§ * LORD SWANSEA
, in moving that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in answer to Her Gracious Speech, said, he would endeavour as far as possible to avoid matters of controversy, and would simply comment shortly 5 on the various items of the Speech—perhaps at greater length on the portion of it more essentially affecting his own country, Wales. In the first place, our relations with Foreign Powers were stated to be amicable and satisfactory. Nothing could be of greater value to this country than the blessings of peace. We were greatly indebted for our present position with foreign nations to the noble Marquess opposite and to the noble Earl who had just relinquished the Seals of the Foreign Office. Their Lordships would also have the entire confidence in the future administration of this most delicate and important Department so long as it was in the hands of the noble Earl below him. They had gauged his great powers and tact in leading and guiding the affairs of that House. He had gained the entire confidence of noble Lords on both sides of the House. Next they were informed that negotiations with Russia in regard to the frontiers in Central Asia were proceeding with mutual confidence and goodwill. Nothing could be more important to our Indian Empire than the defining of our North-Western frontier. So, again, it was most important that the Award which would, he hoped, settle for ever the vexed question of the Seal Fisheries with the United States should be conducted in such a manner as to satisfactorily carry out the Award. Then it was most satisfactory to hoar that the frontier of Her Majesty's Dominions in Burmah had been amicably settled with the great Empire of China. The collisions which had occurred with the French colonial troops in West Africa must be deplored, and they were glad to be informed that the inquiries were being conducted in a calm and dignified manner. Their Lordships would also be glad to hear that the Estimates would include such a sum as would fully provide for the defence of our Empire. No one could be more impressed than himself with the wisdom of keeping up a strong Navy such a Navy as would ensure the safety of our commerce as far as was possible in these difficult days of swift cruisers. Nothing could be more for the interests of this country than that our Navy should be upheld in full force. No doubt the noble Earl below would, if challenged, be able to explain how fully this question had occupied his attention, and how 6 fully it would be dealt with. Then they were informed that there was less agrarian crime in Ireland than there had been for some 15 years past. He was not called on to enter into the causes which had led to that decrease, and he had no desire to provoke discussion and debate, it was quite unnecessary to do so now. They were informed that the condition of the evicted tenants required attention, and that a measure would be immediately introduced to deal with that difficult question. He earnestly hoped their Lordships would receive any such measure with favour, because undoubtedly any reasonable settlement was better than a continuance of discontent, which, as they had seen in past times, had been produced by the rejection of such a measure. That experience should prevent a similar mistake being again made. Then they were informed that a Bill would be introduced for the amendment of registration and for the abolition of plural voting. That seemed an exceedingly simple matter, and he had been astonished to hear the vigorous attack made by the Duke of Devonshire on that question. Me could not understand why there should be any danger of gerrymandering in such a measure as the abolition of plural voting. He might be very innocent, but it appeared to him to be a very simple matter. Secrets might exist of which he was not aware: but he thought really that the Bill might be endorsed as one for the abolition of gerrymandering. Well, then came the question in which he was so deeply interested as a Welshman. It was announced that measures would be introduced dealing with the Ecclesiastical Establishments in Wales and Scotland. He congratulated his countrymen on the fact that Wales stood first. It would bring joy to the souls of tens—of hundreds of thousands of Welshmen, for on no question wore they so deeply interested as on this. If the desire of Wales for Disestablishment is gauged by the number of her Parliamentary Representatives it could hardly be overstated; out of 32 Members returned by Wales and Monmouthshire, 29 are in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment of the English Church in Wales. Did not that forcibly indicate the desire of the Welsh people? He 7 did not know what, stronger evidence could be required. In his early days—when the representation of Wales was pretty nearly equally divided between Liberals and Conservatives—he had no hesitation in saying that a Bill for Disestablishment and Disendowment would be the most Conservative measure that could possibly be passed. He could speak with ample knowledge, having represented Welsh constituencies for 36 years. He had represented the great County of Glamorgan up to the time when it was broken up, and afterwards a great constituency within it. That county represented 40 per cent, of the entire inhabitants of Wales, and he therefore could speak as knowing the feelings not only of a very large constituency, but with perfect knowledge of the opinions of the whole country. He approached the question with an entirely open and judicial mind. He was a Churchman and came of a Church family. He had been mainly instrumental in building two churches. Therefore, he was certainly not a church destroyer. But he could also claim to have laid the foundation stones of more Nonconformist chapels than probably any man alive. He had always gone upon the principle of—first a Christian and then a Churchman—a sound and right one as he believed. The present position of the religious question in Wales ought to be stated pretty fully. It had never, as far as he was aware, been seriously put before their Lordships, and was not very generally known throughout the country. It might be asked how was it Nonconformity had taken such a strong hold in Wales. That fact had chiefly arisen from two causes: first of all, the neglect of the Church and nepotism in Church preferments in bye-gone days—he would not say now, for he could bear testimony to the efforts of the Church in Wales during recent times. But in past times the Church, by gross neglect, lost her hold entirely upon the Welsh people. He desired to raise no controversy whatever, and would be very sorry indeed to give the House the history he could give of the religious question in bye-gone times in Wales. But there was another reason why Nonconformity had obtained so strong a hold in Wales—the enormous increase of her population. His own 8 part of Wales had increased more than any other portion of the United Kingdom, except, perhaps, the Metropolitan area. In 1861 the population of Wales and Monmouthshire was 1,296,000; in 1891 it was 1,776,000, an increase of 480,000 souls in that period. If it had not been for Nonconformity no spiritual provision could have been made for that enormous increase. In his own county by the Census of 1861 (when he first represented it) the population was 326,000; in 1891 it was 693,000, an increase in that county alone of 366,800 people. How could their religious wants have been possibly provided for but by the efforts of the Nonconformists? Under the Church parochial system it was very difficult to build churches. He could speak from experience of the difficulties which had to be confronted. First, the consent of the patron had to be obtained, then the consent of the Incumbent; then a district had to be assigned legally, and then the title to the land had to be proved; afterwards the Church had to be endowed, and the whole of the funds for building it had to be provided, because it could not be consecrated with a debt upon it without an endowment. It was quite impossible for bodies of men who were not rich to fulfil all those conditions, and he would therefore say without hesitation that had it not been for the Nonconformists the religious wants of the people could not possibly have been met. Mostly poor people, they would not have been able to find the money, and the only alternative for that great population would have been heathendom. Therefore, as a Christian, he had always rejoiced at the great efforts which had been made by the Nonconformist Bodies. If the Church in Wales were disestablished, the question which greatly exercised the minds of noble Lords opposite was, would Wales be religious? The country would not be one single atom less religious then than it is now. Religion in Wales is not dependent upon the Church. The Welsh are a deeply religious people. Whenever a colliery is opened in some remote valley theretofore only grazed by a few sheep, the men immediately provide for their religious wants. The first thing they do is to establish what they rightly called a "Church." A few earnest God-fearing men met 9 together in some small cottage or hovel and there joined in prayer. From that sprang very soon a small chapel. Those chapels increased as the district grew in population, and so in Glamorgan there were many chapels which might almost he called cathedrals from the numbers they accommodated. Figures old, but still good, showed that the Welsh were a highly religious people. Those figures obtained by him a few years ago when he went into the question of higher education in Wales showed that the numbers of Bibles sold in that country were very largely in excess of those sold in England; for while in England there were 24 per 1,000, there wore 41 in Wales—nearly double the number. Again, the Sunday School system in Wales was magnificent, and the teaching under it was carried out more completely than in any other part of the British dominions. Poor hardworking men were willing to give up their Sunday leisure for the purpose of teaching the children the pure truths of Christianity. What was the outcome of all this? An almost entire absence of crime, or at any rate a large diminution of it, as compared with England. When the statistics were examined last by him there were 14 people per 20,000 in prison in England, and in Wales 9, while the committals were 7 to 4 per 1,000. Did not those figures prove that the system of religious teaching, and the religious feelings of the Welsh people were far beyond those in England? It must also be remembered that a large portion of the crime in Wales was alien, committed by people coining into the country, Irish, English, and often by foreign sailors. He regretted there were no accurate statistics showing the proportions of Churchmen and Nonconformists in Wales. Dr. Reece, in his book upon Protestant Nonconformity in Wales, published in 1883, claimed for the Nonconformists 1,100,000; for the Church of England, 220,000; for the Roman Catholics, 30,000; and for the non-religious, 224,000; making in all 1,574,000,which was about the population at that time. The Rev. John Thomas, of Liverpool, gave at a meeting at Carnarvon very similar figures—namely, Nonconformists, 955,156; Churchmen, 228,571: Roman Catholics, 50,000; Irreligious, 337,540; total, 1,571,267, and showing that 10 the proportion of Church-people in the population was about 1 to7½, and of Churchmen to Nonconformists 1 to 4½ Those were the best statistics he was able to give their Lordships. Also might be called as a witness in the matter the late Dean of Bangor, who stated at the Church Congress in 1879 that the Church in Wales had lost five-sixths of the Welsh-speaking people, and survived only among the English-speaking middle and upper classes. That could not be considered, at any rate, the testimony of a witness in favour of Nonconformists. Alluding to the statement that the Nonconformists of Wales only existed on paper, the late Dean of Bangor made the pertinent reply thatpaper adherents did not give money, and the Welsh Nonconformists gave more than £300,000 a year.Nearly at the same time the Rev. Dr. Thomas said the Welsh Nonconformists gave £400,000 a year. It should be borne in mind that these were largely poor working men, not rich people; and surely, therefore, there must be something substantial in their love of their Creed—not a special one, for they were all just as much Christians as Churchmen, but preferred their special mode of managing and conducting their own religious affairs. The Nonconformists of Wales did not covet the endowments of the Church; they would not accept them if given over to them to-morrow. He had discussed this question with some of the leading Nonconformists both in Wales and England, and had been surprised at their aversion to receiving any endowment whatever. Therefore, never let it be said for a moment, for it could not be said with truth, that the desire for Disestablishment and Disendowment meant coveting the money of the Church. They were prepared to give that money to charitable objects, probably largely to those objects for which tithes were originally promoted; but they had no desire to receive it themselves. They felt that if they did it would be ruin to them, as they reposed entirely upon the voluntary system. That system was vital and active, and they knew that endowments were the very reverse. Their desire was for religious equality in the eye of the law. They were Protestants. It was not the case of Ireland, where the Irish Church had been disestablished more or 11 less in favour of the Roman Catholics. The Welsh held the same religious belief as their Lordships—the same Creeds. Of course, he could not say they accepted the Athanasian Creed any more than himself, but they hold their belief as purely as the Apostolic Church from which they sprang. They were a moral God-fearing people, and a loyal people. He had had experience of their loyalty on many occasions. He remembered well addressing an open-air meeting of some 10,000 colliers on a hillside in the Rhondda some years ago, and at the end of his speech, on his invitation, they all rose and gave three as ringing cheers for Her Most Gracious Majesty as were ever heard. Certainly there was no disloyalty among them. When the Prince of Wales did them the honour to go down to Swansea he was received with the greatest enthusiasm by hundreds of thousands of the people, nine out of ten of them Nonconformists. He had the honour of accompanying the Prince and Princess as they passed down the serried ranks, and could testify that the cheering and faces of the people gave remarkable evidence of their loyalty. Never let it be supposed that the Welsh were not a thoroughly loyal nation, deeply imbued as they were with their own religious feelings. Who had ever heard of a Welsh Socialist or Anarchist? He would challenge anyone to show him either an Anarchist or a Socialist in Wales. They were a thoroughly loyal God-fearing people, and had no animosity towards the Church. He had stood on public platforms where the Vicar of the parish had come forward to join in some charitable work, and had always seen him received with the deepest respect and accorded the highest and most prominent part in the function. There was absolutely no animosity among the Welsh towards the Church of England. All they asked was justice at their Lordships' hands, and that when this great question came before that House they would give it careful and sympathetic attention. If the question was to be fought, he, for one, was there to tight it. He had gone, he believed, to the very bottom of it—historically, religiously, and in every other way, and if God spared him he would fight this battle to the fullest extent of his power. He had 12 dwelt at some length on the question because it was probably the subject upon which he had been selected to move the Address to Her Most Gracious Majesty. As he knew nothing about the measures for the equalisation of rating and the local government of Scotland he had nothing to say about them. Local control of the liquor traffic was a measure which he had always advocated, for no greater curse afflicted this country than drunkenness, and it behoved those who had charge of our legislation to do their utmost to reduce that enormous evil. He therefore trusted when the local veto question came before their Lordships that they would give it their careful attention, putting aside all Party questions and regarding it simply in the interests of our common humanity. The next question was conciliation in labour disputes; of that he had special knowledge. When the disastrous strike of 1877 occurred in Glamorgan he was County Member, and suggested the adoption of a sliding scale committee to deal with questions between masters and men, and to fix the basis of wages on the value of the coal. That was taken up by men of eminence, by Sir William Thomas Lewis, Mr. Archibald Hood, and others, who worked it through. He was unable himself to sit upon the committee on account of a personal question arising between himself and one of the representatives selected by the men—a Scotchman, however, not a Welshman. For 15 years that arrangement had kept a great mining population out of disastrous disputes. Then upon the Factory and Mines Act he could have spoken, having been consulted originally upon the measure by Sir George Grey. It was a matter of great importance, and he was glad the Government were taking it up. The recent strike showed the enormous influence which coal mining had upon the welfare of the country. Colliers never went underground but that they took their lives in their hands, and Parliament was bound to protect them as far as possible while engaged in their dangerous occupation. He would touch on only one more topic. He could not, as a follower of Mr. Gladstone in the House of Commons for 41 years, conclude without alluding briefly to the right hon. Gentleman's retirement, enforced by the infirmities of old age, but 13 by no loss of mental power after 60 years' active and unceasing devotion to the service of his country and to the well-being of his fellow-men. Mr. Gladstone's political views were not shared in by the majority of their Lordships, but they nevertheless recognised his eminent services as well as his transcendent ability and brilliant oratory. He felt sure that they would desire that he should long enjoy the peace and repose he had so well earned. He fell that those few words were quite inadequate to do justice to a great and historical occasion. He thanked their Lordships for the attention with which they had listened to him, and begged to move that a bumble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—Most Gracious Sovereign,—We your most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer you our humble Thanks for the Gracious Speech which your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(The Lord Swansea.)
§ * LORD HAWKESBURY
said, he rose to second the Motion which had just been made by his noble Friend. In doing so he must express the wish that this task had been placed in abler hands than his. He was deeply aware of its difficulty and of his deficiencies in undertaking it. He felt that he should stand in great need of that kind forbearance which their Lordships had never failed to extend to one who addressed the House, as he did, for the first time. He should endeavour in the few remarks he bad to make to follow the example of his noble Friend who preceded him in discussing the various matters that were now before the House free from all Party feeling, and from any controversial spirit. In reading the first few words of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech one's thoughts naturally fall upon the momentous event to which his noble Friend had just alluded, and which had taken place in the Party to which he had the honour to belong. He could not refrain from adding just one word to what bad fallen from his noble Friend, in expressing, free from all Party spirit, the feeling of sympathy which he believed followed the great statesman (who had devoteda long and laborious life to the service of his country) from all sections of his fellow-countrymen—from those who had crossed swords, politically, with him, and 14 those who had followed him into the battle—in his well-earned retirement. He could not help feeling, and he thought the country felt it also, that the mantle of that great statesman had fallen upon worthy shoulders, and that those who had watched the career of the noble Earl who sat below him would feel that the honour of this great Empire was safe in his hands. He was glad to think that the first paragraphs of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech were such as they could all agree upon. It was a matter for hearty congratulation that Her Majesty was again able to announce at the beginning of another Session that we had peaceful relations with all Foreign Powers. It must be admitted that this happy condition of things was very much due to the continuity which had characterized our foreign policy in recent years, no matter which of the great political Parties had been in power. It must be admitted that it was due very much to the able manner in which the noble Marquess who sat opposite, and the noble Earl, the head of the Government, had presided over the foreign affairs of this nation. He was sure that it was a matter for congratulation that the difficult and delicate questions relating to the frontiers of Her Majesty's Dominions in India were in a fair way to a satisfactory settlement. They were told, with regard to the frontier on the Russian border of our great Empire in Asia, that the question was in the way of being satisfactorily settled, and, as his noble Friend had already said, it was a matter for great congratulation that it could be brought to a happy issue. Again, with regard to the North-Eastern Frontier of our Indian Possessions, it was equally a matter of very great satisfaction to think that a Treaty had happily been concluded with the Emperor of China, opening up possibilities of commerce between ourselves and that great nation whose capabilities in that respect were well known. He thought they might consider that the final carrying into effect of the award of the arbitrators with regard to the seal fisheries in the Behring Sea was another instance of the great value of the principle of arbitration in cases of dispute between friendly nations, and here again they must give credit to the noble Marquess opposite for having originated that arbitration. His noble Friend had alluded to the lamentable mistakes which had led to collisions between our forces and 15 the forces of France in West Africa, and the sad loss of life that had been incurred thereby. But they might draw some consolation from the patient and calm manner in which both nations had awaited further news and the result of inquiry into the causes of these unfortunate events, for it showed the close ties which bound the great nations of England and France together in amity and concord. Passing from foreign affairs, they came to the great question of national defence. He need not state that as a naval man himself, and as the grandson of one who for many years had a seat in that House, and who in his early days as a midshipman served in the old wars—for his grandfather was under fire in the old French war when he was only ten years old—he felt strongly on this subject and had it greatly at heart. It was no Party question. There was no Englishman worthy of the name who did not feel that it was of paramount importance to this great Empire that the Navy of England should be such, and that its provision for the future should be simply sufficient to enable it to cope with any possible combination between Foreign Powers, and to be entirely adequate to protect the enormous commercial interests of our Empire in every part of the world. He felt confident that Her Majesty's present Government had this matter very much at heart, and that they had given it their most serious consideration. He was quite certain that when the time came for the Government to lay their policy in this important matter before Parliament it would be found that they had made ample provision for the needs of this great branch of the Public Service, and for the defence of our interests in all parts of the world in the future. Coming to matters nearer home, he saw again that the Sister Island stood first. But he was happy to think that the saying which had become common of late years—"Ireland blocks the way"—could not be said to-day; and he was sure it was a matter of congratulation for all Parties that Her Majesty's Government were able to announce a marked decrease in the agrarian crime which had been so long rife in Ireland. There remained, however, he regretted to say, the condition of the evicted tenants in that country. He believed their state was very serious, and pressed for immediate attention, and he hoped, when the promised measure came before the 16 House, it would be dealt with in a generous and open-handed manner, and that it would be remembered from the experience of former occasions that it was better to deal with those matters quickly, when pressing, as this question now was, for settlement. The next announcement in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech related to two measures concerning the representation of the people. One of the two measures alluded to—that connected with registration—was one which, admittedly, was not of a Party character, though, of course, in details there might be differences of opinion. It had been admitted by both Parties that our Registration Laws stood in need of amendment. It seemed strange that an election might, and often did, take place on a Register nearly two years old. All were agreed that the period of residence necessary to qualify for obtaining the franchise should be reduced; and surely, too, it was reasonable that the cost of registration and the difficulties which stood in the way of a man being placed on the Register should be removed or materially decreased. He was afraid that the other measure, popularly known as "One Man One Vote" might not be received with such general approval by all Parties. But, speaking for himself, he had always held the opinion, that now that the franchise had been extended, so that the principal basis of it was that of the householder in the counties, as well as in the boroughs, the residents of a constituency should be the men to elect their Representative without the interference of those who might have some slight property qualification, and who lived outside its limits. His noble Friend had spoken, as, of course, he had a right to do from his intimate knowledge of the subject at such length, and so clearly and fully, upon Welsh Disestablishment, that it needed no words of his. But he should say that he felt with regard to these Church questions that they should be dealt with in accordance with the needs and desires of the different nationalities which form the United Kingdom. That was the case when the Irish Church was dealt with. He believed the noble Marquess opposite shared that opinion, for though he did not, perhaps, approve of all the details of the measure he voted for the principle on the Second Reading of the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill in that House 25 years ago. 17 The noble Duke who sat on the Front I Bench below the Gangway expressed the same opinion with regard to the Scotch Church. He had said it was a matter for the Scotch people to decide, and when, through their elected Representatives, they showed what their desire was in the matter, the subject would have to be taken in hand by the Government. Who could doubt what the desire of the Welsh people was, after the almost unanimous vote of their elected Representatives on more than one occasion when this question was discussed in Parliament during the past seven years? The Bills for the equalisation of rates in London, and for the establishment of Parish and District Councils in Scotland, were simply to carry out further and complete the system of Local Government Reform in the Metropolis in the one case; and in the other, to extend to Scotland the benefits of the measure passed for England and Wales during last Session. Then they had the measure which was introduced last year affecting the liquor traffic. It had always seemed to him that the inhabitants of a district had a right to have a voice as to the number of licences they desired in the district. A great question, which had been pressed very much to the front recently, and which he thought would be the question of the future, was the question, or rather, the questions, affecting labour. They had very recent experiences of the sad results of a lock-out in the coal trade; but when they remembered that it was at the invitation of the noble Earl now at the head of the Government that that lock-out, was brought to an end in November last, and that they had reason to hope for happy results from the Board of Conciliation which bad been formed in consequence of his intervention, they might very well anticipate good things from a further extension of the same principle. His noble Friend had alluded to the amendment of the Mines and Factories Acts. These Acts were beneficent measures, framed to safeguard the lives of those who toil in mines and factories, and to improve the conditions under which they worked. It was only natural that as years went by and public opinion advanced, further amendment of these Acts should be required. He was sure that the great mining districts were looking anxiously for the measures promised by the Government, 18 and he trusted that the Session would not close without their being passed into law. The remaining measure promised was one relating to Scotland. It was a Bill on which he was not qualified to speak; but he believed that it referred to the same interests as were dealt with in the Mines Act, and was one which in the mining districts of Scotland was looked forward to with great earnestness and anxiety. He thanked their Lordships for the patient hearing they had given him. He hoped he had not touched on any tender susceptibilities, or said anything to wound anyone from a Party point of view. He would conclude by seconding the Motion of his noble Friend.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I can begin with great confidence on this occasion by expressing the pleasure and the admiration with which I have listened to the two speeches which we have just heard. The noble Lord who has just sat down unfortunately has not before taken part in the Debates of this House. I trust it is an omission he will repair, especially as in many of his sentiments I am sure he will command the universal assent of the House. Of the noble Lord who moved the Address we cannot say the same. We have had the advantage on more than one occasion of admiring his eloquence, but never before had we so much occasion to admire the copiousness of its character and the width and the variety of the circumstances to which it could be applied. The noble Lord prided himself—I am not sure that here I am complimenting him—on the judicial character of his observations, and on the care with which be avoided subjects of controversy. My impression is, that if I wanted to avoid subjects of controversy I should not select for the topics of my speech the disestablishment of the Welsh Church, or the creed of St. Athanasius, or the extent to which Socialistic sentiments may be prevalent among the Radicals of Wales. But I have no doubt that the noble Lord gave us in that, as in all other things, the full measure of his knowledge, and after I had heard him I could easily understand that command which on another occasion he boasted he had obtained over the Comity Council of the county which he honours. The noble Lord has, I think, very fairly established his claim to great weight in this House from the length of time in which he has 19 taken part in the service of his country in Parliament; and the 41 years of which he can boast are, at least, an example of devoted attention to public life, which I trust that the generation which succeeds will not be slow to imitate. Both the noble Lords who spoke referred to the circumstance that this was a great historic occasion. It may be called a turning point in our political history. A great career has closed; a great figure that has been to the front in polities as long, I should think, as any man here can recollect, has passed from any active interference in public affairs. Very just and very natural expressions of admiration and devotion were uttered by the two noble Lords who have followed Mr. Gladstone, for us it is not possible on such an occasion to speak of his policy and of his measures, for it would introduce us into controversial ground, from which an occasion such as this should be sacred. But, at least, we, his opponents, sitting in a House where we have not been subject to the glamour of his eloquence, can offer our passing tribute to the most brilliant intellect that has been placed at the service of the State since Parliamentary government began, and to the courage and resolution and self-sacrifice and self-discipline with which he has continued exertions in behalf of the convictions he has acquired to the latest period that has over been granted to an English statesman. And now his passage from the scene introduces us to the noble Earl who has for the first time undertaken the Leadership of the House. Of course, we shall differ much on political questions, but I think I can assure him of the heartiest welcome from the majority of this House. Whatever our differences may be, I am sure we shall meet in him a loyal aid in our efforts to perform our legislative, duties, and, in spite of some rumours that have reached me of things that were said over the way, I do not doubt that when it comes to the test we shall find in him a zealous defender of the privileges of the House of Lords. At all events, I can only say this—that if he wants a, model of the way in which the House should be led he has only to look to the example of the noble Earl who has just preceded him, and I am sure that when his career has a little advanced we shall be able to look back upon his Leadership of the House with as much gratification as 20 we do upon that of his predecessor. Turning to the speech itself, it is really uttering a truism and a platitude to say, what everybody has said, that it is much more remarkable for its omissions than for what it says. The foreign part of it is all very satisfactory. But somehow I think the future historian, if he gets hold of this paper, will think that we were indeed a nation to be congratulated that we had no history, and that the matters which concerned us in foreign affairs were of the least important and the least anxious description. Two boundaries crossing inaccessible mountains, and an arrangement how seals were to be killed—that I think is, to sum up, the foreign policy of the country as the noble Earl represents it to us. Of course, there is that unlucky matter of loss of life in West Africa, with respect to which he observes a very laudable and dignified reserve. I do not wish to press for explanations of matters upon which the Government think inopportune. I know well that great harm may be done by any precipitancy in that respect; but there are such places as Siam, Matabeleland, Uganda, and Egypt, whose names we have heard during the recess, with respect to which we have seen much angry controversy, and concerning which there must be some documents—I know there are documents—in the Foreign Office that the public would be glad to see. I will not press upon the noble Earl to take any measure with respect to publication of which his own judgment does not approve. I will only note in passing that the omission of these matters, with regard to which some very anxious questions exist, cannot but seem strange, not only to the future historian I have indicated, but to our contemporary critic's in other parts of the world. When we come from the foreign part, which docs not invite any observations, to the domestic part of the Speech, it is very natural that we should look to see how far there is absolute continuity of policy between the present Government and the Government that has just resigned. In fact, when we come to compare this Speech with the Speech that was delivered a little earlier than this time last year, I think that we may say that in the one Speech and in the other the Newcastle Programme has been pretty fairly represented. I think it would save much trouble to Her Gracious Majesty, and to the noble Lord her re- 21 presentative on the Woolsack, if in future Liberal Speeches with which we may be honoured the words were put in "Newcastle Programme as usual." I do not think the legislative achievements of the Government are likely to make a large hole in that programme, and I think the promises which, year by year, come to be addressed to us will be as full and as cheering in future years as they are at present. The only two differences which are, perhaps, a little noticeable, are that last year, at the beginning of a Parliament, the Government dwelt on the importance of shortening the duration of Parliaments. Well, the shortening of the duration of your life is a thing you think about a great deal less as you got older; and as the years are getting on in this present Parliament the anxiety for triennial or annual Parliaments is beginning to die away. Another omission is that last year it was proposed to endow the London County Council with greater powers. On this side of the House we are not in the least perplexed or puzzled to understand why the Government should not desire to endow the London County Council with greater powers. As far as we have been able to watch their proceedings we think they are very much in the condition in which England is in the mind of the late Prime Minister—they want discipline. And the discipline of a few more years in the exercise of the powers they possess will prepare them for the exercise of those further powers which the future will no doubt bring them. Beyond that, I observe that in the ecclesiastical questions, on which the noble lord dwelt with much unction, it is a fact that Wales comes before Scotland. I am told that something like a rebellion is impending in Scotland in consequence of this indignity; but those who criticise it observe that it is only a touching proof of the modesty of the noble Earl at the head of the Government, who naturally does not like to put his own country first. I observe that, whereas last year there were to be measures for preventing appointments in the Churches of Wales and Scotland, in this year measures are to be laid before you "dealing with" those Churches. I believe that in a certain class of society the phrase "dealing with" has an undoubtedly slaughterous meaning, and there can be no doubt that both in Wales and in Scotland the noble Earl at the 22 head of the Government is prepared to wield "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon." I hope when he goes down to Scotland next week he will find the people there as enthusiastic disestablishes as he expects. But the really important point of difference is the mode in which Ireland is treated. Last year a measure of Home Rule was promised, this year Home Rule is not alluded to, but in place of it is promised a measure in favour of evicted tenants, which is in the nature of something in the pound to the Irish creditors of the Government, or a, small composition. Of course, it is impossible to criticise that measure before we see it. I hope it will not be on the lines of the celebrated deliverances of Mr. Justice Mathew; but, whatever it may be, I think the Government will find it is an embarrassing way of getting rid of their Irish creditors. The money must come from somewhere. Either it will be taken out of the pocket of the unfortunate Irish landlords, and will involve a, new blow to confidence in Ireland—a new hindrance to the restoration of that social peace which is Ireland's first necessity—or it will be taken out of the pockets of the English taxpayer at a moment when his resources are strained to the utmost; and I doubt whether it will be the most popular part, in England at all events, of the programme of the Government. Hut the most important part of it is that this promise ousts Home Rule. Even if we had not had those echoes from the Foreign Office of which I have spoken to re-assure us I have no doubt that Her Majesty's Government are fully sensible of the strength of the pledges under which they have placed themselves. I assume—it is impossible to assume anything else—that they are as sincere in putting forward their Home Rule policy as they were last year. [Ministerial cheers] I quite expected that answering cheer. But if that is the case, I would submit that the clear duty of bringing the matter to as early an issue as they can is imposed upon them by those very convictions. That question of Home Rule is now in a state of suspense. It is in course of appeal; it is sent by appeal to the English people. Nobody believes that as long as England refuses Home Rule, Home Rule can be established in Ireland. On the other hand, everybody is aware that if England is willing to accept Home Rule, the 23 resistance of its antagonists will not prevail. I do not wish to hurt the national feelings of the noble Earl at the head of the Government, and I freely admit that if Scotland had as strong an aversion to Home Rule as England has that would he a bar to its adoption; but, dealing with the matter as we stand, the opinion of England for or against is the deciding judge in this issue of Home Rule. Well, then, the sooner we have the judgment the better; and the clearer the issue is presented in the constituencies the more satisfactory it will be to carry the decision and conviction that it is required. You are overlaying the issue with other and foreign issues which have nothing to do with it. Instead of calling the attention of the people of England to this question of Home Rule and asking their decision on that—infinitely the most important question that was ever submitted to them—you have had one after another question devised in the hope that it would distract their attention and prevent them from devoting the whole of their ideas and thoughts to the great historical issue that is laid before them. Even to-night I think I observed something of the same policy. The noble Lord who spoke first informed us that he had been selected for the purpose of speaking upon the Welsh Church, and, instead of dwelling upon the issue of Home Rule, which is the issue before the English nation, he has covered the question with a mass of Welsh statistical detail which, for those who try to see with his eye and to penetrate through the volume of his eloquence, will entirely conceal the merits of the original question from their view. That has been the policy—the policy of obfuscating the eyes of the English constituencies, so that they shall not give a clear and fair judgment on the subject of Home Rule. My Lords, it may be good Parliamentary tactics, hut it is a fatal policy for the benefit of the people of this country, and especially of the people of Ireland. The great object that we ought to have in view is to bring this controversy one way or another to a conclusion. Of course, I can understand that it would be useful in dealing with the Irish Parliamentary Party to hold this piece of legislative provender before their noses and to induce them to go on and go on from stop to step as far as you wish, 24 and perhaps in the end you may not feed the faithful animal after all. But, though that may be very convenient from a Whip's point of view, it is deadly to the prosperity of the Irish people. If Home Rule is to be their future, the sooner they have it the better, and adapt themselves to it in such a way as they can. If England is to decide that they are to have Home Rule—and that to my mind is absolutely impossible—the sooner we know her decision the better. But if it be true that England will continue to resist Home Rule—and without her fiat it cannot be—surely the sooner you bring that conviction home to the mind of the Irish tenants the better for the future of Ireland and the social prosperity of her people. What we wish is, that they should understand that the state of things under which they live is a matter they must make the best of, and that they must turn their minds to other means of securing prosperity which lie before them. What we wish is to induce them to do as they can do now—to buy their holdings, become peasant proprietors, and, at the same time, to push forward that policy which is embodied in the Light Railways Act and Acts of that character, and which shall develop, as far as it is possible for a Government to develop, the agricultural prosperity of the country. If you can induce them to turn their attention to that, and induce them to become a peasant proprietary, they will be as conservative as agricultural proprietaries always have been. Time must be taken before that peaceful and salutary revolution can be accomplished—a long time it may be; but gradually a belief in law and order, arising from a firm and continuous application of its enforcement, gradually attachment to the soil, which has become their own, and in which all their interests are wrapped up, will induce them to lay aside their gloomy, dreary, and distracting politics, on which all their best efforts have been for years past wasted and thrown away, and in the whirlpool of which all that nature has given of wealth and prosperity to their country has been lost. Difficult as the task is, and long as the time may be before it is accomplished—long in the life of an individual, short in the life of a nation—the sooner they can buckle to the task the better. I earnestly urge the Government, therefore, not, to allow any 25 consideration of Parliamentary tactics to induce them to do what the Queen's Speech leads us to suspect they will do—that is, to put off the question, merely renewing the promise of it from time to time, in order to keep together the majority by which they are sustained. I hope they will be led into a higher and more patriotic; course, and take the earliest opportunity of deciding what the policy of this United Kingdom is to be for the greatest and most vital question which for centuries has been submitted to her decision.
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (The Earl of ROSEBERY)
My Lords, my first duty in the position which I now unworthily occupy is to return the thanks of Her Majesty's Government to the noble Lords who have moved and seconded the Address to the Crown. I will not dilate on either with the discursive interest displayed by the noble Marquess. Rut I will say that I fully appreciate the knowledge and the zeal with which the Mover applied himself to the consideration of a subject of which he is a master, and on which we shall hope to hear his sentiments whenever the Bill dealing with the Ecclesiastical Estabment in Wales comes before the House. I must also say a word in passing upon the singular charm with which my noble Friend the Seconder invested the often jejune task of seconding the Address. My Lords, I have also, as they had, the need for asking your Lordships' indulgence. We on this side of the House meet under the shadow of a great grief. A week ago we had, perhaps, the greatest Leader that any Party has ever been led by; and I must also say that the tribute of the noble Marquess to his merits, his character, and his genius left nothing to be desired on this side of the House. Every one can appreciate the heartiness of Mr. Gladstone's character and attainments, but there is one aspect of his career which makes his retirement especially pathetic and interesting. I mean the long reach over which his recollection passes. He heard the guns saluting the battle of Waterloo; he heard some of Mr. Canning's greatest speeches; he heard the Reform Debate in 1831 in this House and Lord Brougham's memorable speech. He was, over half a century ago, the right-hand man of Sir Robert Peel's famous Government; and when to this coating of history which he 26 acquired so long ago is added his own transcendent personality, one cannot, it seems to me, help being reminded of some noble river that has gathered its colours from the various soils through which it has passed, but has preserved its identity unimpaired, and gathered itself in one splendid volume before it breasts the eternal sea. But there is one effect of his retirement specially personal to myself, because it is I who have been forced, as it were, by a call which I could not honourably refuse, to stand in his place, and not merely in his place, but in the place of the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign affairs, to whose consummate Leadership of this House I was glad to hear a universal tribute paid this afternoon. The noble Marquess complained of the brevity of the recitals and narratives of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech. I gather that his notion of what a Queen's Speech should be is this: that it should contain a chronicle of all that has taken place of interest in foreign affairs, at any rate, since Parliament last met. On this occasion, by that test, I think that this Speech would fairly meet with a favourable judgment. It is only a week since Parliament separated, and if we had chosen to confine ourselves to the austere rule which the noble Marquess has laid down for the Speech we should indeed have had less to record than the meagre narrative of which he complains. I do not believe—and I am guided to some extent by my recollection of the Speeches that were presumably composed by the noble Marquess himself—that it is necessary on these occasions to put into the Gracious Speech from the Throne all the most material affairs which have taken place in the year and within the control of the Foreign Office. But as the noble Marquess has pointed out some omissions which he thinks are of importance I will endeavour, so far as my imperfect knowledge goes, to supply the deficiency. He misses any mention of Siam. The acute part of the Siamese crisis was over last August, and it hardly seemed worth while to resuscitate that transaction for the benefit of Parliament in the month of March, 1894. But as respects Siam, there is not very much to report. The negotiations for a Treaty between France and Siam came to a conclusion, and as soon as the Articles of that Convention have been executed by the Siamese Government we are assured 27 that the place of Chantaboon, which was occupied as a guarantee for the execution of those provisions, will be evacuated by the French Government. There is no provision of which I am aware in that Convention which remains unexecuted except the trial of the alleged murderer of Monsieur Grosgurin. That trial is now in progress, and I do not doubt when it is concluded that the French Government will fulfil its engagements. Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the responsibility imposed upon them by the fact that the commerce of Siam is almost entirely British, and we have taken due note of the assurances of the French Government, made not less to myself than to my predecessor in Office, that the boundary of French and English influence is divided by the Mekong River. Then the noble Marquess touched upon Matabeleland. Of Matabeleland I confess I do not know much more than the very ample reports which have been published in the daily Press. I do not know much more than that the campaign has been conducted with singular courage, singular skill, and singular success, and that the settlement of the territory so acquired is now in process of completion under the auspices of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Then the noble Marquess wanted to hear something about Egypt. I might almost say the same of Egypt—that there is not much more to report than has been duly narrated in the Papers. Perhaps, indeed, there is not so much. But, at any rate, this may be said: that Egypt is tranquil and is prosperous. Certain incidents which have occurred within the last 14 months have given us grave reason to doubt the permanence of the institutions which we have established in that country. They will no doubt need the vigilant supervision of this country for some time to come; but I am happy to say that peace reigns in Egypt, and that we have, so far as I know, no cause for anxiety in that country. Then there comes the last point to which the noble Marquess directed my attention, the question of Uganda. Here I cannot but say one word as to the irreparable loss that is associated with that region—I mean the death of Sir Gerald Portal. He had that singular combination of talent and chivalrous courage which make 28 some of our younger English diplomatists almost matchless agents for the prosecution of such work, and it was a heavy blow and a great discouragement when, at the termination of his arduous pilgrimage, he, without having orally communicated his views to us on the inquiry which he had prosecuted, returned to this country to die. That melancholy event must have in itself a delaying effect on the publication of our scheme with regard to Uganda. But I can promise the noble Marquess that in a very short time, when the Supplementary Vote comes to be asked for for the purposes of Uganda, a full exposition will be given of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and that Papers will be laid on the Table in ample time to give an opportunity for discussion on the subject. The noble Marquess devoted some pungent remarks to the domestic legislation of Her Majesty's Government. He said that it embodied a well-known programme—I am not sure that it does so fully as he thinks—but that it embodied some well-known programme so completely that it was only necessary for us to put after our insufficient foreign narrative, and our allusion to the Estimates, the words "the domestic programme as per previous." But he also said that so long as we were in Office we seemed to think that there was room for believing that that programme would remain substantially unimpaired, because of our want of success in bringing it into legislation. No one knows better than the noble Marquess what has been the obstacle against which most of our legislation has been wrecked, and I confess I thought it showed a disregard of appearances on his part, if I may say so, when he throw this in our teeth, having himself been the main object and primary cause of why we have not passed more Bills. He also alluded with an air of humorous regret to the absence of shorter Parliaments from our scheme. As long as the House of Lords deals with our Bills as it has been dealing with them lately it is not shorter but much longer Parliaments that we require to carry our measures. As regards the particular item in question, it is no doubt an important one, but it is not so pressing as others that are mentioned in the Gracious Speech. I think we were of opinion that having set forth our legislative desires and ambitions in 29 the Speech of last year, it made it necessary to curb our exuberance to some extent this year, and to keep some bonne bouche for a new Session. The noble Marquess complains of the absence of the Bill for conferring additional powers on the London County Council. I can reassure him. I am quite sure that he wishes to see that creation of his Government fortified with every power that the Legislature can give it, and I am quite sure also that this House will second the anxious wish of the House of Commons in furnishing it with all the authority with which it can be provided. Though it is not mentioned in the Gracious Speech, that Pill will be introduced—I am not sure whether it will be introduced in the form of one Bill or of several Bills—but the noble Marquess may allay all his fears, for it will soon be presented to the other House of Parliament. The noble Marquess touched on the question of the Church Establishments in Wales and Scotland. I do not propose—and perhaps there may be some feeling of relief at the announcement—to follow my noble Friend the Mover of the Address, who is so much more conversant with the subject of the Church Establishment in Wales, nor do I even wish to deal with it on this occasion; because, as the noble Marquess has truly observed, I may have occasion later in the week, and in a more appropriate place, to deal with the ease in Scotland. I do not put the cases of Wales and Scotland exactly on the same basis. The case of Wales is the demand of a country, so great as to be almost unanimous, for the removal of a branch of the Church of England, which is alien to it, and is, therefore, as we are advised, doing far more harm than good to the cause of religion. The case of Scotland, on the other hand, is a case of a creed substantially identical divided into two parts by a hard-and-fast line of Church Establishment and non-establishment. It is for that reason that I cannot put the question of Scotch disestablishment on precisely the same footing as Welsh disestablishment, and have so far curbed the patriotism with which the noble Marquess justly credits me as to advise Her Majesty to put it second on the list. Now we come to the point which, after the badinage of the noble Marquess's speech, lay evidently deep at the bottom of his heart and convictions—I mean the question of Ireland. 30 That is a question which we have no desire to shirk or to evade. We did not omit it from the Queen's Speech from any idea of that description. We omitted all mention of the Home Rule Bill because, unlike last year, it is not our intention to propose a Home Rule Bill in this Session of Parliament. The noble Marquess, with the innocence which pervaded his remarks on other subjects of legislation, said—"Why do you not propose a Home Rule Bill? Why do you not put the Irish peasants out of their pain? Why do you prolong this contest, so irksome to us and so distressing to them? Why not again employ this Session in passing a Home Rule Bill through the other House of Parliament?" I should have thought that the answer to that series of questions would have been sufficiently obvious to all who have the honour of sitting in this House. I should have thought it was sufficiently obvious that it was enough for the House of Commons in one Session of many months to have spent its whole time in passing an elaborate measure only to be met in this House with so cruel a reception. It does not appear to me to be the mere function of the House of Commons to prepare and pass Bills simply in order to furnish sport for the House of Lords. If that were our idea, I cannot conceive a better course to adopt than to accept the advice of the noble Marquess, and to begin at once with our Home Rule Bill; to postpone all legislation for England, Scotland, and Wales for one more year in order to have the pleasure of bringing it up again in the month of September to be rejected once more by a majority of 440 Members of your Lordships' House; and, I suppose, when that had ensued, at the beginning of the next Session the noble Marquess would urge the same reason for then adopting a similar course. There is another course we might adopt. The noble Marquess has not obscurely hinted at it. We might appeal to the country. My Lords, to that country we shall not be afraid to appeal when the time is ripe in our opinion. But I will give him one conclusive reason why we will not, appeal to the country at his invitation. That reason is, that Ave will never concede the right to this hereditary House to enforce a Dissolution on the country. The noble Marquess spoke of the lapse of time that 31 it would require to bring into operation the only true remedy for Irish discontent, of which he, it appears, has the sole secret and copyright. He said they might take long, and I presume that while they were in operation it would be necessary for their duo elaboration that we should keep a Conservative Government in Office. But, my Lords, I would venture to remind him that his most illustrious predecessor in Office, a Prime Minister on his own side of the House, made a speech once on that very subject—a most remarkable speech, which has some bearing on the question of time. It was Lord Beaconsfield's speech in the House of Commons delivered in February, 1844. He pointed out then what were the true causes of what he called the Irish Question, and he pointed out that the ills of Ireland were ills that in other countries would be remedied by a revolution, but that in this country it should be the task of Government by policy to remedy them. He pointed out that if you produced equality of creed, if you redressed the iniquities of Irish administration, in 50 years you would have a happy and contented Irish peasantry. My Lords, last month the 50 years expired, and I do not know, although the Conservative Party have had their due share of power during those 50 years, that we are so very much nearer the happiness and contentment which Mr. Disraeli predicted. If we have any signs of happiness and contentment in Ireland—and I am glad to say that in 18 months those signs have multiplied and increased—those signs of happiness and contentment are, in our opinion, not due to the light railways and other remedies that the noble Marquess adumbrated, but to the hope held out by the Liberal Party that the great boon of local self-government for purely local affairs, so far as it is consonant with the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, would not be long delayed. My Lords, the figures as regards agrarian crimes which have been supplied to me are so remarkable in themselves that I will trouble your Lordships with them. In 1893 there were, exclusive of threatening letters, 207 cases of agrarian crimes in Ireland, or, inclusive of threatening letters, 308 cases of agrarian crimes in that country. Now, the figures of 1893, under either head, are the lowest since 1878–15 years ago 32 —when the totals were, without threatening letters, 181 cases, or, with threatening letters, 301 cases of agrarian crime. I think, then, whether you do or do not attribute this decrease in crime to the same cause as we do, Her Majesty's Government have some ground to be contented with the present condition of Ireland, and have, at any rate a right, after being some 20 months in Office, to put it down to the policy they have pursued, and to the wise and just administration of Mr. John Morley. The noble Marquess made one remark on the subject of Irish Home Rule with which I confess myself in entire accord. He said that before Irish Home Rule is conceded by the Imperial Parliament England, as the predominant Member of the partnership of the Three Kingdoms, will have to be convinced of its justice and equity. That may seem to be a considerable admission to make, because your Lordships will know that the majority of English Members of Parliament, elected from England proper, are hostile to this measure. But I believe that the conviction of England in regard to Home Rule depends on one point alone, and that is the conduct of Ireland herself. I believe that if we can go on showing this clean list of agrarian crime; if we can point to the continued harmony of Ireland with the great Liberal Party of this country; if we can go on giving proofs and pledges that Ireland is entitled to be granted that boon which she has never ceased to demand since the Act of Union was passed, I believe that the conversion of England will be of no slow or difficult character. My Lords, the question of Home Rule is one that I regard not from the point of view of Ireland only. It has for me a triple aspect. It has, in the first place, the aspect that I believe that Ireland will never be contented until this measure of Home Rule be granted to her; and that, though you may come in on other issues and succeed us who sit here, your policy of palliatives is bound to fail. In the second place, I believe that not merely have we in our Irish policy to satisfy those who live in the island of Ireland itself, encompassed, as Mr. Disraeli once said, by that melancholy ocean, we have not merely to satisfy the Irish race within Ireland itself, but, for the good of our Empire, and for the continuity and solidarity of our relations with our brethren across the 33 Atlantic, it is necessary that we should produce an Irish policy which shall satisfy the Irish people. And, lastly, I view it, from the highest Imperial grounds, because I believe that the maintenance of this Empire depends, not on centralisation, but on decentralisation, and that if you once commence to tread this path, you will have to give satisfaction under the same conditions certainly to Scotland, and possibly to Wales, not in the same degree or possibly in the same fashion, but so as to relieve this groaning Imperial Parliament from the burden of legislation under which it labours. I will not detain you further on this subject, which has led me further than I wished. I did not mean to dilate so much on the question of Home Rule. The noble Marquess has, at any rate, the satisfaction of eliciting that declaration. I will only ask you, in conclusion, for that generosity which in this House, whatever its legislative and Constitutional defects may be, is the rule of political warfare. We stand before you a wretched remnant. As in the memorable charge at Balaclava, so here, we have enemies in front of us; and more moderate enemies, I trust, to the right of us; and, from what I have seen in recent Divisions, I am afraid that we have no very cordial friends to the left of us (motioning to the Episcopal Benches). But we stand before you in the confidence, not of our number here—sorely crippled as we are by the loss of our Leader, limited as we are in the number of our votes in this House—we stand before you, confident, not in our own strength, but in the firm belief that we have a large measure of support from the people of the Throe Kingdoms.
§ Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.