§ Debate on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading, viz., that the Bill be read a second time this day three months resumed (according to Order).
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
My Lords, anyone who has not had the advantage which so many of your Lordships enjoy of having taken a part, either here or in another place, in the historic discussions on this subject must naturally experience great diffidence, and I hope will be entitled to some indulgence when called upon to make a contribution to the third and, I hope, final volume of these debates. But may I submit that to approach the matter now for the first time does not necessarily involve entire disqualification. It is generally admitted that the circumstances have very much altered since the last Home Rule Bill was before your Lordships' House in 1893, and nobody emphasised that point more strongly than Lord Midleton in his speech last night. Even when the facts remain very much as they were, the perspective is so much altered that those facts may be said to constitute new material. For instance, land purchase, to which allusion has been made, which was part of Mr. Gladstone's original scheme in 1886 and found a place, although rather an obscure place, in the Bill of 1893, is now an accomplished fact, and apart from having, as we are told, transformed Ireland, the sweet security of Irish Land Stock has deprived many noble Lords in this House of their most effective arguments.
Then I would suggest that the great improvement in communications during the last twenty years, with which we are all familiar, has been favourable to the growth of a pregnant conception—that of the compatibility of self-government within the union of the Empire; and there has been an increasing tendency on our part—I do not mean that the Party opposite have not shared in it—to concede to our Dominions and possessions a greater degree of autonomy, and also there has been a marked indication on their part of a desire 612 to reciprocate that confidence by spontaneously coming forward to take a share in the responsibilities and destinies of the Central Government. All the gloomy prophecies with which any grant of self-government to a Colony or Dependency has been received have, in fact, been falsified. That is why, I suppose, we hear very much less to-day than we did in 1893 of the separatist bugbear, which figured prominently in those earlier debates. Further, we may even congratulate ourselves on this side of the House upon having obtained some very remarkable admissions, if not conversions. A Federalist Party has sprung into existence. The noble Earl on the Cross Benches, Lord Grey, and the noble Earl opposite, Lord Dunraven, the other night both declared themselves as favourable to a federal view. Then I would also mention that in the two decades which have elapsed since the last Home Rule Bill, Ireland has come into possession and exercise of local self-government, and nobody now gets up in this House or elsewhere and declares that Irishmen by disposition or lack of training are incompetent to manage their own affairs. Then, too, we do not hear so much about "Rome rule" to-day. We are not told that the grant of self-government to Ireland means handing over the Irish people to the domination of the priests. I have no doubt that in spiritual matters the power and influence of the Church is as great as ever it was, but owing to the spread of education in secular matters in Ireland as elsewhere the influence of that body is less pronounced. I must also refer to a subject to which eloquent allusion has been made on both sides of the House—that is, the growing congestion of affairs in the Imperial Parliament. I submit that those facts are new since a Home Rule Bill was last before your Lordships' House, and must be taken into consideration and ought to exercise a considerable influence on the decision that will shortly be reached.
It is perhaps on their account, and not, I think, on account of the apathy and the contempt of the public for Parliamentary institutions, to which the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York alluded in his speech last night, that active opposition to Home Rule does not to-day proceed from the British democracy. Not all the eloquence of noble Lords opposite, not all the scenic effects of the Orange organisers has served to revive the distrust 613 in these proposals which undoubtedly existed in 1886, and in a lesser degree in 1893. But perhaps I may be told, "That is only a personal opinion of yours. How do you know what the opinion of the country on this subject is?" Noble Lords opposite say, "You have no mandate." I contend that we have a mandate; that the electors were definitely conscious of the imminence of these proposals when the present Government was returned to power. But noble Lords opposite, and especially the noble Duke who moved the rejection of the Bill, have complained that it is an attempt to hustle an unauthorised measure—unauthorised, I mean, by the constituencies—through a mutilated Parliament. But when your Lordships gave a Third Reading to the Parliament Bill you knew well enough what you were in for.
Speaking in this House on February 21, 1910, the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition, and who we all regret is not able to be in his place, said—Home Rule forms an essential feature of the policy of His Majesty's Government.He went further and said—It is the veto of the House of Lords that has stood in the way of Home Rule, and the veto is attacked in order that the way may be clear for Home Rule.The meaning of those words used by the noble Marquess in this House is, I submit, so plain as to be beyond question. Was that knowledge confined to your Lordships' House? The Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Bonar Law, went down to Penge on November 17, 1910, and in the course of his speech said—If the precious Veto Bill were, law now, Home Rule would be passed to-morrow.In view of these declarations I think I am entitled to claim that not only did your Lordships know, but the country knew, exactly what they had to expect if they returned the present Government to power. But we are told that this and other measures of great importance ought to be submitted to a referendum. I was surprised to find that yesterday the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York seemed to give, countenance to the doctrine that not only ought the electorate to direct the policy of the Government, but they ought to be made judges of a measure when passed; that they ought to be seized of its exact details and of its consequences.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I venture to say that I am not misinterpreting the most rev. Prelate when I state that he distinctly laid it down that in view of the risk of having to coerce Ulster and also of the financial provisions of the Bill the definite measure ought to be submitted to the country and the judgment of the country obtained upon it before it is passed into law. That is a species of reference to the country of a Bill which has passed through Parliament. Now, my Lords, with regard to the question of the Referendum, my objection to it, and I think that of most of my noble friends on these Benches is that the Referendum as an integral part of constitutional machinery is destructive of the responsibility of both Parliament and the electorate. I do not know what the official attitude of the Party opposite with regard to the referendum is now, but I conceive that the solidity of past times on this question with winch we were acquainted has given place to at best a viscous uncertainty on the subject. I would like to say this to the most rev. Prelate and those who agree with him. If it be true that his only objection to this measure is that it has not been laid before the country in its completed form, then it seems to me that far from refusing the Bill a Second Reading, as he has announced his intention of doing, it would have been open to him to give it a Second Reading and when we got into Committee to suggest an Amendment which would have given effect to his view. We are all aware that under Clause 49 the Bill is to come into operation on an appointed day. That day is an unspecified date, and it seems to me that it would have been open to him to have moved on that clause that the Bill should not come into operation until such a time had elapsed as it was certain a General Election would have taken place. The most rev. Prelate challenged us to say what our view on that would be. I am not going to pretend to say what view His Majesty's Government would take, but I do suggest to him that it would have been an Amendment which was not at all unreasonable coming from him and from your Lordships' House, and if we are to regard his adhesion to the principle of Home Rule as anything more than lip service I think he would have made his position clearer had he taken up that attitude.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
Perhaps the noble Lord will pardon me for interrupting him; but I should like to know whether his colleagues in the House of Commons would accept an Amendment excluding Ulster if it were moved in your Lordships' House?
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I am sorry that the most rev. Prelate is not here to tell us what he did say; but my distinct impression is that his objection to the Bill was not on principle at all. It was merely on the ground that the measure had not been submitted to the electorate in its final form. My view is that it is open to the most rev. Prelate and those who think with him to move that the Bill be postponed until such opinion is obtained, and I suggest that is not an unreasonable attitude for this House to take up. But I submit that we have authority from the constituencies on this subject; and armed with that authority from the British electors, and in response to a demand from the great majority of the Irish people, the Government have framed a Bill calculated to give as great a measure of autonomy to Ireland as is consistent with the Imperial supremacy, with the protection of the minority, and with financial harmony and equilibrium. Those have been our objects. It seems to me, if I may respectfully say so, that the existence of this demand on the part of the Irish Nationalists, forming as they do a great majority of the Irish people, has been somewhat overlooked in this debate. After all, the demand from Ireland is the real thing; it is the thing that is vital to our discussions. We are told of the pressure which the Irish Party exerts in the House of Commons to attain that end, to get satisfaction for their demands, and we hear it villified in this House and elsewhere. The Irish Members in the House 616 of Commons were described by the noble Viscount opposite, Lord St. Aldwyn, as blackmailers. He said the presence of the Irish Members in the House of Commons was like a microbe infecting the body politic. But what are the Irish Members doing more than their constitutional and electoral rights entitle them to do? I submit, my Lords, that they are doing nothing more than every other Party and section of the community is doing in the House of Commons every day. We are told that because of what the Irish Party ask for and work for they are blackmailers.
I do not think my noble friend Lord St. Aldwyn used those words. He said they might be blackmailers, and not that they were now.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I can only refer the noble Lord to the official account of what took place. What the Irish people say through the mouths of their chosen representatives must be taken as better evidence of their wishes than the personal opinion of Sir Reginald Pole-Carew or any other gentleman who visits Ireland. They say, "We want to manage our own affairs in our own way." What is the attitude of noble Lords opposite? What did Lord Midleton say last night? He said, "We have given you material prosperity." But that is not what Ireland asks. She asks to be allowed to manage her own affairs, and she is content to be responsible for the promotion of her own material prosperity. After all, our idea of democratic government is government by consent. We, as far as possible, consistent with the principles of civilisation and the rights of individuals, hope to obtain in Ireland, as elsewhere, government by consent. But the view of noble Lords opposite is that there should be exercised over Ireland a sort of paternal despotism. Ireland is not to have what she wants. Ireland is to have what in its superior wisdom your Lordships' House thinks is good for Ireland.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
As I alluded to this matter, may I say that was not in the least my argument. My argument was that what the Irish Members had demanded had been granted by the Imperial Parliament to the great increase of the material prosperity of Ireland.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
The noble Viscount and others have pointed out that the Irish problem was altered because of the great increase of material prosperity, and Lord Midleton emphasised it with all the authority he could command. We know what is said on this subject. It is called "Killing Home Rule by kindness." Ireland is to become so prosperous that the national aspiration will be killed by kindness. I say that is not what Ireland asks. They may be very glad to have prosperity, but their demand is to manage their own affairs. What is the attitude of flue Party opposite? They are prepared to give them what they think is good for them. I am hound to say that as long as that attitude is persisted in by the Party opposite, so long will they find themselves out of harmony with democratic ideals, and so long I think they will not have a voice in the settlement of this question. We have now reached a period in the debate when it is possible to take some stock of the nature of the opposition which has been developed, and to form an estimate as to how it is likely to be pursued. I am bound to say that so far I do not think that the opposition to our proposal has been of a very serious character. We have not been confronted with that frontal attack which was noticeable on previous occasions. At the most there has been a sort of skirmishing on small points.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I hope noble Lords will allow me to state in a very few words what my view is. I can assure them I do not want to be at all aggressive. My reading of the debate is that no noble Lord has argumentatively challenged the principle on which this Bill rests. It is quite true that the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, said that his hostility to the Bill was undiminished, but he never argued the point. The whole of his speech, in fact, was confined to arguing upon the financial relations between the two countries, and I think the remarkable fact about the debate is that no noble Lord so far has got up to argue against the general principle on which the Bill is founded. So far from that being the case, 618 in most of the speeches to which we have listened it has been admitted that in some form or other devolution is necessary to settle the question. There was, I need hardly remind your Lordships, the speech of the noble Earl Lord Grey and also that of the noble Earl Lord Dunraven, while even Viscount St. Aldwyn admitted that something in the nature of devolution would have to be given. I think, therefore, I am fairly stating the case when I say that there is a great diminution in the direct attack which used to be made upon the principle of Home Rule. The noble Lord opposite, Lord Ampthill, said "What about the speech of the Duke of Devonshire." I listened very carefully to the noble Duke who moved the rejection of this measure and I have since refreshed my memory, and I am bound to say it seems to me that his objections were mainly, if not entirely, objections to details. What did he say? I think his first objection to the Bill was that it had been undiscussed in the House of Commons. Well, if that be the case I am bound to say that in moving the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading the noble Duke took a course which of all others precluded that want of discussion, if there has been want of discussion, from being remedied in this Chamber. Surely if it were true that Clause 16 had not been adequately discussed, it would have been open to your Lordships' House to take that and other clauses into consideration. Then the noble Duke asked, "Who is going to be responsible in the House of Commons for the reserved services?" That may be a very fair point to raise, but I submit that it is nothing more than a Committee point. The noble Duke went on to say, with regard to the additional Members who are to form part of the delegation when the time comes for reconsidering the financial relations, that this delegation is to be selected by the House of Commons. I must draw his attention to the fact that he entirely overlooked the clause—Clause 26—which governs the matter; it is not so at all.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I am much obliged to the noble and learned Lord. Afterwards the noble Duke made what I took to be the most serious charge of all. He said, "All your safeguards are 619 of no value because they leave the administration of the Irish Government wholly unfettered." There again, with great respect, I must tell the noble Duke that he made a complete mistake. If he had studied Clause 4 he would have seen that subsection (6) expressly provides against the Executive power of the Irish Government being exercised in any way contrary to what the legislative restrictions impose.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I will come to that in a minute. I ought to say before I leave the subject that this subsection was inserted at the instance of the noble Duke's own friends in the House of Commons, and I think it is very peculiar that the noble Duke should come down and urge as one of the most important and serious difficulties in the Bill that this administrative licence would exist when the clause was inserted in the House of Commons at the instance of his own friends. That is fairly illustrative of the sort of objection we have to meet to-day. It is not an objection of principle; it is merely an objection in regard to the details of the Bill, and such objections I claim ought fairly to be considered by this House in the Committee stage.
I will now pass to one other objection to which allusion was made both by Lord St. Aldwyn and by Lord Midleton. It concerns the question of the representation of Irish Members at Westminster in the future. The noble Viscount said that now Ireland is to have command of her own domestic affairs she was no longer entitled to any interference in our affairs. Support of this contention is frequently sought in the Life of Mr. Gladstone written by my noble friend Lord Morley. Lord Morley there points out in this connection that all courses, either the inclusion of the Irish Members at Westminster or their exclusion or their inclusion for limited purposes, end in a paradox. I am prepared to acknowledge and admit the paradox which is exposed by my noble friend, but I will go further and say that our arrangements with regard to the Irish Members at Westminster cannot be regarded as a final or an adequate solution of the whole matter. I am quite prepared to make that admission. The 620 arrangements are provisional, and must be provisional so long as our complete scheme of general devolution remains unaccomplished. But I would point out that by reducing the Irish representation from 103 to 42 the paradox is proportionately diminished. The microbe, if Irishmen be a microbe, is not half so strong. I would say this with regard to the power which Irish Members may be able to exert for the furtherance of their own works in the House of Commons. These 42 Members, if they are to be effective, must be allied with the Opposition, and if the Irish Members should put forward monstrous and outrageous demands such as have been foreshadowed by many speakers, the Opposition of the day will have to make themselves parties to those outrageous and monstrous demands before the forty-two Irish Members who are retained will have any effective influence upon the decision reached at Westminster. So much for Irish affairs and matters which concern Ireland only.
When we come to domestic affairs the figure of forty-two is a gross exaggeration of the influence which the Irish Members are likely to exercise in our concerns. I suppose there will always be two Parties, and if the Parties are divided under the new conditions in Ireland as they are to-day the majority of Nationalists over Ulster Unionists cannot well under these proposals exceed twenty-six. I very much doubt also whether in many purely domestic affairs Irishmen will consider it worth their while to take any practical part whatever. But there are other strong reasons for not excluding Irish representatives from Westminster. After all, the Parliament still remains an Imperial Parliament concerned with Imperial affairs in which Ireland is as much interested as any other part of the United Kingdom. Then there is the question of taxation. Noble Lords will remember that we still retain the power of imposing Imperial taxes in case of emergency, probably in case of war, and that could not be done unless Ireland is represented at Westminster. But a stronger reason than all for the retention of the Irish Members is to be found in the discussions of 1886. Speaking in the House of Commons on April 9, 1886, Mr. Chamberlain used these words, which I recommend to the Party opposite as they were the cause probably of the defeat of that measure. Sum- 621 marising his objections to the measure, Mr. Chamberlain said—I object to it in the first instance because it proposes to terminate the representation of Irish members at Westminster. I object to it because of the consequences that follow upon that. It appears to me that if Irish Members were to cease to occupy seats in this House the Irish Parliament to which they are to be relegated must be, ought to be, and would be in the future, if not in the present, a co-ordinate and equal authority.That objection has ever since been sustained, and I venture to think it derives additional importance in connection with the safeguards under the Bill. I will in a few minutes try to explain why.
In moving the rejection of this measure I was amazed to hear the noble Duke say that he considered the restrictions to be useless. I do not suppose that all the safeguards in the Bill are seriously regarded by the Party opposite as being absolutely valueless and useless. I can hardly believe that the sense of the Party opposite is that all the elaborate restrictions which we have put in the Bill are absolutely waste-paper. If that is really contended, I think I must give the House a kind of résumé of what they really are. First there is the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament of the United Kingdom. This is expressed in Clause 1, subsection (2)—Notwithstanding the establishment of the Irish Parliament or anything contained in this Act, the supreme power and authority of the Parliament of time United Kingdom shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters, and things in Ireland and every part thereof.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
How are you going to enforce that if the Dublin Parliament did not choose to accept it?
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I am coming to that. I thought it would be unnecessary to give chapter and verse as to what exactly are the provisions of the Bill. May I assume, then, that the House is familiar with the exact provisions? [Noble LORDS: "Hear, hear."] Then I will not say any more about the safeguards except to draw attention to this, that under the provisions of the Bill, according to the distribution of Parties in Ireland, the Protestants or Unionist Party ought to retain a representation of thirty-nine Members.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
The noble Lord has not answered my question with regard to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I am doing my best to come to the point which the noble Marquess has raised. I admit that he is a much more experienced debater than I can claim to be, but I hope he will bear with me for a little. I wish, in passing, to point out that the Protestant Party in Ireland will possess, according to the present distribution of Parties, thirty-nine Members in the Irish House of Commons. That is a quarter of the total Assembly, and it is important to understand that it would be equal to a Party of 167 Members in the House of Commons at Westminster. Therefore when we are told, as we often are, of the tremendous influence which has been exercised by the eighty Irish Nationalists at Westminster, I think it is obvious that a Party corresponding to 167 Members is not a body which can be overlooked, and which it can be said will have no influence. That is not all; because if the proportional representative system which noble Lords are aware has been extended to some cities works out as its promoters think it will, then the thirty-nine will be converted into forty-two, so that the Protestant Party will correspond to something like 200 seats at Westminster.
I hope I have not made the noble Marquess impatient, but I am now coming to his point. Our critics tell us that this is all very fine; but, however strong and however drastic the safeguards may be, if the Irish Government wish to infringe any of the provisions of the safeguards they have only to create a Parliamentary deadlock in Dublin. That is what the noble Marquess means. Here it seems to me the subordinate character of the Irish Parliament obtained through the retention of Irish representatives at Westminster becomes important. I cannot conceive a course less justified, less in consonance with representative principle and consequently less likely to achieve its end, than for the Irish Government or the Irish people to break a compact of which they are now willing partners and resist the Imperial Government of which they themselves are a component part both in the House of Commons and in your Lordships' House. They will have had a share in the deliberation and in the vote by which such decision is reached, and I cannot believe that so long as they remain a subordinate Legislature such a course is likely to recommend itself to the good sense of the people of Ireland. I submit that it is upon the representative 623 character of the Imperial Parliament now and in the future that the whole superstructure of safeguards rests, and, I venture to say, rests securely. That is my answer to the noble Marquess so far as I can give one, and I think it is in some sense sufficient.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
The noble Marquess says it is no answer at all. The noble Marquess often exhibits that deep insight into political questions which entitles him to the position he now occupies, and therefore I do not pretend that my view is anything like so good as his. But if it does not recommend itself to him, I still venture to submit it to the consideration of other people who are perhaps not so prejudiced as he is. We had one or two interesting speeches, as I have already said, from the Federalist Party the other night. The speech of the noble Earl, Lord Grey, made, by common consent if I may be allowed to say so, a great impression on the House. The noble Earl said, "I cannot vote for this Bill because I am a Federalist, and I regard this Bill as a bar to federalism." I suppose the noble Earl had in mind the financial provisions of the Bill and especially the Customs provisions. But may I suggest to him that in a federal system uniformity of treatment of each of the units is not essential? The noble Earl is very well acquainted with Canada. But if he looks at the position of the German federated system he would find, I think, that the component units of the German federation are by no means treated alike. Neither Bavaria, Saxony, nor Würtemberg have precisely the same powers or even the same system of taxation. I do not think that our proposals are incompatible with the extension of the federated system. If they were, we should be the very last to put them before the country and this House.
After all, what have we done in the realm of finance? We have taken advantage of the fact that Customs machinery does exist in Ireland, and we have utilised it for the purposes of our financial relations and provisions. It is because the Customs machinery exists that we have thought fit to make use of it. We do not see that it is necessary to apply the same provisions to Scotland if ever it came within the reach of practical politics to give self- 624 government to Scotland. In the case of Scotland it would be quite unnecessary. After all, we know that in Ireland the great difficulty is this. What compels us to depart from the ordinary practice of federated units is the fact that in Ireland the expenditure exceeds the revenue from all sources. That is not true of Scotland. In Scotland the direct taxes are said to bring in something like £7,500,000 a year, whereas the whole expenditure does not amount to more than £5,750,000. So that really the condition of Ireland and of Scotland is quite different, and it is not in the least necessary to assume that because we have applied certain provisions to Ireland therefore it will be necessary, if federation should ensue, to apply identically the same provisions to Scotland. Precedents are all very well, but you can pursue precedent to the point of pedantry. I venture to say to the noble Earl and to Lord Dunraven that there is nothing in these proposals which is incompatible with a general scheme of federation.
If I am not detaining your Lordships too long, I would like to make one or two allusions to the speech delivered by Lord St. Aldwyn. He expressed his preference for the Primrose system of finance, but I may point out to the two Federalists who have spoken that the Primrose system is really incompatible with federalism. I should like to know what Lord St. Aldwyn would have said if we had put forward such a proposal. The noble Viscount, after expressing that preference, went on to deal with a number of small points. He spoke of the Joint Exchequer Board, and ridiculed the possibility of a Chairman being found whose impartiality would be accepted by both countries. I am bound to say I thought that came very strangely from a noble Lord who is at the present moment conducting an almost identical task with conspicuous success, and the differences which he has to reconcile in that task are at least as great as the differences which are likely to arise between the two Exchequers. But apart from that, the noble Viscount tried to frighten your Lordships on the question of finance. He said, You talk of a deficit of £2,000,000; it will be much nearer £3,000,000 before you have done with it. He also said that the land charges and insurance would be a greater burden in the future than they are now. In making that estimate, however, he failed to make 625 due allowance for the set-off which will occur in the probable decrease in pensions and the annual subsidy which we obtain through the Irish Government; and also, perhaps more important than all, he forgot to allow for the increase of revenue which we may expect to get from Irish sources. It must be remembered that we have reserved to the British taxpayer the reversionary interest in all normal increase of revenue which may, and probably will, accrue in the future.
I have only one more word to say. I said that the great fact in this controversy was the Irish demand. I admit that there is another great fact—the fact of the position of Ulster. I admit that nobody on this side, either here or in another place, Las denied the reality of the Ulster position; but, after all, what is known as the Ulster Party are a minority of the Irish people. I do not see how you can claim that being in a minority they are to dictate what the future settlement of the Irish question is to be. We admit to the full the real and genuine repugnance which is entertained in Ulster to our proposal. We have attempted to meet it by every means in our power. We have filled the Bill with safeguards of every kind and description. Those safeguards are automatic; they are far-reaching; they are practical. We think we have covered the whole ground, but we are open to suggestions if noble Lords have any to make.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
We really wish to meet as far as possible the legitimate, although I think sentimental, apprehensions of Ulster regarding this measure. Allusions have been made in the course of the debate to the hopes entertained in Ireland by the Nationalist Party of the coming of a millennium when the Irish Parliament is set up in Dublin. Those hopes are said to be exaggerated. I dare say they are, and my own personal experience tends to show that they are. I had the honour of accompanying the Prime Minister to Dublin last summer on a great and notable occasion. During the course of that visit I was very much struck with the obvious expectation that existed among all classes of the community as to the improvements that would be caused by the setting up of a Parliament in 626 Dublin. If the Irish Government when it comes into existence—if it does—is not to disappoint those hopes it will require, and I believe it will seek, to win the co-operation of all classes and of all sects in Ireland.
I hope—and this is my last word—that in spite, of the Motion of the noble Duke your Lordships may be minded to give this Bill a Second Reading, and take it into consideration in Committee. You will not, if you do, find the Government obdurate. It has been said, both here and elsewhere, that we should consider no price too large to pay for a settlement by consent. And, after all, the Party opposite have an equal interest in a settlement by consent. You freely tell us that as the result of a General Election you will replace us on these Benches. If that is so, and you come back here and tear up this Bill, what will you do? You have, if not encouraged, at any rate acquiesced, in the resistance of Ulster. Do you think you could look forward to peaceful resignation from the rest of Ireland? and, if not, do you look forward with any confidence or any assurance to a succession of Crimes Acts, Coercion Acts, and Proscriptions. We lay this Bill before the Rouse in all good faith. We believe it to be in the general interests—in the interests of both Parties, in the interests of the country, and in the interests of the Empire—that we should find a way of making a reconciliation with the Irish people. We put this Bill before you, and we invite you to share with us in that achievement.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
My Lords, it is now nearly twenty years since a Home Rule Bill was sent up to your Lordships' House from another place, and when I look round this Bench upon my colleagues here I notice that there are only two who on that occasion took part in the debate besides myself to urge on your Lordships to reject that Bill. I do not know what thoughts are passing through their minds on the present occasion when they carry their recollections back to that measure of twenty years ago. But I cannot myself help comparing in my mind the conditions that existed in the year 1893 with those which exist at the present time. To a certain extent they are very similar. The measure came up from the House of Commons, and a Duke of Devonshire moved the rejection of it. The Bill was disliked in the country, as was 627 shown immediately afterwards by the result of the General Election that took place. But there the analogy ceases. We have similar conditions, but at the present moment your Lordships are powerless to refer this measure, as you did in 1893, to the country. The Government are endeavouring by means of the Parliament Act to secure that measure which I venture to think no epithet is too strong to condemn should be carried through Parliament, not only behind the backs of the people of this country but against the will of the people, who in the case of Home Rule are as much opposed to the Bill as they were in 1893.
I will venture to ask, Is there any Government in the Empire that has ever endeavoured to carry a measure so unconstitutional as this, so fraught with risk and disaster, without appealing to the country, or at any rate without taking every step possible to find out what are the wishes of the people of the country with regard to it? The present Government have done nothing of the kind. They refused to refer this measure to the country, preferring to smuggle and hustle it through the House of Commons in a manner which I venture to say amounts to nothing short of a disgrace to any constitutional Assembly. The procedure in the other House has been described as an absolute farce. The Bill has been rushed through, and many of the most important details have been closured, guillotined, kangarood, or whatever you like to call it. The Government have displayed the most unseemly haste. Consequently when we consider the manner in which this Bill is sent up to your Lordships' House; when we consider the power we at present have—for, whatever may happen, our debates at the present moment have a purely academic character—surely we have a right to say that we have never seen, nor has any country ever seen, a spectacle so degrading as the position to which both Houses of Parliament have been reduced by His Majesty's Government.
This measure, as I say, has been forced through the House of Commons. We may debate it here, but we can only delay it. We cannot refer it to the country. The position of the two Houses of Parliament at the present time, therefore, appears to me to be this. While the House of Commons can vote but cannot speak, your Lordships 628 can speak but cannot vote effectively. If any stranger came back after an absence of some years and visited your Lordships' House or the House of Commons I believe he would ask himself, Is it possible that such a degradation of the Mother of Parliaments could have taken place in the last few years? And if he asked what was the reason that this had taken place, the reply would be "Because His Majesty's Government are not master in their own house." The Government are tied hand and foot to the chariot wheels of Mr. John Redmond, the Nationalist Leader, and of his ally, Mr. Patrick Ford, the dynamiter in America. Mr. Redmond has given His Majesty's Government their orders—"You pass this Home Rule Bill through the House of Commons; you pass it through quickly, you pass it through without discussion—because if there is real discussion the people of England will recognise the iniquities of your measure; therefore they must not be allowed to understand what those iniquities are—and if you do not pass it, out of office you go." I venture to say that never in the history of a constitutional country has a measure of this great importance, coupled with the greatest risk of ruin to Ireland and possibly civil war, been passed behind the backs of the people, without their having a voice or a say in it.
I was reading a short time ago a letter written by the ex-Lord Chancellor, Earl Loreburn, in connection with the Women's Suffrage Bill. These are the remarks he made—I believe woman's suffrage for the Imperial Parliament would be a great mistake, and that this opinion is shared by the vast majority. The electors would make this clear if they had the chance, and I hope the friends of fair play, whatever view they take, will make a stand against the design of passing this unfortunate proposal into law behind the backs of the constituencies.I venture to appeal to the noble and learned Earl, and to ask, if he holds that view with regard to the question of the extension of the franchise to women, which is as the moon to the sun, as water to wine, as compared with the smashing of the Constitution of the country, ought he not to rise up and insist that this measure of Home Rule should be submitted to the country before it is passed into law? I listened, as we all did yesterday, with the greatest interest and admiration to the speech of the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York, which I am sure commanded the attention of 629 every one in the House. He laid great stress on the fact that when he considered the important position which Ulster occupies in this question it was not in his view the right of the Government of the country to impose Home Rule upon Ulster without first appealing to the people. The most rev. Prelate is not in his place at this moment, but I hope I am not misinterpreting anything he said. I entirely endorse every word in that sentence. I could not help listening with admiration to the way in which the most rev. Prelate alluded to the case of the Government in connection with what I may call stage-management. I noticed that at the time he was talking about the supers of His Majesty's Government a Division took pace in the House of Commons, and the supers who were standing at the Bar of your Lordships' House all fled.
I should not have dreamed of making any allusion to the stage or theatricals if I had not been given the cue by the most rev. Prelate. But when I consider the attitude his Majesty's Government are taking up in refusing to put this measure before the people of the country before they pass it finally through Parliament, I cannot prevent my mind going back to a visit which I paid the other night to a theatre where they are playing a piece called "John Regan's Visit to Ballymore." In this piece we see a conspiracy to get money out of the people of Ballymore for an imaginary Peer. The leading man of the committee, in reply to one conscientious man who said to him, "It, is not honest; we cannot, do it," said, "It is not honest, but we will do it." That to my mind represents the attitude of His Majesty's Government at this moment in not referring the Home Rule Bill to the people of the country. I listened with great interest to the speech delivered by the noble Lord who preceded me. I am bound to admit that I thought he would have proved in the course of his speech that Ireland either had gone back or had improved since the Act of Union was passed. He entirely ignored all those facts. He does not seem to me to realise what the condition of Ireland is at the present moment as compared with what it was before the Act of Union was passed. I do not wonder at it. The noble Lord, if I may venture to say so, was born and bred a Conservative and Unionist. I believe in his earlier days he sat for Plymouth as a Conservative Member. I believe later on 630 when he discarded the traditions of the family and devoted himself to the interests of the Nationalist Party, even then when he stood at Cardiff he was not altogether in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. I have a speech of his in which he said, speaking in April, 1904, as a Radical candidate—The question of Home Rule might be considered outside practical politics. But if the question did arise, he was not prepared to vote for a measure setting up an independent Parliament in Ireland. That, however, would not prevent him considering any extension of the principle of local government by, say, the establishment of something in the nature of Provincial Councils in Ireland, Wales, or any other part.Then, in reply to questions, the noble Lord said that he would vote against any Government which brought in a Home Rule Bill similar to that of 1886. Therefore when I hear the noble Lord to-day eulogising this Bill, which is very much on the lines of the Bill of 1886, I would ask him how he reconciles the speech he made in 1904 with the speech he has made to-day. But I leave the matter to the noble Lord. He finds it better, perhaps, to sit on those Benches and to repudiate the principles he held both as a Conservative and also as a Radical before 1904.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I did point out that there was a great difference between the two Bills in regard to the exclusion of Irish Members in the Bill of 1886. I quoted Mr. Chamberlain as showing the great difference there was.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I do not see that that makes much difference, but if it pleases the noble Lord I am quite willing to accept it. In the speech he made last night Lord Emmott endeavoured to prove that the country was fully aware of the measure of Home Rule which was to be brought in if this Government came into office. I am bound to admit that he presented his case exceedingly well, but still I differ from him entirely. I venture to say that the country had no idea when they returned the Liberal Party to office that a Home Rule measure was to be the most important item in their programme. I will tell you why, and I will ask the noble Lord to contradict me if I am wrong. If Home Rule was to be the most important item on the programme of the Radical Party, why was not Home Rule ever mentioned in the election addresses of either the Prime Minister or Mr. Birrell, the Chief Secretary 631 for Ireland. It is a singular fact that the question of Home Rule was never brought forward at that time. Indeed, I believe I am correct in saying that out of 300 Radical Members who were returned, 156 only mentioned the matter at all, and 52 alluded to it very shortly in a small paragraph. Therefore I challenge the statement of the noble Lord who spoke last night when he said that Home Rule was one of the prominent planks of the Radical Party at the last election. I would remind your Lordships, further, that Mr. Asquith maintained a very discreet silence on the subject until two-thirds of the Members of the House of Commons had been returned; and then it was only in reply to a heckler that he said Home Rule was to he one of the planks in the platform of the Radical Party.
Now I am afraid I must weary you a little, because I am going to tread upon ground which has not been trod upon yet. I want to prove beyond all doubt that the present condition of Ireland is not only prosperous but that its prosperity is increasing by leaps and bounds. I want to prove to you also that the reason of Ireland's prosperity at the present time is its connection with England and the Union carried by my great predecessor, Lord Castlereagh. What I would like to ask the noble Lord who will follow me on the Government side is, Are you prepared to pledge yourselves to maintain or increase the present prosperity which Ireland enjoys? I venture to say you cannot do it. The present prosperity of Ireland is due entirely, to my mind, to its connection with England. It has been able to borrow money at a very low rate of interest, thanks to that connection. I am not going to deal with the financial question of Ireland, which Lord. St. Aldwyn treated fully last night. I ask your Lordships to look at the development which has taken place in Ireland since the Union. I myself read very closely the Irish papers, and I would invite noble Lords opposite to read what has been said by their own supporters, Mr. Redmond and Mr. Devlin among others, who tell you that during the last ten or twenty years the condition of Ireland has improved to an extent that one could hardly imagine. I have their speeches here, but no one will deny that improvement and therefore I will not weary the House by reading extracts. What does this mean? It means that, 632 thanks to the credit of England and the connection Ireland has with England, the occupiers of land have become the owners of their holdings on terms agreeable to both parties. Thanks again to the credit of England the land question has been to a great extent settled, and I believe every one of those men in the South and West of Ireland who have enjoyed the benefit of the various Land Acts would, if they could speak openly and without fear of intimidation, tell you that they did not want Home Rule.
Let me give some statistics with regard to the prosperity of Ireland, which I wonder very much some one has not mentioned before. The imports and exports at Irish ports in 1904 were £103,790,799, and in 1911 £131,940,725. The Government funds held in Ireland in 1893 were £25,283,000, and in 1912 £42,429,000. The deposits and cash balances in Irish joint stock banks amounted in 1904 to £34,637,000, and in 1911 to £57,752,000. The deposits in Post Office Savings Banks—and may I say in passing that these are the best barometer as to the position of the working-classes—were in 1904 £4,155,000, and in 1911 £12,731,000. The deposits in Trustee Savings Banks in 1904 were £1,856,000, and in 1911 £2,599,000. Will anybody get up and tell me the condition of Ireland is not prosperous at the present moment? I want to ask noble Lords opposite, and particularly the noble Viscount, Lord Morley, Are they prepared to pledge themselves that if Home Rule is granted they will maintain that prosperity. We know better. We who live in Ireland know what the condition of Ireland was before the Union. We know its pauperism, its misery. What did Mr. Lecky, the great historian, write describing the conditions before the Union? He said—Agriculture had ceased. Its implements were destroyed. The sheep and cattle had been plundered and slaughtered. The farmers were homeless, ruined, and often starving. This Government and corruption, political agitation and political conspiracy, had done their work, and a great part of Ireland was as miserable and as desolate as any spot upon the Globe.I ask noble Lords to compare the conditions described by Mr. Lecky with Ireland's prosperity at the present time. And what did Lord Clare, the Lord Chancellor, remark as to the condition of Ireland previous to the Union. He said— "Wehave not three years of redemption from bankruptcy or intolerable taxation, nor one hour's security against the renewal of exterminating civil war.633 Therefore I ask you, having wearied you by quoting these statistics to show the present prosperity of Ireland, Are you justified in running the risk of going back to what existed before the Act of Union?
There is another point I wise to raise. What are the safeguards with regard to the protection, not only of the interests of the people generally, but also of the minority in Ireland? I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord, and I could not gather that there was any safeguard put forward which was worth the paper it was written on. What are your safeguards? The noble Earl, Lord Dunraven, told us on Monday night that he does not think the safeguards are sufficient for the minority; and Mr. Dillon, looking at the matter from quite another point of view, has stated the same thing. When we have these two gentlemen viewing this matter from opposite sides making this statement, are we not justified in thinking that there are no safeguards at all that are worth anything? I know the Government must have considered the danger they were undergoing, because they lay such stress on the safeguards. But what are those safeguards worth? I know we are told, "You have a great safeguard in the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament." Let me take a concrete case. The Parliament in Ireland passes some Act which is contrary to the wishes of the Imperial Parliament. The Lord Lieutenant may veto it or not, and you repudiate it here. But what happens? The Government of Ireland resign. What other Government is possible? They return to office, and they renew that measure. They carry it through in spite of you. You must either surrender to that Parliament in Dublin, or you must govern Ireland like a Crown Colony. That is a question to which I should like to have an answer. The noble Lord objected to my interrupting him and said he would answer me, but he did not answer me. I appeal to the noble Viscount opposite. Will he, when he speaks, answer me?
We are told by Mr. Redmond that the Unionist Party in Ireland need have no fear whatever; that they are going to be welcomed into the fold of the College Green Parliament; and we are told that we shall occupy a very prominent part in the representation and in the affairs of Ireland. That is all very well for England, but it does not do in Ireland. In 1889, speaking 634 of the Local Government Act, Mr. Redmond stated that he would undertake to say there would be proper representation of the Unionist Party. Outside of Ulster I believe there are only fifteen Unionist members elected on the county councils. That Act has been a network to the Nationalist Party throughout the other provinces; and when we hear Mr. Redmond talking of safeguards for the minority, and Mr. Asquith also saying that he will see it is done, I maintain they are playing a game of "bluff." Mr. Asquith is trying to delude the English people into believing that the Parliament in Ireland is only to be a subordinate Parliament. Mr. Redmond tells them in Ireland that it is not to be subordinate but all-powerful. Therefore I wish to have some reply from the Front Bench as to how they propose to deal with this question of the safeguards.
Now I come to what I think is acknowledged to be the most important part of this question, and I ask His Majesty's Government at once, as au Ulsterman myself, What are you going to do with Ulster? I do not think any one will deny that Ulster is the key of the whole situation. Ulster is presenting a difficulty to His Majesty's Government which they do not know how to get over, and I want to know before it is too late what they are going to do. We heard from the noble Lord on the Woolsack last night some fluent and voluble sentences with regard to Ulster, but he gave us no definite answer to the question I am putting now. We want a definite answer, and we must have it before this Bill leaves your Lordships' House. I know full well the difficulty the Government are in, and that the Cabinet are divided on the subject. The First Lord of the Admiralty made a speech—I have not got it before me, and I am speaking from memory—in which he said he more or less realised the great difficulties that Ulster presented in this respect. I have, however, the speech of Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons in May last, when he said, speaking on this question—If Ulster defeats tire solution which we propose, or makes it impossible, we cannot afford to continue the present state of affairs. Some solution will have to be found which will free this House and put the control of Irish affairs in Irish hands.All I can say is this, that Ulster will adhere to the policy which she has pursued all through. It is for you to tell us what alternative you propose.
635 Let me say a few words, as an Ulsterman born and bred, with regard to the present position in Ulster. Ulster knows full well that she owes her prosperity entirely to the Act of Union. Before the Act of Union Ulster was the poorest of the four provinces, but prosperity runs all through Ulster now and she is now the foremost. What is that due to? It is due to the Act of Union, which has brought her into close connection with this country. She has taken advantage of that connection; she has given her energy, her ability, her brains to it, and after having attained the magnificent position she is in at the present moment, is she going to surrender what she and her fathers and grandfathers fought for in order to put herself under the yoke of a body of men like Mr. Redmond and the National League, particularly when they remember the notorious Plan of Campaign which ruined thousands and thousands of people and wrecked the town of Tipperary? Whatever happens, she is not going to submit to be placed under the yoke of Mr. Redmond and the National League and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. I know it is quite possible to say that England in a moment of temporary aberration returned the present Government to power. But, my Lords, England did not return it to power for Home Rule. I ask, What are you going to do? You may, if you like, cut the loyal population of Ulster adrift, but, having once cut it adrift, you have no right to say to them, "You shall be placed under the yoke of a body of men you all hate, and who all hate you."
I maintain that there are only two alternatives with regard to this question, the one being that you should continue to govern Ireland as she has been governed since the Union, which has conduced to the prosperity of the whole of the country or else that you should cut Ireland entirely adrift and leave her to seek her own salvation. But if that is not done, you have no right to call on the English troops to fire upon the loyal people of Ulster, whose only fault is that they love you and are devoted to you and will fight for you in any part of the globe you ask them to. They will not cheer Boer victories or eulogise men like Mr. Lynch, as has been done by supporters of noble Lords opposite. Ulster only asks to be left to live with you and die with you, to share your responsibilities and your liabilities, and to be part 636 and parcel of your country; that is all they ask. My concluding remark is, What are you going to do? Are you going, in face of the fact that the people of Ulster will not tolerate Home Rule, to order the English troops to shoot them down? I ask that question with all solemnity.
I myself, I need not say, feel very strongly on this question. If I may venture a few words of an egotistical character, I would say that my whole political life has been bound up in the Union of England and Ireland. I am the collateral descendant of the man who carried the Union. I entered Parliament a young man as Member for County Down, my only pledge being that I would support the Union to the best of my ability. Shortly after being called to your Lordships' House I was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and my official experience there taught me that the maintenance of the Union, the credit and the connection with England, is all-powerful. Since then I have spent a great part of the year in the North of Ireland. I have associated with the industrial population and their views; I believe in them, and I believe they believe in me; and, having had the experience I have had officially and politically and socially, I tell your Lordships here publicly and deliberately that you are running the gravest risk that ever was run if you attempt to coerce Ulster in this matter. I therefore conclude by asking you, What are you going to do with regard to Ulster?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LINCOLNSHIRE
My Lords, the House has listened with the respect and attention it deserves to the speech of the noble Marquess who has just sat down. Not only the House but I think the whole country has awaited the speech of the Marquess of Londonderry, who holds the position of chief and spokesman of what Lord Cornwallis once called "a bold and deeply interested minority." I think on Friday perhaps we may be able to go a step further and call it a minority of a minority. We may not agree with the speech to which we have just listened, but I think every person, whether he agrees with it or not, must congratulate the noble Marquess upon it as being a really good speech from his point of view. I think he had the sympathy of every noble Lord in this House when he spoke of his historical connection with that part of Ulster in which he is so truly and deeply respected. He spoke with know- 637 ledge of his subject; he spoke with deep conviction; and he spoke with spirit and fire—in fact some portions of his speech might distinctly be called somewhat fiery. He spoke of the Government the day being under the orders of Mr. Redmond and Mr. Patrick Ford. He spoke of the iniquities of the Government; he spoke of their smashing the Constitution; and he went so far as to call the Government dishonest. He talked of the safeguards in the Bill not being worth the paper upon which they were written, and he was very strong on the subject of disgrace and degradation. I do not intend personally to make arty reply to the noble Marquess, but I am grateful to him for having spoken so clearly and resolutely and plainly to members on this side of the House, because it gives them an equal opportunity, which I am sure the noble Marquess is a fairminded man will not resent, of speaking equally plainly and equally clearly to him in reply.
I am bound to say that, good as the noble Marquess's speech undoubtedly was, there seemed to me to be two or three omissions in it. The whole of his speech appeared to be destructive; it was not constructive in any sort or kind of way. He never threw out the vaguest hint of any sort of constructive policy in the room of this Bill, which noble Lords opposite seem determined to throw out. And it seemed to me that the speech of the noble Marquess was a speech that could not possibly and would not have been made by any man who had ever seen a Colony or by any man who had ever seen a Colonist at all. In those circumstances it is easy to understand how it is that the noble Marquess has adopted the attitude of what is called across the seas, "the English Englishman". But I am bound to confess that it is uncommonly difficult to understand the position of one of the Leaders of the Party to which the noble Marquess belongs, Mr. Bonar Law, who, with the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne—whose return to the House we welcome with such great pleasure—leads the great Party opposite. It is difficult to understand how a man with the acumen which Mr. Bonar Law undoubtedly possesses could ever have gone sc far as to express in the Commons House of Parliament his belief that Ulstermen would really prefer to accept government by a foreign country than submit to be governed by their own countrymen. This is, to us at 638 any rate, a most astounding statement, and it does not seem to have been challenged, either on the platform or in the Press, by any member of the Party which he leads. On another occasion he went so far as to say that, under circumstances which he does not define—he gives himself a loophole there, I admit—he would encourage Ulstermen in their resistance. It seems to some of us that this wild talk is a natural sequence—I hope the House will believe that I use this expression in no hostile sense—of the revival of the spirit of those Orange lodges which, as the House knows full well, came to an end in March, 1839, under somewhat dramatic circumstances.
Lord Midleton last night said that he did not intend to go back into the history of the first half of the last century, as no noble Lord present in the house could be held responsible for what happened then. But we are told that history repeats itself, and most of us would be uncommonly sorry if the dreadful history of the first part of the last century was to be repeated. Therefore I ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments while I remind noble Lords of what the state of affairs was in the early part of the last century. Your Lordships will remember that when the Duke of Wellington carried Catholic Emancipation in 1829 Party feeling in consequence ran terribly high, and it ran very high especially amongst the Orangemen in Ireland. It ran so high that the Deputy Grand Secretary of the Irish Lodges went so far as to assert that the Irish Orange members declared that it was no use their remaining loyal, as they were about to be sacrificed; and, in confirmation of that, if you Lordships look at Greville's Memoirs of that period, you will find that in his opinion loyalty at that time was a dead letter. The Orange lodges then, as is well known, were extremely strong. In Ireland it was stated that there were 220,000 arm-bearing men. I am speaking subject to correction, because I have not been able to verify it; but a few days ago some Member in the other House of Parliament stated, curiously enough, that that was about the number of the Orangemen in the North of Ireland at the present time. There were 220,000 arm-bearing Orangemen in Ireland. There were 40,000 men of the same kidney in London alone; there were 140,000 Orangemen besides in Great Britain. There were a great many Colonial lodges, notably in 639 New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, and, in addition to that, there were a great many military lodges in the Army, the members of which were affected, or disaffected, whichever way you please to put it, by the tenets of that institution. In June, 1833, Colonel Firman, who was Co-Deputy Grand Secretary of the Lodge, wrote to a then member of your Lordships' House, saying—We shall speedily have such a physical force, I trust, as will strike terror and dismay into the enemies of our country.I pause for one moment to ask, Who were the enemies of the country at that time? Were they the foreign countries under whose flag we are told under certain conditions some of our fellow-countrymen are anxious to take refuge? Not a bit of it. The enemies to which he referred were the majority of their own countrymen, the Catholics who were living in other parts of Ireland; and so numerous and menacing did this institution become that Joseph Hume in 1835 brought the whole matter before the Commons House of Parliament. He obtained a Parliamentary Committee, which was appointed to inquire into Orange institutions, and they brought out a Report which I hold in my hand and from which I ask the indulgence of the House to allow me to read two or three extracts. I have extracted what I want to read, and put it under six or seven heads. They reported that the effect of the Orange institution was (1) to incite one portion of the population against the other; (2) to increase the rancour existing between the different religious persuasions; (3) to make the Protestant the enemy of the Catholic and the Catholic the enemy of the Protestant; (4) to raise up other societies amongst the Catholics in their own self-defence; (5) to interrupt the course of justice; (6) to tamper with the discipline of the Army; and (7) to incite to breaches of the peace and to bloodshed. The Report goes on to say that all these evils have been proved in the evidence as regards Ireland. I take the concluding words of the Report, in which they say—The suppression of the Orange societies, in the opinion of your Committee, is an absolute necessity, and the House should consider whether the Law Officers of the Crown should not be directed to institute legal proceedings without delay against the Grand Officers of all the Orange Lodges.Generally when England gets into a mess common-sense comes to the rescue. It 640 was so in this case. The Grand Master formally dissolved the Orange lodges, and the Orange Institution was finally broken up in 1839. I think I might here mention that this was a strange and somewhat tragic termination of a society which, I believe, speaking subject to correction, was originally founded on religious principles, and whose proceedings opened with a prayer, and, as far as I know, at the present moment may still open with the same prayer, the concluding words of which ran—Bless, we beseech Thee, every member of the Orange Institution with charity and brotherly love.and its last words were—Make us truly respectable here on earth and eternally happy hereafter.The agitation and the bitterness of feeling which existed at that time—in 1839—were scotched but not killed, and what the Litany calls "privy conspiracy" changed into open sedition. If noble Lords read the accounts of those days they will be surprised at the violence of the articles which were written in the newspapers, the violence of the speeches, and the atrocious lampoons that were published broadcast in those days. The climax came when a terribly disloyal oration was made by a member of the Opposition to Lord Melbourne's Whig Government. I think I had better not mention the name of the person who made the speech nor his constituency, as it is only sixty or seventy years ago and it might cause pain to some of his relations who may be living at the present moment. It was so dreadful a speech that it was at once answered by a member of the Whig Party whose name and constituency for the same reason I withhold, who told the speaker to his face that he had "the heart of a traitor and the tongue of a coward." For six weeks nothing occurred; but the pressure was so strong that a hostile meeting had to take place, and the second to the Whig duellist was Mr. George Anson, private secretary to Lord Melbourne, whom some of us can remember as private secretary to the late Prince Albert, Shots were exchanged, an apology was made for the speech, and the matter ended.
Then a loyal reaction set in, and in that loyal reaction there was one very startling development. In the Annual Register of 1839 you will find an account of a great 641 meeting—so great a meeting was it that it was impossible for it to be proclaimed—which was addressed by the Liberator O'Connell at a place called Bandon, which I believe is in the county of Cork; and the speech which this man made to the Repealers, or Home Rulers, as they would now be called, ran as follows:—The moment I heard of the menaces of the Tory Party I promulgated my feelings of detestation in the Press.He went on to say—In one day I could get 500,000 bravo Irishmen to defend the honour and the person of the Queen.And he added—Let every Irishman in this great gathering who is loyal to the Queen and who would defend her to the last, lift up his right hand.In the Annual Register we read—The entire assembly held up their lands.In conclusion he said—If necessity required, there would be swords in them.and he sat down, in the words of the Annual Register, "amidst tremendous and awful cheering." I should be the last person in the world to deny that the Irish people had been disaffected in days gone by. No one can think, except with horror, of those terrible days that some of us spent when staying with Lord Spencer in the old days, when he was virtually a prisoner in Dublin Castle. I remember, the first time he was permitted to take a ride in the Phoenix Park, riding on his left. The Staff said, "Look carefully going round the corners, and be very careful to ride out any person who tries to get between you and the Viceroy." There are many of us who remember the splendid courage of that noble man Lord Spencer in those terrible days of trial and tribulation, and the splendid example that was set by his beautiful and devoted wife.
But still, my Lords, I say that never, in the bitterest time of agitation, have the majority of the Catholic population in Ireland been disloyal to the Throne itself. They have hated with rancourous hate, and they have loathed the system of Crown Colony Government under which they were compelled to live; but I think I have every noble Lord opposite with me 642 when I say that under no circumstances, not even under the worst circumstances, have they been disloyal to the Throne. I take one instance. The House of Lords, to its everlasting credit, in England's deepest necessity went out to fight its battles in South Africa. I think there was not one single family in your Lordships' House where the bead of the family did not go out himself or at least send one, if not more, members to the seat of war, and especially I should like to call the attention of the House to the conduct of the Duke of Norfolk, the respected head of the Catholics of England, who went out to the seat of war and was severely wounded. I ask noble Lords who have themselves fought whether they can mention any body of men that fought better than the Irish regiments. I will only mention a few—the Dublin Fusiliers, the Leinster Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers, and the 18th Royal Irish. I only mention those because I believe that these regiments are maintained and recruited in the South of Ireland, and that every man in those regiments is a Home Ruler.
I take another case. What was the reception given to the Sovereigns of this country when they have honoured Ireland with Royal visits? The hearts of the nation went out to the late Queen Victoria when she visited Ireland in 1900. The same thing happened when King Edward, of blessed memory, took Queen Alexandra to Ireland in 1903; and we are told by those best qualified to know that on the occasion of the visit of the present Sovereign and Queen Mary, great as was the enthusiasm and the loyalty shown in different parts of the country, perhaps the most striking enthusiasm and the most striking loyalty was shown by the Dublin crowds who went out to see their future King and Queen. I think that the attitude of the Irish nation towards the Sovereigns of their country can be exemplified in one single sentence by what was said by the Irish carman on the occasion of the visit of Queen Victoria in 1900. A member of your Lordships' House was coming back from the Phoenix Park Review, and he said to the driver, "Pat," or "Tim," or whatever people call those drivers, "have you seen the Queen?" and the car-driver, with that twinkle in his eye which seems to be the birthright of every Irishman, said, "Indade I did, and I cheered for her like mad—God forgive me!"
643 We are asked, "Why do you support Home Rule? How on earth can you defend your position?" The answer is very simple. All those of us who have gone out into the wide world support Home Rule because we are convinced, we are absolutely positive, that self-government—I care not whether you call it Home Rule, or Rule at Home, or Devolution, or what you will—we are convinced that self-government in Ireland is a necessity if we wish to continue a great and a growing British Imperial confederation. I am not going to give the opinion of any member on this side of the House, but I ask your Lordships' permission to quote what a great authority on your side has written on this subject—I refer to Mr. Garvin, the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette and of the Observer. He wrote some time ago when there was a suspicion that some members of the Party opposite were coquetting with Home Rule under an assumed name—So long as the Irish question is unsettled, close alliance with the United States of America is impossible; while we have to reckon with the sentiment of the Colonies, all of which are made uncomfortable—that is the word he used—by the present state of things.Nothing can be truer, nothing can be fairer, than these words. We cannot put it better. It shows how great a stroke for the Empire Liberals will have accomplished when they have passed, as they inevitably will pass, Home Rule. Then we are told, "If you grant Home Rule, you betray Great Britain into the hands of her enemies." Her enemies!
Mr. Redmond tells you that this Bill will have the effect of bringing contentment to Ireland, and of putting an end once and for ever to the disaffection existing there and amongst the Irish people in every part of the world. I know that that opinion is received with laughter from the Benches opposite, but still we have on the other side of the House an admission, and we have a categorical admission from Sir Edward Carson and from Mr. Walter Long, both great authorities on Irish problems, that Ulster Unionists are not afraid of any persecuting or unfair legislation at the hands of the Catholics. Why should Ireland be called the enemy of England? Both have fought shoulder to shoulder on many a battlefield, and they have the same patient industry, the same loyalty to the Sovereign, as I hope we have ourselves; 644 and I would ask the Bishops' Bench, if any of the right rev. Prelates are going to vote against this Home Rule Bill, Is this deep religious feeling going to separate for ever two Christian countries? I would ask noble Lords opposite, and I would ask Ulstermen, Are you for ever going to deprive Ireland of that self-government which has been so happily granted to all other Dominions under the Crown, and which has made the great British Empire what it is to-day? I hope your Lordships will pardon me if I call attention to a very old hackneyed quotation which I believe we used to learn in days gone by in the Eton Latin Grammar—si monumentum quœris circumspice. If you want to seek or, still better, complete the monument of Britain's greatness, look, not only at the result of the self-government you have granted to British Dominions across the seas, but, before it is too late, open your eyes at home.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, holding the convictions that we do, I do not see that those who sit on this side of the House have any choice but to vote for the Motion of my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire. At the same time I am greatly obliged to the noble Marquess who leads this House for his reminder of the limitation of your Lordships' powers. We are able to delay the passage of Home Rule for a period of something like another eighteen months unless disaster befalls the Government in the House of Commons. We have no power to ensure that this third Home Rule Bill should be referred to the nation, as the Bills of 1886 and 1893 were referred. We are still the unwilling accomplices of the Government in their scheme that this country should be ruled by a Single Chamber, itself the dumb tool of an all-powerful Government. Nor really are our powers of revision less illusory. Lord Emmott last night, in a very interesting speech, suggested that we ought to read this Bill a second time in order that we might assist in remoulding it in Committee. I had the advantage of hearing the noble Lord, and therefore I know that what he said he said with perfect simplicity and honesty; but if I had read the speech instead of hearing it I should have supposed that he had spoken with his tongue in his cheek, because no remoulding of this Bill in Committee would be possible without a complete recasting of the finance, and your Lordships are unable by the endorsement 645 of the Parliament Act of the excessive claims of privilege of the House of Commons to have any share in the recasting of the finance of a Home Rule Bill. When Lord Crewe was dealing with the powers of the Senate it this Bill, he slurred over the fact that the Senate has power neither to reject nor to amend the finance of a Bill with the assertion that there were many precedents in other countries for such a provision. The noble Marquess made a mistake. What he meant to have said was that the only precedent for that provision was his own Parliament Act.
If the Government ever have any inclination to carry into effect their solemn pledges in respect to the Preamble of the Parliament Act, there are some indications in this Bill and in the Government Press of the kind of line they mean to take. The Irish Senate is to have no power to amend or reject a Money Bill. In the Parliament Act there is a provision, a meagre provision it is true but still a provision, to safeguard this Home against "tacking" by the House of Commons. There are provisions in the Parliament Act which are designed to prevent a Government in the House of Commons "tacking" on to a Money Bill great social or political changes unconnected with a Money Bill. There are no such provisions in the Home Rule Bill which we are now considering. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent an Irish House of Commons "tacking" on to a Money Bill any provision they like, and the Senate could neither amend nor reject it because it was a Money Bill. I do not know whether your Lordships happened to read a short leading article in the Government official organ, the Daily News, of the 27th of this month. It really is worth reading to your Lordships because it shows how utterly impatient the Government and their supporters already are of the miserable relics of influence left to your Lordships' House—The Home Rule Bill is to come to-day before the Lords for Second Reading, and it seems to be generally assumed that, after a more or less ceremonial debate, the Bill will be rejected. The assumption may be made that the probability that the Lords will take this step only deepens their offence. We must refuse to believe that the Lords will reject the Home Bide Bill until they have done it, just as, in common fairness, one must refuse to believe that a fellow-man will commit a base crime until he has done it. If and when the Lords take this indefensible step the need will be demonstrated of depriving them of the power of outraging a fundamental constitutional principle.646 I think Lord St. Aldwyn gave us very good advice when he suggested that it was unnecessary for each of us to attempt to cover the whole ground of the Home Rule controversy. That is my answer to Lord Ashby St. Ledgers. Because we do not attempt to cover the whole ground it does not mean that we do not feel able to cover the whole ground, or that our convictions on this subject have weakened in the twenty-seven years since Mr. Gladstone introduced his first Home Rule Bill. I mean to follow Lord St. Aldwyn's advice, and to confine my observations to one particular aspect of this subject. But before doing so I must enter a protest against the attempt which has been made by Lord Emmott and others to try to gain credit for this measure on the ground of the success of the grant of responsible government to the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. I will leave your Lordships to judge presently where the analogy really lies, if analogy there is. I will not dwell on the fact that this is a very different Bill from the kind of government granted to the Transvaal, or on the all-important fact that South Africa is 6,000 miles from England and that Ireland is 60. I concentrate on this point, that in the Transvaal there was no Ulster. In the Transvaal the two contending parties were approximately equal, and there was no kind of racial division in the Transvaal which could be at all compared with that which unhappily exists in Ireland. Self government was granted to another Colony besides the Transvaal. It was also granted to the Orange Free State. Although the circumstances were not the same in the Orange Free State as they are in Ireland, there was a much closer analogy than in the case of the Transvaal. In the Orange Free State there was a small minority with a different history and a different idea of politics and of government, and I know, and the noble Marquess opposite knows, that questions were emerging in the Orange Free State which might have caused very grave anxiety in South Africa and in the Empire. That danger, happily, was removed by the Union of South Africa.
Now, what was the Union of South Africa? Here we have a United Kingdom and, at present, no subordinate, no Home Rule Parliament. In South Africa there was no United Kingdom, but there were four Home Rule Parliaments; and what they did in South Africa was to get rid of 647 the four Home Rule Parliaments and form a United Kingdom. They did that because they found by experience, just as Mr. Pitt had found, that within the compass of one geographical unit, such as the United Kingdom is, or South Africa is, a collection of Home Rule Parliaments and Executives was intolerable and constituted a political danger. Therefore, if there is any analogy at all between our experience in South Africa and what is proposed for Ireland, the moral is entirely contrary to the course which the Government are now proposing. My noble friend Lord St. Aldwyn, sitting on this Bench yesterday, reminded me that if we do seek for an analogy from South African experience there is one which, perhaps, has not occurred to His Majesty's Government. After Majuba, sed absit omen, a Convention was made with the Transvaal under which, on paper, the suzerainty of the British Crown was reserved and in which all manner of safeguards were inserted for the protection of the British and of the natives; but experience proved that all those reservations and safeguards were not worth the paper upon which they were written.
The point I want especially to emphasise to-night is this. Of course, there is a case for Home Rule. We all know that there is a reasoned case for Home Rule which brings conscientious conviction to the minds of noble Lords opposite, and to many other people in this country, just as they know there is a case against Home Rule which brings conviction to our minds. But I think I can demonstrate to you to-night that there is no case for this Bill. There are two possible forms of Home Rule for Ireland or for Scotland, and two only. One is the Colonial form, and the other is the federal form. This Bill is not the Colonial form; the Government have rejected that, and rightly. To introduce the Colonial form of Home Rule would be an irreparable disaster. But they have not introduced the federal form. What they have introduced is a bastard Bill, and I think I can prove that their Bill cannot possibly fit in with the federal constitution which they contemplate. The noble Marquess, in dealing with this aspect of his case, said the Government proposed to carry the principle of devolution further; they proposed to have a Parliament for Scotland, and presumably for Wales and England. "But," he said, "there is no necessity that there 648 should be a slavish imitation in the Scottish Bill of our provisions for Ireland." I remember very well in the years gone by listening with rapt attention and admiration to a speech of the noble Viscount who is not in his place this afternoon—Mr. John Morley, as he then was—in the House of Commons. I think he was talking about Home Rule then, and he quoted, as he only can quote, an aphorism, I think, of Bishop Butler. I do not attempt to remember the exact words, but I do remember the exact sense. It was to this effect, "Facts are facts, and they will remain facts, and they will produce their inevitable consequences. even though you choose to shut your eyes to them." My contention is that it is a fact, which no wilful blindness can alter that the only possible forms of Home Rule are, as I have said, the Colonial or the federal, and that you cannot fit this Bill into a federal system for this country.
Many instances have already been given of how this Bill offends against federal principles. The noble Marquess said, as I have reminded him, that there was no necessity for slavish imitation, but he forgot this fact, that in all essentials it is an inevitable principle of a federal system that the relation of each subordinate Parliament and Government in that system to the central Parliament should be the same. You may have variations in the internal arrangements of each subordinate Parliament, but in their relation to the central Parliament and Government there can be no diversity in essentials. I am not going through all the cases in which this Bill offends against the federal principle. I am only going to take one. Take the case of bounties. Under this Bill the Irish Parliament can grant bounties on any Irish product. It cannot grant a bounty for exportation only. For instance, it would not be in the power of the Irish Parliament to grant a bounty of 2s. 6d. a hogshead on all butter exported; but it would be in the power of the Irish Parliament to grant a bounty of 2s. 6d. on every hogshead of butter produced in Ireland. How is that going to be fitted into a federal system? Is England, Scotland and Wales each to be given the power to grant bounties on its products? That would be a fiscal system only worthy of Bedlam. But if England, Scotland, and Wales are not to be allowed to grant bounties like the Irish Parliament, is it likely they will tolerate a partnership of that kind? You cannot possibly fit such 649 a provision into any federal scheme, and you can find no precedent for such a provision. It is not in the power of any Sovereign State in Germany; it is not in the power of any State of the United States; it is not in the power of any State of Australia; it is not in the power of any province of South Africa, to do such a thing. Before you can possibly fit your Irish scheme into a federal scheme, you will have to begin by amending this Bill. Therefore I think I have proved to your Lordships' satisfaction that this Bill is, as I have said, a bastard Bill; it is neither the Colonial scheme nor the federal scheme.
I wonder whether the Government have ever asked themselves where, in the matter of the Constitution, they are leading their country? I think all of us must feel that we are on the edge of a transition period. We do not quite know where we are going, and I do not think the Government quite know either. Allusion has been made many times in this debate to the fact that the great ideal of some form of organic union of the Empire for common purposes is passing into the realm of practical politics. My Lords, that is no Party question. That is an ideal which fires the imagination of Liberals just as much as that of Unionists. And, more than that, it never should pass into a Party question. It is a cause for which many of us would be only too thankful to be allowed to give all that remains of our political life. It is a cause calculated to awaken our passionate enthusiasm. There is only a small section of our countrymen who do not seem as yet capable of comprehending what it means—Socialists and a certain class of Radicals. They believe that the organic union of the Empire for purpose of defence, for foreign policy, and the government of the Dependencies would tend to militarism, as it is called, and would be a barrier to social reform. I do not believe there could be a more profound miscalculation. I do not believe that any greater guarantee for the world's peace could be given than some form of truly Imperial Parliament, nor do I believe that any greater security or opportunity for the quiet development of social reform and the betterment of the lot of our people could be given than by the existence of such a Parliament.
But if that ideal is ever to he realised we have to reconstitute the Government 650 of the United Kingdom. That can only be done in one of two ways. We Unionists think there is no reason for saying, because a truly Imperial Parliament may be created, that you are thereby bound also to create half a dozen subordinate Parliaments in the United Kingdom. We believe that the existing British Parliament relieved of its responsibility for the Navy, the Army, foreign policy, and India would be perfectly capable of dealing with all the requirements of the United Kingdom. We set that deliberately against that other ideal so eloquently voiced by Lord Grey of a federal system. Lord Grey thinks that an imitation of the Canadian system would be the only possible solution of the difficulty for the United Kingdom. We do not agree with him. We prefer the South African system to the Canadian system, the unitary system to the federal system. We do not deny that the Colonies have a right to their own choice, and would not for a moment question their judgment or say that the federal system is inferior to the unitary system, but we see no reason, because our imperial ideals may be realised, that therefore we are to deluge the United Kingdom with half a dozen or more new Parliaments and new Executives.
I know the opposite opinion is held. Not only Lord Grey, but other noble Lords opposite think differently. They stand by the federal system. Let us look at it from their point of view. At the very least, they would require five Parliaments in the United Kingdom—one for Ireland, one for Scotland, one for England, one for Wales, and one for the United Kingdom—to deal with those matters which are not directly Imperial, but yet which are common to the whole of the United Kingdom and not confined in their application to Ireland, Scotland, England, or Wales only. But that is the very least that would be entailed by the policy of noble Lords opposite. There are members of the Cabinet who would be very far from satisfied with a beggarly five new Parliaments. The First Lord of the Admiralty proposes, as I understand, in order to secure some system of uniformity and to reduce the component parts of England to an equality with Wales, to cut up England into a dozen different blocks. England is very long-suffering, but I think that England will revolt at that point. I do not think that she will exchange willingly her robe of perfect national unity for a patchwork quilt 651 dragged out of the cupboard of the Anglo-Saxons. The contribution which the Government are making to this great problem that is looming before us is this. They are proposing a scheme of Home Rule for Ireland that cannot possibly fit into either system; it can neither fit into the unitary system which we prefer, nor into the federal system to which they are committed.
The Lord Chancellor told us that there was a secondary very important object the Government had in view. They felt that the congestion of business in Parliament was intolerable, and they proposed this measure as an instalment of relief. What really is the fact? You must take the action of the Parliament Act and this Home Rule scheme with their consequences as all part of one policy. What is the real fact? We find that the House of Lords is already in the melting pot; that the House of Commons, chained by the Parliament Act to the House of Lords, is being dragged into the melting pot; and that this Bill for Home Rule is going to put the whole of the United Kingdom into the melting pot. The prospect of a constitutional change of this kind is enough to appal any nation or any Government. The laws that would be necessary for the final settlement of these great subjects will be more numerous, more complicated, more difficult of solution, than any group of laws which have had to be dealt with by any Parliament in the world since the days of the French Revolution. That does not seem to be a very felicitous beginning for a measure designed to relieve congestion and to leave the House of Commons free to deal with social reform.
There remains the ideal of the Government and their followers, which we frankly recognise. Their ideal is to reconcile England and Ireland and to settle the Irish question once and for all—a noble ideal. Lord Crewe spoke with the gravity and the sense of responsibility we would expect of the problem of Ulster. He feels, as all his colleagues must feel, a loathing and abhorrence at the contemplation of a possible conflict between a Liberal Government and Ulster. He turned to us sitting on this Bench and said—Supposing you succeed in defeating this Bill and come into power what will be your relations with the rest of Ireland? Will not all that you have said about us and Ulster be true of yourselves and the rest of Ireland?652 I think Lord Crewe is quite justified in uttering that grave warning. My colleagues and I would regard with the same loathing and abhorrence any conflict between ourselves and Nationalist Ireland. But what a picture the Leader of this House has drawn of the policy which is to end in the settlement of the Irish question and the reconciliation of the two races! He tells us that these are the only alternatives. Either the Liberal Party and the Labour Party of Great Britain which is joined to them will find themselves at daggers drawn with the North-Eastern counties of Ulster and the Protestants of Ireland, or the Unionist Party will find itself at daggers drawn with the rest of Ireland and the Roman Catholics. What a perfection of settlement! What a triumph of reconciliation!
§ LORD WELBY
My Lords, I venture to take part in this debate as one of the survivors of the Financial Relations Commission of ten or twelve years ago. This Bill presents itself in two aspects. One, of course, is political, and with that aspect the noble Earl who has just sat down has dealt. The other is purely administrative and financial. I shall not venture to deal with the higher subject, but propose to deal for a short time with the minor subjects, hoping to show that this Bill is not so complicated as it has been represented to be by noble Lords opposite, and that there will not be that necessity which the noble Earl who has just sat down foreshadowed—namely, the necessity at any hazard to recast the finance of the Bill.
There are two divisions in the Bill with regard to the financial provisions. The first is the financial scheme itself, and the second is the machinery by which the scheme is to be carried into effect. I will, for a few moments dealt with the second of those divisions first. The machinery of the Bill is, if I may venture to say so, not nearly so complicated as the noble Viscount opposite (Lord St. Aldwyn) stated it to be. For forty years I had experience of the working of financial measures, and during the latter part of that time I had a humble share in advising on financial measures and in carrying them into effect. During that time a number of most important financial measures were passed. I need hardly do more than mention the Irish Church Act, the Land Acts, the Acts dealing with the National Debt. Each of those bristled 653 with financial clauses, but I think I may venture to say, from my recollection of them, that they were hardly a whit less complicated than those contained in this Bill. The fact of the matter is, in the case of this country, that with its widely extended administration, its immense revenue and its immense expenditure, it becomes almost impossible flat a Bill having to provide for possible and probably inevitable contingencies should not appear a most complicated one to the person who casually takes up the Bill and reads it. One of the most able Chancellors of the Exchequer under whom I served, Lord Goschen, used to lament the extreme complexity of our financial system. But when he came to frame his own masterpiece of legislation—and it was a masterpiece of legislation—the Conversion Act, the Bill as he turned it out was certainly not less complicated than the Bills of his predecessors of which he had been somewhat of a critic. But nevertheless it fell to him to carry out the provisions of that Act, and, complicated as they appeared generally, he carried them out thoroughly and successfully, without any difficulty that I can recollect. If I might venture for what it is worth to give a personal opinion, I would say that if I were now at the Treasury I should not look with any great apprehension upon the difficulty of giving effect to the financial clauses of the Bill; and chiefly for this reason, that in all my past experience I have never known these complicated clauses, which as I say, abound in nearly all great financial Bills, meet with any insuperable difficulty when they come to be carried out.
I will now pass to the scheme of the Bill. The merits and demerits of that scheme are, of course, a fair subject for difference of opinion. I had the privilege, on the Financial Relations Commission, of working in concert with two very able men, Lord Farrer and Mr. Bertram Currie, and it was a matter of very careful consideration on our part what we should advise as to the future of Irish Government. We inclined to the view that it would be better that the Irish Government should be entrusted with the whole of the government of Ireland, that they should have charge of the collection of the revenue and the managing of it and the whole of the administrative services of Ireland—in fact, what I think has been called by noble Lords "a clean cut" between Great 654 Britain and Ireland in financial matters. Sir H. Primrose's Committee, with wider experience and wider knowledge, came to the same conclusion. That is the simpler scheme, which has found favour widely and has found favour with many noble Lords opposite as preferable to what they call the complicated and cumbersome scheme contained in the Government Bill. The Government, however, have not taken the view of those two Commissions. They have come to the conclusion that it is better to keep the management and the collection of revenue in Imperial hands and also a certain number of the services of the Irish Government. I could not help feeling at first a slight disappointment that the Government had come to that conclusion, but after mature consideration of the subject I modified my views and am now of opinion that the course which they took was the wiser.
May I point out that the two Commissions to which I have referred were not engaged in drafting a practical measure to carry out Home Rule in Ireland at once. They were not charged with such a duty. They were drawing an ideal scheme for the future of Ireland, the end and the aim of what a Home Rule policy should be. The Government were not in a position to draw up an ideal scheme; they had to provide a practical scheme which could be carried into effect to-morrow, and which would be a working scheme when so carried into effect. I would ask your Lordships to think for a moment, would it have been a reasonable or statesmanlike scheme to create an Irish Government which would come into power on a certain day, absolutely unexperienced, without any previous knowledge of administration, and on that day to transfer to them the whole charge of Irish government and taxation, and the whole charge of the services which under the Home Rule Bill is reserved? Would it not have been a cruel act? What new Administration could have dealt with it? They would have been saddled with work that they could not cope with at once, and would have had thrown upon them a responsibility for which they could not be prepared. Further than that, it would have paved the way for unpopularity on account of the shortcomings which a Government starting with such a load of work would be almost certain to incur at the outset, and which they would not have deserved; but it would have affected 655 them, and, still more, the fate of Home Rule. I can understand why some noble Lords opposite would have preferred that scheme. Possibly because it would not have facilitated the success of Home Rule.
But so far as the Government are concerned I feel that the course they have pursued—namely, that of handing over the government of Ireland to the new Irish Government by sections, and giving them time to make good each step as they go along, to work out the problem gradually—gives Home Rule the best chance for the future, and at the same time is the most reasonable plan of administration that could be devised. As it is the Irish Government will take over the whole of the internal government of Ireland. They will have the opportunity, as they are provided with sufficient money, to meet the charge of that government, with a surplus of £500,000; they will have time to undertake their first and most necessary duty—namely, a revision of their overgrown Civil establishments. The extravagant and wasteful expense of Irish administration is, I think, admitted by all sections of the public and on both sides of the House, and the first and most immediate duty which an Irish Government can have to undertake is that of revising those establishments and laying down the principles of organisation on which a reasonably economic Irish Government is to be carried on in the future. There have been several criticisms addressed to this part of the Bill, none more striking than those we heard last night from the noble Viscount opposite. I always fear, when I hear the noble Viscount, that his clear statement of fact and his persuasive arguments will lead my poor judgment astray. But there is a Spanish proverb, "How can the enemy of the bride speak well of the wedding?" and I would ask, "How can the implacable enemy of Home Rule be an impartial judge of a Home Rule measure?"
§ LORD WELBY
I am glad to hear the noble Viscount say so much; but I think there is this to be said, that impartial persons will at all events accept with some reservation the criticisms, I might almost say the denunciations of the Home Rule 656 scheme which we heard last night from the noble Viscount. My noble friend Lord MacDonnell would have given the Irish Government a much larger surplus to start with. With great diffidence, I venture to differ from him. That would tempt the Irish Government at its start to relax its efforts to revise efficiently and effectively the Irish Civil government. It might also tempt them early in the day to incur lavish expenditure which was not needed. I would very much prefer, though I am inclined to agree with Lord MacDonnell in his desire to deal benevolently with Ireland, to wait until the Imperial Government has seen how the new Irish Government deals, and whether it deals effectively, with these important questions of internal administration. If it should prove that they are working out a really prudent system of government in Ireland, I think then the Irish Government would have established a claim for kindly consideration on the part of the Imperial Government. The conclusion I come to is this. His Majesty's Government are not fundamentally opposed to the recommendations of these two Commissions. The idea of His Majesty's Government is that we should go gradually and by steps, and, if the Irish Government establishes itself on a sound footing, that gradually the reserved services may be transferred to it; and finally the opportunity may come when, with full experience, the Imperial Government will be able to consider whether it would be wise to hand over the collection and management of revenue to the Irish Government.
It has been said that the scheme of the Bill is very complicated. Is that really the case? Consider what is going to happen. The collection and management of revenue will continue under the same law and conditions as it is under at the present day, and the money required will be handed over to the Irish Government at the most convenient time. There is no difficulty in that; there is no complication there. Then comes the question of the Exchequer Board. I have been rather surprised to hear the attacks that have been made on that board, because it seems to me an eminently sensible way of arriving at a solution of questions of administration with regard to which doubts have been raised. The noble Viscount opposite spoke about Treasury clerks being employed. I do not see anything about Treasury clerks 657 in the Bill. At the same time it is a very important board and I can quite understand that it would he as much in the interests of His Majesty's present Government to appoint capable men as it would be in the interests of the Irish Government to appoint capable men on that board, and I cannot help thinking it would be possible to find a chairman of high authority whose decision would be respected without going to the isle of Man. I am rather astonished at the line of opposition that has teen taken to this extremely sensible method of settling doubts with regard to questions of administration. In this country it is astonishing to note the manner in which very difficult questions between the Crown and the subject are left in a most undecided state, and in which the powers of settling them are exercised. It is done in financial matters by the Treasury—an interested party, shall I say?—and a succession of Chancellors of the Exchequer and a succession of Governments have never seen what a very doubtful state of matters that is.
Let me turn to one Act that I have mentioned before, Mr. Goschen's Conversion Act, an Act that settled the relations between the subject creditor and the State debtor. Many difficult questions in which the subject was most intimately interested arose in the case of that Act. Look at one line in the Act, "The Treasury shall make regulations for carrying out the prescriptions of this Act." No provision is made for any special impartial people to do it; in other words, the cat was set to watch the cream. There are many other instances I could give. I need only refer to the recent case of Mr. Bowles against the Inland Revenue. There was a case in which for years the Executive Government had made itself judge and jury in its own case, but nobody ever thought there was anything odd in that. But directly it comes to the establishment of this extremely reasonable tribunal in the Bill, intended to settle quickly and without delay questions of fact which may arise, the idea is at once created of the numerous dangerous practices which may require attention.
The noble Viscount last night spoke of what might happen if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to abolish the Tea and Sugar Duties, and the effect it would have, no doubt a very disturbing effect, on Irish finance—meaning, I suppose, that Ireland 658 would receive less taxation, and therefore the deficit to be made good by the English Exchequer would be the greater. I was rather surprised that the noble Viscount did not go on and notice that supposing the present state of things goes on, supposing Home Rule is rejected and the Chancellor of the Exchequer abolishes his Tea and Sugar Duties, you will have exactly the same result. It will not be translated in the same form, but the revenue received from Ireland will be equally small, and the damage to the British Taxpayer will be exactly the same in both cases. If great changes are made in the organisation of our taxing system, great changes which alter the basis of that system, under those circumstances this country of course will have to take into consideration the effect of those changes upon such an arrangement as this in Ireland. No arrangement of this kind can possibly be such as will meet every contingency that arises. There must be a certain amount of adjustment, and that adjustment we must accept as a necessary corollary of Parliamentary Government. But at all events I feel this, that the Bill presents much fewer difficulties than it has been represented to create, and if it is carried out in a large spirit on both sides the aim of His Majesty's Government of creating a lasting goodwill between the peoples of the two countries will be accomplished.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
My Lords, I am sure we have listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down, although we are not all of us competent to follow him into the realms of finance. I should like, however, to make one observation. The noble Lord's sanguine mind has enabled him to approve, not only of the finance of the present Bill, but of that of the Home Rule Bills of 1886 and 1893, although the finance in each case differs completely.
§ LORD WELBY
It has been said frequently that I was an approver of the Bills of 1886 and 1893. I do not know where the foundation for that suggestion is to be found, or where any words of mine can be pointed to justifying it. At the time when the Bills of 1886 and 1893 were passing through Parliament I was a Civil servant and was bound to carry out the policy of my superiors and was not supposed to possess any individual opinion one way or the other.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
If the noble Lord does not approve of what I said, I apologise for my remark and withdraw it. The noble Duke, in the very interesting speech he made in moving the rejection of this Bill, told your Lordships that this House was daily reminded of the passage of the Parliament Act by the degradation of the House of Commons. It seems to me sometimes that we think too much of that Act as it affects another place, and not sufficiently of it as it affects us in this House. I sometimes think that we are so bound by the traditions and precedents of a time when we were an independent branch of the Legislature that we hardly realise how inappropriate those precedents and traditions are to a body which can only claim to be an advisory committee of the Single Chamber which now appears to rule in this country. We are free, it is true, to offer any amount of that cheap article called good advice, but with the foreknowledge that that advice will be rejected by those to whom it is offered, and with the foreknowledge that they have taken special care, and succeeded most admirably in their arrangements, to be able to discard that advice with impunity.
We are told, if we give a Second Reading to a Bill we disapprove of, that we are approving the principle; and no doubt it was undesirable to do this if by refraining from giving our assent to that principle we were able to ensure that the measure would be submitted to the suffrages of the people of this country. But surely the position is somewhat different when we know that the Royal assent may be given in this very Chamber to a measure the principle of which we have, three times running, refused to accept. Would it not be wiser to content ourselves with the more modest functions that are left to us, and to think less of whether by passing the Second Reading we approve of the principle, if by doing so we are able to expose the defects of the Bill. If this Bill passed into Committee we should be able to force His Majesty's Government to reply to objections which, by a skilful use of the "gag" and the "guillotine" in another place they have been able to avoid hitherto. We should be able to bring forward Amendments which we know their masters in another place would not allow the Government to accept. We should be able to point out the dangers which await Unionists if this measure becomes law, and the 660 futility of the safeguards by which it is proposed to protect them. Then, having shown, as I believe we could show, that this Bill is bad to the core, financially and socially, we should reject it on the Third Reading. It is well known that this House is opposed to the principle of Home Rule. We showed that on a former occasion by rejecting a Home Rule Bill by an enormous majority, and on this occasion it appears to me that we have not only to defeat the principle of Home Rule but also the special Home Rule Bill which is submitted for our consideration.
After all, the principle of Home Rule is only approached from two points of view. There is the point of view which thinks that by sacrificing your friends to your enemies you may be able to appease the latter, and there is the cheery optimism of the Prime Minister, who has the comfortable assurance that, however false his prophecies may turn out to be, he himself will not suffer from them. There is the fatuous credulity of believing the honeyed platitudes of those who now profess attachment to the Empire and thus give the lie to the assertions of a lifetime. On the other hand, there is the belief that it is wrong to forsake the British Garrison who, through evil and good report, have for centuries upheld the flag of England in Ireland; there is the knowledge of the fate which will befall those men, should this measure become law, and there is the shame of betraying those men who have trusted to the word and the honour of England. Holding these views, it may be asked whether I propose to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill. I do not propose to do so, because this is a question of tactics, and though I may put forward the tactics that I think best I am only one of the rank and file, and I think that I am bound to obey in this case the commands of my Leaders.
I therefore propose to deal with one or two points touching the principle of this measure. In the first place it seems to me that if it is desirable to grant Home Rule to Ireland this is not the proper way in which it could be granted. My only claim to a seat in your Lordships' House is as a representative of one of the two Chambers of that independent Parliament which signed the Treaty of Union with this country, and I cannot but think that if this Treaty of Union has proved a failure, if it 661 is desirable either to revise it or to abrogate it altogether, it would seem at least right that the high contracting parties who made that Treaty should each separately have an opportunity of considering it. The noble Duke in his speech gave us instances of what was done in Australia and in South Africa, and how the Bills proposing the Commonwealth and the Union respectively were submitted, first to a Convention and then to local Parliaments, back again to the Convention and then back to the Parliaments, and finally referred to a referendum. In the Bill before us, in the third subsection of the 26th Clause, it is enacted that if any change is made in the financial arrangements a deputation shall be summoned from the Irish Parliament in order that the Members from Ireland in the Imperial Parliament, when that change is made, should be at least equal in number to what Ireland would have on the basis of population. I cannot help thinking that if at the time of the Union it had ever been supposed that a revision of that Union should take place, some similar clause would have been found in that Act.
Let us imagine what would have happened if such a Parliament could have been called together. Let us imagine a Parliament assembled in Dublin to consider a question of revision In the democratic House of Commons I suppose the Chief Secretary could easily have found a place and been able to explain the views of His Majesty's Government, but the whole of the measure would have been considered without any fear that, by moving or carrying Amendments, a change of Government would have taken place. I should like in those circumstances to have heard the criticism of Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Healy and their followers. I am inclined to think that some very important Amendments might be put forward, even by official Nationalist Members, and if the Bill reached the House of Lords I have no doubt the provisions would have been explained to us by my noble friend Lord Granard, who is not in his place, but who, no doubt, will give us his views before the debate concludes. We know, at any rate, that the fears of the minority would have been well looked after in that Assembly, and at the same time the British House of Commons would have assembled to consider the revisions which should be made also without fear that a change of Government might follow. I am not a betting man, 662 but I think I should be prepared to lay long odds that when that Bill reached Third Reading you would not find the clause which provides for the retention of Irish Members still part of the Bill. Why has sonic arrangement not been made which would enable the component parts of the United Kingdom to express their opinion? The reason is, His Majesty's Government have determined that the Bill should be passed over the heads and against the wishes of the people of this country.
As an Irishman who finds himself obliged to vote against a Bill which has received the support of the representatives of the great majority of his countrymen in another place, my objections to this Bill are threefold. I base them upon these three grounds—first, that the Bill is injurious to Ireland; secondly, that it is injurious to England; and, thirdly, because I believe it is fatal to the Empire. I think it is injurious to Ireland because it will degrade her to a secondary and subordinate position as regards Great Britain, and because it must saddle her population with largely increased taxation. It is injurious to her because she will lose the benefit of Imperial credit. It is injurious to her because the Bill is full of points of friction which must arise and develop between the two countries in the future, and it is injurious to her because it will perpetuate the religious and political differences which unfortunately are so acute amongst Irishmen by placing for ever the Unionist minority under the heels of the Nationalist majority. I think it is injurious to England because of the retention of these forty-two Irish Members who will be able to tax Great Britain, make laws for her, settle her administration, and will only use their position as a means of extorting further concessions. I think it is injurious to England because it puts her under tribute of over £6,000,000 a year to Ireland. I do not know whether those figures are questioned, but that sum includes the share which Ireland ought to pay to the Imperial Exchequer calculated at £3,500,000 a year. I believe it will be injurious to England because she will be betraying those who have been loyal to her in the past; and I believe that it will be fatal to he Empire because I have no doubt this Bill will only prove to be a stepping-stone towards the goal of complete separation. I know sonic noble Lords do not hold that opinion, but the only reason they can give for not 663 doing so is that they disbelieve the utterances of their Nationalist friends. With your permission I should like to read one very short extract from a speech of Mr. Kettle in New York in 1906. He said—The message we bear is from that illustrious leader of our party, John Redmond. If there is any man in this audience who says to us as representing that Parliamentary movement I don't believe in your Parliamentary ideas, I don't accept Home Rule, I go beyond it; I believe in an Independent Irish Nation'—if any man says this I say that we don't disbelieve in it. These are our tactics—if you are to take a fortress, first take the outer works.By this Bill not only do they take the outer works, but they leave forty-two spies within the fortress.
The last ground on which I object to this Bill is as a Unionist, and here I speak as a representative in this House of a vast constituency numbering over a quarter of a million of people scattered throughout Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, a constituency which has no representatives in another place with the exception of those two doughty champions of the Union, the Members for the University of Dublin. I wish to be very careful in what I say on this matter, because I live in the midst of Nationalists. I have the kindliest feelings for them. I believe that in normal times they have kindly feelings towards me, and I do not wish to impute to any of my fellow-countrymen a double dose of original sin. But this I do say, that with all the good qualities with which Irishmen are endowed, there is one peculiarly English which they do not possess, and that is the quality of self-reliance. There is hardly any one of those Nationalists, whatever his feelings might be, who would not turn against me at the bidding of the local "boss" of the United Irish League or the President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. We are told that if this measure passes into law all this is to be changed. Mr. Redmond has asked for our full cooperation. The answer to that has already been given so well by my noble friend Lord Midleton last night and by my noble friend Lord Londonderry to-day that I need not dwell upon it. They pointed out that similar promises were made in 1898 and have been falsified by the result, and they called attention to the fact that a member of your Lordships' House had been ousted from the chairmanship of a board of guardians because he refused to promise not to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.
664 We are told that there are safeguards that will protect us. Again I should like to refer in that respect to what Mr. Dillon says. Only last year he made this remark—I do not believe that the artificial guarantees in an Act of Parliament are any real protection.What does he say with regard to this toleration? I must do him the justice of saying that he has been absolutely consistent all through. He has never asked for co-operation. This is what he said—When we come out of the struggle we will remember who were the people's friends and who were the people's enemies, and deal out our rewards to the one and our punishment to the other.My Lords, I fear the punishment of Mr. Dillon. It will not take the form of loss of life or limb, but there are subtler forms of persecution. It will mean that we shall be excluded from all share in the government of Ireland, from that of Prime Minister down to that of parish beadle. Then are there not powers for special vindictive taxation? Is it not possible that a tax may be placed specially on grass lands which are held by landlords alone? Is it not conceivable that a special tax will be put on demesne lands and even on the windows of houses which contain more than a certain number of windows? There are endless ways in which taxation may be made to fall on those who are the "people's enemies." I say we are not prepared to be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for the Nationalist Party.
A short time ago the Prime Minister asked a question which has been quoted several times in the course of this debate. He asked the Leader of the Opposition whether, in the event of this Bill obtaining the sanction of the constituencies, the Unionist Party in Ireland would be prepared to accept it. I am prepared to answer that question. I do not know what Ulster would do. Ulster can take care of itself. But so far as we in the West of Ireland are concerned, where we are in a minority of about one in 2,000, we should have no option but to accept it. We should have no choice. But this I do say, too—that on the day on which the Royal Assent to that Bill is given I should consider that His Majesty had been advised by his Ministers that he could no longer protect his loyal subjects in Ireland and that they must look after themselves. What we should do I cannot say, but one thing I can say—we should have lost all confidence in England. Sometimes after 665 a disastrous war a nation has had to surrender provinces. She has had to give up some of her citizens. She has had to pay an indemnity. But never in time of peace have I heard of a prosperous nation surrendering a million and a-quarter of her most faithful subjects, and saddling herself with a debt the capital value of which is calculated at £163,000,000. I still believe that this Bill must be and will be submitted to the people of this country, and that when it is put before them this nightmare of Home Rule will pass away as a hideous vision of the night. Then I hope that in the course of time, although perhaps not at once, we may find that Ireland, under firm and generous administration, will quiet down and make up her mind to take her place beside Scotland as really an integral portion of the United Kingdom.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
My Lords, if I venture to intervene for a few moments in this debate I think my excuse must be that I am, if not the last recruit, the last recruit but one from a gagged, garrotted, and guillotined, but yet salaried Chamber. I can lay claim to this, that I have been in a humble way assisting in another place in the manufacture of the measure that now, in its "perfect and unalterable form," is before your Lordships. Much has been said about the necessity of raconciling Ireland, but very little is said about the necessity of reconciling English opinion. I should have thought, if you were really trying to effect this great end, you would not have attempted to do it by driving this measure almost by force—at least by constitutional and moral force—through both Chambers. I feel, as an Englishman, that the natural desire that I might have to be reconciled to Ireland is damped, because this measure is not the free outcome of English opinion or of English feeling but has been driven through Parliament under the operation of the Parliament Act.
I have heard speeches from noble Lords opposite in which they say that they are in favour of the principle of this Bill but do not like the way in which it is carried out in detail. I submit that the time is past when any man can vote on the principle of Home Rule. Here we have principle translated into the hard, bare facts of a Parliamentary Bill. This is not a Resolution, and though a vote of that kind might be possible on a Resolu- 666 tion it seems to me entirely out of place when you are dealing with a perfected Bill. I am quite aware that we are asked, Where is your scheme for dealing with Ireland? That is almost a common-form question with the supporters of the Government to-day. I heard it many times in the House of Commons, and I rather regretted to see that it found some distinguished imitators in your Lordships' House. On this Bill I submit that nobody but a supporter of the measure itself can vote for it. No Federalist can vote for this Bill. The Lord Chancellor has most clearly shown that the very reason he approves of this Bill is that it is not federal, and he compared this Bill with the American Constitution to emphasise that. The other point is that this Bill absolutely precludes federation. I need not dwell on that, because it has been so fully illustrated this afternoon.
But I do wish to put this point to Federalists, in reference to the proposition so ably expressed by Earl Grey the other evening. What anybody who is a supporter of federalism feels, I suppose, is that you must have some degree of equality between the different States making up the Federal Union. The proposals of the First Lord of the Admiralty, made in August and attributed by some of the Liberal newspapers to an outburst of the "silly season," were in my opinion profoundly wise. It is only by the severance of the different parts of England that you can set up any kind of equality between the units of a federal system. The noble Marquess, in introducing the Bill, to some extent exaggerated, I thought, the absence of control of the Irish representatives over the Executive. I have never noticed that in this country we have very great control over the Executive, or over the permanent official who is so strongly entrenched in power. But if the noble Marquess had seen the Irish Under-Secretary quivering under the battery of Irish Questions in another place, as I have so often done, he would hardly feel that the Irish representatives would have no control over some portion at least of the Irish Executive; and I understand a good number of persons of distinct Nationalist opinions have been appointed in recent years to posts upon boards in Ireland. The noble Marquess dwelt on the great number of measures which bad been passed in recent years, 667 and said that many of them were the result of Nationalist pressure and suggestion. Was it a coincidence that this Imperial Parliament passed those measures of which Nationalists were supporters? Have the Irish Members not much more power than the noble Marquess was inclined to admit? There are 100 of them, which is more, no doubt, than they ought to have in strict numbers.
It has been mentioned that the great material grievances of Ireland have been removed during the last few years. I do not think that material grievances are the only things that have been responsible for the difficulties that have arisen in Ireland. It is well to ask oneself whether the more spiritual and sentimental grievances and bitter feeling are not based rather upon memories of the past, upon ancient history, and on the fact that Ireland has not yet had time to adjust herself to the new conditions that prevail and which have been brought about by the great growth of prosperity that exists in Ireland at the present day. This Bill in its many phases is recommended to us from different sides. One side, which does not affect me now but which affected me very much a few months ago, thinks that the Imperial Parliament is overworked. I think there is a great deal of exaggeration in that charge. I do not wish to refer to what has been said with regard to the action of the Parliament Act. I regard the Parliament Act as a mere passing phase. It is impossible for me to consider that the Parliament Act, so unbusinesslike is it, should form a permanent part of the legislation or the Constitution of this country. I do not refer to the fact that you have had during the first two years of this Parliament a sort of superheated feverish activity, which will probably be followed by a slumbrous lethargy in the last two years. I do not refer to the fact that the Government have been trying to drive many Bills through Parliament all at one time, or to the fact that they apparently wish to burst up the feudal system of this country. I think the colossal system of legislation which they have been trying to force through Parliament at the same moment has been sufficiently referred to. What I think has not been sufficiently dwelt upon is this, that in legislation we are passing through what may be called a revolutionary period. Every one of our institutions and 668 sets of laws is being subjected to revision. That cannot last. If we take the large aspect of legislation, I think we must feel that this revolutionary legislation of today is merely a passing phase, and cannot be one on which we should base a permanent alteration of the relations of this country to Ireland.
I am one of those who certainly do not think that the House of Commons would be relieved of any work by the passing of this measure. I am inclined to think their work would be increased. I will not try to enumerate the list of new subjects which would be brought up from time to time for them to deal with. I am only alluding to Questions that might be asked. As under this Bill full power over the Irish Legislature is still retained with regard to many local and administrative matters, I think it would be very easy for any ingenious Parliamentarian to fill the Paper with Questions and easily avoid the rule as to number. There would be, for example, the whole problem of the reasons why the Imperial veto was exercised on such and such an occasion and why it was not exercised on some other occasion. Then there would be the delightful subject of bounties—as to whether a duty is or is not a costly one. I can imagine an afternoon most agreeably spent in the House of Commons discussing such questions. There is another most delightful question which might have to be discussed—as to whether the collection of some new tax to be imposed by the Irish Government was not so expensive that it would be better to do away with it altogether. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, as we know, is a great authority on the relation of the cost of the collection of taxes to their yield, and his views on that subject would be very valuable in any Irish discussion. There are so many questions that would arise that I think it is admitted by all thoughtful Parliamentarians that there would be very slight relief in the mass of business Parliament would have to discuss.
One is immensely attracted by the idea that there will be some finality about legislation of this kind. I know it has been said and accepted by Mr. Redmond. But I view with distrust the passionate statements of emotional politicians in moments of heat. We must judge, not by the statements of distinguished 669 orators and rhetoricians, but rather by the facts existing in the country itself and by the provisions of the Bill itself. One of the questions that has not received sufficient attention, to my mind, is whether or not the Bill will work. To my commonplace, work-a-day mind it seems that that is a much more material question than to indulge in rhetorical phrases about the future of Ireland. Whenever any anomaly or difficulty was exposed in the House of Commons it seemed to afford the greatest amusement to the supporters of the Government. They revelled in difficulties, they battened on them; but they treated them on the whole with that spirit of jocularity which does not conduce to making possible the machinery of an otherwise unworkable Bill. I need say nothing about the position of the Lord Lieutenant in his triple capacity—his responsibility to the English Parliament for certain things, his responsibility to the Irish Parliament for certain things, and his responsibility for other things to both.
There are one or two financial points with which I should like very briefly to deal, because I think they display great difficulty in the working of this measure. The financial provisions of the Bill are very difficult to appreciate and understand. As far as I can judge, the first year of office of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer would be occupied in understanding the provisions and realising the pitfalls, and I think his second year would be occupied in trying to avoid them. What he will do in his third year I forebear even to prophecy. But there are one or two objections from the English point of view to which I should like to refer. We have been told by noble Lords opposite of the vast and unnecessary expenditure in Ireland, and that the fact that a poor country has to live up to the standard of a rich one is our fault; that we have reached a prosperous and extravagant standard of life and have made Ireland equally extravagant. Even if that is due to our action, is it not rather hard that any of the savings that are to be made, say, in the Transferred Sum should be allowed to go to Ireland entirely and not to this country? I do not ask that they should hand over all their savings to the English Government—if anybody is able to make any saving under these provisions—but I do think that some small share of any 670 savings there may be should go to the Imperial Exchequer which is bearing so large a deficit. Old-age pensions, for example, will be taken over by the Irish Government at the highest point, when it is most profitable to them. Many Irish friends of mine have told me that about 3s. a week would be sufficient in the West of Ireland instead of the 5s. that is now given. That would represent a saving of about £1,100,000 a year to the Irish Exchequer—about one-seventh of the whole amount it would get under the Transferred Sum. Surely you are not going to make Ireland economical or less extravagant by suddenly setting free a huge sum of that kind to be spent on other services. Surely if there are any savings, some portion ought to go to the long-suffering taxpayer of this country. AS to what will happen if Ireland is to be further taxed by the Imperial Government, as is suggested, between the appointed day and the happy day, one hardly likes to dwell upon, or what the position taken up by the Irish Members, forty-two in number and not fully representative of Ireland, would be. They, no doubt, would raise the old cry again of "Taxation without representation." I cannot help thinking that there is some oversight in the Bill in this respect, and that when, under Clause 26, the balance is to be struck by the Exchequer Board between expenditure and revenue, any excess raised by taxation ought not to be taken into account on the theory of the Bill in balancing the expenditure of the three years before fresh powers are handed over to the Irish Parliament.
We have beard that some people amused themselves in past days by discussing what sovereignty is, and where sovereignty lies. I think if you examine the Bill you will see that both Parliaments transfer a great deal of their sovereignty to this amazing body, the Exchequer Board. It is very curious to see that there are no salaries apparently provided for the members of the Exchequer Board, but that does not mean that they are going to do their work for nothing. It means, I suppose, that Treasury clerks from both countries are to be brought together for a short time to form a portion of this Treasury Board under some impartial chairman, who will have to do the best he can to reconcile the conflicting views of those who represent the different Treasuries, and no doubt, having been exposed to the 671 full blast of public criticism, they will once more retire into the quiet dark shades of the Treasuries, where they will escape further criticism. If I may indulge in prophecy—I know it is a rash thing to do—I do not believe it is possible that a Parliament like ours, which has won its great position by the control it has over taxation, is going, at this very moment when it has taken away all powers of control over taxation from this House, to hand over so large a portion of its own powers to an irresponsible body like the Exchequer Board. It is proposed to hand over to them these great powers—seventeen I think, in number—and among other things the Exchequer Board have to discover whether the cost of the collection of revenue is greater than the amount of the revenue brought in by a tax, and so on. I believe it is wholly impossible for that to work, and that after a few years of this system there is bound to be some sort of reversal.
I do not believe it possible that by any system of this kind you can really get rid of your responsibility, financial or otherwise, to Ireland. The proximity of these islands is against it. They are too close for this country to throw off its responsibilities to Ireland. If you do separate these two countries, what will happen? We know quite well that it is a mere commonplace that this country is going to move fast along the path of social reform for which expenditure will be required, and is it possible for these two countries to go along side by side, one with a high standard of social reform and the other with a low one, and with a different standard of salaries for their officials? That is quite inconceivable. If you persist in doing that, in spite of the patriotism of Ireland I feel you will draw to this country much of the best brains and intelligence there is in Ireland. That is the way noble Lords opposite seek to reconcile the two countries. The other standards set up would make an invidious comparison between the two countries. With the best will in the world, I am afraid difficulties always must exist. You have the natural envy—shall I say?—of a poor country for a rich one. There is the natural envy of a people who are quick-witted and who think that we are a slow and stupid people, and they are inclined to think that the success that we have made in the world has been due rather to our luck than to our intelligence. These 672 are causes which must tend to raise feelings, I will not say of hostility, but of emulous envy between the two countries. If you are to superadd to those natural difficulties the difficulties that come from Ulster, I am afraid your task is then hopeless. I am of course in full sympathy with the Ulster case. I have read too often pages in our history, discreditable pages as I think, when we have been false to our closest friends. I hope that in this matter of Ulster we are not going to add a fresh paragraph to some of those pages. I cannot imagine that, with the deep and strong feeling that exists in that part of Ireland, you can possibly hope for any lasting or solid conciliation. I know the noble Marquess opposite has sneered at Ulstermen for their narrowness, and the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack tried to philosophise away the feelings of Ulster—
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I used the word "narrowness" in relation to the particular religious school to which a certain number of people in Ulster belong.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
If the phrase was more confined than I translated it, I will confine it to the sense used by the noble Marquess. In spite of all these things, the feeling of Ulster stands out as a solid fact on which the smooth theories of Liberalism may break themselves, and I feel it would be an intolerable thing, little as this measure has been subjected to the opinion of England, to try with the power of this country to rivet the Nationalist yoke on the neck of Ulster, a yoke which the Nationalists would never be able to rivet for themselves.
§ THE EARL OF KENMARE
My Lords, I trust I may be allowed your forbearance in expressing as briefly as possible my reasons for strongly opposing the Bill now before the House. These reasons are twofold. First, I feel convinced that this proposal to set up a separate Parliament in Dublin is against the best interests of Ireland; and, secondly, that it is an 673 experiment which will be fraught with peril to the Empire. So far from this Bill being, as its title assumes, "A Bill to amend the provision for the Government of Ireland," it is in reality a measure calculated to upset and throw into hopeless confusion such Government as already exists in the country without conferring any corresponding advantage. It comes at a time when Ireland has shown some appreciable signs of growth in prosperity under the Union, when the difficulties insuperable from her Government were beginning to be understood by responsible statesmen of the Imperial Parliament, and when it has been made clear by the sympathetic legislation of recent years that there is no substantial grievance which has not been, or which cannot be, remedied by the machinery of Government already in existence.
No one disputes the fact that wrongs have been done to Ireland in the past. But those wrongs cannot be set right at this time by perpetrating fresh wrongs. This Bill without doubt creates a fresh danger and grievance in its proposal to hand over the destinies of the most thrifty and prosperous portion of Ireland to a Government abhorrent to them, and which they most profoundly distrust. The financial provisions of the Bill are alone enough to condemn it. This small provincial Parliament with limited power for good and almost unlimited for harm is called upon to accept all the responsibilities of Government with very inadequate means. The possibilities of raising money by taxation in a poor country like Ireland are necessarily circumscribed. The expenses of Government will certainly not decrease, and the strain of providing money for efficient public services will plunge the country into misery and ultimate ruin. Deprived of British credit and the prestige which attaches to her connection with Great Britain, Ireland could never stand the strain of additional taxation. Mr. Lecky said years ago—The one thing which Ireland wants is British security for contracts, commerce, and industry.That is as true as ever to-day. And it is this British security which Ireland is in danger of losing if this Bill becomes law. If this Bill could be regarded as a final settlement of the Irish question there might be some excuse for it. But, my Lords, it does but accentuate the Irish question, and tends to make it more difficult than ever it 674 was before. It does not even satisfy the sentiment which underlies the whole demand for self-government in Ireland, and it does not satisfy the aspirations of those Irishmen beyond the Atlantic whose ambition has always been to separate the United Kingdom. It is full of possibilities, nay more probabilities, of continual friction between a fettered Parliament in Dublin and a supreme Parliament at Westminster, and it will inevitably lead to a wider breach between England and Ireland than ever existed, if not to final separation.
May I venture to quote the opinion of two eminent men whose outlook upon life was certainly not narrow. Mr. John Bright in the year 1872, writing to the O'Donoghue with reference to the Kerry Election, said—Some persons have spoken of me as an advocate of Home Rule in Ireland. I hope no one will say anything so absurd or untrue. To have two representative Assemblies or Parliaments in the United Kingdom would in my opinion be an intolerable mischief, and I think no sensible man can wish for two within the limits or the present Kingdom who does not wish the United Kingdom to become two or more nations entirely separate from each other.Mr. Froude a few years later, being accused of having become a Home Ruler, wrote as follows—I can only answer that my opinion remains what it always has been. Homo Rule will be the first and probably irrevocable step towards the separation of the islands, and will be followed at no distant period by the break-up of the British Empire.These words of warning were written before the Land Acts had conferred their benefits on our farmers. How much more cautious should we now be lest we plunge the land again into poverty and misery from which it has escaped? Loving Ireland as I do and connected with it, as my family has been for more than three hundred years, I cannot refrain from protesting against the wrong which will be done to my native land should this Bill become law. If such a calamity came to pass, then we must look forward to years of squalid struggle, penury, and ultimate bankruptcy. I most certainly hope your Lordships will refuse to pass the Second Reading of this Bill. I believe that when the Irish people thoroughly understand this measure, when they realise how little they have to gain and how much to lose—when they see, as they must see before long, that they are being fooled into accepting a totally unworkable Bill, resistance will not come to it from Ulster alone but will be equally strong from the Catholics of the South and West and the rest of Ireland.
THE EARL OF KILMOREY
My Lords, I venture on this particular occasion to trespass on your attention for two reasons. First, because I think it is an occasion on which every member of this House with any reasonable claim to its indulgence and having interests at stake in Ireland should explain to your Lordships his feelings with regard to this Bill and the vote which he will give on the Motion so ably made by the noble Duke on the Front Opposition Bench and so admirably supported by the noble Lords on this side of the House who followed him. I am glad to have seen that my opinion on this point is shared by so many speakers. Secondly, because, having by the passing of the Parliament Act materially decreased the power of the Upper House and increased that of the Lower House, the Government think this a fit opportunity to endeavour to force on to the Statute-book a measure full of objectionable and unworkable details, a measure which they dare not put before the electorate of Great Britain for fear of defeat.
All the Parliament and other similar Acts that the ingenuity of the present Government can conceive will never be able to accomplish one thing, and that is the silent submission of this House to the overbearing dictation of the Ministry. They cannot take away from your Lordships the rights or the powers of speech, and so long as we can we will speak and speak out in defence of the oppressed; we will do our level best to right wrong, to check, if we are able, the infliction of grave injustice, and to place before the public at large, and the electorate of Great Britain in particular, things that are kept from them, things which it is their right to know and our duty now to disclose. There is an old French proverb which I think applicable to the present situation, "Tout vient a point a qui scait attendre." Surely your Lordships have known how to wait patiently, conscious of the vital importance of the occasion which, at last, has come so opportunely—the occasion which you now have for the complete exposure to the people of this Bill, of which up till now they have been profoundly ignorant, and with regard to which their opinion has never been sought or their sanction asked.
Home Rule for Ireland may have been casually alluded to at recent elections, but no voter in the United Kingdom ever 676 had this Bill under his consideration. If its contents, or even half of them, had been public property during the last few years this Bill would not have been here at all. It has been reserved for the members of this House to unravel the mysteries of this measure, to lay bare its cleverly concealed irregularities, and to speak out clearly and distinctly to the electorate of Great Britain, so that the ignorant may be instructed, the stupid made to understand, the blind made to see, and the deaf to hear how many and how great are the dangers to the United Kingdom and to the Empire that are herein contained, how their defence, their prosperity, and their very continuance are imperilled by this unwise attempt to disintegrate their unity—an attempt which must be frustrated at any cost. I leave it to more experienced and able men than myself to go into the bewildering details of finance and the other objectionable improprieties with which this Bill bristles. That part of the merciless exposure which your Lordships are undertaking for the benefit of the electorate of Great Britain will not be neglected.
I desire to concentrate my objections to the Second Reading of this Bill to drawing attention to the cruel injustice it does to the loyalist minority in Ireland, which I consider the biggest of the many blots to be found in its voluminous pages. It is on behalf of the loyalist minority in Ireland that I have risen to make a few remarks. An attempt has been made by the leaders of the Nationalist Party to induce us to believe that if this Bill becomes law all fairness will be meted out and all consideration will be shown by the Nationalist majority to the Unionist minority. The Government apparently believe in and trust the leaders of the Nationalist Party. On this, as on many points, the loyalists of Ireland take leave to differ from the Government. They place no trust or confidence whatever in any such preposterous promises, and they decline to be exposed to the consideration and tender mercies of the Molly Maguires. When the loyalists of Ireland hear or read of the safeguards and guarantees which the leaders of the Nationalist Party revel in pointing out, they look back to the way in which the Unionist minority were treated after the passing of the Local Government Act of 1898 and say "Once bit, twice shy." What a grand opportunity there then was for the Nationalist 677 Party to show fair play and a desire to work amicably with their Unionist fellow-countrymen. But they threw it away. What was the result? Outside Ulster there were only fifteen Unionists On twenty-four county councils, while the Nationalists numbered 684. No wonder the Unionists mistrust the Nationalists!
Not only do the loyalists of Ireland mistrust the leaders of the Nationalist Party and disapprove of all their works, words, and ways, but they have their own standard of what they think decent and law-abiding behaviour, which is very different from that of their political opponents. The loyalists of Ireland have three cherished watchwords, short and simple and singularly expressive of the faith and firmness, composition and character of those who accept them. The first is Quis separabit, the motto of the most illustrious Order of St. Patrick, of which I am tumid to be a senior Knight. In an Assembly such as this, overflowing with the rich results of classical education, I need not translate the ancient adage of Rome. The second watchword is "Defence not defiance." Ever since the agitation began this golden rule has been scrupulously respected and obeyed by the Orangemen, than whom no more loyal subjects of the King can be found. And last, but not least, comes the third, also expressed in plain English which admits of no misunderstanding, "No surrender"—no surrender by the loyal men and women of Ireland now, or at any time, to the disloyal majority, and certainly not at the dictation of a Ministry retained in office by the votes of the revolutionary Party.
The loyalists of Ireland acknowledge one flag and one flag only as the national emblem of the British Empire, on which the sun never sets but the unity of which now stands in great peril. That flag is now flying in a murky fog over your Lordships' House. Long may it continue to fly there! What sort of a flag will be hoisted over the Parliament House in Dublin It will not be the Union Jack. The loyalists of Ulster will have no flag bat the Union Jack. As a local poet has written—I will read but one stanza—Tis the voice of Ulster calling,And the hand of Ulster too(Holding high the flag of England)Bids it flutter to the blue!Will you tear it from her fingers?Will you drag that banner down?And unfold instead the emblemOf the Harp without the Crown?678 My Lords, do you appreciate what those simple words suggest? They suggest—nay, more, they emphasise—the width of the separation between the feelings of the loyal and the disloyal parties in Ireland. Nothing will ever bridge over that, and the forced surrender of the minority, the loyal party, to the mercy of the majority, the disloyal party, can have but one ending—a bloody struggle, and the usual results of a crushing defeat under the heavy pressure of overwhelming odds. How do the Nationalists treat the Union Jack? To them it is as a red rag to a bull. When they can they pull it down, trample on it, tear it into smithereens and spit upon it. The green flag with the harp without the crown is their banner. And what does that signify? It signifies disloyalty to the Throne of England, it signifies separation, and the ultimate result to be brought about by revolution will be what at heart is the real aim and object of the disloyal and disaffected—namely, an Irish Republic.
In spite of all the seditious and rebellious speeches made by the leaders of the Nationalist Party for years past when they were looking for much needed contributions to their war chest; in spite of the constant repetition of their feelings of hatred of England, of their determination to "throw off the yoke of British Government," of their battle cry "Ireland a Nation," an entirely new card is being played—they now profess loyalty to the Throne. That may take in the Government who are so ready to believe in and trust these men, but time loyalists of Ireland are not deceived. My Lords, we are so familiar with the speeches and sentiments expressed by the prominent Nationalists leaders that we cannot but feel surprised at the latest move. With well assumed gravity the Nationalist leaders claim for their Party loyalty to the Throne! I have a question to ask the noble Viscount who will conclude this memorable debate to-morrow evening. He will, I hope, forgive me if I put it in colloquial English. What price the loyalty of the Nationalist leaders, notably the Members of the Imperial Parliament, on the occasion of the visit of the King and Queen to Ireland? They were conspicuous by their absence.
It has ever been the custom of our political opponents to treat the proceedings and utterances of the loyalists of Ireland with indifference and contempt. They speak of our attitude as ridiculous, of our 679 assertions as "bluff." If those who sneer at us so cruelly had experienced, as many members of both Houses of Parliament and ethers did, the bearing and the language of our welcome guests during the great anti-Home Rule demonstration in Ulster last autumn, they would have been as profoundly impressed as we were. It was "gude for sore e'en" to watch the masses of honest, sober, law-abiding, men, women, and children who attended the divine services specially appointed at their numerous places of worship on Saturday, September 28, 1912, and to hear, in the stillness of the House of God, the voices of the preachers speaking gentle words of comfort and encouragement to their devout but determined congregations; and still more to witness, at the conclusion of these most impressive services, the uprising to their feet of the worthy descendants of the planters of old, who, robbed of the Government protection they are entitled to as loyal citizens of the Empire, stood with uplifted hands and faces, with gestures of supplication and confidence, and laid their case before the highest of all tribunals, bursting into song with soul stirring unison and singing, "Oh God, our help in ages past." I do not think any one who had seen and heard these things could entertain for a moment the idea that we were insincere, and that our proceedings were no more than bluff. The fight is a hard one, but it is going to be fought out to a finish. That I feel sure from all I have seen and heard in the North of Ireland, and I rejoice to think, after having waited so long, that this opportunity has been given to those who want a clear understanding as to what Home Rule is, because I do not think they could get it better than from your Lordships.
Before I resume my seat, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to express my grateful appreciation of the indulgence so kindly extended to me during my somewhat protracted remarks. If, in your Lordships' opinion, the warmth of my language has at any time exceeded the prescribed bounds of Parliamentary courtesy, I can only submit my sincere regrets, and plead as my only excuse the excessive warmth of deep and irrepressible feelings, not only my own, but of those for whom I have this day ventured to hold a brief before this august Assembly. I represent them imperfectly, as may be alleged, but heartily, most heartily, as I trust will be admitted. I represent all the pent up feelings of the 680 loyalist minority in Ireland, their well founded and long-standing hostility to the so-called Nationalist, or, as they know it now, revolutionary majority. I represent their well-placed confidence in the chosen Leaders of the Unionist Party, and their mutual trust in each other, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand—no new born bond, but one more closely drawn than ever by the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant of September 28, 1912. I represent yet one more deeply rooted feeling— our hopeful, prayer sustained expectation that at last and none too soon we are gaining—may I not say have gained?—the increasing sympathy of the electorate of Great Britain, which, casting aside the apathy of indifference, is waking up to the realisation and serious appreciation of the novel situation of being jockeyed out of its constitutional right to take an active part in the legislation of the United Kingdom.
In conclusion, let me impress upon your Lordships this one important point. Should this Bill or the like of it ever soil the Statute-book, and the loyalists of Ireland, confident in the justice of their resistance, rebel against its cruel dictation, there will be Civil war in Ireland. I am old enough to have been an eye witness of the unspeakable horrors of the Civil War that raged in the then dis-united States of America in the early 'sixties, and God forbid that we should see the like in Ireland! The loyalists of Ireland don't want to fight. They want to live in peace with their neighbours, and join hand in hand with them in the advancement of industry, of agriculture, and the development of their country's resources. The loyalists of Ireland want no preference, no ascendancy, no favouritism, no special advantages. They want to remain as they are, basking in the sunshine of the prosperity which has resulted from the establishment of the Union, and if that is denied us, and blood is shed, the blood be on the head of His Majesty's Ministers if by pressing on this Bill they precipitate the inevitable result. Will the civilised world stand by silently and see a Government reduced to forcing obedience to their unjust and oppressive ordinances by commanding the soldiers of the King to fire on men whose sole crime is loyalty to his Throne.
§ [The sitting was suspended at a quarter to eight, and resumed at a quarter past nine o'clock.]681
§ LORD KILLANIN
My Lords, I should not like on this occasion, when we are discussing a matter of such supreme and vital importance to my native land—Ireland, to give a silent vote. I know that my vote is unimportant, and indeed, that all our votes in this House are really unimportant nowadays. But still the duty devolves on one since one has a vote to exercise it, and I should not like to exercise it on a matter that must so deeply affect my country, for weal or for woe, without attempting to express my views on it. And I especially desire to do so because my views on this question of Home Rule for Ireland differ, I regret to say, from those of the great majority apparently of my countrymen. That difference of opinion is by no means one which I congratulate myself upon, or that gratifies me at all. It is, on the contrary, a cause of grief and anxiety to me, and of repeated reflection on my part as to how or why it is so—how it comes about that the great majority of my countrymen should take so strong a view with reference to a proposal of such vital concern to my country, and I find myself unable to agree with them. And so, now that. we are face to face with the question in concrete form, I think it becomes one's duty to endeavour to speak out boldly and perfectly frankly in order to try and understand—if there is ever to he an understanding in the matter—why it is that there is this cleavage, this strong difference of opinion, which unfortunately does exist between Irishmen on a matter of such importance to their common country. Therefore it is that I hope your Lordships will bear with me while I endeavour as briefly as possible—and it is not easy to compress one's remarks on a subject which is so very large and complicated—to give some expression to some of the reasons why I have never believed, and do not believe to-night, in the policy of Home Rule for Leland, in either its necessity for Ireland or in its wisdom as a policy for Irishmen to pursue; and why, furthermore, I consider the special exemplification of Home Rule which we have in the shape of the Bill which is the subject matter before the House to-night is in itself most unjust and most unfair to Ireland, and is full of complications and anomalies and absurdities, and grounds for serious confusion and misunderstanding and trouble between the two projected Parliaments of these islands, which must, if the Bill becomes law, have 682 most injurious effects on every part of the Kingdom, and especially on Ireland. And in the remarks which I wish to make to your Lordships I intend to confine my attention entirely to looking at this great question and this particular measure from the Irish point of view. I am, of course, aware—and I desire to say so in order not to be misunderstood—that there are many other important ways of viewing this matter, but we cannot all deal with the various aspects of this question unless we are to make speeches of inordinate length. Also, inasmuch as I am an Irishman and live in Ireland, and practically all my political and social interests are in Ireland, and I have been and am to some extent connected with administration, local and educational, in that country—I submit it is only natural and suitable and possibly agreeable to your Lordships that I should look at the matter solely front an Irish point of view.
There is a further limitation which I wish to put on my remarks. I do not propose to deal with one very serious Irish aspect of this question—namely, the attitude of Ulster. There are other noble Lords in this House who live in Ulster and who know the Irish people living there and their feelings, and who are far more qualified to present that portion of the question than I am. But still there are one or two remarks in regard to the Ulster position which, as a Catholic Unionist, I feel bound to make, because of speeches and statements that have been made on the matter—I do not say in your Lordships' House, unless indeed I make one exception in the case of a speech that was delivered by a noble Lord from Ireland yesterday. To-day the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, made a speech to which I listened with great admiration. He stood up for the view which he represents loyally and boldly and splendidly, but never said one word which could offend any Catholic, and that is why the noble Marquess is admired by friend and opponent in Ireland, in spite of his strong views. But I did hear a speech yesterday which re-echoed unpleasantly in my ears sentiments heard elsewhere, and which I cannot pass unnoticed. The noble Lord—I do not see him present—if I understood at all the tone and drift of his speech, put forward as his main reason for objecting to Home Rule the contention that if there was a Parliament in College Green the members 683 who composed it would probably be Roman Catholics. That seemed to me the real ground of his opposition—so much so that if one could guarantee that a Parliament in College Green would be composed of Protestant Home Rulers he would apparently be in favour of this Bill. I resent, as strongly as I can, and I deplore that way of arguing on this question. There is absolutely no ground for it, and I think it does great harm; as a matter of fact, it has already injured the very cause which the noble Lord seeks, I believe, to support—namely, the Unionist cause in Ireland, because Catholic Unionists in Ireland have openly ceased to be Unionists on account of such attacks made on Roman Catholicism. In the course of his speech, the noble Lord also seemed to plume himself very much on what I think he described as the constancy and loyalty of the Protestants in Ireland to the Throne and Empire. They have never in his eyes had any connection with Nationalist movements or rebellious outbreaks in Ireland. I think the noble Lord must know very little of Irish history. The leader of the very movement which has given rise to this Bill, the political genius who brought about this great Nationalist, movement in favour of Home Rule, was a Protestant, Mr. Parnell. He was a member, too, of a family of the English Garrison in Ireland; and when the noble Lord talks about Protestants being so loyal to the English connection I think he might bear in mind that not alone was Mr. Parnell a Protestant, but—though I do not wish to ascribe motives to Mr. Parnell that are incorrect and I have no doubt that the main motive of his political action was what he considered best for the welfare of Ireland—those who knew him intimately will tell the noble Lord that the underlying cause and purpose and inspiring motive of Mr. Parnell's public life was to be found in his bitter hatred of the English. But he was a Protestant, and a member of the English Garrison in Ireland.
Of course, too, Grattan and the Irish patriots of his time were all Protestants. Then there were men of great literary genius—theoretical Republicans holding very extreme views about Irish matters—such men as John Mitchel and Thomas Davis, and, also, such leaders of rebellion in Ireland as Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet and Smith O'Brien, and all of these, and many more, were Protestants. In fact, if the noble Lord wants a great Nationalist leader of the Irish people who, besides being 684 a leader of Nationalism, was loyal to the English connection and to the English Throne, and avowedly so, he must go to the few Catholic leaders of the Irish people—he must, for instance, go to O'Connell. His Speeches are famous in this connection. His speech on the marriage of Queen Victoria is well known, in which he wished her every blessing and happiness, and that she might have as many children as his grandmother, and that was twenty-two. But, seriously, I must express my strong objection to the insulting attitude of the noble Lord, and as a Catholic Unionist I feel bound to say—and to say so quite clearly and openly—that in so far as—I do not say how far, because I do not know—but that in so far as the opposition of Ulster to Home Rule, or to this Bill, or to the principle of Home Rule, in any shape is based on religious antipathies and religious prejudices and on fear of injustice from their Catholic fellow-countrymen, I resent and I repel those aspersions and insults, and I say that there is absolutely no ground for them.
Protestants live throughout the length and breadth of Ireland; they live in many parts of Ireland in small numbers, and perhaps as isolated individuals. Ministers of religion follow their avocation in churches where the congregation is large if it is ten, in districts almost exclusively Catholic, and I am satisfied that these clergymen of every Protestant denomination and Protestant laymen throughout the South and West of Ireland, whether they be many or few, live their lives and transact their business wholly unmolested by, and on friendly terms with, their Catholic neighbours. I challenge contradiction on that. A case might be produced of serious and horrible intimidation or boycotting, or outrage, and it might be shown that the victim was a Protestant, but I confidently say that that was not the cause of the persecution, and had nothing to say to it; and ugly as my answer is, I say that I could mention worse cases of intimidation and boycotting and outrage—perhaps at the very chapel doors—to Catholics in Ireland. It is an ugly answer to give, but it is a complete one. In both cases the facts are hideous and terrible, but I submit, my Lords, that the fact that the individual who is the victim is a Protestant has nothing whatever to do, with his or her ill-treatment.
I have said that I shall not deal with the Ulster question beyond giving expression 685 to my resentment at the attitude taken up in so far as it amounts to an attack on Roman Catholicism; and I desire to say, further, that it is my belief that Ulster, the Protestant daughter of Ireland, rich and rare though her gems are, has absolutely nothing to fear from the Catholic sons of Ireland. But while I say all that, I must go on to say that, in my opinion, it is absurd and foolish and unstatesmanlike in the last degree for any Minister or politician, English or Irish, Nationalist or Liberal, to refuse to recognise the fact that, whatever be the cause—I am not going now into the cause—the position and temper of Ulster is a clear and great fact. There is not the slightest use in attempting to belittle or ignore it. If it does not dominate the scene it hopelessly mars the picture. There is no good shutting your eyes to the fact that one-fifth of the people of Ireland are opposed to this policy of Home Rule; they are bitterly opposed to it, and have declared their determination under no circumstances to live and work under this Bill. Noble Lords opposite say, Must we not attend to the fact that eighty Irish Members represent a certain view? Yes, that is very important. But you must remember that twenty Irish Members—and that is no small body out of 100—represent a very strong view on the opposite side, and it is ludicrous and must end in disaster if you do not take that also into account. That being so, if you are going to have a partition of the United Kingdom I say that, if you ignore Ulster, your partition will meet with the fate of the Partition of Bengal, and you will have to revoke or reshape it as soon as it is done.
The noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, in introducing this Bill, spoke about the great national spirit in Ireland, and said that it constituted a national demand, but I really do not see how a Nationalist Member even can say with equanimity and satisfaction that this demand for Home Rule is national when you have this question of Ulster and this fact that there are one-fifth, or one-fourth, of the people of Ireland absolutely opposed to the demand, and therefore it is that sincere but thoughtful Nationalists have felt this difficulty and have urged that it was incumbent upon the Irish people to endeavour to convert, or, at any rate, greatly reduce, the minority that was against Home Rule before you could seriously put this demand 686 forward as a national one. The noble Marquess thought that it was absurd to speak of there being two nations in Ireland, but I submit that it is more absurd to speak of there being only one nation, as though you could possibly call Ulster and the rest of Ireland ore national organism. In which case, one would appear to reach the Hibernian conclusion that there is neither one nor two nations; and so we arrive at what is the actual and sad truth—that there is in Ireland a nation, but a nation divided against itself, and we all know what happens to a house or kingdom divided against itself. But important as the question of Ulster is—and it is very important and must be recognised, I submit, by any Nationalist who is really anxious to see this Bill a success or to see Ireland ever acting as one national community whether with or without Home Rule—I might say that, as far as I am concerned, even if every Orangeman were a Nationalist, I would still have grave doubts about the necessity or the wisdom of the policy of Home Rule.
I pass, then, from the question of Ulster and come to the reasons why I have never believed in this policy; but first I should like to refer to three or lour arguments made sometimes—I do not say in your Lordships' House—against Home Rule with which I have no sympathy. I wish to refer to them and to say quite explicitly that I do not agree with them and that they have never affected or influenced me in the least. I see it said, for instance, that the granting of Home Rule should depend on whether Ireland is at the time disturbed or peaceful. That is a very important fact in the history of Ireland and in reference to its welfare, but it is not, as a matte of fact, a consideration that weighs with me when I am endeavouring to consider the great question of Home Rule on its merits and in its essential values. I wish also to say that I do not believe and never have believed in the serious disloyalty of Ireland, and that I attach no importance to any arguments based on any such contention. In that respect I wish to associate myself with what the noble Earl, Lord Dunraven, said. But, my Lords, I go further, and I wish to say in reference to another argument that I see sometimes used against Home Rule—that I do not agree with it at all. On the contrary, I deny it and despise it. I refer to arguments against Home Rule 687 that really are only scurrilous attacks on my Nationalist fellow-countrymen. They are spoken of as if they were all scoundrels, unfit to be trusted with the government of Ireland or, indeed, with anything. I wish to disassociate myself from that, and to say that such an idea has never come into my head and in no way whatever has ever affected or influenced me in holding the views which I do about the policy of Home Rule. Again I do not agree for one moment with any argument unfavourable to Home Rule which is based on, to my mind, such a ridiculous contention as that Irishmen are not fit to manage their own affairs. Irishmen are, of course, perfectly fit to govern themselves and their own country, and perhaps more than their own country. I have never doubted or questioned that. But I go further and say from my knowledge and experience of local government and affairs generally in Ireland I am certain some matters would be better managed under Home Rule than they are at present. I come across such matters. I do not wish to refuse to acknowledge the facts. I desire to be candid and fair; and there is no gainsaying that all of us who are conversant with administration in Ireland know matters in reference to which we all say "How much better this matter would be managed under Home Rule." Also my Lords, I have been a member of a county council since local government was established in Ireland some thirteen or fourteen years ago, and, while it is not for me to give a character to my colleagues, still may I avail myself of this opportunity to bear witness to the efficiency and success with which my colleagues (all of whom are Nationalists) manage the affairs of the second largest, county in Ireland. And this is not exceptional. The reports of the local government Board in Ireland and the views expressed by different Chief Secretaries have constantly borne testimony to the fact that local government has been efficiently and successfully carried out in Ireland. My Lords, I wish to explicitly disassociate myself from all these arguments used against Home Rule, and to say quite clearly and frankly that they do not affect me in the least degree in regard to the views which I hold about this policy of Home Rule for Ireland.
But noble Lords will think it is time for me to come to my reasons and arguments I for not being a Home Ruler. And I am 688 not one in spite of all that I have said; in I spite of the fact that the Irish are, of course, perfectly fit to govern themselves; in spite, too, of my having known matters in Ireland which would be better managed under Home Rule than they are now; in spite, even, I shall add, of the fact that the idea of Home Rule is attractive even to Irish Unionists. For I do not believe in the policy of Home Rule or in its necessity or in its wisdom; and, furthermore, I say that I have never seen, and certainly not to-night, any scheme of Home Rule for Ireland proposed except on terms most disadvantageous to Ireland. Now, as regards the necessity or wisdom of the Home Rule policy, let me say that ever since I have had any knowledge of Irish public life it has been my belief and experience—I am referring now to the last twenty-five or thirty years—that the Imperial Parliament was capable of doing and willing to do everything for Ireland that Ireland could do for herself, and was not alone capable and willing to do so, but was in many very important respects able to do so better than an Irish Parliament could. Could I have a more remarkable instance of this than that, although you propose to start a Parliament in Dublin with the whole paraphernalia of King, Senate, and Commons for the control of purely Irish matters, yet huge questions affecting Irish land are to be reserved to the Imperial Parliament. The Irish land question is not apparently an Irish matter, or one that an Irish Parliament in College Green could manage. My Lords, in this and other very important respects affecting the welfare and life of Ireland I submit that it is obvious that the Imperial Parliament is more capable than an Irish Parliament would be. And I agree with Mr. Balfour when he said that the Imperial Parliament could, and would, do for Ireland all, and more than all, that Ireland could do for herself.
And, in this connection it is interesting to note that when the Home Rule movement began, when it was called the Repeal of the Union and was put forward by O'Connell, he did not advocate it as an absolute demand, but as an alternative policy if Ireland did not receive justice from the Imperial Parliament. But how, in the last century, did that policy of "justice to Ireland" fare? I submit that until recently that policy of justice for Ireland was not attended to. Irish 689 grievances were not redressed; Ireland did not receive justice; and it is on account of that that there grew up in the last quarter of the last century the very remarkable movement which we all know as the Home Rule movement. Sentiment, strong as it is in Ireland, would never alone have brought that movement to the success it reached. Sentiment, I grant, has surrounded and enhanced it; but that movement, I submit, was established on, and upheld by, a real foundation and genuine groundwork of grievances to Ireland, and that is why the movement grew and prospered and became so strong. I do not blame the Irish people for having passionately flocked to the banner of Home Rule when it stood to them, as it did, and especially so to the newly enfranchised classes, for change and improvement in their condition; nor do I expect them to desert that banner in a hurry. They fought under it and they won much under it during the last twenty-five or thirty years of Irish history. But what has happened in the meantime? In the meantime the Imperial Parliament has dealt with all these grievances and wrongs and remedied them, and done so as regards the most important of them in a way far better than Ireland could ever have dealt with them herself. And so we arrive at the curious position that the national sentiment, accompanying the movement is still there, but the movement itself is deprived of almost all substance and contents.
Just consider what the Imperial Parliament has done in t he last twenty-live years in Ireland. Does not the great Irish land purchase scheme depend on Imperial credit for its success, past, present, or future? Has the Irish University question been settled? Has not the Department of Agriculture and of Technical Instruction been founded and the question of the Congested Districts been taken in hand, and full local government given? And has not Ireland derived great benefit from those changes, some of which it never could have derived from its own Parliament, such as the Old Age Pensions Act, which is some recompense for the financial injuries of the past? The Statute Book is full of evidence of the desire of the Imperial Parliament to meet Ireland's special needs by exceptional legislation. Then consider how the country is covered with all sorts of popular representative 690 councils and colleges, and every sort of committee, to many of which I have the honour to belong and all of which are founded on a thoroughly democratic basis. I say, my Lords, that in the whole of Europe and America there is not a University founded on such a democratic basis as the National University of Ireland. Nor is there a Department of Agriculture founded on so democratic a basis as that in Ireland. There is nothing like it in England. The members of all these bodies are largely elected on a wide franchise; and these institutions are working well and ale as Irish as the Irish wish them to be. And if reform of the system of Primary Education would be, as it has been said, the first work of an Irish Parliament, I can only say that I am not aware that any opposition to desired changes would come from the Imperial Parliament. And if there are other reforms needed, I see no reason to think that the Imperial Parliament is not willing to carry them out, and probably show its ability, now as in the past, to do it better than an Irish Parliament could. And I think it is worth pointing out, in connection with what has occurred as regards Irish affairs in Parliament, that very important as has been the assistance of the Nationalist Members in carrying out these reforms, they have been carried out not always with their hearty co-operation, but sometimes partly without it, or with their opposition, since at times it was their policy to make the conduct of Irish affairs by the Imperial Parliament extremely difficult, if not impossible, Therefore I say, my Lords, that the Imperial Parliament, in spite of all the difficult circumstances, has grappled with and dealt with all the great Irish grievances and injustices. The Imperial Parliament has steadily removed all grounds for discontent, and all causes of injustice in Ireland. So much is this the case that Ireland has no serious, pressing grievance now. If we asked any one to suggest another Irish grievance of importance which the Imperial Parliament was neglecting I think he would have difficulty in discovering it. He might talk about the amalgamation of unions in certain localities and such matters, but he could not point to a serious, substantial Irish grievance that has not been settled or is being settled; and I submit, in reference to such matters as old-age pensions or the land-purchase policy the Imperial Parliament has dealt with them in a manner far better than 691 Ireland could have dealt with them herself. Therefore, my Lords, I venture to hope that I have proved the first part of what I wished to show—that I do not honestly see ground for believing in the policy of Home Rule for Ireland as either a necessary or a wise one for Ireland to pursue.
But it would not be sufficient, I grant, in considering this question to say that Home Rule in my opinion is neither necessary nor wise. It might still be argued that there were compensating advantages to be found, and so I turn to the particular measure of Home Rule which we are asked to approve of. Now, my Lords, I have never seen or heard of any scheme of Home Rule that did not seem to me impracticable, and that did not above all prove to me that Home Rule was certainly impracticable except on terms most disadvantageous to Ireland; and if I want the best exemplification possible of that I have only to consider the present Bill before us. Look at it first from the legislative point of view and see what the position is. What do the Irish Nationalist Members say as regards Irish legislation in the Imperial Parliament at present? What is their contention about the present state of affairs? They say that there are 672 Members in that Parliament, and that of these only 103 come from Ireland, the rest being English, Scottish and Welsh, and they say how ludicrous it is to have to leave to the decision of such a Parliament the settlement of purely Irish difficulties in reference to, say, the dividing up of farms in the county of Roscommon—how ludicrous to have to bring before such a Parliament such matters. Well, let us suppose that to be as they say. But there are much worse things than that, they add. Take commerce and trade. Ireland wants to develop her commercial and economic and industrial life, and it is notorious that Irish commercial interests are different from English commercial interests, and therefore how monstrous it is to have to go for assistance to this Imperial Parliament which is so constituted that nearly all the Members are British. Then take taxation. The taxation of Ireland, the fiscal policy applied to her, perhaps on a Tariff Reform basis regardless of Ireland's interests, which of course, are often diametrically opposed to England's in this matter, the one being an industrial country and the other an agricultural country—nearly the whole of this taxation is to be decided upon by this 692 Imperial Parliament. How intolerable it is that such a matter as the taxation of the country—the imposition and remission of taxes, the choice of taxable commodities, the finding of ways and means, the Budget, in short, should all be left to the Imperial Parliament of 672 Members with only 103 Irish Members. How can Ireland expect to receive fair play? But, my Lords, by this Bill all these matters—land, trade, taxation—which vitally affect in the deepest way the life and welfare of Ireland are left under the control and management of this same imperial Parliament, and all that this Bill does is to reduce the Irish representation in that same Parliament from 103 to forty-two. That is Home Rule, if you please. The immensely important matters to which I have referred, which are not attended to, it is said, but are neglected and wrongly treated by a Parliament where Ireland has 103 Members, these are going to be attended to by a Parliament where Ireland has only forty-two Members! My Lords, I absolutely deny that in voting against this Bill, this so-called Home Rule Bill, I am voting against Home Rule at all. I am not doing so, but I am proudly voting against a Bill for the reduction of Ireland's representation in the Imperial Parliament, which is to continue to control all the matters which most fundamentally and vitally affect a nation. That is one of the "asides" which I hear or overhear being whispered in this country to the selfish and unprincipled side of the British democracy, in order to commend this Bill to them. I hear them say, "We are keeping absolutely the control of the purse and of everything financial or commercial that could possibly affect you. Your interests are safe. We in England choose and levy the taxes. Ireland cannot budge in commerce or trade without our leave, but I tell you, between ourselves, what we really are doing: it is splendid; we are getting rid of the Irish Members. This Bill is really one to reduce Ireland's representation." May I ask Ireland in time what will become of her Irish interests, land-purchase, taxation, commerce, her cattle trade regulations, &c., when her representatives at Westminster are a negligible quantity, forty-two?
Now I pass to the financial side of the Bill. That has been so fully dealt with by Lord St. Aldwyn that I will only say one word. Under the terms of the Union and 693 by the practice of the last century, Ireland's financial position was bad enough, but it will be ten times worse under this Bill. We were just going to get our rights and some recompense and restitution when we madly agree to be cut adrift. What is the pivotal fact on which oh the whole of the financial scheme in this Bill turns?—an asserted deficit on the part of Ireland. It has never been shown; it has never been proved. It is true that the Treasury says it is so, but I do not trust the Treasury's calculations when Ireland is concerned. I am a member of too many Irish boards to do that. Bow the Irish Members ever agreed to this bargain T do not know. And on the strength of this deficit Ireland is placed in a most prejudicial and unfair position. She is pilloried before the whole world, on the very day that she is to take her place among the nations of the world, as a debtor, a defaulter, a bankrupt nation. And, on account of this deficit, any improvement in her revenue which may take place in the future is not to accrue to her own benefit, but is to go to the Imperial Parliament to reduce this assumed deficit! But even if there is certainly some deficit between Ireland's present cost and revenue, are we, when striking a balance, only to consider the last two years and ignore all the past? If the Treasury have a little White Paper showing the deficit I have a big Blue-Book under my arm with some figures in it. What an extraordinary story it would be if for many years you overdrew your account at the bank to the extent of some £1,000 or so, and that book being finished you began a new book and lodged £50 to your credit and said, "Now there is £50 to my credit, and that other book and its balance against me is all over; that has nothing to do with it; we have got into a new book." What would you think of that? If we are going into the accounts of Great Britain and Ireland and are going to strike a balance and compare financial relations why should we only take the accounts of the last two or three years? What about the account for the last fifty or sixty years? What about the fact that a Royal Commission composed of the ablest English and Irish financial experts found that the Treasury of the Imperial Parliament had been over-taxing Ireland for fifty or sixty years to the tune of nearly £3,000,000? In the year of the terrible famine in Ireland the Treasury took from Ireland wrongfully as many pounds as people died of starvation in that country 694 that year. That has to be accounted for if we are going into this matter with any accuracy or fairness. As far as I am concerned I may tell you that you cannot negotiate with me by consent or by any other means on these financial matters until you have put £150,000,000 down on the counter. What is the position of the Treasury in regard to this matter? For a hundred years nearly Ireland has been grossly robbed. I am not using strong words to express my own feelings only. What I am saying has been proved. Now it has just been discovered that whereas Great Britain's financial treatment of Ireland paid her right well all these past years it is, perhaps, not going to pay her now, and so she hopes to escape from the huge debt she owes Ireland. I say you have drained Ireland. Ireland is sucked. Ireland perhaps no longer pays you more than her proper share or even less, and you say to the mean and selfish side of the British people: "We have drained Ireland; she no longer pays. We will escape our huge debt and our duties to her if we get out of the bargain now; and we will pillory her as a bankrupt nation, and then come forward hypocritically and offer her a little present of money and show how very generous we are." "Let us cut our losses," that is what the Chief Secretary says in England. That is the second "aside" which I overhear being whispered in this country. "Cut down Ireland's -representation," "Cut your losses," these are the "asides" which I warn Ireland are the very foundation and meaning of this so-called Rome Rule Bill.
Those are two of the reasons why I am strongly of opinion that this Bill is most unfair and most unjust to Ireland. There are innumerable other reasons I could go into, and which confirm me in my belief that Home Rule is impracticable except on terms most disadvantageous to Ireland, such as the Transferred Sum, where you hand over sums stereotyped at the present cost of Irish departments as if there never was to be a bit of progress again in Ireland. I am a member of the Board of National Education in Ireland. That is a board on which is cast the greatest responsibility that could be put on any body of men. It has to look after the education of the poor in Ireland, and in view of this portion of this Bill we felt bound to issue to the public a statement full of nothing but facts and figures in 695 order to show that if you stereotyped our finance at its present figure the cause of progress in regard to primary education in Ireland will be absolutely stopped and even our present standard be impossible to maintain. We showed that even the normal increase of expenditure on primary education must in the next few years come to another £100,000 a year. That cost has nothing to do with improvements or changes. It simply must arise in respect of arrangements already in existence. We showed further that another great sum of money would be necessary to meet demands constantly put before the British Treasury by the Board and considered urgent by the Board, and, also, that we foresaw still further expenditure would be necessary in the neat future if we were to keep up with educational progress, and Lord MacDonnell has, from his knowledge of Irish administration, said that all this is applicable to other boards in Ireland. But under the Bill it is proposed merely to Band over the amount of present cost, and if there are to be any improvements there must be extra taxation put on Ireland by the Irish Parliament, or it must, by reducing a salary here and abolishing a post there, find these hundreds of thousands for all these ends, and so meet the demands which there must be if there is to be any progress of any sort in Ireland in the future.
There are many other points which convince me that this Bill is bad for Ireland, but I shall not delay your Lordships longer. Let me only say shortly that owing to the fact that Ireland will no longer be properly represented in the Imperial Parliament, with only forty-two Members who will be looked upon as a sort of foreign excrescence, having no real right to be there, we shall lose all the power and prestige which we enjoy at present while we are a real partner in the government of the Empire. Further, it will act to our detriment, if, as is said, the whole scale of living and expenditure in Ireland is to be on an inferior level to that of Great Britain; and I believe that the best of our sons and daughters will find themselves more handicapped than ever and that they will leave Ireland in increasing numbers. I believe that this Bill, moreover, must result in endless negotiations and misunderstandings between the two Parliaments and between the two countries, and I submit that, as England will have control of the purse and 696 all the real power, Ireland will always go to the wall in all these matters; and as far as I can follow the administrative and the legislative arrangements under the Bill it seems to me that they create in every direction a most undesirable duality of control and duality of responsibility. I can only compare that form of Government to the relationship existing in olden times between landlord and tenant in Ireland, when it was to the advantage of neither party to improve the holding, and when, as a result, the holding, which here will be Ireland, rapidly deteriorated.
I may be asked, How is it that the Irish Members accepted this Bill? I do not blame them, for political exigencies made it impossible for them to do anything else. But the fact remains that they had to accept it, and for that reason their acceptance can be discounted. The Irish Members had absolutely no choice in the matter. They had to accept the Bill. They dared not refuse it; they could not refuse it. The position would have been appalling, as a matter of fact, for Mr. Redmond and the Nationalist Members if they had said, "No, we cannot accept the Bill that Mr. Asquith offers us. We have been doing the dirty work of the Liberal Party for the past two years; we have been doing it though many Nationalist Members and nearly all Ireland were opposed to it and we ourselves hated having to do what we did; but we did it all on a promise, and that promise was Home Rule, and the day we went into the parlour of Mr. Asquith's house to receive the Bill, to have the promise fulfilled, we had no alternative open to us but to accept whatever was offered and say 'Thank you very much.'" That is why this disastrous Bill of so-called Home Rule, but, really one to reduce Ireland's representation in the Imperial Parliament while retaining control of all important Irish matters, and also one for England to escape from the just debts she owes Ireland, was accepted by the Irish Members. And then the Irish people have acquiesced because they have not examined it. They are under the influence, and it is strong ill Ireland, of the magic words "Home Rule." They only look forward to opening a Parliament in College Green. And they may rejoice under the glamour of that, but their rejoicings will, I fear, be short-lived and superficial. Far be it from me not to desire to rejoice with them, to hope 697 that all my prognostications are wrong, and then, as now, to help my native land in any way I can. I know too well how they see even in this absurd Bill the coming-to of Kathleen-Ny-houlihau; how they see our dark Rosaleen again reigning alone on a golden throne, how they see Erin once more great, glorious and free, and hear again the harp in Tara's Hall. My Lords, I can sympathise with these feelings. Perhaps we all do in Ireland, for is it not the prerogative of the Celt to sigh for, aye, and cry out for, that which he would not revive?
But I do most earnestly ask my countrymen in spite of glamour and sentiment to beware. I beg of them to look into and examine this Bill, and I say to them that unless I am very much mistaken they will find that this so-called Home Rule Bill is a Grecian gift, and that it is packed with the myrmidons of the British Treasury. And for that reason I find myself in one respect actually glad of the Parliament Act. I am glad that the vote of this House to-morrow evening will not kill this Bill, for if it had killed it Ireland would always point to this Bill as some beautiful thing that might have been had not the House of Lords killed it. As it is, my Lords, I believe that they will thank this House for having given them breathing space, and I hope sincerely that they will avail themselves of it, to look into and to sound and examine this Grecian gift. If they do they will then thank your Lordships for having blocked the Bill, so to speak, for a few months; just as every Irish Nationalist in heart thanks your Lordships for having thrown out the Home Rule Bill of 1893, under which, if it had become law, the Irish people would not have had the advantages of Imperial credit for land purchase, or the benefits of old-age pensions, and Ireland would also have been taxed some £2,000,000 more than she should. Such, my Lords, are some of the reasons why I am opposed to this measure, and why I believe that when the Irish people come to look into it there cannot but be most serious disillusionment and disappointment and discontent and dismay. And do not let this Parliament or the British people imagine that they will have got free of the matter, for that disappointment and discontent will recoil on the shoulders of the Imperial Parliament and of the British people. Do not imagine for one 698 moment that by this Bill you are banishing the Irish banshee. I believe that if this Bill becomes law you will hear the wail of the Irish banshee louder than ever around the walls of this building. So far from settling the Irish question by this Bill I believe that, if it becomes law, you will find yourselves in real earnest only at the beginning of the Irish question.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (EARL BEAUCHAMP)
I am sure your Lordships will all agree, quite irrespective of whether or not we share the sentiments of the noble Lord who has just sat down, that the brilliant speech to which we have just listened has introduced a new note into the debate. Indeed, if the brilliant paradoxes of the noble Lord were followed out to their logical conclusion we should probably find that in the Division which takes place to-morrow night all the noble Lords on the other side of the House would be voting in favour of the Bill. For what, after all, did the noble Lord tell us but this, that, the chief result, or one of the two chief results, of this Bill would be that it would reduce the Irish representation in the House of Commons. But, my Lords, we on this side of the House are accustomed to the taunts made about the eighty votes for the sake of which we do and say that which is repugnant to noble Lords opposite. If one of the chief results of this Bill, one of the main results of it, is to reduce those eighty Members to twenty-three, surely noble Lords opposite have every reason to support the measure. The other paradox—I hope the noble Lord will forgive my using the phrase—with which he supported his argument is that the other main result of the passage of this Bill would be that we should no longer have to spend so much money in Ireland as we have done in the past. But if I have read correctly the speeches made by the political allies of noble Lords opposite, the chief bribe which they have offered to Ireland has been that if Ireland remains united to this country they will be prepared to spend more money upon it. But this they would do if this Bill becomes law, and therefore I venture to say that on both the main grounds on which the noble Lord based his opposition to this Bill really, if the logical consequence be followed out, noble Lords opposite would all he found supporting the measure. But we do not expect such a result as that to-morrow night.
699 But apart from the speech to which we have listened, the debate has centred round a comparatively small number of subjects. We have had the argument about Ulster, on which I hope to say something later, and a great duel upon the financial clauses, and then we had also an argument used with special emphasis by the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York last night, who expressed his anxious desire that His Majesty's Government should promise him a General Election before this Bill became operative. He even went so far as to say that if such a General Election was promised he would vote for His Majesty's Government. I find myself far too seldom in the same Lobby with the most rev. Prelate, and I wish I found myself oftener in the Lobby with him, especially on matters of social reform; but he will probably he the last to deny that his proposal would be a heavy price for His Majesty's Government to pay for the support of a single vote. He told us that his reason for thinking that we should give that General Election was that the people of this country were not really aware of the imminence of Home Rule, and that they were not seized with the gravity of the situation in Ulster. But it is only fair that we should on our side remind your Lordships that, after all, there were two General Elections in the year 1910. In the one the fate of the Finance Bill was decided. But then we were told that nothing else except the fate of the Bill was determined, and there was then another General Election upon the question of the Parliament Act. Let me ask you to remember the circumstances in which the Parliament Act became law. It was not passed as an end in itself, but from the beginning to the end of the controversy we always said that it was passed as a means to an end. Do noble Lords opposite imagine that we went through the long controversy of the Parliament Act merely in order that we might pass under its provisions such measures as the Mental Deficiency Bill or the Insurance Act? Is it not perfectly well known, as a matter of fact, quite apart from any question of method, that the passage of the Parliament Act involved the introduction and furtherance of this measure, and also the Welsh Church Bill, by His Majesty's Government?
The other complaint to which the most rev. Prelate gave vent was that in recent by-elections very little attention was paid 700 to the question of Home Rule. He complained that the Insurance Act and the Food Taxes formed the staple of the arguments on those occasions. That is probably true. But, after all, is there not a very obvious reason for such a state of things? The experienced gentlemen who have charge of the elections on one side and the other in politics take great care to see that in all these by-elections those subjects are mentioned which interest the electors. Those matters upon which they have made up their minds do not receive the same attention as those upon which their votes may possibly make some difference. It is because the people are interested in a particular subject that it becomes the main topic at a by-election. I believe, then, that throughout the country this question was generally considered as involved in the passage of the Parliament Act, and therefore it is that in by-elections that have taken place lately there has been no concentration upon this question of Home Rule. The main alternative, as it seems to me the only alternative, to which the Archbishop's argument would lead us would be that of a referendum, to which His Majesty's Government have already expressed their antagonism.
A great argument against this Bill has been addressed to us by noble Lords upon the point that it contravenes the federal system, and with that the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, especially associated himself, and to that he devoted a large part of his speech. Will he allow me before I say anything on that section of his speech to correct one or two misapprehensions, or one or two inaccuracies into which he fell. He told us that his reason for refusing the advice to read the Bill a second time which was offered by my noble friend Lord Emmott in his powerful speech last night, was that this House was prevented from amending the financial scheme by the Parliament Act. There is nothing in the Parliament Act to prevent this House from amending in any way it thinks right the financial scheme of the Home Rule Bill.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
The noble Earl is entirely mistaken. There is nothing in the Parliament Act which does anything of 701 the kind. The Parliament Act deals with two special subjects. First of all, it deals with Money Bills. Money Bills your Lordships' House are not allowed to deal with. Then the other main part or section of which the Parliament Act is made up deals with matters not at all Money Bills, but Bills dealing with any other subjects which come up at times to this House. The real reason why your Lordships' House might feel unwilling to deal with the financial clauses of the Bill is that they are upon debatable ground which for a very long time noble Lords on both sides of the House have been unwilling to trench upon if they could help it. We have always felt there was a considerable amount of ground on which there was a real difficulty, and it was considered better that the two Houses of Parliament should not enter into controversy with regard to matters which might trench upon that ground.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
The noble Earl forgets that there is a clause, as far as I know the first clause, in the Parliament Act which expressly deals with that. It says, "Nothing in this Act shall be taken to derogate from the privileges claimed by the House of Commons."
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I think, if the noble Earl will allow me to suggest it, he should look at the Parliament Act, as I have done during the afternoon, and if he does he will probably see that there really is nothing in the Parliament Act which in any way would prevent this House from dealing as they thought fit with the financial clauses of the Home Rule Bill; and I should be very much interested and obliged to the noble Earl, if he interrupts me again in the course of my remarks, if he would quote the section upon which he relies for his opinion. But there are yet other phrases. The noble Earl told us that the Parliament Act was the only precedent for the limitation of the powers of the Irish Senate. May I refer him in reply, to Article 53 of the Australian Constitution and to Section 60 of the South African Act, both of which limit the powers of the Second Chamber.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I am sorry to keep on interrupting the noble Earl, but certainly in the South African Act, and I think in the Australian Act, the Senate is allowed to reject a Money Bill, but in this Act it is not.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
If the noble Earl had kindly listened to what I was saying, he would have seen that I quoted him as alleging that the Parliament Act was the only precedent for the limitation of the powers of the Irish Senate. When speaking earlier this evening the noble Earl did not make any special reference to the way in which the powers of the Irish Senate were limited. He told us the Parliament Act was the only precedent for the limitation of those powers. He will find; if he will kindly refer to the instances I have mentioned, that there are other precedents for that limitation.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I am sorry to again interrupt, but, I am quite clear about what I said. This Irish Government Bill forbids the Senate both to amend and to reject a Money Bill. I understood the noble Marquess who leads this House to say that there were precedents for this.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
Then I misunderstood the noble Marquess. But dealing with the point that I supposed to have been made, I said the only precedent I knew of forbidding a Second Chamber both to amend and reject a Money Bill was the Parliament Act.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
The noble Earl was dealing with a point which he thought had been made by my noble friend behind me, but was not made by him. Therefore I think, having made that original mistake, he will allow me to adhere to my statement that there are precedents for a limitation of the powers of the Irish Senate such as he did not when he spoke mention to your Lordships' House. Then the noble Earl told us there was nothing to prevent the Irish House of Commons tacking extraneous provisions on to Money Bills. If the noble Earl will kindly refer to Clause 10, subsection (4), he will see there is a provision in the Bill which would prevent that from being done. I think I 703 am correct again, as he will find. Then I turn to the point the noble Earl made upon the question of the unitary system. I am sure we all of us have listened with very great interest to what the noble Earl had to say upon the unitary system of federalism.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I have to apologise to the noble Earl for again interrupting, but I do not wish to be misunderstood, and as we are both being reported, we may as well put it right. Clause 10 says, in subsection (4)—Any Bill which appropriates revenue or money for the ordinary annual services of the Irish Government shall deal only with that appropriation.There is no provision as there is in the Parliament Act as to the Speaker's certificate to ensure that that is observed.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
If the noble Earl thought anything further than that was necessary it would have been perfectly open to him to suggest it when we came to the Committee stage. But the noble Earl is not, if he will allow me to say so, entitled to say that there is nothing to prevent the Irish House of Commons tacking extraneous provisions on to Money Bills. There is this subsection which was intended to do it, and I think your Lordships' House is entitled to some explanation from the noble Earl of why he thinks that that Clause, which in the opinion of His Majesty's Government is sufficient, should not be sufficient for that purpose.
Now to come back to the unitary system, or the federal system of which the noble Earl spoke. The noble Earl speaks on that subject and on subjects of that kind with particular authority; but if he will allow me to say so, interesting as his speech was, it did not quite seem to me that any scheme such as he foreshadowed was likely to be immediately practicable. It is in the dim and distant future; but this Bill deals with what shall happen in the meantime. Surely when there is such a situation as we have in regard to Ireland it would be foolish on our part if we were to decline to deal with it till, perhaps, some day in the dim and distant future with the consent of all the Dominions. We want to deal with the situation as we find it to-day and as it has been existing for so long, and although I criticise any remark of the 704 noble Earl's with some diffidence, will he allow me to make yet one more criticism? He told us that it was inconsistent with federation that the relation of all the subordinate Parliaments to the centre should not be the same.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
However, let me suggest that the noble Earl must know from his experience in the Colonial Office that various schemes have been suggested by certain people interested in the great Dominion of Canada for the inclusion of Newfoundland. Whether that be right or wrong it is not for us here to say this evening, and it is not necessary. But surely there will be nothing inconsistent with federation if on special and very different terms we give to that great Colony, if she should, in her own good time, think it well that she should join in that system of federation, liberty to do so. Therefore I think that it needs something more than the mere fact that there is something different in this Bill from that which might exist in other Bills, if they were brought in with the object of securing general federation, to prove to us that this Bill is inconsistent with federation.
Then I turn to the argument dealing with the safeguards, and that is especially connected with the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry. If he will allow me to say so, I am sure everybody on this side of the House listened with the greatest interest to the eloquent and sincere speech in which he attacked the Bill to-night. He especially wished some representative of His Majesty's Government to explain to him what would happen if the safeguards proved inadequate. I am not quite sure that his interpretation of the word "inadequate" would correspond with mine. He seemed to think that if an Irish Parliament were to pass a certain measure which did not entirely recommend itself to either House of the Imperial Parliament then, ipso facto the safeguards would be inadequate. That, would not be 705 my view. Supposing that the Bill which had been passed by the Irish house of Parliament was entirely within the corners of the Government of Ireland Bill, and that there was nothing in it which could in any way be said to he inconsistent with the terms of that Bill. In those circumstances there surely would be no need of any safeguard, although the opinion of this House and of the other House of Parliament might temporarily not be the same as that of the Irish House of Parliament. The fact that the Parliaments differ is surely not the essence of the safeguards. The point is that there should be nothing passed by the Irish House which is inconsistent with the terms of the Government of Ireland Bill. I really think the time has now come when noble Lords opposite must make up their minds which of the two arguments they are going to rely on. Some of them tell us that these safeguards are perfectly worthless and are not worth the paper on which they are written, while other noble Lords, on the other hand, tell us that they are so important and so great that no nation which is bound by them is worthy of being called a nation. These safeguards cannot be both one and the other, and I think it is quite time that we should hear from noble Lords opposite which of those two arguments they intend to rely upon in the future.
If I may be pardoned a personal reference, I am, I sometimes think, one of the few members of your Lordships' House who were in this House in the year 1893, and it does seem to me that a great change has come over, not only the constitution of this House, but also the way in which this matter has been discussed. I remember being dragged from somewhat fruitless undergraduate studies at Oxford to swell the majority which defeated the Bill on that occasion. No doubt my vote added one to the immense majority, but I do not know that it added anything to the moral influence of your Lordships' Horse when the Bill was rejected. But at any rate I see a very real and a very great difference between the way in which this matter has been discussed during these last few days and the way in which it was discussed then. We have discussed far more points of detail during these three days and far fewer points of real underlying principle than were discussed in those great days of 1893. We have not really discussed to-night what was 706 discussed then—the question as to whether Ireland was entitled to self-government or not, and I suppose that one of the great reasons for that is that the attitude of the people in this country towards self-government has changed, because wherever they have seen it tried they have found that it has been proved to be a success. There are twenty-eight Parliaments, I believe, within the British Empire, and noble Lords opposite wish us to believe that the twenty-ninth will work destruction to the whole Imperial system. I do not wish to lay too much stress upon or to make too much of any likeness between the grant of self-government to the Transvaal and the grant of self-government to Ireland, but I do think that the people of this country who have seen the brilliant success which has attended the grant of self-government to the Transvaal are willing and ready to try the experiment upon the old sore of Ireland.
After all, my Lords, we all of us in this country believe in government by and with our own consent, and I believe that noble Lords opposite would rather be governed, or perhaps misgoverned, by Radicals than governed by Conservatives if only those Conservatives were foreigners. They would prefer misgovernment by their own fellow-countrymen rather than what they would think good government by aliens. That is really the position so far as it applies to Ireland. We are anxious that they should have the privilege which we have ourselves. We wish to know why that privilege should be denied to the Irish which we have ourselves. Nobody can say that the people of Ireland do not want it. It may be that an occasional visitor who spends a week-end at Killarney or a day or two at the Dublin Horse Show comes back and tells us that the people of Ireland are wrongly represented by their Members of Parliament, who do not a bit understand what is the desire of the people of that country. These people tell us that the House of Lords knows far better what is the real wish of the Irish peasant, and that it is the duty of the House of Lords, therefore, to reject this Bill. They tell us that the character of the Irish is fickle, and that it is only in this country that you can find consistent politics. Surely the facts are exactly contrary to that. We are amongst the most fickle people in matters of our ordinary politics. Almost on every occasion the people change 707 their rulers, and it requires either the crisis of a great war, such as that in 1900, or a great constitutional mistake, as in 1909 to make the people of this country renew their confidence for a second time in those who have governed them during the past few years. We change, but not Ireland. From the time when O'Connell spoke of repeal and Butt translated it into the great Home Rule question, through everything—and the broader the franchise has been the more certain and less hesitating has been the voice—Ireland has asked for the right to manage her own affairs. Whatever has happened nothing has confused the issue in Ireland. Noble Lords opposite, I grant, have tried, as the phrase is, to kill Home Rule by kindness, but Home Rule is as much alive to-day as it was when they began their policy.
The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition was convinced, certainly more than thirty years ago, that Home Rule was a temporary and superficial desire on the part of the people of Ireland. But evictions and emigrations have scattered the people of Ireland throughout the world, famine and disease have reduced their numbers, and what could he done has been clone to drive the people from the soil of Ireland; but the Irish are as anxious to-day for the right to manage their own affairs as they were a hundred years ago. Is there any other subject which has been asked for so constantly by the people of this country which your Lordships have not given long ago? Your Lordships' House has refused one reform after another which has been asked for by the people of this country, but you have always given it in the end. Home Rule you have not yet granted. The extension of the franchise, the opening of the ballot, the freedom of the Press, even the passing of the Budget, and, greatest of all, your Lordships have agreed to the curtailment of your own powers—all these things which have been asked for in the past you have yielded though you did not agree with them yourselves. Home Rule is the one subject to which through all these years you have opposed a resolute negative.
My Lords, we do not understand the reasons for which you refuse to give this Bill a Second Reading. It is not that you say that the people of Ireland are unfit to manage their own affairs. Irishmen all through the Empire have shown that they 708 can manage and administer what Irish soldiers have won in battle throughout the Empire. It is not that the people of Ireland do not want to manage their own affairs, or that they are not capable of doing it. You cannot point, I believe, to a single instance anywhere where self-government as a system has failed. The only obstacle is the small minority in one corner of Ireland who persuade your Lordships to refuse to the rest of Ireland what four-fifths of her people want. We say that such a claim on the part of so small a minority is an intolerable claim, and one which we cannot allow. Noble Lords opposite would all admit that the ability of the Nationalist is no less than that of the Unionist, that they are just as trustworthy as your own allies. The noble Lord who has just sat down, devoted the larger part of the first portion of his speech to a defence of his co-religionists, and that is a defence with every word of which noble Lords on this side of the House cordially agree. We are forced back to the position that the real opposition to this Bill comes from the small minority of Ulster. [Opposition cries of "No, no."] Let us turn then and see what it is. We say that this small minority has dictated your refusal. Let us take the Province of Ulster and see exactly how it is constituted. At the present moment there are sixteen Members on each side of the House of Commons representing Ulster—sixteen Unionists and sixteen Nationalists.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
There is one more election to be decided, I think, within a day or two, but it is a small majority either way. I have here a paper drawn up from the last Census which shows exactly the numbers of the Roman Catholics and non-Catholics there are in Ulster. It shows that Ulster contains nine counties and two county boroughs. In five of the nine counties and in one of the two county boroughs the Roman Catholic population is actually in the majority, while in two of the remaining counties the Roman Catholic population is considerably more than one-third of the whole. Therefore your Lordships will see that the proposed exclusion of Ulster would be bitterly opposed by about one-half of the population of the Province. Further it is asked that five counties are to be excluded from the benefit of the 709 Bill, which is supported by a majority in each, because a Unionist majority in Belfast and in the immediately surrounding counties is opposed to the measure.
Ulster is in no sense homogeneous. It is not like the other provinces in Ireland, winch are all occupied on the same things. Taking Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan, the religious divisions do not correspond with those in Belfast. It far more resembles the division in Leinster. The table shows that there is a very large majority of Roman Catholics. So that in order to protect the minority in these three counties you propose to do a thing which would be disliked by the majority in those counties; and yet at the same time you abandon your minority, which is just as large proportionately, in the counties of Wicklow, Kildare, and Dublin, and in the county borough of Dublin. It is a great mistake to speak of Ulster as one great hive of industry and of the rest of Ireland as a community of small farmers. The Census figures show that as regards the main classes of occupation the proportion of the population engaged in each class is as follows: Commercial class, in Ulster, 2.6; in Leinster, 3.7; Agricultural class: Ulster, 16.2; Leinster, 13.9. Industrial class: Ulster, 18.7; Leinster, 14.7. If you take, again, the number of town dwellers in Ulster and compare them with the town dwellers in Leinster, you will find the proportion of the urban population is certainly larger in Leinster than it is in Ulster. The number of town inhabitants in Ulster is 622,325 out of a population of 1,581,696, and in Leinster 559,846 out of a population of 1,152,829; that is to say, the town dwellers in Ulster farm only 39 per cent. and in Leinster they form 48 per cent. of the total population of the Province.
Then there are also some interesting figures dealing with the non-Catholic population of Ireland, and the effect which the exclusion of Ulster would have upon them. The number of non-Catholics in the Provinces of Leinster, Munster, and Connaught is 256,669; so that the exclusion of Ulster from the Bill would involve the abandonment of these 256,669 persons, who would be represented in the Parliament at Dublin. Again, if the entire part of Ulster is not excluded from the Bill but only the North-east corner of Ulster—that is to say, the four counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry, and the 710 City of Belfast—the number of non-Catholics in the remaining part who would be left at the mercy of the Irish Government would he 439,273 whilst the number of non-Catholics who would be protected by the exclusion would be only 708,275 out of a total of 1,147,549 non-Catholics in Ireland, or less than two-thirds of the whole. When we are asked by noble Lords opposite what the attitude of His Majesty's Government is towards Ulster and Belfast, our answer consists of these figures which show the impossibility of separating Belfast and the surrounding districts around Belfast from the rest of Ireland.
Then noble Lords ask us what it is that His Majesty's Government will do. I do not know that it is so much a question of what His Majesty's Government will do as of what noble Lords opposite and their political allies are going to do. We hope they will pause before they give any encouragement to lawlessness and disorder in the North of Ireland. It is not impossible that a scheme far more revolutionary than anything in this Bill will be brought forward by noble Lords opposite, and that they may try to force it upon an unwilling section of the population of this country. It might be that, after two General Elections and consultation with the Dominions throughout the Empire, they might try to force a tax upon food and industry upon an unwilling industrial England. Let noble Lords beware of what may be said by the industrial community of the North if the South and the Midlands try to force upon them things which in the opinion of the industrial North are far worse for them than anything which the Irish Parliament may do in regard to Belfast, or they may find that a resistance which they have not discouraged in Belfast may yet create difficulties for them in the North of England.
For my own part, I venture to think that few people have done more for the cause of Home Rule than Sir Edward Carson. What would be the position of noble Lords opposite and of Sir Edward Carson if, from these Benches, they were faced by the spectacle of hostile Irishmen, four-fifths of whom were claiming the right which Ulster claims to-day, of resisting laws to which they might happen to object? When we are asked by noble Lords opposite what it is that we propose to do, our answer is perfectly simple. We want to know whether any action 711 is to be taken before the new Parliament has done anything at all. If so, it is obvious that Ulster places itself in an impossible position. But supposing—what is, after all, the most likely thing—that the new Irish Parliament, amongst its first acts, does something for labour in Belfast, something to encourage trade and industry in Belfast, what then would be the position of noble Lords opposite? If they wait for an attack they will have to wait for ever. If, on the other hand, instead of waiting, they take the initiative themselves, then indeed we think they will lose entirely the sympathy of the people of this country.
I notice one very great difference between the discussions which took place in 1893 and the discussions which are taking place now upon this Bill. In 1893 noble Lords opposite brought down upon the supporters of the Bill charges of sedition, disloyalty, and lawlessness. Now we find that it is the allies of noble Lords opposite who have refused to discountenance disorder in Belfast. That by itself constitutes a very great difference between the situation then and the situation to-day. For ourselves, my Lords, we are persuaded that when the people of Belfast realise the actual position and intention of the people of Ireland they will no longer be so frightened as some are anxious to make them to-day. We have not only to think of the position in Ireland or the position in this country. There are also the people throughout the Empire to be considered. The Dominions throughout the Empire have all got self-government, and they are wondering why in this country we have not given Ireland that system by which they themselves have profited. Your Lordships know that public opinion in the Dominions is almost unanimously in favour of granting Home Rule, and nearly all their Parliaments have passed resolutions in favour of some measure of Home Rule.
Therefore now we have got this position, that Scotland and Ireland and Wales and the industrial part of England and a large part of the Empire are almost unanimously in favour of this Bill. Large and increasing majorities in the House of Commons have passed this Bill through its Second and Third Readings, and this long controversy, so far as one can tell, is likely to be closed within a comparatively short period. We do not wish to claim any credit from it. 712 We would far rather that this right was given to Ireland with the consent and goodwill of both political Parties. If you want more safeguards let us know what they are, and we will gladly consider whether it is not possible to come to some agreement. As I have said, we would far rather that this was given to Ireland with the goodwill of all parties. Your Lordships' House may delay but you cannot prevent the passage of Home Rule. I could wish that, even at this late hour, there was some hope that this Bill might be read a second time to-morrow night. The eloquent speech of the noble Lord opposite concluded by a passage which, I think, struck all noble Lords on this side of the House. He talked of Ireland as a nation divided against itself. That, he said, was the source of its weakness. We venture to think that the passage of this Bill would heal the old sores and strengthen Ireland and the United Kingdom and the whole of this Empire.
THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, I am quite convinced that this is a bad Bill, and one that will not bring contentment to Ireland. Though there was a great deal said about the question of Home Rule at the last two General Elections, I must say this, without labouring the point very much, that those elections did not bear directly upon the question of Home Rule, not in the same way as the two other General Elections when the question was put before the country and the Liberal Party were beaten upon it. The noble Earl who has just sat down said there was no reason whatsoever why we should not amend the financial clauses of this Bill; but, my Lords, directly we began to touch the financial clauses privilege would have been claimed. Then the noble Earl quoted the Parliament Act, but there is a distinct clause in that Act dealing with the question of privilege. I refer to the section which says that nothing in that Act shall diminish or qualify the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons. I know that when attempts have been made here to interfere with the financial arrangements in Irish Bills, we were immediately told that privilege would be claimed. It is no use, therefore, for the noble Earl to tell us that we are permitted to amend the financial clauses of this Bill when there is in the Parliament Bill the section to which I have referred, and when the privilege of 713 the House of Commons, as defined by the Speaker, has been claimed over and over again.
The noble Earl the First Commissioner of Works says that Ireland asks for the right to govern her own affairs. Under this Bill do we manage our own affairs? Are we allowed to manage any part of the finances? Are we allowed to have the land? No, we are not allowed to manage those things. Then he asked what our Party were going to do in future; would they bring in a Bill against all the ideas of the working-classes of this country, against all the ideas of the industrial classes? Of course, he was alluding to Tariff Reform. But I want to ask him, What are you going to do about Ulster? You have never answered that question. None of the noble Lords who have spoken on the other side of the House have said a word as to that. The resistance in the Province of Ulster is one which will have to be dealt with.
Who, in fact, really wants Home Rule? We know who does not want it pretty well. We know quite well that the Unionists scattered in the South and the West of Ireland do not want Home Rule. There are meetings held in every county in those parts of Ireland, and it is clear that they do not want Home Rule in any shape or form, and especially in the form of this Bill. Ulster does not want it. I do not wish to deal with that any more. But who now wants this measure passed? The Liberal Party, of course, want it passed, but I am not quite sure that many of that Party would not be very much happier if they had not had to deal with this question at all. And what is the position of the Party at present? They are absolutely under the domination of the Nationalist Party in the House of Commons, and if they did not grant this measure they would be in this position, that they would be turned out of office without the smallest compunction by the Nationalist Party. They are, moreover, in this position. They were saved, I think, twenty-two times last session by the votes of the Nationalist Party—not on any questions with regard to Ireland whatsoever, but on questions totally apart from Ireland and apart from Home Rule. The Irish Party did that because it was necessary in order to get the Home Rule Bill. Then this session the Government would have 714 been defeated again on the Welsh Disestablishment Bill but for the Nationalist Party. Therefore you have the spectacle of the great Liberal Party depending upon the Irish Roman Catholic Party to disestablish the Welsh Church. I do not know that that is a position of which they are very proud. Now, do the Irish Parliamentary Party want Home Rule? They want power, and they want patronage. There is no doubt that this Bill will give them power and it will give them patronage, and that is one of the great reasons why they want it; and I do not blame them for it.
Now I should like to say a few words, as I live in Ireland, with regard to the attitude of the mass of the Irish people towards Home Rule. The noble Lord, Lord Killanin, very truly said that there has been in Ireland for many years tremendous sentiment about this granting of Home Rule and a Parliament on College Green. It is thought that all sorts of things are going to happen when we get Home Rule. As an old countryman of mine said the other day, "We will be very rich when it comes, but it is a long time coming." My experience is that there is not nearly the enthusiasm in Ireland about Home Rule that there was in days past. The people are becoming apathetic about it. I said to one of my tenants the other day, "Well, what do you think about Home Rule? I suppose you think you will get it?" "Oh, yes, we shall get it; I suppose we shall have to give it a chance," he said. Then I asked a country gentleman in my neighbourhood, "What are you going to do when you get this Home Rule Bill? How are we going to live under the financial clauses of the Bill?" "We shall have to economise," he replied. "We can only do that," I said, "by turning out officials in the Departments at present in Ireland and starving those Departments."
The real truth is that those farmers in Ireland who have bought their land, the peasant proprietors, are afraid that Home Rule will bring trouble to the country. They are quite contented now, and in the part of Ireland that I know they do not attend the political meetings. There has been an attempt to create enthusiasm on the matter. Mr. Winston Churchill came to Belfast, which made Belfast excessively cross and annoyed; 715 then we had the visit of the Prime Minister to Dublin, and Lord Ashby St. Ledgers was present and was very much impressed with the enthusiasm at that meeting. But Irishmen are always enthusiastic at public meetings, no matter what the question is. Mr. Gladstone never went over to Ireland to make speeches about Home Rule, but it is absolutely necessary now to stir up an enthusiasm which really does not exist in the mass of the Irish people with regard to this Bill. One would think that if the Irish people were so keen about Home Rule they would support in a material way the Party that has been working for it. But what is the real truth of the matter in that regard? Mr. Redmond said himself in Tipperary on February 10, 1910—I tell you here, and there is no reason why I should not be perfectly frank, the Irish party would have been bankrupt in this Election were it not for the success of the campaign in America which yielded over 50,000 dollars.The Irish Party on that occasion would not have been able to pay the Returning Officers' fees if they had not had American money, and they have had money from Australia since. It is not like the old days when the people of Ireland used to subscribe. They do not now subscribe to time funds of the Party which is going to get them Home Rule. Therefore the Liberal Party are kept in office—and I hope they do not mind my saying so—by this very Party that is subsidised with American money.
Now, my Lords, I should like to say a word with regard to the Bill itself. You will admit that there have always been two Parties in Ireland—I am not talking of political parties—but there have always been two parties in Ireland, one the Roman Catholic party and the other the Protestant party, and we, as Unionists, object to be placed by this Home Rule Bill under the rule of a Nationalist Party majority. An Irish Parliament would be totally different from the Parliament at Westminster. The two great Parties, although they differ considerably in policy, know that a rough kind of justice exists which balances the periods of Office and of Opposition. The minority is only a temporary minority, and the majority is fully aware that its period of power is limited. But in our Irish Parliament we, the Unionists and Protestants, would be always in a minority. We should be governed by Mr. Redmond 716 and his Party, and, what is more, by Mr. Devlin and his Party. Reference has already been made to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, of which Mr. Devlin is the head. That is not a pleasant prospect to which to look forward. I repeat what has been said before, that under the Local Government Act for Ireland we did not get a chance of being elected on the Councils. Only sixteen Unionists were elected to the county councils in the whole of the South and west of Ireland. I remember perfectly well the then Chief Secretary, Mr. Gerald Balfour, calling upon the gentlemen of Ireland to stand for those councils, and we have only to go upon the experience we have had in regard to those councils to see what would happen in our Irish Parliament. I know my own experience. I stood for my county council and got seventeen votes. I then stood for the district council. They said, "Surely your Lordship will not stand for such a small body?" But I said I would stand. They then said, "If you say you are a Home Ruler we will elect you at once," and of course I said I would not have anything to do with it.
If this Home Rule measure is such a good and wise thing, why have not the Nationalist Party explained its provisions to the people of Ireland? Everybody has talked in generalities, but nothing has been said about the great advantages that are to accrue to Ireland if this Bill is passed. The Nationalist Party know perfectly well that it is a bad Bill and that its financial provisions are exacting and unjust. As to the other parts of the Bill, no doubt the Government have put in as many safeguards as their Nationalist allies would permit them to. There is Clause 31, which says that the religion of the Lord-Lieutenant need not be a bar to his taking up that office. The clause is so worded that the Lord-Lieutenant can be of any religion whatever. I only mention that because I think it is a most extraordinary provision to have been put into a Bill. Lord Ribblesdale, in his speech on Monday night, made some remarks with regard to the statement that the Bill had not been discussed properly, and he read out a list from the Morning Post of certain things in the Bill which he said it would require an actuary to understand. But there is another matter, and I think it is rather an important one, which is not safeguarded. It is this, that the Irish Parliament would 717 have power to repeal the Malicious Injuries Act, which is a great safeguard. That has not been mentioned at all, and you know that under that Act a County Court Judge can put these injuries on the district in which they have been committed, and the ratepayers have to pay. That is a great safeguard, and if it is taken away I do not think that some parts of Ireland will be very pleasant places to live in. Another matter which is not safeguarded is this. A lump sum is handed over to the Irish Parliament for certain services, but what safeguard is there that the money will be properly distributed? None whatever. They can starve one service and give money to the other services. I think that should have been safeguarded. I do not know whether there was time to discuss it in the House of Commons, but at all events it is not safeguarded, and the Irish Parliament can deal with it.
It is rather presumptuous to say anything about the financial clauses, but, as I feel strongly upon the matter, if your Lordships will allow me for a few moments I must say something about those clauses. The noble Marquess the Leader of the House in his opening speech said—The system which the financial clauses embody may appear to be intricate, but I think it will he found after debate to be as simple as any of which the circumstances permit.I think, with all due respect to the noble Marquess, that that was damning the financial clauses with faint praise. I wish to say something now with regard to the Exchequer Board. Your Lordships are acquainted with the way in which it is to be composed. I do not know how the members are to agree. The Board will consist of two Irishmen, two English Treasury officials, and a chairman who also, no doubt, will be a Treasury official. And there is this most extraordinary provision, that if any one is dissatisfied with the decisions of the Exchequer Board the question can be referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. What will the Irish Parliament care for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in this country? Are they going to obey the mandate of that Committee? How are you going to enforce it? Not content with setting up a financial system for Ireland by which her revenue is all taken, this Board is set up as a sort of watch-dog, and so far as I can 718 make out their duties will be to bark at everybody and make themselves as disagreeable as possible. It is quite true you have given the Irish Government something to play with, and that is the £500,000 for three years to begin with, diminishing each year after that by £50,000 until it gets to £200,000. If during any three years Ireland begins to prosper and the Exchequer Board report and their report is laid before the Imperial Parliament and the Irish Parliament, and the presentation of such a report is to be taken as a ground for the revision by the Parliament of the United Kingdom of the financial provisions of the Act.
And now, my Lords, the fun begins, because twenty-two Members of the Irish Parliament are to be summoned to Westminster, and these with the forty-two there make sixty-four, who are to sit, to revise the financial provisions of the Act. Their interests must clash with those of the representatives of the British taxpayers. There are sure to be "wigs on the Green," over this matter. You may be sure that, unless the Irishmen get the best of it, the money by which Ireland is prospering will go into the English Treasury. It is conceivable that the Government in power might be in a minority on the revision of the financial provisions of tile Act. Is that a provision in a Home Rule Bill which is likely to make for peace between the two countries? We shall always be at loggerheads with regard to finance. I have often wondered how on earth Ireland under this Bill is to raise money for any special purpose. What have we got to hypothecate in order to raise a loan? All we have to hypothecate is the £500,000 with which we begin to work. Surely that is like cutting off a bit of a dog's tail to feed him with. I do not know whether the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack is shaking his head because he does not agree with me.
THE EARL OF MAYO
I thought that £7,000,000 a year was for the different services now existing in Ireland.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
It is secured, only you can hypothecate. An express provision is made for doing so through the Exchequer Board.
THE EARL OF MAYO
Well, you have got to pay your interest out of the Transferred Sum. I may be quite wrong about the matter, but what I understand is that the only money we have got that is not allotted to anything else is the £500,000 we begin with. The truth of the matter is that the obtaining of cheap money has been the reason for Ireland's prosperity during modern times and in the past. The money lent and advanced under Land Purchase Acts has been regularly and faithfully paid back, and also the loans made under the Board of Works. Under this Bill the Board of Works loans cease entirely. That is stated in actual terms in the Bill, though I do not know anything that has done Ireland so much good for many years past as the borrowing of money through the Board of Works for the drainage of the country, for the improvement of the farms, for the building of cottages, and for the improvement of farm buildings. That is all to cease; and where is the money 720 to come from except we borrow it at a much higher rate of interest?
From Ireland's point of view this is, I consider, a bad Bill. I cannot see how the country is to progress. I think she will stagnate, fettered by these financial provisions. We do not want this Bill. We do not want any Bill like it. And, as I said before, I cannot find any enthusiasm about the Bill in Ireland. I venture to say that if this Bill becomes law—and I hope it never will—I believe in my heart that the rising generation of Irishmen as they grow up under this Bill will not remain in any way loyal, but will become absolute separatists. They will want the entire management of their affairs, the collecting of the taxes, and the proper spending of the money. That is what I foresee in this Bill, which I consider from an Irish point of view is a Treasury economist's Bill. I shall therefore follow the noble Duke into the Lobby and give my vote against the passing of this Bill with the greatest pleasure.
§ The further debate adjourned until to-morrow.
§ House adjourned at half-past Eleven o'clock, till to-morrow, Three o'clock.