HL Deb 05 March 1897 vol 47 cc1-45

moved that the references to the proposed new Commission on the Financial Relations between Great Britain and Ireland be laid before the House. He divided the subject under three heads—the historical aspect, the period between 1800 and 1853, and the period between 1853 and 1897. Before going into the modern question of the Report he should try to clear away two subjects which had been imported into and obscured the main issue. He thought that taxable capacity had been one of the great bugbears and conudrums in the whole of this question. It had been mixed up with ingenuity by their ingenuity by their opponents with the other question of separate entity, and the result had been a conflict of opinion which had made the English taxpayer think that he had to be taxed, or even was taxed now, unfairly relatively to his Irish brother, and that if the Irishman and Scotchman would drink less whisky the Englishman would benefit. The attempt to investigate this question on the whisky or beer basis was absurd, puerile, and unstatesmanlike, and was unjust to the intelligence of those who had gone carefully into it. There were four salient points with regard to taxable capacity. First, considered as regards direct taxation; secondly, as regards indirect taxation; thirdly, considered as regards taxation by individuals or by geographical areas. He thought they might at once dispose of the two latter points. In these islands taxable capacity was regulated by classes of individuals, and therefore every Irishman, every Scotchman, and every Englishman must bear his burden. But then came the question of direct taxation, and here at once they were met by one of the great difficulties of the Report, they were discussing, and also the difficulty of the references to that which was now to be formed. Direct taxation undoubtedly more or less attached itself to those who were well off. In Ireland very few were well off, and very few now are well off. There was no great middle class, as in England. The income tax was deducted from the incomes of rents received, and incomes obtained from commerce, and also from other sources in Ireland. But it was well known that a very large percentage of the income on which that tax was paid was spent in England. He was not referring to absentee landlords, but to the income derived in England from charges on properties in Ireland, on commercial securities invested in England, and on which the income tax goes to England. He also referred to the large sums sent from Ireland to England through the banks, and invested in England, and on which income tax is paid in England and received by England as part of the Imperial revenue. He fancied it was impossible to arrive at these sums; but the sums themselves must be, from the facts he had noted, very large indeed. As regards direct taxation, therefore, alleviation from the income tax only could be sought in some form or another, and only so long as it made no difference in taxation to our fellow-countrymen in Scotland and England. Let him make this clear. Mr. Gladstone put direct taxation and indirect taxation on Ireland in 1853. The first income tax was to last for seven years. It had lasted ever since—over 40 years. If at the time of its imposition there had been what is called an Irish Party in the House of Commons, it was very doubtful if it would have been continued, or been put on at all. Now it was part of the ordinary Imperial taxation, and, as such, was likely to remain so. He merely made this point to show the difference between the two classes of taxation. No Irish Party, on the other hand, could have fought with success, even if united, the imposition of an extra duty on whisky or on tobacco, unless the whole country, the whole taxpaying community, was with them, on the ground that the tax pressed unduly on all classes. Now, with regard to indirect taxation, Ireland, he thought it must be admitted, was a poorer country than Great Britain, yet in the table produced by Sir E. Hamilton it was made clear that in 1892–93 Ireland and England paid almost equal duty per head on tobacco, and Ireland paid slightly more than England on tea. It had been objected by some who had argued this matter that it was unfair for the Irishman to have to pay dearly for what can hardly be called a luxury nowadays, viz., tea and tobacco, and that he was also unfairly treated because he drinks and pays on whisky, while the Englishman drinks and pays on beer. If the Irishman wants to bring about a fair understanding he has only to urge his working class fellow-countrymen in Great Britain to ask a decrease in the tax on tea and tobacco, both articles of daily consumption in England and Scotland; and he did not think, if a solid and universal movement were made in that direction, that any Chancellor of the Exchequer could oppose it. With regard to whisky and beer, they were luxuries, and if they chose to drink they must pay accordingly. No claim could be put forward by Irishmen with regard to unequal indirect taxation. On what they chose to consume they must pay, and abide by Clause 7, which insists on equal taxes, with the reservation of "exemption and abatements." The Commissioners, they found, had arrived at the conclusion that undoubtedly the taxable capacity of Ireland was not very high. In point of fact, they put that taxable capacity at one-twentieth. All he desired to point out on this subject was, Ireland must pay in indirect taxation the equivalent per individual on commodities that are taxed now unless a general change is made in the ratio of that taxation. As regards direct taxation, he believed a case could be made out to justify "abatement" and "exemption," but he hoped no demand would be put forward with a view to asking a remission of income tax. Such remission would only affect the richer classes, and, as he had tried to point out, might only assist those whose Irish money was spent in Great Britain. He now came to the separate fiscal entity problem. Far too much had been made of it, when one realised that Ireland had been treated at one time as a separate entity, and within the next minute as an integral portion of the Empire. Ireland, on the day the debts were amalgamated, became an integral portion, and yet the very day that amalgamation was enacted Ireland was a separate entity, because the 7th Article proclaimed her entitled to "exemption and abatements." How clearly this was understood was shown by the action of Sir R. Peel, when, in 1842, she was proclaimed a separate entity because the income tax was enforced in England and not in Ireland. To go further, at this moment Ireland was a separate entity and an integral portion. She was a separate entity, because in 1896 the Chancellor of the Exchequer set aside a sum of two millions to relieve agriculturists in these islands. Half the local rates were to be paid out of Imperial funds. The Bill was at first confined to England and Wales. Separate Measures were promised for Scotland and Ireland. Ireland, in this case, was treated as a separate entity; and though the area of land available under the Bill in Scotland was only five million acres and in Ireland about 15 million acres, £200,000 was allotted to Scotland and £180,000 was left for Ireland with 15 million acres of land. Ireland got the full benefit of the separate entity in this case, and instead of getting half the amount of local rates as in England, about £900,000, she was to get 9 per cent, of the two millions, £180,000, showing clearly how the proportionate system is adopted when required. ["Hear, hear!"] Yet, simultaneously, there were many instances of her being treated as an integral portion. For example, loans are forced by the Imperial Exchequer upon the Irish local authorities and bodies for the of lunatic asylums. There was no power or option to resist, or even control, though the money could be obtained in the open market at a lower rate. It was mere juggling with this question to talk of separate entities and integral port ions, and it only confused the issue. The problem was a great Imperial difficulty, and must be discussed on a broader and simpler basis. He now came to the main question, and should deal, in the first place, with the historical aspect. It must affect the view of the justice of the Union, and the lines upon which it was framed, anti hall been since maintained as regarded by Irishmen, and, what is even more important, by Englishmen, for he desired, if possible, to convince Englishmen of the sincerity of the motives of Irishmen in bringing this limiter forward; and in due course, as he thought, he should be able to prove, the justice of their contention. He would, in the first place, summarise the views entertained and expressed by the Commission on this point. In all the evidence that he proposed to utilise in fortifying his argument, he should rely mainly on the reports of Sir D. Barbour and Sir Thomas Sutherland, for, as he understood the contention of those who were opposed to their view of the case, these Commissioners were the representatives of the Imperial Exchequer, anti were, so to speak, the advocates against Ireland. It was perfectly clear, from the historical data furnished by the Commissioners, that there rested on the Irish Parliament before the Union an obligation to give some assistance to England, and to support the common cause in case of war with a foreign Power. The amount of such assistance was not, and never had been, settled. It was only a moral obligation. That fact must be clearly remembered; and he wished to impress upon those who took an interest in the great problem that the debt of Ireland up to 1782 was excessively small, the taxation was light, and the expenditure was moderate, and the revenue was adequate to meet the expenditure. This was the statement of Sir 1). Barbour. Then came the French war, 1791. Whether for good or evil, that war turned the whole course of events. Ireland was the vulnerable point in the armour of the two islands. Every effort was male by the pupils of French Republicanism and local agitators to infuse continental ideas and revolutionary notions into the Blind of the Irish people, and the Rebellion of 1798 added to the financial difficulties and the political perplexities and dangers of both islands. Such, broadly outlined, were the factors which led up to the Union. It was necessary to go into the details a little more carefully. When Ireland was independent, in 1782, she made no contribution to the War Establishment. The Military Establishment was fixed, by the Act of 1769, at 15,000 men, of which 12,000 were to remain in Ireland. Attempts were made at different times before 1793 to obtain financial assistance from Ireland; and in 1785 a plan was arranged, on the advice of Pitt, by which Ireland was to make over for this purpose whatever amount her revenue might yield over and above £656,000, which was accounted the hereditary revenue of the Crown, provided that her income and expenditure balanced, she receiving, as consideration for this liberality, complete freedom of trade with Great Britain and the Colonies, which she had not previously enjoyed. This Measure was practically accepted by the Irish Parliament, but afterwards had to be abandoned, owing to the jealousy of British traders, who denounced the policy of admitting Ireland to an equality in regard to home and foreign trade. That was the statement of Sir Thomas Sutherland. It had been his good fortune, in examining into this question, to come across a letter of Mr. Pitt's on the future Union policy. That letter was written to the Duke of Rutland, and was to be found in the private correspondence between the Duke of Rutland and Mr. Pitt, which was printed in London 1842. That letter gave, to his mind, the keynote to the whole policy of the proposed Union; but, as it was very long, he should only quote the following few short and important passages:— If it is indispensable, therefore, that the contributions should be in some degree ascertained at present, it is equally clear, on the other hand, that the quantum of it must not be fixed to any stated sum, which of necessity would either he too great at present or in a little time hence too small. The only thing that seems reasonable is to appropriate a certain fund towards supporting the general expenses of the time of peace, and leave it, as it must be left, to the zeal of Ireland to provide for extraordinary emergencies in time of war as they arise. The fund which seems the best, and indeed the only one that has been pointed out for this purpose, is the hereditary revenue. Though the effect will not be immediate, our object will be attained if the future surplus of this revenue beyond its present produce, estimated at the medium of the four or five last years, is applied in the manner we wish. Such a fund, from the nature of the articles of which it is composed, must have a direct relation to the wealth, the commerce, and the population of Ireland. It will increase with their extension, and cannot even begin to exist without it. Towards this country it will be more acceptable than a much larger contribution in any other way, because, if in fact the commerce of Ireland should be increased at our expense by our manufactures and trade being transferred in any degree thither, the compensation will arise in the same proportion. It has this further inestimable advantage, from being fixed according to a standard which will apply to all the future circumstances of the two countries, that it will from the very permanence of the principle, tend to unite them more closely and firmly to each other. In Ireland it cannot escape consideration, that this is a contribution not given beforehand for uncertain expectations, but which can only follow the actual possession and enjoyment of the benefits in return for which it is given. If Ireland does not grow richer and more populous, she will by this scheme contribute nothing." The plan, however, of 1785, which Grattan called "the Union in, limine," failed, and the two countries struggled on apart. In Ireland the expenditure quadrupled between 1796 and 1800, and the deficit rose to £2,500,000. The debt of the county increased by £26,623,673 during the last 18 years of independent Parliament. But in England matters were much worse, and this was the statement of the English champion on the Commission, Sir Thomas Sutherland, on this subject:— The Exchequer deficit rose to £22,607,687 in last five years of the century. It must be remembered that at this date the population of Great Britain and Ireland stood, relatively, as little more than two to one. The population of Great Britain was 10,500,000, and that of Ireland 5,000,000. Yet the expenditure of Great Britain was so enormous that her annual deficit was nearly twenty-three millions, or nine times as large as that of Ireland. The debts of the two countries were in still greater disproportion. The funded debt of Great Britain in 1801 was £446,594,145, and that of Ireland was only £28,541,157; that was in a proportion of more than fifteen to one." As opposed to this, during Grattan's Parliament, 1783–91, the supplies of Ire-land amounted to rather more than 40 per cent. of the gross Irish revenue. He thought, therefore, from all the evidence they had, that Ireland, up to the Act of Union, had the best of the bargain. She had not to contribute more than what she chose, to the forces of the Empire. Her debt, though growing, was not ruinous. Her commerce was, no doubt, hampered, and would have felt the obstructions more and more year by year as Great Britain prospered; but still, taking all into consideration, Ireland was in a position to make fair, if not excellent, terms, having special regard to the fact that Ireland was, and remained to this day, the vulnerable point in any question of invasion, and that therefore England had to make some terms; and that her debt, though increasing, was not ruinous; that her Parliament was free to make terms, and the whole question was one of a Treaty between the two islands—a Treaty framed by the wisest of statesmen, with marvellous foresight and a supreme desire to do justice for years to come to the poorer mid, at the moment, free partner, Ireland. That was clearly proved by Pitt's letter which he had quoted, and by his speeches. He now came to the terms of the Act of Union as dealt with by the Commission, and the effect it should have had, and did have, between the years 1800 and 1853. In the first place, let him clearly say that he believed those Irishmen who protested against its accomplishment were right then; still he was convinced, from the course of history since, that, were Grattan and others of that most able and patriotic body still alive, they would be the first to acknowledge how essential the Union was to the existence of Great Britain and Ireland; but be was also convinced that they would have considered the terms of the Treaty were broken after 1853, and would have logically and steadfastly upheld the contention of the Report of this Commission. He was also convinced that Mr. Pitt attempted, as a great statesman, to make as fair a bargain as he could between the conflicting elements; and he thought that, if it had not been for the incidence of the French war, that that bargain would have stood the test of time; and he also said this, and believed it would be proved when the conclusions of the new Commission were arrived at, if the references are fair, that this bargain had, of late years, not been acted upon fairly and in the spirit and in the manner indicated by Mr. Pitt. He would again take as his witnesses Sir D. Barbour and Sir Thomas Sutherland. Sir D. Barbour says:— However excellent the intentions of the Government of Great Britain at that time may have been, it must be admitted that the question of the proportion in which Ireland should contribute to joint expenditure did not receive, before it was accepted, that degree of careful consideration which its importance deserved and demanded. Lord Castlereagh also, when discussing the question and the proportionate ratios, said that Parliament was to have the power to revise the proportionate contributions of 15 to 2 at the end of 20 years, in case they might under different circumstances, prove to be both partial and disadvantageous. By there being a provision for revision, Ireland has the utmost possible security that she cannot be taxed beyond the measure of her comparative ability, and that the ratio of her contributions must ever correspond with her relative wealth and prosperity. Article 7 of the Act of Union, on which the whole of this controversy must rest, except that relating to indirect taxation, which was a lacer and far-reaching one and an Imperial question, distinctly laid down That the expenditure of the United Kingdom shall be defrayed indiscriminately by equal taxes imposed on the like articles in both countries, subject only to such abatements and exemptions in Ireland and in Scotland as circumstances may from time to time demand. He believed that, if anyone would with impartial mind study this question, they would find that the Act of Union laid it down, that though no taxes could be levied at higher rates in Ireland or Scotland than in England, yet that taxes might be raised in England which were not to be levied in the other two countries. He now came to the period between 1800 and 1816 up to 1853. There was a salient point which came out when reading the Act of Union—namely, that legally Ireland remained a separate entity and entitled to special consideration financially, and that such Treatment was to remain in existence until she had crept up to such a position fiscally as would place her according to the ratio agreed upon, in an analogous position with England; also that Scotland was entitled to participate in such exceptional treatment. Such, he was convinced, was the idea underlying the Act of Union. The actual plan on which the fiscal arrangements were made was 2–17ths for Ireland in common expenditure, and 15–17ths for England. This was arrived at by a comparison of the trade of the two countries. These Estimates, however, went entirely by the board, for, as Sir Thomas Sutherland said, in the first 16 years of the Union the revenue raised in great Britain amounted to no less than £927,659,129, and that raised in Ireland in the same period, to £77,844,194. Notwithstanding the large revenue thus raised, a deficit accrued in the finances of Great Britain (after accounting for joint and separate expenditure) which amounted to £373,961,471, while the Irish deficit similarly rose to £81,893,611. These deficits had to be added to the previous respective debts of the two countries, and the result was to alter entirely the relative proportions of their indebtedness. The debt of Great Britain had been, as already stated, more than 15 times greater than that of Ireland. The debt of Great Britain now stood at £737,422,469, and that of Ireland at £112,684,773, so that the former was only six and a-half times greater than that of the latter. Both in Great Britain and Ireland great efforts had been made to raise increased revenue during this long period of war, but they fell short of what was required in both cases. The result was that in 1817 it was found necessary to amalgamate the debts of both countries. He would ask their lordships to tear these facts in mind—namely, (1) that Ireland's debt was small before the Union, though undoubtedly growing; (2) that Ireland had to join England in the French War whether she liked it or not, because England knew that Ireland was the most vulnerable point for invasion; (3) that Ireland had been refused, previous to the Act of Union, owing to the jealousy of British traders, an advantageous bargain; and (4) that. Ireland, if she had remained independent of England, could have refused assistance or reduced her military establishment. He would quote Sir D. Barbour on this point—an impartial, or perhaps a partially English, authority. He said:— As, however, the war expenditure continued to grow, and Ireland could not obtain that reduction of the Irish Military establishment which an Irish Parliament would certainly have carried out after 1805, if not sooner, there can be no question but that Ireland on the whole lost heavily by having to contribute to joint expenditure in the proportion of 1 to 7½ in the years 1801–2 to 1816–17. Her debt had been run up to provide for the emergency of the French War. Her taxation had risen enormously. Her population was in a very poor and miserable condition after the rebellion of 1798, and her representatives in the Imperial Parliament were, for the most part, nominees of certain great houses, and were in that transition state which must result when a minor Parliament was merged in a larger body. Grattan made a few attempts to protest, but failed, and the result was that after the 5th January 1817, all revenue in Great Britain and Ireland was constituted a general fund called the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, and that fund was charged with and indiscriminately applied to, (1) the services of the British and Irish Debt; (2) the Civil List (this was a question which might with great advantage he examined by the new Commission); (3) all other services previously charged in the separate consolidated funds of the two Kingdoms; and (4) Supply of the United Kingdom generally. He would now deal with the period between 1817 and 1853. He was glad to say that the period from 1817 up to 1853 was uneventful as regards taxation. It was clear that the statesmen of that day, and especially Sir R. Peel, living, he supposed, nearer to the Act of Union and with more cognisance of the views held by those who had negotiated that treaty, looked upon the bargain as one that ought to be kept as much as possible, not only in the spirit, but in the letter. The first point that cropped up was in 1842, when Sir IL Peel renewed the income tax in England, because he had to meet a deficit. It had been repealed in 1816, the year before the amalgamation of the debts, a curious circumstance which should be investigated. The object of renewing it in 1842 was to ease the taxation on the manufacturing interests in England, and the tax was not extended to Ireland for these reasons. Sir Robert Peel gave on this occasion a special reason for not extending the income tax to Ireland. He said, that it was impossible to disregard the fact that although' Ireland would benefit in some respects from the proposed remissions yet that from the peculiar circumstances of Great Britain as compared to Ireland, the advantage of that course would not be chiefly for Ireland, but fur this part of the United Kingdom. He went on to prove this in some detail with regard to the remissions which it was then proposed to make, adding that ho was led to the conclusion that, from the remission of duties upon important manufactures, Great Britain would derive by far the greater advantage. He now came to the most important period of all, except that of the Union, a period when all the precepts of the bargain between the two countries were set at nought, when all the wiser counsels of the time between 1817 and 1850 were forgotten, and when grave questions arose which must be faced. He referred to the taxation of 1853, and the reasons given for that taxation and at the same time the inaccurate statements which were made then, and had been made continuously since, with a view to proving that, though new taxes were being raised in Ireland, still so much was due from Ireland to England in the shape of advances that the two things balanced each other and that no hardship was inflicted. Mr. Childers summarised in his report the amount of fresh taxation which was imposed in Ireland from 1850 to 1860 and up to the present date. He said:— Between 1820 and 1850 the Irish true revenue, without very great fluctuations, stood at about 5¼ millions. Subsequently to 1860 it has stood without great fluctuations at about 7½ millions. It may therefore be said that in this period about 2¼ millions per annum were added to the permanent taxation of Ireland; and as he compared it with the taxation from 1820 up to that date, that summary gave a very clear idea of the increase. The statement contained in the table furnished by Sir E. Hamilton in his evidence, also proved that the total tax revenue per head of population in Ireland was 13s. 11d. in 1849–50 and that it became £1 5s. 4d. between 1859 and 1860, an increase of nearly 80 per cent while in Great Britain the increase was only from £2 7s. 8d. to £2 10s. per head. Again, to further substantiate the fact that a great increase of taxation was made, and unwisely made, at that period, there was the unanimous report of the Commissioners that the increase of the taxation was not justified by the then existing circumstances. The time chosen was most inopportune, and one might almost say heartless. Ireland was just recovering from the awful famine period, and though undoubtedly recovering, still the patient was weak and suffering. But—and he now came to the most important features of this new taxation, the Budget of 1853—Mr. Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, gave the following reasons for his proposed action. That the income tax was to be temporary for seven years; that the principle of equality of taxation should be applied as between Great Britain and Ireland; that Ireland should share the burden of income tax with Great Britain, because she would benefit in the reduction on indirect taxation; and, lastly, he pointed out that as Ireland had suffered severely by the famine, as a set off the Exchequer proposed the remission of £4,000,000 due from Ireland to the Exchequer. This £4,000,000 was due for the establishment for the Poor Law Relief Measures of 1846–48. He would venture, with all humility, to try and disprove the justness of the conclusions arrived at by Mr. Gladstone, and he would try to show that unwittingly, and without any real desire to injure Ireland, he inflicted by that Budget a burden she was not called upon to bear. He must here return his best thanks to Mr. Synott, a gentleman who gave a most able lecture on this subject in Dublin last month. In the first place, we must remember the income tax became, a permanent tax, and that it was raised to 16d. in 1856–57. Mr. Synott, in his paper, said:— Comparing expectations and actual results, Whilst Mr. Gladstone anticipated that the income tax in Ireland at 7d. would bring in £460.000, and, following out the same proportion, by the end of 1860 would have then produced a total of £2,692.000, I find that for the year ending 31st March 1855, the income tax collected in Ireland amounted to £823,839. In 1856 it produced £1,149,290, in 1857 £1,180,452, in 1858 £842,910, in 1859 £509,245, in 1860 £718,368, or a total for six years of £5,224,104, or as nearly as possible double the estimated amount. In all, Ireland has paid in income tax alone from 1853 to 1896 an average annual sum of £550,000, or a total of 23½ millions. But Mr. Gladstone assumed that it was fair to impose this tax on Ireland because she had benefited by the remission of certain taxes between 1842 and 1850. The answer to that was that with the exception, he thought, of the Stamp Duties, which were lessened over both Kingdoms, and of the taxes taken off, nearly all were those affecting Great Britain only, and not Ireland. This could be proved from the Return of Mr. Chisholm, prepared in 1865, and also those furnished by the Inland Revenue to this Commission. Then they came to the so-called remission of 1853; and here the same operation of exempting Great Britain at the expense of the sister island was, he contended, and he regretted to have to say it, performed. Of a total of £5,322,000 remitted, £1,442,000 were taxes on Great Britain and England only. Of the balance, £3,900,000, Ireland got her proportion, about 1–10th or £390,000, while at the same time two and a-half millions were added as fresh taxation on Ireland. Now he came to what Mr. Gladstone called the "set off" of £4,000,000. A Committee of their Lordships' House had decided in 1853 that £2,000,000 of the Consolidated Annuities lent to Ireland should be remitted altogether, on the ground that it was for famine purposes, and because the works carried out under Government supervision had been wastefully and uselessly expended. Now Mr. Gladstone proposed that £4,000,000 of the Consolidated Annuities should be remitted, and he pointed out what a great boon this remission was, as the interest from this fund would have lasted in whole, or part, for 40 years, while the Income Tax would only last seven years. That was in 1853, and it was now 1897; and the Income Tax was still with us. What was perhaps as remarkable, was that the interest of the Consolidated Annuities was only £245,000, while the income that the Imperial Exchequer gained from the imposition of the Income Tax on Ireland was, as he had already pointed out, an average annual sum of £550,000, and a grand total of 23½ millions for the remission of four millions. This was not business, and he thought the Treasury might be heartily congratulated on the Budget Scheme of 1853. Whether they in Ireland have equal grounds for satisfaction he must leave their Lordships to decide. There was one point also that was worth noting. Ireland did not control the expenditure of the two or four millions spent in Poor Relief, apparently so wastefully, and Mr. Symott puts the case very tersely when he says:— The imposition of the Income Tax in lieu of the Consolidated Annuities in fact amounted to this, that Great Britain having incurred, as she conceived a bad debt in one part of Ireland, got repayment from the more solvent parts of the country. He came now to another point involved within this period, and which was constantly used by those who thought that their contention was not accurate, namely, the statement that loans had been often remitted to Ireland, and that, therefore, this compensation had been given indirectly or even directly for increased taxation. First of all it appeared that in the Treasury appendices, Vol. 1, p. 479, where the Returns were given of loans remitted, they had not only the £2,000,000 remitted in 1848 (half the Labour Rate advances) which he had dealt with, but also their old friend £4,000,000 of the Consolidated Annuities. These were not loans at all after 1853. He might just as well lend a friend £100 and ask him to pay him three per cent. and sinking fund with a view to extinguishing the loan, then after sonic time force hint to pay instead an annual sum in excess of the interest and sinking fund for 50 years, and at the end of the 50 years debit him with the capital sum. But he would now go on to other loans supposed to have been remitted as per Treasury return. The sum of them is £10,376,534. Deduct the £2,000,000 of 1848 and the four million Consolidated Annuities and they found about £3,900,000 which were treated as remissions. It could be proved, and he thought conclusively, that these were not remissions. He would not weary their Lordships with details. There were one or two matters in this category of loans which had been transplanted by the Treasury, and not remitted, one to the Imperial Exchequer account for constabulary and one to the Irish Church Fund. On this latter transplant, the Treasury had been once more: a gainer. But taking the whole sum indicated in this account there had been no remission, merely a transference or transplant. He was told on good authority, and as far as he could follow it himself, his authority was accurate, that under the Local Loans Act there was established a "Restitution Fund," by which these so-called remissions were being repaid by annual instalments. In these circumstances, he hardly thought that any compensation by virtue of remission could be claimed for increased taxation. He would now summarise, as shortly as possible, the various points he had brought forward in support of his contention. In the first place Ireland entered into a Treaty with Great Britain on certain terms as regards taxation. Have those terms been adhered to in the spirit and the letter? Up to 1853 they must consider that they were, but after that date they were departed from. The taxation, direct and indirect, imposed at that time on Ireland, was not accompanied by the abatements and exemptions necessitated by the circumstances of the case as set out in the Treaty. Again, had Ireland benefited under the Union in the manlier that Mr. Pitt (its framer) intended? To a certain extent she had benefited. Had Ireland obtained since the Act of Union and the amalgamation of the Exchequer the, "exemptions and abatements" which were the essence of the financial arrangements? Mr. Pitt said in the letter he had quoted that "if Ireland does not grow richer and more populous, she will, by this scheme contribute nothing." She, was certainly less populous, and all her rural districts are poorer, owing to the closing of corn mills, woollen factories, etc, Manufactories in ruins are seen in all directions. There had not been that growth of prosperity which had been developed so rapidly in Great Britain. Ireland was, therefore, to his mind, to a certain extent in the same condition as that contemplated when article 7 was written. Now there was one point which now cropped up and must be dealt with. It was asserted by opponents that though! Ireland might pay noire than her due proportion, having regard to her taxable, capacity, still so much was expended on Ireland, according to the Treasury Return, that no injustice took place. He thought that he could prove in a few sentences the principle adopted by the Treasury in dealing with those Returns was illegal. The Treasury made out Returns dividing expenditure—he was only dealing with expenditure—under four heads—Imperial, English, Scottish, and Irish. Such discrimination was illegal and misleading. The law, as laid down by article 7, was that the expenditure was to be spread over the whole United Kingdom without discrimination, and the Statute 56 of George III., ch. 98, which dealt with the amalgamation of exchequers went still further as it recited, that the Consolidated Fund—that is the receipts from taxation— shall be in like manner indiscriminately applied to the service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or any part thereof, as shall be directed by Act of Parliament, and be issued and applied accordingly. That was the legal aspect of the question, and he believed if they had in the constitution a Supreme Court, such as existed in America, that Ireland would be able to claim legally the fulfilment of this arrangement. But if one went into the financial aspect of this point, one found that the Treasury, by its division of expenditure, was obscuring the true issue. He would take two or three examples to convince their Lordships. The total Naval and Military expenditure 1893–94 was set out as £33,566,571. This was all called "Imperial" But the great amount of this expenditure was spent in England, where all the great factories existed. If the Treasury method was a fair finance method, Ireland and Scotland should only be charged with the portion spent within their borders. But under the Treasury Scheme they contributed in full proportion. He would take one other example—the Treasury Vote itself. This was classified as £37,520 imperial, £39,972 English, £3,900 Scottish, a laid £5,500 Irish. If one turned to the Report one found that the Treasury salaries, amounting to about £75,000, were all earned and paid and spent in England. How did the Treasury evolve £37,520 (the Imperial) out of this total, and how did the Treasury manage to put its salaried half into an Imperial pocket and half into an English? These salaries were all earned in England, paid in England, and spent in England. This was the financial legerdemain practised by the Treasury. These examples showed the manipulation of figures, and he thought they proved that no reliance could be placed on the Treasury Returns as a basis of proof against their contention. They could, by shifting the figures, and by taking a separate entity here and an integral portion there, make a good or bad case as they chose. Logically, legally, and financially, Ireland was entitled to redress under the clause of "exemptions and abatements"—not as a beggar or suppliant, but as a suitor in the constitutional Court of the Empire. He might be asked, What is the remedy which you suggest? He would say this, The credit of thins Empire stood higher than that of any oilier country in the world. Why not give Ireland the full advantage of that credit? Create, if they thought wise, an Irish Consolidated Fund, to be managed by Irish financiers—there were very capable men in Ireland—who knew the country and her necessities. Let that fund be utilised to promote her industries, agricultural and otherwise, and when the time came, as come it must, when Parliament had to create a local government for Ireland, with County Councils, let them also have the power to draw upon that.resource. By such a scheme they would inflict absolutely no hardship on any taxpayer within these two islands. The fund could be secured, as far as the Treasury was concerned, on the whole resources of Ireland. Britain with her credit could give it at a low rate of interest, and the repayment of the instalments might be for a lengthened period. He thought if that could be done they would find that the pressure of indirect taxation, because they were poorer, as industries increased and the influx of capital assisted them and made them more prosperous, would feel that pressure less, and he also thought, and was almost convinced, that the time would come, mid that pretty soon, too, when this Parliament would be able to expunge the words "exemptions and abatements" for Ireland and Scotland out of the financial history of Great Britain.


There is, of course, no objection to the Motion which the noble Lord has put upon the Paper. The terms of reference, as he is, no doubt, aware, have already been communicated to the other House of Parliament, and there can be no sort of reason why they should not be made known to this House also. Having listened attentively to his speech—which might not inappropriately take its place in the Blue-book as one more supplementary report upon the financial relations question—I am in sonic doubt whether the noble Lord agrees or does not agree with the Government in thinking that the case is one in which further inquiry is necessary. For that, after all, is the question. I think your Lordships must all have been struck by the remarkable moderation of his tone—["hear, hear"]—and some of us, perhaps, may have contrasted it mentally with another speech which the noble Lord delivered in Ireland during the Recess, and which was, perhaps, not quite so remarkable for the same quality. [A laugh.] We are sometimes told that the atmosphere of this House is depressing upon those who have to address it, and it is, perhaps, owing to that circumstance we were deprived of the pleasure of listening to sonic of that more fervid and exuberant eloquence which the noble Lord's audience at Cork had the good fortune to hear. [Laughter.] The circumstances were remarkable. A Royal Commission, comprising members of great reputation and eminence, members who represented different departments of administration in this country, members with experience of political life in the Colonies and India, representatives of commercial and financial interests, and gentlemen connected with Ireland, had joined, or the majority of them had joined, in reporting to Parliament that in their opinion Ireland contributed to the Imperial Exchequer a larger sum than we had a right to demand from her. It was, surely, natural that under such circumstances there were pleasant anticipations of an immediate lightening of the burden with, perhaps, the payment of a few odd millions by way of reparation. Here was a, new platform on which the old differences were to disappear, a platform on which Home Rulers and Unionists, landlords and tenants might unite their forces and advance in a solid phalanx upon the Treasury. But Her Majesty's Government were obliged to consider the situation in a more calculating and cold-blooded fashion, and to remember that, in this matter not only the interests of the Irish taxpayers were involved, but also those of the taxpayers of the rest of the United Kingdom, and that the question was one which concerned not only the financial but the political relations of the two countries. We had to bear in mind, too, that no Royal Commission, however eminent, could in such a case relieve Parliament or the Government of the day which owes its existence to the confidence of Parliament from its responsibility. [Opposition cheers.] I shall not say one disrespectful word as to the composition of the Royal Commission or as to the ability of the Papers which it has produced, but I do say that if the eminent men of whom it was composed had deliberately set to work to lay their verdict before the public in a shape calculated to give it a minimum of authority they could not have been more successful. I remember, and noble Lords connected with Ireland will not have forgotten it, a Commission, presided over by the late Lord Bessborough, of which Mr. Gladstone observed that it had produced not a Report, but a litter of Reports. This Royal Commission has produced a litter of Reports, and an even more numerous litter than that of the Bessborough Commission. It comprises altogether no less than nine documents. There is the so-called Final Joint Report of the Commissioners; there is the Chairman's Report signed by himself and only four out of his twelve colleagues; there is the Report signed by the two noble Lords opposite and by the late Mr. Bertram Currie; there is the separate Memorandum by Lord Welby; there is the Report of the three Commissioners who may be regarded as specially representing Irish interests; there is the separate Memorandum by one of those Members; there are two separate Reports signed by Sir David Barbour and Sir Thomas Sutherland, each of them very weighty and well-reasoned Papers; and, finally, there is the draft Report of the late Mr. Childers, who, unfortunately, died before the labours of the Commission were accomplished. Those who navigate a stream which divides itself into so many channels may be forgiven if they find occasionally themselves lost amidst its intricacies, or stick fast upon t he shoals which they encounter at every paint. Let me say a word with regard to the main Report, that which is, I think, not very felicitously described as the "Final Joint" Report of the Commissioners. It is difficult to discover it city elements of finality, and it is scarcely a "Joint Report," inasmuch as the signatures of two conspicuous members of the Commission are not attached to it. It is a despairing effort at unanimity, and the circumstances under which it is written are described with much frankness in the draft Report prepared by Mr. Blake. This is what he says:— It has been thought impossible to construct a detailed 'joint' report which should reconcile our differences of view on some questions, or which should do justice to the varying shades of opinion and diverse chains of reasoning of the several Commissioners on many points on winch there is yet in the result a great approach to substantial agreement. There is room for doubt with regard to the "substantial agreement," but there is no room for doubt as to the "differences of view" or the "varying shades of opinion" and "diverse chains of reasoning." Let us, however, see how far the "Final" Report of the Commissioners carries us. It is a document of extraordinary brevity, for it comprises less than two pages of printed matter. Of these one page and a half are occupied by a recital of the circumstances under which the Commission was appointed, and of the terms of reference and the circumstances under which the inquiry took place. The Report, however, contributes one admission of great importance and five propositions which are described as "points of general agreement." The admission is that which is contained in the fourth paragraph, which runs as follows:— The terms of reference that were drawn up for our guidance were probably dictated by the fact that the investigation was contemplated in connection with the Home Rule Bill of 1893, the financial arrangements of which were proposed to be at first of a temporary character, their final adjustment being left undecided until after the results of our inquiry were made known. It is, I think, impossible to overrate the importance of that admission, for it shows that the Commission was appointed upon the assumption that Ireland was to be given a separate political as well as a separate financial system, and that the Royal Commissioners by whom the Report is signed considered themselves bound to proceed upon that assumption. ["Hear, hear'"] I come now to the five conclusions upon which the Royal Commissioners are agreed. Two of them may be described as of merely historial interest. We are told that the Act of Union imposed upon Ireland a burden which, as events showed, she was unable to bear, and that the increased taxation laid upon Ireland between 1853 and 1860 was not justified by the then existing circumstances. Whether those propositions are stated in the most accurate and appropriate language is, I think, open to question. The inability of Ireland to bear the burden laid upon her by the Act of Union was mainly due to the enormous expense to which this country was put by the great war—a burden which taxed the resources of the wealthier partner, and was intolerable to the poorer. I think it should also be added that, if the taxation imposed between 1853—


I only pointed out that an increase of taxation was put upon Ireland which at that moment was a very severe burden upon her. But I also clearly pointed out that, as far as the question of indirect taxation goes, I ant perfectly convinced that the Irishman must stand exactly on the same footing as the Englishman and the Scotchman.


I was merely going to say that if the increased taxation laid upon Ireland between 1853 and 1860 pressed upon her with undue severity it was mainly because she had not at that time recovered from the exhaustion occasioned by the famine, so that no moment could have been more inopportune for adding to her financial burdens; but neither of these propositions touches the real question, winch is, not whether Ireland paid too much at the beginning of the century or 40 years ago, but whether she pays too much now. Then the Royal Commissioners announce to us that identity of rates of taxation does not necessarily involve equality of burden. I do not imagine that the Royal Commissioners would take credit to themselves for this as a new and startling discovery. It is, if I may be forgiven for saying so, a commonplace; no one will dispute it, and it does not add to our knowledge. There remain two statements, which are virtually the beginning and end of the main Report. The proposition that Great Britain and Ireland are to be considered for the purpose of this inquiry as separate entities, and the proposition that, while the taxable capacity of Ireland is one-twentieth of that of Great Britain, the actual tax revenue of Ireland is one-eleventh of that of Great Britain. And first, with regard to the separate entity proposition. There has never been an expression over which so much controversy has raged. To some persons the words are a solace; to others they are a veritable red rag. Our difficulty lies in this, that there is nothing in the joint Report to show what the Royal Commissioners mean when they talk of Ireland as a "separate entity." I am not here to contend that, for purposes of statistical comparison, Ireland may not, in one sense of the words, be regarded as a "separate entity." No one will, I suppose, deny that an indiscriminate system of taxation may operate unequally upon different parts of the same country, or that, in the imposition of taxation, a prudent financier should always take care that no tax presses with undue severity upon a particular section of the community, whether that section be represented by a class or by a geographical area; nor will it be disputed that, when the limits within which the class is distributed coincide with a well-defined geographical area, the inequality, if there is one, becomes more marked and the sense of wrong more acute. These considerations must obviously apply with peculiar force in the case of Ireland, and if we mean that the two countries should start with a common system of taxation, and that we should then, having regard to all these considerations, ask whether that system presses inequitably upon Ireland, we need not, I think, quarrel with those who describe Ireland as a "separate entity." I would go even further, and say that, to deny to her the position of a separate entity in this sense is to fly in the face of facts. Not a year passes without some legislation of special application to Ireland, and I think it may be fairly said that, in proportion as her individuality in such respects is a marked individuality, she has a stronger claim to separate consideration for fiscal purposes. That is, I believe, tile principle embodied in that clause of the Act of Union to which reference has been made, the clause under which Ireland, starting with a common exchequer, is entitled to particular exemptions and abatements, provided she is able to establish a claim to them, and it is upon this same principle that we proceed when, in again referring the question to a new Royal Commission, we desire them to report Whether, when regard is had to the nature of the taxes now in force, to existing exemptions, and to the amount of expenditure by the State on local services, the provision in the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland, with regard to 'particular exemptions or abatements' calls for any modification in the financial system of the United Kingdom. I cannot resist quoting in this connection the opinions expressed in well-chosen language by the Belfast Chamber of Commerce in a recently published report of their Council:— Having carefully examined the constitutional aspects of the question, we have to say that in our opinion Great Britain and Ireland must be treated as two countries which have a common financial system. It would seem to us that the ultimate object of the Act of Union was (subject to certain provisions by which the interests of the poorer country were safeguarded and which apply to Scotland as well as to Ireland) to establish a financial system common both to Great Britain and to Ireland. What was contemplated by the Act of Union, and what was in point of fact carried out through the amalgamation of the Exchequers of Great Britain and Ireland in the year 1817, was that the revenue of the United Kingdom should be contributed to a common fund, and that all expenditure should be met from that fund. We are, consequently, most strongly of opinion that to hold that in the present day and for the future Great Britain and Ireland must be treated as separate financial entities, except for the purpose of considering the particular exemptions or abatements to be made in Ireland whenever circumstances require them, would be contrary to the intention and provisions of the Act of Union. By the 7th article of the Act of Union provision, repeated and reenacted in the Act of 1816, was made for certain particular exemptions and abatements in Ireland and Scotland, if it should at any time appear that from any cause the incidence of an indiscriminate and equal taxation should press with undue severity on either of these countries. It thus appears that Ireland was and is entitled to special consideration in fiscal matters, and that it was never contemplated or intended by the Legislature that such claim should become extinct. Here we have stated with admirable clearness the two propositions which will, I hope, be universally accepted—that the two countries are to remain under a common financial system, but that the incidence of that system on the poorer country should be carefully considered. It is upon those propositions that we found ourselves when in referring the question to a new Commission we desire it to report whether, when regard is had to the nature of the taxes now in force, to existing exemptions, and to the amount of expenditure by the State on local services, the provision in the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland, with regard to "particular exemptions or abatements," calls for any modification in the financial system of the United Kingdom. It is, however, perfectly clear that when the Royal Commissioners or the majority of them talk of a "separate entity" they mean a great deal more than this. If we want to find out what they do mean we must look to the separate Reports. I turn to that of the two noble Lords opposite. They tell us that the policy of applying equal rates of taxation to all parts of Great Britain—a policy which had been kept in view since the Union—can no longer be regarded as the leading principle of financial legislation. It was the principle of financial legislation. It was the principle for which Sir Stafford North-cote and Mr. Lowe contended, but that principle has been "given up," and it is, they add— abundantly clear that of the two conflicting theories, viz., that which regards Great Britain and Ireland as one country for the purpose of taxation and expenditure, and the other, which regards Great Britain and Ireland as separate partners—the second is the one upon which their instructions are founded. Pressing their conclusion to extremities, they suggest that we should "put upon the Irish people the duty of levying their own taxes and of providing for their own expenditure," and, in order to leave us in no doubt as to their meaning, they contemplate the possibility of the imposition of new Customs duties in Ireland—a result in which they would acquiesce, believing as they do that in Ireland, as in the colonies, "freedom is a greater good than free trade." The language of Mr. Sexton and his colleagues upon this part of the case is still more outspoken; for they base their argument on the assumption that "what is contemplated" by the reference to the Commission "can only be the transfer of control over Irish finance to an Irish Legislature." It is impossible to read these documents without coming to the conclusion that the Royal Commissioners, or at any rate those who were responsible for the major part of the printed matter contained in the Blue-book, had male up their minds that Ireland was to be treated as a separate entity, not in any restricted sense of the words, but in their widest and most far-reaching sense, and that, instead of starting with a common system of taxation, we were to regard Ireland as associated with this country as a quasi-independent partner, entitled to a political and therefore to a fiscal system of her own. That contention, be it sound or unsound, is open to the fatal objection that the people of this country have decided in the most emphatic manner against it, and it is because we believe that this inquiry, founded as it was upon a Home Rule basis, and pointing as it does, if it points anywhere, to a Home Rule solution, is suspect as to its origin and as to the direction in which it leads us, that we decline, without supplementary inquiry, to follow its lead. ["Hear, hear!"] We may be asked why, if we accept the interpretation of the Act of Union given by the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, and if we admit that under it Ireland is entitled to special exemptions and abatements, we do not proceed at once to determine what those exemptions and abatements should be? The answer to that is, I think, that it is easy to admit the principle, but that the difficulty of applying it to existing circumstances is enormous, and that we stand in need of fuller and more authoritative information than any which has been vouchsafed to us by the Royal Commission before we can make the attempt. Let me indicate to the House one, at least, of the more obvious difficulties of dealing off-hand with this question of abatements and exemptions. If there is an Irish financial grievance, the difficulty does not lie in putting one's finger upon it. I suppose I shall not be contradicted when I affirm that the burden of direct taxation does not press with undue severity on Ireland. There is no complaint as to the direct taxes, and, indeed, it can be shown that, if the proper proportion of Irish contribution to the common revenue is 1–21st, their contribution under the head of direct taxation falls considerably below that figure. The grievance, if there is one, is that the payer of indirect taxation is the consumer of dutiable commodities, under which head we are told Ireland pays more than her proper proportion. Now, we have a right to ask in what manner it is possible to give relief to the consumers of taxable commodities by means of abatements and exemptions. It should never be forgotten that this reservation had a very different meaning at the time when it was made to that which we can attach to it now. At the time of the Union there was a tariff which included some 3,000 different commodities. It is obvious that in such a case a tariff apparently indiscriminate might in effect press with undue severity upon numerous articles produced in or consumed by one or another part of the United Kingdom. But we have changed all that. At present you can count upon the fingers of one hand the dutiable articles upon which, the indirect taxation of Ireland is levied. I search in vain throughout these reports for a practical suggestion as to the manner in which the grievance of the payer of indirect taxation in Ireland, if he has one, can be remedied. Is it not clear that the grievance of the Irish consumer is also the grievance of the English and Scotch consumer of the same commodities? If the drinker of whisky pays more than his share of the revenue, he does so whether he lives on this or on the other side of the Channel. Are we going to reduce the duties on the tea, tobacco, and whisky consumed in Ireland and to make good the loss by increased taxation for the rest of the United Kingdom? I fancy my friends from Scotland would have something to say about that. I read with interest a letter written by Lord Farrer to The Times at the beginning of the year, in which he passed in review the different courses of action which are open to us, and summed up strongly against any proposal to reduce Irish taxation and to raise British taxation so as to compensate the common fund for the Irish reduction. Such a scheme, he says, is not one to which the British taxpayer is likely to submit. ["Hear, hear!"] Nor can any one read the report signed by himself and Lord Welby without feeling the irresistible force of their argument that it would be out of the question to undertake a general revision of the system of taxation accepted by a population of 33 millions in order to meet the convenience of a population of less than five millions. But let us for a moment assume that we have overcome all these difficulties. Let us assume that, a case has been made out for relieving Ireland to the extent of, say, £2,000,000, either by the remission of indirect taxes or by an equivalent grant intended to make good the difference between what she pays and what she ought to pay. Does anyone believe that such an arrangement would provide a permanent solution of the difficulty? Is it not on the contrary obvious that your readjustment would be entirely at the mercy of the consumers of the commodities? It might be fair to-day, but it might be unfair three years hence. If the times improved, and the consumer consumed a larger amount of whisky or of tea, or of tobacco, the Irish contribution would again part company from its proper proportion, the grievance would reappear, and another revision would be demanded and supported by the same arguments as those which can now be adduced. ["Hear, hear!"] I cannot resist calling the attention of the House to the interesting and humorous passage in the report of Sir Thomas Sutherland, in which this aspect of the case is dealt with. These indirect taxes," he says, are paid by the mass in both countries; the expenditure involved is a voluntary one on the part of individuals for their comforts and enjoyment.…The problem submitted to the Commission, when looked at from a practical point of view, is really to draw a fundamental distinction between the consumers of whisky and tobacco in Ireland and their fellow subjects in Great Britain, and to allocate the burden of taxation, not according to consumption, but in acordance with some theory of relative capacity on the part of the different classes of population of the United Kingdom to acquire that which is actually and voluntarily consumed, enjoyed, and paid for." "The penalty of spirits," he says, "depends on the amount consumed, and the grievance of the whisky consumer may also be mitigated on this particular point by the amount of water which he uses with his spirits. Of course no right-minded man will insult good whisky with too much water, but yet it may be admitted that the discrepancy in the alcoholic tax on beer and spirits will be toned down and attenuated by such an admixture of the natural element as will produce a wholesome and refreshing beverage. [Laughter.] Your Lordships will not fail to observe that, if it is possible for the consumer to mitigate his grievance by increasing the proportion of water employed, it would also be within his power at any moment to increase the grievance by diminishing the water and adding to the spirit. We can almost picture to ourselves a patriotic toper compounding artistically the agreeable ingredients of the national beverage, and consoling himself, as he diminishes the water and increases the alcohol, by the reflection that he is not only improving the quality of the punch, but laying, I will not say a strong, but a liquid, foundation for a new claim upon the Exchequer of the United Kingdom. [Cheers and laughter.] These are conditions which do not appear to me to hold out much hope of a final settlement of the difficulty upon these lines, and the Royal Commission has given us no help towards solving the difficulty. If the finding of the Commission fail to enlighten us on these points, it is still more inconclusive in regard to another and an even more important branch of the question. They tell us that Ireland is to be treated as a separate financial entity, and that too much is taken front her in the shape of revenue, but they have omitted to tell us how much of the revenue so received goes back to Ireland in the shape of expenditure upon objects which are distinctly Irish. The Commissioners have told us that Ireland ought to pay 1–21st of the total revenue, and that she pays, in their estimation, 1–11th, but they have not told us that she receives beyond the proportion to which she would be arithmetically entitled, an amount which reduces her net contribution to something like 1–32nd part of the whole. We shall perhaps be told during the course of this Debate why this point was passed over in the main Report. I think it is clear that the terms of the reference would have warranted the Commission in dealing with it, and the Commissioners, or most of them, were conscious of the fact. I can, indeed, attach no other meaning to the concluding paragraph of the reference in which the Commissioners were directed to report as to the charge for Irish purposes on the Imperial Exchequer, the amount for Irish taxation remaining available for contribution to the Imperial expenditure to which it is considered equitable that Ireland should contribute. It is, however, remarkable in the face of these instructions that the point is entirely ignored in the main Report. The other Reports, however, contain significant references to it, pointing out the necessity for doing the very thing we propose to do—namely, to clear the question up by means of a further inquiry. The Report of the Chairman and others, adopting the words of Mr. Childers, states that— The nature of the public expenditure in.Ireland and the possibiltiy of reducing it may be a very proper subject for a separate inquiry. In the Report of the noble Lords opposite it is admitted that— this expenditure has to be taken into account; however little may be its value to the poorer partner it is not the less a loss to the richer partner. Sir David Barbour reasons with much effect in the same sense. He says, It has been argued that Ireland should be treated as a financial unit for purposes of revenue, but not for purposes of expenditure. I am not aware of any good grounds on which such a distinction in dealing with Irish revenue and Irish expenditure can be justified, and I feel sure that if the facts were different and the expenditure for Irish purposes were less than what could be claimed in proportion either to her resources or her revenue, the argument would be inverted, and it would be alleged that Ireland was entitled to be treated as a financial unit for purposes of expenditure. And he comes to the conclusion that there appears to be primâ facie a strong case for inquiry into the necessity for the existing scale of expenditure in Ireland. The case is, it seems to me, stated unanswerably by Professor Henry Sidgwick, who said in his evidence, There is much to be said for refusing the inquiry how much of Imperial taxation is received from Ireland or how much is spent in Ireland, but there is, I conceive, nothing to be said in favour of liberally investigating the former question while refusing to consider the latter. And I should be inclined to add that the more those gentlemen claim separate consideration for the financial position of Ireland, the more they insist on abatements and exemptions in favour of Ireland, the more necessary it becomes that consideration should not be limited to one portion only of the financial field, but that the whole of it should be included within our purview, and that we should take into account, as indeed I apprehend the Act of Union must have intended, not only what Ireland gives but what she receives. Had I not felt that this Debate was to some extent academical, I should have, asked the House to consider other points on which I have not touched, for example, the conjectural character of many of the figures upon which the calculations of the Royal Commission are based, the fact that Ireland does already receive exceptional treatment in many respects, the improvement which has taken place, and is taking place, in her financial condition in spite of the alleged drain upon her resources. But I hope I have said enough to show that it would be impossible for us without further inquiry to deal with the grave questions which the Commission has raised, questions which affect not only the finances of Ireland, but the interest of the taxpayers of all parts of the United Kingdom, and the political relations of the two countries. These Reports contain much that is interesting and ingenious, but some of the most important points have, in our estimation, either been neglected or dealt with in such a manner as not to leave them mature for settlement. For these reasons we think further inquiry is necessary, and we shall endeavour to make it as complete as possible. And we shall, I can assure my noble Friend, consider the final verdict, when we obtain it, with the strictest regard to the covenants of the Act of Union and with no want of sympathy for any demands which can be shown to fall within the spirit as well as the letter of the treaty. [Cheers.]


said that he did not think that the English members of the Commission had any reason to be discontented with the progress that had been made upon this very difficult question. When he referred to the English Commissioners, he ought to have said the survivors of them, he himself and another noble Lord sitting behind him being the sole survivors among them. They had lost Mr. Childers, Sir Robert Hamilton, and Mr. Bertram Currie, all of whom were most valuable members of the Commission. ["Hear, hear!"] When he said that the English members of the Commission had no reason to be discontented with the progress that had been made with reference to this question he meant that the inquiries which the Government proposed to make brought into prominence the points which they had called attention to. The first item of inquiry was, How much of the total expenditure which the State provides may properly be considered to be expenditure common to England, Scotland, and Ireland; and what share of such common expenditure each country is contributing after the amount expended on local services has been deducted from its true revenue? In reference to this item the Treasury had already given, in the Returns laid annually before Parliament, ample information, and he doubted whether another inquiry would carry them much further. With regard to the great items of naval and military expenditure, it was contended in the separate Report of the Irish members of the Commission that Ireland ought not to contribute to them in the same proportion as England and Scotland, because she did not derive the same advantages from those services that England and Scotland did, and, moreover, that the money was expended in the two latter countries and not in the first. The second item of inquiry was:— How the expenditure on Irish local services which the State wholly or in part provides, compares with the corresponding expenditure in England and in Scotland; and whether such Irish expenditure may with advantage be readjusted or reduced. This was an item upon which further information was certainly required. But he ventured to sue-nest that a Treasury Return would give them all the information that was required upon the point. Were they to have a Royal Commission inquiring into the cost of every English, Scotch and Irish Department and comparing them with each other? Such an inquiry would probably outlive most of the members of the Commission, and most certainly it would outlive the present Government. [Laughter.] The third item of inquiry was a serious one. The noble Lord had read it, but he would read it again. It was:— Whether, when regard is had to the nature of the taxes now in force, to the existing exemptions, and to the amount of expenditure by the State on local services, the provisions in the Act of Union between Great Britian and Ireland with regard to particular exemptions or abatements calls for any modification in the financial system of the United Kingdom. That appeared to him to be an entirely inadequate reference. It confined the Commissioners to an inquiry into the effect of that particular clause in the Act of Union which related to abatements and exemptions. Too much had already been made of that clause. It was really a subordinate clause to the great clause which provided for the future finance of the two countries. The real question that would have to be faced was, whether the financial arrangements introduced by the Act of Union operated justly and properly as between the two countries. There was no doubt what the principle of these arrangements really was. The great object of the promoters of the Act of Union was to arrive at a system of common taxation and common expenditure—one common purse, into which taxes were to be paid indiscriminately, and out of which the whole of the Imperial expenditure was to be made indiscriminately. Taking the question of expenditure first, the noble Lord and the Irish Members were perfectly right in saying that, under the Act of Union, there was no right to discriminate between expenditure in Ireland and expenditure in Great Britain and the common expenditure of the Empire. The Act of Union contemplated indiscriminate expenditure. On the question of taxation, nothing was clearer than the object of Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh. In the first place, they were extremely careful to make each country contribute its quota, and that Ireland should not contribute more than its quota. Their calculations, however, proved insufficient, and Ireland was overtaxed, though that was not their intention. The only thing that prevented their proposing identical taxation was the state of the debts of the two countries. Subject to that, they contemplated as final and permanent, an arrangement under which both countries should pay identically the same taxes, and that the expenditure should be indiscriminate. The noble Marquess had jeered a little at the statement in the Report that identical rates of taxation did not necessarily mean equality of burden. He treated it as if it were a platitude. If it were it was a platitude which was unknown to Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh, to the statesmen who amalgamated the Exchequers in 1817, to any of the statesmen who provided for the taxation of Great Britain from that time to 1860, or to Mr. Gladstone, Sir George Lewis, and Mr. Disraeli when they levelled up the taxation of Ireland to the taxation of Great Britain; and it was unknown to those who argued that individuals and not areas ought to be taxed; and it pervaded the arguments of Mr. Lowe fuel Sir Stafford Northcote on the subject, and much of the argument that prevailed at the present time. He could quote passages without end to show that Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh intended that Ireland should be taxed according to its means. Speaking on February 5, 1800, Lord Castlereagh said:— It were to be wished that there was not an insurmountable bar to a common system and a common Treasury; and we could become like countries of the same kingdom, subject to the same system of finances. Were our entire expenditure common (which would happen if neither kingdom had any separate debts, or if their debts were in proportion to their ability), by no system whatever could they be made to contribute so strictly according to their means as by being subject to the same taxes equally bearing upon the great objects of taxation in both countries. The language of Article 7 of the Act of Union strictly carried out that intention of Lord Castlereagh. The intention was that taxes should be common. No doubt there was an intention behind that, that Ireland should not be taxed above her capacity; but those statesmen did not say, nor was it asserted for 50 years afterwards, that identical taxation might impose on Ireland a burden far in excess of her capacity. The question, therefore, was whether the financial arrangements of the Act of Union had been fair and right as between the two countries. How did matters stand at present? Before the speech of the noble Marquess he would have, said, from the answer of Mr. Balfour in the House of Commons, that the Government were willing to accept the taxable capacity of Ireland as agreed on by the majority of the Commission. If that were so, Ireland was undoubtedly taxed beyond her capacity to the extent of two or three millions a year. His own conviction, founded not so much on figures and arguments as upon the general evidence concerning the population of Ireland and their employment, was, that the taxable capacity of Ireland, in proportion to that of Great Britain, was considerably less than 1 in 20. Had Great Britain profited by the excess of taxation in Ireland? That was very far from being the case. From 1785 to 1817 the true Irish revenue was, to that of Great Britain, as 1 to 13. From 1820 to 1880 it varied from one-tenth to one-eighth, and from 1890 to 1896 it fell to the proportion of about 1 in 12. Then, as to contributions, from 1785 to 1791, Ireland's proportion was as 1 to 21. From 1820 to 1830, after the amalgamation of the Exchequers, it was as 1 to 12. In 1850 it had fallen as low as 1 to 18; in 1860, after the extension of taxation in Ireland, it rose to as much as 1 in 10, and from 1860 to 1896 it had fallen to 1 in 32. That did not look as if the present state of things was very profitable to the British taxpayer. There had been a steady fall since 1860, save in one exceptional year, and the fall was continuing. Taking figures, in 1850 the true revenue was 4¾ millions; in 1860 it had risen to 7¾ millions, and in 1896 to 8 millions. As to contributions, in 1850 they were 2½in 1860, 5 1–3 millions, and in 1896 they had fallen to two millions, or three millions less than before the great extension of taxation in Ireland. The reason was the enormous increase in the local expenditure upon Ireland. That expenditure was, in 1860, 2¼ millions, and by 1896 it had increased to six millions. The result was, that if Ireland had contributed to the common expenditure of the Empire in the proportion of 1 to 20, she would have contributed in 1894 one million, and in 1896 1 1–3rd millions more than she actually did. Consequently the increase in taxation had not benefited the taxpayer in Great Britain. The contrary was the case, and the taxpayer in Great Britain was worse off. In addition to all this expenditure there was something like £10,000,000 or more of remitted loans or grants. He had looked very carefully to see what remedies were suggested, especially by Unionist Members. He had been very much interested in the Report, of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, to which reference had been made. After insisting on the financial unity of the two countries the Report said:— But Ireland is entitled to special consideration in fiscal matters. The incidence of present taxation does press with undue severity on the poorer classes of the people of Ireland. For a considerable number of years Ireland has paid in taxation a sum largely in excess of that which she would have been called upon to pay had her taxation been in the exact proportion to her resources. The annual expenditure for Irish purposes has been in excess of what it would have been if Ireland's expenditure as well as her taxation had been fixed in exact proportion to her taxable capacity…Ireland has a claim on the Imperial Parliament for special treatment in the matter of a wise and liberal expenditure in the direction in which it can be arranged to be really reproductive. Then there was suggested the relief of local burdens, the establishment, on broad and generous lines, of an Agricultural Department, technical education, the development of inland communication, and the carrying out of such public works as could be shown to be productive and of permanent advantage to the people of Ireland. He, wondered how the British taxpayer would like that? It was a continuance and extension of the policy which this country had been pursuing towards Ireland since 1860. Had it answered? Let the Irish Reports and the Irish people answer. But the Belfast Chamber of Commerce was not alone; an article in The Edinburgh Review, after a fair account on the subject of taxation, ended by stating that "Ireland is poor, let us give more to Ireland." Even The Times, with an angry howl of he did not know how many columns on the subject of the Commission, ends with a whine for money for poor Ireland. This was a miserable policy. He was an old-fashioned economist, and he did In It like the doles which were now in fashion. He thought that they were a very dangerous form of expenditure, and they seldom conferred good on the objects to whom they were given. He was sure, with the enormous drafts on our resources caused by our naval and military expenditure, with even the possibility of a great war impending, that the policy was fatal and dangerous one. It was especially dangerous and fatal in the case of Ireland. What they needed as between the two countries was mutual respect for one another. They would never arrive at that end by treating Ireland as a dependent pauper. He was convinced that the very worst direction in which they could seek a remedy for the evils of the excessive taxation of Ireland was an excessive expenditure on Ireland. He spoke his own opinion, and it was opinion arrived at in spite of his own predilections to the contrary—an opinion founded not certainly On any prejudice in favour of Home Rule, but founded simply on the financial considerations which came before the Commissioners; and his conviction was that the only remedy for these evils would have to be found in settling—and he would do it on the most liberal basis towards Ireland—what Ireland ought to contribute to the common expenses of the Empire; and then to leave her to manage her own moneys in her own way, and to get the benefit of her own economies. That he believed to be the only sound policy; and it was to that we should have to come in the end. ["Hear, hear!"]


said he had listened, as an Irishman, with great pain to the speech of the noble Lord opposite. When entering public life 34 years ago he came to the conclusion that Ireland was overtaxed, and that this was the real and burning question as to the poverty and the condition of Ireland. When the Royal Commission was appointed he felt, as a Unionist, greatly alarmed, for he found it was rather packed with Home Rulers. All the financial experts on the Commission were pronounced Home Rulers, but they had been forced to come to the conclusion that Ireland was overtaxed to the extent of between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000. That was a good start to make from the Irish point of view, but it was met by the suggestion of the noble Lord opposite that Ireland only contributed 2½ millions to the Imperial Exchequer. This was found by applying as local expenditure to Ireland matters of Imperial expenditure. The Irish constabulary, for example, was put down as a local item to be paid, and it amounted to £1,500,000. He wished the great lights of the Cobden Club would explain upon what reason or why it was that Ireland had gone down in population in the last 50 years as it had. Its population in 1846 was 8½ millions, it was now 4½millions, an event which he believed was not recorded in the history of any civilised country except when decimated by war; it had never occurred in time of peace. The truth was, that in the 18th century Ireland was ruined by commercial restrictions; in the 19th it was ruined by Free Trade. Take the real Imperial resources of the country. The broad area of Ireland was about 21 million acres. In 1846 seven and a-half millions, or just above one-third of the area of Ireland, were under crops; four and a-half millions were under cereal crops, and three million acres under green crops and flax. How did the case stand in 1896? There were not one and a-half million acres under cereal crops now, and only one and a-quarter acres under green crops. In other words, there were not three million acres of crops in Ireland in 1896, as compared with seven and a-half millions 50 years ago. As Peel prophesied—differing from most political prophets who, according to his experience, were almost always wrong—Free Trade had indeed been injurious to Ireland. Any intelligent child of five could see it, because, if Ireland had a protected market in England, surely it must have been an advantage to the former country. What happened Lord Castletown had already called attention to. Mr. Gladstone, the great fiscal and financial enemy of Ireland, was the person who initiated the system of increasing the taxation of Ireland, and it was admitted now, upon the report of six or seven of his most extreme followers, that the time was inopportune, and that the circumstances did not justify it. Well, if they did not justify it, why was this increased taxation kept up? Were the circumstances now changed? No; the circumstances were much worse. The taxation was increasing. Was ever such a thing heard of, that as a people and their resources disappeared, taxation increased? Sydney Smith said, "There are two things certain in life, death and taxes." They were entitled to both. They could not avoid the one, but they in Ireland would try not to have too much of the other. A very good example or the way in which Ireland was dealt with was afforded by the case of the Irish Church. In the abolition of the Irish Church Mr. Gladstone saved the Treasury of this country £70,000 a year; which capitalised, would represent a sum of about three millions sterling. Could anyone really defend the sort of nibbling at the resources of Ireland in the way in which the Church Fund had been dealt with—a fund which, they were told in the preamble of the Act, was to be a "sacred fund" kept up for particular and pressing necessities? The patience even of a judicial person was sometimes put to the test when he heard of all the loans made to Ireland and the advances made to Ireland, and to find, when he examined into the case, that they were all given out of the Irish Church Fund. Yet he was asked, "Aren't you astonished at the liberality of the Good Samaritan?" What was the answer to the Report of the Commission? One of the answers was the whisky argument. He thought that had rather been drunk out. [A laugh.] The, statement that the incidence of taxation was not always the same did not show itself equal in effect upon particular areas. A great philosopher had said, that that which is just is equal, but what is equal may not be always just. Accordingly, the whisky argument he had not heard adduced to-night except when the noble Marquess read some passages from Sir Thomas Sutherland's statement, apparently to cheer up a rather gloomy speech. If the state of the case were that Ireland was overtaxed, it was no answer to say, "Oh! but we expend a great deal of money in Ireland." That was no answer at all. The fact remained that, treated as a separate entity—and if they were to enter into the financial relations between two things, they must for the nonce be treated as separate—Ireland stood in the position of being overtaxed to the tune of two and three-quarter millions. The public Press for a long time urged that Ireland should be treated just as Wiltshire was treated. He could not imagine why Wiltshire was dragged in until he saw that an election was about to take place at Salisbury. He was quite ready that Ireland should be treated like Wiltshire, because in that ease an Irish Agricultural Rates Bill would be brought in, and half the rates in. Ireland would be paid from the Imperial Exchequer. Was England going to blow hot and cold, and was Ireland to have all lean and no fat? [A laugh.] Whenever anything told against them they were Ireland, and whenever it told for them they were Wiltshire. [Laughter.] If the Government brought in a Bill, under which half the rates of Ireland would be paid, they would do away with a good deal of agitation; they would stop his voice, at all events. [A laugh.] The noble Marquess spoke with moderation, but he did not urge anything very practical in answer to the demand of Ireland. They were to have another Commission. Commissions were generally the resource of weak Governments. A Commission, in which there was a galaxy of financial experts, sat for three years, and came to the conclusion that Ireland paid three millions more than she ought to pay. He admitted the difficulty in discriminating. He did not want, nor had he heard any sane Irishman suggest that there should be, a different duty on whisky in Ireland from that in England. If there were they would want a regular army of Custom House officers, and an Irishman like his noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor for Ireland, who crossed the Channel often, would have his portmanteau searched every morning. [Laughter.] He did not suggest that, because a man lived in Ireland, he should not pay income, tax, but he did not see why his country should pay more than she was called upon to pay under the Act of Union. What had been the operation of English legislation in finance, particularly under the régime of Mr. Gladstone? When there was anything to pay the predominant partner made the poor partner pay up; but when there was any disputation of dividends England kept the lion's share.


My Lords, I rise, with some reluctance, to make a few remarks at so late an hour, but I think it is right that somebody upon this Bench should say a few words before the Debate closes. It has been said that the Royal Commission was appointed for the purpose of assisting Home Rule. I do not think the noble Marquess actually said that, but he rather insinuated that the Commission had Home Rule in its mind when it made some of its recommendations. No doubt the Commission was appointed by a Government that hart introduced, but unfortunately failed in carrying, a Home Rule Measure. The reason why the Commission became essential—and I lay great stress upon this was, that the discussion both in 1886 and in 1893 on Home Rule had shown that there were such immense difficulties connected with Irish Finance that it was absolutely necessary the matter should be looked into. I venture to affirm that, whether Home Rule is to take a leading part again in politics or not, this subject is of essential importance to the United Kingdom. I do not wish to be misunderstood in saying this. Although I admit that at the present moment Home Rule is not the principal topic in politics, I do not for a moment acknowledge that it has lost its force amongst the potent and living elements of political subjects. [Opposition cheers.] I do not propose to discuss the question to-night on these lines, though I may be permitted to say that, in my opinion, it is more than probable that the only eventual solution of this subject may be found in a safe and well-considered Measure of Home Rule. [Opposition cheers.] The noble Lord who introduced the subject, and others, have said they do not attach very great importance to the arguments as to the separate treatment of Ireland, or, as Mr. Goschen called it, the separate entity of Ireland, or to the arguments with regard to the financial capacity of Ireland. I differ from them. I attach very great importance to the arguments with regard to the separate treatment of Ireland. I rather gathered from the speech of the noble Marquess that he, on the whole, admitted that Ireland must be treated in a separate way—I mean that exemptions must be made in the case of Ireland. The main argument with regard to this separate treatment of Ireland financially rests on the Act of Union. ["Hear, hear!"] If it did not rest on the Act of Union I should say there is no difference between Ireland and that poor county of Wilts to which the noble and learned Lord referred. I attach enormous importance to that Article in the Act of Union which points out the manner in which Ireland is to be treated, when necessary, with regard to exemptions and abatements; and I will go further than that, and say that the whole treatment of Ireland down to the present day proves that that Article has been maintained. I find that front 1817 to 1821 inclusive the average taxation in England, for which no similar taxation was raised in Ireland, was over £20,000,000. In 1845 it was £14,453,619, in 1863–61 it was nearly £4,000,000, and in 1893–94 it was over £4,000,000. I therefore say that the separate treatment of Ireland has been—iaintained to the present day. The taxation in England which is not applied to retain has, no doubt, greatly diminished, but at this moment that Article of the Act of Union is put into force. Before the Bill of 1893 was introduced, and before the Royal Commission was appointed, Her Majesty's Government, through the present First Lord of the Admiralty, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, admitted the separate entity of Ireland in the terms of reference to a Committee he proposed in the House of Commons. I quite admit that that Committee never sat, but that does not alter the force of the argument that at that time Her Majesty's Government admitted the separate entity of Ireland. I, therefore, say that all these various arguments make it impossible to treat Ireland as a group of counties. ["Hear, hear!"] With regard to this point, 11 out of the 12 Commissioners are in favour of the view which I now take. While speaking of the Commission, I think the noble Marquess rather unnecessarily criticised their able reports, and he minimised the consent which the large body of them gave. No doubt there were memoranda and a considerable number of points on which 11 out of the 12 Commissioners to a great extent agreed of extraordinary importance. As to the taxable capacity of Ireland, I shall not attempt to go through the various tests with regard to that. They are very numerous, and an argument might be founded at great length on every one of them; but it is Angular that they nearly all converge on the same point—that the taxable capacity of Ireland is about 1–20th that of Great Britain. I shall just say a few words with regard to the actual poverty of Ireland. I think a very few figures will show this in a forcible way. I think it necessary to bring this forward in order to prove the necessity of dealing liberally with Ireland and of seeing that justice is done to her. At the beginning of the century, in taxation Great Britain paid £4 13s. 4d. per head. Now she pays, £2 0s. 10d. per head. No doubt that is brought about by the increase of population and the increased wealth. Ireland at that time paid 14s. 6d. per head, and now she pays 28s. 10d. In 1819 consumers in Great Britain paid £28s. 7d.; now they pay £1 4s. 1d. The taxes on property were £1 1s. 8d.; now they are—0s. 9d. Whereas in Ireland the consumer in 1819 paid 11s.; now he pays 22s. per head. Therefore, in the case of England, taxation has greatly diminished, whereas in Ireland, as far as the capitation comparison goes, it has absolutely doubled. I think there are reasons why this question should be very carefully considered. ["Hear, hear!"] No doubt Ireland now pays 2½ millions to 2½ millions more than her relative financial capacity allows. That is amply shown by the Reports of the Commission, and in other ways. With regard to her contribution to Imperial purposes, I cannot agree with those who say that Ireland ought not to contribute anything. She ought only to pay what is fair; but I maintain that Ireland is, in her degree, as much interested in the safety of our dominions at home or abroad as Great Britain. [Cheers.] She has a direct interest in maintaining the efficiency of the Army and the Navy. Take diplomacy. Surely the Irish, as we have seen during the past week, take a deep interest in foreign affairs. Should they not contribute their fair share towards this? I make these remarks because I have seen it more than once said by a certain advocate of Ireland that she should pay nothing to Imperial expenses. I do not agree with that. ["Hear, hear!"] I believe Ireland would be willing to pay a fair contribution towards Imperial expenses. We have heard a great deal as to expenditure in Ireland as a set-off to taxation. This is a large subject, and at this hour I could not attempt to go into it at any length. I admit, however, that the matter must be considered and carefully weighed. ["Hear, hear!"] But how is it to be done? The Government have proposed a Commission. I doubt extremely, I doubted it very much before I came into the House, and after hearing the speech of Lord Farrer I doubt still more, that a Commission is necessary or desirable on this subject. The information given by the Commission is very full and ample. I should have thought that the Government themselves would have been able to deal with it—that, with its whole brigade of financial experts at hand, it would have been able to come to a wise decision upon it without having an extremely long and irksome inquiry before a Commission. I do not want, my Lords, to say anything more now, but I venture to say that, in a few words, I have shown that there is a strong case for treating Ireland as a separate entity; that her condition requires that this should be taken into view; and that, if Her Majesty's Government are not compelled to deal with this speedily, Ireland will have strong reason for considering that she is treated with injustice—nay, even with bad faith. [Cheers.]


said they were all agreed that if Ireland were or had been overtaxed they should be repaid and remitted. He was much surprised to hear his noble Friend make so much of prosperity and non-prosperity, and contend that increased population and prosperity went hand-in-hand. He knew very well that Ireland suffered most when she had a redundant population. Until the population was decreased Ireland was going down hill, and it was in 1853 that Ireland began to make rapid strides towards prosperity. He would say tins, though he did not expect his countrymen to agree with him, that even if they were more taxed than they had a right to be (he did not wish it) it would pay them if that was the only means by which they were made part of the United Kingdom. With regard to the Royal Commission, he suggested whether they could not employ men free of all political bias—auditors, bankers, and solicitors, who would go into the matter and let them have a Report in a short time.

Motion agreed to.