "Why have they brought in this Bill?" We have obtained no information from the speeches which they have delivered. I am not surprised at it. But have we any information from earlier discussions? We used to hear something about the Colonies. We were told that there was the remarkable case of Quebec, where the grant of a Home Rule Bill had produced absolute agreement between classes that were formerly divided. I have some doubt as to the historical value of that illustration. I am told that Quebec is not that perfect Garden of Eden which some would induce us to imagine, but that the minority is being crowded out by the majority, and will very soon disappear altogether. I am told also that in Quebec alone of Her Majesty's Possessions on that Continent, a large Party has, through its Leader, avowed treasonable views with respect to the connection of the Colony with the Crown. I should not, therefore, be inclined to take Quebec for my example, even if it were in any degree relevant. But is it relevant? Is it possible to compare the position of a Constitutional Colony under the Crown with the position you propose to establish for Ireland under this Bill? Has there been for the last century any statesman so bold that he would propose to Parliament that a Colony should not only 629 enjoy autonomy such as the British Colonies enjoy, but should also have the privilege of sending 80 or 100 Members to the Imperial Parliament, representing no interests in England, bound by no attachment to England, lying under no responsibility with respect to the possible application of the laws passed here to the community they represent, and yet possessing an absolute vote, a vote as large as that of any of the Representatives of the country, on all questions which in the relations of life concern the people of this country often most deeply? My Lords, it is absurd. Such a proposition would not only have "counted out" a man; it would have sent him to Bedlam. The suggestion is inconceivable, that the interjection of 80 foreigners, who will suffer in no degree, and whose constituents will not suffer from anything they do, should have a special, isolated, and distinct privilege, due not to their character or their achievements in the past, of determining the position of the English Government. It is a matter of intense importance, for they attempt to tell you that this Home Rule is recommended by colonial experience. But colonial experience means that foreign affairs shall be given to England and domestic affairs shall be given to a colony. Never in any quarter of the world did the wildest theorist suggest that 80 Members for a Colony should have the power of legislating on English subjects and interests. That is one of the grounds on which we were told that Home Rule was desirable; but that is a theoretic ground. There was one practical ground which I used to hear in the past, I do not hear much of it now—namely, that we should get rid of all Irish questions and friction with Irish Members. I do not think there is any suggestion of that kind now. How are we to get rid of Irish questions? We have provided for 80 Irish Members, who must have something to talk about, and who must establish their position in the House of Commons in order to make themselves marketable wares in their negotiations with Ministers, and are we to expect that they will be treated as nothing less than foreign adjuncts to the British Parliament? Difficulty has undoubtedly arisen from many questions connected with Irish Government, but hitherto Irish questions have not included some of the matters which you have pro- 630 vided for discussion in the future Irish Legislature if it should exist. There is the religious question. You have provided that there is to be nothing in the nature of a religious establishment or of religious denominational education; these are put out of the power of the Irish Legislature. I am not discussing the wisdom or the unwisdom of such restrictions; but I do not imagine that that is the way to peace and quietness on Irish Questions. Your 80 Members sent mainly by Archbishop Walsh will not be quiet on the question of whether denominational education is to be allowed in Ireland, or whether the existing system is to be overset. They will not be silent on the question whether the Roman Catholic Church ought or ought not to be endowed. I am not saying whether it is wise or foolish, but you are merely deceiving yourselves if you imagine you can shut these things out from the Irish Parliament and allow 80 Irish Members to sit in the House of Commons, if you imagine that you can get rid of the Irish question by so contradictory a policy as that. Again, take the question of Free Trade. In this country we support free Trade on account of the benefits it has conferred on certain industries; but it has been a sentence of death to agriculture in many parts of the country. How will Ireland look at Free Trade? She has no manufactures; she is all agricultural, and if an Irish Parliament asks itself how it stands with regard to the question of Free Trade I am afraid the answer must be very similar to that which was made by an Irish juryman who, finding himself alone in his opinion in the box, said he had never before met with 11 men so obstinate. We are absolutely alone. I do not say we are wrong by any means; but do you imagine you will shut out the question of Free Trade from discussion by an Irish Legislature, and that, with 80 Members in the House of Commons, without employment and free to do as they like, you have made any provision for getting rid of Irish friction and preventing Irish waste of time? The Irish Question will be with you as it has been in the past, only more intensely than in the past; and it will be so as the result of the provisions you have deliberately adopted. In the speeches of noble Lords opposite I see no hope of 631 escape from Irish friction. I see nothing in the false, misleading, and wholly fallacious parallel instituted with the Colonies to explain the object and aim which the Government have in view in proposing this Bill to the House. But what appears to me to be visible through all their arguments is that it is a policy of despair. They say—"We have not known how to succeed, and we must try something nobody has tried before." That is the position in which their arguments stand. It is true they are proposing something nobody has tried before; but they have no right, in resorting to the policy of despair, to ask you to take a step which involves the existence of the happiness and prosperity of a very largo minority of the Irish people and of those who are distinguished by prosperity, by industry, by education, and by success. They have no right to ask you to make these things a subject of experiment, and to set them on the hazard, to be destroyed if they fail, in order to carry out a policy of despair because we have failed. Have we failed? Has the existing state of things failed? The state of things between England and Ireland is this. Ireland is a country which from the first has been deeply divided to the base by perpetual differences and conflicts. It is a society in which unity has never existed. When the English came seven centuries ago they did not diminish these divergencies, but they did not increase them; they existed as they had existed before. When the era of religious conflict arrived it was not true that the differences were caused by religion, but the differences assumed a religious character. They did not differ because they differed on religion, but their views upon religion lent themselves to the native constant, incurable differences and quarrelsomeness of the race. And so it passed through the era of religious dissension, and then came the period of representative Government. Representative Government is a splendid instrument of human happiness when the community is so homogeneous that division on one point shall not imply division on another; but that men will, according as each question is raised, range themselves according to their opinions, and give their voices for the benefit of themselves and of the community without passion, 632 antipathy, or prejudice. But when there is a deep division, a division of race or a division of religion, a division which no experience can efface, a division which men will not give up on account of any lower secular motive, a division which goes from father to son and lasts from generation to generation, a division which rests upon tradition and sentiment and not upon any mere pursuit of individual interest, then representative institutions, if they are applied without a corrective, are the most dangerous curse that can be inflicted upon such a community. They continue, they deepen, they intensify those divisions, and ascendency, on one side or the other as the circumstances of the age may give to cither side the predominance—ascendency and oppression are the results of representative government applied to a community so divided if there is no corrective. The only possible corrective is the fusion into a larger community in which such divisions have no influence. When the rebellion of '98 was over, and the miscarriage of that wild, chivalrous, but most unwise dream of Grattan had been exposed, Mr. Pitt had to consider, with the centuries behind him to guide him, how the peace of Ireland was to be insured. To do it with a strong hand was not possible; the date had passed for that. It might have been done a century or two centuries before, but in his day the thing was no longer possible, and no longer desirable if it had been possible. He felt that the only remedy was to fuse these conflicting parties, whom nothing could bring together, in the ranks of a larger community, where their peculiar subject of conflict was unknown, and where, therefore, in a, common assembly the issues that were raised upon them could be impartially and equitably judged. That was the philosophy of his policy. Has it failed? It was not fairly tried. There were no words in the speech of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary that I so thoroughly agreed with as when he dwelt upon the fact that Mr. Pitt's experiment was never fairly tried. If Mr. Pitt could have repealed the Catholic disabilities, if he could have endowed the Roman Catholic priesthood, if he could have abolished or commuted the tithe in Ireland, I have no doubt that all the troubles which have haunted 633 the connection between England and Ireland would have been a mere matter of imagination and never passed into history. It was one of the most terrible blows in our history that fate has dealt us the decree that at that moment there should be a Sovereign whose disease was too far progressed to allow him to judge soundly of the circumstances of the moment, and whose disease was not far enough advanced to allow the decision to be placed in other hands. It was a fearful, fearful calamity, and we have staggered under it ever since. But when you judge whether the Union has succeeded you must ask yourselves how long has the true experiment of the Union been in force. The union which Mr. Pitt dreamt of was a union from which the thorn of religious bitterness should have been extracted. The first, the essential step, was not taken till '29; the next step, the commutation of tithe, was not taken till '35; the last step was taken in a manner which, to my mind, was the worst manner, and was not the manner intended by Mr. Pitt; I mean the establishment of equality between Catholics and Protestants—it was not taken in the manner intended by Mr. Pitt, but by that time the Liberal Party had passed under the control of one of its most pitiless and exacting masters, the Nonconformist conscience. I heartily wish concurrent endowment could have been adopted, but it was too late. But at all events, badly or wisely, the full scheme which Mr. Pitt had in view was not carried out till 1870. Therefore, when you judge his work, you must judge it, not as it passed from his hand, not as he intended it to operate; you must judge it as it was affected by the lamentable disturbing influences of the time through which it must needs pass, and yet, with all that deduction, will you tell me that Union has not been a success? I listened very carefully and with very great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Playfair. I was very much interested at his efforts to prove that the Union had not been a success; for I knew that if any man could do it he could. If anybody could have proved that it was the noble Lord, and with the figures and statistics and facts which he turned and waved in his hands he could produce any result or impression which he pleased, 634 according to the impulse which he gave them by his own deft manipulation. Yet all he proved was that Ireland had not improved so fast as England and Scotland, that is the whole proof he could give of the failure of the Union. I say, with national humiliation, that England has not improved so fast as Scotland during that period, but that is the result of that extreme superiority in respect of all money getting affairs which is shown by all those who are born north of the Tweed. So it is in Ireland, where undoubtedly nature has not gifted the people with those powers of rapid progress which are displayed both north and south of the Tweed; but the proof is this: Living is happier, houses are better, wages are higher, prosperity is greater, trade has risen, cultivation is more extended; and, if I may turn to the moral side, though we have dark spots like Clare, Kerry, and Limerick, there is no question that it is impossible to compare the Ireland of 1893 with the Ireland of 1801 in respect of order, of law, and of property. The Lord Chancellor himself admitted to-night that though much was said of the impossibility of landlords obtaining rent, and of the injury to landed property which has been caused, yet over five-sevenths of Ireland at this time, amid all the circumstances of depression which we know so well, amid falling markets and inclement skies, rent is better paid than it is in any part of England. Could you have said that at the beginning of the century, and if there is that change, have you not a right to say that the Union bears its part in the glory and the honour which that change demands? That being so, what reason have you for this experiment, whose details nobody will defend, whose results nobody can foresee? What reason have we for it? Lord Ribblesdale was very much struck with the fact that the result of our legislation was that all the Nationalist leaders did not at once fall into our arms. As far as I have read human history, I do not think that has been the way of insurrectionary leaders. My impression is that they have, generally speaking, stuck to their opinions, and that though facts may have left them, they have never left the facts. They have never given themselves up to their opponents so long as there was a shred to fight for. It is an utter blunder, 635 a blunder of the gravest character, to look at the contentment of the people as exhibited at the polls for a test of the success of your commercial, economical, or political legislation. It will be a test two generations hence. The grandsons will love you because you have been just to the grandfathers; but it takes long to change the opinion of a nation, of a people, or of a Party. Gladstonian Peers imagine that it takes only as long to change the opinions of a Party as it takes to change their own, but that is a lamentable error. The mass of mankind are much stauncher than that. Men hold to their beliefs and will not desert them, and a community changes its opinion not in any great degree by a change in the opinion of the individuals of which it is composed, as by the fact that the men who have grown up in one set of opinions and clung to thorn die off, and others who had no cause to form those opinions succeed and take their place. That is the history of a change in the opinion of a community; and to ask that within the limits of the Septennial Act results of a salutary policy shall be depicted in the change of opinion which local politicians may show, is to exhibit absolute ignorance of the working of human nature in the political world, whether in its highest or its lowest developments. Men do not change like that. I maintain, therefore, that the Union has not failed. It has had terrible difficulties to contend with. It has had the destruction of the food of the people, a destruction unparalleled in any nation, a destruction which has left in the mind of Lord Playfair the somewhat simple-minded wonder why there are not so many potatoes produced after the famine as there were before. He evidently thinks the aphis vastator was a mere agent of the British Government. Ireland has had to contend with a change of commercial policy. Free Trade has hit her very hard; yet in spite of these things, in spite of the utter destruction of the food of the people, in spite of the religious thorn which it has taken 70 years to extract, the Union is marked in all its progress in the moral, legal, social, economical, and commercial position of the people, which I should have thought would have warned the most careless and the most hasty from declaring that it was a failure. If it is not a failure, 636 what rashness it is to shatter this structure in order to plunge into new experiments of which you know nothing, and the result of which you have no means of predicting. I heard again and again the demand on the other side for some policy of ours. I will repeat it, and I will give the policy which we recommend in the language of two great men. One shall be the language of Mr. Gladstone—"Patient continuance in well-doing," and the other shall be the language of President Lincoln—"Keep on pegging away." Those are the lines you have to follow, and you will follow them more safely than these rash experiments with machinery which you have never tried, with theories which you have never tested, and by placing weapons in the hands of men who have always hated you. I am told by the Colonial Secretary that the first object of government is the satisfaction and contentment of the governed. That is a fine copy-book formula, but, like all copy-book formulas, it requires to be corrected in accordance with particular circumstances. There may be cases in which other people besides the governed have an interest in the condition of the country to which reference is made. But my first objection to this valuable formula is that it is physically incapable of being applied in the case of Ireland. I will defy you to devise any system of government that shall be in the true and literal sense to the satisfaction of the governed, for three-fifths of the governed will like it and two-fifths of the governed will detest it. It is an absurdity, because it is impossible. The mere existence of the loyalist minority, the mere existence of Ulster, would condemn that copy-book formula and make it impossible of application to Ireland. Do not, I entreat you, dismiss as a mere figment of the imagination, or as the mere outcome of a heated brain, the apprehensions which the Ulster people have of the government which is to be established in Ireland under this Bill. I am told that those who will form the Government will be the elected of the people of Ireland, but I know they will be the men, if this Bill passes, who have achieved the victory to which the Government will be due. Go to Belgium, Italy, Greece, America, you will find that wherever there has been a revolution the men who have made the revolu- 637 tion have been the great men after the revolution has been effected; they have been the men who have been placed in power. Well, do you really know who the men are who will be placed in power? Our recollections disappear somewhat rapidly in these times; but you know that a huge number of them have had their connection with crime investigated by a Special Commission, and that the exact nature of that connection has been recorded by Judges of the highest capacity and undoubted integrity, and no shred of evidence had ever been produced to negative the decision that was pronounced. This is the Report of the Special Commission—We find that the respondents did not denounce the system of intimidation which led to crime and outrage, but persisted in it with knowledge of its effects.That is the judicial decision, given after months of investigation, and you know that among the leading men who are urging forward this Bill a large number were respondents in this examination. There were 38 men, whose names I have here, and who are now Members of Parliament, upon whose brows that condemnation was stamped—38 men, and remember, this Bill passed the Third Reading by 34 majority. It is a Bill which has not only been passed by a South-Irish majority, not only been passed by men elected by the carefully-watched illiterates, not only passed under the orders of Archbishop Walsh, but passed by men on whom this criminal brand had been placed by three of the highest Judges. Is not Ulster right to be afraid? Would you yourselves wish to submit to such domination? Would you not struggle against it to the last? Would you not make every effort in your power to prevent yourselves, your families, your fortunes, and your fame from being placed in such hands as these? And yet this is what you are invited to do by passing this Bill. My Lords, my time is running short, and the only other point to which I would draw your attention is the large Imperial character of this question. The Lord Chancellor said that this Bill would reconcile to us the people, the statesmen, of America, and that if we went to war we should not have to reckon with so hostile an America as we might otherwise expect. But is there not another possible view of the matter? Supposing 638 the effect of this Bill were to place Ireland in the hands of those who detested us, and that trouble arose with America, should we not then be in an infinitely worse position than any which a continuance of the present state of things could possibly put us into? Remember the great privilege of the position of Great Britain. On some sides our coasts lie against those of Continental Powers. But against the great mass of our coasts on the west and north-west we have our own territory in our own possession, and we are practically safe from any attack, and especially in these days when the neighbourhood of harbours is essential for naval action, if one has cause to anticipate it. That is our present strategical position, and it is one of the finest strategical positions in the world. Give over Ireland to your enemies, to those who hate you. Let the ordinary government of Ireland be conducted by those who are hostile to you—I do not say it need ever reach the point of civil war, let it be simply hatred and hostility—then all those harbours of Ireland which lie over against the harbours of this country would be at the mercy of the enemy who attacked you, and unless you chose to undertake the task of reconquering Ireland and shattering by mere military force the structure you are now so painfully building up, you would have no security from the sympathy which the Irish in command of their own harbours could give to the Navies or privateers or cruisers by whom your trade might be threatened. I have seen a paper by a very distinguished naval officer, who knows his work very well, and who says that in any future war the trade route of England could no longer pass along the Channel—the batteries of torpedoes that line the opposite coast would be too dangerous; that our trade route must be taken to the Western ports of England, to Liverpool and Glasgow and Bristol, and that as long as Ireland is ours and we can be sure that she will not join the enemy, so long will such transference be safe and right. I am not speaking of good will. I accept the proposition that we should in either case have Ireland's good will; but if we leave things as they are we should have the control of our coasts. If we pass this measure the control of the coasts would pass to those who wish nothing so much as our suffer- 639 ing and downfall. It is surely very rash, nothing can be rasher, than for mere imaginary objects to run such a risk. Nothing could be rasher than to sacrifice that which we deem our secular strength and privilege and to expect that on the other side of the Channel we shall be exposed to the attack of no enemy. That you are asked to give up with no other security for your well-being and safety than this wretched optimist trust in the good will of the people upon whom you have to depend, a trust that would be madness if they were ordinary men, because the incitement and suggestion of making a profit out of it would be too great—a trust that is something more than madness when you are dealing with a race of people and an organisation that for centuries has hated you and longed to obtain your downfall. Those are great concessions. My time is passed. I will not urge you further, but I will ask before I conclude to call back to you what the opinion in this country used to be before these terrible changes took place, when the Liberal Party was still in the hands of Liberal politicians, and not in the hands of deserters who had traversed every zone of political opinion. When the Liberal Party was in the hands of Liberal politicians we might distrust them and disagree with them as to local and interior questions, but we felt sure that in all Imperial questions their heart beat as true to the Empire of England as ours. Let me read to you what was said by a man who was no Orangeman, by a man who lost his own scat at the most critical period of his political life because he would befriend the Roman Catholics, by a man who was armed with every instrument of historical knowledge, and whose opinion was deeply pledged on the side of the Liberal Party, and against those who sit on this side of the House. I will read to you what he said upon the maintenance of the Union, and I will ask you on which side he would be sitting if he had now to take part in politics. When he uttered these words he was sitting on the Liberal side, and Mr. Gladstone was sitting on the Conservative side. Lord Macaulay said—The repeal of the Union we regard as fatal to the Empire, and we will never consent to it—never, though the country should be surrounded by dangers as great as those which threatened her when her American Colonies and France and Spain and Holland were leagued 640 against her, or when the armed neutrality of the Baltic disputed her maritime rights—never, though another Buonaparte should pitch his camp in sight of Dover Castle, never till all has been staked and lost, never till the four quarters of the world have been convulsed by the last struggle of the great English people for their place among the nations.I read that as the motto which I hope the Unionist Party will adopt. If England withdraws her mandate; if England tells us she wishes that this horror should be consummated, I agree that a different state of things will have arisen. I believe that to be impossible, and that, as long as England is true to herself now or on any future occasion, if you allow this atrocious, this mean, this treacherous revolution to pass, you will be untrue to the duty which has descended to you from a splendid ancestry, you will be untrue to your highest traditions, you will be untrue to the trust that has been bequeathed to you from the past, you will be untrue to the Empire of England.
THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (The Earl of KIMBERLEY)
If the noble Marquess thought fit at the outset of his speech to make some apology to your Lordships for having to address you after so many speeches have been heard, not only here, but in the other House and all over the country, on this well-worn theme, I feel sure I shall have the sympathy of those whom I address in the task I have to perform. The noble Marquess commenced; with some criticism of the speeches which have been delivered from this side of the House; and he, as was very natural, directed his principal observations to the brilliant speech of my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary. My noble Friend is like one of those actors who possess in the highest degree both a tragic and comic vein, and if he commenced with a number of witty observations which, I am sure, delighted the House, he did not forget to turn in the latter part of his speech to the graver aspect of the subject. I do not think it is possible that any more impressive appeal could have been addressed to this House than was addressed to it on the general policy of the question by my noble Friend. The noble Marquess taunted the noble Earl with not going into the details of the Bill, and I am glad, as it relieves me of a great many observations upon it; but 641 the noble Marquess has followed his example, and he has confined himself almost exclusively to the question of the general policy on which this Bill is based. This is a question of principle. This House is about to divide on the question, Shall there be or shall there not be any measure of self-government for Ireland? [Opposition cries of "No, no!"] What do I hear? No, no! Is it, then, possible, after all, that the Conservative Party contemplates at some future time some system of self-government for Ireland? That is a precious cheer. The question which has been put to us in speech after speech is whether there shall be any measure of self-government for Ireland. The noble Marquess did not follow the example of the noble Duke who objected to the historical disquisitions of my noble Friend. I think historical disquisitions upon this Bill are not only useful and interesting, but are absolutely indispensable to the well understanding of the question before us. The noble Marquess referred to the taunts which have been addressed from this side of the House as to what we term the coquetting of the Conservative Party with the Home Rule Party in 1885. The noble Marquess said—and, of course, there is no higher authority—that it is an entire mistake to suppose that they gave up in principle what he objects to our terming the coercive policy. He said that circumstances created by the Government of Mr. Gladstone, of which I was a Member, rendered it impossible when he came into Office during that year to continue the Crimes Act. I will refer to what Lord Carnarvon said on the occasion when, as Lord Lieutenant, he took the unusual and inconvenient course of declaring the Irish policy of the Government instead of the Premier. Lord Carnarvon did not say one single word in his speech about the reason for not renewing the Crimes Act being the impossibility of passing it. He said—I believe for my part that special legislation of this kind is inexpedient.That is a declaration of general policy and principle. The only other remark he made was curious when we remember what Lord Salisbury's Government actually did. He said— 642More than being undesirable, I hold that such legislation is practically impossible if it is to be continually and indefinitely enacted.Could the policy of Lord Salisbury's Government be described in words more accurate or condemned in words more explicit? At that moment Lord Carnarvon was recognised as the exponent of the policy of the Conservative Government, and therefore his must be the view which the Government took. The noble Marquess finds it convenient to forget all that has passed. Of course, I accept the statements made from that Bench that there was no compact with the Irish Party. When men of honour tell me that I am bound to believe it. But I say that the course they took was an extremely unfortunate one, and one which must have led to much misconstruction, because there was a combination of circumstances which showed that a change of policy was singularly adapted to conciliate the Irish Party and to bring about that support which would no doubt be very convenient to them. I do not attach much importance to the words used by the noble Marquess at Newport. I have often studied those words, and I think that it was a very carefully-guarded speech. But, besides Lord Carnarvon's declaration, there was something much more significant. I have no wish to use very hard words, though very hard words are used against us. But there was the Maamtrasna affair, and a meaner action than the course taken by the Opposition in connection with that affair was never taken by any political Party. Their conduct then was the main indication of what their wishes and intentions were. Now, I will turn to more ancient but very instructive history—that of the Act of Union. I cannot mention the Union without remembering what was said by the Duke of Argyll. He used an argument which, if it had not proceeded from his lips, I should have called grotesque. When he spoke of the Union having been carried by bribery and corruption, he said that Mr. Pitt was merely "buying out corruption." Did anyone ever hear such a ridiculous contention? What a pitiful excuse for Mr. Pitt! To think that a great statesman should be defended by the argument that it was a morally defensible and accountable position to bribe for the purpose of buying out bribery! Then the noble 643 Duke said that we were just as corrupt, because whenever a Party offered measures which were likely to conciliate votes, that Party was corrupt. In the same way, therefore, the Irish Land Act, and the Congested Districts Act, and the Light Railways Act were all attempts to bribe the Irish Members. These arguments only require to be mentioned for it to be seen that they have no weight. But the argument of the noble Marquess is this—that the Union failed because it was not accompanied by the measures with which Mr. Pitt desired it to be accompanied. It is impossible to be certain in such a matter; but as a defence of Mr. Pitt, that is a complete argument. That great statesman had a great policy, and only a part of that policy was allowed to be adopted. But we have not to deal with what would have happened if something had been done which was not done. It is no good saying what would be the state of things if Mr. Pitt had been allowed to carry Catholic Emancipation, the redemption of tithes, the endowment of the Catholic religion, and other measures. None of these things were done; and now we have to deal with things as they are. What are the facts? The facts are these, that the Union, though passed 93 years ago, leaves us in the position of having to consider the condition of Ireland. What is the test of the success of a policy? The test is, "Have you a contented nation; have you subjects of the Crown who accept the system of government under which they live cheerfully and loyally?" By that test the Union must be tried; but instead of this being the condition of affairs we are told that you have two hostile nations in Ireland. One of them is steeped in the old doctrine of ascendency. ["No!"] The noble Lord who says "No" has not studied the history and the condition of Ireland. The other nation, no doubt, has been frequently disloyal, always unquiet and frequently resorting to practices which we all condemn, because they do not respect the law, not looking upon the law as their defender but as their oppressor. Is that a satisfactory state of things, or a satisfactory result of the Union? How long are we to go on in this way? A noble Lord spoke of hope, but are we to go on listening to that flattering tale for the 644 next 100 years? I do not call that statesmanship; I call it an absolute neglect of the facts of the case, and a refusal to look at the facts as they are. What are our reasons for our change of policy? It is not pleasant, it is not agreeable, to stand up before your fellow-countrymen and say that you have changed your opinions; but I say that it requires much more courage to change your opinions than to remain consistent in your opinions; and frequently the truest statesmanship is not to persevere in that which experience has shown to be wrong, but to have the courage, as great statesmen have had the courage before, on looking at the facts as they are and to say—"No; we find that we were wrong, and we no longer can counsel our countrymen to go in a wrong direction, but we will tell you fairly and honourably what is the best for the nation." Everything that could possibly be held out to us would have persuaded us to take the opposite course. There was not only the loss of political friends, but great social dissensions were created in this country which place many men in a position of extreme unpleasantness. We have been told that we took this course because we sought Office; but if we did so we were not very successful in our efforts, because we passed six years in the cold shade of Opposition. Do noble Lords believe that instead of being actuated by motives to serve the nation to the best of our capacity we were actuated by a miserable petty feeling to get into some place in order to receive a salary. After long years of experience we saw that the system of Government had not succeeded in Ireland, and we saw, as we believed, new evidence that there is not contentment under our system. Election after election there was returned a very large majority of Members who held one opinion opposed to our system. In these circumstances, we thought it to be our duty to propose a change. But I may, perhaps, be permitted to say something based on my own experience. We are told that this change of policy is really impossible because of the character of the men to whom we should have to entrust the new system of government in Ireland. It is a long time ago, but when I was entrusted with the Government of Ireland I had to deal 645 with the Fenian conspiracy. I do not suppose that noble Lords think I sympathise with attempts at rebellion. I put those attempts down sternly and without the smallest hesitation; and so I would, if need be, again. But if you ask me whether I regard all those Fenians as criminals in the ordinary sense of the word, I say that it never entered into my mind so to regard them. I knew there were many desperate men among them, and I also knew that many of them were true Irish patriots who, though mistaken in their views, were not criminals in the ordinary sense. They were conspirators, as there have been conspirators before, and in other and more favourable circumstances these men might have served their country and their Crown with honour and success. We are told that Irish Members have been branded by the Parnell Commission. I know what pleasure it gives noble Lords to cite the Parnell Commission. I say of all unjust proceedings to crush a political Party that was the most unconstitutional that was ever adopted. I have never had but one opinion on the subject. Over and over again the majority of the people in Ireland have been spoken of as our enemies. Enemies! They are our fellow-countrymen, subjects of the Queen, and they are to be regarded as our enemies! The word is frequently used. ["No, no!"] It is of no use to say "No"; they have often been described as such in this House and out of it. You know perfectly well that speech after speech has been made, in which the Irish people have been spoken of as our enemies. I will not say you used, although I believe I could quote words that were used in this Debate, but, at all events, you used such words that showed you regarded the Irish as your enemies. Is it likely you will govern Ireland with success if you have such feelings towards a large portion of the Irish people? The Irish have been branded with crime and spoken of as men who would rob landlords, and who were not fit to be trusted with free government. Then why did you trust them with it? Why did you give them equal votes with their fellow-subjects? I remember when the Ballot Act was passed I said that for the first time you would know what the true opinion of the Irish people was, and you would find out 646 how strong the national feeling was You cannot now treat the Irish people as hostile without acknowledging that the government of Ireland is practically impossible except by force. Before referring to Ulster I wish to make an apology to the late Lord Chancellor of Ireland for referring to his speech as one of bluster and brag. On reflection, I am satisfied those words have no application to his speech, and I withdraw unreservedly what I said. When the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Londonderry) said that Ulster did not indulge in bluster and brag, I exclaimed "Oh!" which seemed to astonish him. I will read to the House one or two passages from the report of a meeting at Killyman, in the County of Tyrone. The Rev. Leslie Carter, of Armagh, said—They, the Protestants of the North, would march to the House of Commons and compel their enemies to be silent while their Representatives were speaking. If Barrett was executed for blowing up a prison the time might not be far distant when, for attempting to blow up our venerable Protestant Constitution, Gladstone and his co-conspirators might be hanging as high as Haman.The Rev. H. Henderson said—The Government were driving the Protestants into civil war, and if they pursued their present policy they would have another Derry and another Boyne.The Rev. R. C. Donnel said—He knew they were perfectly ready to stand by their colours, and that there were men on the platform who were ready to lead them forth against the enemy.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
These words were uttered on the 1st of June, 1869, in relation to the Disestablishment Bill.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
When I said Ulster never blustered or bragged I was alluding to the Union.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I have quoted this to show that on that occasion, at all events, Ulster did bluster, but did nothing whatever. I am not in the least dismayed by bluster, and I am certain that the noble Marquess (Londonderry) would be the first person to despise us if he thought we should be intimidated in the smallest degree in doing what we think is our duty by any threat that 647 100,000 or any other number of men were to meet together, although it may be unpleasant for the noble Marquess to be reminded of it. I think it was the Duke of Argyll who spoke of this measure as a revolutionary one. But I think the word revolutionary might be applied better in reference to another matter we have heard of. It is no doubt a very difficult and a very grave subject to speak of—the right of rebellion. Now, I am not one of those who will assert that in no circumstances whatever can there be a moral right to rebel, but it is a new thing to me at least that men who have been responsible Ministers of the Crown should use such language as that adopted by Mr. Arthur Balfour at Belfast on April 4 last, when he declared that no rational or sober-minded man would say that—What is justifiable against tyrannical kings may not under certain circumstances be justifiable against a tyrannical majority.Do you think that language of that kind is calculated to maintain the peace and the order of Ireland, especially when it is spoken by one who has been a Minister of the Crown? I do not say that Ireland ought to be governed as a Colony; Ireland is too close to this country, and it is for that reason we do not propose in this Bill to govern Ireland as a Colony. I was surprised to hear the noble and learned Lord (Lord Halsbury) speak of paper securities as perfectly worthless.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
The Imperial supremacy may be called a paper security, but I maintain that it is the very foundation of the civil government of this country, and I say the supremacy over Ireland would be a real supremacy. Let me say one word about the much-contested question of the retention of the Irish Members. No doubt that is one of the great difficulties in the Bill, but the opinion of the country was clearly in favour of the proposal embodied in the Bill. The noble Duke who moved the rejection of the Bill has certainly changed his mind on this subject.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I was rather surprised the noble Marquess said nothing as to the want of 648 sufficient discussion before the Bill came here, or as to what has been called the concealment of our policy during the last six years, before the Bill was brought in. I was astonished to hear a noble Lord make this statement, because in the Manifesto which the noble Marquess issued to the electors he plainly told them that the contest was to take place upon the question whether there was to be a domestic Legislature in Ireland. I maintain that the question was fully before the country, and fully discussed in the country. We are told that a Bill ought to have been before the country, but what Bill? Ought we to have circulated a Bill while we were in Opposition, or ought the Government to have circulated a Bill? The fact is these are new-fangled ideas invented for the occasion. I am surprised that the Conservative Party should try to introduce new principles into our Constitution. The first of those principles is nothing less than the Referendum, which, if adopted, would effect a complete revolution in our Constitution. The other principle is that every measure must have a majority of the people of Great Britain in its favour. But why a majority of the people of Great Britain? Why not a majority of the people of England, and of Scotland, and of Wales, and of Ireland? This is the federal principle which noble Lords opposite wish to introduce, and the reason is that it is not convenient for them to deal with this measure in the old constitutional way. The noble Marquess said that there are strategic reasons for refusing to assent to the policy embodied in this Bill. He thinks that Ireland will be dangerous because, he says, we are to surrender our controlling force. But he is in error, for all military and naval forces are to be absolutely under the control of the Imperial Government. How, therefore, are we placing ourselves at a disadvantage strategically? But these arguments are merely the means by which you try to veil your ineradicable distrust of the Irish people. I ask your Lordships to recollect, now that you are about to throw out this measure by an immense majority, what has occurred on previous occasions, in connection with similar action on your part. In 1880 you threw out the Compensation for Disturbance 649 Bill by 282 against 51, but the very next year you consented to pass a far more drastic and far-reaching measure—namely, the Land Act of 1881.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
The noble Marquess considers it was much worse; but I have heard him speak in terms of the strongest condemnation of the Act of 1881. Why cannot you bring yourselves to conceive that is a melancholy condition to have a country in the condition in which Ireland is after your vain attempts for a century to rule her on the present system? Why cannot you see that you ought not to rest your government of Ireland upon the paper foundations on which it has hitherto been founded, and that you should make up your minds to rest it upon the far firmer foundations—as the experience of the whole world has shown them to be—of giving to a people who are desirous of it the management of their own domestic affairs, when you can do so, as this Bill has shown that it can be done, consistently with the maintenance of the unity of the Empire and the supremacy of Parliament?
Leave having been given to the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells to vote in the House, on question whether the word ("now") shall stand part of the Motion.
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents 41; Not-Contents 419.
§ Resolved in the negative.
§ Bill to be read 2a this day six months.